Search Results for: David Horner

Quid ergo Hipponium et Floridensis?

David Horner has recently offered a medieval argument for an Anglophilic pronunciation of the name of St. Augustine.

I claim his disputatious account fails, both on an account of interlinguistic phonological equivalence, and on a Kripkean-style rigid designator theory of reference. It turns out, surprisingly, that Floridians are closer to the truth about the correct pronunciation of the medieval saint’s name than are Englishmen.

The full-text of this paper is available for FREE by clicking here.

A Brief Sketch On Zeal

An Ongoing Series of Sketches from the Contributors of Being Good: Christian Virtues for Everyday Life, co-edited by Michael W. Austin and R. Douglas Geivett (Eerdmans, 2012). More info can be found at

Many are reluctant to identify zeal as a virtue. This is understandable, as zeal is frequently abused and easily confused. Acts of terrorism and brands of “Crusader zeal” shape our understanding of what it is. As a result, we tend to see zeal as vicious rather than virtuous, and to regard the actions of ‘zealots’ as universally bad. But is there something wrong with zeal as such?

The answer of this chapter is “no.” In fact, we argue, zeal is a good trait of character, a virtue. Certainly, some forms and expressions of zeal are bad and need to be condemned. But Scripture and history indicate that there is far more to the story. Jesus himself is lauded for zealously stewarding the purposes of God, and, in New Testament passages of particular ethical importance, Paul and Peter explicitly commend zeal for Jesus’ followers. Later Christian luminaries like William Wilberforce and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. embodied zeal in working for justice and equality in their day. In these and other cases, zeal plays a crucial role in the morally excellent character and behavior of God’s people.

In this chapter, we develop a conception of zeal as a virtue, both theologically and philosophically, beginning with an account of zeal as reflected in Scripture. In Romans 12, which we examine in particular detail, the ethical framework in which zeal is commended is teleological in the classical sense: an orientation toward the pursuit of good (what is supremely valuable and excellent) as an end (telos) that is “perfective” of the agent. In fact, Paul strikingly casts God’s will in classically teleological terms (v. 2), as the good, pleasing, and perfect object of pursuit. In light of the strenuous difficulty of pursuing this good, a passionateresponse is required: zeal.

Understood within the context of Romans 12 and other passages, however, such a response has clear parameters; it is rationally guided by an accurate, transformed vision of reality, and motivated by and oriented toward love. We define biblical zeal, on this basis, as a disposition to pursue what is good – rationally, fervently, and diligently, motivated by and expressed in love.

We refine this conception by analyzing zeal’s opposing vices. On the one hand, our pursuit of what is good goes bad when it is excessive, to the tune of fanaticism, and/or when it is misdirected – with respect to the end sought, the means employed, or both. These forms of “bad zeal” give zeal its bad reputation; in reality, however, they are competitors to zeal, properly understood. Opposing zeal on the other hand is a disposition where passionate pursuit of what is good is deficient – the vice of sloth, one of the “seven deadly sins.” This latter condition, in our view, is the more common failure among followers of Jesus (like us) these days. To glorify God and grow in Christlikeness, we need zeal.

Like other virtues, zeal needs to be cultivated. In this chapter, we make a number of suggestions for developing zeal, including Sabbath rest, meditation on God’s goodness, community, the Holy Spirit, and practical acts of service.

But there is far more to this underrated and misunderstood virtue than we are able to develop here. For the reader who is properly zealous for zeal, several themes merit yet further exploration. Here are three suggestions, as a start. First, zeal tends to be associated with extraordinary passion and action. But feats that call for such response are rare. We need greater understanding of how zeal may be reflected and developed in the context of ordinary action as well.

Second, as with other considerations of action and virtue, whether ordinary or extraordinary, we need a mature and robust picture of the role of the Holy Spirit in the development and expression of zeal. What does cooperating with the Holy Spirit involve in this case? How do we understand his agency in relation to ours? Where do our actions, such as practicing spiritual disciplines, fit into the process of cultivating zeal? Zeal is an important part of the morally praiseworthy life for followers of Jesus, but the ultimate source of biblical zeal (and other virtues) is God, not us. We err when we try to generate such passion in our own efforts rather than let such passion be fanned into flame by the Spirit (Romans 12:11).

A final area for further consideration concerns how we might ally zeal with the other virtues – particularly courage. Biblical zeal helps renew our mind and align our will to fervently pursue the purposes of God. But hindrances and challenges dot the way; courage is needed to overcome and continue in passionate pursuit. How then do courage and zeal relate to each other – conceptually, biblically, developmentally? There is plenty of room here for fruitful interdisciplinary work between philosophers, theologians, and psychologists.

David Horner & David Turner

Biola University

European Leadership Forum May 23-29, 2014, Wisla, Poland

What a blessing and privilege it was to attend the European Leadership Forum (ELF) this May!  The conference reminded me of Rivendell.   The hotel in Wisła, Poland nestles in a stunningly beautiful wooded gorge, and the well-conceived program offered spiritual refreshment for laborers in the vineyard.  Over 700 participants from 40 countries met for a wonderful week centered on networking, teaching, mentoring and—most important—mutual encouragement and friendship.   

Every morning we all gathered together for worship and John Lennox’s inspiring meditation on the faith of Abraham.    

Then we broke off into our networks, dedicated to Apologetics, Bible Teaching, Evangelism, Church Planting, Law, Marriage and Family, Media Relations, Philosophy, Politics, Science, Theology, and more.  David Horner and I gave papers for the Philosophers’ Network (David defended eudaimonism in Christian ethics, and I defended the soul against materialist critiques). 

The Philosophers’ Network included participants from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom.  
I was honored to meet Peter S. Williams, one of the most effective Christian apologists in Europe. Here and throughout the conference it was such a joy to see scholars, teachers and ministers so passionate for the faith and dedicated to serving Christ in the church and the world.

This event had many poignant moments for me.  The bookends were a sobering reminder of the horrors of godlessness and an inspiring speech on leading with truth, hope and courage.   

Some of us took the pre-conference guided tour of the concentration camps, Auschwitz I and II, something I had long wanted (and dreaded) to do.  If philosophical arguments do not convince someone of the existence of the soul, this will do it.   In Auschwitz human beings were treated like vermin, and this horrifies us not just because of the appalling cruelty, but because the image of God was desecrated.  The soul recoils from a hell on Earth where over a million people were starved, experimented on, tortured, hanged, shot, gassed and incinerated as if they were nonpersons.  The mountains of suitcases, shoes, spectacles and human hair stand as a grim monument to man’s inhumanity to man. 
The next day, our hearts were broken again—by goodness.  We watched a section of the movie, Weapons of the Spirit, a documentary directed by Pierre Sauvage.  The movie shows how the 5,000 people of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in France, offered refuge to 5,000 Jews.  Proud descendants of the Huguenots, the first French protestants who had endured terrible persecution for their faith, these villagers did whatever they could to keep their wards alive until the end of the war.   They knew what it meant to love their neighbors as fellow image-bearers, and with no real plan but a consensus of conviction, they lived out their faith.

The conference ended with a resounding speech by Peter Akinola, former African Primate of the Church of Nigeria.  He applied the story of David and Goliath to the present trials of the Christian church.  “Who will stand in the gap?” he asked.    Of course we knew the answer.   We must have faith that God will continue to do what He has always done: when the world sends forth its Goliaths, God raises up Davids, and if God has equipped us with the gifts of leadership, we are called to David’s work.  When the medieval church became corrupt, God raised up the Reformers.  When some in the Anglican Communion embraced revisionist interpretations of scripture, Akinola himself was called to stand for God’s Word.   Even as Europe and the United States flounder in secularism, God is raising a cloud of faithful witnesses to revive the church.  The participants of ELF were eloquent testimony to that, and Akinola exhorted and encouraged us all to go back to our various ministries, confident that God was calling us to stand in the gap, to be the instruments of His renewing work.

With God’s help, the ELF is doing wonders for Christ’s church on Earth.  To see so many talented, dedicated leaders, focusing their intellect, will, compassion and commitment on building God’s kingdom, was both heartening and inspiring.  I hope and pray that the ELF continues to grow in numbers and influence, and urge members of the EPS to be active in supporting the ELF’s important ministry.

Being Good: Sketches of Christian Virtues for Everyday Life

Contributors to Being Good: Christian Virtues for Everyday Life participate in an EPS web series that highlights their contribution to the book and its value to a broader context of literature on the topic. More info about the book can be found at

Doing the Right Thing: An Appraisal

Special Pricing

Moderated by Fox News’ Brit Hume, and Co-Hosted by BreakPoint’s Chuck Colson, and Princeton’s Robert George, in this series a distinguished panel of experts offers a substantive, resourceful and engaging discussion on ethics at the intersection of moral epistemology, cultural analysis, applied ethics, and theological-philosophical anthropology:
Panelists include Acton Institute’s Michael Miller, David Miller, and Glenn Sunshine.

In six 30 minute DVD sessions, the panel discusses the following before a live student audience at Princeton:

  • How did we get into this mess? (connecting the “crisis of ethics” with the “financial crisis”)
  • Is there truth or a moral law that we can all know? (natural moral law theory)
  • If we know what is right, can we do it? (character formation)
  • What does it mean to be human, and why does it matter?
  • Ethics in the Market Place (morality of capitalism and business ethics)
  • Ethics in Public Life (professional and political ethics).

Each session offers a stimulating panel discussion about the above topics, along with some interaction with student questions in the audience. The student questions are substantive and interesting. At times, George even directs one of his Princeton students to help answer a question from a fellow student. It feels dynamic but not busy. Moreover, various guest experts make appearances throughout the series, whether for the purpose of modeling the truth of some concept or for offering perspective to the discussion. Guests include former New York Time’s columnist Ben Stein, Acton Institute’s Robert Sirico, Calvin Seminary’s Neil Plantinga, Biola University’s Scott Rae, Joni Erickson Tada, and many others. Audience interaction and guest contributions enrich each 30 minute session with perspective, insight, and different voices and experiences.

I appreciate how the above topics interrelate with each other. Clearly, the series intends to utilize the current “crisis” ethos punctuated by the financial crisis as a prompt to ask the deeper, worldview sorts of questions about knowledge of what is good and how to live in it. But the series does not start and end with individual, moralistic navel-gazing, which so often abounds with “privatized morality” habits of thought. The series decisively connects the centrality of both the sound development of the “inner life” and the “outer life’s” character formation. A thick concept of human flourishing pervades this DVD series: Human beings are not only free but are designed to flourish in virtue.


There are several worthwhile benefits to this DVD series. Below are some that come to mind:

  • It provides a workable framework for thinking about moral knowledge and its importance for character formation and development (here, one could supplement the DVD series with Dallas Willard’s Knowing Christ Today and David Horner’s Mind Your Faith).
  • It connects the realities of the current “financial crisis” with correlating moral problems like the “crisis in ethics.”
  • It offers discussion about character formation and not simply a primer on ethical theory.
  • It recognizes that capitalism as an economic system is not amoral but that economic life and endeavoring must be bound by knowledge of what is good.
  • It is interested in helping people conform to moral reality and not simply a discussion about the dialectic of historical or contemporary ethical theories.
  • It could be usefully incorporated, in whole or in part, in different learning environments.
  • It has a resourceful leader study guide, with helpful outlines, discussion prompts and recommendations to read more (although, mostly web sources at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview).

For local church small groups that I help lead, students that I teach, and for pastors that I try to resource, Doing the Right Thing is the helpful DVD learning resource that I can confidently entrust to others. In part two of my appraisal, I offer some thoughts about how to use this series.

Recommended EPS-ETS Panel Discussion (THURSDAY): Ethics

Christian Ethics

3:00-6:10 pm
Marriott – Yerba Buena 10

Moderator: Daniel R. Heimbach
(Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)

3:00-3:40 pm
David A. Horner
(Talbot School of Theology, Biola University)
Too Good Not to Be True: A Call to Moral Apologetics

3:50-4:30 pm
Mark Daniel Liederbach
(Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy: Exploring the Vital Link Between Doctrine and Ethics

4:40-5:20 pm
Dennis P. Hollinger
(Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) The Ethics of Contraception: A Theological Analysis

5:30-6:10 pm
Evan Lenow
(Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
The Forgotten Virtue of Friendship: Thomistic Friendship and Contemporary Christian Ethics