Books, Brokenhearted Theology, Fuller

Epistemological Holism and Rob Bell

I’m taking a philosophy class called “Anglo-American Postmodernity” this quarter with Nancey Murphy.  Our first paper had to deal with epistemological holism.  Professor Murphy sees holist theories of epistemology, as developed by W.V.O. Quine and Imre Lakatos, as distinctly postmodern, in contrast with modern epistemological foundationalism that has been the norm since Descartes. 

In my paper, I described how the postmodern epistemological theories have affected Christian theology on a practical level, using Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis as an example.  It was a really interesting paper to write, and I felt like it shed some light for me on a lot of the harshest criticisms that have been leveled against Rob Bell and other (e)/(E)merg(ent)/(ing) types. 

When I first read Velvet Elvis, I knew that something about it was controversial, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  By placing Bell in the framework of postmodern theories of epistemology (as described by Murphy) and his critics in a distinctly modern camp, it makes more sense why some see Bell as a threat to the Christian faith and why others can’t understand what is so controversial about the way he writes about truth. 

I may be naive, but I think both sides are talking about the same truth, although their methods and approaches are so vastly different that there appears to be an immeasurable gap between the two.   

What do you think:

  • Is there more than one way to arrive at truth?
  • Is Rob Bell a heretic or a postmodern prophet?
  • Is there such a thing as a postmodern apologetic, or does non-foundationalist thinking necessarily contradict the Christian gospel and it’s truth claims?
  • Can’t we all just get along?
  • Ask or answer your own related question?

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