The Society for Reformed Philosophy

The Society of Christian Philosophers was founded in 1978, which event is as good a candidate as any to mark the beginning of a widely-recognized renaissance in Christian philosophy in the English-speaking world. Nearly a half-century later, this philosophical movement bears a complicated relationship to what is arguably the intellectually strongest Protestant theological tradition, the Reformed (or Calvinistic) tradition. Some Reformed doctrines, such as its epistemology, have become so widely accepted within the movement that they are virtually the dominant view among Christian philosophers of all theological stripes. Other Reformed doctrines, such as penal substitutionary accounts of the atonement, remain live options, neither dominant nor dismissed. Still other Reformed doctrines, such as the theological determinism that is so closely associated with the title “Calvinism,” are so widely rejected that they are typically not even thought to be live options. And finally, some Reformed doctrines, such as Reformed accounts of worship and the sacraments, are unexplored by Christian philosophers mainly because the associated field (the philosophy of worship and liturgy) is so new and underdeveloped.

Philosophers who are inclined to adopt the whole Reformed picture of things, as captured in the traditional Reformed confessions, therefore find themselves in a curious situation. Their views are solidly in the mainstream of Christian philosophy in some areas, while at the same time their views are marginalized or dismissed in others. Moreover, some of the very views that are marginalized in the philosophical community (such as Calvinist soteriology and theological determinism) are thriving, even growing, in the broader English-speaking Christian world, but those views have not even been taken seriously by very many Christian philosophers in the past half-century.

We find this to be a situation in need of a remedy. We are convinced that the Reformed intellectual tradition as a whole is an especially strong, coherent, and plausible one, worthy of respect; and that therefore all of its doctrines are worthy of exploration and defense in the contemporary philosophical scene. And we believe that all the intellectual streams that make up Christendom can benefit from an intellectually vibrant and living Reformed presence in contemporary Christian philosophy.

To that end, we announce the founding of a Society for Reformed Philosophy.