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Fall 2017 meetings of the Gonzaga Socratic Club will be held according to the schedule below.  Please note that events this semester will be held on different days and times and in different locations.  Check the listing for specifics in each case.  Information related to each talk will be posted on this site as it becomes available.  Click on the live links in the schedule for presentation information.

Mon Oct 23
4 pm
JC (Jepson Center) 017
Fr Michael Maher, SJ, History and Catholic Studies, Gonzaga University
Dale Soden, History and Weyerhaeuser Center, Whitworth University
David Calhoun, Philosophy, Gonzaga University
The Meaning and Legacy of the Protestant Reformation on the 500th Anniversary"

We mark this year the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which, according to most historians, was sparked when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door. (According to the story, the date of the posting was October 31, 1517.) The Gonzaga Socratic Club will commemorate the anniversary with a panel discussion of the historical context, meaning, and legacy of the Protestant Reformation. Themes to be addressed include the nature of reformation and reformation initiatives within the church in the 1500s and 1600s, ecclesiastical authority and individualism, the nature of faith, and the role of faith and reason in religious commitment.

Mon Dec 4
6 pm
JC 114 (Wolff Auditorium, Jepson Center)
Mitch Stokes, Senior Fellow of Philosophy, New Saint Andrews College
Joe Mudd, Religious Studies, Gonzaga University
"Sola Scriptura and the Problem of the Criterion"

During the Reformation, the problem of the criterion became a particularly salient problem as the Reformers claimed that the Church wasn’t applying the proper criterion of truth—the proper set of theological rules—and that Scripture alone was the final court of appeal in theological disagreements.  But making the case for that claim, and disputing it, requires raising the question of the criterion at a meta-level. What is the ultimate criterion of truth in theology, that would allow us to decide questions such as the status and authority of Scripture?

In this paper I attempt to navigate these issues, proposing how contemporary Christians might properly deal with the fact that many theological disagreements are second-order, or “meta” disagreements: disagreements about the fundamental rules of theology.  More specifically, I offer an analysis of how exactly the problem of the criterion applies to the Bible’s role in theology.  I argue that the coherence of sola scriptura depends in part on its ability to adequately deal with the problem of the criterion.  I also argue that if sola scriptura is conceived of as a doctrine about the ultimate or global epistemic authority—the ultimate criterion of truth—it falls prey to the problem of the criterion.  I then argue that sola scriptura is not about global or ultimate epistemic authority but, rather, about a more specific, but related problem, namely, the problem of where to locate God’s word or authority.


For information about the Gonzaga Socratic Club or to propose topics or speakers for future meetings, contact the Club Director:

David Calhoun
509 313 6743



©2004-2017 David H. Calhoun.  Papers available on this site are used by permission of the authors.  Site last updated December 1, 2017.