The Latest News Update From Reasonable Faith
Dr. Craig discusses his upcoming debates, work on the Atonement, and video production going on at Reasonable Faith.
The Latest News Update From Reasonable Faith
KEVIN HARRIS: Traveling, writing, speaking, and producing videos. Dr. Craig, you have a lot on your plate. What's going on with Reasonable Faith?
DR. CRAIG: Well, we've been working this summer primarily on my book on the atonement. I've not been traveling and speaking much during the summer, but every day I'm in my study writing this book on the atonement. I've got two books actually that I'm working on. There's one shorter book that is under contract with Cambridge University Press that I hope to call Elements of the Atonement. Then I'm using that book as a kind of skeleton which I'm then fleshing out to write a longer, more scholarly book on the atonement. That book is now about one-third finished, or at least in first draft. I began writing on August 1st and as of today I finished the first part of that book in first draft.
The book is divided into three parts. Part one is the biblical data concerning the doctrine of the atonement. This, I believe, is especially important because Christian philosophers writing on the atonement today are generally ignorant of the biblical material. They aren't trained in biblical exegesis and so the way in which they construct theories of the atonement is typically to look at the way reconciliation occurs between human persons when there's a rift between them and then they try to apply that model to divine-human relationships. And I think this methodology is just fraught with problems because of the disanalogies between God's relationship to us and the relationship of one human person to another. The danger of that kind of flawed methodology is constructing a theory of the atonement which however congenial it might be just is not a Christian theory of the atonement because it is not adequate to the biblical data. So the first part of the book is a very serious attempt to look at the biblical data concerning the atonement to use that as a kind of proofstone for then assessing theories of the atonement.
Part two of the book, which I'm going to be writing next, is on the history of the doctrine of the atonement. And here I will survey some of the main highlights of the history of doctrine with respect to the atonement. So I'll look at the so-called Christus Victor model of the early church fathers, Anselm's satisfaction theory, Abelard's moral influence theory of atonement, the Protestant Reformers' penal substitution view of the atonement, and Hugo Grotius' governmental theory of the atonement in order to get some theories of the atonement that are classical, traditional, and influential on the table.
Then that will lead to part three which is philosophical reflections on the doctrine of the atonement where I will assess these various theories and models and try to articulate and defend a philosophically coherent and biblically adequate theory of the atonement.
KEVIN HARRIS: This can also be an opportunity for people to join you in your study on video. You have been doing this series – Join Me In My Study – almost exclusively on the atonement.
DR. CRAIG: It has been almost exclusively on the atonement because I've just been preoccupied with this subject now for many months. So in these little five-minute videos that Jan and I do every Thursday, I update people on my progress on my study on the atonement. Though, on occasion, there are other subjects as well that are covered. For example, I am preparing for a debate with Erik Wielenberg, the naturalistic ethicist, on the best account of objective moral values and duties which he – like me – wants to affirm. I've also been doing some video recording of late. So in a recent Join Me In My Study I talk about that. But predominantly it has been the subject of the atonement that has preoccupied me.
KEVIN HARRIS: Speaking of video, there is a real buzz on the latest Zangmeister video on the problem of evil. These are illustrations. They are video. They are animated illustrations of so many aspects of your work and the work of Reasonable Faith. The latest one is on the problem of evil. A lot of people have really responded to this.
DR. CRAIG: I am so gratified to hear that. I think that “the Zangmeister,” as I call him, is enormously talented. There are actually two videos that we just released on the problem of evil and suffering. It would have been too long to combine them into one. We want to keep them around five minutes so as to keep people's attention. So he divided it into two. The first one is on the logical version of the problem of evil and suffering. That's the claim that God and the evil and suffering in the world are logically inconsistent with each other. They cannot logically both be affirmed. The second animated video is on the probability version of the problem of evil which says, all right, God and the evil in the world are logically consistent but nevertheless given the evil and suffering in the world it is highly improbable that God exists. That problem is discussed in the second video, along with the emotional problem of evil. That closes out the second video I think in a very powerful way because I'm convinced that for the vast majority of people the problem of evil and suffering really isn't an intellectual problem at all. It's really an emotional problem, and so that needs to be addressed in a powerful and direct way.
KEVIN HARRIS: I heard a speaker the other day say that even if God were to tell you, Here's why I did this, why you suffered this, why this happened, what a, b, c and d were on the components of why you went through this suffering, you would still have to go through the suffering!
DR. CRAIG: Yes! And I imagine that a great many people having heard the explanation would be filled with resentment that God would do this. Suppose, for example, he says, The reason I allowed your daughter to be run over by a car backing out of the driveway and killed is because in three hundred years through the ripple effect of that event through history a Mexican peasant is going to come to know Christ personally and find eternal life. That might not satisfy that person who loses the little daughter. That might lead to bitterness and resentment that God would do such a thing. You are absolutely right. Answering the intellectual question doesn't resolve the emotional problem.
KEVIN HARRIS: It helps. I will just tell you going through what I did through losing my son, it did help.
DR. CRAIG: Good.
KEVIN HARRIS: I'm still going through it but knowing that there are two aspects of the problem of evil helped.
DR. CRAIG: I've heard this from others as well. Gary Habermas who lost his wife to cancer has said the same thing. Having good intellectual answers can help you to cope with the emotional anguish and rising resentment or bitterness against God that one might feel.
KEVIN HARRIS: We'll have some more podcasts coming up on this in recent weeks. Some traveling – traveling abroad.
DR. CRAIG: One of the trips that Jan and I are doing this year is to Germany. I have been invited to present a paper at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Philosophie which is the National German Organization in Philosophy. It is the German Philosophical Society. They will be meeting in Berlin. I'll be giving a paper entitled “Platonismus, Naturalismus und Gott” – “Platonism, Naturalism, and God.” In this paper I argue that Platonism poses problems for both naturalism and for theism, and that therefore this is an area where naturalists and theists can come together in a common interest of answering the arguments for Platonism – to give a solution to those arguments and thereby allow both the naturalist and the theist to sleep more comfortably. I have two German respondents. One is Professor Kanzian and the other is Professor Stöckler from Bremen and Innsbruck. Then I will have a chance to give a response to their comments which are very favorable, I have to say. I was very pleased to see how these two German philosophers responded to me as a Christian American Evangelical philosopher. It was really gratifying. So I'm looking forward to our discussions.
KEVIN HARRIS: It is a chance for you to brush up on your German, too.
DR. CRAIG: Oh, you said it. That's very true.
KEVIN HARRIS: Maybe you need to order Rosetta Stone. [laughter] The Israel tour as well.
DR. CRAIG: Right, Jan and I have, later in the year, been invited to Israel along with a group of Christian leaders from the United States in order to see personally reconciliation efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. So this will not simply be a touristic kind of trip but an educational trip, getting to see a different side of Israel than the normal tourist sees. We are looking very much forward to this.
KEVIN HARRIS: Let's extend into next year. Two big overseas trips coming up.
DR. CRAIG: Yes. First, in March we have a long speaking trip to Brazil which will take us to conferences, universities, and churches. This is very exciting for me because I am convinced that Brazil is going to be a shaping force in worldwide Christianity during this century as well as a secular force geo-politically. It is an enormously influential and rich country. Christianity in Brazil (and by that I mean evangelical Christianity) is surging and booming. But very often it is enormously emotional and charismatic and lacks theological and apologetical substance. Five of my books now have been translated into Portuguese and are available in Brazil. This speaking trip will coordinate with the publisher to make these materials available to people in the audience. So this is a chance to have input into the Brazilian church in, I think, a very significant way. So I'm looking forward to that trip.
The other trip is to England later in the year, and this is a really unusual trip. I received an invitation to deliver the Gore Lecture at the elite English preparatory boys school called Harrow. Harrow is one of the top boarding schools in England, and includes among its graduates many prime ministers such as Winston Churchill. Four of its graduates became kings of England. Many parliamentarians are graduates of Harrow. So I feel so honored and privileged to be invited to speak to this group of young boys as they go on to future university study and positions of influence.
While in England I've also been invited to be a speaker at a kind of TED conference that is being held there called “How the Light Gets In.” This is a secular conference that features speakers from various disciplines as well as a music festival to provide a kind of lighter side to the conference. They're putting me on panels with non-Christian secularists on subjects like the meaning of life, the relationship between science and religion, the foundations of morality. So this looks to be a very good opportunity again to be a light for the Gospel in a secular setting.
KEVIN HARRIS: This is an amazing festival. If you just look at some of the history of it. It is called an intoxicating and unique mix of ideas and playfulness. All this music, and then all of these ideas and experiences. So this is really going to be a unique experience.
DR. CRAIG: I almost don't know what to expect, but I think you are right! I think it is going to be very unusual, and combined with the Harrow lectures what a wonderful opportunity. Being an Anglophile anyway, I am delighted to be back in England for these events.
KEVIN HARRIS: This sounds like a full schedule. We ask that people would pray for you and Jan as you travel and as you continue your writing and speaking.
DR. CRAIG: Thank you, Kevin! This is just the mountaintops. There are many, many other things on the schedule including the debate with Erik Wielenberg and other university events and conferences. So there is a lot scheduled for 2018.
 Total Running Time: 14:44 (Copyright © 2017 William Lane Craig)