Paradox in Christian Theology

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The Christ the Center panel recently met with Dr. James Anderson, assistant professor of theology and philosophy at the Charlotte campus of Reformed Theological Seminary, and author of Paradox in Christian Theology, to talk about his book.  The discussion covered the basic thrust of the book, involving the presence and legitimacy of paradox (defined as a “merely apparent contradiction resulting from unarticulated equivocation”).  Dr. Anderson discussed his two examples of paradox, the Trinity and the incarnation, along with his use and nuancing of Alvin Plantinga’s warrant model of epistemology.  Additionally the panel discussed Dr. Anderson’s chapter in the John Frame festschrift Speaking the Truth in Love and whether multiperspectivalism is relativistic as is sometimes said.

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5 Responses to “Paradox in Christian Theology”

  1. Jeff Downs says:

    The book James mentioned is by Ken Boa and Robert Bowman Faith Has Its Reasons: An Integrative Approach to Defending Christianity; the first edition of this book can be downloaded. I just gave my hardback edition to the seminary…probably shouldn’t have, but I did. :)

  2. G. Kyle Essary says:

    It should also be mentioned that James runs the VanTil.info site that I’m sure many of us have used with some amount of frequency in the past.

  3. Derek Ashton says:

    Great interview! Dr. Anderson has done us an important service by providing a profound and accurate interpretive and apologetic framework. His paradox model rings true because all of us, if we are honest, encounter what appear to be contradictions in theology; and we need to understand both why they are there and how we should deal with them. Moreover, the model offers a sound response to skeptics and unbelievers who would criticize the Scriptures for what they believe are fatal contradictions. At the same time, the model provides instruction to those within the church who would press us toward rationalism and blur the lines of historic orthodoxy by demolishing essential aspects of the faith that don’t obviously fit with other aspects of their theology. He does all of this without in any way discounting the value of logical thinking, and he maintains a humble view of man’s capacities without reducing to skepticism; this is the genius of his work. Anderson’s view calls us to humility and the exaltation of God’s infinitely glorious wisdom. These are marks of the true Biblical faith! Thanks so much for hosting this interview.

    Grace & peace,
    Derek Ashton

  4. Patrick says:

    I would have liked more discussion of Anderson’s book, but a very valuable review by Paul Manata is available online here: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/paradox-in-christian-theology.html
    Matana’s conclusion especially highlights the apologetic worth of the work more than the interview was able:

    I think that Anderson’s work is one of the freshest and most important theses to hit the area of philosophical theology in some time. He is to be commended for his efforts. And, even if you disagree with him, since there is no good objection against the possibility of his model, I think that he has successfully removed, once and for all, the logical problem of the Trinity and the Incarnation (much like Plantinga’s disposal of the logical argument from evil). Just like Plantinga’s answer to the logical problem of evil does not require that you believe it is true, only that it is possible, so too Anderson’s thesis. Thus, it is nothing short of monumental to have the objections to Christianity based on the illogicality of the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation shown to be rendered a non-starter. So, the apologist can disagree with Anderson’s model but still make use of it (as long as you grant the possibility of the model, which shouldn‘t be hard to do), I just happen to think you should also agree with him.

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I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. (Romans 16:17-18)

 

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