Hugo Meynell and the Christian Doctrine
Hugo Meynell's book is a clear example of the growing interest in apologetics. Meynell considers four common objections to Christian doctrine, the belief in God is morally irrelevant; that there is no reason to believe in the special claims of Christianity over those of non-Christian religions. Meynell, also says no sense can be made of the doctrines of Incarnation, Atonement, and the Trinity and that Christian doctrine about life after death is based upon an indefensible view of the nature of human persons-and shows to his own views that these remarks can be met. It should be noted that Meynell on the prior assumption that God exists. This is not because Meynell takes that assumption to be indefensible or incapable of demonstration; it is rather that the existence of God is not his topic in this book.
Meynell's strategy in his chapter on the relevance of theism, he begins by arguing that belief in God does have specifically moral effects upon those who have. It enables us to act upon our beliefs about what it is right for us to do, and enables us to correct our pressing and depressing tendencies toward self-deception and self-interest. And he then argues that philosophical challenges to this view of the relations between theism and right action fail. The principal challenge he has in mind is the claim that Socrates' question in the Euthyphro-whether the gods love what is good because it is good, or whether what they love is good merely because they love it- cannot be answered. The main point of the chapter is not that theists are better people than atheists. It is concluded that theists do not agree to abandon their belief that theism is relevant to moral beliefs and actions.
Meynell's treatment of whether one can reasonably agree to the special claims of Christianity in the face of knowledge about the conflicting doctrines of non-Christian religions is much weaker. He shows only that it is not necessarily illogical to do so and that there are important and conflicting doctrinal disagreements among the major religions. But he does not seem to see the importance of the interesting question of whether the knowledge that there are faithful religious people who believe things incompatible with one's own beliefs changes the degree and kind of one's assent to those beliefs. Neither does his sketchy attempt to state the uniqueness of Christianity do any more, so far as I can see, than say that Christianity is more like itself than is anything else-which is true, but not exciting.
In his defense of the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the Trinity, Meynell addresses first their coherence, and second their plausibility in the light of historical-critical study of the Bible. On the first front he succeeds admirably in sketching, very briefly, a form of these doctrines that is at least not prima facie incoherent, and that is congruent with the historic credal affirmations of the Church. In passing, as well, he...