Spring 2018, Volume 12, Issue 2
APOLOGIA A JOURNAL OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT
FAITH AND THE INVISIBLE: TAKING THE LEAP cover feature by Hailey Scherer ‘20 pg. 22
pg. 2 Interview: A Tale of Two Evangelicalisms Randall Balmer
pg. 19 Discovering God: Plantinga and the Sensus Divinatus Jeﬀrey Poomkudy ‘20
pg. 32 The Myth of Pure Objectivity: A Retrospective from 2011 Lee Farnsworth ‘12
A Letter from the Editor If asked, “what do you know?”, you might say “the earth is round” or “my family loves me” or a million other statements of fact. As students, we learn and analyze these facts. As people, we live our lives according to them. While the accuracy of the chemical formulas you learned in Chem 5 may or may not have bearing on your life after you abandon the illustrious pre-med path, there are many beliefs we hold to be true whose veracity can profoundly alter and shape our lives. From knowing that stepping out into the middle of a busy street is a bad idea, to believing there is or is not a God, the convictions we accept as true affect the choices we make. If you believe stepping out into the middle of a busy street is a good idea, your choice to do so may get you seriously injured. Your belief about the nature or existence of God will change the way you choose to live your life. Your belief about whether or not the formula you learned for chemistry class is true will, at the very least, affect your midterm grade. In short, beliefs have consequences. A more basic, and perhaps more essential, question remains—how do we come to know something is true? As staff of the Apologia, we defend the existence of God, as described in the Christian tradition. The question of how one knows what one knows is obviously significant when discussing the metaphysical, and is thus central to our conversation. However, this line of inquiry is just as relevant to any field of academia. In mathematics, we turn to proofs to define what is true. Yet, these proofs are dependent on mathematical precepts that we must believe are valid. In science, we depend on the scientific method, testing hypothesis to defend theories. At the most basic level, in using the scientific method we must have some measure of belief that reason and observation are valid tools to learn about characteristics of the world. In anything we do, we must decide what standard of proof we require to believe something is true or false. The matter of how we come to believe something is true is more vital now than ever. It is no secret we live in divisive times. It often seems that reaching across ideological, political, and religious divides is difficult at best and impossible at worst—particularly when it is easy to dismiss others’ beliefs as the products of “fake news” and “echo chambers.” The purpose of this journal is not to take political sides. Rather, we strive to be as academically rigorous in examining our own words and actions as we are toward those of Aquinas or Aristotle. How do we know what we know? As scholars and beneficiaries of a rich liberal arts tradition, we can draw upon the immense resources of literature, history, philosophy, and more as we seek to answer fundamental questions about our past and present. How did we arrive in times such as these? Obviously, culture does not spontaneously generate. How has history influenced the present? Where is the division between faith and knowledge? Is there such a division? We, the staff of the Dartmouth Apologia, invite you to explore these questions with us as we critically examine our history, knowledge of the present, and beliefs about the future.
Rachel N. Matsumoto Editor-in-Chief
Submissions We welcome the submission of any article, essay, or artwork for publication in The Dartmouth Apologia. Submissions should seek to promote respectful, thoughtful discussion in the community. We will consider submissions from any member of the community but reserve the right to publish only those that align with our mission statement and quality rubric. Email: The.Dartmouth.Apologia@Dartmouth.Edu THE DARTMOUTH
APOLOGIA A JOURNAL OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT
FAITH AND THE INVISIBLE: TAKING THE LEAP cover feature by Hailey Scherer ‘20 pg. 22
Interview: A Tale of Two Evangelicalisms with Randall Balmer
Discovering God: Plantinga and the Sensus Divinatus Jeffrey Poomkudy ‘20
[1 Peter 3:15] A JOURNAL OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT
pg. 32 The Myth of Pure Objectivity: A Retrospective from 2011 Lee Farnsworth ‘12
Front and back cover image by Regina Yan ’19
Letters to the Editor We value your opinions and encourage thoughtful submissions expressing support, dissent, or other views. We will gladly consider any letter that is consistent with our mission statement’s focus on promoting intellectual discourse in the Dartmouth community.
Spring 2018, Volume 12, Issue 2
Editor-in-Chief Rachel Matsumoto ’19 Managing Editor India Perdue ’19 Editorial Board Luke Dickens ’18 Jonathan Park ’19 Jeffrey Poomkudy ’20 Hailey Scherer ’20 Darley Sackitey ’21 Business Manager Peter O'Leary ’19 Production Manager Kristi Williams ’20 Production Staff Rachel Matsumoto ’19 Maura Cahill ’20 Paul Jeon ’21 Michael Steel ’21 Photography Joshua Tseng-Tham ’17 Contributors Jake Casale ’17 Ryan Fraser ’17 Sara Holston ’17 Edward Pyun ’18 Peter O'Leary ’19 Cecilia Zugel ’21 Advisory Board Gregg Fairbrothers Eric Hansen, Thayer James Murphy, Government Lindsay Whaley, Classics Special thanks to Council on Student Organizations The Eleazar Wheelock Society
Apologia Online Subscription information for the journal or blog is available on our website at dartmouthapologia. org. Past issues of the journal are available online for archival viewing.
The opinions expressed in The Dartmouth Apologia are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the journal, its editors, or Dartmouth College. Copyright © 2018 The Dartmouth Apologia.
A Tale of Two Evangelicalisms
Prof. Randall Balmer, Dartmouth College
MILLENNIALISM AND 10 ITS DISCONTENTS:
The Theology of American Foreign Policy Part 1 Luke Dickens ’18
PLANTINGA AND THE 19 SENSUS DIVINATUS Jeffrey Poomkudy ’20
FAITH AND THE INVISIBLE: 24 Taking the Leap Hailey Scherer ’20
THE MYTH OF PURE OBJECTIVITY: 32 A Retrospective from 2011 Lee Farnsworth ’12
WHITE AS SNOW: 38
A Comparison of Two Prayers of Repentance Paul Jeon ’21
he Dartmouth Apologia exists to articulate Christian perspectives in the academic community.
A JOURNAL OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT
A Tale of Two Evangelicalisms
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Conducted by Luke Dickens
A Q&A with Randall Balmer
Tarrants Kneet by Erwin Gerodiaz, 2009 Old American Flag by Ancho, 2016 The First Unitarian Church in Seabrook, New Hampshire by Magicpaino, 2013
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Randall Balmer is a prize-winning historian and Emmy Award nominee. He earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1985 and taught as Professor of American Religious History at Columbia University for twenty-seven years before becoming the Mandel Family Professor in the Arts & Sciences at Dartmouth College in 2012. Dr. Balmer has published widely in both scholarly journals and in the popular press, and has authored more than a dozen books, including Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, which was made into an award-winning three-part documentary for PBS. He has appeared on network television to comment on religion in American life and has served as an expert witness in several First Amendment cases, including Snyder v. Phelps and Glassroth v. Moore. He currently holds the John Phillips Chair in Religion, the oldest endowed professorship at Dartmouth. Q: How would you define ‘evangelical’? When did the term first acquire prominence? A: I have a three-part definition for ‘evangelical.’ First, an evangelical is somebody who takes the Bible seriously as God’s revelation to humanity and so would be inclined to approach it literally—that is, to interpret it literally—although evangelicals engage, like other people do, in what I call the “ruse of selective literalism” when they come to the Bible. Second, based on that approach to the Bible, an evangelical believes in the centrality of a conversion or “born-again experience” for which the most obvious biblical warrant would be the third chapter of Saint John when the Jewish leader Nicodemus visits Jesus by night to ask how he, Nicodemus, can enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus replies that he must be born again (or “born from above” in some translations). And the third characteristic is that an evangelical takes seriously the mandate to evangelize, or bring others into the faith—although my observation over the last half-century is that evangelicals talk about this doing much more than they actually do it. They tend to hire professionals to do it for them, such as missionaries or outreach ministers in megachurches and so forth. Now the term “evangelical” properly actually belongs to the New Testament, to the first four books of the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
John. So, the term “evangelical” refers to the Good News and the gospel, and in the sixteenth century came to be associated with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. In America, I think you have for evangelicalism a peculiar constellation that came about through the confluence of what I call the “three P’s” in the eighteenth century: the remnants of New England Puritanism, Scots-Irish Presbyterianism, and finally continental Pietism—and those three P’s came together in the event historians call the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s. And I think it is possible today to see remnants of each of those P’s in evangelicalism. For example, you have among evangelicals a very introspective piety they inherited from the Puritans, who were always looking inward trying to figure out whether or not they had a grasp of the truth of the gospel, or how they were doing on their pilgrimage toward heaven. From Presbyterians, evangelicals have inherited a sense that doctrine is important; Presbyterians are known for a kind of doctrinal precisionism that evangelicals think is important. And finally, from the Pietists, evangelicals have inherited a warmhearted piety. It’s not merely enough to have certain beliefs or certain doctrines; you have to have that inward piety as well. So those three P’s came together in the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s, and the whole evangelical movement took a more democratic cast in the Second Great Awakening around the turn of the nineteenth century. Regarding when the term itself became popular,
First, an evangelical is somebody who takes the Bible seriously as God's revelation to humanity and so would be inclined to approach it literally—that is to interpret it literally—although evangelicals engage, like other people do, in what I call the “ruse of selective literalism” when they come to the Bible. 4 • The Dartmouth Apologia • Spring 2018 ]
it really was with the presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter that ‘evangelicalism’ entered the lexicon. Before that time, people like Billy Graham or even Carter himself would refer to themselves as born-again Christians more often than they would use the term ‘evangelical.’ But with Carter’s campaign in 1976, the term ‘evangelical’ became part of the lexicon.
to become penitent and thereby be able to, at some point, constructively rejoin society. They were involved in various peace movements in the antebellum period, foreswearing war and conflict. I’ve even run across an evangelical effort at gun control in the early part of the nineteenth century. Imagine that! They were involved in women’s rights and women’s equality; they
They were involved in various peace movements in the antebellum period, foreswearing war and conflict. I've even run across an evangelical effort at gun control in the early part of the 19th century. Imagine that! Q: In your article, “The Radical Tradition of Progressive Evangelicalism,” you wrote, “Evangelicals in a previous age, especially during the Antebellum period, aspired to reform society according to the norms of godliness and devised creative ways to act on their benevolent impulses.” Furthermore, you associated this “reforming zeal” with postmillennialism. How would you define postmillennialism, and how is it related to this reforming zeal? What were some of the movements evangelicals spearheaded? A: Postmillennialism comes out of the Second Great Awakening, and it is an understanding or interpretation of the Bible that sees Jesus coming back to earth after the faithful have constructed the kingdom of God. This is an optimistic movement that arises out of the Second Great Awakening—out of the sense that the gospel can reform not only sinful individuals, but also sinful social institutions. Hence, evangelicals were animated by this postmillennial impulse to make the world, and more particularly America, into the kingdom of God. So, evangelicals were very much involved, for example, in the common school movement, or what we would call today public education, because they saw this as a way for those on the lower rungs of society to become upwardly mobile and join the middle class. They were involved, of course, in the abolitionist movement—doing away with slavery. They were involved with prison reform and contributed to the idea of a penitentiary—a place for a criminal to go not merely to be segregated from the rest of society, but
were at the forefront of the movement advocating for a woman’s right to vote, which in the nineteenth century was a radical idea! And finally, they were involved in very full-throated attacks on capitalism. Charles Finney believed that a Christian businessman was an oxymoron, because business necessarily elevated avarice over altruism—though those are my words and not his. He was very critical of our Chambers of Commerce, for example, decrying the term ‘Chambers of Commerce’ as something inimical to the gospel. In general, these nineteenth-century evangelicals, particularly in the antebellum period, were very much concerned for those who were on the margins of society, those Jesus called the least of these. And this was the ethic that really informed evangelical activism for much of the nineteenth century.
The Descent of the Modernists by E.J. Pace, 1922
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President Reagan addressing the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals from Wikimedia Commons, 2011
Q: One might situate the beginning of a serious division within the evangelical ranks toward the end of the nineteenth century with the rise of the fundamentalist-modernist split. What factors led to this division? A: To be clear, the fundamentalist-modernist controversy reached the apex of its expression in the 1920s. Now, what happens in the late nineteenth century is that—to put it in millennial terms— evangelicals who believed that they were constructing the kingdom of God on earth began to have doubts. These doubts were sowed initially with the carnage of the Civil War. Here they thought they were building this kingdom of God, so how could they account for these terrible battlefields—Gettysburg, Mechanicsburg, and Shiloh—where you had this terrible destruction? Compared to the Vietnam War, in which American losses were around 59,000—which is far too many, of course—the Civil War led to the deaths of around 750,000, which is quite a magnitude of difference.
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The other thing that happened late in the nineteenth century was the influx of non-Protestant immigrants who didn’t share Protestant scruples about temperance. As Roman Catholics and Jews came into the cities and threatened evangelical values, evangelicals begin to rethink their understanding of the end of time. For most of the 1800s, they thought they were constructing the millennial kingdom talked about in chapter 20 of Revelation. By the 1880s, some evangelicals were rethinking this belief. They began to adopt a new mode of biblical interpretation that came over to North America in the person of John Nelson Darby. Darby emphatically rejected postmillennialism—the optimistic eschatology (i.e., theology of the end times) that for decades had captured the evangelical imagination—and instead articulated a particularly pessimistic eschatological paradigm known as dispensational premillennialism. While postmillennialists believed that Christ would physically return after a millennium of peace and prosperity, one that would be ushered in by human progress, Darby maintained that Christ could return at any moment. And if you believe that Jesus is coming
Saint Peter's B
back at any moment, why bother with social reform? Instead, what mattered most was the condition of your own soul. Thus, evangelicals who fell under the sway of dispensational premillennialism turned their gaze inward, toward individual regeneration and away from social reforms. The pessimism of dispensational premillennialism is captured by a quote from Dwight Moody, who remarked, “I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, ‘Moody, save all you can.’” Clearly that is not a prescription for social reform! Q: Would you say that Protestants who rejected Darby’s dispensational premillennialism—those who were more willing to make concessions to Darwinism and higher biblical criticism— sometimes tended to neglect individual regeneration as they pursued social reform and preached a social gospel?
A: Yes, although we have to be careful about being too general about this. People like William Jennings Bryan would be considered today a liberal Democrat by almost any metric. That is to say, he was very much in favor of workers’ rights to organize; he was very much in favor of women’s rights; he was a pacifist. So, he would be one of the people who would not exactly fit into that dichotomy, but generally you are right. Some evangelicals were turning inward, emphasizing individual regeneration, while at the same time other evangelicals preached the social gospel. These people talked about how Jesus is capable of reclaiming sinful social institutions, such as the seven-day work week and child labor. Indeed, you have the beginnings of the divide between evangelicals around the turn of the twentieth century, and then it really culminates in the 1920s with the so-called fundamentalist-modernist controversy. The term ‘fundamentalist’ really did Basilica at night by Livio Andronico, 2015not come into play until the publication of the series of pamphlets called The Fundamentals, which appeared between 1910 and 1915. Therefore, at the turn of the twentieth century, there was a kind of proto-fundamentalism exemplified by people like Billy Sunday and others, but ‘fundamentalism’ did not enter the lexicon until the mid-1910s.
Q: You mentioned that Darby introduced a new mode of biblical interpretation along with his dispensational premillennialism. Is it fair to say that the most prominent feature distinguishing this method from its predecessors was its strict adherence to biblical literalism? A: Yes, proto-fundamentalists and fundamentalists proper tended to be rigid literalists when it came to biblical interpretation. What really sets them apart is their militarism. The standard, semi-flippant description is that a fundamentalist is an evangelical who is mad about something. That captures it pretty well. It’s not so much differences in terms of doctrine or theology, as it is militarism and separatism. They want to separate away from those who do not believe as they do. Q: The mid-twentieth century witnessed the ascendance of Billy Graham to the forefront of evangelicalism. Could you comment on his contribution to evangelicalism? A: Billy Graham is one of the figures who casts a shadow over all of twentieth-century evangelicalism. He does so in a number of ways. One is that Billy Graham, early in his career, made a conscious decision to forsake the narrow, censorious fundamentalism of his childhood in favor of a broader, more capacious evangelicalism. (It is worth mentioning as a side note that his son, Franklin, has done exactly the opposite.) Billy Graham is also important in that, particularly in his very public friendship with Richard Nixon, he nudged evangelicals in the direction of conservativism, which was largely marked by anti-communism during the Cold War period. Graham, despite not being a great thinker, political theorist, or towering theologian
National Christian Temperance Union Certificate pledging to abstain from alcohol from the Bennington Museum, Bennington, VT by David, 2004
Spring 2018 • The Dartmouth Apologia •
(by his own admission), knew how to telegraph his preferences politically—particularly with Nixon, but with others as well. I think many white evangelicals followed his lead and his prompting. He has the effect of moving evangelicals more to the right than they might have otherwise gone. Q: In your op-ed “The evangelical slippery slope, from Ronald Reagan to Roy Moore,” you lament that evangelicalism left you more than you left it. You argue that the evangelical turnout for Reagan, who was divorced and remarried, began a descent down a slippery slope in which they made moral compromises, counting the character of a candidate as an issue of secondary significance compared to the policies he or she promoted. Why did evangelicals abandon Jimmy Carter, one of their own, for Ronald Reagan? A: Indeed, I think the 1980 election is going to be seen by historians as a crucial turning point in the history of evangelicalism. What happened during Carter’s presidency is that a number of evangelicals got together and decided, for various reasons, that they wanted to have somebody other than Carter as president. Now the standard narrative that they, or at least many of them, give is that they were so morally exercised over the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 and the legalization of abortion that they decided to become politically active and seek to overturn Roe v. Wade. That purportedly was the reason they mobilized against Carter. It’s a great story that has been rehashed many times by people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. It’s also utter fiction. What got them started was a court decision, but it
had nothing to do with Roe v. Wade or the Supreme Court. It was a lower court decision handed down by the district court in the District of Columbia on June 30, 1971, in a case called Green v. Connally. The gist of Green v. Connally was that no institution that engages in racial segregation or racial discrimination can define itself legally as a charitable institution. The ruling in this case raised the hackles of people like Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich, an architect of the religious right; they used this as a tool to organize politically against Jimmy Carter. This was peculiar, because Jimmy Carter had nothing to do with this court decision or the IRS enforcing the ruling. Jimmy Carter wasn’t even president when this began to happen. But they used it as a tool to mobilize against Jimmy Carter and in favor of Ronald Reagan in 1980. I call this the “abortion myth,” namely, the fiction that the religious right coalesced as a political movement to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. It’s absolutely false. Only later, just before the 1980 election, did they begin to talk about abortion as a part of their political agenda. Their agenda was to defend racial segregation at places like Bob Jones University and other “segregation academies” in the South. That’s what got them going as a political movement. Q: Recently, there have been some pastors and authors who would largely be associated with conservative evangelicalism—Timothy Keller, Russell Moore, and others—who are very frustrated with what the term ‘evangelical’ signifies in public discourse. Some have disavowed the label, arguing that it is now “a tribal rather than a credal description.” When did this shift in how the
Lakewood Church Worship by ToBeDaniel, 2013
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term is understood take place? A: As I said in my op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, the slippery slope began in 1980. In the decades prior to the 1970s, and even throughout that decade, divorce was a huge taboo. I remember in the mid-1960s asking my mother why we as a family were not supporting Nelson Rockefeller. I remember her face turned ashen as she exclaimed that we could never vote for somebody who had gotten a divorce, let alone someone who had divorced and remarried. In 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan, the vocal evangelical opposition to divorce seemed to disappear. As evangelical leaders led their flock in the direction of hard-right conservatism, people like Falwell were so enamored by their own access to the White House and the presidency that they lost their prophetic voice. Hence, when Reagan came into office and announced these huge tax cuts for the wealthy and propounded the myth of “trickle-down”
that that would occur until November 2016. To see a movement that has shaped me, that defines who I am, that I love, abandon its better self to support a twicedivorced, thrice-married casino operator who boasts about his marital infidelity and sexual predations . . . I am no longer optimistic. I think that evangelicalism surrendered its moral authority on November 8, 2016. So, there are a few of us left who did not vote that way, who did not define ourselves as supporting those policies. What do we do? I suppose the gimmick would be to try and find a new name to identify ourselves, and I’m open to that possibility. Nobody has proposed anything I find congenial. I guess the closest is “follower of Jesus,” which is a pretty broad, yet specific, term. I do claim that label for myself. But in terms of any sort of widespread reclamation of evangelicalism, I simply don’t see that on the horizon. Part of the reason I don’t see that is because I don’t yet see any repentance for the 2016 election, nor do I see any repentance in
To see a movement that has shaped me, that defines who I am, that I love, abandon its better self to support a twice-divorced, thricemarried casino operator who boasts about his marital infidelity and sexual predations . . . I am no longer optimistic. I think that evangelicalism surrendered its moral authority on November 8, 2016. economics, evangelicals said not a word. When George W. Bush came into office and almost immediately ignored centuries of Just War thinking about when it is appropriate, when it is morally sound, to engage in military action, evangelicals said not a word. Thus, I see the 1980s as a turning point. Evangelicals turned against one of their own, Jimmy Carter, in favor of someone whose grasp of the faith was less nuanced than was Carter’s. That initiated a whole slippery slope that led to the 2016 election, and to the support for someone who had been credibly accused of being a pedophile in the Alabama Senate election of 2017. Q: Can evangelicalism as a movement be saved?
the exit polls from the Alabama special Senate election of December 2017. Where are the moral leaders of evangelicalism? Where is Tony Perkins, who always brays about morality and family values? Where is James Dobson or Richard Land? Why the radio silence from evangelical leaders who have media megaphones which they have used throughout their entire careers? The people I look to are friends—Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren. The problem is that they do not have media empires behind them like other folks do. You are catching me in a moment of genuine despair. I am not that kind of person by nature. I have often said that anyone who is a parent does not have the luxury of despair, and I believe that. So that is why I am fighting through that despair right now.
A: In some ways I’ve staked my whole career on the optimism that the movement can be saved. I do not flatter myself to think I have any huge influence within the evangelical community, but much of my scholarship has been directed toward demonstrating that evangelicalism has a long and noble history of activism and concern for those Jesus would call the least of these. My fondest hope has been throughout all these decades that evangelicals would somehow reclaim that legacy. I have to say that I was reasonably hopeful
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Millennialism and its Discontents:
Air Power Day 2009 by U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson, 2009
The Theology of American Foreign Policy from 1630-1789 Part 1 By Luke Dickens
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And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended . . . Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign for a thousand years.i
illennialism—a Christian theological belief according to which scriptural prophecies can be deciphered to interpret the past, benchmark the present, and predict the future—remains one of the most underappreciated factors that has shaped American foreign policy. Millennialist ideas are not exclusive to Christianity (other religious sects espouse millennialist beliefs), and can be secularized by being gradually woven into the fabric of a nation’s identity and sacralized as a part of a nation’s civil religion. The United States undeniably boasts a robust secularized millennialism as its creed. In fact, one could view our present political situation as indicative of a conflict within the civil religious principles of the United States itself. There are two contenders in this battle of millennial visions: one is an exclusivist (nationalist), nostalgic (backwardslooking) millennialism epitomized by Donald Trump’s campaign slogan—Make America Great Again— while the other is an inclusivist (internationalist), idealistic (forward-looking) millennialism whose most prominent civil religious prophets include Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. Common to both millennial views is a belief that the United States of America is special (i.e. exceptional, indispensable, and chosen), and accordingly has a mission (i.e. a mission to be a city upon a hill, make the world safe for democracy, or defeat international terrorism) whose fulfillment will commence some sort of utopia. Accordingly, millennialism, whether religious or secular, cultivates a Manichaean worldview—one which simplistically frames world events as struggles between the forces of good and evil—in individuals who explicitly or implicitly accept its premises.
Millennialism impacts American foreign policy via the ideas it promotes—chosenness, mission, a Manichaean worldview, and the realizability of utopia. It goes without saying that other factors (selfdefense, assisting our allies, and the desire for land and resources) have shaped American foreign policy. Therefore, it is important to explicitly state how millennialism affects U.S. foreign policy, and then argue that the historical record bears witness to these effects. Millennialism influences American foreign policy by justifying, and sometimes motivating, foreign policy endeavors. Millennialism provides a justification—a vindication—for politicians and other actors involved in producing foreign policy decisions. As historian Richard M. Gamble so aptly observed, “The shining city in the American imagination can be used to justify any economic reform, tax scheme, energy initiative, immigration policy, or military venture no matter how ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’.”ii Furthermore, since organized and civil religion have firmly stamped millennialism upon the American psyche, many members of the American public not only cite millennialist ideas to justify their support for some policy position, but are often motivated by those ideas to support that policy initiative. Hence, a politician, who probably has ulterior motives for proposing some initiative, can appeal to millennialist ideas (e.g., by claiming that a war is necessary to prevent a genocide, and, therefore, the United States has a duty to intervene) to garner public support for a war, maintain support during the war, and justify the war—regardless of its consequences— after its conclusion. Millennialism is a useful tool for policymakers and an opiate of the masses. Before examining how millennialism has specifically shaped American history, some historical-theological context is necessary, since it situates the arrival of millennialism on American shores within a larger, cohesive narrative. A natural starting point for this narrative, it turns out, is the Fall of Rome. Saint Augustine’s amillennial theory of history dominated the outlook of the Roman Catholic Church (and by extension medieval Europe) for more than a thousand years prior to the Protestant Reformation.iii Confronting allegations that Christianity brought about the decline of Rome, Augustine penned his magnum
Accordingly, millennialism, whether religious or secular, cultivates a Manichaean worldview—one which simplistically frames world events as struggles between the forces of good and evil—in individuals who explicitly or implicitly accept its premises. [ Spring 2018 • The Dartmouth Apologia • 11
Untitled from Pixabay, 2017
opus—The City of God—in which he posited a sharp distinction between the goals and fate of the church (the City of God) and the world (the City of Man). iv To motivate this distinction, Augustine interpreted the Book of Revelation allegorically.v He denied that there would be a literal millennium of peace on earth that could be prepared for, much less brought to fruition, by human exertion. Instead, the millennium in Revelation 20 was figurative; it represented the age of the church, which had begun with the resurrection of Christ. Prophecies in Revelation, therefore, did not provide a roadmap to grasp the past, situate oneself in the present, or foresee the future. Furthermore, evil persisted despite Satan having been bound, and having lost the ability to “deceive the nations.”vi Accordingly, the idea of progress toward an earthly utopia—an idea whose realization seemed especially unlikely given the decline and fall of the Roman Empire—was completely incompatible with Augustinian amillennialism.vii Augustine’s influence outlasted his life, as subsequent theologians did not interpret “history by means of the image of a cosmic drama” but in its stead “substituted the image of the pilgrim people of God seeking a destination beyond history.”viii Amillennialism’s reign as the authoritative eschatology among Christians came to an end with the onset of the Protestant Reformation, which effected a monumental paradigm shift in how Western Europeans viewed history. Animated by their slogan sola scriptura, Protestants reexamined Scripture with little concern for preserving Roman Catholic dogma; very few matters of doctrine were exempt from critical evaluation and reinterpretation. Eschatology, the Christian doctrine of the end times, was no exception.
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Surrounded by incipient religious wars and captured by the significance of their historical moment, some Reformers envisioned their struggle against the Roman Catholic Church through apocalyptic lenses. Whereas medieval apocalypticists anticipated the antichrist would be a secular tyrant or a fallen pope, Martin Luther identified the very institution of the papacy as the antichrist, which became the default view among Protestants.ix Many Protestants assumed a millennial, as opposed to an amillennial, theory of history. The onset of a literal millennium seemed to be just over the horizon, and furthermore could be prepared for (if not positively hastened) by human efforts. And since “in such a pattern of history it was inevitable that God would have to operate through certain nations,” the concept of a chosen people commissioned to make way for God’s kingdom was revived.x The notion of being a “chosen people” was one that the Puritans, frustrated by the religious and political climate in Britain, took for granted as they established the Massachusetts Bay Colony.xi Several theological strains intertwined to form the Puritans’ belief in their own chosenness. The Puritan colonists inherited the tradition of national covenant theology from their English counterparts; they believed that just as God had formed covenants with the people of Israel, so also had he formed a covenant with them as part of his plan to redeem the world.xii Furthermore, the Puritans supported their claim to being God’s covenant people by drawing on a biblical method of interpretation known as typology. A type is “an Old Testament place, event, institution, office, object, or even person that serves as a foreshadowing of what God has planned in the future.”xiii For most of church
history, Augustine’s “strict differentiations between the City of God and the City of Man [denied] the applicability of typological exegesis to the public, social life of man.”xiv Augustinian typology was a backward-looking hermeneutic, drawing types from the entire Old Testament, all of which pointed to and were fulfilled by the life and person of Jesus Christ, the sole antitype (that which is pointed to by the types). However, the Puritans “extended the hermeneutical method of typology from mere biblical interpretation
violence that would befall the Old World made finding a refuge from those tribulations a matter of utmost importance, and motivated the Puritans’ errand into the wilderness.xviii This move was also motivated by the desire to complete the Protestant Reformation, a task impossible to accomplish in the Old World. Thus, the Puritans believed that by founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they were acting as God’s chosen agents to prepare for the advent of Christ’s millennial kingdom. xix Their theocracy “was to be at once a model to the
Thus, the Puritans believed that by founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they were acting as God’s chosen agents to prepare for the advent of Christ’s millennial kingdom. to a providential interpretation of secular history.”xv In his sermon, “A Brief Recognition of New England’s Errand into the Wilderness,” Puritan pastor Samuel Danforth compared the strivings of the Puritans in the wilderness of North America to the wanderings of the Israelites in Canaan.xvi Danforth identified the Israelites as a type for the Puritans, thereby linking God’s covenant promises to the Israelites to the actions of the Puritans.xvii Finally, millennialism undergirded and reinforced both the national covenant theology and heterodox typology of the Puritans. The expectation of impending apocalyptic
world of Reformed Christianity and a prefiguration of the New Jerusalem to come.”xx It is important to note that Massachusetts Bay Puritans did not see their Puritan counterparts in Britain (much less colonists who settled elsewhere in America) as chosen. The Puritan notion of covenantal chosenness was quite exclusive; they alone were God’s covenant people, commissioned to establish an ideal ecclesiastical polity—a model Christian community.xxi, xxii Furthermore, the Puritans did not believe that their chosenness entailed a mission to redeem the world. The Puritans were premillennialists; they believed that
Twilight in the Wilderness by Frederic Edwin Church, 1860
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the dawn of the millennium would be preceded by the apocalypse and that a deus ex machina—namely, the bodily return of Jesus Christ to rectify the world’s evils and establish his earthly kingdom—would be necessary to bring the millennium to fruition.xxiii Therefore, while colonial Puritans hoped that God would establish his New Jerusalem in the New World, they did not believe that human progress could hasten that day.xxiv Upon their arrival to the New World, the Puritans evangelized Native Americans, hoping to form bonds that would promote peace while checking the progress of Catholicism in the New World.xxv When Native Americans did not convert en masse and were largely unwilling to assimilate to Anglo-Saxon culture, negative stereotypes of Native Americans as “savages”—a term deeply embedded within European thought—and God-loathing heathens proliferated within the colonial consciousness.xxvi When wars broke out, the Puritans did not treat Native Americans as they would European enemies.xxvii The Puritans infused just war theory, which seeks to provide a rationale by which Christians can go to war while simultaneously attempting to limit the scope of war, with a crusading mentality. The boundaries of jus ad bellum (the right to war), intended to limit the circumstances under which a war could be justly initiated, were expanded by the Puritans so as to increase the occasions to go to war. But the principles of jus in bello (justice in war), designed to limit the scope of a conflict and protect noncombatants, the Puritans essentially jettisoned. xxviii That the Puritans distorted just war theory in this manner should not come as a surprise. The Puritans, after all, saw themselves as a chosen people,
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commissioned by God to establish a theocracy in the New World. Since their errand conjoined spiritual flourishing with material goals, conflicts with Native American “others” assumed a spiritual dimension. By threatening the earthly enterprise of the Puritans, the Native Americans were opposing God’s plan for his chosen people; hence the Pequot War of 1636-37, and King Philip’s War of 1675-76, were exceptionally brutal.xxix In the 1680s, the consolidation of state power by Louis XIV (a Catholic) in France, and the ascension of James II (another Catholic) to the English throne concerned Protestants on both sides of the Atlantic. xxx These fears appeared to be validated when Louis annulled an edict protecting French Protestants. Meanwhile, James nullified colonial charters, which had guaranteed the colonies a measure of political autonomy, and installed Sir Edmund Andros—an Anglican (i.e., an “almost-Catholic” to non-Anglican Protestants)—as the governor of his newly created Dominion of New England (an amalgamation of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey).xxxi When the Glorious Revolution overthrew James in 1688 and installed a Protestant monarch in Britain, British colonists followed suit by deposing Andros and a host of other Catholic authorities from New York to Maryland.xxxii Over the next few decades, English colonists found themselves embroiled in two English imperial wars—the War of the League of Augsburg (1689-97) and the War of Spanish Succession (1701-13)—that did nothing to benefit the American colonies.xxxiii While both wars pitted the colonists against France and its Native
Untitled from Pxhere, 2017
Colonial clergy and laypeople envisioned the conflicts not only in terms of survival, but also as part of a greater apocalyptic struggle against the Catholic antichrist. American allies, the War of Spanish Succession saw France allied with Spain, which expanded the theater of the colonial war from French Canada all the way down to Spanish Florida.xxxiv Although religion did not cause these wars, it molded their “contours and meaning,” for the colonists.xxxv Colonial clergy and laypeople envisioned the conflicts not only in terms of survival, but also as part of a greater apocalyptic struggle against the Catholic antichrist. That these wars went by different names (King Philip’s War and Queen Anne’s War) among the colonists underscored the tension between the British roots of most colonists and their realization that British interests did not always align with, and sometimes ran contrary to, colonial interests.xxxvi While peace eventually came to Europe when the Treaty of Utrecht ended the War of Spanish Succession in 1713, it proved elusive in the colonies as the animosities between the colonists and their French, Spanish, and Indian foes produced several intracolonial wars throughout the 1710s and 1720s.xxxvii The eighteenth century witnessed the transformation of colonial millennialism, as the Puritans’ exclusivist millennialism metamorphosed into a more inclusive civil millennialism. Ubiquitous wars played a role in this transformation; the other ingredient was a series of revivals in the 1730s and 1740s known as the Great Awakening. Spearheaded by figures like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, the Great Awakening featured massive revivalist
Saint James the Greater Catholic Church (Concord, North Carolina) - stained glass, Holy Spirit at Pentecost by Nheyob, 2016
concerts of prayer reminiscent of the Puritan Jeremiad, which “was the ritual of a culture on an errand— which is to say, a culture based on a faith in process,” a ritual that “discarded the Old World ideal of stasis for a New World vision of the future” and functioned to “create a climate of anxiety that helped release the restless ‘progressivist’ energies required for the success of the venture.”xxxviii Whereas Puritan clergy preached Jeremiads to call their flock unto repentance and covenant renewal with God, and thus reinforced their own sense of exclusive chosenness, revivalist preachers called all colonists unto repentance, salvation, and the pursuit of holiness. In doing so, revivalists took a practice intended to exclude, and used it to open “the ranks of the American army of Christ to every white Protestant believer.”xxxix Capitalizing on the incipient sense of colonial Protestant unity, Whitefield made sure “to exhort my hearers themselves against the first approaches of Popish tyranny and arbitrary power.”xl Interpreting the revival of Christianity in the colonies as a sign that God’s kingdom drew near, Edwards exposited the eschatological theory of postmillennialism, which embraced elements of the Puritan millennial vision, but differed in several crucial respects.xli Contrary to pre-millennialism, postmillennialism maintains that Jesus Christ will return after the millennium foretold in Revelation 20. While Edwards and his Puritan predecessors believed that God would establish New Jerusalem in America, the Puritans thought this would only be accomplished by
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Christ’s return, whereas Edwards believed that spiritual revival would precipitate the redemption of society and the dawning of God’s millennial kingdom.xlii The Puritans assumed the worst tribulations were yet to come, whereas Edwards believed they had already passed.xliii Hence the Puritans sought to withdraw from the Old World to escape the worst of the apocalyptic tribulations preceding the millennium. However, postmillennialists envisioned the outpouring of the vials of judgment prior to the millennium as cathartic events that would ultimately improve the condition of the world; hence postmillennialists recommended engagement with the world.xliv However, much to the dismay of Edwards and his colleagues, the revivalist fervor of the Great Awakening started to dissipate in 1743, prompting one minister to ruefully exclaim, “Manna grows tasteless and insipid after a Year or two’s Enjoyment . . . and too many are for making a Captain, and returning to Egypt.”xlv Postmillennial revivalism, with its apolitical aim of overthrowing the antichrist by drawing multitudes into the Protestant fold, proved insufficient to sustain a distinctively American identity. xlvi Nonetheless, the Great Awakening grafted optimism into the colonial consciousness, which would prove crucial to the development of civil millennialism. The emergence of colonial nationalism and an American identity in the second half of the eighteenth century owed to the synthesis of postmillennial optimism with republican political ideals.xlvii While the Great Awakening was in full swing, the colonies again found themselves embroiled in a European war, known as King George’s War (1739-48), in which they
the world.”li However, clergy not only appealed to religious traditions to foster unity, but also “the civic traditions of Anglo-America—not only Protestantism, that is, but English libertarianism.”lii Many colonists, therefore, believed that England and the colonies shared the same fate.liii These strains of postmillennial optimism and Christian republicanism conjoined to produce civil millennialism and a more robust,
Statue of Paul Revere, American Revolution by brianfakhoury, 2016
Americans were a people with a unique millennial destiny, epitomized by John Adams’ diary entry: “I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over earth.” again were pitted against Catholic foes.xlviii Keeping with a theme in colonial history, peace eluded the colonies as the French and Indian War (1754-1763) erupted a few years after the conclusion of King George’s War.xlix Colonial pastors issued countless sermons embroidering these conflicts with apocalyptic imagery, likening French Canada to Babylon, the Old Testament enemy of Israel.l The demise of Catholicism in Canada, many hoped, would incur a “most signal revolution in the civil and religious state of things in
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autonomous colonial identity.liv Civil millennialists anticipated a millennium preceded by the propagation of civil and religious liberty, rather than the gospel; the realization of this millennium required the redemption, or overturning, of political and social institutions, rather than the spread of global Protestantism or the return of Christ; the antichrist, it seemed, could just as well be an oppressive secular ruler as a heretic.lv When the French sued for peace in 1763, many colonists believed their victory marked the beginning of the
follows: “Moses standing on the Shore, and extending his Hand over the Sea, thereby causing the same to overwhelm Pharaoh who is sitting in an open Chariot, a Crown on his Head and a Sword in his hand. Rays from a Pillar of Fire in the Clouds reaching to Moses, to express that he acts by Command of the Deity.”lxv The success of the American Revolution confirmed the veracity of civil millennialism and sanctified America’s mission. Americans had squared off against Native Americans, Roman Catholics, and finally their own colonial overseers, and emerged victorious each time. The world would never be the same. Revelation 20: 1-3, 6 (ESV). Richard M. Gamble, In Search of the City on a Hill (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2012), 9. iii. Ernest Lee Tuveson, Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America’s Millennial Role (London: University of Chicago Press, 1968), ix; Stanley J. Grenz, The Millennial Maze: Sorting out Evangelical Options (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 44. iv. Tuveson, 13-14. v. Tuveson, 16. vi. Revelation 20:3 (ESV). vii. Tuveson, 15. viii. Tuveson, ix; Grenz, 45. ix. Grenz, 49-50. x. Tuveson, x. xi. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language: Third Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008), 297. xii. John D. Wilsey, American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 41. xiii. Frederic M. Martin, American Evangelicals & Modern Israel (Sisters: Deep River Books, 2016), 99. xiv. Sacvan Bercovitch, “Typology in Puritan New England: The Williams-Cotton Controversy Reassessed,” American Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 2 (1969): 176. xv. Wilsey, 43. xvi. Wilsey, 44. xvii. Wilsey, 44. xviii. Avihu Zakai, “Theocracy in Massachusetts: The Puritan Universe of Sacred Imagination,” Studies in the Literary Imagination Vol. 27, No. 1 (1994); Conrad Cherry, God’s New Israel: Religious Interpretations of American Destiny (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 26. i.
A U.S. Air Force TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) conducts a patrol with members of the U.S. Army from Stocktrek Images, 2004
millennial era.lvi Such expectations proved futile as Great Britain engaged in a series of political blunders that earned it the ire of its colonists.lvii The prohibition on colonial settlement west of the Appalachians, the efforts of the Anglican church to convert Native Americans and, more troublingly, other Protestant colonists, and the passage of the Stamp Act of 1765 prompted colonial clergy, men who had previously lauded the bonds between the colonies and England, to upbraid Great Britain.lviii London became the new Rome.lix The British monarch was a secular analogue, and to some an agent, of the Pope.lx Americans were a people with a unique millennial destiny, epitomized by John Adams’s diary entry: “I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over earth.”lxi When the Revolutionary War began, most denominations supported the Revolutionary cause, overcoming opposition to the war from Anglicans and pacifist sects.lxii Colonial pastors issued Jeremiads calling God’s New Israel to “repent and gird itself with holiness for the defeat of the [British] enemy.” lxiii Typological interpretations of colonial destiny were construed, comparing Great Britain to Egypt, and the colonists to the Israelites seeking their promised land. The Revolution stood as an antitype to “the flight of Noah, the wanderings of Abraham, the desert march of Israel, the formation of the early church, (and) the revolt of Luther and Calvin against Rome.”lxiv Benjamin Franklin, hardly a devout Christian, described his proposed Seal of the United States as
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Sacvan Bercovitch, American Jeremiad (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2012), 9. xx. Bercovitch, American Jeremiad, 8. xxi. Gamble, In Search of the City on a Hill, 46-47 xxii. Andrew Preston, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy (New York: Anchor Books, 2012), 25-26. xxiii. Sacvan Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission,” American Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2 (1978): 137. xxiv. David Smith, “Millenarian Scholarship in America,” American Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 3 (1965): 539. xxv. Preston, 27-28. xxvi. Wilsey, 100; Andrew Preston, 29. xxvii. Preston, 29. xxviii. Preston, 32-35. xxix. Preston, 31. xxx. Preston, 48. xxxi. Preston, 49. xxxii. Preston, 49. xxxiii. Preston, 46-52. xxxiv. Preston, 52. xxxv. Preston, 52. xxxvi. Preston, 46-52. xxxvii. Preston, 54. xxxviii. Bercovitch, American Jeremiad, 23. xxxix. Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission,” 142. xl. Preston, 57. xli. Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission,”139. xlii. Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission,” 143. xliii. C. C. Goen, “Jonathan Edwards: A New Departure in Eschatology,” Church History, Vol. 28, No. 1 (1959): 30. xliv. Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission,” 143. xlv. Nathan O. Hatch, “The Origins of Civil Millennialism in America: New England Clergymen, War with France, and the Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly Vol. 31, No. 3 (1974): 413-414. xlvi. Hatch, 413. xlvii. Christopher M. Beam, “Millennialism and American Nationalism, 1740-1800,” Journal of Presbyterian History Vol. 54, No. 1 (1976): 183. xlviii. Preston, 59. xlix. Preston, 63. l. Hatch, 417-419. li. Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission,” 147. lii. Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission,” 148. xix.
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Beam, 183. Preston, 69. lv. Hatch, 422. lvi. Preston, 69. lvii. Preston, 77. lviii. Preston, 77-79. lix. Preston, 79. lx. Hatch, 429. lxi. Tuveson, 25. lxii. Preston, 83. lxiii. Conrad Cherry, God’s New Israel: Religious Interpretations of American Destiny (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 62. lxiv. Bercovitch, “The Typology of America’s Mission,” 154. lxv. Franklin, Proposal for the Great Seal of the United States, [before August 14, 1776], in The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. William B. Wilcox (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 22:56263. liii. liv.
Luke Dickens ’18 is from Fortson, Georgia. He is a double major in Economics and Philosophy.
Discovering God: Plantinga and the Sensus Divinatus
By Jeffrey Poomkudy
n George Orwell’s novel 1984, Winston is at odds with the Party, the totalitarian regime of Oceania. O’Brien, a member of the Party, utilizes the possibility of solipsism, the notion that nothing exists outside the mind, to bend Winston to the Party’s will. Winston is thoroughly disturbed by this: “And yet he knew, he KNEW, that he was in the right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind—surely there must be some way of demonstrating that it was false? Had it not been exposed long ago as a fallacy?”i Winston’s question is a serious one, often discussed in
Alone by "DrCartoon"
epistemology, the philosophical field concerned with the nature of knowledge. Can Winston ever know with absolute certainty that what exists in the external world is real? Or is it rational to doubt our perception? Thomas Reid, a prominent philosopher during the Scottish Enlightenment, responded to this notion in An Inquiry into the Human Mind, arguing that “there are certain principles . . . which the constitution of our nature leads us to believe, and which we are under a necessity to take for granted in the common concerns of life, without being able to give a reason
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for them.”ii Reid argues that there are certain ideas, namely those which our nature leads us to believe, that we must accept as true. Those beliefs can be considered to be basic, the foundations of our further knowledge. They form the foundations of other beliefs and are considered to be self-evident. For example, we take the existence of the external world—the world which we see, touch, and smell—to be foundational. Then we use scientific inquiry to further develop the set of what we take to be true. Our perception of qualia (sensory stimuli) and our belief in the existence of other minds are examples of what our natural disposition leads us to believe, and therefore are examples of beliefs that are within our epistemic rights to hold. What if our knowledge of God was like that
logician Alvin Plantinga argues in Warranted Christian Belief and Reason and Belief in God that a belief in God is “properly basic” and is thus foundational to other beliefs.iii He argues that “warranted true belief ” constitutes knowledge, and argues that theistic belief— and, furthermore, Christian belief, specifically—is warranted by a disposition that he calls the sensus divinatus. He describes the sensus divinatus as an innate capacity that enables human beings to discover and to know God, however vaguely or peripherally. I argue that the naturally inbuilt human capacity of sensus divinatus exists, and furthermore by virtue of its being innate, makes belief in God basic. Plantinga argues for the existence of a sensus divinatus by utilizing the theology of both Aquinas
What if our knowledge of God was like that too, something that came from our nature? What if it is something all humans, simply by existing, ought to accept because it is something we are inclined by nature to believe? too, something that came from our nature? What if it is something all humans, simply by existing, ought to accept because it is something we are inclined by nature to believe? Something, like the existence of other minds, that is just so basically true it precedes our rationality? Contemporary Christian philosopher and
and Calvin. Both agreed that there is some sort of sense of God, an ability to discover God that precedes our reason. Aquinas says, “To know in a general and confused way that God exists is implanted in us by nature.” It is a feeling, a sense, or, as Plantinga says, “a natural human tendency, a disposition.”iv Calvin
Meadow from PxHere, 2017
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Guilt by H. Kopp-Delaney, 2012
gave it the name sensus divinatus, meaning “sense of the divine,” which helps us produce beliefs about God. Calvin wrote that “there is within the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, an awareness of divinity.”v This sense of the divine, however, does not
just like we must interact with the physical world to perceive it or make memories about it. The sensus divinatus “works in response to the sorts of conditions or stimuli that trigger the working of this sense of divinity.”vi When we see a beautifully verdant meadow
The sensus divinatus is rather a capacity, like memory or perception, that all humans have, that allows us to form beliefs about God. mean we have beliefs about God in the womb. The sensus divinatus is rather a capacity, like memory or perception, that all humans have, that allows us to form beliefs about God. It is by interacting with the world that we actually come to have beliefs about God—
or an immensely rugged and majestic mountain or the hustle and bustle of people in a city, beliefs about God simply arise within us. Plantinga argues that rather than providing the premises for an argument, our circumstances simply occasion the rise of such beliefs
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within us. It is not because the Australian outback is with something higher than themselves, to connect menacing and dark that God exists. Plantinga argues with the transcendent. From animistic faiths in that this notion would be logically fallacious.vii Rather, Indochina to the gods that sit on Mount Olympus to our perception of the outback causes such a belief to the Abrahamic faiths, humans have constantly tried to come forth. We develop our knowledge of other minds seek and know God. Even into the modern era, where in a similar way. We are not born with the knowledge science helps us to explain the world, religious belief that other people have minds, but in our interactions persists, and in some regions, it is as robust as ever.x with other people, we simply come to believe, Its prevalence throughout the history of mankind consciously or unconsciously, that other people have suggests that there is truly some universal, innate sense minds. The sensus divinatus works in a similar way. that attunes humans to divinity. Human behaviors and emotions seem to Plantinga also argues that our belief in God is demonstrate the existence of a sensus divinatus. rational just as our belief in other minds is. He argues Consider the feeling of guilt. Plantinga argues that in his seminal work in the philosophy of religion, God guilt often evokes the feeling that someone is disappointed in us.viii But whom have we really wronged when we misbehave in private? Guilt is a natural emotion that puts us at odds with our natural intuition of moral law, and consequently with God, who undergirds the natural moral law. Similarly, Cardinal John Henry Newman used the existence of conscience to show an innate ability to perceive God. He writes, “If, as is the case, we feel responsibility, are ashamed, are frightened, at transgressing the voice of conscience, this implies that there is One to whom we are responsible, before whom we are ashamed, whose claims upon us we fear . . . yet, so it is, conscience excites all these painful emotions.”ix Our conscience allows us to perceive the good and the bad, and in doing so gives us a basic knowledge of right and wrong, to which our emotions (like guilt) cue us. Perception Psychology, by geralt Our conscience makes us ashamed of our mistakes and and Other Minds, that “if my belief in other minds drives us to pursue virtuous action. The existence of is rational, so is my belief in God. But obviously the a conscience provides evidence for the argument that former is rational; so, therefore, is the latter.”xi After there may be some innate capacity to know God and explaining how we accept the existence of other minds, his moral law. Plantinga makes the argument that the belief in other It is also worth considering how prevalent the minds is the same, epistemologically, as a belief in belief in God has been anthropologically. Historically, God. We can only observe outward behavior or brain human beings have developed beliefs about God activity; we can never know for certain if other minds or
We can only observe outward behavior or brain activity; we can never know for certain if other minds or consciousnesses truly do exist. that bear an uncanny resemblance to each other. Throughout the course of mankind, men have worshipped a higher power, an all-powerful being (or group of beings) that transcends human existence. It seems there is an inherent desire in humans to connect
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consciousnesses truly do exist (this problem is known in philosophy as the “Problem of Other Minds”). But we have a natural sense that other minds in fact do exist and are as real and complex as our own. Similarly, belief in God is also epistemically acceptable through
our sensus divinatus. The sensus divinatus gives us the same sort of knowledge that we accept when accepting the existence of other minds. Whether or not other minds exist, or even that God exists, can be debated. But in any case, it is rational to hold both beliefs. Before ending our inquiry into the sensus divinatus, it is important to note the value of our faculties of reason in directing our primary faculties. Just like our memory or our perception, reason should shape the beliefs that arise from our sensus divinatus. Though we may have a natural capacity to know God, it is our rationality that allows us to truly discover Him. Any natural capacities are only valuable insofar as they can be used as the basis of reasonable thought. The true value in our perceptive capabilities is not in the fact that they help us perceive things but in that they help us reason and discover truths about the world. In other words, perception is simply a starting place for our belief-formation. Similarly, the sensus divinatus is valuable insofar as we move to adopt beliefs about God grounded in reason. Plantinga himself offers various arguments for the existence of God grounded in natural theology, such as the Modal Ontological Argument. Arguments such as his are worth examining because they help us develop a rational knowledge of God. When the sensus divinatus is compounded with our faculties of reason and divine revelation, we can come to know God more fully. What about Winston? His natural capacity to know that others exist should help him to thwart the Party’s attempts to control him. By understanding that certain beliefs are basic, something that our disposition leads us to believe, he need not look for a demonstration of the falsity of solipsism. Winston will find that others do indeed exist outside his mind, and in the process, he can discover so much more. George Orwell, 1984 (Project Gutenberg, 2008). Thomas Reid, An Inquiry into the Human Mind, 17. iii. Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief; Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff, Reason and Belief in God. iv. Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, 171. v. Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, 171. vi. Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, 173. vii. Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, 175. viii. Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, 175. ix. Cardinal John Henry Newman, Grammar of Assent, Chapter 5. x. “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050,” Pew Research Center, last modified April 2, 2015, http://
www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religiousprojections-2010-2050/. xi. Plantinga, God and Other Minds, 271.
Jeffrey Poomkudy ’20 is from Old Westbury, NY. He is a Philosophy major and a Chemistry minor.
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faith and the invisible:
Taking the Leap
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By Hailey Scherer
Untitled from Wikimedia Commons, 2017
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Globe: Glowing by Whatsername, 2008
magine a row of men staring at shadows on the wall of a cave. Chained in place since birth, these men are unable to turn their heads to look at anything other than the cave wall in front of them. One day, a man is freed, and upon standing and turning around he comes to realize that all the “figures” on the wall are merely shadows produced by other people moving puppets in front of a large fire behind the prisoners. Later, the one who freed him forces him to emerge from the cave. Though initially blinded by the sunlight, the freed prisoner gradually comes to perceive objects that resemble the puppets in the cave, and then begins to perceive the sun, as well. He finally understands that the puppets in the cave are mere replicas of the objects above ground, and that the sun makes the perception and existence of such objects possible. When he returns to the cave, however, his eyes, having acclimatized to the sunlight above, can no longer perceive the dim shadows on the wall. In response, the other prisoners ridicule him and conclude that leaving the cave only serves to ruin one’s eyesight. Thus, when the freed prisoner attempts to liberate the prisoners to show them the world above, the other prisoners resist and attempt to kill him.i This story describes Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave, which Plato originally proposed to illustrate the process of education and to clarify his theory of Forms.ii That said, the allegory also speaks both to the discomfort we feel when asked to place faith in something that we cannot grasp for ourselves, and to the place for doubt and belief in intellectual life. Whether
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by induction through repeatable experiments or by deductive analysis, we tend to trust what we can grasp by our own intellectual power. The development of modern science and the rise of philosophical naturalism have convinced many that reality consists only of what is perceptible and demonstrable. In turn, the secular milieu has defined reason as a mere application of our senses, while encouraging an attitude toward knowledge that can be best characterized as dispassionate and mechanical. Belief in the transcendent (or in anything beyond or above our ordinary experiences), on the other hand, has been cast as “faith,” and has come to be understood as an unreasonable, unshakeable commitment grounded in sheer force of personal will, motivated by nameless intuitions and wishful thinking. While this juxtaposition of reason and faith is as old as the Enlightenment, this characterization has plenty of modern adherents. Twenty-first century atheists including Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have promoted this portrait of the stark division between “reason” and “faith,” so characterized, and have derided the latter as an inherently self-delusional element implicit in theistic systems of belief.iii But what if-—whispers the voice of doubt into even the ear of the skeptic—what if we are staring at mere shadows on the wall of a cave? What if there is a reality greater and even more real than the visible and verifiable? We are used to the idea of the faithful believer experiencing doubt, but in his book Introduction to Christianity, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) characterizes the inability to
In an environment where the visible and verifiable are viewed as the essence of reality, it is unsurprising that belief in the transcendent is considered unusual, unreasonable, foolish, and even dangerous. escape doubt as the dilemma of all persons, believers and unbelievers alike.iv Just as the faithful believer experiences the “continual temptation” of unbelief, the unbeliever faces the continual “temptation and threat” of faith to the “real totality of the world he has made up his mind to explain as a self-contained whole.”v In an environment where the visible and verifiable are viewed as the essence of reality, it is unsurprising that belief in the invisible and transcendent is considered unusual, unreasonable, foolish, and even dangerous. Many are critical and disdainful of the leap of faith essential to religious belief, and others may be intimidated by it. In truth, this view of faith as some elusive, irrational, delusional spasm of the will exclusive to religious belief is mistaken. All belief requires some element of faith. On an everyday basis, to hold beliefs about the world, we rely on faith. To justify belief using firstperson observations, we must have faith that our senses are reliable sources of information. We believe that what we see, touch, hear, smell, and taste correspond with reality. In most cases, however, we are relatively limited in what we directly experience of the world; consequently, most of what we believe relies on justification by testimony. We take it on faith that water
is a collection of H2O molecules, that the Virginia Company founded Jamestown in 1607, and that the Earth is round instead of flat. We might evaluate some source of testimony as more or less worthy of our trust, of course, but we still choose to believe it on faith. Even the most empirical of sciences rely on faith. To engage in the scientific process, we must begin by trusting that the questions we ask are the right ones in the first place. William A. Wilson, in an article for First Things, pushes back against an idealized view of the scientific project as an elegant accumulation of simple, raw observations that consequently reveal self-evident truths about the world. Instead, Wilson argues that human nature precludes a truly inductivist project.vi Scientists begin with a hypothesis—an idea generated through some connection they see in the world. But because neither data nor facts just present themselves to us, experimental and observational studies must be conducted, often at a great financial cost, to find them. Scientists must first, then, trust that the hypothesis is plausible enough to take the time and resources to test, knowing that it is fairly easy to find patterns (real and conjured) to support it as reality. Moreover, Wilson maintains, the complexity and flexibility of the data sets produced as a result of such a search—the evidence
St. Augustine by Louis Comfort Tiffany, 2005
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sought and attended, influenced by what the academic field considers evidence and by the narrow question originally asked—demands interpretation. Because the scientific process requires such interpretation, it is possible that contradictory explanations could account for the data equally as well, formulated based on different initial assumptions or tested through different measures. Further, because these data sets almost always underdetermine the theory, in interpreting the data to formulate a picture of reality that transcends the discrete data points, scientists must fill in the gaps. They must, in other words, take leaps of faith. Finally, with the advances of technology, we uncover new data sets every day. We have faith that our current conception of reality is true, even though there might be evidence yet uncovered that suggests its flaws. The ubiquity of faith in all epistemic endeavors leads to a more nuanced portrait of faith, one that stands in opposition to epistemic postures that prioritize all doubt over belief, or vice versa. St. Augustine recognized these two extremes in the reactions we can take to our reliance on trust in belief. vii On one hand, the epistemic posture characterized by excessive doubt is one that rejects any possibility of knowledge. Taking this approach, we might dismiss all scientific evidence for a round Earth, proclaim that the external world is actually a reality simulated by sentient machines, or doubt the integrity of recorded history by internalizing conspiracy theories. On the other hand, the epistemic posture of extreme belief is characterized by credulousness. Just as Roderigo believes that Iago used his money to help him woo Desdemona, the emperor believes that the weavers made him invisible clothes, and we similarly might be overly ready to believe the foreign dignitary’s email asking for our bank account information. St. Augustine proposes a middle ground, one that incorporates the ideas of belief and doubt into faith.viii Ordinary human faith, according to St. Augustine, is the mean of these two extremes, in which we critically evaluate the trustworthiness of our sources and choose
Footprints by Maura Cahill ’20
and then decide to trust, and take the position of belief, or to refrain, and take the position of disbelief. Reason thus leads us to the faith necessary for belief. There is no escape from the dilemma of belief and doubt. All positions on the nature of reality constitute a belief, and all people take a position. Even selfproclaimed agnostics or those who claim indifference to fundamental questions are still taking a stance on the issue—they are still, as Joshua Tseng-Tham D’17 writes in a Fare Forward article, “responding to doubts that they invariably encounter.”x Blaise Pascal’s pragmatic argument for the belief in the God of Christianity is underdeveloped, but reveals the faith implicit in deciding to believe or disbelieve. In his Argument from Superdominance, commonly discussed today as
In holding any belief, from the quotidian to the most scientific, we rely on some element of faith, but can do so in tandem with our use of reason. to believe or to disbelieve in some proposition.ix In holding any belief, from the quotidian to the most scientific, we rely on some element of faith, but can do so in tandem with our use of reason. We adjudicate what we believe based on reason, responding to doubts in evaluating the quality of our sources of information,
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“Pascal’s Wager,” Pascal asserts that people assume that God is either real or not real, and choose whether to believe or not to believe. If God does not exist, and people choose to believe, then there is some argument to be made that we lose some time that could be spent hedonistically or else gain some moral utility from
having believed. If God does not exist, and we choose not to believe, then there are no consequences for this lack of belief, besides perhaps some increased time for hedonistic activity or decreased moral advantage. If, however, God does exist, and we choose to not believe, then we face eternal punishment. Likewise, if God does exist, and we choose to believe, then we face eternal reward. Based on decision theory, Pascal concludes that it is only reasonable to take the leap of faith required to believe in God.xi Though the argument is incomplete— it fails, for example, to justify why someone should believe in the God of Christianity, instead of the God or gods of other religions—it emphasizes the fact that we must take positions on such central questions to the nature of reality, and that our decision to take one position or another may have consequences too enormous to comprehend. Both the believer and the unbeliever place their trust in one version of reality or another, one that either does or does not include the existence of God. According to the argument, we wager the potential for eternal reward or punishment in taking the leap of faith to believe or not to believe, respectively. Everyone takes some position—even the agnostic is taking some position—by some leap of faith. As Ratzinger writes in his Introduction, “Every man must adopt some kind of attitude toward the realm of basic decisions, decisions that, by their very nature, can only be made by entertaining belief,” and such belief requires trust in one version of reality or another.xii The faith implicit in religious belief, then, is
not the unique, elusive, disordered paroxysm of the will that many understand it to be; rather, faith is something in which we can reasonably engage, and is furthermore something in which we must engage to hold any beliefs at all. What we must decide, then, is what to believe. The Nicene Creed, one of the most widely accepted statements of belief of the Christian religion, speaks of God as the “maker…of all things visible and invisible.” The terms “visible” and “invisible” seem to speak not only literally to the aspects of reality accessible and inaccessible to the sensory transduction mechanisms involved in the human sense of sight, but also to the known and the unknown, as well as the knowable and the unknowable. Ratzinger speaks of “an infinite gulf between God and man” born of man’s limited nature, acknowledging that “for man God is and always will be essentially invisible, something lying outside his field of vision.”xiii Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians that “we walk by faith, not by sight,” and Jesus commends those who have not seen and yet believe.xiv Paul asserts repeatedly in his letters that God is invisible, and wrote in his letter to the Romans that because God is invisible, we must rely on “what he has made” to perceive him.xv Christianity is not devoid of the visible and the reasonable. On the contrary, according to Christian teaching, our faculty of reason renders us capable of knowing God rationally. Since the human mind is hindered by our disordered appetites (which, Christians believe, are the consequences of original sin) and limited attentional and sensory
Zefe from Pixabay, 2015
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In a cooperative, complimentary cycle, reason can lead us to faith, and faith seeks and leads us to reasonable understanding. capacity, we often derail our own reasoning faculties to believe what is easiest or most convenient according to our desires.xvi In light of these obstacles, as Paul’s letter to the Romans suggests, Christians believe that God granted us proof of his existence through revelation. This revelation strengthens Christian faith in making truth more easily accessible to human minds, and in helping us to understand that faith is not opposed to reason, but is in fact aided by it.xvii Just as in all belief, we can evaluate this visible evidence based on reason, which can lead us to faith in the invisible. Faith means throwing ourselves into an apparent chasm—an intimidating prospect, but not an inherently unreasonable one. The invisibility and incomprehensibility of God pose the “infinite gulf between God and man,” which seems, at first glance, an impassable rift.xviii However, as Tseng-Tham writes, the mystery inherent in Christianity “is actually the opportunity for conversion, wherein the person responds to an echo of transcendence by leaping into it.”xix Tseng-Tham continues, “Only by making a leap into this reality does the believer begin to understand it, and the space between man and God morphs from a chasm to a bridge.”xx Almost similar to the way in which the scientist’s observation and reason lead him to take the leap into believing that some hypothesis might be true and to build theories
“Owachomo Bridge” by Jacob W. Frank, 2013
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from the association of ideas, and similar to the way in which we take the leap into believing that Australia is a real place before getting on a plane or discussing events that occurred there, we can only come to truly investigate and understand something invisible by first casting ourselves into belief of its reality. In the famous words of St. Augustine, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.”xxi In a cooperative, complimentary cycle, reason can lead us to faith, and faith seeks and leads us to reasonable understanding. Ratzinger writes that faith “has always meant a leap…across an infinite gulf, a leap, namely, out of the tangible world that presses on man from every side.”xxii Faith has always represented the risk of considering something other than what can be plainly seen as the truly real. Furthermore, Ratzinger writes, “It signifies the deliberate view that what cannot be seen, what can in no way move into the field of vision, is not unreal; that, on the contrary, what cannot be seen in fact represents true reality, the element that supports and makes possible all the rest of reality.”xxiii Though we are naturally drawn to trust the tangible, the apparent, and the visible as reality, by faith we recognize that we blind ourselves if we trust only what we see. It has become most comfortable to limit our understanding of reality to what we can perceive and comprehend. This complacency suffices us because,
as Wilson aptly phrases it, “it works astonishingly well.”xxiv We rely on scientific theories as long as they can correctly predict the data—ignoring the possibility that there might be other theories that account for and predict the data equally well or better. We rely on these theories to advance technology that will afford us better sight, more predictive power, and more control. We might pragmatically attempt to pick the laws, theories, and technological practices that yield the best explanations—that is, those that give us greater power for prediction and control—but, as Wilson explains, we live in a world “absolutely rotten with order,” much of it real and “much more conjured into being when fallible, order-seeking minds go hunting for it.”xxv In Plato’s allegory, the prisoners would grant each other special honors and commendations for most clearly catching sight of the figures and for most accurately recognizing and predicting patterns of movement: the fact that we can perceive and predict shadows, however, does not make them more than shadows. The prisoners in the cave did not trust the returned freed prisoner as a reliable source of information because the returned prisoner, having become accustomed to the sunlight, cannot as clearly see the shadows on the wall—which the prisoners in the cave take to constitute reality. Communication between believers and nonbelievers often feels this way: the believer cannot effectively communicate something invisible and so vastly incomprehensible. The one who chooses to place his faith in the view of reality that excludes the existence of the invisible might use this inability as justification for his unbelief. Nevertheless, however strongly the unbeliever might feel justified, she is still susceptible to the doubt that all mankind inevitably faces. No matter how naturally inclined and content we are to rely on the visible, we can still allow ourselves to be drawn to the voice that whispers of the possibility of the existence of something greater than ourselves, something that we cannot readily perceive, something even more real than what we can see. Reason allows us to consider the visible world around us, and to decide what to believe about reality. Faith enables us to take the leap into believing it. Plato, Republic. (Classics of Moral and Political Theory, edited by Michael L. Morgan, 75-251. 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011), 186-188. ii. Plato, 186-188. iii. See: Sam Harris, The End of Faith. (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004); Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006); Richard Dawkins. Speech, Edinburgh International Science Festival, April 15, 1992.
Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, trans. J. R. Foster (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), 44. v. Ratzinger, 44. vi. William A. Wilson, “The Myth of Scientific Objectivity,” First Things (November 2017). vii. Thomas Joseph White, “Trust Witness,” First Things (November 2015). viii. White. ix. White. x. Joshua Tseng-Tham, “Review: Joseph Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity,” Fare Forward 8 (2017). xi. Hájek, Alan. "Pascal’s Wager." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. September 1, 2017. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/. xii. Ratzinger, 72. xiii. Ratzinger, 39. xiv. 2 Corinthians 5:7; John 20:29 (NABRE). xv. 1 Timothy 1:17; Colossians 1:15-16; Romans 1:20 (NABRE). xvi. Pius XII, Humani Generis, 561: DS 3875; cf. Olson, Carl, “Augustine’s Confessions and the Harmony of Faith and Reason,” Catholic Answers Magazine (May 1, 2010), <https://www.catholic. com/magazine/print-edition/augustines-confessionsand-the-harmony-of-faith-and-reason>. xvii. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 35-38. xviii. Ratzinger, 39. xix. Tseng-Tham. xx. Tseng-Tham. xxi. Catechism, 158. xxii. Ratzinger, 51. xxiii. Ratzinger, 50. xxiv. Wilson. xxv. Wilson. Special thanks to Darley Sackitey ’21, Jeffrey Poomkudy ’20, and Joshua Tseng-Tham ’17 for their very helpful comments in the development of this article. iv.
Hailey Scherer ’20 is from Potomac Falls, Virginia. She is a prospective major in Cognitive Science with interests in philosophy, psychology, and human-centered design.
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The Myth of Pure Objectivity by Lee Farnsworth
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A Retrospective from 2011
Untitled from Pxhere, 2016
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ichard Rorty is famous for his notion of religion or religious reasons as “conversation stoppers.”i Suppose that an individual, during a discussion about some policy issue such as provision of universal healthcare or the permissibility of abortion or assisted suicide, argues that certain policies ought to be enacted because they are required by God’s will. What are the other participants in the discussion to say if they do not share similar religious convictions? Rorty’s answer seems to be that the other participants can say nothing, and it is for precisely this reason that religion ought to be confined to the private sphere. We can only make progress in discourse, Rorty argues, by examining shared premises that would allow us to continue the argument.ii
reasons would be to monitor current political discourse. And indeed, people offer reasons for various positions all the time. A policy might promote equality, preserve freedom, ensure tolerance, etc. But, as Steven Smith points out in The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse, these abstract notions are just that, abstract. iii Equality, freedom, tolerance—all must be filled in with substantive criteria if they are to do any evaluative work. For example, notions of equality do not imply that we must treat all things equally, but rather that we must treat those things which are relevantly similar equally. It is these substantive criteria, the identification of what things are relevantly similar in a given case, that make arguments which invoke equality persuasive or not.iv To borrow an example from Smith,
There is no clear way to determine just how valuable freedom is relative to other political goods. Rorty’s characterization of religious belief is not new. Religious believers have long been told that since their belief is personal, since they believe what they believe about God not for objective reasons but due to a subjective choice, that religious convictions can play no role in making public decisions. The only reasons that count in the public arena are those that do not reflect any specific ideology or religious affiliation. Reasons, in this sense, must be “neutral.” The secular response to Point of view bias by Mushki Brichta, 2018 the invocation of God is often, “I understand that your personal beliefs about God imply that [position x] is wrong. But those are just your beliefs. And since I do not accept your beliefs about God and there is no way to prove them, we must rely on objective facts, on reasons that do not come merely from faith.” My objective in this article is not to address the mischaracterization of religious faith or to give examples of religious thought that has, far from stopping the conversation, enriched it. Instead, for the sake of argument, I would like to grant the premise that the only reasons that can count as such in public discourse are those that do not reflect any specific faith commitments. The question then becomes, are there any reasons that meet this standard of neutrality? A logical starting point for trying to find such
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students taking multiple choice tests may well argue that considerations of equality prevent their teacher from penalizing an incorrect answer because we should treat all answers the same.v In this case, we feel that the appeal to equality falls flat because the answers are not relevantly similar; one is correct and the other is incorrect. The point is, though, that we do not know whether considerations of equality apply until after we have filled in the notion with some substantive criteria. Ideals of tolerance and freedom are similarly empty. As Smith writes, Moreover, an expansion of one person’s freedom often means a contraction of other people’s freedom: if we recognize and protect the freedom of the pornographer to market pornographic materials, we simultaneously reduce the freedom of people to live and raise their children in a pornographyfree community. Hence, appeals to “freedom” can easily be—and often are—question-begging.vi
Thus we see that arguments which invoke freedom are, like those which invoke equality, only persuasive to the degree that one favors the substantive criteria underlying the concept. Freedom can be invoked on behalf of virtually any cause: freedom to discipline
The only way the majority has power is if we cede power to it, and . . . there is no reason for me to do so. one’s children as one sees fit, freedom to abuse addictive drugs, freedom to steal cars, etc. The appeal will only be persuasive, however, to the degree that one favors the cause being defended. Most often, these appeals to freedom are shot down, with opponents invoking another ubiquitous but empty principle: harm. “Of course you do not have the freedom to discipline your child in any way you want,” these opponents argue. “Certain discipline causes harm to the child and thus limits your freedom.” Appeals to harm as a limit on freedom are prevalent and intuitively appealing. But filling in harm with a substantive definition is tricky. The most straightforward way would be a sort of subjectivist approach to harm: you are harmed if it is the case that you sincerely believe you were harmed, if one or more of your preferences or desires are frustrated. However, we run into problems with this rationale almost immediately. Suppose I have a desire to restore and drive old automobiles, but I live in a town that is extremely environmentally conscious and so has forbidden cars that fail to meet certain gas mileage standards. How does the harm that results from the frustration of my desire to drive a certain car compare to the harm that would result from the frustration of my community members’ desire to prevent harm to the environment? From a purely subjectivist perspective, both groups suffer harm. If we still want to appeal to harm to adjudicate these matters, then we must have some system of deeming certain harms more legitimate or more important than others. But what authority could we claim to establish such a standard without fundamentally begging the question? Even if we grant that freedom is a value, there is no clear way to determine just how valuable freedom is relative to other political goods. No way, at least, that does not smuggle in a presupposed and unsubstantiated hierarchy of values. We might feel that freedom is valuable in itself but can be restricted to promote some other, more valuable, state of affairs. The freedom to act as one pleases is valuable, but not as valuable as living in a society without murder or theft, and so we restrict individuals’ freedom to promote these higher goods. But here, too, it is unclear what standard we use to rank political goods and where such a standard could come from (other than God) and not be, in a certain sense, arbitrary. At this point, I think, we have reached the central
problem of secular ethics. If notions such as harm, or freedom, or equality are to do any evaluative work,
Silhouette of the Statue of Liberty monument on Liberty Island at sunset by National Park Service, 2005
they must be filled in with substantive criteria. In other words, evaluative judgment assumes an evaluator, a person or group of people or document that can provide the substantive criteria that give “secular” values meaning. In light of this problem, there are
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first principles about what is good and what constitutes “the good life.” Whether these first principles are received from God or determined by individuals, they are certainly not objective empirical facts. There is no scientific experiment from which we can derive values. As Stanley Fish puts it,
Business communication from Wikimedia Commons, 2010
those who favor a subjectivist approach. Such a person might say, “We do not need God or anyone else to tell us what is good or right. We can determine those notions for ourselves.” But in essence, this approach just replaces one God with many (about six billion, actually). Each individual is his or her own God, with the ability to determine for himself or herself what the relevant substantive criteria are in fleshing out normative concepts. Two things are important to note about this approach. The first is that it fails the secular test of what kinds of reasons can be included in public discourse. Secularists want to argue that only those reasons that did not reflect any specific faith commitments could be included in our discussions. At this point, the religious believer can reply that no such reasons exist. All substantive normative claims rest on assumed
While secular discourse, in the form of statistical analyses, controlled experiments and rational decision-trees, can yield banks of data that can then be subdivided and refined in more ways than we can count, it cannot tell us what that data means or what to do with it. No matter how much information you pile up and how sophisticated are the analytical operations you perform, you will never get one millimeter closer to the moment when you can move from the piled-up information to some lesson or imperative it points to; for it doesn’t point anywhere; it just sits there, inert and empty.vii
By Sara Holston
Appeals to reasons derived from any kind of values would no longer be allowed, as these reasons come from faith. While the values asserted may not reflect Christian faith commitments (or the faith commitments of any other organized religion), person X’s values do reflect X-ian a priori faith, a reliance on X’s assumed first principles. The second important consequence of a subjectivist theory of the good is that it is wholly unworkable in a world in which people interact and inevitably disagree. Suppose we return to the example of environmental standards. If my asserted values permit more harm to the environment than yours allow, what are we to do? Why should I listen to you? After all, I determine
Untitled by ThePixelman, 2013
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Song of the Angels by
Richard Rorty, “Religion as ConversationStopper,” Common Knowledge 3 (1994): 1. ii. Ibid. iii. Steven D. Smith, The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010) 25. iv. Ibid. 29-31. v. Ibid. 29-30. vi. Ibid. 27-28. vii. Stanley Fish, “Are There Secular Reasons,” The New York Times Opinionator, 5 Mar. 2011, 22 Feb. 2010 <http:// opinionator.blogs.nytimes. com/2010/02/22/ are-there-secular-reasons/>. i.
Untitled by Freephotos, 2014
what is good for me and you determine what is good for you, and if our visions of “the good life” are necessarily contradictory, then what recourse do we have? We might appeal to some other authority, but again, it is not clear why I (or you) should listen to him or her. Various solutions to this problem have been promoted, from relying on the wisdom of the majority to invoking acceptance of a social contract. But there is no natural connection between a majority of the citizenry affirming a proposition and that proposition’s validity. The only way the majority has power is if we cede power to it, and again, there is no reason for me to do so. After all, I am the master of my own values, and the only way for me to lose the power to determine those values is to abdicate it. But this decision to abdicate and the resulting validation of any non-supernatural substantive criteria is necessarily arbitrary. There is no standard, other than one we receive or baldly assert, by which we can judge competing visions of “the good life.” Purely secular discourse has no choice but to be question-begging. A discussion relying on secular reasons cannot even get off the ground unless the parties involve happen to agree on the same, ultimately arbitrary, notion of “the good life.” Conversation stopper indeed.
Lee Farnsworth ’12 is from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He majored in Government and Philosophy.
y William Aldolph-Bouguereau, 1881
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White as Snow: A Comparison of Two Prayers of Repentance
By Paul Jeon
Lappeenranta, Finland by Petritap, 2010
s recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, the word that inaugurates Christ’s earthly ministry is “repent.”i This detail seems deliberate on Matthew’s part; time and time again in the New Testament, we find Christ calling believers and nonbelievers to repentance. It is the mission statement of his ministry, that he has “not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”ii It is the mechanism he offers to escape judgement, that “unless you repent, you too will all perish.”iii And even after he ascends to heaven, Jesus’s message to the seven churches in Revelation is replete with repeated calls to “repent” from error and persevere in doing good.iv It is fitting that this concept of repentance has been so integral to the Christian faith. The leaders of the early church emphasized repentance as the appropriate response to the message of Christ. At the first Pentecost, after the crowds are “cut to the heart” by the gospel and seek instruction from the apostles, Peter’s first command is “Repent and be baptized.”v And famously, the first of Luther’s Ninety-five Theses claims that repentance should not merely be a onetime occurrence, but a lifelong endeavor for Christians:
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“When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Matthew 4:17),” Luther reasons, “he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”vi Given the importance of repentance in Christian belief, how should one repent? By examining two famous prayers of repentance, that of the fictional King Claudius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and that of the historical King David in Psalm 51, I hope to shed light on what repentance is and what it is not.vii While Claudius’s prayer is rooted in fear and marked by feeble attempts at self-sufficiency, leaving him in resignation, David responds to his sin in total surrender, trusting in God not only to forgive his wrongdoing, but also to create in him a new humanity empowered to overcome evil. His repentance is rooted in God’s righteousness and faithfulness rather than his own. Because of this, David can rise from his knees in confidence and hope. A comparison of David’s and Claudius’s prayers is especially intriguing, as their circumstances are strikingly similar. Both men are kings, and both men find themselves especially entangled in sin by virtue of their worldly power. Indeed, because David lives in the royal palace, the highest building
in Jerusalem—emblematic of his high position and power—he glimpses the married Bathsheba bathing and immediately lusts after her. Dispatching royal messengers to bring Bathsheba to bed, David further abuses his power to privately murder Bathsheba’s husband, the loyal soldier Uriah, by writing his commander Joab to “put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest . . . so he will be struck down and die.”viii In slight contrast, Claudius commits adultery and murder in pursuit of Denmark’s throne; to Prince Hamlet’s horror and indignation, the ghost of his father reveals that Claudius, the “incestuous . . . adulterate beast” and “serpent” seduced Queen Gertrude to bed and murdered the former Danish king with poison. ix Once on the throne, Claudius, like David, tries to indirectly murder “By letters congruing to that effect / The present death of Hamlet,” writing to the King of England to execute the prince upon his arrival.x Both men do not only commit the grave sins of adultery and murder; adding to their culpability, they do so deceptively, using indirection and secrecy to maintain the appearance of righteousness. It is fitting, then, that both men are confronted with their sin by the same indirection. Claudius is convicted by Hamlet’s Mousetrap, the play designed to re-enact Claudius’s crimes and strike his conscience. David’s transgression is brought to light by the prophet Nathan’s parable of injustice, which elicits David’s indignation—only to reveal that David himself is the allegorical antagonist with many sheep who steals and slays the single ewe lamb of his poor counterpart.xi Faced with their crimes, both characters become deeply distressed: Claudius halts the play crying, “Give me some light. Away!” and dramatically retreats to his private quarters to pray, while David lies day and night in sackcloth, refusing to rise or eat.xii Their ensuing prayers recognize the pervasiveness of evil, that despite the most elaborate plots to conceal their darkness, their sin will not go away. “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me,” David concedes to God at the beginning of his prayer. xiii No matter where he turns, David knows he cannot escape his sin—neither the guilty reminders of the sins he has already committed nor the powerful inclinations to repeat them in the future. Given a moment of clarity after Nathan’s revelation, David recognizes the depths of his intrinsic evil, admitting, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”xiv Yet, amidst his consistent wickedness, David also recognizes God’s constant teaching and guidance even while he was unformed, still “in the womb.”xv His sin distresses him
so much not only because he has wronged Uriah and Bathsheba, but most significantly because he recognizes it is a rejection of God himself who so desires David’s faithfulness and has enabled David to choose him.xvi Claudius, too, is entrenched in his deep sinfulness as he begins his prayer: “O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven,” he laments, the first words to leave his mouth.xvii Though his sin is hidden from sight, Claudius perceives his hidden moral decay offending the heavens with its stench. The beginning of his prayer expresses his terror and fear of punishment from God: a “primal eldest curse” similar to Cain’s curse after “a brother’s murder” that Claudius fears will follow him all the days of his life.xviii Though the people around him cannot perceive his thoughts and actions, Claudius senses that he cannot fool an omniscient God whom he believes can even smell his concealed sin—and he is filled with terror. Claudius’s subsequent prayer does not help to relieve this terror. Instead, it exacerbates his fear, as Claudius recognizes his unwillingness to abandon his sin. Claudius describes himself as “a man to double business bound,” pulled in opposite directions by his good intentions and evil desires. He speaks of his desire to be cleansed of his guilt by the “rain . . . in the sweet heavens / to wash me white as snow,” yet simultaneously he admits he cannot let go “Of those effects for which I did the murder–– / My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.”xix Claudius knows that
The Prophet Nathan rebukes King David by Eugène Siberdt, c. 1866-1931
to repent of his sin would be to surrender its benefits; if he admits he wrongfully attained Denmark’s throne, he would need to cede his position and the power accompanying it. Claudius knows what he has done is wrong before God and other men, yet he cannot reconcile his knowledge of good to his heart’s desires; he knows what is good, but he does not want it more
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Shakespeare – Hamlet by Dimitri Tavadze, 1974
than he wants the fruits of his transgression. Perceiving this internal discord, the distance separating his mind and heart, Claudius describes his condition as being “possess’d,” as if a ghost or spirit has seized control over him—as if, in the words of the apostle Paul, “it is no longer I who [sin], but it is sin living in me that does it.”xx Increasingly alarmed by his evil, Claudius begins to speak in more and more exclamatory phrases, directly addressing his “limed soul, that, struggling to be free, / Art more engaged!”xxi He feels stuck, and the more he tries to free himself, the more he finds himself enslaved. Ultimately, Claudius decides he cannot come before God, and instead responds to his overwhelming sin with feeble efforts at self-improvement. Hamlet, who hides in Claudius’s room, believes Claudius is praying because he sees Claudius kneeling with clasped hands. But his “prayer” cannot even be called as such, for Claudius never once implores God, instead wrestling with his own hypocrisy and inability to repent.xxii “Pray can I not,” he admits at the beginning of his monologue.xxiii After debating the merits of repentance and what it would achieve for him, he realizes it does not even matter because he “can not repent.”xxiv In his feeble soliloquy, Claudius does not ask God for forgiveness and deliverance, but instead resorts to commanding his own body parts to action
is powerless to reverse his “curse,” for his “stronger guilt defeats [his] strong intent.”xxvi As he rises from his “prayer,” Claudius hopelessly remarks, “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. / Words without thoughts never to heaven go,” for he knows his petitions are empty and powerless, unable to remedy his condition.xvii While Claudius’s petition concludes incompletely and in despair, David’s prayer to God in Psalm 51 ends in resounding closure, brimming with the hope of real transformation and restoration. “May it please you to prosper Zion,” David tells God at the conclusion of his prayer, envisioning a restored relationship between God and his people in which he “will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole,” a future in which external conduct will naturally flow out of the pure, grateful hearts of the people.xviii David is able to hope in such a future not because he trusts in his own ability to lead as a king or even be good himself, but because he trusts completely in God’s goodness. He does not make premature vows to act better and avoid sin in the future, for he knows his own fallibility and corruption. Instead, from the opening lines of his prayer, David petitions God “according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion,” relying not on his own goodness, but on God’s constant character.xxix When confronted
David is able to hope in such a future not because he trusts in his own ability to lead as a king or even be good himself, but because he trusts completely in God’s goodness. in apostrophe: “Bow, stubborn knees, and heart with strings of steel, / Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe,” he commands.xxv Yet, the same man who was powerless to stop himself from adultery and murder
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with his own sinfulness, David chooses to trust and surrender himself completely to God. While the beginning of his prayer is replete with reminders of his sin in the repetition of words like “transgression,”
“iniquity,” “sin,” and “evil,” these words are entirely absent by the end of the prayer, conveying that David has left the mistakes of the past behind and is looking forward in hope towards God’s promised redemption. The apostle John writes, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”xxx Instead of responding to his sin in fear like Claudius, David chooses to trust in God’s love which drives away his fear. After the prophet Nathan reveals David’s sin, he tells David that God will bring calamity on his household and that his son conceived in adultery will die. With so much to lose as Israel’s king during its Golden Age, David could have cowered in fear, living in crippling apprehension of God’s next punishment on him and his nation. Yet, after his son dies, he is strangely at peace, confounding his servants who question his calm.xxxi David’s response to them reveals a deep confidence in God’s sovereignty, that God has taken away in justice. He prays, “you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge,” conceding God’s righteous judgment and expressing his confidence that God does not condemn unduly, but disciplines like a father, in love.xxxii His prayer, in contrast to Claudius’s prayer, conveys his calm with few exclamatory phrases and a mood which
his body parts: “O wretched state! O bosom black as death! / O limed soul,” which convey his frustration at his inability to change, David’s cries of “O God” evoke a child calling out to his father, for David’s God is a loving, personal father, a kind shepherd who cares for his sheep.xxxiii Thus, even in his sin and guilt, David may boldly ask God for restoration in the imperative, testifying to the relational trust he has with God. Though, like Claudius, David perceives his own powerlessness against sin, he holds utter confidence in his God who is even stronger than the “stronger guilt [which] defeats [his] strong intent.”xxxiv Both men recognize their inability to come before God given their shameful deeds. Yet, while Claudius avoids God, trying to muster up his own strength to pray by commanding, “Bow, stubborn knees,” David simply goes to God and implores him to “open [his] lips” to pray.xxxv Both men perceive that they need more than behavioral reform, but deep, internal transformation. Claudius rather unconvincingly attempts this by commanding his own “heart with strings of steel” to “be soft as sinews of the newborn babe,” but David fills this need by asking God to “create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”xxxvi It is clear David wholly believes in God’s ability to forgive him and change him; in contrast to Claudius, who
It is clear David wholly believes in God’s ability to forgive him and change him; in contrast to Claudius, who thinks “All may be well,” David knows all will be well. becomes more peaceful and optimistic as the prayer progresses. David’s only exclamatory “O’s” occur when he petitions God; unlike Claudius’s dramatic “O’s” to
thinks “All may be well,” David knows all will be well. He says with certainty, “I will be clean” and “I will be whiter than snow,” for he has absolute confidence xxxvii
Israel - Jerusalem - The Old City by Kyle Taylor, 2009
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Tannenschnee by Stulli, 2008
in God’s character and power: God will forgive him, and God’s forgiveness will be sufficient to wash him clean.xxxviii Claudius knows this same principle of mercy intellectually, asking, “Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens / To wash it white as snow?”xxxix Yet, unlike David, he does not fully believe in it nor trust in it, framing it as a question to convey his doubt. David can confidently trust in God to transform his heart because he has surrendered his whole heart to God, while Claudius cannot let go of his heart which loves his sin more than God. Unlike Claudius, who conceals his sin, holds onto its benefits, and retreats to closed quarters to address it, David promises to illuminate his darkness, praying, “Then I will teach
transformed. He prays: You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, you, God, will not despise.xli
David understands that true repentance lies not in a specific action or sacrifice, but in an attitude of surrender. Unwilling to present empty sacrifices and prayers to God in which his words fly up but his thoughts remain below, David instead presents his
He senses that the essence of repentance is not to try to do more good works to somehow bury his sin under the weight of time and deeds, but simply to surrender his heart to God and be transformed. transgressors your ways so that sinners will turn back to you.”xl Thus he declares that he will disclose his shameful deeds and lay down his pride for the restoration of other sinners. This vow does not precede but rather follows his initial appeal for forgiveness; David promises to act not to earn forgiveness but because he knows he is forgiven and desires to share that forgiveness with others. He senses that the essence of repentance is not to try to do more good works to somehow bury his sin under the weight of time and deeds, but simply to surrender his heart to God and be
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broken and contrite heart before God and asks him to create and sustain in him a clean heart. This image of a new heart is a motif that appears throughout the Old Testament. Recognizing Israel’s systemic problem of hardening towards God, described as a “heart of stone,” the prophet Ezekiel foretells a day when God “will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you . . . will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”xlii His contemporary, the prophet Jeremiah, speaks a similar message using a covenant framework. Though
Israel had failed to uphold their part under the Old Covenant given at Sinai, Jeremiah foretells of a New Covenant in which God “will put [his] law in their minds and write it on their hearts.”xliii When David prayed his prayer in Psalm 51, he was still looking ahead to the fulfillment of these prophecies, but according to the author of Hebrews, this “New Covenant” has now been made concrete in the person and work of Christ.xliv Those who profess belief in Christ are now able to pray David’s prayer of repentance trusting in God’s unfailing love and compassion as manifested in Christ, to receive a new heart through the indwelling of his Holy Spirit, be purified of past sins, and find strength to overcome future sins.xlv Perhaps this is why in Scripture, God calls David “a man after my own heart.”xlvi Not because David is perfect, but because he has surrendered his sinful heart for a new heart, a clean heart—a heart from God himself. Christ says “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.” xlvii Matthew 4:17 (NIV). Luke 5:32 (NIV). iii, Luke 13:3, 5 (NIV). iv, Revelation 2:5,16; 3:3,19 (NIV). v, Acts 2:38 (NIV). vi. Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. Accessed December 28, 2017. http://www.luther.de/en/95thesen.html. vii, For full prayer, see William Shakespeare, Hamlet, ed. Robert Miola (New York: WW Norton & Co, 2011), 3.3.37-73. viii. 2 Samuel 11:14 (NIV). ix. Shakespeare, 1.5.42, 39. x. Shakespeare, 4.3.64-5. xi, Shakespeare, 3.2.223; 2 Samuel 12:7 (NIV). xii. Shakespeare, 3.2. 252. xiii. Psalm 51:3 (NIV). xiv. Psalm 51:5 (NIV). xv, Psalm 51:6 (NIV). xvi. See Psalm 51:6 xvii, Shakespeare, 3.3.36. i.
Shakespeare, 3.3.37. Shakespeare, 3.3.41, 3.3.45-6; 3.3.54-5. xx. Shakespeare, 3.3.54; Romans 7:20 (NIV). xxi. Shakespeare, 3.3.68-9. xxii. Shakespeare, 3.3.73. xxiii. Shakespeare, 3.3.38. xxiv. Shakespeare, 3.3.66. xxv. Shakespeare, 3.3.70-1. xxvi. Shakespeare, 3.3.37, 39. xxvii. Shakespeare, 3.3.96-7. xxviii. Psalm 51:18, 19 (NIV). xxix. Psalm 51:1 (NIV). xxx. 1 John 4:17 (NIV). xxxi. 2 Samuel 12:21 (NIV). xxxii. Psalm 51:4 (NIV). xxxiii. Shakespeare, 3.3.67-8; see Psalm 23. xxxiv. Shakespeare, 3.3.40. xxxv. Shakespeare, 3.3.70; Psalm 51:15 (NIV). xxxvi. Shakespeare, 3.3.70, 71; Psalm 51:10 (NIV). xxxvii. Shakespeare, 3.3.72. xxxviii. Psalm 51:7 (NIV). xxxix. Shakespeare, 3.3.46, 45-6. xl. Psalm 51:13 (NIV). xli. Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV). xlii. Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26 (NIV). xliii. Jeremiah 31:33 (NIV). xliv. See Hebrews 10:1-18 xlv. On this empowerment over sin, see Galatians 5:16-25 xlvi. Acts 13:22 (NIV). xlvii. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2001), 196-197. xviii. xix.
Paul Jeon ’21 is from Fairfield, Connecticut.
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A Prayer for Dartmouth This prayer by professor of religion Lucius Waterman appears on a plaque hanging outside Parkhurst Hall. O Lord God Almighty, well-spring of wisdom, master of power, guide of all growth, giver of all gain. We make our prayer to thee, this day, for Dartmouth College. Earnestly entreating thy favour for its people. For its work, and for all its life. Let thy hand be upon its officers of administration to make them strong and wise, and let thy word make known to them the hiding-place of power. Give to its teachers the gift of teaching, and make them to be men right-minded and high-hearted. Give to its students the spirit of vision, and fill them with a just ambition to be strong and well-furnished, and to have understanding of the times in which they live. Save the men of Dartmouth from the allurements of self-indulgence, from the assaults of evil foes, from pride of success, from false ambitions, from hardness, from shallowness, from laziness, from heedlessness, from carelessness of opportunity, and from ingratitude for sacrifices out of which their opportunity has grown. Make, we beseech thee, this society of scholars to be a fountain of true knowledge, a temple of sacred service, a fortress for the defense of things just and right, and fill the Dartmouth spirit with thy spirit, to make it a name and a praise that shall not fail, but stand before thee forever. We ask in the name in which alone is salvation, even through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. The Reverend Lucius Waterman, D.D.
The Nicene Creed The Dartmouth Apologia invites people from all intellectual, philosophical, religious, and spiritual backgrounds to join in our discussion as we search for truth and authenticity. We do, however, reserve the right to publish only that which aligns with our statement of belief. We, the members of The Dartmouth Apologia, affirm that the Bible is inspired by God, that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation, and that God has called us to live by the moral principles of the New Testament. We also affirm the Nicene Creed, with the understanding that views may differ on baptism and the meaning of the word “catholic.”
We [I] believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We [I] believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We [I] believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
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Image by Joshua Tseng-Tham ’17
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[1 Peter 3:15] A JOURNAL OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT