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Paul Tillich and Marcus Borg: Responses to the Challenges of Unbelief

By Charlotte Wood, VI Form


Paul Tillich and Marcus Borg: Responses to the Challenges of Unbelief

Paul Tillich and Marcus Borg are Christian Existentialists. They see God and religious life in a radical way. Therefore, they would address the four major challenges to belief (in Philosophy, Psychology, Theodicy, Politics) in thought-provoking ways.

The Challenge from Philosophy is that there is no real “proof” of God’s existence. It is important to note that the “God” most often referenced in this challenge is the God of supernatural theism, that is, the God “out there,” separate from us and our universe. Tillich and Borg would likely agree that there is no proof of this God, however, that is not their God. Tillich describes religion as “asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt. Such an idea of religion makes religion universally human, but it certainly differs from what is usually called religion. It does not describe religion as the belief in the existence of gods or one God” (Tillich 1). Faith doesn’t necessarily need to involve “God” at all, and definitely does not need to involve the God of supernatural theism or the monarchical God. (more…)

World War I Primary Sources Collection at the Library

By Marion Donovan, Assistant Librarian

World War I Primary Sources Collection at the Library

As a librarian at St. Mark’s this fall, I have begun to “weed” through our history collection and have taken a deep dive into time travel. In the past, I was a history teacher myself, so the primary sources that bring the past to life call out to me. A particular section in the library especially rich in those sources covers World War I. Both of my grandfathers fought in WWI on the Allied side, one as a doctor and the other as an engineer, so I grew up with stories and artifacts of “The Great War,” as it was first known. When I applied to graduate school for history at the University of Chicago, I discovered that La Verne Noyes, an American inventor and manufacturer of agricultural equipment, book holders, and windmills, had left the bulk of his fortune to scholarships for Allied veterans of WWI and their direct descendants. These scholarships have now expanded to include 48 colleges. April 6, 2017 will be the one-hundredth anniversary of the United States’ entry into WWI. The European side of the war began in 1914, so many newspaper and magazine articles have already examined new and old perspectives on those events. More will be coming with April 6 in view. We at St. Mark’s are lucky to have an extensive collection of first-hand material (diaries, letters, memoirs, news reports, propaganda, art, photographs) from marshals and generals to privates and civilians on wide-ranging aspects of this war. (more…)

The Individual’s Perception & “Knowing” God

By Lucy Cao, VI Form

The Individual’s Perception & “Knowing” God

The controversies over the existence of God or the validity of religious beliefs derive from a lack of tangible proof. Religious doctrines, unlike mathematical equations or scientific formulas, are usually proposed without a sequence of logical inferences backed up by repeated and consistent observations. Therefore, the question lingers whether a consensus is attainable among us regarding a universally accepted proof of a deity. My answer is no. Nevertheless, we can still know God. Religious and spiritual experiences rely on the self. The uniqueness of each individual’s perception of God makes it impossible to establish a defined path to the objective knowledge of God. However, we can know God through a subjective point of view, and the validity of the knowledge of God should not be diminished by its subjective nature. (more…)

On Knowledge and Knowing God

By Natalie Novak, VI Form

On Knowledge and Knowing God

At the heart of any civilization lies a fundamental core centered on religion. Many great empires have risen and fallen, while maintaining their devotion to some kind of transcendent being or reality. Ethics, morality, governing laws, and codes of conduct all stem from some kind of religious or higher rule. However, the being that has created these ideals always comes into question when one is deciding whether to follow these “rules.” This brings about the discussion of God’s existence. Is it possible to know God? Can we prove his validity? Is this knowledge truly sound? What even is it “to know?” The question of God is a complex one, furthered by the complexity of the phrase to know. To fully grasp the notion of knowing god, it is essential to comprehend the notion of knowing. (more…)

Seventh Day Adventists: FAQ for You

By Abby Moses, VI Form

Seventh Day Adventists: FAQ for You

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Unitarianism in New England

By Payton Nugent, VI Form

Unitarianism in New England

Rising liberal ideologies in the early nineteenth century caused a split of the more liberal beliefs of Unitarians from the conservative, orthodox beliefs of the Congregationalists. This separation occurred slowly, but gradually, throughout New England. When the majority of a church congregation preferred Unitarian beliefs to those of the Congregationalists, the parish converted to Unitarianism.[1] The most influential driving force of this split was William Ellery Channing’s book, Unitarian Christianity, which has become known as the “Unitarian Manifesto.”[2] Unitarian Christianity proclaimed many of the beliefs that caused the Unitarian sect to break from the Congregationalists. While the Congregationalists believed in the idea that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit were all the same entity, the Unitarians believed that Jesus was not God.[3] Unitarians also rejected predestination, which asserts that God determines a person’s salvation before birth.[4] His book was a result of many movements and rising liberal ideologies of the time such as the Enlightenment, Scientific Revolution, and Great Awakening. One church that this separation greatly influenced was the Pilgrim Church in Southborough, Massachusetts. (more…)