‘Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma’ – Initial Thoughts

Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma‘, by Kevin Diller, is a fantastic book. That’s the first thing that should be said about it.The second thing that should be said is that it is, given the subject-matter, remarkably clear. The third thing that should be said about it is that it is a genuinely interesting book.

The overall goal is to synthesize Barth and Plantinga into one unified epistemic response to modern epistemic challenges, eg warrant, justification, basically the things Plantinga is famous for. The dilemma here is reconciling a ‘high view’ of theological knowledge – we can know things about God, know God exists – with a low view of human capacity for such knowledge – taking into account the ‘noetic effects of sin’ and drawing the conclusion that warrant does not come from us, from below, but from above, from God. Basically, it’s theo-foundationalism – God is the foundation for theological knowledge, as per both Barth and Plantinga. God makes Himself known, we do not arrive at God via reason.

Overall, this book is just a fantastic work of scholarship. Close attention is payed to primary texts (both in Plantinga and Barth) and the ideas of both men are discussed in a very clear way – I’d actually say this is about as accessible as you could make the thought of Barth and Plantinga without dumbing it down any. Warrant, revelation, justification, natural theology – all stuff you read Barth and Plantinga for, basically – is layed out, discussed and synthesized.

I’ll have lots more to say on this work and the arguments within it later – but for now, I’d definitely say this is a must-read for anyone interested in Barth, Plantinga, philosophy of religion, epistemology, and philosophy in general from a Christian perspective.


4 thoughts on “‘Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma’ – Initial Thoughts

  1. Kevin Davis December 9, 2014 / 2:13 am

    Glad to read your initial impression of the book. I have long assumed that Plantinga and Barth were not too far apart. But I am too distrustful of Christian philosophers at this point, so I need someone to help me along!

    Without having read the book, my immediate questions will relate to how Plantinga deals with sin and idolatry. And, the follow-up question, how does the doctrine of election in Barth relate to Plantinga’s philosophy? For Barth, all knowledge of God follows after God’s action within creation (particular/electing), which is constitutive of God’s being. Needless to say, that is not what philosophers are willing to admit.


  2. deathtoallpoets December 14, 2014 / 11:20 pm

    I’m almost finished with the book, and I am astonished at the clarity without having to dumb anything down.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s