Search Results for: R. Scott Smith

Celebrating the Life and Work of Dallas A. Willard (1935-2013)

We celebrate the life and work of Dallas A. Willard (1935-2013), who was a scholar, mentor, professor and friend to many in the EPS and beyond.

The Evangelical Philosophical Society was pleased to host him as our 2011 plenary speaker at the annual national meeting of the EPS and also a plenary speaker at the 2011 EPS apologetics conference. His last Philosophia Christi article appeared in the 13:1 (Summer 2011), titled, “Intentionality and the Substance of the Self” (7-19). His other contributions appeared in the 4:1 (Summer 2002) issue, “Naturalism’s Incapacity to Capture the Good Will” (9-28), and then in the 1:2 (Winter 1999) issue, “How Concept Relate the Mind to Its Objects” (5-20).

Before his death, Willard was completing his manuscript (tenatively titled), The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, a snapshot of which was given at the 2011 EPS annual meeting, but more fully accessible to the public in 2010, at a lecture series hosted at the University of California-Irvine. His opening chapters in his last published book, Knowing Christ Today (HarperOne: 2009) are also relevant to these developments.

From among the EPS membership and contributors to Philosophia Christi, here are some tributes to Dallas Willard’s life and work:

For some further info on the state of forthcoming, posthumous work by Willard, please see the June 2013 interview with Bill Heatley.

Addendum: On October 4, 2013, a “Celebration of Life” memorial service was given at the University of Southern California, in honor of the many years of Willard’s faithful work at the university. A basic video of that tribute is available here.

Dallas Willard Mentored Me to Be Mentored by Christ Through the Spirit

Dallas Willard’s impact in philosophy is far and wide. Many had the privilege to do their doctoral work under his care.

R. Scott Smith, Associate Professor of Ethics and Christian Apologetics at Biola University, was at the University of Southern California from 1995-2000. His dissertation was on “Whose Virtues? Which Language? A Critique of MacIntyre’s and Hauerwas’s ‘Wittgensteinian’ Virtue Ethics,” which later developed into his first book with Ashgate in 2003, Virtue ethics and moral knowledge: philosophy of language after MacIntyre and Hauerwas.

Consider how Scott shares the way in which Dallas was a “sign-pointer” to the way in which Christ seeks to mentor us:

I am so grateful for how the Lord opened up the opportunity to study at USC and be mentored by Dallas Willard. I think that was a major reason why the Lord opened that door. I could not do the work I am now doing without his influence, and that of another student of his, JP Moreland.

As a student (and even still), I was amazed at how much meaning and insight Dallas could pack into a single sentence. I still am chewing on some of those nuggets he shared with me in his office hours, or in class. His insights have opened up vistas that I just could not have begun to see while a graduate student, but the Lord has since expanded into areas of research and fruitful labor for His kingdom.

I sought out Dallas originally to help me understand better postmodern thought, but I have walked away with a much broader set of horizons and opportunities – e.g., the many, many facets of constructivism; naturalism’s inability to give us knowledge; how the breakdown in epistemology today is due fundamentally to a breakdown in ontology; and how we can indeed know reality, even directly. But, I cannot help but think that these were things he already had understood and foreseen long ago.

Now that he is absent from the body, yet present with the Lord, I miss him. He is someone I could go to for advice and be encouraged. But, he leaves us with a rich deposit of articles and books that we all ought to explore and deeply ponder. Some of his philosophical works, like “Knowledge and Naturalism,” “How Concepts Relate the Mind to Its Objects,” “A Crucial Error in Epistemology,” and Logic and the Objectivity of Knowledge, are treasures worth mastering. They contain very helpful insights that apply to so many of our questions and issues today.

But now, it seems there is a big gap without him being here, to go to. Even so, I started to learn about an answer when I first started working at Biola. I was exposed to his talk, “Jesus: The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived?” and little did I know, the ideas therein, though simple in one sense, would profoundly influence me. He portrayed Jesus as the One who has knowledge (indeed, all wisdom and knowledge – Col. 2:3), who wants to mentor and apprentice me, and who gladly wants to share His wisdom and knowledge with His servants. If we humble ourselves, seek and listen to Him, and be deeply united with His heart and mind, Dallas had discovered that Jesus will be happy to mentor us, in philosophy or whatever area of life we are in. Jesus is the smartest man who has ever lived, or ever will.

I know now of His mentoring me in firsthand ways, while I bathe in prayer subjects I am researching; while I am writing and have typed sentences the meaning of which turned out to be far beyond what I had in mind when I typed them; and from listening to Him. So, while a giant and a good man has passed from among us for now, and we miss him, his Mentor is available to all of us who are His children. “Learn of Me” – this is what a Christ-shaped philosophy must be about: being actively apprenticed by Him, and not me trying to do philosophy as a Christian by my best lights, without an intimate, utter dependence upon Him. That is too dangerous, for as Dallas, who exemplified humility, knew well, apart from Him even the Christian’s heart can be more deceitful than all else, and our thoughts are not His thoughts.

Thank you, Dallas, for all these things. And thank You, Lord, for Dallas and Your Spirit at work through him, and in us.

R Scott Smith, PhD
Biola University

Recommended EPS-ETS Panel Discussion (THURSDAY): Marriage

Christian Ethics: Defining and Defending Marriage

8:30-11:40 am
Marriott – Yerba Buena 7

Moderator: R. Scott Smith
(Biola University)

8:30-9:10 am
Maggie Gallagher
(National Organization for Marriage)
Marriage: The Case for Hope

9:20-10:00 am
Daniel L. Akin
(Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Biblical Marriage in a Broken World: A Theology of a Redeemed Relationship

10:10-10:50 am
Wayne Grudem
(Phoenix Seminary)
Why Limiting Marriage to One Man and One Woman Is Not an Unconstitutional ‘Establishment of Religion’

11:00-11:40 am
Daniel R. Heimbach
(Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Refuting Arguments for Same-Sex Marriage

Philosophia Christi: Summer 2011 Issue

The Summer 2011 issue of Philosophia Christi should start to drop in mail boxes within the next couple of weeks. If you are not a current member or subscriber, please consider becoming one today.

There are lot’s of very interesting articles, notes and book reviews. This issue features a variety of contributions on philosophical anthropology, especially arguments for substance dualism by either arguing from or for the “self.” Contributors to this area include Dallas Willard, J.P. Moreland, Mihretu Guta. Angus Menuge also argues for how libertarian freedom hangs on a concept of the “substantial self.” Moreover, Donny Swanson challenges Nancey Murphy’s Christian physicalist conception of human distinctiveness. Jerry Walls further argues that no Christians should ever be a compatibilist. R. Scott Smith, echoing Willard’s work in phenomenology, challenges Merold Westphal and James K.A. Smith on their concepts of “finitude,” “fallenness,” and “immediacy.”

In his introduction to this issue, Editor-in-Chief Craig Hazen said of these contributions:

In these essays, clear thinking on the ‘self’ emerges as a powerful tool in demonstrating the inadequacy of philosophical naturalism.

Many further notable contributions are available in this issue, from the likes of Robert Larmer, Steve Cowan, John Warwick Montgomery, Paul Gould, and several more!

Subscribe today, and receive the Summer 2011 issue as your first issue!

What Difference Does Intentionality Make for our “Fashionable Philosophies”?

In the latest issue of Philosophia Christi (Winter 2010), Biola University’s R. Scott Smith has a unique article that challenges some underlying assumptions about intentionality and knowledge of what is real.

In the opening paragraphs of the article, Smith writes:

Intentionality is widely understood to be the “ofness” or “aboutness” of mental states. Metaphysically, however, there a number of views about what it is. For example, the token identity physicalist Michael Tye understands it as causal covariation under optimal conditions, whereas for J. P. Moreland, it is an abstract universal. Indeed, a range of views have been suggested along a number of lines, such as: (a) it is a property, a relation, or some other thing; (b) it is reducible to the physical, or not; and (c) it is real, or not.

My suspicion is that intentionality is needed for us to have knowledge of reality (that is, propositional knowledge), for whatever intentionality turns out to be, it seems that beliefs (not to mention concepts), being mental states, have it. While philosophers debate the precise formulation of the necessary conditions for knowledge, they seem agreed that it does include beliefs, which thereby include intentionality. My concern in this essay will be to show that much rises or falls in many of our contemporary, popular philosophies, whether among Christians or others. Specifically, I will try to show that intentionality has an essence and it seems best understood to be an abstract universal. This will allow me to show that other metaphysical treatments (or uses) of intentionality by several currently popular philosophies, such as naturalism, physicalism, postmodern epistemology, and moderate nominalism, land us in constructivism, such that we cannot know reality; we end up constructing it in some way or other.

To approach this issue, I will use Daniel Dennett and his treatment of intentionality as a crucial test case. From that study, I will extend my findings to the other aforementioned views. I will try to show not only how intentionality is an abstract universal but also how we use it to know reality directly. Then I will apply my findings to raise a potential implication for externalism in epistemology.

R. Scott Smith’s article can be read in its entirety by subscribing to Philosophia Christi or by purchasing the Winter 2010 issue.

The Winter 2010 issue of Philosophia Christi

The Winter 2010 issue of Philosophia Christi (vol. 12, no. 2) is now available, and for subscribers/members, your copy should arrive within the next 2 weeks. Editor Craig J. Hazen had this to say about the current issue, which features a lead discussion about Timothy O’Connor’s book, Theism and Ultimate Explanation.

I wish we could have made this issue about 500 pages long. The kind of deep and meaningful exchange of ideas that broke out in the forum covering Timothy O’Connor’s work could have easily been replicated in responses to the articles by our other featured authors, R. Scott Smith, Mark Nowacki, Travis Dumsday, Greg Bock, and Bruce Reichenbach—not to mention the provocative review essays appearing in our notes section. Too many good arguments, far too little space!

I was especially impressed by two things while reading through the typeset pages for this issue. First, the boldness of some of the articles. Represented here are scholars taking on questions in areas where others fear to tread. In his response to O’Connor’s, Thomas Senor called this boldness “authorial bravery” and remarked that the fact that “he is able to defend these positions so ably is a testament to O’Connor’s significant philosophical chops.” O’Connor is not alone in his scholarly courage and chopfulness (chophood, choppiness?—help me here) as you will see as you dig in to the articles.

The second thing that I thought was especially impressive was the breadth of topics taken on. Issues ranging from svabhava to Peeping Thomists, from necessitarianism to zygotes and everything in between were addressed with great skill and depth of knowledge. In some ways this is a fulfillment of the vision for the journal. The EPS did not set out just to deal just with traditional issues in philosophy of religion or apologetics, but rather with philosophy in general as it touches on those things which religious (primarily Christian) thinkers care about. I hope this little word encourages you to ramp up your “authorial bravery” and put your chopfulness on display in a first-rank submission to Philosophia Christi in the new year

You can learn more about the issue and view the table of contents by going here. You can also renew your subscription or subscribe for the first time to Philosophia Christi, or become a member of the EPS (which includes a subscription), all by just clicking here.

2008 EPS Papers (Friday)

Here is a summary outline of who presented on Friday morning and afternoon of the annual EPS conference. The links are to posts that feature abstracts about the papers. Please feel free to comment at each post:

Jim A. Stewart (University of Wales, Lampeter)
The Absurdity of Life without Hell: How Popular Objections to Eternal Punishment Lead to Absurdities

Justin Grace (Terrant County College)
The Text & God: Is “God” a Proper Name or Is “God” Analogous with “Water”

Joel Schwartz (Baylor University)
Show Me the Meaning! A Wittgensteinian Apologetic

Kevin Diller (University of St. Andrews)
Non-Evidentialist Positive Apologetics

C. Charles Wang (Retired)
The Use of Presuppositional Circular Reasoning by Atheists and Theists

Book Symposium on C.S. Lewis as Philosopher

Khaldoun Sweis (Olive-Harvey College)
Evolutionary Naturalism Reconsidered

Stephen C. Dilley (St. Edward’s University)
Scientific Naturalism: A House Divided?

Timothy Yoder (Philadelphia Biblical University)
C. S. Lewis and Aristotle on the Ethical Value of Friendship

Angus Menuge (Concordia University, Wisconsin)
Is Downward Causation Possible?

David Vander Laan (Westmont College)
Bodies as Ecosystems

R. Scott Smith (Biola University)
Naturalism, Our Knowledge of Reality, and Some Implications for Christian Physicalists

Timothy Paul Erdel (Bethel College, Indiana)
Death and Philosophical Judgment

Dennis Plaisted (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga)
God and the Appropriation of Evil

Matt Getz (Biola University)
God’s Bootstraps: Euthyphro Generalized

Mary Jo Sharp (Biola University)
First-Century Monotheistic Judaism, the Earliest Christians, and the Recycled Pagan Myth Theory

Barry L. Carey (Biola University)
Servant Syndrome and the Soul

Richard Davis (Tyndale University)
God and Modal Concretism

Call for Papers: 2024 EPS at AAR/SBL

The Evangelical Philosophical Society is now accepting proposals for EPS sessions at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA, November 20-22.

EPS members are welcome to propose panels devoted to a theme or book. Please consider proposals that would be on topics of interest not only to EPS members, but also to other philosophers, religious studies members, and theologians of AAR & SBL.

Your proposal should include:

  • Description of the topic (1 paragraph).
  • Names and affiliations of the panelists (and a brief mention of their respective contributions).

Deadline: June 1. Please send your proposal as text typed into an e-mail to Scott Smith ( Dr. William Lane Craig will review the proposals.

For more information pertaining to the National Annual Meeting of the EPS, click here.

Note: all presenters will need to register and pay the fee for the AAR/SBL annual meeting. Check the AAR or SBL website for options. This fee is distinct from the registration for the national ETS/EPS national conference.

2024 EPS Far West Region – Info and Call for Papers

2024 EPS Far West Region Meeting Information

Location: Southern California Seminary, San Diego, CA

Theme: “Balancing Scholarship in the Church and the Academy”

Plenary Speaker: Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminar

Dates: Friday April 5, 2024

Paper/Abstract Submission Deadline: January 31, 2024

Meeting Details:

Registration: Presenters and attenders must register for the conference: click here to register. Early registration ends on February 28, 2024.

Early Registration Rates (through February 28, 2024)
Full Members: $30
Student Members: $15
Guests: $40
Banquet: $30

Regular Registration Rates
Full Members: $35
Student Members: $15
Guests: $45
Banquest: $30

Paper/Abstract or Panel Discussion Proposals: EPS members of any rank and any region are welcome to submit a paper/abstract on any topic of interest to Christian philosophers. Please email a 250 (max) word abstract as an MS Word attachment to

The attachment should include a title and be prepared for blind review. In the body of the email, include the following:

Title of paper:
Whether you are a member of EPS or ETS:

The deadline for the submission of abstracts will be January 31, 2024. Presenters should expect to present for 30 minutes with 10 minutes left for discussion.


The following schedule is tentative and will be updated closer to the conference.

The conference will begin at 12:00pm with registration and will finish at 8:30 pm