I was working on a paper this week on theological method, and one of the issue that came up was “critical realism.” Grant Osborne, in his book The Hermeneutical Spiral, says (on p. 310) that “the basic premise of this approach (which has been borrowed from a philosophy of science perspective) is that assertions, scientific or theological, are valid representations of ‘the way things are'” (thus, ‘realism’). He continues:
This approach is also ‘critical’ because it never assumes that theological constructions are exact descriptions of revealed truth (unlike ‘naive realism’). Instead, dogma is an analogical model that approximates or re-presents truth. Thus critical realists never assume that they have achieved the ‘final’ statement of theological truth; the process of validation and improvement never ceases, for there can be no facile assumption that they have ‘arrived,’ though of course one can verify that a particular statement is an accurate depiction of the biblical norm.
Someone asked that very question on facebook the other day. Here is my response:
I tend not to like the way “going to church” frames the question. There is an unhealthy way of thinking of Sunday morning church gatherings that emphasizes that it is one of a number of rules that we need to check off to make God happy and be a “good Christian.” The better question is “can a person be a Christian and not belong to a Christian community?” I would say that it would be a very unhealthy Christian life to do so. Even the Trinity consists of diversity in unity, and God’s intention for mankind is to reflect that diversity in unity through “community.” God’s plan is to redeem not simply individuals but “a people,” a community, the Church. When viewed that way, the Sunday morning church meetings are (should be) nothing more than a visible expression of the life of the community.
In John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, in the chapter on the “Use to Be Made of the Doctrine of Divine Providence” (1.17.10-11), Calvin says the following about the great comfort that God’s providence can give to those who are His children through faith in Christ:
10. Here we are forcibly reminded of the inestimable felicity of a pious mind. Innumerable are the ills which beset human life, and present death in as many different forms. Not to go beyond ourselves, since the body is a receptacle, nay the nurse, of a thousand diseases, a man cannot move without carrying along with him many forms of destruction. His life is in a manner interwoven with death. Continue reading
Our firstborn is a planner. She is often making plans and saying to other members of the family, “after such and such you can do this and that and then I will do X, Y, and Z.” The problem is, her plans sometimes don’t correspond with other people’s plans (or reality for that matter). Sometimes it can be frustrating to try to manage the family when there is another little planner who has what feels like a competing vision for what the immediate or distant future ought to look like. Continue reading
David Murray, Author of Jesus on Every Page, recently did an interview with Books at a Glance in which he referred to some online resources for the topic of Christ in the Old Testament. One of those resources is a page called “Top 200 Online resources on Christ in the Old Testament.” You can find it here if you are interested.
Alex, Rosenberg, a philosopher of science and author of An Atheist’s Guide to Reality says this in his book Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction:
Many biologists and not a few philosophers have held that after Darwin, evolutionary biology took back from philosophy the problems of explaining human nature or identifying the purpose or meaning of life. These biologists and philosophers hold that Darwinism shows that man’s nature differs only by degrees from that of other animals. They argue that Darwin’s great achievement was to show that there is no such thing as purpose, goals, ends, meaning or intelligibility in the universe, that its appearance is just an “overlay” we confer on the adaptations we discern in nature. Adaptations are really just the result of the environment’s persistent filtration of blind variations creating the appearance of design. It is for this reason that evolutionary theory is so widely resisted. Some people reject the answers biology gives to questions about purpose, meaning and human nature. (p. 4)
“Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue, but of the life; is not apprehended by the intellect and the memory merely, like other branches of learning; but is received only when it possesses the whole soul, and finds its seat in the innermost recesses of the heart.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.6.4)