I’ve been pondering the possibility for analytic philosophy to explore Christian Doctrine. Clearly, the prospects aren’t terribly dim, for some (such as Alvin Plantinga and, to a greater extent, Richard Swinburne) have done this exact thing. I think it is important to utilize philosophy and theology in a mutually beneficial relationship, and I personally find the results when this happens to be singularly beautiful.
Why undertake this project? First, because I’ve seen a number of objections to core Christian theology which have been disturbing to me. This includes challenges to the doctrine of the Trinity, redemption/atonement, baptism, etc. Second, because I think it is necessary–or at least expedient–to outline doctrines in forms that can be analyzed. Objections to Christianity often come in the form of “X doctrine of Christianity is unintelligible, so it’s false.” If it can be demonstrated that X is intelligible, then such objections fail.
Is such a defense Scriptural? I believe so. Paul often utilized philosophy in his witnessing (see Acts 17:28 for an example). He argued from Scripture, but also utilized philosophical insights to witness to the Greeks. Not only that, but Jesus instructs us to love God with all of our mind (Mark 12:30).
How might such a defense look? It will look AWESOME. Okay, seriously, it will look something like this:
Sin (hereafter s) is broadly defined as any act which distances one from God. Now, on Christianity, s is that for which we must be atoned, for all have committed at least one act that can be classified as s. However, all who commit such acts are to be held accountable. But before God, who can stand (Psalm 130:3)? Therefore it must be an act of God to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I put that together just now for the sake of an example, but I’ll be going into more depth as I explore various Christian doctrines in light of analytic philosophy and Scripture.
I’m excited for this project, though I must admit it will likely take quite a bit of time to put anything together for it, as one must not only utilize analytic philosophy, but also doctrine and exegesis for this kind of project.
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