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Philosophy

Theology’s Handmaid: Philosophy for the Church

When: June 10, 2021, 1:45 pm - Thursday

Where: Ezell 234

Session 4

Session Abstract

Thomas Aquinas once characterized philosophy as an ancilla theologiae—a handmaid of theology. By this Aquinas simply meant that, when done well, philosophy can serve to illuminate the truths as they are revealed by God through his Word. The papers in this session demonstrate this point well. Although the topics of the papers are diverse, each one employs the tools of philosophy in order to better understand Christian teaching, the Christian tradition (particularly the Stone-Campbell Movement), and the truth of God’s revealed Word.

 

Paper Abstracts

Chris Schrock, University of Sioux Falls, “Giving up the Sects, Saving the Bacon”

Richard T. Hughes depicts the ecclesial exclusivism of Churches of Christ as a natural consequence of the Stone-Campbell Movement’s “historically naive” intellectual roots in something Hughes calls “Scottish Baconianism.” Scottish Baconianism, Hughes thinks, brought exclusivism to the fore by way of John R. Howard’s sermon, “The Beginning Corner.” He is wrong on both counts. First, Hughes’ Scottish Baconians, like John Locke and Thomas Reid, did not advocate exclusivism, nor did their epistemologies entail it. Second, Howard’s “The Beginning Corner” does not rationally traverse the gap from Scottish Baconism to ecclesial exclusivism; it is not even a valid argument.

 

Chance Juliano, Southern Methodist University, “Marginalized Persons as Epistemic Authorities on Perceiving Systemic Injustices”

Within circles of Liberation Theology and standpoint epistemology it has often been argued that oppressed persons possess some kind of epistemic privilege. This paper constructs a model of the epistemic authority of oppressed persons drawn from the sources of analytic philosophy. Unlike some recent similar work, I will rely primarily on the notions of perceptual training and moral perception. I will argue that the experience of oppression itself can incline one’s moral perception to perceive injustices that others might miss. If successful, my argument will contribute to the recent effort to bring analytic theology/philosophy into conversation with Liberation theology.

 

Austin McCoy, Baylor University, “Hopeful Universalism: A Reply to Michael Rea”

Mike Rea has recently argued that hopeful universalism is not rational. For Rea, hopeful universalism consists in in (1) the unconditional considered hope that soteriological universalism is true and (2) lacking the belief that universalism is true. In this paper, I argue that, on Rea’s understanding of an unconditional hope, we should not have any unconditional hopes. If this is the case, it is uninteresting that universalism is among the things we cannot unconditionally hope for.

Speakers

Derek Estes, Saint Louis University, Convener

  • Chris Shrock, University of Sioux Falls, “Giving up the Sects, Saving the Bacon”
  • Chance Juliano, Southern Methodist University, “Marginalized Persons as Epistemic Authorities on Perceiving Systemic Injustices”
  • Austin McCoy, Baylor University, “Hopeful Universalism: A Reply to Michael Rea”

2023 CSC Info Coming Soon

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James Cone with conferee at the CSC in 2017

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Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson delivering the CSC plenary address

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Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), delivering the CSC plenary address.

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US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivering the CSC plenary address

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David Brooks engaging conferees during breakfast at the CSC

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