Throughout the ages, theological and philosophical movements have been advanced based upon half-truths, false rhetoric, and equivocations championed as axiomatic principles.
Theologians and philosophers, whether they are evangelical or non-evangelical, still use similar rhetorical devices to champion claims that undercut the concept of a universally valid approach to knowledge. They will say things such as: People have different perspectives, right? Clearly your background and personal biases influence your reading of the Bible or any other text, right? It would be overly prideful to claim that anyone particular person has the correct interpretation of the text, so why don’t you take a humbler approach?
Fundamental to these questions is a half-truth; namely, the fact that people do approach events, texts, or situations from different vantage points. However, underlying this approach is a philosophical commitment to the belief we cannot have universally valid frameworks of understanding. Many believe any commitment to a universally valid framework of understanding ought to be considered arrogant, white, western, patriarchal, or racist. Essential to this line of reasoning are one of many philosophical approaches to reality known as idealism, subjectivity, relativism, perspectivalism, or any other “ism” that affirms all we have are interpretations, not knowledge.
Dr. Bill Roach traces the rise of different idealistic revolutions up to the present day embrace of the existential method by evangelical scholars and pastors. He addresses Plato’s metaphysical idealistic, Kant’s epistemological idealistic revolution, Schleiermacher’s hermeneutical idealistic revolution, and Post-Modernism’s linguistic idealistic revolution. Special emphasis is placed upon leading figures in philosophical hermeneutics and the various ways present-day scholars, whether secular or evangelical, have embraced one or more of the various expressions of philosophical idealism. Dr. Roach concludes with a call to embrace philosophical realism as a corrective to the varying idealistic revolutions throughout the history of ideas.
The audio version of this presentation is available on Soundcloud, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
Additional episodes of Mere Simulacrity may be viewed here.
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