John Baillie's Epistemology of Mediated Immediacy: its Logic, Importance for Baillie's Mediating Theology, and Promise as a Model of Revelatory Religious Experience

Johnson, Trig (2015) John Baillie's Epistemology of Mediated Immediacy: its Logic, Importance for Baillie's Mediating Theology, and Promise as a Model of Revelatory Religious Experience. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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The field of academic theology is presently maintaining the following about the critical thought of the Scottish thinker John Baillie (1886-1960): (1) Baillie’s so-called "mediating theology" does not have a concept to contribute to contemporary Christian thought; (2) Baillie's concept of "mediated immediacy" is important primarily for Baillie's thought in his Our Knowledge of God (1939); (3) mediated immediacy’s logic about knowledge of God is severely convoluted. Received positions which support the field's marginalization of mediated immediacy's contemporary relevance in particular, they come with a concession: (4) the field's confusion about mediated immediacy's meaning—this, as evidenced in over 75 years' worth of competing interpretations about mediated immediacy’s logic, in particular. This thesis centers primarily on Baillie's concept of mediated immediacy, taking as its primary aim the resolution of research issues (1-4). In doing so, it demonstrates that previous research has underestimated: the staying power of Baillie's mediating theology in general, mediated immediacy’s importance for Baillie’s mediating theology in particular, and mediated immediacy’s potential as a contribution to contemporary Christian thought. Along the way, it resolves several research issues which have been occasioned by perennial confusion about the logic of mediated immediacy's normative epistemology and descriptive epistemology in particular. Research contributions about the logic of mediated immediacy's epistemology per se, these derive from three additional research contributions: a diachronic trace of the development of Baillie's mediating theology (Baillie research has sought a comprehensive and cogent ordering of Baillie's non-systematically articulated critical thought; this thesis provides it, by identifying Baillie's espistemic and apologetic preoccupations across his critical thought's roughly 35-year development); a modeling of mediated immediacy's logic (previously absent in a research corpus whose literature ahs been replete with confusion), that logic's expression in what is found to be, contrary to the thrust of previous research, a concept of mediated immediacy that serves at least four functions for Baillie's mediating theology; and, a comprehensive and rigorous critical evaluation of mediated immediacy’s epistemology (also previously absent in Baillie research literature), a multi-disciplinary evaluation of it's logic (from contemporary philosophical-epistemological, empiricalpsychological and theological-epistemological perspectives), included. An evaluation warranted by the multi-disciplinary scope of Baillie's mediating theology, as well as by Baillie's employment of his rather versatile concept of mediated immediacy, this evaluation considers mediated immediacy's now robustly evaluated logic's consequences for core aspects of Baillie's mediating theology, including Baillie’s ideas of knowledge of God, divine action, divine revelation and religious experience. The definitive work on John Baillie's concept of mediated immediacy, this thesis is essential for those with an interest in John Baillie's critical thought. Amongst other things, the thesis challenges positions widely held by John Baillie research. For example, it demonstrates that a nascent form of mediated immediacy existed in Baillie's thought before the concept's first explicit mention in the mediating theologian's 1939 publication Our Knowledge of God. Here is a novel interpretation in the research. Furthermore, whereas previous research has rightly observed that Baillie’s critical thought gravitates toward the problems of revelation and knowledge of God in general, this thesis demonstrates that Baillie’s mediating theology focuses on one problem in particular— across the roughly 35-year span of its development: the problem of the epistemological relationship between direct knowledge and indirect knowledge for knowledge of God. In addition, this thesis demonstrates that Baillie’s latter mediating theology (post-1939) provides a stronger doctrine of the Holy Spirit than that found in Baillie's earlier critical thought. This thesis may also be of value to persons with broader interests, including the epistemic interplay between aspects of philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, and empirically-based interpretations of the phenomena of religious experience.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Additional Information: Award conferred by the University of Gloucestershire in partnership with The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2015 13:20
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 21:55

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