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Brian McLaren, the Emerging Church and the Issue of Foundationalism

Part Two

Part one of this article appeared
in the Winter 2006 issue of
Knowing & Doing.

How Accurate Is McLaren’s Description of Foundationalism?

McLaren claims that modernity has foisted upon the church the mind-set that we must have absolute, bombproof certainty in our Christian beliefs, and the culprit behind the scenes is an epistemological view known as foundationalism. Like many others, McLaren targets this view as the source of the expectation that we cannot ever have doubts and still be a good Christian.(1) Based upon that contention, he suggests that we need to move on to a new way of being a Christian in postmodern times, which will allow us room to embrace a new epistemology, one which will not keep pressuring us to not have any doubts. But is he accurate in his description of foundationalism?

We should first observe that the version of foundationalism that McLaren targets is from Descartes. In his quest to find an unshakeable foundation for knowledge, Descartes used a “methodological doubt,” a method by which he tried to doubt all beliefs whatsoever, until he could find one that he thought he could not possibly doubt.

Since it was possible that he could be deceived by a demon, Descartes proceeded to doubt most every belief, but he finally concluded that to even doubt, he must be thinking, and he therefore must exist...

Click here to read the full article (Read PDF)


R. Scott Smith

R. Scott Smith, is associate professor of ethics and Christian Apologetics at Biola University. He authored Truth and the New Kind of Christian: The Emerging Effects of Postmodernism in the Church and Virtue Ethics and Moral Knowledge: Philosophy of Language After MacIntyre and Hauerwas (Ashgate 2003) as well as many articles and essays.  He has been a professor at Biola University. Christian Apologetics program since summer 2000. He has a B.A. in Political Science/Public Affairs and Administration from California State University at Hayward (now Cal State East Bay) in 1980, an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Talbot School of Theology at Biola in 1995. He earned his Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics in 2000.


COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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