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Tribute to Mark W. Foreman: The World is Not Enough

On June 17th this summer my wife and I flew to Asheville, North Carolina, rented a car, and drove to eastern Tennessee to visit a sister I hadn’t seen for a while. The day before, my best friend in Lynchburg, where I’d lived for fourteen years, saw on Facebook that we were coming east. “Too bad you can’t swing this way,” he wrote. I agreed. Unfortunately, it had to be a quick trip, in Friday, out Monday. “But we’ll have to find a way to see each other soon,” I added, to which he replied, “Yup.”

And that was Mark Wesley Foreman’s last word to me—at least for now. The next morning his remarkable earthly pilgrimage came to an end. He died at home in his study at the age of 67. He passed quickly, no goodbye possible, but his wife of 43 years, Chris, and three daughters—Erin Foreman, Lindsay Leonard (Steven), and Kelly Croucher (Jordan)—knew Mark loved them with all his heart. He had told them many times, and they him.

Their loss is incalculable and still fresh, and they could use our continuing prayers. Likewise his grandchildren Cole, Isaac, Thomas, Penelope, and Joey; and his brothers: David (Sandra), Michael (Louise), Dana (Lisa), and Stuart (Phyllis). Born on December 18, 1954, in Lancaster, California, Mark was son of the late Donald E. Foreman and Carol A. Foreman. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brothers, Scott Foreman, Paul Foreman, and Patrick “Flip” Foreman.

A humble man of prodigious accomplishments, Mark was a well-known Professor of Philosophy at Liberty University for over 33 years. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music at Westminster Choir College, an achievement near and dear to his heart. Another proud milestone was earning his PhD from the University of Virginia. Mark was extremely active in community theatre, having appeared in or directed over 50 productions. Most notable were his performances as Benjamin Franklin in 1776 and Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, both roles he was born to play. He was associated with Lynchburg Fine Arts Center, Cherry Tree Players, Little Town Players, Commerce Street Theater, Wolfbane Productions, Renaissance Theatre, and Endstation Theater, where his Christian witness was always winsome, attractive, and faithful.

With crystal clarity and fluid erudition that reflected his teaching gifts, musical timing, and knack for narrative, he was also an accomplished author. He published four books, including Prelude to Philosophy: An Introduction for Christians; How Do We Know? An Introduction to Epistemology (with Jamie Dew); and (with his daughter Lindsay) Christianity and Modern Medicine: Foundations for Bioethics. A staple of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, Mark read dozens of papers through the years, joyfully occupied several leadership positions, and encouraged and affirmed so many in attendance, including my Worldview Bulletin colleague Paul Copan.

Paul shared this story about Mark: “I always appreciated Mark’s warmth and kindness over the years. For some reason, he attended any EPS session at which I presented at our annual meeting. He was always so kind in distributing my handouts to everyone in the room, though he confessed, ‘Actually, you think I’m being a servant, but it’s somewhat self-serving because doing this guarantees I get a handout in the event there are more people than handouts!’”

Among all of his accomplishments, his most prized titles were Husband, Dad, and Grandpa. Mark was completely devoted to his wife and children and cherished the time they spent together, especially during their many travels nationally and internationally (always including a Disney trip!). He loved spending time with his girls, and he considered no work more important than loving them well.

It’s a little surprising that Mark and I grew to be so close. In several ways we were opposites. He was everything I wasn’t: gregarious, ebullient, and the life of every party. He knew magic and music and movies and mischief, and somehow his infectious laughter and extroversion and my chronic introversion dovetailed, and he became a kindred spirit, more of a brother than mere friend. Three months after losing him, and I remain gutted, like so many others, yet thankful we need not mourn as those without hope and that Jesus has effected the death of death.

One summer several years back, my wife, stepson, and I were in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, and we knew Mark was planning a visit to Chicago. So we scheduled a get-together there. We drove the three hours or so in order to share a meal with him on the Gold Coast. At the time it seemed like the perfectly natural thing to do, even though, I suppose, it would have been considerably easier to see him by walking across the hall from my office to his. No regrets.

In the weeks before his death, Mark and I chatted on Facebook numerous times. He reflected about his retirement just weeks before. (Adding in his high school teaching, he taught for forty years—a biblical generation.) In our last Messenger exchange this was his final entry:

I have mixed feelings about retiring. Part of me is looking forward to not having to deal with the hassle aspect of it all: all the little hoops admin makes you jump through, students complaining about grades, etc.; but part of me is going to really miss being in the classroom. Interacting with students, helping them to see alternatives and deeper truths. I loved being a teacher. It was who I was. And now that person is gone. I will really feel it come August when everyone is going back to school and I am not. I loved my summers off but come August I always had that itch to get back and going back scratched that itch. Don’t know what will scratch it this fall.

I suspect he’s not disappointed.

After we heard the news while in Tennessee, Marybeth and I decided to take leave of my sister and drive to Lynchburg the next morning. That evening we attended a hastily arranged dinner with the old philosophy and theology department from Liberty at La Villa, the same restaurant Mark and I usually ate at on Monday evenings. For years I’d order the “Katy Special,” and did so again this night. About twenty showed up. Several brought their wives, and Mark Foreman’s wife Chris and daughter Lindsay came as well (and two of Lindsay’s kids). It was a poignant, bittersweet time of rekindling old friendships, catching up, and celebrating Mark.

We went around the circle and reminisced. I told the story of how Gary Habermas was once discussing near death experiences, and Mark quipped, “I have a near death experience every time I hear you give a paper.” And how another time I overheard Mark discussing Viagra with some fellows when he said, “If mine lasts more than four hours, I’m not just telling my doctor, I’m telling everybody!”

Mark was a marvel, and losing him was devastating and surreal. This was the guy who sang three times at my wedding and reception. Decked out in a classy tuxedo, he and his friend Sally Southall sang “The Prayer” during the wedding itself. Afterwards, simply because I asked him to, he put on a dress and did a Marilyn Monroe impression singing Happy Birthday to my dean, Emily Heady. Then, on his own initiative, he donned a different dress and wig to impersonate Karen Swallow Prior singing his own version of “Matchmaker.” Anyone who knows him will know he brought the proverbial house down. And he left us with a few priceless images seared into our brains forevermore.

Together he and I saw John McEnroe play tennis in person; we attended Phantom of the Opera in London; we toured Oxford University; we saw Shakespeare plays together in Staunton. He organized my bachelor party at the local ballpark; with friends we walked the streets of Washington, D.C. while he regaled us with tales of Watergate. I attended his dissertation defense—he had written on Gilbert Meilaender and the relevance of religious convictions in the public square. He, his family, and I shared Thanksgiving and Christmas meals more times than I remember. And for nearly fourteen years, every Monday night, we watched the most violent film playing that week after dining and talking at length over Italian food.

We shared so many conversations through the years that in retrospect they easily blend, but their cumulative effect over the years was considerable. We had occasion to discuss just about anything and everything under the sun. Including death, quite a number of times. He was the one who’d told me Robin Williams had died, and after Jerry Falwell, Sr. died, we sat in Macado’s and decompressed and processed it all for hours. Once I remember him saying, “I know some people say they want their funerals to be celebrations. I do not. I want there to be tears and wailing.”

In a sense our weekly pilgrimage constituted our shared ritual, something we came to rely on and that invariably shaped us. It really was a liturgy of sorts. Christians have always taught that there is something deeply sacramental in a shared meal, a vivid example of how we can catch a glimpse of the eternal in the everyday, the transcendent in the immanent, something sacred in the quotidian.

Mourning makes me thankful for Romans 8:26: “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

The loss of a dear friend like Mark is a poignant reminder of the value of people, in general, by reminding us of the value of this person in all his particularity and uniqueness. What a remarkable life Mark lived, and how exceedingly valuable he was as a human being. And of course he’s not alone. Each and every person has infinite value and dignity and worth. In “The Weight of Glory,” C. S. Lewis wrote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…. It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” It’s just that Mark made this eminently easy to believe.

We’ll see Mark’s wife and daughter Lindsay again soon as they are planning to rent a truck and drive his remaining book collection here to Houston Baptist so the Center for the Foundations of Ethics can have them. I’m eager to see them and reminisce in person. And I can hardly wait to see Mark again, which is possible because the gospel really is gloriously good news, because God is a God of perfect love, and because love is more powerful than death.

And he already told me the first thing he’ll say when we meet again: “Let’s eat.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made in Mark’s name to Little Town Players, 931 Ashland Ave, Bedford VA 24523, or Commerce Street Theater, 1022 Commerce Street, Lynchburg, VA, 24504.

To hear Mark’s inimitable voice, here’s a song he sang in 1989.

A picture of Foreman looking awesome (and me awkward):

2023 EPS SESSION AT CENTRAL DIVISION OF THE APA

The Evangelical Philosophical Society will host the following session at the 2023 Meeting of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association (February 22-25, 2023; Denver, CO)

Date and Time: TBD.

Panel Discussion Theme: “Evangelical Philosophy and Polarization”

Panelists:

Our panelists will be discussing the phenomenon of polarization with respect to the following questions:

  • HISTORICAL ROLE: How has evangelicalism in general, and evangelical philosophy in particular, contributed (negatively or positively) to the current polarization in American society with respect to political identification, social values (e.g., family structures, education, abortion, etc.), the urban/rural divide, poverty and wealth, and religious orientation (or whatever other axes you’d like to address)?  Where have evangelicals in general – and evangelical philosophers in particular – contributed to varieties of polarization?  Where have evangelicals in general – and evangelical philosophers in particular – contributed to defusing polarization?  Ought evangelical philosophers seek to reduce the phenomenon of polarization (and if so, along which axes of polarization)?  Or is it outside our purview of concern?  If not outside of our concern, then what are our obligations – both as evangelicals and as philosophers – in this regard?
  • SCHOLARLY RESOURCES: What scholarly resources exist in the evangelical tradition, and within evangelical philosophy in particular, to address the phenomenon of polarization?  What can those resources contribute to addressing the many axes of polarization?  How can evangelicals develop more such resources?
  • LEARNING FROM OTHER BELIEVING INTELLECTUALS: What are some differences that you see between how evangelicalism in general, and evangelical philosophy in particular, has addressed (or failed to address) issues of polarization, and how other Christian intellectual traditions have addressed these issues?  What can we learn from the approaches of other traditions?
  • FUTURE DIRECTIONS: What do you see as the current vocation of evangelical intellectuals, and of evangelical philosophers in particular, given the current polarization (along many axes) within American society?  If it is appropriate for evangelical philosophers to enter into these conversations, what ought to be our goal(s)?  What ought to be our means to achieve those goals?

See additional links for posts about EPS at APA event details.

On the Metaphysics and Coherence of Evolution

The theory of evolution is the most popular scientific explanation for the origin of the species and humanity. It is also consistently presented as a refutation of religious claims about the origin of the species and humanity.

In this paper, I wish to briefly inspect the metaphysical claims implied behind the theory of evolution: namely the sharing of traits and properties amongst organisms. This metaphysical claim implies that the theory of evolution must rely on a metaphysical theory of universals, which has implications that undermine the theory of evolution as the origin of the species and humanity. As a result, the coherence of the theory of evolution becomes questionable, paving the way for religious claims on the origins of the species and humanity to be reconsidered.

The full text of this paper is available for FREE by clicking here. The paper is part of an ongoing EPS web project focused on a Philosophy of Theological Anthropology.

Your Heart Needs Your Mind

In August 2022, Eerdmans will release Knowledge for the Love of God: Why Your Heart Needs Your Mindby philosophy professor, Timothy Pickavance. Pickavance is associate professor and chair of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and scholar in residence at Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Newport Beach, California, where he is also a ruling elder. He is the coauthor, with Robert C. Koons, of both Metaphysics: The Fundamentals and The Atlas of Reality: A Comprehensive Guide to Metaphysics.

Philosopher Robert K. Garcia writes,

In this beautiful book, Timothy Pickavance shows that the free and abundant life that Jesus offers is facilitated by the life of the mind and especially by knowledge. We know many things, but what’s the purpose of knowledge? This question sounds abstract, but as Pickavance shares his own journey and struggles as a Christian, the question becomes concretely alive and relevant. Using stories from his own life, Pickavance guides you through critical issues such as how knowledge can set you free, how we can know things apart from science, and how we can acquire knowledge from the Bible. He shows how all knowledge is for the love of God: both to love God and to be loved by God. For anyone seeking to go deeper in the abundant life offered by Jesus, this heartfelt book is essential reading.

Subscribe to Philosophia Christi, get the Summer 2022 Issue!

For as low as $25/yr, now is a great time to subscribe to Philosophia Christi in time for the Summer 2022 issue (currently set to be released by end of August).
The Summer 2022 issue features a symposium (edited by Kevin W. Wong) on Jordan Wessling’s Love Divine: A Systematic Account of God’s Love for Humanity (Oxford, 2020)with contributions not only from Wessling but also R.T. Mullins, Keith Hess, and Ty Kieser. Wessling’s book – and the book symposium – takes seriously a rigorous account of the nature of divine love, including its importance for thinking about other doctrines and theological methodology. In a recent interview 2022 interview for The Analytic Christian, Jordan Wessling unpacks some of the core concepts of his book and their relevance for various models on divine love.

Additionally, the Summer issue of Philosophia Christi showcases a splendid variety of articles, philosophical notes, and book reviews tapping into discussions about philosophy of mysticism, philosophical naturalism, panpsychism, philosophical anthropology and ethics with contributions from Angus Menuge, Robert Larmer, Stephen Parrish, Andrew Loke, Paul Gould!

The Writings of Dallas Willard Featured at the Hildebrand Project Seminar

The 2022 (12th Annual) Summer Seminar of the Hildebrand Project focused on the theme, “readiness to change: conversion and the Christian life.”

From the seminar’s description:

Dietrich von Hildebrand understood our readiness to change not only as the beginning of the Christian life, but also as the source of its continuance and completion. It is, one could say, the fundamental answer to the call, the vocation, to Christ. This was not a mere readiness to change a little here or a little there, but to be changed radically, at all levels of one’s being, to be made “a new creature in Christ” . . .

In our 2022 seminar, we take Dietrich von Hildebrand as a master of the spiritual life. In particular, we will explore the image that Hildebrand gives of the person “transformed by Christ.” For this, we will begin with his account of the “fundamental attitudes,” especially of reverence, in his book The Art Living. We will then explore his account of the supernatural virtues and attitudes — from metanoia (which Joseph Ratzinger says has “seldom been so accurately diagnosed”) and contrition to recollection and contemplation to humility and mercy.

In addition to putting Hildebrand’s work on the spiritual life into conversation with other Catholic writers, a panel discussion was devoted to the late Dallas Willard and the intersection of the themes of his work with Hildebrand. Panelist presentations were made by Aaron Preston, Dan Sheffler, and Walter Hopp (read by Preston).

Divine Guidance as Moral Attraction

In 2022, Cambridge University Press will publish Divine Guidance: Moral Attraction in Action by Paul K. Moser. Moser is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago and past Editor of the American Philosophical Quarterly. Moser is also a contributor to the EPS web project on Christ-shaped Philosophy.

From the publisher’s description: 

If God exists and is perfectly good, God tries to guide people. A twofold question then arises: How does God (try to) guide people, and to what end? Problems of divine guidance for humans, according to this volume, are real and serious, but they are manageable once we clarify the kind of God at issue. According to the volume’s main thesis, if God has a perfect moral character accompanied by certain redemptive purposes for humans, the puzzling nature of divine guidance for them need not preclude the reality of such guidance. It is, this volume contends, a live option for God to guide or lead humans toward goodness, even if the leading is not fully explainable by humans. The voluntary moral attraction of cooperative humans by divine goodness is central to divine guidance, and it can illuminate the kind of evidence to be expected from God.

Send Philosophia Christi Your Best Papers Today

As the editorial team of Philosophia Christi is gearing up for future issues, now would be a great time to submit your paper for consideration.

Editor Ross Inman writes the following in a recent issue of the journal:

Our continued desire is for Philosophia Christi to be a scholarly venue that showcases high level academic work in the core areas of philosophy (ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology) as well as philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, analytic theology, and philosophical apologetics. Our aim at Philosophia Christi is to help cultivate an inviting and winsome academic posture that honors the Lord Jesus Christ, while facilitating ongoing scholarly conversation about topics that bear on the philosophical and theological contours of the Christian faith.

To catch a little more of Ross’ vision on how he sees the work of Christian philosophers, enjoy this recently published, short video interview with Ross:

Learn more about the journal and do consider sending us your best paper to review for publication (guidelines). By publishing in Philosophia Christi, your content will be read by a unique readership of professional philosophers, graduate students, theologians, pastors, and worldview/apologetics educators engaged in philosophical pursuits. 

Moreover, what are you reading in philosophy that most intrigues you? Know of a recent or forthcoming philosophical book that has yet to be reviewed in the journal? Let us know! To inquire about submitting a book review to Philosophia Christi, please contact one of our book review editors in the following areas: