Matthew Jordan

 

With All Your Mind:
Reflections on Faith and Reason

 

Matthew Jordan is a member of the philosophy faculty at Auburn Montgomery where he has taught since 2010.  He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Ohio State University and an M.A. in philosophy from Talbot School of Theology.  He lives in Montgomery with his wife and their six children.

Tuesday, 04 August 2015 20:24

With All Your Mind

Written by Matthew Jordan

Oxford University Professor Brian Leftow once wrote, “I am a philosopher because I am a Christian. To many intellectuals, this probably sounds like saying that I am a dog because I am a cat.” Indeed. And even those of us who don’t live amongst “intellectuals” of the sort Leftow had in mind can presumably agree: in this day and age, many people simply take it for granted that the life of faith and the life of the mind are intrinsically opposed. This assumption is both harmful and demonstrably false.

Tuesday, 07 July 2015 15:35

Christianity for the 21st Century

Written by Matthew Jordan

In last month’s column, I made the case that orthodox Christianity has become genuinely countercultural. The “default settings” of American culture are inherently at odds with apostolic Christian faith. If we intend to remain faithful, and if we seek to be trustworthy stewards of the faith that has been passed on to us, we need to be more deliberate in our practices than American Christians have ever needed to be before. Here are three specific suggestions to consider.

Thursday, 04 June 2015 14:40

The Benedict Option

Written by Matthew Jordan

If you’re not reading Rod Dreher, you should be. Dreher is a native Louisianan, a practicing Eastern Orthodox Christian, the author of several books, and a blogger at The American Conservative website. He is a “conservative” in the sense that every orthodox (note the small ‘o’) Christian is a conservative: he believes that we citizens of the twenty-first century have inherited a tradition of spiritual, moral, and theological knowledge that is worthy of being conserved. And he recognizes more clearly than most that such conservation will not happen by accident. Dreher argues that we need to get serious about embracing “the Benedict Option.”

Thursday, 07 May 2015 15:53

Christians, Art, and the Academy

Written by Matthew Jordan

Not long ago, I watched God’s Not Dead, a 2014 movie about an aggressively atheistic philosophy professor and a brave Christian undergraduate who is willing to stand up to him. It raises some genuinely important questions about what it means to be faithful to God in the face of serious challenges. In that regard, it’s an effective film. Other aspects were positive too. Some of the actors did a very nice job, the movie as a whole was visually appealing, and the actual content of the philosophical discussions wasn’t bad. I can certainly see why some of my friends liked it and recommended it to me.

 

Friday, 03 April 2015 15:39

Persuasion and Abortion

Written by Matthew Jordan

In this column last month, I suggested that Christians need to be careful when we make proposals for public policy that are grounded in our faith. One basic aspect of loving our neighbors is treating them with respect. And one basic aspect of treating people with respect, if we disagree with them about important issues, is seeking to persuade them to agree with us. The alternative to persuasion is coercion—and coercion, even if sometimes permissible, is almost never a way of respecting or loving our neighbors. If we try to pass laws that will restrict others’ freedoms, then it is our responsibility to look for a basis for those laws that could be plausible to someone who does not share our beliefs about God.

Thursday, 19 March 2015 00:58

Secularism, Faith and Politics

Written by Matthew Jordan

 

One problem with contemporary American secularism--by which I mean the “freedom from religion” folks, who object to any reference to God in the public square--is that it tends to be pretty selective in its focus. When conservative Christians seek to restrict legal access to abortion, or support laws that would define marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution, some of their critics reflexively cry, “Separation of church and state!” The idea seems to be that there is something inherently unAmerican about applying theological convictions to public policy. But these same critics tend to be considerably less vocal when religious faith leads people to support environmental regulations, or amnesty for undocumented immigrants, or, for that matter, abortion rights and same-sex marriage--as some Christians do, in fact, do.

Wednesday, 04 February 2015 17:39

C.S. Lewis and True Myths

Written by Matthew Jordan

One of the pivotal events of my life took place in the spring of 1997. I was walking across the campus of my alma mater, Ohio University, and I noticed a table full of Christian books. One of them was titled Mere Christianity. Its author was C. S. Lewis. “Excuse me,” I asked the man standing next to the table, “is this the same C. S. Lewis who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia?” The man nodded yes. “And… these books are all free?” He smiled and nodded again. I picked up the book, took it back to my dorm room, and started reading. My life would never be the same.

Saturday, 03 January 2015 12:59

Who Knows?

Written by Matthew Jordan

My first real encounter with philosophy came in high school. One of my social studies classes included a section on philosophy, and the teacher began that part of the course by setting a chair on top of his desk and asking us, “Does this chair exist?” You can probably guess how the conversation proceeded from there. Most of us found it obvious that the chair really did exist, and the teacher responded to our confidence with a further question: “How do you know that the chair exists?” We replied: “We can see it and we can touch it; it must exist!” The teacher, in response, pointed out that our senses are not perfectly reliable. He also pointed out the possibility that maybe we were sleeping, having an especially vivid (if rather dull) dream about a chair. After all, things that exist in our dreams often seem utterly real—until we wake up. So what was our basis for believing that we were awake and not asleep? By now, of course, we were knee-deep in one of the classic problems of philosophy: is knowledge ever possible, and if so, how is it obtained?

Wednesday, 03 December 2014 11:45

Quirinius and Christmas

Written by Matthew Jordan

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria…”

Monday, 03 November 2014 17:25

Moral Truth & Good Philosophy

Written by Matthew Jordan

When I was an undergraduate, I became convinced that there are two fundamental questions that matter more than any others: is there a God? and what should we do? That conviction is what motivated me to pursue a career as a philosophy professor, and it remains at the heart of why I love my job. Virtually every time I am in a classroom, I have the opportunity to talk with college students about these questions or related ones. It’s a pretty interesting way to make a living.

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