• Before or Outside the Text: A Comparative Study on Jean-Luc Marion and Paul Ricoeur's Idea of Revelation

      Kuipers, Ronald A.; Tang, Joseph; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2010-05)
      This essay explores the idea of revelation of two French philosophers, Jean-Luc Marion and Paul Ricoeur. Ricoeur and Marion are very important figures not only in contemporary continental philosophy, but also in their contributions to the discussion of religion, or what some may call the "theological turn." Marion contends that revelation is the saturated phenomenon ' par excellence', free from the constraints of reason and metaphysics. For Ricoeur, a longer route in approaching the phenomenology of religion through the detour of hermeneutics is much needed. Such a longer path serves to concretely ground the discussion of revelation in a historic, linguistic, and textual milieu. Therefore, while Marion thinks that revelation is immediate and unconditionally given, Ricoeur maintains that revelation as manifestation names the possibility for biblical Scripture, and through hermeneutic interpretation, is able to open a world into which one might project one's ownmost possibilities.
    • Metaphoric Truth: Seeing and Saying in Merleau-Ponty and Ricoeur, and a Broader Ethics Via Zuidervaart

      Smick, Rebekah; Read, Janet; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2010)
      Artistic meaning via visual art and literary fiction is debated in modern aesthetic thought. Language is a cognitive component in postmodernist aesthetic projects. This thesis investigates Maurice Merleau-Ponty's and Paul Ricoeur's writings on painting and language, respectively, whose phenomenological aim is the revelation of being in works of the imagination in tandem with Lambert Zuidervaart's approach to artistic truth which opens the lifeworld to the biotic context of the earth. For him, imaginative disclosure is integral to techno-scientific and art realms. Embodiment, natality, and expression illuminate the problematic of meaning in forms of postmodern visual art. Metaphoric imagination and metaphor are used for metaphor is a principle of articulation, not a figure of speech. Aesthetic projects connect with the lifeworld in a hermeneutic circle of meaning.
    • Pumping Intuitions and Making Practice Different: Richard Rorty's 'Intuitive' Account of Reference and Truth

      Kuipers, Ronald A.; Euverman, Ryan M.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2010)
      This thesis explores and makes explicit various aspects of Richard Rorty's rhetorical program for shifting our traditional conceptions of reference and truth. Rorty wants to persuade us to adopt verification (coping) semantics in place of correspondence seeking semantics. I argue against his intuition pumps by considering Keith Donnellan's remarks on description and reference and argue for a view of correspondence truth that is based on what the object, whatever the object, permits us to say. Making this point allows us to see a purposeful conflation in Rorty's work. If beliefs are true because they are justified, Rorty's fallibilistic remark that any of our beliefs may not be true (in the cautionary sense) would follow. But truths may pay because they follow (as "attributive representations") from 'unblocked' objects, or they may just pay. Thus, I suggest that Donnellan preserves William James' remark that we desire correspondence truth, an everyday explanatory notion.
    • A Certainty of Death: Appreciating Human Animalhood

      Kuipers, Ronald A.; Hubble, Paul; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2009-04)
      Engaging the work of Barry Allen and Karl Marx, a range of topics come together in an analysis of civilization as the buildup and breakdown of tissues. Life and death are both moments and directions. Death, as a moment in life, is certain. Human life, lived against death at its present scale, doesn't succeed in controlling or securing what it seeks to control and secure. Concerns about human knowledge and economies-civilizational tissue and its behaviours-are contrasted with familiarity and wealth as tissue, which are valuable goods against which their bastardizations can show up. We cannot place blind faith in technology, since it often fails the test of good tissue-life and the means to continued life. We cannot place blind faith in market freedom, as long as economic agents are programmed as they are, and as long as wealth is not understood as good, living tissue.
    • Written Into the Land: Use, Identity and the Human Awakening to an Eloquent Creation

      Kuipers, Ronald A.; D'Angelo, Christopher J. M.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2009-02)
      This thesis argues that human land use is a decisive yet commonly overlooked indication of the sort of people we are. As such, to grasp that we live in a world in 'ecological crisis' requires grappling with the moral, spiritual and narrative underpinnings and effects of those twentieth century shifts in urban/suburban development and farming practices that have so dramatically altered the North American cultural and geographical landscape. In particular, this dilemma is approached from a biblically informed Christian perspective. Chapter 1 proposes that understanding and experiencing the world as Creation requires accounting for the embodied and wondrous character of existence. Chapter 2 examines aspects of the biblical narrative that provide resources for rethinking destructive land use patterns. In conversation with agrarians and new urbanists, Chapter 3 provides an agrarian ethic for urbanites; a vision rooted in agrarianism that acknowledges how deeply the fate and health of cities and farms are intertwined.
    • From Paradox to Possibility: Gauging the Unique Contribution of Christian Voices to the Public Discussion of Ecological Crisis

      Kuipers, Ronald A.; Gerritsma, Sara L.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2008-12)
      This thesis argues that western societies are caught in a paradox: Individuals and groups are increasingly concerned about the harmful effects humanity is having on the earth's health, while at the same time environmental degradation increases and societies are doing relatively little to stop environmentally harmful actions. Chapter 1 explores the deeper roots of our current situation, arguing that westerners are caught up in a harmful ideology that prioritizes economic growth and material prosperity at all costs, which means that steps to protect the environment will not be undertaken if these steps will have negative (or even neutral) impacts on economic growth. Suggesting a theocentric (God-centered) alternative to this harmful ideology, chapter 2 defends the expression of openly religious perspectives in the public political discussions of environmental crises but also emphasizes the responsibility of all participants to dialogue in a respectful, civil manner and to be open to truths coming from marginal perspectives. Finally, chapter 3 gives a number of concrete suggestions for public policies that can address the roots of ecological degradation and engage citizens who are ready and willing to take steps to reduce their environmental footprint.
    • Freedom Un/Limited: a Sympathetic Critique of Libertarian Freedom in the Open Theism of Clark Pinnock

      Ansell, Nicholas John; Hocking, Jeffrey S.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2008-12)
      This thesis lays out a critique of the libertarian autonomy in Clark Pinnock's open theism. It contends that libertarian autonomy (defined as the choice to do otherwise) is unable to do justice to the fuller sense of freedom described in the biblical narrative. Offering more than a critique, this thesis suggests an alternative definition of freedom by qualifying Karl Barth's "freedom as obedience" as 'freedom as faithfulness'. As such, true freedom is contrasted to the autonomy that leads to evil, and is found beyond the false dichotomy of compatibilism and incompatibilism, heteronomy and autonomy. Freedom is recognized as a good gift of creation and a promise of the eschaton, and thus must be distanced from the shadow of evil which haunts human autonomy. Ultimately, this thesis contends that faithfulness to God as the source and call of life leads to responsive, transformative, and eschatologically unlimited freedom.
    • 'All That Man Has and Is' : a Study of the Historiographical Concerns Guiding the Work of Christopher Dawson

      Sweetman, Robert; Greydanus, Richard; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2008-08)
      This thesis presents the historiographical concerns guiding the work of Christopher Dawson, Roman Catholic historian, sociologist, and philosopher of history, in terms of a science of human being, which is adequate to conceptualize human activity in time. The author attempts to show that Dawson rejects the modern, empirical paradigm, both for its secularity and its reconceptualization of the relation between time and human activity in history. A conceptual continuity Dawson sees between the work of modern empirical thinkers G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche, and its consequences for understanding history as a teleological process, or the progress of Reason, consciousness, Spirit, self-overcoming, etc., is treated in the first section. Dawson's account of the natural conditions of human knowing, and its relation to his theory of culture, is treated in the second section. And in the final section, Dawson's understanding of the relation between religion and culture is presented.
    • Theologizing in Vain: a Dialogue with Ellul Between Truth and Reality

      Ansell, Nicholas John; Jesse, Daniel E.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2008-05)
      In this study, I propose through the thought of Jacques Ellul that humanity has perverted the original creation. In doing so, we have constructed what I will call a Counter-Creation; a second creation. In this counter-creation, mankind has replaced the creativity and the fluidity of the original. Along with this I argue in the second chapter that we have socially constructed new gods, which I will call sacred myths. These sacred myths are unquestionable, and hold power over against humanity. In the third chapter, I depart from Ellul, and go beyond his reflections on the vanity of life, on the vanity of socially constructing the world around us. Through the story of Cain and Abel, I propose that in Qoheleth there are two types of vanities in play: One that is unrighteous and one that is righteous. In doing so, I hope to help people recognize their finitude, while not being paralyzed or being tempted to plunge into chaos due to the meaninglessness of life.
    • An Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Seminars 1 and 2

      Olthuis, James H.; Martin, Noah; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2008-01)
      My thesis is an introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis--and assumes all of the connotations of the word "introduction". I have tried to make it as clear and simple as possible, constantly reiterating each point in hopes that the reader will find some sort of conceptual handle in which to gain access to Lacan's world. This thesis begins with an attempt to situate the Lacanian project in its historical and theoretical context. I proffer the contributing factors that led Lacan to initiate his Seminar followed by the theoretical tasks he wished to accomplish therein. I then transition into a discussion dealing with the underlying mechanisms of language that form Jacques Lacan's specific strand of psychoanalysis.With Lacan's understanding of the functioning of the signifier in place I shift into a topological discussion of the individual symbolic concepts crucial to an understanding of the nature of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Throughout this discussion I endeavor to show how the concepts interrelate and influence the formation of all the parts of the nascent amorphous theoretical whole; all the while drawing on examples from popular culture in order to illustrate these concepts to the non-specialized reader.In the third and final section of the thesis I discuss how these concepts are manifest in the psychoanalytic practice--the actually existing analytic session. I venture a guess at how these concepts effect the work of the analyst and the analysand in order to suggest an explanation of what the terminus of analysis looks like.
    • Education and Political Authority: Procedure, Jurisdiction, Substantive Goodness and the Specificity of Schools

      Chaplin, Jonathan; Brink, Robert A.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2008)
      The appropriate relationship between political authority and education/schools as it relates to jurisdictional, procedural and substantive considerations, is highly contested. Several political theorists, including Amy Gutmann, Brian Barry, Chandran Kukathas and Iris Marion Young, have contributed to the debate, each prioritizing one of these considerations over the others. Attempts by other scholars to reconcile the considerations often fail to adequately accept the implications of the theoretical underpinnings of each. A political theoretical orientation that combines a recognition of institutional specificity with an awareness of the multifaceted nature of contested phenomena will enable theorists to address the heretofore intractable points of contention amongst political theorists surrounding issues of jurisdictional/procedural propriety and substantive goodness as they relate to educational practices and institutions. This orientation clarifies the dialogue between the most prominent theoretical approaches to analysis of political authority's just relation to education within modern liberal democracies.
    • Bursting the Banks: Matthew's Use of Israel's Wisdom Tradition

      Keesmaat, Sylvia C.; VanManen, Richard P.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2008)
      One especially contentious issue for Matthew's predominantly Jewish-Christian audience is how to relate to Gentiles, who are also followers of Jesus and desire to be incorporated into their community. To address this issue, Matthew appeals to Israel's wisdom tradition, and particularly to the pilgrimage of Woman Wisdom. In this journey, Woman Wisdom is commanded to dwell in Israel. She makes her home there and calls all people to come to her for wisdom and life. Ultimately, Wisdom is rejected by Israel and she returns to God. This thesis proposes that it is this pilgrimage of Woman Wisdom that is an underlying metaphor for Matthew's gospel. Like Wisdom, Jesus arrives in Israel, calls Israel to follow him, and is ultimately rejected. Woman Wisdom's cry to come to her to receive life is echoed in Jesus' call for all to enter the kingdom of God. The inclusion of the Gentiles in the community therefore demonstrates the presence of the kingdom of God.
    • Rhetoric More Geometrico in Proclus' Elements of Theology and Boethius' De Hebdomadibus

      Sweetman, Robert; Bovell, Carlos R.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-11)
      My thesis inquires into the reasons behind Proclus' and Boethius' adaptation of discussion more geometrico in their metaphysical works, Elements of Theology and De Hebdomadibus, respectively. My argument is that each philosopher is engaged in a spiritual exercise to the effect that each sought, in his own way, to predispose readers to the anagogical acceptance of profound matters of faith.
    • Taking Hannah Arendt to Church: Toward a Renewed Appreciation of the Mutuality Between Moral Philosophy and Religious Life and Culture

      Kuipers, Ronald A.; Allers, Christopher R.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-09)
      In this study, I consider the possibility of extending Hannah Arendt's critiques of conformity and behavior and her insights on thinking and moral philosophy to Christian life and culture. With Arendt, I argue that the possibility to refrain from perpetrating great evils made possible by uncritical conformity resides within the activity of thinking itself, as she defines it. Furthermore, I argue, again with Arendt, that refraining from such evils is a moral decision which finds its ultimate standard in the self. Although she culls many helpful insights from religious traditions, Arendt refrains from extending her moral philosophy into any realm in which religion is considered to be the valid standard of what constitutes moral behavior. Instead, I argue, against Arendt, that Christians can, and perhaps should, develop a more mature understanding of religion and a more "covenantal" understanding of their relationship with the divine.
    • From Ground to Ocean: Robinson and Keller at the Beginnings of Divinity

      Ansell, Nicholas John; Basden, Stuart Jeffrey; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-09)
      Observing the movement in recent Christian theology, I examine the change in depth metaphors and theological works, as they move from tendencies of solidity and proposition-forming, to more fluid imaginations in their substance and style. I conduct an indirect comparison between John A.T. Robinson and Catherine Keller, engaging Buber, Tillich and Virginia Mollenkott, specifically focusing on themes of depth and working through a filter of social and ecological justice.Throughout the essay I acknowledge the importance of the continuing re-articulation of theology, the necessity of exploring the roots of Christianity, and I affirm the need for new language for the task of articulating an appropriate image of divinity and humanity. I contend that while Keller is well able to continue Robinson's theological project for the next generation, his work is still valuable in contributing Christology and New Testament studies, both of these being somewhat absent from Keller's work.
    • Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs: a Contemporary Encounter With Contemplative Aspirations

      Sweetman, Robert; Mols, Michael John; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-08)
      Recent scholarship in biblical interpretation has remained suspicious of the "allegorical" approach to scripture, presumed as common to Medieval Christianity, and Bernard of Clairvaux is often acknowledged as paradigmatic of contemplative exegesis. Bernard's Sermons on the Song of Songs is often alleged to be an ultimate example of the dangers of monastic "allegorizing," in that such an approach lacks any consistency of method and maintains an ideological stance that is suspicious of and ultimately rejects the nature of bodily existence. This thesis counters these claims by utilizing the work of contemporary medievalists, instead of contemporary biblical exegetes, as a lens in a close reading of Bernard's Sermones Super Cantica, as well as his textual interaction with Peter Abelard and Peter the Venerable. This thesis suggests that Bernard is consistent in his method of performative reading and holds bodily existence as vital to the monastic and broader Christian way of life.
    • Teleology in the Thought of William of Ockham

      Sweetman, Robert; Zylstra, Stephen John; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-07)
      This thesis offers an account of William of Ockham's understanding of teleology in order to question the standard modernist history of the concept. Ockham does not rely on the Aristotelian analogy between art and nature to establish that all natural things seek an end. Nor does he simply relativize the analogy by considering all creatures as having their ends fixed by God. Instead, Ockham draws a sharp distinction between voluntary and natural agency, which results in two very different uses of final causality. On the one hand, the way in which final causes operate in voluntary agents cannot compromise their freedom. On the other hand, the way they operate in natural agents cannot explain their necessity. Ockham negotiates the radical difference between the causality of voluntary and natural agents by positing a new analogy altogether, comparing it to the difference between will and intellect.
    • Weil, Truth and Life: Simone Weil and Ancient Pedagogy As a Way of Life

      Sweetman, Robert; Mols, Yvana; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-07)
      Contemporary philosophers, wary of the vaulted metaphysical systems proposed by Enlightenment thinkers, have explored alternative avenues of doing philosophy. Unfortunately, these "new" philosophical systems often neglect their roots in ancient philosophical practice. The purpose of this thesis is to textually ascertain the ancient concept of philosophy as a way of life in the contemporary philosophical work of Simone Weil. This connection is demonstrated in two distinct yet related ways. The practical pedagogy demonstrated through biographical work and student lecture notes provide a distinct vision of her life's bent toward practical philosophy. In addition, her Notebooks, read in light of Pierre Hadot's interpretation of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, demonstrate the pervasiveness of this way of life in her personal textual engagement. In Weil, therefore, we find an important contemporary instance of continuing and reinterpreting the ancient philosophical practice where she finds her philosophical origin.
    • Kingfishers and Criteria: a New Approach to the Engineering Design Method

      Zuidervaart, Lambert; Groenewold, Benjamin; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2006-10)
      The usual method of designing a solution for a problem, which applies general principles to a specific situation, tends to overlook the unique features of each situation and so must inevitably efface the very structure of what it means to create, and so resolve diversity and plurality into blank uniformity. This is grave problem which a renewed attention to the individuality of things might help resolve. This project considers the criticism of several thinkers (including John Duns Scotus, Martin Heidegger, Theodor Adorno, and J.C. Jones) on the schema of general and particular that undergirds the engineering design method. It then seeks to open up further the suggestions these thinkers have for a new approach to the design method not enthralled to an understanding of general categories, but grounded in a contemplation of the individual.
    • Rosa Luxemburg: First Socialist Feminist

      Zuidervaart, Lambert; Jung, Kristina E.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2006-10)
      Traditionally, Rosa Luxemburg has not been understood as a feminist. In the beginnings of her socio-political career she did not align herself with feminism. However, as time progressed, Luxemburg became increasingly weary of male-chauvinistic ideals including Revisionism, opportunism, centralization, militarism, and war. Luxemburg's socio-political theories and her relationships with the women's movement led her to label herself as feminist. This thesis outlines and examines the claim that Luxemburg can be described and labeled a feminist.