Distinguished Faculty Lecture 2020–2021
Dave E. Thomas, D.Min., Professor of Practical Theology and Apologetics:
The Nature of Christian Belief
This lecture was streamed live on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020 at 7 p.m.
The Nature of Christian Belief
It is not a secret that today in the United States large numbers of people are abandoning the Christian faith. The fastest growing demographic are those who profess no connection or subscription to religion at all, and the largest growing segment within that demographic are young people who have come to believe they can live well without religion.
Dave Thomas, WWU professor of practical theology and apologetics, says there are many reasons for this development, some of which arise from the current prevailing ideas about belief and the evidence necessary to create or sustain that belief. “Since the days of René Descartes, the Western world has been traveling down a road that contends that unless something can be empirically proven it cannot be counted as knowledge. Religious belief is not subject to empirical proof, so it gets pushed to the side as about as credible as belief in unicorns,” says Thomas.
In his lecture, Thomas will discuss these ideas and their link to certain foundational assumptions that underlie the thought-systems that operate today, a subject area that has become known as “macro hermeneutics.” The area of macro hermeneutics has fascinated Thomas since he was introduced to it in 1993 by a seminary professor. During the last 25 years, Thomas has worked to make some of these highly abstract elements understandable for those who may have never heard of macro hermeneutics. Along the way, his recitations, especially to students, have fulfilled the task described by Elton Trueblood when he said: “The value of intellectual inquiry lies not in its ability to tell us what we ought to do, but rather in its ability to surmount the barriers that hinder our doing. The careful study of the philosophy of religion is helpful, not because in most instances it brings men to God, but because it fulfils the humbler role of removing barriers to requisite commitment.”
In his Distinguished Faculty Lecture, Thomas will address what constitutes Christian faith and what makes believing in the Christian way both viable and credible.
Joseph G. Galusha Jr., Professor of Biology
Pamela Keele Cress, Professor of Social Work and Sociology
Thomas M. Thompson, Professor of Mathematics
Gregory D. Dodds, Associate Professor of History
Bruce C. Johanson. Professor of Biblical Studies
Jon A. Cole, Professor of Engineering
Beverly G. Beem, Professor of English
James R. Nestler, Professor of Biology
Alden L. Thompson, Professor of Biblical Studies
Kraig S. M. Scott, Associate Professor of Music
Douglas R. Clark, Professor of OT and Archaeology
Rodney Heisler, Professor of Engineering
C. Loren Dickinson, Professor of Communication
Roland R. Blaich, Professor of History
Verlie Y. F. Ward, Professor of Education
Thomas J. Emmerson, Professor of Art
Claude C. Barnett, Professor of Physics
Terrie Dopp Aamodt, Professor of English and History
Ernie J. Bursey, Professor of Biblical Studies