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Warranted Christian Belief

Alvin Plantinga

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780195131932
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199867486 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195131932.001.0001

Series: Oxford Early Christian Texts

Warranted Christian Belief

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In this book's companion volumes (Warrant: The Current Debate and Warrant and Proper Function), I examined the nature of epistemic warrant, that quantity, enough of which distinguishes knowledge from mere true belief; in this book, I turn to the question of whether Christian belief can be justified, rational, and warranted. Among objections to Christian belief, we can distinguish between de facto objections and de jure objections, i.e., between those that claim that Christian belief is false (de facto objections) and those that claim that Christian belief, whether or not true, is at any rate unjustifiable, or rationally unjustified, or irrational, or not intellectually respectable, or in some other way rationally unacceptable (de jure objections). The main question of this book is the question of whether there are any viable de jure objections to Christian belief; I argue that there are not. In Part I (Chs. 1 and 2), I consider and address an initial objection to my project: the objection that there isn’t really any such thing as Christian belief (or at any rate that Christian belief is incoherent) since human concepts cannot apply to a transcendent God. In Part II, I explore, first, the question of whether a viable de jure objection to Christian belief can be developed in terms of justification or rationality (Chs. 3 and 4); after arguing for a negative answer to that question, I turn to the objections offered by Freud, Marx, and Nietzche, objections best understood as the claim that theistic and Christian belief lack warrant (Ch. 5). In Part III, Ch. 6, I address this claim, doing so by presenting a model of how it is that belief in God can have warrant, and even warrant sufficient for knowledge; I call this model the Aquinas/Calvin (or A/C) model, since it draws on the thought of Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. In Ch. 7, I consider the noetic effects of sin, and the way in which the existence of sin throws a monkey wrench into the A/C model. In Chs. 8 and 9, I extend the A/C model in such a way as to deal both with sin and with the full panoply of Christian belief (trinity, incarnation, atonement, resurrection, etc.); the extended A/C model shows how full‐blooded Christian belief (not just theistic belief) can have warrant. After dealing with objections to the A/C model in Ch. 10, I turn in Part IV to potential or actual defeaters for Christian belief – possible reasons to give it up or hold it less firmly. The proposed defeaters I examine relate to projection theories of religious belief (Ch. 11), contemporary historical biblical criticism (Ch. 12), postmodernism and religious pluralism (Ch. 13), and the age‐old problem of evil (Ch. 14); none of these, I argue, presents a serious challenge to the warrant Christian belief can enjoy.

Keywords: Calvin; Christian belief; Christianity; epistemology; evil; Freud; pluralism; postmodernism; religious belief; sin; the Bible; warrant

Book.  528 pages. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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Table of Contents

Kant in Warranted Christian Belief

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Kaufman and Hick in Warranted Christian Belief

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Rationality in Warranted Christian Belief

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Objections in Warranted Christian Belief

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