Protestantism Archives



More Generally: The Church (73)
More Specifically: Anglican Communion (3) Calvary Chapel (1) Evangelicalism (5) Southern Baptist Convention (1) The 'Reformed' Tradition (1)

December 25, 2013

A Thought for Christmas

The King of the Universe born in a stable can mean nothing less than the total subversion of the established social order. As I was contemplating this point this morning, I was reminded of a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: as King Arthur rides by, one peasant says to another, "look! It must be a king." When the second peasant asks, "how do you know?" the first responds, "he's the only one who hasn't got [dung] all over him." The image of the king is of the clean, the privileged, the wealthy, the insider. But the story...
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March 13, 2013

Quote of the Day: Enns on Religious Fear of Evolution

At present there is a lot of fear about the implications of bringing evolution and Christianity together, and this fear needs to be addressed head-on. Many fear that we are on a slippery slope, to use the hackneyed expression. Perhaps the way forward is not to resist the slide so much as to stop struggling, look around, and realize that we may have been on the wrong hill altogether.

- Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam, p. 145


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June 4, 2012

On the Controversy Surrounding Berkeley's Ordination

In George Berkeley: Idealism and the Man, David Berman amasses considerable circumstantial evidence to the effect that Berkeley's movement away from Locke's theory of language may have been touched off by an in-person encounter with Archbishop William King and Provost Peter Browne (later Bishop of Cork and Ross) at a meeting of the Dublin Philosophical Society, November 19, 1707, where Berkeley read a brief paper entitle 'Of Infinities' (included in Luce and Jessop, volume 4; see Berman 11-20). I think Berman's overall picture is quite likely correct. In fact, in a paper called "Berkeley's Lockean Religious Epistemology" which I am...
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February 15, 2012

Dropping My Tagline

For several years, this blog has been labeled with the tagline "The Evangelical libertarian philosopher." For some time now, I've been dissatisfied with this label, both as a description of my views and as a description of what this blog is about. I've hesitated to drop it primarily because I think that blogs of non-famous people, such as myself, should have some kind of descriptive name or tagline rather than just the author's name, and I couldn't think of another short, catchy, descriptive phrase that would nicely fill that bit of screen space. (I toyed with: "Berkeley's metaphysics, Nozick's politics,...
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October 14, 2011

Berkeley on Miracles and Transubstantiation

It was the custom among 17th and 18th century English philosophers to take as many potshots at the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation as possible. Sometimes it almost seems that a desideratum for a theory of metaphysics is that it should be inconsistent with that doctrine. This desideratum is, of course, easily satisfied: most theories of metaphysics are inconsistent with transubstantiation. All versions of the doctrine require that it be metaphysically possible for flesh to exist under the 'species' of bread, and a conservative interpretation of the doctrine popular in the early modern period further required that numerically the same...
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August 10, 2010

Two Concepts of Justification

In my comment on Uncommon Priors the other day, I distinguished between two different problems I might need to be saved from: (1) I deserve to be punished for my actions, and (2) if there is a God, he will probably punish me for my actions. These, in my view, are two different problems. That is, the fact that I deserve punishment is a terrible thing in itself, independent of whether I will ever actually be punished. Because of this, we can see our need for salvation, even before we believe in God. This might be important...
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February 24, 2010

Biblical Literalism as Hyper-Perspicuity

Last night I was at a lecture on science and religion at USC's Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies. (Evidently, we have an Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies. Who knew?) In the course of a lecture with which I otherwise mostly agreed, Fr. Paul Heft connected radical Biblical literalism with the Reformers. This is, of course, strictly false: the Reformers were not literalists in anything like the sense in which twentieth century fundamentalists were. However, it got me thinking about what connection the doctrine of perspicuity, which I was recently discussing on Called to Communion, might have to radical literalism...
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August 31, 2009

Quote of the Day: Nadler on Arnauld on the Church's Authoritativeness

I have recently been involved in an interesting discussion on the authority/authoritativeness of the Church over at Called to Communion. In light of this, I thought I would post a selection I came across today on the position of Antoine Arnauld, the French Jansenist theologian and Cartesian philosopher, on this question: Like all Jansenists, [Arnauld] was accused of Calvinism and political subversion. In 1656 he was excluded from the faculty of the Sorbonne for his refusal to submit to the Church on the issue of five propositions condemned as heretical in the encyclical Cum occasione (1653), and which the Pope...
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November 25, 2008

What the ESV is Good For

It's been a long time since I wrote much about Bible translation, but I thought I'd step up on this one. There has recently been a long series of posts on Better Bibles Blog containing a paper Mark Strauss presented to the Evangelical Theological Society entitled "Why The English Standard Version Should Not Become the Standard English Version." There is now a brief response from Bill Mounce, the New Testament Chair of the ESV translation committee. I, on the one hand, agree with Strauss that some of the ESVs decisions make for misleading or awkward English text. On the other hand...
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October 8, 2008

Baber on the Real Presence

Some of the papers to be presented at the Society of Christian Philosophers, Pacific Division Conference have now been posted. Mine isn't up yet, but I will provide a link when it is. For now, I want to point readers to a paper by the University of San Diego's Harriet Baber which she has entitled simply "The Real Presence". We have previously discussed here the difference between transubstantiation and real presence. Baber describes this quite nicely in her introduction...
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January 7, 2008

Hyper-Reformation Theology

I am increasingly of the belief that one of the biggest problems - and the root of many other problems - with contemporary Evangelicalism is what I call "hyper-Reformation theology." I don't mean hyper-Calvinism. I use the term "Reformation theology" to refer to five points which are far more fundamental to the Reformation that the points of Calvinism: namely, the five solas. By the term "hyper-Reformation theology," I mean a collection of exaggerated caricatures of these essential doctrines which are currently popular among Evangelicals. The most visible of these is "hyper-sola scriptura", which I have discussed before...
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November 5, 2007

What's Wrong With Evangelicalism?

A lot actually. I don't want to start making a list (I might not stop). Regular readers may wonder why I still use the title so prominently, given my concern for history and tradition, and frequent attempts to distance myself from many elements of popular Evangelicalism. The answer is that I agree with the statements of faith of all the major Evangelical para-church groups, including their view of Scripture (my increasingly great respect for tradition has not altered that), and I continue to believe (perhaps more strongly than before) in "generous orthodoxy" - the view that the collection of doctrines...
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September 21, 2007

On Theological Method

Last night, I had a brief friendly debate with some Calvinists, which has me thinking about theological method. Briefly, I approach the issue of Calvinism and Arminianism from the perspective primarily of philosophy rather than revealed theology. That is, I argue that libertarian free will, which is incompatible with most (but, surprisingly, not all) versions of Calvinism, but is central to Arminianism, is a philosophically attractive thesis on grounds of, for instance, human moral responsibility, the problem of evil, and the phenomenology of choice. (I don't claim that Calvinists can't provide accounts of these things, I simply claim that Arminians...
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August 13, 2007

Original Sin-Original Guilt, Christ's Righteousness-Imputation of Righteousness

Peter Kirk has posted a discussion of the Latin text Augustine was familiar with and its effect on his doctrine of original sin. The claim is, effectively, this: Augustine believed in the doctrine of original guilt because of an ambiguity introduced by an excessively literal Latin Bible which persists in the Vulgate and later theologians have a propensity to read original guilt into the text of Scripture because Augustine did. The passage in question is the end of Romans 5:12. The English translations are pretty much all the same: "in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned." But Augustine's translation says...
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May 24, 2007

Quote(s) of the Day: Selections From Berkeley's Letter to Sir John James

In the course of a bit of research on Berkeley's views on the epistemology of religion, I have just come across a little letter Berkeley wrote to one Sir John James, dated June 7, 1741. James was, apparently, an Anglican living in Boston who was considering converting to Roman Catholicism. While for some reason (perhaps because he was Irish) Berkeley is often mistakenly believed to have been a member of the Roman Catholic Church, he was, in fact, a member of the clergy of the Church of England, and wrote against Roman Catholicism on a number of occasions, this being...
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May 11, 2007

Quote of the Day

I am no feminist (my wife will confirm my impeccable Neanderthal credentials); I have strong views on women's ordination; but I am saddened by the way Reformed church culture so often tramples its women underfoot with its mindless identification of biblical manhood with something akin to John Wayne and its assumption that all Christian women should make Mary Poppins look domestically incompetent. - Carl Trueman, Reformation21.
I'm not sure where these attitudes come from...
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March 31, 2007

Protestant Mariology

The God Fearin' Fiddler has a post up on why Protestants are offended by Mariology. This was one of the issues that came up in our previous debate, so I would like to address it briefly here. Before I do so, I want to make a few preliminary remarks. The first is that the assertion that Mariology is offensive to Protestants contains a terminological mistake, but it is a mistake that is also made by many Protestants. "Mariology" is the branch of theology that deals with Mary. Protestants are not offended by this subject of study. In fact, there is...
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March 21, 2007

Sola Scriptura in Augustine

As previously promised, this post will treat the presence of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura in Augustine. First, let me state that by Sola Scriptura I do not necessarily mean a particular formulation by Luther or Calvin or any particular church, but rather I mean to show that the cluster of doctrinal positions into which all of these fall exists in the early church. So I really mean the doctrines (plural) of Sola Scriptura, and not some particular doctrine. I define these as follows: A teaching is a Sola Scriptura doctrine if and only if it asserts that the contents of the canonical books of Scripture possess divine authority and/or sufficiency...
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Catholicism and Church History

I have recently been participating in a little debate over at The God Fearin' Forum on some of the issues of Church history (primarily history of doctrine) that are significant to Protestant-Catholic (and Orthodox!) disagreements. I encourage you all to head over and read the debate so far, and perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I will jump in! Later today (if I have a chance) I'm hoping to get a case put together for the historical foundations of Sola Scriptura...
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January 27, 2007

Scripture and Tradition in Protestantism

At the new blog Metaphysical Frameworks, Johnny-Dee (also of Fides Quaerens Intellectum fame) discusses the meaning of sola scriptura in its application to the practical methodology of Protestant theology. His suggestion is that "protestants consider the Bible to be like the Constitution, and the theological tradition to be like legal precedents from the Supreme Court." In other words, the determinations made by previous generations of Christians as to the teaching of Scripture are to be given great weight and not overturned lightly, but, ultimately, they are interpretations of Scripture and it is Scripture that is ultimately authoritative. Therefore, as much...
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