REASON AND BELIEF IN GOD

in Philosophia Reformata
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In his article “Fides et Ratio” (Philosophia Reformata 2000, 65: 72-104), Eduardo Echeverria states he is writing out of his concern that since “”¦ the lack of unity among Christians represents the grave obstacle for the proclamation of the gospel, we should take every suitable opportunity to increase the unity of all Christians. The present essay is meant as a contribution toward this goal.” (p.72). The increased unity he has in mind is a reconciliation of the traditional scholastic interpretation of Christian doctrine (which he designates the “TSC”), and the Calvinist tradition (which I will designate the “CT”). More specifically, he seeks a unity between them concerning the relation of faith and reason, that is, the role of reason in belief in God. To this end he compares what he understands of the CT, as represented by Calvin and Dooyeweerd, with the TSC as represented by St Thomas and the encyclical, Fides et Ratio (1998) by Pope John Paul II. In all that follows I will be agreeing with Echeverria that this is, indeed, an important concern and a laudable goal, and I hope that what I offer here in reply to his essay will be taken in that same charitable spirit. So even though I find that Echeverria’s account of the differences between the TSC and the CT is seriously mistaken, I do agree that it would go a long way toward greater cooperation between our two traditions if we could at least agree on what our differences are and work toward resolving them. For that reason I will be more concerned here with clarifying those differences than with arguing for the CT. That does not mean that I will not at times offer brief accounts of why I think the CT is right to differ from the TSC on certain points; it only means that I do not regard the case I will make for these points as anywhere near complete. This brevity is made necessary because I find the misunderstandings of Calvin, and especially of Dooyeweerd, to be so many and so knotted in “Fides et Ratio” as to form a tangled skein that would require more than just one article to unravel. I have also decided that there are so many strands to this skein that for the sake of clarity I will restrict myself to only a few of them. My assumption is that it would be better to make real progress with getting a few key differences in focus, than to end up producing a tangle of my own in an attempt to cover every point raised in Echeverria’s long article. My hope is that the treatment of the points I do cover will be sufficient to indicate how a more thorough untangling would proceed.

REASON AND BELIEF IN GOD

in Philosophia Reformata

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