When Theology and Undergraduate Philosophy Clash

The other day I was looking through some of my old philosophy papers from my time as an undergraduate at UCLA. I want you to get a glimpse of the type of stuff I was writing about. I really cannot believe that I started a 20 page philosophy paper with a paragraph like this. It really makes me wonder, “what was I thinking!”

In doing philosophical theology, the distinction has often been drawn between special revelation and general revelation.  As examples of philosophers who have worked with general revelation we have Thomas Aquinas who believed that apart from special revelation, we can use reason to come to the knowledge of claims like the claim that God exists, that God is omniscient, or that God is omnipotent.  However within the Christian tradition, it is not a commonly held belief that complete knowledge of God and his character can be attained by mere reason alone, philosophy is not a tool powerful enough to come to know God.  It is at this point that special revelation comes into play.  Special revelation which includes the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testament, has played an enormous role in the Christian conception of God.  From the scriptures one comes to know things such as the claim that God is love (1 John 4:16) as well as his character, and his care for the poor and oppressed as is displayed in passages like Isaiah 30:18, Deuteronomy 15:7-8, and James 1:27.  Through special revelation one also comes to know what for Christians is central to their belief, the salvific ministry and Lordship of Jesus the Christ (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).   It also should be noted that Christ himself is one form of special revelation as noted in John 14:4-12, in which Jesus says that if you know him you will know the Father as well, and that those who have seen him have seen the father as well.

By the way, the paper was titled “The Transformation of the Passions: Controlling One’s Passions Within a Christian Framework.” And I got an A on the paper.


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

3 thoughts on “When Theology and Undergraduate Philosophy Clash

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