JimSpiegel.com http://jimspiegel.com The Web Home of Dr. James S. Spiegel Mon, 23 Jun 2014 03:05:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Making of an Atheist http://jimspiegel.com/books/the-making-of-an-atheist/ http://jimspiegel.com/books/the-making-of-an-atheist/#comments Tue, 26 Jan 2010 21:02:50 +0000 jim http://jimspiegel.com/?p=274 How Immorality Leads to Unbelief The 'new atheists' insist that believers in God are delusional. Spiegel turns the tables on the new atheists, proposing that unbelief is a psychological projection, a cognitive disorder arising from willful resistance to the evidence for God. In short, it is atheists who are the delusional ones. Spiegel gives an account as to how the delusion occurs, showing that atheistic rejection of God is precipitated by immoral indulgences.]]> The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief

Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers (February 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0802476112
ISBN-13: 978-0802476111

Book Description:

The new atheists are on the warpath. They come armed with arguments to show that belief in God is absurd and dangerous. In the name of societal progress, they promote purging the world of all religious practice. And they claim that people of faith are mentally ill. Some of the new atheists openly declare their hatred for the Judeo-Christian God.

Christian apologists have been quick to respond to the new atheists’ arguments. But there is another dimension to the issue which begs to be addressed—the root causes of atheism. Where do atheists come from? How did such folks as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens become such ardent atheists? If we are to believe them, their flight from faith resulted from a dispassionate review of the evidence. Not enough rational grounds for belief in God, they tell us. But is this the whole story?

Could it be that their opposition to religious faith has more to do with passion than reason? What if, in the end, evidence has little to do with how atheists arrive at their anti-faith? That is precisely the claim in this book. Atheism is not at all a consequence of intellectual doubts. These are mere symptoms of the root cause—moral rebellion. For the atheist, the missing ingredient is not evidence but obedience.

The psalmist declares, “The fool says in his heart there is no God” (Ps. 14:1), and in the book of Romans, Paul makes it clear that lack of evidence is not the atheist’s problem. The Making of an Atheist confirms these biblical truths and describes the moral and psychological dynamics involved in the abandonment of faith.

]]>
http://jimspiegel.com/books/the-making-of-an-atheist/feed/ 0
Slide – Articles http://jimspiegel.com/slide-intros/slide-articles/ http://jimspiegel.com/slide-intros/slide-articles/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2009 20:19:49 +0000 jim http://jimspiegel.com/?p=207 Jim regularly writes articles on topics related to theology and philosophy.  Over time, Jim plans to expand the archive of articles available for online reading and/or download.

]]>
http://jimspiegel.com/slide-intros/slide-articles/feed/ 0
Slide – Welcome http://jimspiegel.com/slide-intros/slide-welcome/ http://jimspiegel.com/slide-intros/slide-welcome/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2009 20:14:41 +0000 jim http://jimspiegel.com/?p=203 Jim Spiegel holds a PhD from Michigan State and is a professor of philosophy at Taylor University. He is the author of several books, a popular speaker, and a self-produced musician.

On this site, you may read some of his journal articles and learn more about the books he’s authored. Jim is available for public speaking engagements. Use the contact form to submit inquiries. Be sure to click over to his blog on your way out.

]]>
http://jimspiegel.com/slide-intros/slide-welcome/feed/ 0
Slide – Blog http://jimspiegel.com/slide-intros/slide-blog/ http://jimspiegel.com/slide-intros/slide-blog/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2009 11:02:25 +0000 jim http://jimspiegel.com/?p=39 Wisdom and Folly is a blog about faith & culture and features the musings of both Jim and Amy Spiegel (and occasional special guests of whom we are fond or at least don’t despise). Each month we post, in some form or another, on theology, philosophy, current events, books, film, and music. Read at your own pace and pleasure. Interact with us. Floss daily.]]> Wisdom and Folly is a blog about faith & culture and features the musings of both Jim and Amy Spiegel (and occasional special guests of whom we are fond or at least don’t despise).

Each month we post, in some form or another, on theology, philosophy, current events, books, film, and music.

Read at your own pace and pleasure. Interact with us. Floss daily.

]]>
http://jimspiegel.com/slide-intros/slide-blog/feed/ 0
Free Will and Soul-Making Theodicies http://jimspiegel.com/articles/free-will-and-soul-making-theodicies/ http://jimspiegel.com/articles/free-will-and-soul-making-theodicies/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2009 10:24:04 +0000 jim http://jimspiegel.com/?p=92 Introduction

The evidential problem of evil presents the theist with the burden of explaining why an almighty and all-good God would permit evil. Many such reasons, known as theodicies, have been proposed as solutions to this problem. Two of the more promising among these are the free will theodicy and the soul-making theodicy. While each of these approaches has strong proponents, rare are those who advocate the use of bothin response to the problem of evil. In fact, it is often the case that defenders of one are strong critics of the other. Given that theists, and more specifically Christian apologists, share the conviction that the evidential objection from evil fails and that theism is quite reasonable despite the reality of evil, it is curious that there isn’t more interest in embracing both of these theodicies as helpful responses to the problem. In what follows I want to offer a comparative analysis of these two theodicies in hopes of both understanding the divide between their proponents and making the case that the two are best used in tandem when dealing with the problem of evil. Towards the latter end I hope to show that these theodicies have more in common than has been traditionally thought and that their differences have more to do with their divergent aims than their relative merits as potential solutions to the problem of evil.

The Free Will and Soul-Making Theodicies

Perhaps the most popular response to the problem of evil appeals to human freedom. In short, the Fall occurred because human beings abused their freedom, and evil continues to this day for the same reason. People make evil choices, and God is not at fault for this. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Alvin Plantinga explains this theodicy as follows:

“A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil.” 1

Clark Pinnock puts it this way:

“We can say that God did not ordain moral evil but that it arose from the misuse of freedom… God may be responsible for creating a world with moral agents capable of rebelling, but God is not to blame for what human beings do with their freedom. The gift of freedom is costly and carries precariousness with it. But to make a world with free beings is surely a worthwhile thing to do.” 2

These expositions well represent the free will theodicy. Some features of this approach are worth highlighting. First, this theodicy places the blame for moral evil entirely on human beings. God did nothing wrong in creating us with the capacity to sin, however much he might have anticipated our rebellion. Second, notice the high premium that is placed on self-determination. Proponents of the free will theodicy typically assume that personal autonomy is so valuable that it makes the risk of moral evil worthwhile. But it is not really self-determination itself that is of ultimate value. The ultimate good for which such autonomy is a critical means is genuine loving relationships between persons, whether between humans or between God and humans.

Turning to the soul-making theodicy, its most well-known contemporary advocate is John Hick. 3 He maintains that we can look at God’s creative activity in two stages. First there was the initial creation, where God made humans in his image, endowed with ultimate capacities for reason, will, and imagination. This is followed by the second stage in which we are currently living, as humans struggle and suffer, all the while developing character traits that bring us into a closer conformity to God’s likeness. This process, Hick maintains, makes for a better world overall. He writes,

“One who has attained to goodness by meeting and eventually mastering temptations, and thus by rightly making responsible choices in concrete situations, is good in a richer and more valuable sense than would be one created ab initioin a state either of innocence or of virtue. In the former case, which is that of the actual moral achievements of mankind, the individual’s goodness has within it the strength of temptations overcome, a stability based upon an accumulation of right choices, and a positive and responsible character that comes from the investment of costly personal effort.” 4

Thus, argues Hick, “human goodness slowly built up through personal histories of moral effort has a value in the eyes of the Creator which justifies even the long travail of the soul-making process.” 5 There are greater moral goods to be achieved in this way than could ever be achieved by God’s simply giving them to us at creation. Our trials and afflictions do serve a good purpose, the betterment of our souls.

Defenders of the soul-making theodicy point out that there are numerous moral virtues that cannot be achieved except by struggling against or in the midst of evil. These “second order” goods include patience, courage, sympathy, forgiveness, mercy, perseverance, overcoming temptation, and much greater versions of faith, hope, love, and friendship. What sense could be made of the trait of courage in a world in which there was no danger and nothing to fear? How could one show sympathy if there were no sorrow or affliction with which to sympathize? How might one forgive where there has been no offense? And how can one be said to “persevere” through perfectly pleasant circumstances? These characteristics-courage, sympathy, forgiveness, perseverance-are not just good traits. They are, among the greatest of all character traits. And, according to Hick and other proponents of the soul-making theodicy, it is worth God’s permitting evil in order to realize these goods.

Note that both the free will and soul-making theodicies are essentially means-end approaches to the problem of evil. According to each, God is justified in permitting evil because of some greater good. In the case of the soul-making theodicy the end in view is character development. But the free will theodicy, too, features a sort of means-end reasoning, as human freedom, along with its potential for tragic abuse, is a necessary means to the end of a “more valuable” world, as Plantinga puts it. This point corrects a common misunderstanding of these theodicies, which sees only the former as using means-end reasoning. This is perhaps because the nature of the means and end in each case are very different. In the soul-making theodicy it is evil phenomena-sin and suffering-which are the means to second-order goods of human character. Disease and tragic accidents are the occasions for displaying courage and perseverance, and unjust or cruel actions are the occasions for showing grace and forgiveness. By contrast, on the free will theodicy the greater good is moral agency (along with the concomitant good of genuine relationships) and the means to this end is human freedom, a means which entails the risk of the occurrence of evil. Such risk, on an orthodox view of divine omniscience (which includes God’s knowledge of all human choices), is not really risk at all, since God knew that human beings would sin and all of the pain and sorrow that would ensue. So for all practical-or metaphysical-purposes (again, given an orthodox view of divine omniscience), God’s endowing human beings with free will was itself a tacit permission of evil. Such a price was worth the end of the more valuable world for which human freedom is a necessary condition.

Thus, on both the free will and soul-making theodicies, a greater good in view justifies God’s permission of evil. So the two are comparable on this score. But now let’s look at their respective ends in view. Which, if either, is the more valuable end? On the free will theodicy the ends in view include not the mere display of autonomous action but also the very possibility of moral goods, such as virtuous acts and genuine relationships. That is, free will is a prerequisite for moral agency, and this is an essential way in which we reflect the nature of God. Thus, one might say that free will is a necessary condition for an agent to be a divine-image bearer, which is a good of inestimable inherent value. For this reason, the end in view on the free will theodicy seems to trump that of the soul-making theodicy from the start. Moral agency and divine imaging are more fundamental than the attainment of the second-order goods of character development. Does this show, then, that the free-will theodicy aims at a higher end?

Well, not so fast. There is a problem here. Perhaps the use of free will in and of itself is distinct from the capacity to abusefree will. While we might grant that freedom is a prerequisite for divine imaging and moral agency, must that freedom include the capacity to sin? God, after all, is a moral agent and he is not capable of sinning. Nor, presumably, will humans be capable of sinning in heaven, but will we not be moral agents there? On most Christian theological accounts of the next world, God will hedge us away from sin, but that won’t preclude our freedom or our moral agency. And it is easy to see why. Scripture teaches that in heaven Christians experience the perfecting of their human nature, a condition known as glorification. That this state, the culmination of Christian hope, would also involve the removal of an essential capacity of our moral agency is counter-intuitive, if not absurd.

If the real display of human freedom, and its associate goods of moral agency and divine image bearing, do not require the possibility of evil, then this suggests that the free will theodicy is not on equal footing with the soul-making theodicy, which does require evil choices for some aspects of its end in view of character development. For example, the traits of being a forgiving and gracious person cannot be developed in isolation from contexts in which one is sinned against or intentionally harmed by others. Consider also the good of self-sacrifice, which in its highest form involves the laying down of one’s life for another person. This is not possible without the evil of death. Further illustrations could also be given involving forms of the virtues of humility, patience, compassion, and perseverance.

So we seem to have discovered an important contrast between the free will and soul-making theodicies-specifically regarding their ends-in-view. In order to realize the good of human freedom, God did not need to permit evil. But to realize some of the goods of soul-making, God didneed to permit evil. So is the soul-making theodicy superior on this score? Again, not so fast. Here another consideration may be raised. There are particular good free choices which are only possible given the presence of evil. For instance, a person must freely choose to forgive, to be compassionate, or to act courageously, as well as to resist temptation or to repent once one has one has sinned. So while freedom per se does not require the presence of evil, certain kinds of good free actions do presuppose evil.

While this might be a useful route of response, it comes at a price for the proponent of the free will theodicy. First, it commits her to embellishing the theodicy. In its standard formulation the free will theodicy does not specify among its aims particular virtues or kinds of free actions but only identifies the free exercise of the will as essential for the valuable ends in view of moral agency, none of which require the reality of sin. So to meet this objection one must expand the free will theodicy to include the aim of realizing a broad menu of free actions, in a way that is very much parallel to the end in view on the soul-making theodicy. Most notably, this response concedes the point that there are evil-contingent free choices the realization of which putatively justifies God’s permission of evil. But it is difficult to understand why such evil-contingent choices should be seen as worth permitting, unless we make further assumptions about the good of character development-viz., that choices to repent of sin, to resist temptation, and to extend forgiveness are morally good choices precisely because they reflect good character traits. So here the end-in-view of the soul-making theodicy seems conceptually prior to that of the free will theodicy. That is to say, with this modification the free-will theodicy subtly piggy-backs the soul-making theodicy.

Or is it the other way round? We might just as well say that virtuous character traits are good because they constitute the fixed result of good free choices. Clearly, one cannot be a moral agent without being significantly free. And one cannot make moral progress and develop virtuous character traits without making good choices. Therefore, whatever second-order moral goods one achieves are also attributable in part to free will. So at least in this sense the good of human freedom is logically and causally prior to the good of character development. 6

We have found, then, that the free will and soul-making theodicies are mutually dependent on one another. Let’s quickly review just how this is so. In order for human freedom to necessitate the possibility (or reality) of evil the free will theodicy must specify the desirability of certain evil-contingent free choices, the good of which can be adequately accounted for only relative to the end of good moral character. One the other hand, this end-in-view of the soul-making theodicy-character development-is only achievable given the possibility of free will, since this is a pre-condition for moral agency and the requisite choices involved in acquiring second-order virtues.

Two Pertinent Objections

So far in our discussion of the soul-making theodicy we have assumed that the existence of evil is necessary for the development of higher order virtues such as patience, courage, compassion, forgiveness, etc. But we might question this assumption. Why must we encounter real evil in order to better our souls? Wouldn’t a simulation of such things as poverty, disease, and immoral actions suffice for us to develop our character? If a virtual reality of a fallen world could serve to generate soul-making, then the real evil we experience in this world is superfluous. If so, then the soul-making theodicy fails.

While this objection appears to have some strength, it overlooks a rather important point. Daniel Howard-Snyder puts it like this:

“If God were to set up a world in which there was only illusory evil to which we could respond in the formation of our character, something of immense value would be missing. No one would in fact help anybody else; and no one would be helped. No one would in fact be compassionate and sympathetic to another; and no one would receive compassion and sympathy. No one would in fact forgive another; and no one would be forgiven…. In short, if every opportunity for a virtuous response were directed at illusory evils, each of us would live in our own little “world,” worlds devoid of any genuine interaction and personal relationships.” 7

Howard-Snyder’s point is simple but decisive. A simulated reality will not suffice in bringing about real character traits because, well, it’s not real.

Robert Nozick revealed this in a different way many years ago. Nozick posed a thought-experiment regarding what he called the “transformation machine” which “transforms us into whatever sort of person we’d like to be (compatible with our staying us).” 8 Suppose you could use the transformation machine and become a morally perfected person, complete with every virtuous character trait. Would you do it? Nozick rejects the notion out of hand, saying that “it seems like cheating.” This comports with the nearly universal negative response that this proposal elicits. Simply pose the question to any room full of people and observe the negative response.

It is worth noting that a simulation objection could also be brought against the free will theodicy. One might ask, why do we need to make real moral choices in order to be moral agents? Wouldn’t the illusion of free will suffice to bring about this desired outcome? If such a virtual reality of free will could serve to generate moral agency, then the freedom we experience in this world is superfluous. Here, as in the case of the simulation objection to the soul-making theodicy, we find the suggestion repugnant. Such illusory freedom would not generate genuine moral agency because, well, it’s not real. So the simulation objection fails to undermine both the free will and soul-making theodicies.

Now consider a standard objection to the free will theodicy, sometimes posed by soul-making proponents. While the free will theodicy may help to make sense of moral evils, it can’t account for natural evils, such as diseases and disasters, which no moral agent chose to bring about. On the other hand, it appears the soul-making theodicy is immune to this criticism as all evils, whether moral or natural, may be occasions for character development for those affected by them. Perhaps this gives the soul-making theodicy a leg up on the free will approach.

However, the free will theodicy canexplain the occurrence of natural evils. They are due to the Fall of humankind, which of course resulted from the sinful choices of the first humans. Adam and Eve misused their free will, and this brought a curse upon the world-albeit through divine decree-which explains every instance of natural evil that has since occurred. So, it appears, both theodicies can potentially account for both kinds of evils.

However, the way in which the free will theodicy accounts for natural evil is noteworthy. Earlier, we noted that both theodicies are means-end approaches, aiming to explain God’s permission of evil in light of a higher good. However, in the case of the free will theodicy this is only true of the category of moral evil. When it comes to natural evil, they diverge. The free will theodicy is concerned to account for the originsof natural evil in this world, while the soul-making theodicy is concerned with the purposesserved by God’s permission of natural evil (as well as moral evil). Thus, the soul-making theodicy is a more thoroughly teleological approach to the problem of evil than the free-will theodicy, which is only partly so. This shows that the free will and soul-making theodicies have somewhat different explanatory aims. Despite their logical interdependence, then, they are incommensurable in this regard. And since they do not seek the same sorts of explanations pertaining to the problem of evil, this is a reason to qualify any claim that one be preferred to the other. To insist that one of them fails because it does not accomplish what the other accomplishes is unfair.

Conclusion

We have seen several similarities and differences between the free will and soul-making theodicies. Both justify God’s permission of evil on the basis of some greater goods which can only be achieved given the presence or possibility of evil. And, as we have seen, the two theodicies are logically interdependent. The free will theodicy depends for its success on some soul-making concepts, and the soul-making theodicy relies upon a prior concept of human freedom in order to succeed. Moreover, the two theodicies do not share the same explanatory aims, as the soul-making theodicy is more thoroughly teleological than the free will theodicy. These facts seem to recommend that we see these two theodicies as complimentary rather than as competitors in the project of solving the problem of evil.

Footnotes

  1. Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974), 30.
  2. Clark Pinnock, “God’s Sovereignty in Today’s World,” Theology Today 53:1 (April 1996): 19.
  3. The historical roots of this theodicy trace back to Irenaeus in the 2nd century A.D.
  4. John Hick, Evil and the God of Love (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), 255-56.
  5. Ibid., 256.
  6. Here we bump into the proverbial chicken-and-the-egg of metaethics-the question as to which is morally most fundamental, acts or persons. Major moral theories since the modern period, most notably Kantian ethics and utilitarianism, have proceeded on the supposition that acts are most fundamental. But the virtue ethics tradition, dating back to Aristotle, not to mention more recent approaches, such as feminist care ethics, regard persons as most fundamental. So who is right? We can’t settle that debate here, but suffice it to say that one’s intuition regarding this question will dispose her one way or the other when it comes to the question before us concerning the primacy of good choices/actions or good character traits and, in turn, will likely determine one’s intuitions regarding which of the two theodicies under consideration aims at the most fundamental moral good.
  7. Daniel Howard-Snyder, “God, Evil, and Suffering,” Reason for the Hope Within, edited by Michael J. Murray (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 76-115.
  8. Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1981), 44.
]]>
http://jimspiegel.com/articles/free-will-and-soul-making-theodicies/feed/ 0
The Love of Wisdom http://jimspiegel.com/books/the-love-of-wisdom/ http://jimspiegel.com/books/the-love-of-wisdom/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2009 14:08:28 +0000 jim http://jimspiegel.com/?p=47 A Christian Introduction to Philsophy co-authored by James Spiegel & Steven Cowan Philosophy is defined as the love of wisdom, and college students will certainly admire this Bible-informed introductory level textbook’s fun approach to an often heady subject. The Love of Wisdom is made distinct in its engaging style that includes humor and copious popular culture illustrations to heighten reader interest and clarify important concepts.]]> The Love of Wisdom: A Christian Introduction to Philosophy

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: B&H Academic (April 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0805447709
ISBN-13: 978-0805447705

Book Description:

Philosophy is defined as the love of wisdom, and college students will certainly admire this Bible-informed introductory level textbook’s fun approach to an often heady subject. The Love of Wisdom is made distinct in its engaging style that includes humor and copious popular culture illustrations to heighten reader interest and clarify important concepts. The book even addresses two key topics often omitted by other texts: political philosophy and aesthetics (beauty and the arts). Students and teachers can also make great use of the study questions for each chapter, a glossary of terms, and further reading suggestions.

]]>
http://jimspiegel.com/books/the-love-of-wisdom/feed/ 0
Gum, Geckos, and God http://jimspiegel.com/books/gum-geckos-and-god/ http://jimspiegel.com/books/gum-geckos-and-god/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2009 12:08:27 +0000 jim http://jimspiegel.com/?p=16 A Family's Adventure in Space, Time, and Faith In a book that is witty, warm, and profound, Spiegel takes on the challenge of explaining complex issues of the Christian faith in terms that his own children can understand and accept. As you read, you’ll step into a new depth of Christian doctrine as you come to know and enjoy the Spiegel family and follow their journey of spiritual growth. Gum, Geckos, and God is a uniquely incisive look into the most complex issues of faith in a way that’s absorbing, engaging, and highly personal.]]> Gum, Geckos, and God: A Family’s Adventure in Space, Time, and Faith

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (April 1, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0310283531
ISBN-13: 978-0310283539

Book Description:

James Spiegel’s previous publications examined complex philosophical and theological topics like hypocrisy, virtue, and providence. Spiegel excels at engaging difficult subjects and making them accessible to both scholars and the non-academics among us.

In Gum, Geckos, and God, Spiegel takes on the greater challenge of sharing God and the concepts of the Christian faith with his own children. In a book that is witty, warm, and profound, he explains complex issues of the Christian faith in terms that his children can understand and accept.

Can we hug God? Will geckos go to heaven? Was Jesus fun to be around? Does God know how many spiders there are in all the basements in the world? These are just a few of the questions that Spiegel has fielded in conversations with his sons Bailey and Sam.

Every devout Christian wants to understand God and his ways more fully. But even the fundamentals of faith are layered with profound mysteries. In his teaching and writing, Spiegel deals with these complexities every day. But nothing quite prepared him for the honesty, hilarity, and depth of revelation that he has found in conversations about God with his boys.

Gum, Geckos, and God is fascinating and fun. As you read, you’ll step into a new depth of Christian doctrine as you come to know and enjoy the Spiegel family and follow their journey of spiritual growth. Here is a uniquely incisive look into the most complex issues of faith in a way that’s absorbing, engaging, and highly personal.

Reviews:


Publisher’s Weekly – Nonfiction Reviews, Week of 3-24-2008

Spiegel, philosophy professor at Indiana’s Taylor University, takes deep issues of the Christian faith and dumps them smack into real life with a little help from his children. Their questions—“Dad, where does God live?” “Dad, does God speak English?” and “What does God know?”—open the door to discussions about God that solicit satisfying answers from Dad. Spiegel’s responses and ensuing comments will satisfy adults as well, especially those looking for beginning and intermediate study on topics such as God’s omniscience, the Golden Rule, God’s presence and human origin and destiny. Spiegel ponders the great issues of the faith with a light touch, thanks to the innate comedy of kids, but also to his own brand of humor. No doubt some readers will wish for more depth when it comes to doctrinal fundamentals, but rather than exhaustive study, the point is that God touches human hearts through geckos, hide-and-seek tag and the occasional possum. Spiegel shares his own wonder as he fields FAQs from the fertile, imaginative, earthy minds of his children.


Preview Sample Content from
Gum, Geckos, and God

]]>
http://jimspiegel.com/books/gum-geckos-and-god/feed/ 0
Faith, Film, and Philosophy http://jimspiegel.com/books/faith-film-and-philosophy/ http://jimspiegel.com/books/faith-film-and-philosophy/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2009 11:32:43 +0000 jim http://jimspiegel.com/?p=20 Big Ideas on the Big Screen co-edited by Doug Geivett & James Spiegel Faith, Film, and Philosophy: Big Ideas on the Big Screen applies Christian philosophical analysis to cinema. Featuring over a dozen essays treating diverse issues in recent and classic films, the content is philosophically rich but non-technical and will appeal to a broad audience of readers. Chapter themes vary widely but are all directly relevant to Christian philosophy. Likewise, the book represents a broad range of film genres.]]> Faith, Film, and Philosophy: Big Ideas on the Big Screen

co-edited with Doug Geivett

Paperback: 311 pages
Publisher: IVP Academic (November 30, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0830825894
ISBN-13: 978-0830825899

Book Description:

Faith, Film, and Philosophy: Big Ideas on the Big Screen is a book that applies Christian philosophical analysis to cinema.  Featuring over a dozen essays treating diverse issues in recent and classic films, this volume addresses a domain of popular culture that, until now, has been unexplored by Christian philosophers.  The content is philosophically rich but non-technical and will appeal to a broad audience of readers.  Chapter themes vary widely but are all directly relevant to Christian philosophy.  Likewise, the book represents a broad range of film genres (e.g., domestic, foreign, documentary, drama, horror, etc.).

The roster of contributing authors is formidable, each bringing to the project a unique ability to generate original insights in a creative and winsome way.  Each author applies a Christian perspective to his or her topic, but the roster reflects the diversity within the historic Christian tradition in such matters as political orientation and doctrinal persuasion.  Contributing authors:  Douglas Blount, Kelly James Clark, Winfried Corduan, Gregory E. Ganssle, R. Douglas Geivett, Greg Jesson, David Hunt, James F. Sennett, Sara L. H. Shady, Caroline J. Simon, James S. Spiegel, Brendan Sweetman, Ron Tacelli, Dallas Willard.

]]>
http://jimspiegel.com/books/faith-film-and-philosophy/feed/ 0
The Benefits of Providence http://jimspiegel.com/books/the-benefits-of-providence/ http://jimspiegel.com/books/the-benefits-of-providence/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2009 10:00:28 +0000 jim http://jimspiegel.com/?p=31 A New Look at Divine Sovereignty In this book Spiegel applies the high view of providence to theological matters such as divine conservation of the world, miracles, and divine emotion. He discusses implications of the high view pertaining to the practice of science, the problem of evil, and moral formation. The guiding theme of the book is the concept of God as a divine artist and the world as his art work.]]> The Benefits of Providence: A New Look at Divine Sovereignty

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Crossway Books (October 5, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1581346166
ISBN-13: 978-1581346169

From the Introduction:

“My purpose in this book is to provide a broad defense of the high view of providence, both through critical analysis of the low view of providence and constructive application of the high view.  My critical aim is to demonstrate that the concept of divine risk contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture and that the major arguments against the high view are flawed.  My constructive aim is to reveal some significant benefits of the high view of providence, both of a theoretical and practical nature.  Thus, the overarching thesis of this book is that there are many good reasons to accept the high view of providence and no good reasons to reject it.”

Book Description:

In this book Spiegel applies the high view of providence to theological matters such as divine conservation of the world, miracles, and divine emotion.  He discusses implications of the high view pertaining to the practice of science, the problem of evil, and moral formation.  The guiding theme of the book is the concept of God as a divine artist and the world as his art work.

]]>
http://jimspiegel.com/books/the-benefits-of-providence/feed/ 0
How to Be Good in a World Gone Bad http://jimspiegel.com/books/how-to-be-good-in-a-world-gone-bad/ http://jimspiegel.com/books/how-to-be-good-in-a-world-gone-bad/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2009 09:00:58 +0000 jim http://jimspiegel.com/?p=33 Living a Life of Christian Virtue An engaging, down-to-earth manual that helps Christians figure out how to really live a "good" life. Organized around twenty-two virtuous character traits-including humility, discretion, diligence, generosity, creativity, wit, justice, patience, peace, gratitude, faith, and love – this is more than a book of suggestions. This is a manual for how to be "blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation . . ." (Phil.. 2:14)]]> How to be Good in a World Gone Bad: Living a Life of Christian Virtue

AWARD WINNER! - 2005 Christianity Today Merit Award

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (February 25, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0825436958
ISBN-13: 978-0825436956

Publisher’s Comments:

An engaging, down-to-earth manual that helps Christians figure out how to really live a “good” life. Organized around twenty-two virtuous character traits-including humility, discretion, diligence, generosity, creativity, wit, justice, patience, peace, gratitude, faith, and love-this is more than a book of suggestions. This is a manual for how to be “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation . . .” (Phil.. 2:14).

Reviews:

“This book is a workout for the Christian soul. It will stretch you in ways you did not think possible, but after reading it you will feel stronger in the faith than ever before.” (Stephen H. Webb, Professor of Religion, Wabash College. Author of Good Eating, The Divine Voice, and Taking Religion to School)

“Few Christian books so powerfully combine biblically spiritual insight with common-sense realism done in a manner that advocates the fruit of the Spirit. Spiegel assesses applying Christian virtues in our contemporary world. His insight into human psychology is sharp, and his ability to write to the reader’s experience without pulling punches or being judgmental is a rare jewel. . . . Recommended to anyone interested in growing in grace.” (Gerry Wisz – CBA Marketplace)

“This book should not only be considered essential reading for Christians of all ranks (including pastors), but for anyone who wants to know the key ingredients for successful leadership. It’s all in this work. And the price of the book is affordable. It is scholarly in its reading but not difficult, with classic sayings of leading philosophers and theologians sprinkled throughout. The author, James S. Spiegel. . . . writes clearly to spur us on to excellence.” (Rev. Austin MilesAgape Press )

]]>
http://jimspiegel.com/books/how-to-be-good-in-a-world-gone-bad/feed/ 0