Wednesday, January 22, 2014
My friend and colleague Brad Gregory has an essay up at The Immanent Frame called "Genre, Method, and Assumptions", in which in which he responds to several of the reviews-to-date of his (excellent) book, "The Unintended Reformation." Here's a (very small) bit:
The accusation . . . that, in the book, I offer no arguments in support of the truth of Catholicism is perfectly correct—because The Unintended Reformation is not an argument for the truth of Catholicism. I think the book’s historical analysis could be used in a manner consistent with Catholic truth claims. But a work of positive apologetics would require a great deal of additional labor, none of which is undertaken in the book. I am not, nor do I aspire to be, a theologian. Yet theology is not only part of history—it remains part of contemporary intellectual life despite its banishment from secularized research universities. Thus, to ignore it is irresponsible for anyone who wants to understand the fullness of contemporary intellectual life, including the difference theology might make to it. I suggest that anyone who thinks theology does not belong should read, for starters, David Bentley Hart’s most recent book, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss. The historically argued takeaway from The Unintended Reformation, with respect to Catholicism, is that it avoids the sorts of open-ended pluralism characteristic of Protestantism and modern philosophy with respect to the life questions, because Catholicism relies not on Thomism or indeed any particular philosophical or theological view per se, but on an ostensibly authoritative tradition about God’s actions in history. Again, this argument neither is nor aspires to be a demonstration of the truth of Catholicism; indeed, it holds even if all religion is illusory and God a fiction. Because Western modernity is premised on the authority of secular reason exercised by the autonomous self, it is, unsurprisingly, an unwelcome argument for those committed to such views of reason and the self. But it simply is not a positive argument for the truth of Catholicism. It is restricted to a claim about Catholicism’s intellectual viability, which is something that everyone who understands the issues involved can and should acknowledge, regardless of their own beliefs, in the same way that everyone can and should acknowledge the same for Judaism and Islam.
Like the man says, "Highly Recommended."