Thomas Crisp's Refutation of Contemporary Historical Apologetics

I'd like to call attention to Thomas Crisp's[1] recent paper, “On Believing that the Bible is Divinely Inspired”, in Analytic Theology: New Essays in Theological Method (Oxford University Press, 2009). In the paper, Crisp offers his own account of how such belief can be rational. But what I found most interesting about his paper was the rigorous and apparently fatal critiques of the prominent contemporary models for rational belief in biblical reliability and inspiration: those of Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, and Timothy McGrew. Required reading for those interested in historical apologetics.

[1] Thomas Crisp is one of the brightest young stars in the constellation of contemporary Christian philosophers, and is very highly regarded in the broader philosophical community. He did his M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Biola University, studying under J.P. Moreland. While there, he was generally regarded as the best Philosophy student they ever had. After graduating from the program, he went on to Notre Dame for his doctoral studies, where he quickly impressed Alvin Plantinga and the other faculty and graduate students. He completed his dissertation (which was a defense of presentism) in 2002; Plantinga was his dissertation advisor.

Three years into a tenure-track position at Florida State University, Crisp returned to Biola, where he is currently an Associate Professor of Philosophy. His past and current work focuses on issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of religion.


Steve Schuler said...

Hey X!

Kind of an off the wall question, but could you ever see yourself getting back into Christianity?


exapologist said...

Hey Steve,

It's really hard for me to see myself returning to Christianity, but I'm too skeptical about knowledge of my future self to be completely closed off about it. Perhaps my main concern is that historical Jesus studies (cf. E.P. Sanders, Dale Allison, Bart Ehrman, Paula Fredriksen, et al.) have provided the materials for a a strong abductive argument that Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet of an imminent eschaton. And if that's right, then based on the words attributed to Yahweh in the OT (the ones to the effect that he doesn't take too kindly to false prophets), the probability that he's God, or the Son of God, or God's representative in any form -- let alone anyone that God would want to raise from the dead -- is virtually nil (a point that appears to undercut Craig's abductive argument for Jesus' resurrection, by the way).

Who knows, though? After all, it's not epistemically impossible for new evidence and arguments to turn up that would indicate that some form of Christianity is probably true. Because of that, it seems inappropriate to rule it out completely.

One thing I'm sure of, though: if I returned to the faith, I'd be morally obligated to devote all my spare time trying to get my brothers and sisters to repent of their right wing views on politics and economics. ;-)

Steve Schuler said...

Hey (again) X!

Thanks for your response to my question. It's quite a challenge for any of us to make sense out of this life and I am not moved to demean people who identify themselves as Christian. Whatever helps keeps your kyak upright on this sea of life is fine with me. That said, I am not a fan of the religious movement I call Christo-conservianity with it's Republican Jesus ("It's easier to love your neighbor after you've applied 10,0000 volts to his testicles"), and patron Saint Ronald (WWRD?).

I have encountered a Presbyterian minister in Tennessee by the name of John Shuck who seems to be running a church that I could belong to. And that's saying something. But I'm not sure what...

Anyhow, you can check him out at:

If nothing else check out the sidebar heading titled, "What They're Saying About Shuck and Jive..." Scroll down and you'll see it on the right side of the page. I can almost guarantee it will bring a smile to your face.