My recent area of research has broadly been in the intersection of philosophy of religion and religious epistemology, with a more specific emphasis in the relationship between faith, reason, and skepticism in the Christian life. Even more specifically, I am interested in exploring the merits of theological doxastic voluntarism and the soteriological implications of its occasional falsehood.
For a brief explanation, it is a commonly held belief within Christianity that in order for one to receive salvation, one must necessarily exercise faith in God through Christ, and that in order for one to properly do so, one must also necessarily believe certain essential Christian doctrines to be true. It is also commonly held, in particular by the various expressions of Christianity which affirm libertarian freedom of the will, that all persons (by God’s grace) have voluntary control over whether or not they will exercise faith in God through Christ, and thereby also have voluntary control over whether or not they will believe certain essential Christian doctrines to be true. However, many contemporary philosophers (including many Christian philosophers) would argue that beliefs are not, in fact, under one’s voluntary control. As a result, some have called into question the coherence, and therefore the veracity, of affirming certain doxastic requirements as a necessary feature of one’s overall soteriology, promoting the idea that one can receive salvation by faith in God through Christ without necessarily having to believe certain essential Christian doctrines to be true.
My interest is in exploring the merits of such a position for a hypothetical subject plagued by a Pyrrhonian form of skepticism, as well as the ramifications of such a position for a related neo-Pascalian position I refer to as “Christian agnosticism.” Adopting the term from Leslie Weatherhead (with a slight qualification), a Christian agnostic is “a person who is immensely attracted by Christ and who seeks to show His spirit, to meet the challenges, hardships and sorrows of life in the light of that spirit, but who, though he [may or may not be] sure of many Christian truths, feels that he cannot honestly and conscientiously ‘sign on the dotted line’ that he believes certain theological ideas about which some branches of the church dogmatise; churches from which he feels excluded because he cannot ‘believe’; His intellectual integrity makes him say about many things, ‘It may be so. I do not know.’”
As such, my project seeks to support the viability of faith in the absence of belief, where faith is constituted by active trust, where active trust can be characterized (at least for some persons) as acting in accordance with what one hopes/desires to be true as opposed to what one actually believes to be true (i.e. where one can actively trust in God and commit themselves to the truth of Christianity not because one necessarily believes that God exists and that Christianity is true, but because one strongly hopes/desires that God exist and that Christianity be true), and where belief can be understood (at least for some persons) to be a result of, rather than a necessary precondition for, the process of sanctification. That is, although believing certain essential Christian doctrines may not constitute a necessary feature of any instantiation of saving faith, any instantiation of saving faith that is genuinely salvific in nature will inevitably, given time, be efficacious in producing such beliefs.