Apply What They Are Saying to What They Are Saying

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After a hiatus of sorts, I picked up Merold Wesphal’s Overcoming Onto-theology again. I had been halfway through his essay on capitulating to the “Copernican Revolution, although he didn’t call it that. Upon finishing the essay, the thing that I find most striking about pomos and pomo-friendlies is a pervasive faux-intello-humility coupled with sheer inability to apply what they are saying to what they saying.

I just want to make one observation about a few comments in this essay.

“In short, where the humanist finds a sophisticated version of atheism, the theist can and should find a powerful expression of prophetic monotheism and its protest against the human tendency, even among God’s covenant people, to idolatry” (p. 104).

Westphal wants a version of Kantianism that points to the noetic effects of sin, and not just the noetic effects of finitude.

“. . . but epistemic finitude seems to get itself expressed more easily without help from the Copernican Revolution than does epistemic fallenness” (p. 105).

He wants us to more “sensitive to the noetic effects of sin” (p. 105). Now a preacher would have to be insane to dispute the noetic effects of sin. But at the same time, there has to be a way out of the maze — otherwise the gospel is a joke, and no gospel at all. The noetic effects of sin cannot lead us into the ultimate labyrinth because when that happens John the Baptist and Herod are both standing around scratching their heads, and there goes your prophetic monotheism. “It is not lawful for you to have her, at least according to how I felt this morning when I got up. But I know how tricky things these can be . . . Actually, let me get back to you on this one.”

So if you must read these people (maybe for a class or something), the rule of thumb is always check what they saying against what they are saying first. If it doesn’t not apply there, then ask them for the magic mojo hand that protects them from the noetic effects of sin and other things that go bump in the night. And if it does apply, then ask them to pipe down.

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