About

I am a graduate student of both Theology and Philosophy gearing up to go to the University of Oxford this fall as I enroll in the Master of Studies in Philosophical Theology program there. I have a B.A. with honours and great distinction from Concordia University in Montréal (my alma mater). I intend to use my undergraduate ‘thesis,’ on God’s Relationship to Time from the Perspective of Analytic Theology, as the foundation for a graduate (and later Ph.D.) thesis in philosophical theology. My aim is ultimately to work my way towards a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology, and hopefully pursue a second Ph.D. in Philosophy, subsequent to which I plan to teach and write in both fields. It should (but doesn’t) go without saying that my views are in no way a reflection of the views of Concordia University, Oxford University or any other University.

I am, by intellectual persuasion, a Theist, and a convert to the Catholic faith. I also have tremendous sympathy for Evangelicals, Muslims and Naturalists. I had spent most of my life as an evangelical Christian, active in my church communities, until coming into the Catholic fold. I also nearly converted to Islam, having been very impressed with the beauty of Muslim piety and the right expression of Muslim faith, but after a studied comparison between Christianity and Islam I found that Christianity had a much better purchase on the claim to be true than did the religion of Islam. For a time I began to engage with Muslims in inter-religious dialogue with a view towards evangelizing them (i.e., sharing the Gospel with them) and learning more about their faith. During this time I not only developed a deep love for many of my Muslim friends, along with a respect for pious Muslim practices, but I was also led to take a much closer look at the history of Christianity. I found myself fascinated with issues of textual criticism and eager to read the writings of the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi texts and much else besides. Eventually, however, I came to a profound crisis of faith having to do mostly with epistemology and rational justification for my beliefs. It was in struggling to renovate my most deeply entrenched beliefs that I very nearly became a Naturalist, only to have come out of it, much to my surprise, a Catholic. This conversion was one which took intellectual courage and firm resolve, but I became so thoroughly convinced that the Catholic faith was right about things like the nature of the Christian Church that I was compelled to seek full communion with her.

If I could summarize my (theological) reasons for being a Catholic, the summary would look something like this: first, it seems to me that if there is any non-artificial dividing line in Christian theology between essential Christian beliefs (such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, and so on) and non-essential ones (such as on quaint eschatological points or varying interpretations of certain passages), then one of the essential Christian beliefs is an ecclesiological one. This ecclesiological belief can be broken down into two theses; (i) that there is One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church with the authority and charism to propound orthodox Christian doctrine infallibly and publicly, and (ii) that this Church is extensionally identical to the Catholic Church. This is the common belief of all the early Christians, all the Church Fathers, all the Church councils, is the presumption of all the Church’s creeds, and it is a belief in the absence of which Christian Orthodoxy can neither be differentiated from heresy formally, nor can the Church publicly manifest her faith as an exercise of her teaching authority. The proposed ‘defeater’ of this belief extended to Catholics by Protestants is that Justification is by faith alone, but I believe that a careful analysis of this position shows it to be much more implausible than the classical Christian (and Catholic) doctrine of salvation by Grace alone through faith and works effected by Christ and, with the help of Grace, freely chosen on the part of the believer. Thus, the first thesis, the ecclesiological one, is my principle systematic commitment which accounts for my being adamantly and enthusiastically Catholic. The cost of rejecting this quintessential Christian belief for systematic theology is, in my estimation, incalculably great. My reasons for being Catholic, however, go much deeper than these abstruse points about systematic theology. In reality, in exploring the foundations of my Christian faith I have (somewhat inadvertently) fallen in love with the Catholic Church; I am in love with her because in her I see Christ, and my belief in Christianity inculcates in me an imperfect but powerful love of Christ.

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7 thoughts on “About

  1. I just came across your undergraduate blog and followed it your recent blog. I was raised Roman Catholic and have belonged to the Church my entire life. I am 55 years old. It’s both amazing and wonderful to me that you found catholicism (or is it Catholicism?) through both intellectual and spiritual pursuit. Or maybe – Catholicism found you? My own spiritual journey has taken me into the writings of a Lutheran – Dietrich Bonhoeffer – who I have used for spiritual and intellectual nourishment for a number of years. I continue to participate in the Roman Catholic church. I hope to read some of your papers in the near future.

    • I hope I become more productive in the near future so that you may have some more papers and posts to read! Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the kind of unique theologian who is difficult not to like; I highly recommend his writings. I also think Bonhoeffer was deeply influenced by, and tremendously sympathetic to, Catholic theology. I see very little reason why any Catholic should be apprehensive about reading him – anymore than a Catholic should be about reading C.S. Lewis. A proper reading of Lewis, like a proper reading of Bonhoeffer, is more likely to bring one deeper into the Catholic Church and faith, than it is to drag one away from her.

      Drop by again anytime.

  2. I see you’ve listed my humble abode on your blogroll. I’m flattered that a thinker clearly of your sophistication believes my polemics are worth reading. Of course, I appreciate your patronage; it inspires me to become more learned and refined to the best of my God-given abilities. Anyway, I just thought I pop over, say “thank you” and subscribe in return.

  3. Hello there, I just found your blog, and I must say I am overwhelmed by the similarities between your story and my own. I grew up in a thoroughly Evangelical home/community. I too came to a “profound crisis of faith having to do mostly with epistemology and rational justification for my beliefs” (in fact I would almost have used those exact same words) until ultimately I gave up my faith and considered myself an agnostic for a while. I was always interested in philosophy/apologetics/theology, but was extremely confused and had a difficult time intellectual and spiritually finding truth. Then I discovered the Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophical tradition, and it quite literally changed my life. It led me back to a general belief in Christian theism, but I thought I’d just return to the Evangelical faith of my youth. But the Aristotelian-Thomistic system led me to take a closer look at Catholicism as a whole, and I have been very impressed. I am still in the process of researching/thinking/praying, but there is a good chance I will end up in the Catholic Church. I am currently an undergrad student double majoring in philosophy and theology, and my ultimate dream is to also get my PhD at Oxford (I took a theology summer course at Oxford several years and fell in love). I’m so glad to have found your blog, I look forward to reading your content and perhaps interacting more with you!

    • Well, God bless, (and though it may be premature, welcome home when you get here). I have noticed a trend towards Catholicism in the last decade or so, especially among younger, and often well educated, people. My best friend, originally a Jehovah’s Witness, then an Evangelical, who almost became a Buddhist as I was approaching atheism, also became Catholic at the same time as me and for related reasons. I have since seen a number of peers gravitate towards, and often convert to, the Catholic faith. It is slightly gratifying to see others like myself independently coming to the same conclusion(s). Still, I had to investigate and think for a long while, revisit the Church Fathers, look into the minutiae of Catholic doctrine, acquaint myself with the logic of the faith, and confront at least a few teachings which challenged my resolve. I wish you the best as you embark on probably a similar journey, and I hope you’ll let me know where you end up.

      Also, Oxford is beautiful and it’s been an amazing experience which I could not more highly recommend. If you can make it here, come. If you do, remember to check out the Blackfriars, especially Monday nights.

      • Thanks so much, and sorry for my delayed response. I’ve been reading through many of your blog posts, and I’m quite amazed; already you have answered some questions which I’ve had for a while. I’m reading back through many of your articles chronologically, but just out of curiosity, have you ever written much on Aquinas’s five ways? I was introduced to the Aristotelian-Thomistic system by Edward Feser, and am very interested in these arguments. Also, do you have any recommendations for sources for someone trying to go deeper in Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy in general? Thanks again for your work and response!

  4. Sir, I much hope that you do not mind this, alas, likely silly, and surely naive question from an old man with an old M.S. in Operations Research (’69). Especially, as it refers to a gap that might also be seen in both metaphysical & spiritual terms in accord with your views and exploration.

    Start with a real number line that goes from positive infinity through zero to negative infinity. Then draw an infinite number of lines connecting reciprocals such as between 1/2 and 2, 1/3 and 3… down to and up to between 1/infinity and infinity.

    As 0 has no reciprocal, then no matter what infinity is, is it not true that there needs be a gap of some sort between 0 and 1/infinity? And whether or not that gap is of course elegantly obscured via the utilization of old and new ingenious mathematical techniques?

    Warmest regards, and whether or not you find both the time and inclination to respond, YSYL

    YaleLandsberg@gmail.com

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