Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A Generational Shift in Christian Philosophy?

I've noticed a different sensibility amongst Christian philosophers of my generation--we who are heirs to some of the path-breakers like Plantinga and Wolterstorff and Mavrodes and others.

  • For someone like Plantinga, Christian theism makes a difference for our philosophizing.  There are unique convictions, knowledge, and perspectives rooted in Christian revelation that generate unique philosophical accounts (of knowledge, reality, ethics, etc.) that we could not know otherwise. And there is a certain expectation that such accounts are different from other "naturalistic" accounts.  We thus expect them to not be widely shared (indeed, we might even expect such Christian accounts to be antithetical to naturalistic accounts), though we also expect to be able to articulate a rationale that should be at least understandable.  
  • A new generation of "Christian" philosophers seems to instead be concerned to simply show that our philosophizing doesn't exclude theism.  You can see how this comes with a very different posture and project: there are no "uniqueness" claims about Christian faith or revelation, only "consistency" claims--that being a theist is not inconsistent with much of what the philosophical establishment considers acceptable (say, materialism or naturalism in ethics, or what have you). 
But then at what point does the "theism" become superfluous and merely supervenient?