Doubt and Religious Commitment: The Role of the Will in Newman's Thought

Doubt and Religious Commitment: The Role of the Will in Newman's Thought

Doubt and Religious Commitment: The Role of the Will in Newman's Thought

Doubt and Religious Commitment: The Role of the Will in Newman's Thought

Excerpt

There is faith in every serious doubt . . . he who seriously denies God, affirms him . . . there is no possible atheism.

Paul Tillich, The Protestant Era

The role of theism in Victorian life was conflict- creating; that role is lost now. . . . The theism in which Feuerbach disbelieved underwent a sea change into the theism in which Tillich believed.

Alasdair MacIntyre, The Religious Significance of Atheism

In a very simple and pointed question addressed to a high- ranking Victorian cleric, John Henry Newman highlighted a problem which has long troubled reflective religious believers, a problem raised as often in the depths of their own hearts as by external critics. 'Then pray', Newman asked, 'what is the difference between Faith and Prejudice?' In these words Newman revealed the tension he saw between the kind of adherence necessary for religious devotion and the kind of adherence legitimate for a rational believer. In its more general form the difficulty on which Newman focused is the following: Religious commitment must be unconditional -- what kind of adherence is therefore both adequate and legitimate? A vast contemporary literature is dedicated to the question of what constitutes genuine religious commitment. Countless articles carrying on long-lived debates between opposing parties testify to the importance of the problem today to those who attempt to appraise sensitively and critically the relevance of philosophy to religion. Among the questions raised are the following: Is some form of . . .

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