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Evidence and Transcendence

Evidence and Transcendence

Religious Epistemology and the God-World Relationship

Anne E. Inman

“An invaluable contribution. It illuminates central issues of theology: the understanding of God, the demand for evidence, the rationality of Christian belief, and the relationship between philosophy and theology. It presents an excellent survey of several major theological approaches (analytic philosophy of religion, American neo-pragmatism, and continental theology) and offers a balanced proposal that seeks to incorporate the best from each approach. A must read for anyone interested in current approaches to God and Christian belief.”—Francis Schussler Fiorenza, Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Theological Studies, Harvard Divinity School

In Evidence and Transcendence, Anne Inman critiques modern attempts to explain the knowability of God and points the way toward a religious epistemology that avoids their pitfalls. Christian apologetics faces two major challenges: the classic Enlightenment insistence on the need to provide evidence for anything that is put forward for belief; and the argument that all human knowledge is mediated by finite reality and thus no “knowledge” of a being interpreted as completely other than finite reality is possible.

Modern Christian apologists have tended to understand their task primarily, if not exclusively, in terms of one of these challenges. As examples of contemporary rationalist and postliberal approaches, Inman analyzes in depth the religious epistemologies of philosopher Richard Swinburne and theologians George Lindbeck and Ronald Theimann. She concludes that none of their positions is satisfactory, because none can uphold the notion of God’s transcendence while at the same time preserving a sound account of our claims to freedom and knowledge.

The root cause of such failures, Inman argues, is an inadequate philosophy of God and of the relation of God and the finite world. Her exploration of the theologies of Karl Rahner and Friedrich Schleiermacher provides the material for the constructive work in this book. Against rationalist and postliberal epistemologies, Inman calls for an austere grounding of Christian faith in the claim that God is known in human conscious activity as such, as the “other” that grounds the finite.

Evidence and Transcendence addresses a critical topic: the need for evidence (about God) and the insistence on the mediation of knowledge. Anne Inman’s ambitious project makes an original contribution to the field by framing the problem very well and bringing in a variety of thinkers to analyze it. The book will be welcomed by students and scholars of systematic theology and philosophy of God.” —Thomas M. Kelly, Creighton University

ISBN: 978-0-268-03177-0
200 pages
Publication Year: 2008

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Anne E. Inman is an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame, London Centre.

“Inman contrasts and explores several contemporary approaches to the question of God, adroitly and accurately analyzing the epistemologies of Richard Swinburne, George Lindbeck, and Ronald Theimann. . . . Inman helpfully returns to two thinkers often undervalued for their attempts to translate Christian terms into concepts comprehensible to nonbelievers. She ably defends Friedrich Schleiermacher’s notion of humanity’s feeling of absolute dependence upon God from the charge of subjectivism.” — Theological Studies

“Anne E. Inman offers a clear exposition of the modern Christian apologetic attempt at elucidating the epistemological relationship between the divine and humanity. . . . an effective example of modern philosophical theology from which any student of theology, philosophy, or religious studies could benefit.” — Dialogue

“Anne Inman sets out to address two specific challenges to Christian apologetics: the insistence since the Enlightenment that evidence be provided for anything put forward for belief; and the argument that human knowledge is mediated by finite reality which makes it impossible or meaningless for there to be ‘knowledge’ of a being interpreted as ‘completely other than finite.’ . . . The great strength of this book is the clarity with which Inman frames the problem she addresses and presents the range of thinkers she brings into its analysis.” — The Way

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William Desmond and Contemporary Theology


Edited by Christopher Ben Simpson and Brendan Thomas Sammon

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Linguistics and Philosophy

An Essay on the Philosophical Constants of Language

Étienne Gilson
Translated by John Lyon

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Introductory Modal Logic

Kenneth J. Konyndyk, Jr.

Evidence and Transcendence

Religious Epistemology and the God-World Relationship

Anne E. Inman

 Evidence and Transcendence: Religious Epistemology and the God-World Relationship
Paper Edition

“An invaluable contribution. It illuminates central issues of theology: the understanding of God, the demand for evidence, the rationality of Christian belief, and the relationship between philosophy and theology. It presents an excellent survey of several major theological approaches (analytic philosophy of religion, American neo-pragmatism, and continental theology) and offers a balanced proposal that seeks to incorporate the best from each approach. A must read for anyone interested in current approaches to God and Christian belief.”—Francis Schussler Fiorenza, Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Theological Studies, Harvard Divinity School

In Evidence and Transcendence, Anne Inman critiques modern attempts to explain the knowability of God and points the way toward a religious epistemology that avoids their pitfalls. Christian apologetics faces two major challenges: the classic Enlightenment insistence on the need to provide evidence for anything that is put forward for belief; and the argument that all human knowledge is mediated by finite reality and thus no “knowledge” of a being interpreted as completely other than finite reality is possible.

Modern Christian apologists have tended to understand their task primarily, if not exclusively, in terms of one of these challenges. As examples of contemporary rationalist and postliberal approaches, Inman analyzes in depth the religious epistemologies of philosopher Richard Swinburne and theologians George Lindbeck and Ronald Theimann. She concludes that none of their positions is satisfactory, because none can uphold the notion of God’s transcendence while at the same time preserving a sound account of our claims to freedom and knowledge.

The root cause of such failures, Inman argues, is an inadequate philosophy of God and of the relation of God and the finite world. Her exploration of the theologies of Karl Rahner and Friedrich Schleiermacher provides the material for the constructive work in this book. Against rationalist and postliberal epistemologies, Inman calls for an austere grounding of Christian faith in the claim that God is known in human conscious activity as such, as the “other” that grounds the finite.

Evidence and Transcendence addresses a critical topic: the need for evidence (about God) and the insistence on the mediation of knowledge. Anne Inman’s ambitious project makes an original contribution to the field by framing the problem very well and bringing in a variety of thinkers to analyze it. The book will be welcomed by students and scholars of systematic theology and philosophy of God.” —Thomas M. Kelly, Creighton University

ISBN: 978-0-268-03177-0

200 pages

“Inman contrasts and explores several contemporary approaches to the question of God, adroitly and accurately analyzing the epistemologies of Richard Swinburne, George Lindbeck, and Ronald Theimann. . . . Inman helpfully returns to two thinkers often undervalued for their attempts to translate Christian terms into concepts comprehensible to nonbelievers. She ably defends Friedrich Schleiermacher’s notion of humanity’s feeling of absolute dependence upon God from the charge of subjectivism.” — Theological Studies

“Anne E. Inman offers a clear exposition of the modern Christian apologetic attempt at elucidating the epistemological relationship between the divine and humanity. . . . an effective example of modern philosophical theology from which any student of theology, philosophy, or religious studies could benefit.” — Dialogue

“Anne Inman sets out to address two specific challenges to Christian apologetics: the insistence since the Enlightenment that evidence be provided for anything put forward for belief; and the argument that human knowledge is mediated by finite reality which makes it impossible or meaningless for there to be ‘knowledge’ of a being interpreted as ‘completely other than finite.’ . . . The great strength of this book is the clarity with which Inman frames the problem she addresses and presents the range of thinkers she brings into its analysis.” — The Way