Implicit dimensions of explicit faith: inquiring into the centrality of belief by attending to the holistic character of Christian believing
Johnson, Andrew R.
This thesis is first and foremost a work of Christian systematic theology that brings in interdisciplinary resources as is deemed fit for its inquiry into why believing is centrally significant in and for Christianity (that is, why is it the case that believing, rather than something else, is so closely tied to the various salvific motifs found in Christianity?). By critically engaging the rich theological descriptions of faith alongside various philosophical reflections on the holistic character of believing it seeks to show that this central significance becomes more intelligible when we attend to the implicit dimensions of explicit faith and to the holistic character of Christian believing. In order to pursue this line of inquiry the thesis begins by presenting what Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann have to say about the implicit dimensions of explicit faith and the holistic character of Christian believing as they describe the self-involving nature of faith in Christ. It then moves on to bring in other theological and philosophical voices in in order to further articulate an understanding of the holistic character of Christian believing in a manner that supplements and contributes to what Barth and Bultmann offer as well as provide further intelligibility to why belief is centrally significant in and for Christianity. It moves on to focus on a non-reductive dispositional account of believing and on non-reductive accounts of the cognitive/linguistic dimensions of belief as well as on the unavoidable social dimensions of an individual’s belief acquisition, formation, and manifestation. It does so in order to add further intelligibility to how we might see the various implicit dimensions of explicit faith holding together. In doing so the thesis describes and argues for an understanding of believing in Christ as not merely one thing among other aspects of a Christian’s human existence, but as something that is embedded and enmeshed within all the various aspects of a Christian’s human existence (it is a phenomenon that is wholly self-involving in the fact that it involves the entirety of the believer’s being and is holistically constituted in the sense that the character of Christian believing is intimately and integrally (not secondarily) dependent on the wider particularities and possibilities of the believer’s concrete reality in the world with others). In recognizing the implicit dimensions of explicit faith and the holistic character of Christian believing the central significance of belief in and for Christianity becomes more intelligible.