Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Do we communicate effectively?

(This post is for those of you that watched the video from the previous post.) In his book, Escape from Reason, Francis Schaeffer elucidates a critical problem with the methodology of our communication. He states: “Every generation of Christians has this problem of learning how to speak meaningfully to its own age. It cannot be solved without an understanding of the changing existential situation which it faces. If we are to communicate the Christian faith effectively, therefore, we must know and understand the thought-forms of our own generation.” Initially, his phrase “thought-forms” was an alien term to myself, being removed a few generations from Schaeffer himself. However, upon reading the book and considering his assertion, his idea that the need for effective communication is as relevant today as it was in times past. Philosophers are especially notorious for using their own special lingo. While being careful to not submit the idea that we dumb down our terminology, we must seek to effectively engage and meet people where they are at…terminologically speaking. It is one thing to know something, but it is quite another thing to be able to effectively communicate it cross-culturally and cross-generationally. May we as the bearers of the Truth seek to be effective in our communication efforts!

Real Christians of Genius...

For those of you who are humored by the Budweiser "Real Men of Genius" commercials, you must check this out. It is pretty funny. Go here to see this delightful video! Oh, and feel free to share your thoughts about this video.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Simplicity and God's Abstract Names

One of the striking implications of divine simplicity is that we can refer to God with abstract "names". That is, when we predicate something of God, that predication can be made absolutely if it pertains to any of God's essential attribures. Anselm, for example, is not afraid to identify God with the abstract notion of justice itself. So he says in Monologion 16:

It would seem, then, that the supremely good substance is called ‘just’ by its participating in a quality (in this case, justice), rather than through itself. But this is contrary to the already ascertained truth. The supreme nature is what it is—good, great, existing—precisely through itself and nothing else. So then, it is just through justice and it is just through itself. And if so, then what is more necessarily and clearly the case than that the supreme nature is justice itself? . . . And so if you ask what is this supreme nature we are talking about?’, you may answer ‘justice.’ What could be truer?

Anselm frequently makes these sorts of moves in the Monologion. So he says (1) Whatever is just is just through the form Justice (2) God is whatever He is through Himself (3) God is just These three propositions seems to lead to the conclusion (4) So God is Justice. He further states, that “since the supreme nature is strictly said not to possess, but to be justice, when it is said to be just strictly it is intelligibly thought of as ‘being justice’ and not as ‘possessing justice.’” For Anselm then, God is more like justice than He is a just thing. God does not possess justice like creatures do. Rather He exists as justice itself. Anselm wouldn’t be unhappy, then, to abandon all talk of God as being ‘good,’ ‘wise,’ ‘just,’ and the like, and speak of God instead with abstract names like goodness, wisdom, and justice. Aquinas, though with more temperate expression, is likewise willing to affirm that a simple God bears a certian resemblance to abstracta so much so that we can use abstract names when we speak of Him. He says in the Summa Ia 13.2:
Whereas names given to signify simple forms signify a thing not as subsisting, but as that whereby a thing is; as, for instance, whiteness signifies that whereby a thing is white. And as God is simple, and subsisting, we attribute to Him abstract names to signify His simplicity, and concrete names to signify His substance and perfection.

That God can be spoken of with both concrete and abstract “names” suggests that, though He is a concrete being, there is a sense in which He is at least like an abstract entity such as an attribute. Leftow sums this up nicely: “For Thomas, ‘whiteness,’ an abstract name, signifies not something that exists independently, an Aristotelian substance, but an attribute, by having which a substance is white. Thomas insists that because He is simple, we at times must, e.g., call God not just good but goodness, giving Him an abstract ‘name’ appropriate to an attribute. Evidently, Thomas thinks that God’s simplicity renders Him significantly attribute-like.”

Monday, May 15, 2006

Darrell Bock Da Vinci Debate Tonight

For those of you interested, Darrell Bock, research professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Seminary will be having a debate on the Da Vinci code tonight that will be broadcast live via the web at 7:00pm Eastern Standard Time. Simply click here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Kings and Simpletons

"As the kings of the earth and the mighty of the earth are born in exactly the same way, physically, as the simplest man, so the most intellectual person must become a Christian in exactly the same way as the simplest person. This is true for all men everywhere, through all space and time. There are no exceptions. Jesus said a totally exclusive word: 'No man cometh unto the Father, but by me'" (John 14:6). -Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality What are your thoughts about this statement?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Truth & Truth-Makers

Bill Vallicella has a short but thought provoking post up entitled Veritas Sequitur Esse and the Truthmaker Principle. You should check it out.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Philosophy Action Figures...

All right all of you philosophers out there. Now there exists philosophy dolls, I am sorry, philosophy action figures that you can give to your children for hours of fun. Or you can play with them yourself. Really, what sounds better than a Bashin Bishop Berkeley or Plunderous Plato. Of course there is my personal favorite...Angry Anselm-made for play than which none greater can be conceived. His motto: "Faith seeking to beat understanding into its enemies!" Seriously check out this website. It is so divine in its beauty that I am beginning to wonder if it is the result of a miraculous intervention on God's behalf! See here!

Truth Matters

"The problem with postmoderns is that they have made peace with a poisonous view of truth, an untrue view of truth. It is one kind of problem to believe an untruth, to take as fact something that in reality is a falsehood, yet still believe that truth exists and can be known.... However, it is another kind of problem to believe that truth itself is merely a matter of personal belief and social custom, so that the truth about Jesus depends on who you take him to be; in this case, no amount of evidence or argument about particular matters of fact will change one's belief." --Doug Groothuis, Truth Decay, 24.