Shadows & Dust, Vol. I, Issue 11

Lately I’ve been researching the intersection of faith to an approach called critical realism, which acknowledges three main things:

  1. Reality mostly exists independently of our human perception.
  2. Our knowledge of reality (and history) is limited.
  3. It’s still possible to make judgments between conflicting “truth claims,” while recognizing that our judgments should remain open to adjustment.

What I like about this approach is that it allows people of faith to integrate the postmodern critique of objectivity with our attempts to understand reality as we and others have experienced it. What does all this philosophical language mean for our daily lives and journeys of faith? At the least, it helps inject a little humility into our often polarized debates over correct interpretations and understandings of the Scriptures.

Here are a couple books I’ve been reading on critical realism and related topics:

  • The Tacit Mode: Michael Polanyi’s Postmodern Philosophy by Jerry H. Gill — Quite a few typos, but a good introduction to an important thinker who takes a “reconstructive” approach to postmodern thought. 
  • Christianity and Critical Realism: Ambiguity, Truth and Theological Literacy by Andrew Wright — A helpful primer on critical realism, its connection to various questions for the historical Jesus and an examination of specific ways of reading and interpreting the biblical story.
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