Resources & Materials

★Latest Additions (June 19th, 2018)★

Origen Against Plato, PDF – Dr. Mark J. Edwards

Quadragesimo Anno – Catholic Social Teaching, PDF

Rerum Novarum – Catholic Social Teaching, PDF

Philosophy of Religion

The Involvement of God, Herbert McCabe, PDF

A Defense of Religious Exclusivism – Dr. Alvin Plantinga, PDF

Is Theism Really a Miracle? A Response to “The Miracle of Theism” – Dr. Alvin Plantinga, PDF

God and Other Minds – Dr. Alvin Plantinga, Google Book (preview)

Reformed Epistemology – Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article

Warranted Christian Belief – Dr. Alvin Plantinga, Google Book (preview)

Religion & Science: Where the Conflict Really Lies – Dr. Alvin Plantinga, lecture

Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism – Dr. Alvin Plantinga, lecture

The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss – Dr. David B. Hart, lecture

Hume’s Abject Failure – Dr. John Earman, PDF

Miracles and David Hume – Dr. John A. Cramer, article

Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism – Review – Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, William Lane Craig

Christological Argumentation

The Probability of the Resurrection of Jesus – by Dr. Richard Swinburne, Oxford, PDF

The Resurrection of God Incarnate – Review – Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, Swinburne

The Resurrection of the Son of God – book by Dr. Nicholas Thomas Wright, explores posteriori evidence for the Resurrection, received praise from Antony Flew. A decent video lecture can be found here.

Biblical Stuff

The Complete Septuagint in English and Greek

Old Testament Background for Paul’s “Powers & Principalities,” PDF

The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary – Dr. Richard Thomas France, Google Book (preview)

The Trinity and Incarnation as Jewish Doctrines – Dr. J. C. O’ Neill, PDF

Dr. Michael S. Heiser lecture on the “Two Powers in Heaven” motif in the OT

The Delay of the Parousia, Dr. Bauckham, PDF

The Focus of Mark 13:24-27, Dr. Thomas Hatina, PDF

The Apocalypse of Baruch, Pseudo-Baruch, PDF

Criticisms of “Dying and Rising God” as a category – Wikipedia article

The Religious Polemics of Amos – Dr. Hans M. Barstad, p.151, “…we know that there is no evidence of any dying and rising deity to be found in these [Ugaritic] myths.”

The Ugaritic Baal Cycle vol 1 – Dr. Mark S. Smith, p. 73, “It would appear unwarranted to assume that Baal is “a dying and rising god.”

Jewish Recognition of Trinitarian Facts – (not scholarly but contains many scholars’ quotes), Youtube video

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist – Dr. Brant Pitre, lecture

Does Philo Help Explain Early Christianity? – Dr. Larry Hurtado, PDF

Making Sense of Prophecy – Dr. Robert B. Chisholm, PDF

Intersections of Scripture and Theology – Dr. David B. Hart, lecture video

Related to The Holy Trinity

St. Gregory of Nyssa’s Solution to the Logical Problem of the Trinity, Dr. Beau Branson, PDF

Positive Mysterianism Undefeated – Dr. James N. Anderson, PDF

Not Three Gods – St. Gregory of Nyssa, complete online version

Thomas Aquinas’ Views – Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article

Trinity and Mystery part 1, part 2  – blog series, Dr. Ed Feser

Plotinus’ Triad vs. Holy Trinity, part 1, part 2, part 3 – blog series, Dr. Ed Feser

Dr. David B. Hart discusses – Closer to Truth video

Logic and the Absolute – Phillip Sherrard, essay

Trinity, Logic, and the Transcendence of Transcendence – Fr. Aiden Kimel, blog

An a priori case for the Trinity – Dr. Richard Swinburne, Oxford

Teleology Articles & Lectures

Finality Revived: powers and intentionality – by Dr. David S. Oderberg, PDF

Teleology: Inorganic and Organic – by Dr. David S. Oderberg, PDF

Dr. Ed Feser lecture on Final Causes, Youtube video

Deconstructing Dennett’s Darwin – Dr. Jerry Fodor, PDF

Ethical Stuff

Why I’m Not a Consequentialist – Dr. David S. Oderberg, PDF

The Anti-Theology of the Body – Dr. David B. Hart, article


Ecclesiastes resonances in Olivet Discourse?

Ecclesiastes 12:3-7 Matthew 24 – Olivet Discourse
before the days of trouble come Immediately after the distress of those days
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them”—
2 before the sun and the light “‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon and the stars grow dark,     and the moon will not give its light;
    and the clouds return after the rain; the stars will fall from the sky,
3 when the keepers of the house tremble,     and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
    and the strong men stoop, Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.
when the grinders cease because they are few,  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
    and those looking through the windows grow dim;
4 when the doors to the street are closed  Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.
    and the sound of grinding fades;  For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
    but all their songs grow faint;
5 when people are afraid of heights then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
    and of dangers in the streets; Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house.  Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.
when the almond tree blossoms
    and the grasshopper drags itself along
    and desire no longer is stirred. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!
Then people go to their eternal home Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
    and mourners go about the streets. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.
6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
    and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
    and the wheel broken at the well,
7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
    and the spirit returns to God who gave it.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

On Judas, Betrayal, and the Modern West

I think that it can help to conceptualize the rhythm and flow of the history of ideas by the use of narrative.wpc-kiss-of-death-judas-kiss

To that end, I would like to reflect a little on Judas Iscariot’s motivations for his betrayal of Jesus, and draw a parallel between Judas and the post-Christian West.

Why did Judas betray Jesus? I think that we must begin to answer this by recalling that Judas was not evil- at least not at first.
He is consistently referred to as “one of the Twelve.” We are to assume that Judas is included when Christ said “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20)

So, what went wrong? I would like to draw on two quotes from Christ to articulate my point.

First, Christ gives us a hint at the roots of betrayal when he says “No one is able to serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and he will love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and he will despise the other. You are not able to serve God and mammon.” (Matt 6:24)

The second quote is Christ’s summary of the Law and the Prophets:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Please note that this summary actually has two parts. Loving God, and loving neighbor (and in that order).

With these two quotes in mind, let us turn to the scene where Judas seems to turn on Christ.

“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.
And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,
“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” (John 12:3-4)

Now, the Gospel writer goes on to say that Judas actually did not care about the poor, but merely wanted the money that the nard would have fetched. (Nard is made from a plant grown in the Himalayas, and would have been extremely valuable in that age).
But, let’s take him at his word. Judas by this point in the narrative would have known from his experiences of the miracles that Jesus was the Messiah, or at the very least a prophet.

And as a first century Jew he also would have noticed the cultural significance of this annointing scene, which harkens back to Samuel annointing King David with oil, as well as the
Daniel’s prophecy about anointing “the most Holy place.” Despite this, Judas is unbalanced in his understanding of Christ’s summary of the Law and the Prophets. He puts helping the poor (love thy neighbor) prior to service to God (Love the Lord). It is this lack of balance- ignoring he first half of the teaching and solely focusing on the
Humanism of the second half, that Judas goes astray.

Suppose, however, that Judas was not being sincere in his objections. Suppose he really did simply want to sell the nard for his own profit. In this case, he would have been
running afoul of the first quote I shared: namely, he would have been serving Mammon (that is, wealth) instead of Christ. And as we have seen, divided loyalties seldom work out.

What does all this have to do with the post-Christian West?
I think that whichever version of the story one opts for, the chief sin of the modern West and the chief sin of Judas are largely the same.
Modern Neoliberal capitalism pays lipservice to human dignity, progress, social order, but ultimately seeks to serve Mammon. Whether Neoliberal Capitalists are
conscious of it or not, they cannot serve two masters. To truncate things to an almost criminal extent- Neoliberal Capitalism has its roots in the Enlightenment project. The West, during the Enlightenment, sought to cast off the shackles of faith and the Church age, in pursuit of human progress and material prosperity. Doing so required the West to “betray” the Catholic Church for the promise of material gain.
It was holding us back, after all- or so we reassure ourselves.

Modern Man is often well-meaning, but like the Judas in the second example I gave, he ignores half of the summary of the Law and the Prophets. It no longer has any meaning for him. Only the Secular Humanism inspired by what is left is of any utility to a man who cannot see beyond the material world of the here and now.

A healthy, more balanced outlook, I believe, would be to remember both of the Great Commandments in all our dealings. Be it in business, daily life, trade, or political policy.

St. Maximus on the Three Laws

St. Maximus the Confessor, writing around 600 AD elucidates on three “laws” in Christ’s teachings.

①The first is the Natural Law, embodied in the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’

This law consists of Natural Reason ‘assuming control of the senses’ and grants us an enjoyment of being.

②The second is the Scriptural Law, enshrined in the saying ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

This consists of ‘Natural Reason acquiring a spiritual desire conducive to a relation of mutuality with others’, and leads to an enjoyment of higher well-being.

③The third is the Spiritual Law, or Law of Grace. This is in the teaching that ‘There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend’ (Jn 15:13).

This ‘leads humanity to the ultimate imitation of the love of Christ demonstrated in the incarnation, a love which raises us to the level of loving others even above ourselves, a sure sign of the radical grace of deification.’ This law grants us the beatific grace of eternal well-being.

So, ① is basic reciprocity, ② is mutual love, and ③ love above oneself.

Maximus doesn’t see ① and ② as collapsing into ③, but rather sees them cooperating synergistically to bring a person to salvation.

It’s interesting to me that Maximus pegs ① to “Natural Reason” because this is the exact law that we most often encounter in other religions. Everyone from Mencius to Plato has a version of ①, as should be expected (God gave everyone the gift of reason).

Rabbinical Judaism?

Christians are called to give a defense of our faith, but in an age of religious pluralism, how can this be done?

Even if one can get to the point of accepting “bare Theism” a plethora of options awaits them.

To take on all the religions in the world is too large a task for this blog, so I would like to settle for looking at competitors on a case by case basis.

(I should offer as a disclaimer that it’s my view that not all competing religions are completely false, but rather that they have “degrees of truth” within them. As such, I don’t find myself disagreeing with some religions as much as others.)

It seems only fitting that the first rival Theistic tradition we examine should be Judaism.

Now, there is a certain anti-Christian narrative being perpetuated online and elsewhere by Rabbi Tovia Singer and his acolytes, that Jesus of Nazareth was a false prophet, and that Christians are polytheists who do not worship the One True God. (Sounds kinda like what I say about Islam, but that’s a topic for another post!)

Now, I could get into the nitty gritty of the scriptures and show why that is not the case, but for this post I will simply look at a more overarching a priori argument. I think the best version of this argument was given by Reddit user HoneyLlama, so I will give them credit and link to their post below the argument.

HoneyLlama invites the reader to do a simple thought experiment: he asks which narrative is most fitting with the God of classical Theology (that is, an all-loving, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient God): the narrative of Judaism or the narrative of Christianity?

[T]here are two special considerations of moral and historical coherence which further diminish the probable truth of the claim that Judaism, sans Jesus, is the one true revelation of God.

Consider first its obvious inconsistency with our moral intuitions about what an all loving God is likely to do. The Christian claim is that an ancient nomadic tribe was chosen to be the porthole through which God dilated his frame of benevolent concern to include all of humanity; that is, the Jewish people were singled out by God because it was through one of their descendants that God wished to enter the world incarnate in Jesus and offer atonement and instruction and encouragement to us all. The Jewish counterclaim has, therefore, a highly implausible entailment: That our omnibenevolent creator did not invite us all into a relationship with him but instead remains obsessively preoccupied with only 0.2 percent of his creations. Indeed, an all loving Creator who does not seek a loving relationship with all his creations is oxymoronic.

Consider, next, the historical incoherence. Prior to Jesus the Temple in Jerusalem was the most sacred site in all of Judaism—a place where the Jewish people made sacrifices to God and encountered his immediate presence. Moreover: There, under the Old Covenant, they were required to sacrifice animals in atonement of sin. In Exodus, we are told that this is a binding act of Covenant obedience forever. Jesus’ ministry, meanwhile, included this scandalous claim: Henceforth, he said, sin would be dealt with, and God accessed, through him. Jesus also predicted that the Temple would fall—which it did, in 70 AD, just as he predicted, and to date has not been rebuilt. How, without a Temple in which to make sacrifices, can Jews obey their eternal Covenant with God? They cannot. And the Jewish explanation for this is that, though formerly a binding covenant forever, sacrifices are no longer required because, quite simply, there is no longer a Temple.

On the supposition that Judaism is true and Jesus was a false prophet, these historical facts are not at all to be expected: It is highly implausible that God would allow the Temple to fall just as the Church founded by a man blasphemously claiming to be the New Temple exploded worldwide; and it is just as implausible that, the Temple having fallen, God would not command a new one to be built. Recall: Because God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, an event only happens because he causes or allows it and is aware of it when it occurs and present at the place where it occurs.

Thus on historical and theological reflection, the God of this Jewish anti-Christian narrative is either deceitful, incompetent or uncaring. Like a trickster deity, he brings about the destruction of the Temple and so authenticates the claims of a heretic who now stands at the very centre of human history with more followers than any other world religion. Or else God fails to providentially orchestrate history in a way that ensures his plans are understood and fulfilled. Or else he is the deus absconditus of Voltaire and Locke who refrains from acting in human history which he views from afar with cool indifference. All three ideas are inconsistent with classical theology and Jewish theism alike.