themelios

volume 2 issue 2

January 1977 / 29 pages

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Columns

Articles

Confession of a Reformed Philosopher: Why I Am a Compatibilist about Determinism and Moral Responsibility

John C. Wingard Jr.

It is not fashionable among Christian philosophers today to be a compatibilist about morally significant freedom and determinism. This essay sketches a case for the reasonableness of embracing compatibilism that involves both theological and nontheological considerations. This is followed by a critique of the most widely recognized challenge to compatibilism, the consequence argument against compatibilism, that attempts to show why such an argument cannot succeed. The essay concludes by noting several implications of the sort of compatibilism defended here for developing a satisfactory moral psychology.

Natural Selection and an Epistemology of Evil: An Incompatible Pair

J. Daniel McDonald

Underlying the atheistic naturalist’s argument from evil against God’s existence is an assumed knowledge of evil—they know what evil is. For atheistic naturalists, Darwinian evolution serves as the framework of their worldview with natural selection as the blind agent of change. Assuming natural selection is true, how can one who holds to natural selection know what evil is and that something is evil—what the author calls an “epistemology of evil”? This article argues that the beliefs in natural selection and in the existence of evil are contradictory, undermining the argument from evil against God’s existence.

Wendell Berry’s “Risk”: In the Middle on Gay Marriage?

Jacob Shatzer

Wendell Berry’s influence has grown in recent years as many people, Christians or not, have found his agrarian vision a compelling corrective to various modern problems. However, Berry publicly took what we might call a “middle road” on gay marriage. This position surprised (and disappointed) many evangelicals that do not agree. But how does Berry’s position on gay marriage stand up to Berry’s own criticism? Does he agree with himself?

The Preeminence of Knowledge in John Calvin’s Doctrine of Conversion and Its Influence Upon His Ministry in Geneva

Obbie Tyler Todd

John Calvin believed that the mind served as the “citadel” to the soul, commanding the seat of conversion whereby God first remedied the noetic effects of sin before liberating the bound will. Therefore the Reformer consigned particular importance to human knowledge in the process of conversion that reverberated throughout his entire Genevan ministry. It is the aim of this article to examine Calvin’s developed hierarchy of faculties, particularly the chief functional status ascribed to the mind, and how this preeminence of knowledge influenced his view of sin, salvation, and Christian homiletics respectively.

Redeeming Edwards’s Doctrine of Hell: An “Edwardsean” Account

Christopher Woznicki

Jonathan Edwards provides subsequent generations of theologians and ministers with one of the most influential versions of the traditional account of hell. However, his account of hell has its detractors. Those who oppose Edwards’s account argue that it is morally appalling and philosophically problematic. As such, I attempt to defend Edwards’s account by addressing one of its most philosophically pressing objections: the issuant account objection. In order to do this, I turn to Edwards’s doctrine of the blessed state of the redeemed in heaven. This is a doctrine the resources of which can help provide a redeemed “Edwardsean” account of hell, one that is both traditional and issuant.

A Missiology of Excluded Middles: An Analysis of the T4T Scheme for Evangelism and Discipleship

George A. Terry

This article analyzes the theological premises of the popular T4T model for evangelism and discipleship. The analysis argues that the T4T scheme largely depends on several false dichotomies that do not engage the Scriptures except in order to proof text and it regularly excludes the middle area that conveys the biblical balance. The result is an overly rigid methodology that undervalues the influence of context in cross-cultural communication. Rather than a theological vision that holds in biblical tension both truth and context, T4T sanctions an inflexible evangelism scheme that is more conducive to receptive audiences and a discipleship model that is more conversant with what is expedient than what is biblical.

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