Thursday, November 17, 2005

Blogging at ETS/EPS

Blogging at ETS/EPS

More from ETS/EPS. J.P. Moreland (one of my profs from Talbot) had a lively exchange with a postmodern theologian, John Franke.

Postmodernism & Truth

John Franke & J.P. Moreland

  • Non-foundational approach to truth in theology

  • 1922 – Karl Barth – “The Word of God is a Task of Theology.” We must recognize that we are, in a sense, unable to speak about God. But we still want to give a faithful witness of God. Barth commends a dialectical approach to theology: the dogmatic approach vs. the self-critical approach. We get close to the truth, but in a fragmentary way. We must relate affirmation and negations to each other. Like walking a narrow ridge between two chasms.

  • Truth about God only happens when humans speak of God AND God speaks through them. We have no control over this self-revelation of God.

  • We adopt our method because it is the best we can do – not because it is ideal.

  • Human communications, even in the incarnation, are limited in their ability to speak about God. The human nature of Jesus was not divinized – revelation was still indirect in this case.

  • Revelation in the Scripture is not the end of God’s revelatory work. It still requires God’s revelation to understand the Scriptures – we are always epistemically dependent.

  • A non-foundationalist approach (NFA) seeks to embrace this dependence, which yields a theological plularism.

  • Does this deny “Truth?” (with a capital “T”) Perhaps there is Truth, but only for God, not us.

  • Foundations of knowledge are not “given” to human beings. We are always in a position of dependence. We cannot “seize control” of these foundations or revelations. NFA seeks to oppose such seizure by acknowledging our limitations.


  • There is a real world, independent of observers and their language.

  • The Bible expresses this reality and the importance of knowledge thereof.

  • Franke sees reality as social constructions. Words and language to not represent reality – they do not have fixed, timeless meanings.

  • Perhaps John is not making an ontological claim, but an epistemological one. There is a spiritual reality out there, but we have no direct access to it.

  • Just because we have limitations or our perception of God is incomplete, it does not follow that our knowledge of God (no matter how limited) is not accurate.

  • When I see an apple, I do not have exhaustive knowledge of the apple. I see only one side, etc. But the knowledge that I do have of the apple (it is red, it is a certain size, it is shiny) is still accurate and true.

  • To say that “we cannot speak of God,” or “there is no capital T truth for us – only for God,” or “the information we have about God is not really information,” is very close to being self-refuting.

  • We can embrace humility in our knowledge claims and relinquish our need for control over God without giving up our claims to objective knowledge.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your entries from this gathering, I am amazed at the various debates that exist about who, what, or how God is. It certainly seems intimidating to this amateur. How heated do the debates get? Does the debate ever verge on questioning whether individual's beliefs or stances (e.g., Clark's Open Theism) impacts their salvation?


5:37 PM  
Blogger wiploc said...

"To say that “we cannot speak of God,” or “there is no capital T truth for us – only for God,” or “the information we have about God is not really information,” is very close to being self-refuting."

Well said!


9:34 AM  
Blogger chris said...

Joel -- There are some theological perspectives that would come close to denying essential doctrines necessary for salvation. Open Theism probably doesn't do that, but it does have some pretty serious implications. A few years ago, several Open Theism advocates were brought up before the ETS for review. They survived the vote, but almost got the axe.

3:37 PM  

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