Realism and Christian Faith: God, Grammar, and Meaning

Realism and Christian Faith: God, Grammar, and Meaning

Realism and Christian Faith: God, Grammar, and Meaning

Realism and Christian Faith: God, Grammar, and Meaning

Synopsis

The question of realism - that is, whether God exists independently of human beings - is central to much contemporary theology and church life. It is also an important topic in the philosophy of religion. This book discusses the relationship between realism and Christian faith in a thorough and systematic way and uses the resources of both philosophy and theology to argue for a Christocentric narrative realism. Many previous defences of realism have attempted to model Christian belief on scientific theory but Moore argues that this comparison is misleading and inadequate on both theological and philosophical grounds. In dialogue with speech act theory and critiques of realism by both non-realists and Wittgensteinians, a new account of the meaningfulness of Christian language is proposed. Moore uses this to develop a regulative conception of realism according to which God's independent reality is shown principally in Christ and then through Christian practices and the lives of Christians.

Excerpt

It was in a smoke-filled seminar room in the Philosophy Department of the University of York that I first began thinking about realism. Some of the smoke came from Martin Bell’s pipe and I recall gratefully his inspiring, imaginative teaching and personal encouragement. This book has been a long time in gestation; I have incurred many debts in the process and it is a pleasure to be able to record them here. There will be those who think that this book carries with it too much of the whiff of the philosophy seminar room; others will think that there is not enough. Probably the former are right. Certainly, had I written on realism before studying theology, the argument would have been very different. For example, my views on the relationship between science and Christianity have changed significantly and positions for which I would once have argued now seem to me to be mistaken and in danger of distorting the content of Christian faith. For related reasons, I am now more sympathetic towards approaches in theology and the philosophy of religion that are indebted to Wittgenstein. As in the case of the relationship between science and Christianity, it is a better appreciation of the history of philosophy and theology in the modern period that has helped change my mind.

It is no accident, therefore, that I now try to approach the philosophical problems to do with the question of realism and Christianity from a much more theological perspective than once I might have. For encouraging me to set out on the path that led to this book, thanks are owing to Alister McGrath and Oliver O’Donovan. When I was an ordinand, the then Bishop of St Albans, John B. Taylor, firmly steered me towards doing doctoral research. I am grateful to him for his clear sense of the vital links between so-called ‘academic’ theology and the life of the church. the fact that I attempt to treat my themes theologically is also a result of the demands of Christian ministry. To Peter Adam, Martin Bleby, Jim Minchin, and David Warner, colleagues in the ministry, thanks for their friendship and influence during a very happy period in Melbourne, Australia. the first draft of this . . .

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