Tag Archives: analytic philosophy

Love: Creaturely and Divine

On the fifth week of the AT Seminar Series Sameer Yadav, Assistant Professor of Religious

sameeryadav
Sameer Yadav

Studies at Westmont University, delivered a paper titled “Love: Creaturely and Divine.” In his paper Yadav dealt with Schellenberg’s divine hiddenness argument by providing what could be called a “Plantingian Divine Imaging Defense.”

An Overview of “Love: Creaturely and Divine”

Although not new, the problem of Divine Hiddenness (DH) became the subject of extensive philosophical discussion when J.L. Schellenberg published his book, Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, in 1993. Schellenberg and others who put forth this argument appeal to existence of non-resistant non-believers as evidence for the non-existence of a perfectly loving God. We can summarize the main idea of DH as:

If God is perfectly Loving, then non-resistant non-belief does not exist. But it seems as though non-resistant non-belief does exist. Therefore, a perfectly loving God does not exist.

You can read the rest of this post over at Fuller Seminary’s Analytic Theology Blog.

When We Think About God

“When we’re talking about God we can’t afford to be sloppy.” As you probably know I am studying in a new field that seeks to revive an ancient form of theological reflection: analytic theology. This discipline that combines the rigor of philosophy with the wonder of theology, I work with Dr. Oliver Crisp, professor of systematic theology, and a team of visiting scholars to reflect carefully on prayer, love, and human nature. In the following video – directed and produced by Fuller Studio – I share my passion for theology, the dangers of muddled thinking, and my hopes for the church to be informed by good theology.

“Theology done well not only impacts people’s lives, says something to the world about who God actually is.”

You can see the original post on Fuller’s Analytic Theology Website.

On Religious Worth of Bodily Liturgical Action – Terence Cuneo

Earlier this year (I forgot I wrote this post, its been sitting in my drafts) Terence Cuneo the philosopher from The University of Vermont, best known for his work in metaethics and early modern philosophy, especially the work of Thomas Reid, came in to our Analytic Theology Seminar to give a paper on liturgical theology…..

  • Scripted movement-touching sequences: involve participant in the liturgy moving through space to approach some person or thing for the purpose of bodily engaging that person or thing by their touching it or touching some person or thing in its near vicinity
  • Why do these SMTS play such a prominent role in the performance of Eastern liturgies?
    • SMTS have religious worth
      • Instrumentalist view vs. non-instrumentalist view
    • Defends a variant of non-instrumetnalist view: Authorization-appropriation model
      • God authorized the composition of and appropriated the scripts that perescribe the performance of such actions

 

Against Instrumentalism

  • Two primary commitments of instrumentalist view
    • Proper role of scripted bodily liturgical action is for an agent who performs these actions to stand in some instrumental relation to religious attitudes
    • Religious worth lies wholly in the fact that the performance has ability o instill, evoke, express religious attitudes that are fitting in how we relate to God.
  • Concerns
    • Doesn’t fit so well with the text we have in the liturgies
    • Doesn’t handle some cases well – i.e. child who dies young, the performance of these bodily actions would not have any religious worth because they would fail to play the role that they were meant to play had the child grown up.
    • Paul on illicitly sexual activity – makes reference to the body as the temple

 

The Authorization- Appropriation Model

  • Task of the approach: ID a relation that God bears to liturgical participants such that their performing scripted movement has religious worth in virtue of their bearing this relation to God.
  • Proposal: having authorized and appropriated the liturgical scripts that prescribe these actions to these participants
  • Two parts to the model:
    • Authorization: Deputization and Delegation
      • The authorization to compose the church’s liturgies is a blend of the two
      • Three types of decisions: 1) scope, 2) which actions to prescribe, and 3) scope and normative force of the prescriptions
      • Criteria for selection: divinely required and fitting
    • Divine Appropriation
      • God doesn’t simply authorize, but appropriates the scripts as his own
      • In eastern tradition – there is a synergistic relationship between the church and God in the composition of liturgy
      • But this is not enough- appropriation and authorization must take place

 

Applying the Model

  • Most things in the liturgy are “fitting” not “required”
    • They are cultural expressions of love, awe, wonder, among other attitudes, etc.
  • Difference between an action expressing an attitude vs. an action which is expressive of an attitude
  • Prima Facie worth worth on the whole
    • Some actions have prima facie interpersonal worth, but they are easily defeated
    • Acts can be expressive of attitudes that are apt in one sense but lack interpersonal worth because they lack something
    • The authorization-appropriation model explains why MTS can have stable non-easily defeasible religious worth.

 

Conclusion

  • MTS have religious worth because they fittingly relate us to God. Being fittingly related to God consists not simply in mental states but in the way we use our bodies. Worth of MTS is not wholly determined by the attitudes agents are in, but by the attitude that God has to their performance.  This addresses the issue that there is supposedly something defective about ritualized activity which is by its nature “dead” – and says this objection is off because there may be things in which God delights in the way we use our bodies in worship.

 

Questions

How do you go about figuring out which actions are “authorized” or “fitting?”

  • Come up with some story for how taking communion with chocolate chip cookies and mountain dew expresses in some cultural form attitudes which are appropriate towards God?

 

Who is “authorized?”

  • Its clear on the story of President sending secretary of state, or a ceo having her secretary write a memo and send it out to the company.

My Paper on EFS is Now up on the Evangelical Philosophical Society Website

An Examination of Recent Philosophical Responses to Thomas McCall’s Argument Against Eternal Functional Subordination

by Christopher G. Woznicki

Since Thomas McCall first published Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of the Trinity in 2010 numerous papers have been written responding to his philosophical arguments against eternal functional subordination.

Among recent philosophical responses to McCall’s position a paper co-written by Philip Gons and Andrew Naselli and another by Bruce Ware stand out as the most significant. Gons and Naselli argue that McCall’s argument conflates the term “essentially” with “belonging to the essence.” Ware puts forth a reductio ad absurdum argument against McCall and shows McCall’s logic entails a denial of homoousios.

This paper enters into this debate by examining Gons and Naselli’s argument. It engages with recent philosophical literature dealing with the meaning of the term “essence” in order to show that their argument against McCall is unfounded.

The paper then turns to Ware’s argument to show that he has made a category mistake in comparing the property of being eternally begotten and the property of being functionally subordinate in all time segments in all possible worlds. Having critically examined these recent philosophical responses to McCall we see that McCall’s argument still holds up against its objectors.

The full-text of this paper is available for FREE by clicking here.

6th Annual California Metaphysics Conference: Philosophy of Religion & Metaphysics

The University of Southern California will be hosting the 6th annual California Metaphysics Conference, January 20th-22nd, 2017.  This year’s topic is Philosophy of Religion and Metaphysics!

Speakers:

Attendance is open (and free) to all who would like to come, but you must register by emailing kleinsch [at] usc [dot] edu no later than December 15th, 2016.  Please include your full name and university affiliation in the email.  You will not receive a confirmation email, but your name should appear on the list of participants within 30 days.  Also, let Professor Kleinschmit know if you are a graduate student from outside CA and you are interested in being an assistant organizer!

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Note: This conference lineup looks so good that I can get set aside the UCLA vs. USC for a weekend. I guess….

How I Got into Analytic Theology (The Long Version)

A while ago I posted a link about how I got into Analytic Theology. That was a shortened version of my story (due to word count limits). Here is the original “long” version.

When I first set foot onto UCLA’s campus, with its Romanesque Revival style architecture and green rolling hills, I was in awe. I knew that at the end of my four years studying physiological science I would be going to medical school (hopefully at UCLA) so that one day I could be a medical missionary. From a young age God had impressed upon my heart a desire to serve and reach those who had yet to hear the message of the gospel. I remember having dreams about being a missionary in places that had not yet heard the good news. The missio Dei was on my heart, so becoming a medical missionary seemed like a really good way to take part in God’s mission. My plan was set, I was going to be a medical doctor. I thought it was a great plan, but I forgot one thing: “The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Prov. 16:9, ESV)  I planned on going to medical school, but I quickly found that a weakness that was easy for me to cover up in High School would derail my plans: I was terrible at math. It may have been that the way my brain is wired just isn’t conducive for doing math (at least that’s what I tell myself). Calculus and organic chemistry wrecked me, I got grades in those classes that I had never seen in my entire life. At that point my academic advisor counseled me to try some other classes out. So I looked through which general education courses I could take to fulfill my graduation requirements and stumbled into a Philosophy of Mind class. I was hooked! It was such a change of pace from my math and chemistry courses. The next quarter I decided to take a Medieval Philosophy class, my 19 year old mind was blown. There I was at UCLA, studying Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, and Abelard. I was doing philosophical theology at UCLA! At that point I decided, I want to be a philosopher. So with the encouragement of some of my pastors (even though some Christians I knew kept throwing Colossians 2:8 in my face), I changed majors. I spent the rest of my time at UCLA focused on philosophy. In my courses we were assigned Geach and van  Inwagen on the Trinity, Craig on Universals, and Plantinga on possible worlds. In other courses we discussed the ontological argument, the implications of the beatific vision for epistemology, how Berkeley’s idealism affected Christology, and how Anselm’s “On the Fall of Satan” sheds light on free will and moral responsibility. At the time I had no idea that what I was doing was actually Analytic Theology, but that is certainly what I was doing.

Before I graduated from UCLA in 2010 I had to make some decisions as to what I would do next with my life. I really enjoyed doing philosophy, but still had the burden of the missio Dei on my heart. So I figured I should do philosophy of religion, that way I could be on mission at a secular university. But I knew that in order to do that well I would have to know theology well. So I decided to go to Fuller Seminary. I applied to their School of Theology, but just a few months before classes began I once again felt the burden of my missionary call, so I switched over to the Intercultural Studies program. Eventually I switched back into theology, and took my first systematic theology class with Oliver Crisp. What I remember most about that class was how much my philosophical training at UCLA fed into our theological discussions. It was almost as though all that I learned while doing analytic philosophy served as a resource to draw from when doing theology. Analytic theology was being used as a tool for doing theology. This was radically different from my previous encounters with systematic theology, which seemed to have a concordance or proof-text like nature to its approach.

Despite stumbling onto a way of doing theology that aligned itself with my love of philosophy, I still had the burden of the mission dei in the back of my mind. Thankfully, during my years of doing college ministry while in seminary my calling got sharpened. I discovered what my role is in the mission of God. My calling is to equip the church for the sake of mission.

Towards the end of my MA at Fuller I was finally able to put all of the pieces of my journey together: I had a burden for mission, I loved analytic philosophy, and I felt a call to equip the church. All these pieces,  fit so well into Fuller’s Analytic Theology for Theological Formation Project.

The project hypothesizes that Analytic Theology provides a rigorous intellectual framework for the training and formation of church leaders…. It brings together theologians and scholars with pastors and church leaders to explore the ways in which theology, and Analytic Theology specifically, may be of service to the life of the church.”[1]

Through the AT project, I am learning how to best put my training in analytic philosophy to use for the sake of doing theology that will help to equip the church for its God given mission.

That’s a little bit about how I got I got into AT – it all started with a desire to serve God’s mission, winded its way through a bunch of classes in analytic philosophy, and culminated in me starting my PhD as a part of Fuller’s AT Project. However, a better question than “How did You get into AT?” is “Why did you get into AT?” The answer to that question is a lot shorter. It is because Analytic Theology is the best way for me to do my part to contribute to God’s plan of making himself and the gospel known throughout the world.

[1] http://analytictheologyfuller.org/about/