Theodicy : a critique and a proposal

Farr, Bernard Charles (1982). Theodicy : a critique and a proposal. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis explores possibilities that arise from regarding theodicy as the activity of descriptive understanding of Christian belief and practice as found in the classical theistic framework. First, any theodicy as an activity is analysed in terms of the role of philosophy, the place of epistemology, the basis of theology, and the taking of an apologetic stance. It is then argued that traditional approaches to theodicy suffer from methodological weaknesses which derive from formulating theodicy in terms of unbelief, and from strictly theoretical analysis. The superiority of philosophical description is argued as better suited to understanding religious belief as held in the community of believers, with especial reference to relationships that hold between language and reality. A critical exploration follows of the approach to theodicy of a proponent of philosophical description, D.Z. Phillips, and consideration is given to the status of evaluations made by believers. In the light of this critique, two attempts are made to describe the shape of Christian theodicy using the interperson model of theological language. The first attempt, based on a description of actual interpersonal relationships, is found eventually to be open to serious objections. A second attempt is then made, based not only on interpersonal language, but using a distinction between "surface" and "depth" in religious language, and by arguing for the presence of an epistemological "direction" in religious belief. On this basis, a Theodicy of Dependence is developed as best describing the shape of Christian belief held in a world which is frequently hostile.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology


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