Bryan N. Smith
Master's Thesis, Houston Baptist University, December 2016

*Note: Private release only (paperback copy available upon request).

 

Abstract:

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. It is the aim of this treatise to build a philosophical case in support of such a position and to briefly explore its ramifications for a related position which I shall refer to as “Christian agnosticism.”

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