Lecture Series

In order to bring analytic theology greater visibility among theologians and scholars of religion, the Center for Philosophy of Religion sponsors a series of lectures by prominent philosophers and theologians at the annual AAR convention. Topics for the sessions are normally chosen in such a way as to naturally relate to the topics of the preceding annual Logos workshop.

Eighth Annual Analytic Theology Lecture

Lauren F. Winner, Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality at Duke Divinity School, will deliver the eighth lecture titled "The Eucharist, Perfection, and Damage" on November 18, 2018 from 3:00pm - 4:30pm in Salon E of the Colorado Ballroom at the Denver Hilton City Center.

Seventh Annual Analytic Theology Lecture

N.T. Wright, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews School of Divinity, delivered the seventh lecture titled "The Meanings of History: Event and Interpretation in the Bible and Theology" on November 19, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. This lecture was videotaped.

Abstract: The word ‘history’, notoriously, has several significantly different meanings, not always tracked in relevant discussions. The word ‘meaning’ itself will vary according to which meaning of ‘history’ we choose. Discussion here has been hindered by several interlocking but systematically confusing debates: (1) the over-bright either/or of ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ in modern thought, with its tendency to reductionism on one side and Docetism on the other; (2) the sterile (and itself historically conditioned!) antithesis of pantheistic ‘progress’ and an irruptive ‘apocalyptic’, with its various spin-offs in biblical interpretation; (3) the multivalence of the term ‘historical-critical’, sometimes used to indicate the employment of history to undermine traditional Christian claims and sometimes in a supposedly more ‘neutral’ sense; (4) the question of biblical ‘authority’. A fresh appraisal of ‘history’ is required, seeing the term as (at least) a shorthand for various narratives concerning events, tasks, storytelling and symbol-making both within the biblical traditions themselves and within their reappropriation not only as faith-narratives in the church but also as proclamation, explanation and apologia in the wider world.

Sixth Annual Analytic Theology Lecture

The sixth lecture was presented by Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, on November 20, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. Her lecture is titled "Sin and Desire in Analytic Theology: A Return to Genesis 3". This lecture was videotape

Abstract: The ‘problem of evil’ has dominated modern analytic philosophy of religion, with ‘original sin’ merely seen as a further complication for the ‘free will defense’. This lecture starts from a different direction: a close exegesis of the Genesis Fall narrative itself, with a focus on ‘sin’ as misdirected desire. Drawing on a rich set of alternative renditions (from rabbinical, Greek, Syriac and Latin sources), a typology of contrasting classic accounts of sin is essayed. While each generates a theodicy problem of its own, a favoured philosophical solution emerges, intensifying rather than dissolving the classic felix culpa paradox, but freshly illuminating the relation between desire and freedom.

Fifth Annual Analytic Theology Lecture

Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philsophical Theology at Yale University, delivered the fifth lecture titled "The Liturgical Knowledge of God" on November 22, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. This lecture was videotaped.

Abstract: In this lecture I take for granted that knowing propositions about someone is not to be identified with knowing that person. My topic is knowing God, not knowing propositions about God. Philosophers, in general, have focused on two ways of coming to know God: by having an experience of some sort of God, and by reading or being told narratives about God's actions. In this talk I develop the idea that one can also come to know God by participating in liturgical enactments. Liturgical enactments are a certain mode of acknowledging God.  An obvious question is: doesn't one have to know God already if one is to engage in the liturgical activity of acknowledging God? I argue that the answer to this question is No.

Fourth Annual Analytic Theology Lecture

The fourth lecture was presented by Oliver D. Crisp, Professor of Systematic Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, on November 23, 2014 in San Diego, California. His lecture is entitled "Is Ransom Enough?". This lecture was videotaped.

Abstract: In recent Christian systematic theology there has been a renewed interest in discussion of the nature of atonement. Substitutionary accounts of Christ's work have largely fallen out of favor, and various versions of the so-called Ransom Model of atonement have been touted as superior alternatives to older, substitutionary models. In the same period there has been an interest in the atonement shown by analytics, though few have treated the Ransom Model in detail. This lecture addresses that lacuna by offering a critique of the recent rash of Ransom Models from an analytic-theological perspective. The lecture offers reasons for thinking that the notion of Ransom is better understood as one aspect of a more comprehensive model of atonement, one in which substitution plays a fundamental role.

Third Annual Analytic Theology Lecture

Marilyn McCord Adams, Formerly Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford and Honorary Professor at the Australian Catholic University, delivered the third lecture titled "What's Wrong with the Ontotheological Fallacy?" on November 24, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. This lecture was videotaped.

Abstract: Many theologians denounce Christian philosophy and analytic theology for committing the ontotheological fallacy.  In their mouths, 'ontotheology' is not only descriptive but pejorative.  To count God as a being, even a perfect being, is allegedly to put God on an ontological par with created beings and so to make God too small. True, analytic philosophers and theologians usually do apply the term 'being' to God. In this they can point to Augustine and Anselm, as well as Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham for precedents. Dr. Adams will argue that to say that this amounts to a fallacy overlooks the need to do comparative anatomy on philosophical systems. All agree that the ultimate explainer of the being and well-being of all else must be metaphysically distinctive. But different philosophical systems (Plotinian vs. Augustinian Platonism) characterize that distinctiveness in different ways. To discredit so-called ontotheologies, it is not enough to call names. One must give good reasons to prefer the one philosophical system to the other. This paper will be an appeal to get on with the real philosophical work.

Second Annual Analytic Theology Lecture

The second lecture was presented by Alan J. Torrance, Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of St Andrews, on November 18, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. His lecture is titled "The Reconciled Mind and Analytic Theology”.

First Annual Analytic Theology Lecture

Eleonore Stump, Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University, delivered the first lecture in this series on November 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Her lecture is titled "Philosophical Reflections on the Atonement".