Philosophy and Theology
ONLINE FIRST ARTICLES
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March 23, 2023
Ivonne del Valle
Loyola’s God and Descartes’s Method
The Role of the Spiritual Exercises in Modernity and Secularization
first published on March 23, 2023
This article contrasts Saint Augustine’s role in the creation of the Church’s theological dogma to Loyola’s modern gesture of independence vis-à-vis the Church. It then traces Loyola’s method to the core that grounds Descartes’ philosophical works. This core, I claim, is derived from Descartes’ understanding and imitation of the Spiritual Exercises. The Exercises obviate the Church by making it redundant, unnecessary. From this disavowal and distancing, Loyola gives the exercitant the psychological tools to emerge from the Exercises with a strong, new sense of self that with time will transform the institution from within. In Descartes’ case, the moral subject capable of responding to the question of what God wants (the product of the Exercises) is displaced by the epistemological certainty necessary to create a new “Method” to study and understand the world.
March 22, 2023
Robert E. Doud
Heidegger’s Idea of Freedom in Several Secondary Sources
first published on March 22, 2023
Heidegger commentator J. L. Mehta includes in his book the following quote from Heidegger: “Der Wanderschaft in der Wegrichtung zum Fragwürdigen ist nicht Abenteur sondern Heimkehr.” Adapting this idea to the purpose of my own project in this article, I propose: Wandering on the Footpath of Freedom is both an Adventure and a Homecoming! The aim of this article is to explore the idea of freedom as it is developed in the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. The strategy here is to examine the salient remarks of several commentators, including Mehta, William Richardson, Werner Brock, Charles Guignon, Rüdiger Safransky, and others. Some of the ideas explored here are: transcendence, overtness, authenticity, poetry and resoluteness.
The Modal (Realist) Ontological Argument
first published on March 22, 2023
This article aims to provide a new ontological argument for the existence of God. A specific ‘modal’ version of the ontological argument—termed the Modal Realist Ontological Argument—is formulated within the modal realist metaphysical framework of David K. Lewis, Kris McDaniel and Philip Bricker. Formulating this argument within this specific framework will enable the plausibility of its central premise (i.e., the ‘Possibility Premise’) to be established, and allow one to affirm the soundness of the argument—whilst warding off two oft-raised objections against this type of natural theological argument.
February 24, 2023
J. Angelo Corlett, Nathan Huffine
Penal Substitutionism, Divine Justice, and the Existence of God
first published on February 24, 2023
Professor William Lane Craig argues that a particular set of concerns about the Christian doctrine of penal substitution (namely, that Jesus of Nazareth was sacrificed for the sins of humanity) can be satisfied. This article provides rebuttals to said replies in an attempt to render plausible the claim that God exists to the extent that God is perfectly just, and that divine justice requires, among other things, that God never engage in the harming of innocents, consistent with any doctrine of retributivism worthy of the name. The doctrine of God, then, must remain consistent with unqualified negative retributivism. Any theism which might suggest otherwise violates such vital considerations of justice and fairness and must be rejected.
February 23, 2023
Chandler D. Rogers
On Dante in Relation to Schelling’s Philosophical Development
first published on February 23, 2023
Between Schelling’s Über Dante in philosophischer Beziehung (1803) and the Dantean drafts of die Weltalter (1811-1815) stand the transitional texts of his middle period, the Philosophie und Religion (1804) and Freiheitsschrift (1809). His short essay on Dante contrasts an ancient conception of the closed cosmos with the modern universe as dynamic and expanding, then claims to extract from the Divine Comedy its eternal, threefold form. This article considers these schemata as they relate to the Philosophie und Religion and the Freiheitsschrift, disclosing an enduring Dantean influence which first predicts, then persists throughout this stage of Schelling’s philosophical development.
Is Aquinas’s Doctrine of Analogy Really Unintelligible?
first published on February 23, 2023
Thomas Williams maintains that the doctrine of analogy is unintelligible. In this paper, I scrutinize and reject Williams’s argument for that claim insofar as it applies to Thomas Aquinas’s particular version of the doctrine. After laying out Williams’s critique, I present an account of Aquinas’s conception of analogy. I identify three components of it: a semantic part, a metaphysical part, and a distinctive conception of inference. I briefly explain how all three of these components play a role in Aquinas’s philosophical theology. On the basis of these ideas, I proceed to demonstrate how Williams’s argument against analogy, understood as a set of reasons for rejecting Aquinas’s version of it, fails completely. I end by pointing out how hard it appears for anyone who rejects the doctrine of analogy to keep faith with the idea of creation ex nihilo.
February 21, 2023
Joseph L. Lombardi, S.J.
Divorce and Remarriage
A Tridentine Conundrum
first published on February 21, 2023
In a magisterial book-length study, Professor E. Christian Brugger concludes that the canons of the Council of Trent, given the beliefs and intentions of its participants, provide “a dogmatic definition of the absolute indissolubility of marriage as a truth of divine revelation” (original italics). The present concern is whether Brugger’s arguments support this conclusion. Also subject to scrutiny are the relevance, plausibility, and consistency of the conciliar thinking on which his arguments are premised. It will be argued that Brugger’s conclusion is unwarranted, leaving the question of divorce and remarriage an open one.
January 24, 2023
Karl Rahner’s Theology of the Body
first published on January 24, 2023
In Karl Rahner’s early writings we see that a search to understand the embodied experience of God motivated him to develop his understanding of the person as spirit-in-world. Along the way he developed a “tectonic logic” that would shape his entire theology. This early attempt to wrestle with the paradoxes of bodily graced experience offers a hermeneutical key for both understanding Rahner’s theology and thinking theologically about the body today.
November 19, 2022
Robert E. Doud
Rahner’s Idea of Freedom in Selected Secondary Literature
first published on November 19, 2022
The importance and influence of Karl Rahner’s theology is due in great part to the number of excellent scholars who have elucidated his thinking over the years. This article assembles considerations of Rahner’s idea of freedom as found in the rich secondary literature on Rahner. Rahner’s ethics, and indeed much of his theology, rests upon the idea of discernment, his own spiritual experience, and the Ignatian practice of discernment of spirits. Discipleship with Jesus and the love of neighbor, all undergirded by the person’s free response to God’s grace and revelation, is the horizon that embraces all of what Rahner has to say. The idea of freedom rests at the basis of Rahner’s understanding of the human person, our call to discipleship, and our fundamental choice to grow in God’s grace.
October 14, 2022
Brandon R. Peterson
Rahner and the Cross
first published on October 14, 2022
Classically, Christians have professed the saving efficacy of the cross. Does Karl Rahner? Recent commentary on Foundations of Christian Faith has described Rahner as conflating “atonement” generally with penal substitutionary theories of a changing God, as ruling out the redemptive significance of Christ’s death, and as denigrating the normativity of Scripture in order to do so. This article responds to these claims, unfolding Rahner’s soteriology and arguing that he advances a theology of the cross which affirms its saving efficacy, including in the last decade of his work.
October 13, 2022
Thomas F. O’Meara
The Presence of Grace in People
Graham Greene and Karl Rahner
first published on October 13, 2022
Theology and literature, as the twentieth century progressed, increasingly treated religion not in terms of the objectifications of dogmas and devotions but as the unseen presence of the divine in an individual life. Readers and critics saw degrees of belief and modalities of sin in the novels of Graham Greene. The writer acknowledged the influence of European novelists and theologians on his narratives. Karl Rahner’s theology of human existence within an atmosphere of grace along with a presentation of the transcendental and the categorical in expressions of faith and grace recall some modern novels like Greene’s A Burnt-Out Case. Both theologian and novelist point to God’s presence as silent, varied, mysterious, and real.
October 11, 2022
Bodies of Hope
Temporality, Disability, and the God of Uncontrollable Mystery
first published on October 11, 2022
Hope for persons with disabilities is most often associated with the possibility of cure. When cure is not achievable, there remains a dire lack in our socio-cultural imagination around and construction of hopeful disabled futurity. This paper explores Karl Rahner’s eschatology as a means of both deconstructing narrow visions of curative hope and affirming the presence of theological hope that already exists in the lives of disabled people. Ultimately, this paper argues that “crip time”—the time embodied by persons with disabilities—witnesses to a prophetic relationship with time in its openness to the life-giving possibilities of the absolute future.
August 6, 2021
Ways to God
William Desmond’s Recapitulation of Thomas Aquinas’s Five Ways
first published on August 6, 2021
In this article, I explore how William Desmond recovers Thomas Aquinas's Five Ways by offering a new way for considering the relation of God to being. I do so in the context of Charles Taylor’s reflections on the immanent frame and the possibility of thinking towards God in the secular age. Desmond renews Aquinas proofs by seeing in them a hermeneutic openness to God. Considering each of Aquinas’s five ways through the lens of Desmond’s philosophy, I argue that each proof reveals God’s ways of being within being as a path to recovering an awareness of God’s presence in the world.
July 28, 2021
Karl Rahner at Vatican II
first published on July 28, 2021
Karl Rahner had a powerful influence on Vatican II for four well-known reasons: his fluency in Latin, his intellectual brilliance, his strenuous work ethic, and his wide knowledge of Catholic theology. Rahner’s contribution as a peritus was surpassed only by Gérard Philips and Yves Congar, all three of whom advised the key conciliar fathers such as Cardinals Suenens, König, and Frings. This essay traces the influence of Rahner on the four Vatican II Constitutions, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Lumen Gentium, Dei Verbum, and Gaudium et Spes. It concludes with a reflection on the pastoral care that infused his work.
July 23, 2021
John D. Dadosky
Searching for Wisdom
Towards a Systematic Integration of Sophiology into Theology
first published on July 23, 2021
Sophiology has come to the fore over the past century due in large part to the Russian sophiologists and the rise of feminist hermeneutics. Nevertheless, sophiology remains suspect in many circles due to a lack of clarity as to the status Sophia, on the one hand, and a resistance to it due to its challenge to ‘traditional’ images of God as male, on the other hand. This article takes the theological ambiguities surrounding the ontological status of Sophia, the Wisdom of God, as a context for approaching a systematic clarification that may assist a broader reception of sophiology into mainstream theology.
July 22, 2021
Mark F. Fischer
Karl Rahner’s Work on the Assumption of Mary into Heaven
first published on July 22, 2021
Karl Rahner completed his in 1951 but did not receive permission to publish it from his Jesuit superiors. The work appeared in 2004, twenty years after Rahner’s death. This essay examines his work on the Assumption and the censors’ objections. Rahner’s publication of 1947, “On the Theology of Death,” was appended to the Marian treatise as an “excursus” but laid the foundation for the later work. Rahner interpreted the Assumption as an anticipation of the resurrection of the dead. This essay focuses on three speculations by Rahner: on the relation of the soul to the body, on the maturation of the soul after death, and on the final resurrection as the world’s transformation. The censors criticized Rahner’s theology of death as too speculative and his Mariology as too minimal. Yet ’s treatment of Mary as a sign of hope until the second coming vindicated Rahner.
July 20, 2021
Robert L. Masson
Origins of the Karl Rahner Society
first published on July 20, 2021
This article describes the origin in 1991 of the Karl Rahner Society, which meets every year within the annual convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America. The Rahner Society’s origins include the role of William M. Thompson-Uberuaga as Founding Coordinator, the contributions of the earliest members of the Coordinating Committee, and the relation between the KRS and the CTSA. Society members found a vehicle for publication in the Marquette University journal Philosophy & Theology whose founding editor was Andrew Tallon. The journal continues to publish the society’s “Rahner Papers” annually.
Mark F. Fischer
The Karl Rahner Society in the Twenty-First Century (1998–2019)
first published on July 20, 2021
This essay traces the history of the Karl Rahner Society between the years 1998 and 2019. It lists the achievements of the society’s coordinators, many of the books and articles about Rahner published by members of the society, and the role played in the society by Presidents of the Catholic Theological Society of America. The essay also identifies three persistent themes of the society: Rahner and his contemporaries, Rahner and the Catholic Church, and Rahner and ecumenism.
Dennis L. Sansom
The Perichoresis of the Trinity
Overcoming the Moral Gap and the Theological Foundations of Christian Ethics
first published on July 20, 2021
According to John Hare, a “moral gap” exists between the authority of a moral demand and our inability to do the moral demand. Only the authority of the moral demander can bridge the gap, but that requires the demander experience the obligations of the demand. Christian ethics has a way to explain how to bridge of the gap. Through the doctrine of the perichoresis of triune relationships, we see how the mutual indwelling of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit incorporates the human spirit into the inner-work of the triune relations, and thereby closes the moral gap.
Stanislau Paulau, Thomas F. O'Meara
A Search for Traces
Karl Rahner in the USSR
first published on July 20, 2021
This article describes the presence of Karl Rahner in philosophical, theological, and propagandistic works published in the Soviet Union or published outside the USSR and distributed within it. Some references to Rahner appeared in self-published works without the approval of Soviet censors. These included the works of Orthodox theologians such as Sergej Želudkov and Alexander Men’. Other references to Rahner appeared in anti-religious propaganda and in works by Marxist-Leninist philosophers such as Bronislavas Juozas Kuzmickas. By 1992, the year following the collapse of the USSR, Rahner began to receive a more favorable reception in the writing of philosophers such as Elena B. Timerman.
July 9, 2021
M. V. Dougherty
Plagiarism in the Sacred Sciences
Three Impediments to Institutional Reform
first published on July 9, 2021
This article diagnoses the problem of plagiarism in academic books and articles in the disciplines of philosophy and theology. It identifies three impediments to institutional reform. They are: (1) a misplaced desire to preserve personal and institutional reputations; (2) a failure to recognize that attribution in academic writing admits of degrees; and (3) a disproportionate emphasis on the so-called “intention to plagiarize.” A detailed case study provides an illustration of the need for institutional reform in the post-publication processes in the disciplines of philosophy and theology.
March 18, 2021
Bernard J. Verkamp
Karl Rahner and Religious Agnosticism
first published on March 18, 2021
Back in the early 1960s, Karl Rahner acknowledged that ‘religious agnosticism’ (‘religiöse Agnostizismus’) did have “some truth” in it [meint etwas Richtiges] (Rahner and Vorgrimler, Kleines Theologisches Wörterbuch, 13; Theological Dictionary, 16). On the Hegelian assumption that a thing being defined involves as much what it is not, as what it is, this paper will explore in what sense Rahner thought that religious agnosticism does contain an element of truth, by contrasting his interpretation of its component parts to that of the nineteenth century agnostic trio of Herbert Spencer, Thomas H. Huxley, and John Tyndall.
December 16, 2020
Augusto Trujillo Werner
Hume’s Law, Moore’s Open Question, and Aquinas’s “Human Intellect”
first published on December 16, 2020
This article concerns Aquinas’s practical doctrine on two philosophical difficulties underlying much contemporary ethical debate. One is Hume’s Is-ought thesis and the other is its radical consequence, Moore’s Open-question argument. These ethical paradoxes appear to have their roots in epistemological scepticism and in a deficient anthropology. Possible response to them can be found in that Aquinas’s human intellect (essentially theoretical and practical at the same time) naturally performs three main operations: 1º) To apprehend the intellecta and universal notions ens, verum and bonum. 2º) To formulate the first theoretical and practical principles. 3º) To order that the intellectum and universal good be done and the opposite avoided. Thomistic philosophical response to both predicaments will not be exclusively ethical, but will harmonically embrace ontology, anthropology and epistemology.
December 12, 2020
Rafał Kazimierz Wilk
A Comparison of the Concept in Thomism and Evolutionism
first published on December 12, 2020
The topics related to the creation of man and to the death of human being are, undoubtedly, the most interesting issues facing the human mind. In explaining them, Christian Philosophy is strongly supported by the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, but there is also an attempt of explanation with referring to the process of evolution. In this article we present such an attitude elaborated by Polish Philosopher Fr. Tadeusz S. Wojciechowski. According to him the resurrection of Human Body takes place in the moment of one’s death. The death is the highest degree of biological evolution in which Man reaches the eternal life. Achieving the aim of biological evolution is not equal with the reaching spiritual evolution; at least not in case of every human being. Thus, the Purgatory helps to accomplish the task of spiritual self-fulfillment, unless one’s life led him to the eternal condemnation.
June 23, 2020
God the Object, Sign, and Interpretant
The Semiotic Logic of the Christian Trinity
first published on June 23, 2020
The central thesis of this essay is that the relation imagined to hold between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit corresponds quite closely with the triadic relationship that holds between object, sign, and interpretant, respectively, within C. S. Peirce’s conception of semiosis. Section 1 introduces Peirce’s conception of semiosis. Section 2 supports the main thesis through examination of descriptions of the Trinitarian relations in two classic Christian texts: The New Testament and The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Section 3 reviews two alternative explanations of this surprising correlation: Andrew Robinson’s vestigia Trinitatis explanation and a naturalistic alternative.
Thinking Through the Cross
On Luther’s Heidelberg Disputations and Its Contributions to Philosophy
first published on June 23, 2020
Martin Luther has given little explicit influence on philosophy, and in 1950 Jaroslav Pelikan called for further work into investigating a ‘Lutheran philosophy.’ The beginning of this work lies in Luther’s Heidelberg Disputations, in which he attacks the method of scholasticism and counters with the method of truly Christian theology, a theologia crucis. Such counter, this article argues, entails a shift in Christian philosophizing, a shift that sharply distinguishes between God and man and yet, through this distinction, as Luther asserts, allows one to “call the thing what it actually is”—and thus leads to a truly Christian philosophy.
Richard Taye Oyelakin
Why Did the Machine Work?
A Functional-theistic Interpretation from Computational Functionalism
first published on June 23, 2020
Computational functionalism assumes a synonymy between abstract functional processes in the central processing unit of a typical digital computer and the human brain, hence the conclusion that an appropriately programmed computer is a mind. Arguably, the point is that neural firings are synonymous with the transfer of electrical currents. Both are accountable and susceptible to a physicalist’s explanation. But, the reason they both worked is ultimately premised upon a causal relationship with nature. However, to understand why nature works raises some problems. Nature is either a self-propelled machine or is propelled by another force. The paper submits that, much as the discourse implies some form of “theism,” the only consistent construal is functional-theism. This, again, raises further problems.
June 18, 2020
A Feminist Reading of Karl Rahner
first published on June 18, 2020
Karl Rahner is not usually thought of as a feminist. Though feminist theology has often made recurs to his theological anthropology, Rahner is assumed to offer feminist theology little in terms of an analysis of sex, gender, and human nature. While Rahner’s explicit writings on women appear fragmentary and ambivalent, an investigation of the philosophical and theological underpinnings of Rahner’s theological anthropology shows that Karl Rahner’s understanding of human nature is imbued with a conception of sex and gender that constitutes an important contribution to an understanding of sex, gender, and human nature in theological anthropology in general and feminist theology in particular.
June 2, 2020
His Royal I-ness
The Function of God in the Bible
first published on June 2, 2020
The theology of the (Hebrew) Bible, as set out in the Torah’s foundational parts, answers the question “What am I?” not the question “Why is there a world?” So the principle that the Bible’s deity, God, represents, the principle of a category of being not recognized in the pagan thinking whose basic elements Greek philosophy systematizes, first enters “In the day that . . . the Lord God formed [the] man,” not “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth.” The admonition to place God first doesn’t therefore exclude the impersonal principles of being with which the other gods are associated, only denies their adequacy to making sense of your being and of mine, of his being and of hers.
June 1, 2020
The Logic of the Secret in Hegel and Derrida
first published on June 1, 2020
The aim of this article is to contrast Hegelian insights about the secret with Derrida’s literary account of the secret in the story of Abraham. Derrida outlines two kinds of secret in “Literature in Secret,” one revealable and the other apophatic. I propose that the first kind of secret is Hegelian in nature because a productive concept of contradiction underlies it. On the other hand, the second kind of secret is Derridean because it withdraws from all revelation. Through an analysis of the role of contradiction in Hegel’s Logic and Derrida’s distinction between revealable and unrevealable secrets, I aim to explore the logical and structural components of the concept of the secret.
May 28, 2020
Religious Reasons in the Public Sphere
A Challenge to Habermas
first published on May 28, 2020
Habermas argues that religious reasons can enter the public sphere so long as they undergo a translation that meets the standards of public reason. I argue that such a translation may be either unnecessary or impossible. Habermas does not sufficiently consider the possibility that religious reasons are already publicly accessible such that there no translation is required. Moreover, Habermas entirely fails to consider the possibility that, if he is right about religious reasons not being publicly accessible, these reasons may be of a kind such that they cannot be translated into a publicly accessible idiom as he supposes they can be.
May 27, 2020
Responses to Divine Communication
Oedipus and Socrates
first published on May 27, 2020
Sophocles’s Oedipus Tyrannus shows that humans' problems do not appear when they listen to the gods, but when they listen to themselves imagining that they follow the gods. Instead of placing themselves in the service of the god, as Socrates does in Plato’s Apology, they only think that they follow the divinity, while they actually act according to their own understanding. If Sophocles’s play is a synopsis of this danger, Plato’s dialogue proposes a different attitude before divinity: instead of interpreting the gods and acting on this interpretation, you would need to enter into their service by studying the meaning of their communication.
May 22, 2020
Roberto Di Ceglie
Rethinking the Circularity between Faith and Reason
first published on May 22, 2020
In this article, I focus on the circular relationship that, in his 1998 encyclical, Jean Paul II argued there is between faith and reason. I first note that this image of circularity needs some explaining, because it is not clear where exactly the circular process begins and ends. I then argue that an explanation can be found in Aquinas’s reflection on the gift of understanding. Aquinas referred to the virtue of faith as caused by God, which promotes human reason, and this in turn strengthens the certainty of faith.
May 21, 2020
Tertullian on Divine Sovereignty and Free Will
A Christian/Stoic Resolution
first published on May 21, 2020
Christian thinkers in the patristic era were not reluctant to integrate classical philosophy with biblical theology as they addressed the seeming incompatibility of free will and determinism (fate). This paper compares and contrasts Tertullian and the Stoics as they explain three issues relating to freedom and fate: 1) The operation of the Logos, 2) Theological Anthropology, and 3) Teleology. While in agreement with the Stoics on several key points, Tertullian crucially departs from them as he argues it is not by necessity—but rather by voluntary collaboration between humanity and the Logos—that the Creation arrives at its determinate end.
May 9, 2020
Grace Mariette Agolia
Words into Silence
first published on May 9, 2020
This essay explores Karl Rahner’s use of silence throughout his writings in relation to central themes of his theology. First, in his reflections about encountering the silent mystery of God in prayer, Rahner discovers that this painful silence may indeed be sacramental of God’s abiding nearness, inviting us to greater faith, hope, and love. Second, Rahner engages the transcendental character of this relationship between grace and freedom through the silence that permeates the existential divine-human dialogue. Third, Rahner’s meditations on Jesus, the silent Word, reveal how Jesus’s surrender in freedom to God’s silence enables our own response to God and participation in Jesus’s salvific “death-into-resurrection.” Fourth, Rahner elucidates the role of silence in ordinary mysticism; patient forbearance, bold proclamation, and love of neighbor are all opportunities for experiencing the grace of the Holy Spirit in everyday life. Finally, these themes converge in Rahner’s thoughts about the importance of silence in the spirituality of the theologian.
March 31, 2020
David A. Stosur
Rahner’s “Liturgy of the World” as Hermeneutics of Another World That Is Possible
first published on March 31, 2020
This article explores Karl Rahner’s conception of the “Liturgy of the World” in light of the theme for the 2019 Annual Convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America, “Another World is Possible: Violence, Resistance and Transformation.” Employing Rahner’s hermeneutics of worship, violence can be conceived as a denial of this cosmic liturgy, transformation as conversion to it, and resistance as the stance opposing the denial. Resistance entails solidarity with all humanity in liturgical participation and in action for social justice. Metz’s political-theological critique of Rahner, with assistance from Bruce Morrill’s analysis of Metz’s work for liturgical theology, and Rahner’s reference to Teilhard’s “Cosmic Mass,” taken today in light of contemporary cosmology with assistance from Roger Haight’s non-dualistic approach to models of God, are among the implications to be considered for engaging Rahner’s vision in ongoing efforts at liturgical renewal.
Jakob Karl Rinderknecht
Another World Is Present
Rahner’s Theology of the Church after Failure
first published on March 31, 2020
Contemporary Roman Catholic considerations of church reform are often impeded by the worry that any acknowledgment of systematic or properly ecclesial failure calls Jesus’s promise of the church’s indefectibility into question. This makes honesty about such failure, and therefore true reform, impossible. At best, in this way of thinking, blame can be shifted onto a few “bad apples.” Karl Rahner’s engagement with a quite different problem—how Roman Catholics can account for the fruits of the Spirit in Protestant Ministries—can provide tools for a renewed ecclesiology capable of honestly reckoning with sin in and by the church.
March 30, 2020
Thomas F. O'Meara
Carl Rogers and Karl Rahner
first published on March 30, 2020
Bernhard Deister’s book Anthropologie im Dialog is a comparison of aspects of Karl Rahner’s theology with the psychology of Carl Rogers. Here the dialogue partner of the German philosophical theologian is an American psychologist of influence. The author begins: “These pages present two exemplary pictures of the human person, from theology and psychology. They unfold their approaches in an interdisciplinary dialogue.” The following pages summarize this comparison. Both thinkers see the human being as an active subject living in the tensions between individuality and relationship, and then between immanence and transcendence. Building on this, Rogers’ psychology centers on the dynamics and emotions accompanying life with social groups, while Rahner is frequently involved in drawing particular theological disciplines like moral theology or ecclesiology forward into creative reflections on tradition, spirituality, and praxis amid church and society.
June 11, 2019
An Anonymous Christian along the Ganges?
Grace and Symbol in Rahner’s Theology and Endo’s Deep River
first published on June 11, 2019
Although not ignored, Rahner’s theology has not played a significant influence on the interdisciplinary scholarship between Catholic theology and literature, perhaps because Rahner’s thought is often considered to lack a theological aesthetics. This article encourages a reevaluation of this impression by bringing Rahner’s theology of symbol and his argument for the anonymous Christian into dialogue with the last novel of the acclaimed Japanese Catholic Shusaku Endo, Deep River (1994). Endo’s novel challenges theologians to consider Rahner’s insights in concrete, multi-cultural, and non-Christian contexts, and demonstrates the importance of thinking about Rahner’s theology of symbol in terms of narrative. At the same time, Endo’s novel prompts a reconsideration of Rahner’s controversial argument for the anonymous Christian, for Rahner’s thought and Endo’s novel present two different approaches to the issue of religious pluralism. In this dialogue between novelist and theologian, the Incarnational foundation of Rahner’s argument for the anonymous Christian emerges more clearly, a foundation that can be easily missed amidst his abstract rhetoric.
June 8, 2019
James B. Gould
Christian Faith, Intellectual Disability and the Mere Difference / Bad Difference Debate
first published on June 8, 2019
The mere difference view, endorsed by some philosophers and Christian scholars, claims that disability by itself does not make a person worse off on balance—any negative impacts on overall welfare are due to social injustice. This article defends the bad difference view—some disability is bad not simply because of social arrangements but because of biological deficits that, by themselves, make a person worse off. It argues that the mere difference view contradicts core doctrines of Christian faith. The analysis focuses on intellectual rather than physical or sensory disabilities.
June 7, 2019
Sarah A. Thomas
Karl Rahner’s Theology of Love in Dialogue with Social Psychology and Neuroscience
first published on June 7, 2019
The commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 25:39) is central to Christian discipleship. How does the concrete way that we express love enhance or diminish our ability to love? This paper brings Karl Rahner’s theology of neighbor love into dialogue with a description of altruism and compassion provided by social psychologist, C. Daniel Batson, and neuroscientists Tania Singer and Olga Klimecki. For Rahner, grace enables and sustains love. In addition, a mutually reciprocal relationship of unity exists between human love for God, neighbor, and self. Furthermore, Rahner contends prayer as one way to cultivate compassion for another. The scientific research presented here examines aspects of the relationship between self and other known as empathy and compassion. The research of Batson, Singer, and Klimecki shed light on the role of self-love in compassion as well as the ways our capacity to empathize conditions our potential for altruism.
Jeffrey R. Reber
The Operational Mechanics of Contemporary Systematic Theology
Two Case Studies
first published on June 7, 2019
The primary goal of this article is to provide both a descriptive and comparative analysis of two representative models of systematic theology. The findings of this study show each model to be capable of processing biblical facts, packaging them into a systematic whole, and exhibiting the facts. Yet, inescapably, the conclusions inextricably connect authorial purpose to operational structure, suggesting it is necessary to reevaluate the contemporary stigmas accompanying authorial presuppositions. There is also, however, the uncovering of a potential danger area within systematic theology, namely: the scientific-rational classification system, driven by cause and effect, which engenders classifications removed from Scripture.
June 5, 2019
Andreas R. Batlogg, S.J., Thomas F. O’Meara
Church Father of the Twentieth Century
first published on June 5, 2019
Andreas Battlogg, S.J., one of the supervising editors, discusses the conclusion of the publication of Karl Rahner's Sämtliche Werke in over thirty volumes along with its impact on the study of theology now and in the future.
May 29, 2019
Anthony F. Badalamenti
What Is Eternity?
first published on May 29, 2019
This paper presents a model for the human experience of eternity based upon an integration of the known properties of the infinities and the creation centered spirituality of Meister Eckhart. The model presents man’s movement through eternity as an ascent of ever greater infinite ontological increases that is asymptotic to God. It implies that time is part of the experience of eternity but to an ever decreasing degree. It also implies that death as a transforming event is recurring but that fear of death is only associated with its first occurrence.
April 26, 2019
Clifford Geertz’s Critique of Common Sense and the Faith
first published on April 26, 2019
The idea that the mind, i.e., common sense, is not an inherent human structure but a cultural system, has become a general assumption taken for granted by many. Richard Rorty’s post-Philosophical culture serves as an illustrative example. One of the most renowned representatives of the radical critique of the mind, i.e., of common sense, is the cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz. He believes that we are in need of an ethnography based on the “thick description”. Geertz’s insights have strongly influenced the postliberal theologians. Consequently, the centre of the theology—the faith—has once again been obscured. Therefore, this article seeks to emphasize the importance of faith, based on Josef Pieper’s sagacious insights.
The Economy of Salvation
Jean-Luc Nancy’s Deconstruction and Anselm’s Soteriology
first published on April 26, 2019
This paper extends Jean-Luc Nancy’s engagement with St. Anselm. Specifically, while Nancy is primarily concerned with Anselm’s Proslogion, this paper brings Nancy’s deconstructive protocols to bear on Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo. Of particular interest is Nancy’s treatment of the semiological association of economics and metaphysics. Ultimately, the “supplemental logic” developed here allows us to read Anselm’s dependence on the category of debt in the context of prayer. Finally, by stressing Nancy’s reception of French literary theory and poststructuralism, this paper offers an intervention into the burgeoning theological reception of Nancy, which generally sees him as a basically anti-Christian philosopher of Heideggerian, not Derridean, immanence.
April 23, 2019
Edward R. Moad
Occasionalism and Contemporary Analyses of Causation
first published on April 23, 2019
This paper will survey the most prominent contemporary analyses of causation, and evaluate their compatibility, or otherwise, with the doctrine of Occasionalism, with the ultimate aim of formulating an occasionalist analysis of causation. Though reductive analyses of causation are incompatible with Occasionalism, it seems that the denial of reductionism is as well. I will suggest a solution to the problem, involving an analysis of causation as the relation of extensional identity, between God’s will that an event actually occur, and the intensionally distinct event itself.
April 6, 2019
Revolutionary Traits in Wittgenstein and St. Paul
A Comparative Study
first published on April 6, 2019
Philosophy experienced a turning point at the time of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Likewise, religion (Judaism) encountered transformation during the time of the apostle Paul. Wittgenstein’s metaphor of the ‘River-bed’ that was later subsumed in the language-game theory is a concept that challenged the then status quo of philosophy known as rationalistic foundationalism. This philosophical predisposition is analogous to the religious situation when Paul began his Christian ministry. Paul’s passionate emphasis on ‘justification by faith’ rather than legalistic or ritualistic observance of the law, was a shockwave to the Judaist religious establishment. Wittgenstein and Paul could as well be regarded as ‘radicals’ or rebels in their respective disciplines. Wittgenstein introduced a paradigm shift into philosophy while Paul did it in the Christian religion. Their unconventional outlooks were, however, met with a lot of resistance especially from the diehard philosophers and/or religionists of the day. This paper, therefore, is a comparative work on Wittgenstein (Philosophy) and Paul (Religion) in order to demonstrate sustained revolutionary tendencies toward human innovations and the need to strive for excellence.
April 4, 2019
Sartre, Heidegger, and the Origin of Value
first published on April 4, 2019
Where does value come from? How does it continue in existence? Can it disappear? In this paper I argue, in a direction suggested by Sartre and Heidegger, that value is an objective feature of reality which exists because of choices made by conscious beings. Specifically, I argue that both the existence of correctness (what ought to or must be done, would be the right or correct thing to do) and the existence of goodness rest on types of choosing—choosing to do and choosing to care, respectively.
March 22, 2019
Aliquid altius ente
Further Reflections on the Theological Consistency of Meister Eckhart’s Metaphysics
first published on March 22, 2019
Interrogating the themes of non-existence and detachment, this article demonstrates a theological consistency underlying the composition of selected logical and mystical writings of Meister Eckhart. This is performed through a thorough consideration of Eckhart’s logical position on understanding and existence in relation to the existence (or non-existence) of God; and the implications of retracing this position in his earlier sermons which evoke the necessity of detachment. In this, it is argued that Eckhart (largely influenced by Augustine’s hierarchy of visual experience) placed logic within a broader programme of Beguine theology, in which logic exposes its own limitations, and detachment from corporeality enables a turning toward Divine incorporeality.
The Classical Correspondence Theory of Truth and the God of Islam
first published on March 22, 2019
One of the most intuitive concepts of truth is the classical correspondence theory of truth. Aside from the theoretical cogency and plausibility, this truth theory has two fundamental problems. I shall explore both of these problems. This will not be to reveal the problematic nature of the classical correspondence theory of truth itself, but to demonstrate the implications it has on Islam. I shall establish that the problems of this truth theory contribute in the failure to determine the truth of a particular notion of an Islamic God. Consequently this truth theory would prove inconsistent with a particular notion of God within the Islamic tradition.
September 14, 2018
What Does St. Thomas Say Is the Matter in Aristotle’s ‘Health’?
A Case Study of the Commentary Tradition
first published on September 14, 2018
Two tasks are pursued here. One is to display the difference (and its significance) between hermeneutic commitments in commenting on Aristotle’s difficult metaphysical texts. The other is to begin rethinking an Aristotelian account of medical healing by considering in detail the connection between matter and the form of health in Metaphysics VII. This is carried out through the examination of two puzzles: one about the relation of parts to causes, the other about the relation of matter to articulation (logos).
September 13, 2018
Ethics and Morality in Cloning Technology
Christianity, Islam, and Pop Culture
first published on September 13, 2018
This article presents the ethical and moral changes traditional Christianity and Islam face regarding the developing technology of cloning. Using dystopian literature and film as discussion points, this article argues that there is conflict regarding the idea of the sanctity of all human life within Christian and Muslim doctrine and what value the life of a cloned human would retain. These issues are examined through the joint lenses of natural theology and natural knowledge.
“Weak Thought” in the Face of Religious Violence
Perplexing Dimensions of Modernity and Globalization
first published on September 13, 2018
Modern comprehension of religion and violence, particularly modern attitudes toward religious violence, is the main topic of this paper. Mainstream secularization theory states that religion triggers conflict, tension, oppression, violence, and even war. As a continuation of this theory, the “myth of religious violence” assumes that religion is intrinsically connected with terror. These two narratives provide no sufficient proof for their claim about the irrelevance of religion; nonetheless, these narratives are expressions of the human agent’s struggle in his/her search for meaning. Referring to Gianni Vattimo’s idea of weak thought (pensiero debole), this writing proposes a narrative that treats religious and spiritual dimensions of human identity as essential for human life, as a source of remarkable consolation and hope in enduring the terror of violence, and as an opening to the new transcendental dimension of the ultimate meaning of human life.
Daniel A. Rober
Grace and the Secular
Reading Charles Taylor through Henri de Lubac
first published on September 13, 2018
Charles Taylor indicates in A Secular Age his admiration for Henri de Lubac, Yves Congar, and other Catholic theologians associated with la nouvelle théologie. This essay reads de Lubac and Taylor on the secular, analyzing convergences as well as key differences. In particular, it argues that both underestimate the possibilities of political and liberation theologies. The concluding section puts de Lubac and Taylor in dialogue with forms of political theology that have been in dialogue with their work. The author argues that a stronger political theology can be drawn out of the approach of de Lubac and Taylor despite the trepidations of each toward such a project.
September 12, 2018
Héctor Sevilla Godínez
The Human and the Nothingness: The Anthropological Conception Derived from Assuming Nothingness
first published on September 12, 2018
The reader will find a proposal of anthropological conception derived from philosophically assuming nothingness. The intention of this article is to express nineteen concrete consequences derived from being a committed nihilist in the contemporary world. Among other things, the anthropological conception proposed along these lines is congruent with the fact that man is because of his own nothingness and can only believe that he knows, that he is hurled into the world, that his will is imaginary, and that he is un-created, finite, contingent, timely, and light, without certainties and without sense. The article likewise explains the human need of creating gods and what man lives after knowing himself to be mobile in a world that is inserted simultaneously into chaos and the cosmos.
September 8, 2018
Strong Evaluation Down the Decades
Rearticulating Taylor’s Central Concept
first published on September 8, 2018
This essay pursues the development of Charles Taylor’s concept of “strong evaluation” from his first publications on this topic until his most recent uses of the concept. Because Taylor employs strong evaluation in discussions of philosophical anthropology, ethics, phenomenology, and ontology all in one, it has been (mis)understood in a variety of ways. To clarify his strategy, the analysis gradually progresses beyond strong evaluation to the more fundamental question of the relation between philosophical anthropology, ethics, phenomenology, and ontology in Taylor’s writings. It concludes that Taylor’s reasoning especially deserves further investigation with regard to the ontological implications of strong evaluation.
September 7, 2018
A Christian Voice for the Nineteenth Century
first published on September 7, 2018
The work of Frances E. W. Harper is examined with an eye toward its place in the Black canon. It is argued that Harper was a major thinker of her time, along the lines of Ida B. Wells, and that further reading of her work is required, with an emphasis on the force of her religious views. She is also contrasted with other nineteenth century thinkers.
September 6, 2018
Brandon L. Morgan
Love as the Logic of Reconciliation in Hegel
first published on September 6, 2018
This essay explores the significance of Hegel’s considerations of love for his later dialectical philosophy in order to bring to attention love’s continued import as a category of logical and theological unity and reconciliation. A lingering question for Hegel scholarship is why he seemingly drops the unifying notion of love in his more developed dialectical philosophy, choosing instead to expound a philosophy of the concept that solely grants to reason the task of dialectical recovery. On my reading, this interpretation suffers from a failure to imagine Hegel’s early writings on love as contributing to the working out of his later dialectical logic and philosophy of spirit, specifically in terms of the unifying and reconciling principle of Vernunft (reason) in contrast to Verstand (understanding). Furthermore, Hegel’s substantial appeals to love in the later Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion show love's continued significance for him, not only as a logical but a theological principle of unity between finite and infinite spirit, a unity lost on the understanding alone. Reading Hegel’s Vernunft as a form of rationally reconciling love, therefore, shows a continuity in Hegel’s thinking that brings to bear Hegel’s later philosophical developments of reason and spirit on his philosophical theology.
July 21, 2018
The Actuality of Medieval Philosophy
God, the Flesh, and the Other
first published on July 21, 2018
The “phenomenological practice of medieval philosophy” actualizes its relevance. This method, undertaken substantially in the author’s God, the Flesh, and the Other: From Irenaeus to Duns Scotus (2015) finds its full justification here. The fruitfulness of a method is not found in its theorization, but in its practical application. An examination of authors as diverse as St. Augustine, John Scotus Eriugena, and Meister Eckhart (for “God”), Sts. Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Bonaventure (for the “flesh”), and Origen, Thomas Aquinas, and Duns Scotus (for the “other”), actualizes the relevance of medieval philosophy—an actualization of relevance understood in the first place as the realization of these thinkers’ “potentialities” (actualitas).
June 26, 2018
Reading Rahner’s Evolutionary Christology with Bonaventure
first published on June 26, 2018
In his evolutionary Christology, Karl Rahner shares some surprising affinities with Bonaventure. Both envision human beings as microcosmic, that is, as uniquely representative of the whole of creation. Both describe creation Christocentrically, oriented in its design and goal toward the Incarnate Word. Both understand humans as radically responsible for the non-human world. These similarities point to a more foundational congruence in their Trinitarian theologies. Rahner and Bonaventure connect the Father’s personal character as fontal source of Son and Spirit to God’s unoriginated and free relation to creation. If the Word expresses the Father fully, creation expresses God in a real but incomplete way. This grounds a series of analogous relationships between created spirit and matter, human freedom and nature, as well as grace and human nature. From this perspective, Rahner’s evolutionary Christology can be seen as ecologically significant, appreciatively critical of evolution, and ultimately rooted in the Trinity.
June 23, 2018
C. Andrew DuPée
Out of Context
Newman and Marion on Religion, Revelation, and Hermeneutics
first published on June 23, 2018
This paper offers, first, an analysis and critique of John Henry Newman’s theorizing of real assent, in comparison with Jean-Luc Marion’s own phenomenological investigation of Revelation and Religious Experience. In conversation with the results of these analyses, I offer a critique of a certain hermeneutical criticism of Marion’s oeuvre. This, as I attempt to show, dovetails with certain strong criticisms towards Newman’s own interpretation of religious experience, insofar as it highlights the demand for some discussion or theorization of a standpoint beyond hermeneutic circularity.
June 5, 2018
Self-Transcendence and Union in Christ
Karl Rahner’s Eucharistic Theology of Creation
first published on June 5, 2018
In Laudato Si, Pope Francis calls for a theology respectful of creation. I here suggest that balancing Karl Rahner’s theology of creation with his sacramental theology brings us closer to providing such a theology. Rahner’s sacramental theology fittingly complements his theology of the incarnation, by highlighting the significance of the redemption of creation accomplished in Christ. Matter and nature are redeemed and must now be listened to because they also have been made to bespeak of the divine re-creative power. Revealing life to be a gift and consecrating all natural beings as creatures endowed with a purpose, the Eucharist leads those taking part in it to perceive in nature a sacrament of God’s love. In the Eucharistic liturgy, they celebrate and reconnect with (their own) nature, which is healed and transformed to become an instrument for God.
September 7, 2017
Shlomo Dov Rosen
Rawls’s Structural Response to Arbitrariness
An Echo of Calvin
first published on September 7, 2017
John Rawls, father of contemporary distributive justice, professed the metaphysical neutrality of his theory, and formulated an additional theory to support such neutrality generally. This article exposes Rawls’s own theological underpinnings concerning his conception of the moral arbitrariness of existence, and his structural dichotomous approach for engaging it. I show how both of his theories are reminiscent of Calvin, employing methods of bifurcation, and thus generating tensions within both the concept of justice and moral personality. I end with analysis of the relationship of this structural rationality to arbitrariness. This exposure of Rawls’s theological debt is part of a wider argument concerning the theological basis of distributive justice theory, and the relevance of Theology for philosophical ethics.
September 1, 2017
Making the Fundamental Option Fully Free
How Human Capabilities Help Clarify Rahner’s Conception of Justice
first published on September 1, 2017
In his Theological Investigations article, “The Dignity and Freedom of Man,” Karl Rahner writes, “The personality of [the human] . . . requires of necessity a certain space for realizing itself.” What defines this “space” and how does it relate to Rahner’s understanding of justice? This article addresses this question by placing Rahner’s under-developed conception of justice, particularly as it relates to the fundamental option, in constructive dialogue with the language of human capabilities of Martha Nussbaum. Capabilities provide a moral framework for specifying the concrete meaning of the “space” necessary for one to freely say “yes” to God and neighbor, which gives greater depth and specificity to Rahner’s conception of justice. Both Rahner and Nussbaum recognize freedom as foundational for individual flourishing. The article concludes by recognizing how Rahner’s theology can also enrich Nussbaum’s conception of justice, particularly in relation to the question of moral motivation.
August 29, 2017
Wisdom, Risk-Taking, and Understanding
first published on August 29, 2017
With a few exceptions, much of epistemology in the last century has been dominated by discussions centered on knowledge, and in particular propositional knowledge (along with associated concepts such as justification, the reliability of cognitive processes, etc.). Recently, attention has been given to other cognitive states such as understanding and wisdom, due in some part to the resurgence of theorizing about intellectual virtues. As with typical epistemic concepts such as justification and knowledge, offering an analysis of wisdom has been difficult. In this paper, I critique a recent attempt to analyze wisdom as risk-taking, and after gleaning from the insights of Thomas Aquinas, I defend a particular version of the wisdom-as-understanding approach.
August 26, 2017
Bernard J. Verkamp
Thinking about the Laws of Nature
first published on August 26, 2017
Interdisciplinary theorizing about the laws of nature has given rise to many questions about the respective roles scientists, philosophers, and theologians are expected to play in any such dialogue. This paper focuses primarily on how the theological community itself might respond to such questions. In the light of an approach advocated by Karl Rahner, an argument is made that neither the theological credentials of the scientist proposing an hypothesis, nor the scientific credentials of the theologian reflecting upon it, should have any decisive bearing on the evaluation of either the scientific hypothesis or the theological reflection on it.
August 25, 2017
Ultimate Concern and Finitude
Schelling’s Philosophy of Religion and Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology
first published on August 25, 2017
This paper explores Paul Tillich’s use of the Friedrich Schelling’s philosophy in his explorations of the relevance of historical forms of Christian belief to contemporary culture, where human experience is marked by anxiety and guilt, and where the search for ultimate meanings seems to dead-end in meaninglessness. For Tillich as for Schelling, religion points to metaphysics. The only literal or nonsymbolic truth about God is that God is the affirmation of being over against the possibility of nonbeing, a divine Yes that is an overcoming of a prior No or self-inclusion. The ambiguity of existence as current human beings experience it is itself religious experience.
August 24, 2017
Hegel on Christianity in the Phenomenology of Spirit
first published on August 24, 2017
There has been significant disagreement about Hegel’s view of Christianity in the “Revealed Religion” section of the Phenomenology of Spirit. This paper attempts to show that his view encompasses the breath of the Christian experience that incorporates both orthodox and heretical teachings. It covers three doctrines: the Trinity, which features Sabellian modalism; Creation, which incorporates both Neo-Platonism and Christian Gnosticism; the Incarnation, which shows a conceptual conflict in how the Son is portrayed as both the servant of faith and the naturalistic lord of the world.
August 23, 2017
Relativism and Christian Truth Claims
first published on August 23, 2017
Most philosophers and theologians would consider atheism as the main opponent of contemporary religious belief. In this paper, I dare to question this view. Relativism might be a far more challenging opponent of Christian truth claims. In the first section, I shall outline two types of relativism which might be more subversive of religious belief than its atheistic denial: ‘academic truth relativism’ and ‘quotidian truth relativism.’ The second section deals with academic truth relativism. The third section discusses quotidian truth relativism. A short conclusion is offered in the fourth section.
August 22, 2017
Simon Maria Kopf
Karl Rahner on Science and Theology
first published on August 22, 2017
This article addresses the question of how Karl Rahner conceives of the relationship between theology and the sciences. I argue that there is a significant development in Rahner’s conceptualisation of this relationship, and draw attention to the apparent collapse of Rahner’s concrete attempt to integrate the sciences into his theology. I point out considerable alterations in the role philosophy and theology plays in this respect. My thesis is that Rahner’s shifts in his general conception of the relationship between theology and the sciences are fundamentally theological in nature. These shifts, I claim, are rooted in the apparent loss of the mediating function of philosophy and reflect Rahner’s increasing awareness of the situation of pluralism.
August 18, 2017
Bradford L. McCall
Causation, Vitalism, and Hume
first published on August 18, 2017
Causation has troubled philosophers since the time of Aristotle, and they have sought to clarify the concept of causation because of its implications for other philosophical issues. The most radical change in the meaning of “cause” occurred during the late seventeenth, in which there emerged a strong tendency to understand causal relations as instantiations of deterministic laws. In this essay, I note how early modern philosophers, eminently apparent in Hume, reacted to the notion of vitalism and posited a conception of causation in which it and determinism became virtually equivalent, which thereby denied any sort of vitalistic impulse within matter.
Anne Conway on Time, the Trinity, and Eschatology
first published on August 18, 2017
This paper considers the conception of the Triune God, soteriology and eschatology in Anne Conway’s metaphysics. After outlining some of the key features of her thought, including her account of a timeless God who is nevertheless intimately present in creation, I will argue that her conception of the Trinity offers a distinctive role for Christ and the Holy Spirit to play in her philosophical system. I also propose an interpretation of Conway’s eschatology, in which time is understood as grounded in a never-ending soteriological process of the overall movement of creatures towards perfection and a state of spirituality.
August 10, 2017
Liran Shia Gordon
Rethinking Intuitive Cognition
Duns Scotus and the Possibility of the Autonomy of Human Thought
first published on August 10, 2017
This study will examine the ontological dependency between the thinking act of the intellect and the intelligibility of the objects of thought. Whereas the intellectual tradition prior to Duns Scotus grounds the formation of the objects of thought and our ability to understand them with certainty in different forms of participation in the divine intellect, Scotus shows that the intelligibility of the objects of thought is internal to them alone and is not dependent on participation.
David Efird, David Worsley
What an Apophaticist Can Know
Divine Ineffability and the Beatific Vision
first published on August 10, 2017
For an apophatic theologian, the doctrines of divine ineffability and of the beatific vision seem, on first glance, to contradict each other. If God is beyond knowledge (as we are taught in the doctrine of divine ineffability) how can we come to know Him, fully and completely (as we are taught in the doctrine of the beatific vision)? To resolve this problem, we argue that, if there are at least two qualitatively different kinds of knowledge, namely, propositional knowledge and knowledge of persons, then there are at least two qualitatively different kinds of ineffability, namely, propositional ineffability and what we will call personal ineffability. By postulating that God is propositionally ineffable but personally effable, we argue that the contradictory doctrines of divine ineffability and of the beatific vision can be reconciled. Thus, the apophatic theologian can know nothing God, but they can still come to God, fully and completely.
January 4, 2017
Aristotle's Phronimos Should Also Turn the Other Cheek
first published on January 4, 2017
Preliminary assessment of Aristotle’s treatment of justice suggests that he would consider unjust Jesus’s injunction to turn your other cheek to one who has unjustly struck you. Further consideration, however, shows that obeying such an injunction would qualify, even by Aristotle’s criteria, as a more just response than reciprocating the blow. Turning one’s cheek provides the assailant an opportunity to make a choice that could improve his character, which improvement is crucial to the political good that is the primary concern of justice in the full sense. Remaining concerns about rectification are obviated by considering how the megalopsukhos navigates honor.
November 29, 2016
Matthew W. Knotts
You Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine
first published on November 29, 2016
The task of this article is to propose an alternative method for adjudicating truth claims between various paradigms. Informed by sources such as Augustine, Aquinas, Heidegger, Gadamer, and Kuhn, I argue for a form of reasoning which aspires to credibility, plausibility, and explanatory capacity, rather than absolute proof. Instead of representing a flight from scientific standards, I argue that such an approach ultimately represents the best hope of safeguarding the essence of science and rationality as such.
November 22, 2016
The Maker of the Song
first published on November 22, 2016
This article seeks explore the complex relations between Beauty and the Sublime. The exploration is guided by two very powerful, but very different, thinkers: Swiss Catholic metaphysical theologian Hans Urs von Balthasat and American naturalist metaphysician Robert S. Corrington. Through reflection upon von Balthasar’s themes of Beauty, Splendor and Being and Corrington’s themes of the Sublime and the Encompassing it is hoped implications of the complex relations between Beauty and the Sublime might be evoked and engaged.
The Paradox of Thought
A Proof of God’s Existence from the Hard Problem of Consciousness
first published on November 22, 2016
This paper uses a paradox inherent in any solution to the Hard Problem of Consciousness to argue for God’s existence. The paper assumes we are “thought machines”, reading the state of a relevant physical medium and then outputting corresponding thoughts. However, the existence of such a thought machine is impossible, since it needs an infinite number of point-representing sensors to map the physical world to conscious thought. This paper shows that these sensors cannot exist, and thus thought cannot come solely from our physical world. The only possible explanation is something outside, argued to be God.
Margaret Cavendish and Causality
first published on November 22, 2016
Lines of argument taken from Cavendish’s Observations and Letters are used to support the notion that her innovative metaphysics was designed to counter the thinking of the new science and Descartes’s own arguments. The work of Broad, Atherton and Lichtenstein is cited, and it is concluded that Cavendish deserves close reading. In addition, although Cavendish does not address notions having to do with Christianity as directly as we might wish, it is clear that these concepts are crucially related to her work.
November 19, 2016
Héctor Sevilla Godínez
The Being of Nothingness
first published on November 19, 2016
The reader will find a proposal of philosophical comprehension of nothingness. The intent of this article is to express in nineteen concrete categories that which can be understood by nothingness in the realm of metaphysics. Among other things: that nothingness is, that there is no manner of directly knowing it, that it contains the world without a will, that it is neither deity nor creator, at the same time that it is un-created, incontingent, atimely, absolute, generator of uncertainty, conditioning, and pre-existing to everything that is; in that sense, nothingness implies movement, is enabling, and is associated to chaos and the cosmos.
A Realist Approach in Analytic Theology and the Islamic Tradition
first published on November 19, 2016
I shall argue that the prominent realist methodological approach that is adopted by majority of analytic theologians is inconsistent with the Islamic tradition. I will propose that the realist outlook is constituted of two essential components – metaphysical theological realism and epistemic theological realism – both of which fail to be amenable with the Islamic tradition. The prime reason for this, as I shall demonstrate, is that both metaphysical theological realism and epistemic theological realism divest the Islamic God of absolute transcendence in different ways, impinging on the religion in a manner which ironically defies the purpose of analytic theology. In conclusion, this would establish that the prominent realist position adopted by majority of analytic theologians is inconsistent with the Islamic tradition.
November 17, 2016
J. Angelo Corlett
Divine Justice and Human Sin
first published on November 17, 2016
This paper challenges the claim that the traditional Christian (Augustinian, Thomistic, Anselmian) idea of hell as a form of eternal punishment (damnation and torment) for human sin cannot be made consistent with the idea of proportionate punishment, and it raises concerns with the notion that divine justice requires divine forgiveness and mercy. It argues that divine justice entails or at least permits retribution as the meting out of punishment by God to those who deserve it in proportion to the degree and amount of harm unduly and responsibly caused by sinners to others. For God to fail to punish those who deserve it in proportion to their harmful wrongdoings would imply God’s failure to be both just and omnibenevolent.
November 16, 2016
Jonathan S. Marko
Why Locke’s “Of Power” Is Not a Metaphysical Pronouncement
Locke’s Response to Molyneux’s Critique
first published on November 16, 2016
It is my contention here that the chapter “Of Power,” in John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, is not a metaphysical pronouncement upon the liberty-necessity debates but more along the lines of what those like James Harris portray it to be: a description of our experience of freedom of the will. It is also prescriptive since it is descriptive of the right use of the will. My claims are based upon two key pieces of evidence that are responses to William Molyneux’s oft noted critique of the first edition of the chapter: 1) an admission by Locke in his correspondence: at least part of the reason he is attempting to avoid metaphysical pronouncements is that trying to reconcile divine and human agency is too difficult; and 2) the theological message of “Of Power”—the truly free agent is reasonable, and the truly reasonable agent will have her eyes fixed on the afterlife, thus aiming for herself to be a slave and determined, therefore, by her ever-cultivated desire for righteousness and not by her fleshly desires—and his development of it throughout the chapter eludes sectarian categorization by the avoidance of theological issues that are not unrelated to the metaphysical question of human free agency. To frame his chapter otherwise makes him out to be a theological novice or, perhaps, unconcerned with the religious background of his readership.
November 15, 2016
Jeffrey A. Allen
Ignatius’s Exercises, Descartes’s Meditations, and Lonergan’s Insight
first published on November 15, 2016
Both René Descartes and Bernard Lonergan were educated at Jesuit schools in their youth, and both had exposure—the former perhaps indirectly, the latter directly—to Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. Several scholars have outlined parallels between Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy and the Exercises. This article reviews those parallels, and then uses them as guides for exploring traces of the Meditations in Lonergan’s Insight: A Study of Human Understanding.
November 11, 2016
John P. Slattery
Dangerous Tendencies of Cosmic Theology
The Untold Legacy of Teilhard de Chardin
first published on November 11, 2016
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin loved the world, but, theologically and spiritually, he often tried to leave it behind. This essay shows that from the 1920s until his death in 1955, Teilhard de Chardin unequivocally supported racist eugenic practices, praised the possibilities of the Nazi experiments, and looked down upon those who he deemed "imperfect" humans. These ideas explicitly lay the groundwork for Teilhard’s famous cosmological theology, a link which has been largely ignored in Teilhardian research until now. This study concludes that such support requires a reconsideration of how Teilhard is used in twenty-first century theology.
November 2, 2016
James B. Gould
Theological Reflective Equilibrium and the Moral Logic of Partnered Homosexuality
first published on November 2, 2016
In this paper I argue two things. First, taking my cue from the process of Rawlsian reflective equilibrium, I outline a theological method in which rational perspectives not grounded in Scripture play a controlling role in interpreting the Bible. Some reason-revelation conflicts should be resolved by taking philosophical or scientific thinking as the correct starting point, and adjusting our understanding of Scripture accordingly. Second, I apply this approach to the dilemma of partnered homosexuality. Moral reasoning clearly permits committed same-sex relationships, and so the Bible must be understood to not forbid them.
November 1, 2016
J. August Higgins
Spirit and Truth
Gadamer’s Fusion of Horizons and Contemporary Spirituality Studies
first published on November 1, 2016
This article examines Hans-Georg Gadamer’s seminal work Truth and Method and the central notion of the “fusion of horizons” as it relates to several central concerns within the contemporary study of Christian spirituality. In particular, the nature of human experience in general and religious experience in particular play a significant role in Gadamer’s work and spirituality respectively. Ultimately, this article concludes that Gadamer’s fusion of horizons opens up the possibility of integrating the experience of God via the Holy Spirit into a critical hermeneutics of spirituality that is socially-communally oriented within the interpretive community of believers.
Joshua R. Farris
Bodily-Constituted Persons, Soulish Persons, and the Imago Dei
The Problem from a Definite I
first published on November 1, 2016
Lynne Rudder Baker makes a significant contribution to theological anthropology by constructively drawing from her constitutional view of human persons (hereafter CV). In a recent article, “Persons and the Natural Order”, Baker defends CV and argues that it more satisfactorily accounts for the philosophical and theological desiderata. I am especially interested in the theological desiderata given by Baker, which at its core seems to depend upon personal agency. I argue that substance dualism offers a superior accounting for the psychology persons have of themselves as personal agents. In fact, Baker’s CV encounters a significant problem concerning the ability to pick out definite content regarding the ‘I’ that entails other problematic theological ramifications.