1999 IG Recipients

Human Nature and Human Freedom: A Christian Response to Reductionist Versions of Materialism
 
Kevin Corcoran
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Calvin College
Project Director
 
William Hasker
Professor of Philosophy
Huntington College
 
J.P. Moreland
Professor of Philosophy
Talbot School of Theology
Biola University
 
Michael Murray
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Franklin & Marshall College
 
Timothy O’Connor
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Indiana University
 
Dean Zimmerman
Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Notre Dame
 
Project Abstract:

In keeping with the teaching of sacred scripture and the ecumenical creeds, we Christians believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. We also believe in a future judgment which will determine how that resurrection life is spent: whether joyfully in the presence of God or sadly and miserably separated from the source of all joy and human fulfillment. These orthodox Christian beliefs are directly related to important metaphysical topics, topics of interest not just to Christian philosophers and philosophical theologians, but also to philosophers in the broader academic community. The metaphysical topics most intimately involved concern the nature of human persons and free will. This project will bring together faculty from both Christian and secular colleges and universities who have made important contributions to the study of human nature from a Christian perspective. The project will unfold in three installments. A summer conference in 2000 at Gordon College, a workshop on human nature and human freedom at Calvin College, March 8-10, 2001 and a culminating conference TBA in 2002. Our primary intention is to publish the fruit of our labors as self-sustaining articles in high caliber philosophy journals.
 
Coming Full Circle: Devolution of State Delivery of Human Services to Faith-Based Human Service Organizations
Fred DeJong
Professor of Sociology
Calvin College
Project Director
 
Diana Garland
Professor of Social Work
Baylor University
 
Katherine Hemert
Assistant Professor of Social Work
University of Kentucky
 
Beryl Hugen
Professor of Social Work
Calvin College
 
Lawrence Ressler
Professor of Social Work
Roberts Wesleyan College
 
Project Abstract:

Research attention on the role of faith-based organizations in social welfare has focused on the impact of their social service activities on the community. Virtually no attention has been given to the impact of these activities on the faith-based organizations themselves. This project proposes to conduct a study of the effects on faith-based organizations, as well as on their communities, of their increased collaborative relationships with state and local governments in the delivery of social services. Particular attention will be given to the central role the element of faith plays in these organizations. A typology will be developed to study and research various organizational domains (e.g. Service activities, staff motivation and training, program outcomes, mission) to help identify both specific challenges and new opportunities faith-based organizations encounter in the current devolution of social welfare. The project’s proposed outcomes are as follows: (1) create a network of scholars to study and research the literature related to the role and impact of faith-based organizations in social welfare; (2) produce a scholarly concept paper to suggest a future research agenda and methodological framework; (3) draft a larger research grant proposal based on this concept paper; and (4) make an application to a major charitable funding source for support. Research partners represent the social work faculties of four colleges and universities in four regions of the country; Baylor University (southwest), University of Kentucky (south), Calvin College (upper Midwest), and Robert Wesleyan College (northeast).
 
Neohumanism and the Ethical Turn in Theological Perspective
 
Norman Klassen
Assistant Professor of English Literature
Trinity Western University
Project Director
 
Tony Cummins
Assistant Professor of New Testament and Biblical Studies
Canadian Theological Seminary
 
Alex Hawkin,
Ph.D. Candidate in Religion
Duke University
 
Bruce Hindmarsh
Professor of Church History and Historical Theology
Briercrest Biblical Seminary
 
Jens Zimmerman
Dept. Of English Language and Literature
Trinity Western University
 
Project Abstract:

In the spirit of the movement of radical orthodoxy, which reclaims for Christian theology some of the current preoccupations of postmodernism (e.g. the implications of the linguistic turn, as shown by John Milbank’s The Word Made Strange), this project participates in the contemporary critique of humanism. We locate this project in the context of the so-called ethical turn which is presently unfolding in postmodern discourse. Different from existing projects on the topic of humanism (as, for example, The Case for Christian Humanism 1991), what we are calling neohumanism addresses specific current academic issues in order to demonstrate, at a scholarly level, the significance of biblical anthropology for literature, hermeneutics, theology and social theory. This project will have three overarching emphases:
 
 
1. a reconsideration of the rise of humanism and its gradual and inexorable dissolution of the links between Christian theology and the humanist enterprise. Within this emphasis, points of interest include late medieval Europe, the Italian Renaissance, the rise of the Enlightenment project, and Evangelicalism;
 

2. engagement with the critique of humanism (including much of modernist theology) by contemporary postmodern discourse, fueled by theory indebted especially to Marx, Nietzsche and Freud. For even conservative modernist theology found itself indebted to humanism and the Enlightenment project with its rather positivistic ideals. Following such writers as Graham Ward (e.g. The Postmodern God 1997), we will show the necessity of engaging postmodern discourse.
 

3. an outline of the enduring relevance of notions of humanism in the context of the current ethical turn in literature, hermeneutics, theology and social theory. Current secular scholarship in philosophy and related disciplines (political philosophy, literary theory, cultural studies, hermeneutics, etc.), once dominated by the so-called linguistic turn, is preoccupied with ethical concerns. Spurred on to self-criticism by post-structuralist French philosophy, especially Derrida’s enterprise of deconstruction, the critique of existing institutions of knowledge and human endeavor has led to a crisis to articulate norms for human interaction, a crisis manifest in the recent and current efforts in political philosophy (Charles Taylor), hermeneutics (Hans Georg Gadamer), social theory (Jürgen Habermas), and philosophy (Emmanuel Lévinas). In concert with current postmodern theoretical developments, we view the ethical turn as a rich opportunity for theological neohumanism to address an academy that has grown tired of deconstructive and related approaches to cultural studies. Contrary to postmodern theoretical discourse, we affirm the need to uphold the connection between theology (biblical anthropology) and those "humanistic" disciplines which represent the life of the mind as well as the cherished belief in the ability of humans to cooperate with one another. Neohumanism, as a biblically informed assessment of human nature in light of current academic issues, sees itself as an affirming Christian witness for a renewed understanding of what it means to be human in a culture of suspicion and mistrust. However, contrary to some elements within evangelical and reformed theology, we consider humanism a worthwhile project because it valorizes the individual, the body, creatureliness in relation to God, and the desire to cooperate with each other toward the common social good. Christian humanists have often unwittingly sanctioned a humanist ideal and find themselves vulnerable to the postmodern critique; because they are unaware of the possibilities for a biblically informed neohumanism, they are unwilling to learn from the postmodern critique or to give up their own modernist positions.
 
In short, this collaborative project explores neohumanism as the awareness of the failures of the humanist project and the opportunity to reclaim intellectual, theological and existential concerns regarding what it means, in N.T. Wright’s phrasing, to "exhibit true and full humanity, reflecting the image of God."