Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 22:1 (Nov 1959)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

Stuart Cornelius Hackett: The Resurrection of Theism. Chicago: Moody Press. 1957. 381. $5.00.

In the current revival of evangelical scholarship in America there has been, by and large, a critical attitude towards natural theology and the traditional proofs for the existence of God. This attitude is not at all shared by Stuart Hackett. Hackett seeks to rehabilitate the classical proofs and to restore natural theology to its former place of honor as a preamble to revealed theology. For him it is possible to prove the existence of God with arguments which must convince a man if he is thinking rationally (p. 113).

Hackett’s approach to natural theology is based on what he calls a rational empiricism. Following Kant, he says that experience is possible only because the mind of man is outfitted with synthetic a priori categories, which are then filled with the material of sense experience (p. 37). Like Kant, Hackett derives these categories from the forms of logical judgment (pp. 42 ff.).

The first part of the volume is an argument for this rational empiricism and for its corollaries, epistemological dualism and the coherence theory of truth. Having established this foundation to his satisfaction, Hackett then proceeds to evaluate alternative positions, namely, empiricism, pragmatism, and what he calls “voluntaristic rationalism”. This last section is a vigorous critique of the “presuppositionalism” of Van Til, Clark, and Carnell.

It is interesting that Hackett himself says that the “presuppositionalist” approach is congenial to the Calvinist, with his ideas of total depravity, absolute election, prevenient grace, and the priority of regeneration to conversion (cf. pp. 161, 172 ff.). Though he claims that his apologetic method is in the line of Warfield and Machen, Hackett clearly associates his apologetics with an Arminian approach. He rejects the doctrine of total depravity, with its noetic implications. Human reason is not basically affected by sin. Rational apologetics can appeal to the neutral mind to accept theism by an act of conscious will on the basis of sufficient grounds.

Regeneration succeeds the acceptance of Christ and is wrought because of it (p. 174).

The result is a thoroughgoing rationalistic approach. Theism is brought again and again to meet the test at the bar of neutral reason, and it is said to be demonstrated with apodictic certainty. Its alternatives are reduced to logical formulations by which they are shown either to be self-contradictory or meaningless. Reason is the final arbiter. When humanity temporarily goes after another lover, reason can stand smiling in the sha...

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