Responses to the Enlightenment

An Exchange on Foundations, Faith, and Community


Since the time of the Enlightenment in Western Europe, discussions of faith and reason have often pitted the believer against the skeptic, the theist against the atheist, and the person of one faith against the person of no professed faith. But the relation of reason to faith has been a matter of debate among believers as well. There are those who hold that religious faith can be proven or supported by rational argument. Others say that to try to give reasons and arguments does violence to religious faith, or opens it to misunderstanding and doubt, or trivializes it. Responses to the Enlightenment: An Exchange on Foundations, Faith, and Community is a dialogue between Hendrik Hart and William Sweet, two philosophers who identify themselves as Christians, and who seek to respond to the challenges of the Enlightenment and its legacy. The authors approach the relation of faith to reason, however, in very different ways: Hart from the perspective of the Calvinian tradition and postmodern philosophy, Sweet from the Catholic tradition and analytic philosophy. Among the topics discussed are the nature of religious faith and of reason, liberalism and orthodoxy in religion, the relation of religious experience and rationality, and building community in a religiously and culturally pluralistic world. This exchange presents two distinctive perspectives to some of the major challenges of the reason to religious belief, but seeks to find common ground between them.

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Review Quotes
"Furnishes the reader with valuable perspectives on significant elements of faith and reason for Christian belief in relation to the legacy of the Enlightenment." – in: Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 43 (2014)
"a provocative contribution to the discussion of the epistemological status of religious knowledge claims in modern liberal societies." – in: Dialogue, April 2014
"The discussion is rich in its scope and substance. It is of interest to anyone struck not only by a pervasive cultural indifference to religion but by a critical onslaught against its commitments and practices in an increasingly secular age … What is of particular interest is the issue of religious belief: whether this is to be understood in terms of faith as trust, in terms of reason as understanding, or in terms of both." – in: SOPHIA 52 (2013)
Table of contents
Kenneth A. Bryson: Editorial Foreword
Hendrik Hart: Reason and Religion
Hendrik Hart: Liberalism, Pluralism, and Lived Faith
William Sweet: Anti-Foundationalism and the Nature of Religious Belief
Hendrik Hart: Faith as Trust and Belief as Intellectual Credulity
William Sweet: Faith, Belief, and Religious Truth
William Sweet: Discourse and Religious Truth
William Sweet: Religious Belief, Meaning, and Argument
William Sweet: Final Vocabularies and Building Communities
William Sweet: Religious Belief and Community
Hendrik Hart: Sorting Out Reason
Hendrik Hart: Focused in Faith: The Epistemology of Faith as a Way of Knowing
Hendrik Hart: The Give-and-Take of Cross-Traditional Discourse
William Sweet: Distinguishing to Unite: Reason, Religion, and the Legacy of the Enlightenment
Works Cited
About the Authors
Index Card
Collection Information