Rawlings School of Divinity
Doctor of Philosophy in Theology and Apologetics (PhD)
apologetics, ethics, theology
Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
Pruitt, Jonathan Royce, "Joy Beyond the Walls of the World: How Christianity Ably Explains the Moral Facts" (2021). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3301.
I argue that Christianity ably explains the moral facts of moral goodness, intrinsic human value, moral rationality, and moral transformation. Chapter 1 provides an explanation of the thesis, a historical overview of the moral argument, a defense of the method, a critique of William Lane Craig’s deductive argument, and a response to some challenges to abduction from a Christian worldview. In chapter 2, I explain how Christianity ably explains moral goodness. I first give some reason to think God should be identified with the Good, following Robert Adams. Next, I summarize some of the issues related to moral goodness. Then, I argue that being loving is an important way of being good. The Bible and Christian reflection upon revelation rightly understand God as consistent with the good. Finally, I suggest that given the importance of love to the good, the specifically Christian understanding of God as a single God in three persons powerfully accounts for this. Chapter 3 argues that the Christian worldview strongly affirms the intrinsic value of human beings because they are made in “the image of God.” I offer a functional account over an ontological one, suggesting that the functional account includes the ontological one and offers an even higher view of human value. Second, I show that the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity in Jesus of Nazareth implies a high view of intrinsic human value, both because of the function of the incarnation and the ontological implications for human beings. In chapter 4, I argue that Christianity ably explains moral rationality because it provides a plausible account of how morality and self-interest are reconciled and because of the natural connection between morality and rationality on the Christian view. Specifically, I develop the idea that the Great White Throne judgment is not about moral rationality, but about the choice between life and death and that moral rationality is only ensured once one enters into life with God. In the penultimate chapter, I argue that Christianity ably explains why there is a moral gap and how to overcome it. Specifically, Christianity offers a realistic depiction of human incapacity. It also reinforces and heightens the moral demand. Finally, Christianity explains how we can overcome the moral gap by addressing moral guilt through God’s forgiveness and through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, who graciously cooperates with man in his moral transformation. Finally, I consider the practical import of the moral argument on offer, suggesting it has a potentially eternal consequence and transformative power. I also clarify the force of the argument, proposing that it is more suggestive than coercive.