Saturday, November 19, 2005

Our personal God...a unquestioned foundation?

Thanks largely to a friend I have been thinking in a serious way about apologetics for the first time in a while (I will get back to you Chris). Now having a very Newbigin-influenced, semi-presuppositional approach to apologetics I was interested to read a post by Peter Leithart on a lecture by John Franke (who has been the focus of a bit of a blogosphere hullabaloo recently). Here is Leithart on Franke's lecture:

He cited Nancy Murphy's definition of foundationalism as 1) the assertion that systems include indubitable, unquestioned beliefs that are not subjected to critical scrutiny and 2) the claim that all reasoning moves in one direction, from the indubitable beliefs outward.

Intriguingly, the respondent raised the question of whether God is "foundation" or "rock" for believers, and if that is so, should the foundation be questioned. In response, Franke clarified that he believes in ontological foundations, but disputes "classical" foundationalism. But he also noted that in Scripture believers do question God (think Jeremiah, even Abraham before Sodom). On this view, even God is not an "unquestioned" foundation.

I do not have much to say - this is way out of my league - but it seems to me (and I do say 'seems' because I do not know what Franke has to say that well) that Franke appears to have confused our personal God with a bare worldview/paradigm. This may sound like a airy fairy attempt at dodging the issue (like 'the bible is not propositional it's a story(!)') but I really do think it is key. You can question a person, without doubting their existence. Admittedly the bible character's questioning implied they had doubts, but their doubts were about whether God really could be trusted not his existence. Incidentally it should not be forgotten that doubt is not the same as unbelief.

Some of the people I got some of my thinking from:
  • Lesslie Newbigin; try his essay 'Certain Faith: What Kind of Certainty?'
  • CS Lewis; despite being anything but a fideist, believed that once you believed faith is much more a personal relationship, and faith should persist in the face of evidence if previous dealings with that person warranted trust. His essay 'Obstinacy in Belief' is brilliant if you can get hold of it.


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