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The ‘Virtue of Obedience’ in Hudson’s Fallenness and Flourishing

Philosophers Michael Austin (Eastern Kentucky), Charity Anderson (Baylor), and Kent Dunnington (Biola) reflect on Hud Hudson’s Fallenness and Flourishing (Oxford, 2021) in a recent book symposia discussion (introduced by James Arcadi) at the Henry Center’s Sapientia.

Hud Hudson is Professor of Philosophy at Western Washington University, and the author of multiple books, including A Grotesque in the Garden (Eerdmans, 2020).

In his essay, Kent Dunnington shows that Hudson’s story can be ‘compressed’ as follows

(1) The world is bleak and most everybody is ill-off and unhappy.

(2) This is a consequence of human sin, especially our prideful efforts to pursue happiness independently of God.

(3) Such efforts mire us in unhappiness, particularly in the deadly sin of sloth: apathetic resistance to the demands of love.

(4) Since sloth diminishes human agency, we need God’s atoning grace to extricate ourselves from our unhappiness.

(5) The virtue of obedience opens us up to this grace.

While Dunnington shares Hudson’s “penchant for pessimism” he is, “less confident than [Hudson] that pessimism as a philosophy of life is warranted or beneficial.” Among other important questions, Dunnington wonders “how essential, really, is Hudson’s pessimism to his overall argument?” What if, Dunnington raises, (1) were replaced by

(1*) The world is brimming with gratuitous goodness, yet most of us persistently ignore, reject, and efface it.

in Hudson’s story?

Mike Austin praises Hudson’s book for “its philosophical quality but also for its deep insight into issues that relate to spiritual and moral formation.”

A slow and reflective reading on the nature of sloth as it is analyzed in the pages of this book would be potentially very useful for such purposes. This is moral philosophy and moral theology at its best, offering wisdom that can be lived.

Austin thinks that Hudson has made a “strong prima facie case for understanding obedience as a virtue. ” How does Hudson conceive of obedience? According to Austin (quoting Hudson), obedience is conceived as

an abiding and deeply seated pro-attitude towards uniting one’s will with God’s will and a robust and stable set of dispositions aimed at combatting . . . our perpetual state of concupiscence which is daily fueled by self-love . . . self-deceit . . . the lesser goods of pleasure, knowledge, and power in the world.” It includes the positive “disposition to commit oneself to God’s revealed word by faith, to persevere in the hope for the realization of the promises of that word, and to promote that realization in the exercise of charity through properly grounded love of God and neighbor (pp. 162–63). 

Austin’s essay goes on to examine “some important ways that hope can and ought to play in relation to Hudson’s four components of obedience: humility, restraint, response, and love.”

Charity Anderson commends Hudson’s book as an “engaging and creative attempt to diagnose one of the most important problems that human beings face—the failure to flourish—and offer a path forward . . .”

Anderson’s essay engages with two different parts of the book: First, she examines theodicy and “its impact on the pessimistic worldview that Hudson advocates.” Second, she “raises several questions about Hudson’s proposal that obedience is the key to unlocking happiness and well-being” (e.g., whether those who have cultivated obedience are in fact happier?).

Anderson concludes:

Suppose we grant that cultivating the virtue of obedience is a metaphorical ‘primer’ for the paint colors of well-being to display themselves more vividly. If it seems to us that in those who—to the best of our knowledge—have cultivated the virtue of obedience, the colors still don’t show all that vividly, what should we think? Are those who cultivate obedience only flourishing slightly more by comparison with those who lack obedience? It is unclear to what extent Hudson thinks we can expect to flourish on this earth even if we manage to cultivate the virtue of obedience. But it’s difficult to judge the thesis of the book—that obedience is the key to flourishing—without a better appreciation of what Hudson thinks about the prospects of the obedient flourishing now.

Theologian Olli-Pekka Vainio (Helsinki) also contributes to the book symposia, along with a reply from Hudson.

Call for Abstracts: The Tyndale Fellowship

Call for Abstracts: The Tyndale Fellowship

Please see the following information about the 2023 Tyndale Fellowship conference in philosophy of religion. The EPS is working at building stronger ties with Tyndale, given our mutual commitments. To that end, we are working at making grant money available for overseas travel to our respective conferences each year. As you’ll see below, current EPS Vice President Paul Gould is the plenary speaker for the 2023 conference. Former EPS President Paul Copan is the Co-Chair, and will be the 2024 plenary speaker. This is also a great opportunity for Christian camaraderie, mutual support, and collaboration at the international level.

The Tyndale Fellowship plans to meet (in person) next year Wednesday 5th July 14:00 – Friday 7 July 2023 14:00 at the same venue as this year, High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon ( The plan is, as this year, for Philosophy of Religion to meet concurrently with the other groups, so you may be able to pop into some of the other groups’ talks if you wish.

We are very pleased that Dr. Paul Gould ( of Palm Beach Atlantic University, Florida, has agreed to be our Tyndale Lecturer; title and topic to be confirmed. It may well be that, as this year, the Tyndale Lecture will be livestreamed and, perhaps also, made permanently available on the Internet.

Booking is not open yet, but we hope that it will open on 2nd December. Early-bird booking is expected to finish on 31st January. We expect that bursaries will be available, on the basis of need, for those struggling to raise the funds to travel to Hoddesdon.

If you’d like to give us a paper, please send an abstract (no precise word limit: aim for 250 words or so) to by 23rd November. (The paper itself should be aimed to last for about 30 minutes.) The abstract can be on any area of philosophy of religion, broadly construed. We are happy to receive submissions from any stream of philosophy (analytical, continental, historical, feminist…) and from people of any faith or none. If you do not expect to be able to be present in person, please feel free to submit an abstract making it clear that you are able to present only on-line. Equally, it’d be helpful if you could confirm that you expect to be in person, if that is the case. We intend to give preference for in-person talks, but may, as this year, be able to accommodate a couple of on-line talks.

This call for abstracts is on-line at, and there is a brief page about the conference itself at

EPS Call for Nominations for the Executive Committee

The Evangelical Philosophical Society is asking for nominees for the upcoming election of new members of the Executive Committee. Each potential candidate must be nominated by two current members of the EPS in order to be considered for being on the final ballot. As you consider who might be a good person to nominate for the Executive Committee, the “Profile for EPS Executive Committee Members” below should be helpful.

Please send your nominations to Chris Lee ( by Friday October 28.


Mike Austin

EPS President



The Evangelical Philosophical Society is deeply committed to sustaining a unique identity in its endeavor to serve both the academy and the church.  Because EPS seeks to fulfill this service as a means towards its ultimate end of bringing glory to the Triune God and spreading the Kingdom of God, it is important that the intellectual commitments and spiritual texture of the EPS are honoring to God.  Therefore, members of the EPS Executive Committee should fit a certain profile by living a life that exemplifies the following four values.

First, an Executive Committee member should value excellence in philosophy.  He or she should exhibit a life of philosophical growth, a commitment to the discipline, and a desire to serve the field of philosophy both because it is intrinsically good to do so and for the honor of Jesus Christ.

Second, an Executive Committee member should exhibit a real sense of faithfulness to the teachings of the inerrant Word of God, along with an eagerness to identify with the Evangelical community.  The EPS is an Evangelical society and it should manifest a desire to be loyal to and defend the views of that community unless, of course, that loyalty or those views are suspect for some reason or another.  Evangelical brothers and sisters who are not philosophers should have a sense that the Executive Committee member is one of them and happy to be their representative in the academic community.

Third, an Executive Committee member should live life with a spiritual texture.  He or she should not be pugnacious, arrogant, or self-absorbed.  Instead, an Executive Committee member should have the texture of servant.  He or she should be seeking to live a holy life and to have a solid Christian family where that is applicable.  He or she should be the sort of person that others recognize as having a genuine, vibrant spiritual life of devotion to the Lord Jesus.

Finally, an Executive Committee member should be strongly committed to being an activist for the cause of Christ.  This commitment should be seen in the member’s desire to do his or her work in order to promote a Christian world view in the world and the church, strengthen the faith of believers, and help to fulfill the Great Commission.   At a practical level, this means that Executive Committee members must commit to serving on at least one sub-committee which addresses the operational needs (e.g. donor relations, increased membership, marketing, web-content, public image, etc.) or future aspirations (international chapters, national outposts, etc.) of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.  Strong candidates should possess the talents and willingness to serve the Executive Committee through the work of its sub-committees. All members and candidates for membership of the Executive Committee must be full, current members of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.

The Creation of Self

In 2023, John Hunt Publishing will release The Creation of Self by Joshua R. Farris. Farris is currently the Humboldt Experienced Researcher Fellow at the University of Bochum in Bochum, Germany, focusing on biologically-engaged religious anthropology. Farris is also a co-project editor and coordinator of the EPS web project on the Philosophy of Theological Anthropology.

Bruce Gordon, Associate Professor of History and Philosophy of Science (Houston Baptist University), says that

Many old-school neuroscientists and philosophers of mind, having retreated to the keep of non-reductive physicalism, seem oblivious to the fact that their materialist position has been overrun both by the evidence, and by panpsychist, dualist, and idealist armies. In this regard, apart from Richard Swinburne, none has been more vigorous in defending the consistency of emergent-creationist dualism with neuroscience, and the necessity of an immaterial mind to a proper understanding of human personhood, than Joshua Farris. With respect to religious issues, Farris is the leader. Those who think that substance dualism is untenable display their doxastic inertia and ignore Farris’ work at their peril.

On the Nature and Origins of Persons

In 2023, IVP Academic is set to publish Who Are You, Really? A Philosopher’s Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Persons by Joshua Rasmussen. Rasmussen (PhD, Notre Dame) is associate professor of philosophy at Azusa Pacific University. 

From the publisher’s description:

What does it mean to be human? What is a person? Where did we come from?

Philosopher Joshua Rasmussen offers his own step-by-step examination into the fundamental nature and ultimate origin of persons. Using accessible language and clear logic, he argues that the answer to the question of what it means to be a person sheds light not only on our own nature but also on the existence of the one who gave us life.

J. P. Moreland writes about the book:

Joshua Rasmussen is a treasured friend and esteemed colleague. Based on the quality of his work, he is regarded as an elite philosopher among secular and Christian scholars alike. But he is much more than that. Joshua is a warm-hearted Jesus follower with a passion to help thoughtful believers and with the skills to take difficult topics and make them accessible. Who Are You, Really? is the fruit of these abilities. With fresh, original, perceptive insight, this book addresses the central question that underlies most of the issues debated in contemporary culture and the academy. Having specialized in philosophy of mind and theological anthropology for decades, I can confidently say that there is nothing like this book. With fairness and rigor, Rasmussen carefully works through all the issues and arguments fundamental to his topic. Happily, he does all of this while making the book marvelously accessible. This should be a required text in all Christian colleges and seminaries, and it is must-read for all who care about this crucial subject.

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):


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”


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.