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Embodied Reason: Wisdom, Tradition, and Contemporary Apologetics

Keynote Speaker

Kevin J. Vanhoozer

Dr.Vanhoozer is Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Senior Editor, Transcending Boundaries in Philosophy and Theology series; 


View Dr. Vanhoozer’s bio: http://divinity.tiu.edu/academics/faculty/kevin-vanhoozer/

Dr. Vanhoozer’s first address is:

The Turn to Drama: A Proposal for a Sapiential Apologetics—Friday, 7:00 pm

Announcements on the death of Reason, and with it the end of apologetics, are now old hat. Even those who never read a postmodern philosopher have heard that reason is not as universal as previously thought, but rather local and situated: embodied. However, far from being the end of apologetics, these critiques of modern Reason have opened up exciting new possibilities. My project is to explore the possibility that apologetics may get a new lease on life by focusing on practical rather than theoretical reason, wisdom (sapientia) rather than mere knowledge (scientia). The domain of practical wisdom (phronesis) includes all the particular situations that comprise real life – and Christian discipleship. The “turn to drama” transcends the “ancient quarrel” between poets and philosophers, builds on the earlier turn to narrative, integrates reason and imagination, draws on both analytic and Continental philosophy, and employs a theatrical analogy that casts the apologist as an actor in (cross-)cultural dialogical scenes where what is at stake is the truth of the gospel as well as the actor’s ability to speak-act it out. 

Professor Vanhoozer’s second address is:

Performance Practice: A Dramatic Demonstration of Christian Truth—Saturday, 3:00 pm

If the sapiential imperative is to “get understanding,” then we can define the apologetic imperative as “demonstrate understanding.” My suggestion is that the task of the apologist is not merely to defend theological propositions but also to witness to their truth, not least by embodying them. To demonstrate Christian understanding is to speak, do, and suffer the truth of the gospel in love. This is the “martyrological” aspect of apologetics. Such demonstrations will necessarily be dramatic inasmuch as they involve speech, story, dialogue, and deed. Disciples demonstrate understanding of God and God’s word by showing how to go on in particular situations, even (at the limit) in the face of gratuitous evil. Demonstrations of Christian truth are dramatic because they involve the living out, in community, of the faith, hope, and love of the gospel: the wisdom and power of salvation displayed publicly in Jesus’ cross and resurrection. A dramatic sapiential apologetics trains disciples in an important performance practice: doing church – a localized, corporate, and practical embodiment of the mind of Christ that fleshes out concrete shapes of human flourishing.