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  • 1.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    A Cosmological Argument against Physicalism2017In: European Journal of Philosophy of Religion, ISSN 1689-8311, Vol. 9, no 2, p. 165-188Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this article, I present a Leibnizian cosmological argument to the conclusion that either the totality of physical beings has a non-physical cause, or a necessary being exists. The crucial premise of the argument is a restricted version of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, namely the claim that every contingent physical phenomenon has a sufficient cause (PSR-P). I defend this principle by comparing it with a causal principle that is fundamental for physicalism, namely the Causal Closure of Physics, which says that every physical effect has a sufficient physical cause (CC). I find that the evidence for Causal Closure is weaker than the evidence for PSR-P, which means that physicalists who take CC to be justified must concede that PSR-P is also justified, and to a higher degree. Since my Leibnizian cosmological argument succeeds if PSR-P is granted, I conclude that physicalists must either give up CC and thereby physicalism, or accept that a necessary being exists.

  • 2.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Cardinal Kasper's Proposal and the Meaning of Marriage2015In: Nova et vetera, ISSN 0029-5027, E-ISSN 1542-7315, Vol. 13, no 4, p. 1003-1008Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Cardinal Walter Kasper has presented a proposal according to which divorced and remarried Catholics may receive Eucharistic Communion, provided that they satisfy certain conditions. He argues that his proposal is merely pastoral, and that it has no implications for the Catholic doctrine of marriage. This article demonstrates that Kasper's proposal in fact entails a significant revision of the  doctrine of marriage by changing the meaning of the marriage commitment. 

  • 3.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Communion for the Divorced and Remarried: Why Revisionists in Moral Theology Should Reject Kasper’s Proposal2015In: Nova et vetera, ISSN 0029-5027, E-ISSN 1542-7315, Vol. 13, no 3, p. 765-785Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Cardinal Walter Kasper has presented a proposal according to which divorced and remarried Catholics may, under certain conditions, receive Holy Communion. “Traditionalists” in moral theology have firmly rejected the proposal on moral grounds, while “revisionists” have been more receptive to it. This article presents a method by which the question of the moral tolerability of second, civil marriages for divorced Catholics can be settled. The method is neutral between “traditionalists” and “revisionists” in the sense that it does not take for granted the truth of any traditionalist dogma, such as the existence of intrinsically evil acts. The method should, in fact, be more acceptable to “revisionists” than to “traditionalists”. Still, when the method is applied to the question of the moral tolerability of second, civil marriages, it gives a negative verdict. This leads to the conclusion that “revisionists” as well as “traditionalists” in moral theology have strong reason to reject Cardinal Kasper’s proposal.       

  • 4.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Das Medium, die Botschaft und die Messe: Was hat Marshall McLuhan der Systematischen Theologie zu sagen?2017In: Religionspädagogik in einer mediatisierten Welt / [ed] Illona Nord, Hanna Zipernovszky, Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer GmbH, 2017, p. 104-118Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 5.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Did Jesus Violate Women’s Rights?: The Male Priesthood and the Justice of Christ2017In: Angelicum, ISSN 1123-5772, Vol. 94, no 4, p. 799-828Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A commonly heard claim is that the Catholic Church’s non-admission of women to the priesthood is unjust. But what about the behavior of Christ, who selected only men when he constituted the group of the Twelve? Did Christ thereby violate justice? Most proponents of female ordination deny that he did. Typically, they argue that it would have been practically impossible – that is, extremely imprudent – for Christ to appoint women as religious leaders in a first century Jewish context. I argue that this defense of Christ’s behavior fails. If women objectively have a right to be considered for all religious leadership positions (as advocates of female ordination typically claim), then no prudential reasons can make it morally acceptable to deny them this right. It is equally problematic to defend Christ’s non-selection of women by appealing to his presumed ignorance of women’s rights, or by arguing that the moral norms were objectively different in his day. After having considered and rejected a number of suggested or conceivable ways to exonerate Christ without at the same time exonerating the Church, I conclude that there is no fundamental moral difference between Christ’s non-admission of women to the Twelve and the Church’s non-admission of women to the priesthood. Hence, if the Church violates gender justice, then so did Christ. Since the idea that Christ violated justice is very difficult to square with the Christian faith, I conclude that Christians cannot reasonably believe that the Church’s non-admission of women to the priesthood is unjust.

  • 6.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Ecumenical Incorrectness: Review of Roman but Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years after the Reformation by Kenneth J. Collins and Jerry L. Walls2018In: First Things, ISSN 1047-5141, E-ISSN 1945-5097, no MarchArticle, book review (Other academic)
  • 7.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation: the Mediation of the Gospel through Church and Scripture by Matthew Levering (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Academic, 2014), xi + 363 pp.2015In: Nova et vetera, ISSN 0029-5027, E-ISSN 1542-7315, Vol. 13, no 4Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 8.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    From Nothing: A Theology of Creation2016In: Modern Theology, ISSN 0266-7177, E-ISSN 1468-0025, Vol. 32, no 2, p. 283-286Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 9.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Kristen tro visst förenlig med vetenskap2017In: Dagen, no 10 februariArticle in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 10.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Last Things: Review of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things that Matter Most by Jerry L. Walls.2016In: First Things, ISSN 1047-5141, E-ISSN 1945-5097, no June/JulyArticle, book review (Other academic)
  • 11.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Merit and the Finnish Luther2014In: International Journal of Systematic Theology, ISSN 1463-1652, E-ISSN 1468-2400, Vol. 16, no 3, p. 273-294Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The concept of merit, according to a Catholic understanding, is dictated by the nature of the divine grace that moves Christians to good works without violating their freedom. The Lutheran tradition, however, rejects the meritorious character of good works, at least in the context of salvation. In this article, it is argued that the new, Finnish Luther interpretation undermines the basis for Lutheranism’s traditional resistance to the notion of merit. A tentative conclusion is that a Lutheranism that appropriates the Finnish interpretation has reason to embrace the applicability of merit-language in soteriological contexts.

  • 12.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    On sex without deliberate consent2016In: First Things, ISSN 1047-5141, E-ISSN 1945-5097Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 13.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Radikalortodoxa perspektiv på Kristus2003In: Tro och liv, ISSN 0346-2803, Vol. 62, no 3-4, p. 4-16Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 14.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Reformed Ressourcement2017In: First Things, ISSN 1047-5141, E-ISSN 1945-5097, Vol. FebArticle, book review (Other academic)
  • 15.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Reply to Collins and Walls2018In: First Things, ISSN 1047-5141, E-ISSN 1945-5097, Vol. MayArticle, book review (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 16.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Reshaping natural theology: seeing nature as creation2012 (ed. 1)Book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Is nature creation or merely the product of non-intentional, natural processes? Mats Wahlberg argues that our perceptual experiences of nature can settle this question in favor of creation. He suggests that biological nature has expressive properties of a kind similar to human behavior and art. We may therefore be able to perceive – directly – nature as creation, i.e. as expressive of the mind of a creator. This idea resonates with the traditional Christian claim that God’s invisible nature can be ‘clearly perceived in the things that have been made’ (Rom 1:20). Wahlberg’s interpretation of this claim contradicts the common view that the existence of a creator must be established by inferential argument.   

    The book’s thesis is compatible with the fact that biological organisms have evolved by natural selection. Its viability depends, however, on the rejection of certain common assumptions about the nature of mind and perception – assumptions that may properly be called ‘Cartesian’. The author presents and defends an anti-Cartesian stance on mind and perception, inspired mainly by the work of the philosopher John McDowell. The philosophical resources provided by this stance are then drawn on to defend the book’s version of natural theology.       

  • 17.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
    Revelation as Divine Testimony: A Philosophical-Theological Inquiry2013Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The dissertation examines, on the basis of insights from contemporary analytic philosophy of testimony, the intellectual viability of the traditional Christian conception of revelation as divine testimony. This conception entails that God reveals by speaking, and that people can acquire knowledge of God and divine things by believing what God says. In academic theology of recent decades, this view is often dismissed under the label of “propositional revelation,” and viewed as authoritarian and intellectually problematic. Recent developments within the analytic philosophy of testimony, however, provide grounds for a reevaluation of the view.  

    The dissertation has two purposes. One is to clarify the concept of propositional revelation and to examine what the consequences are, for Christian theology, of rejecting this idea. The second purpose is to investigate whether there is a way of explicating the divine testimony-model of revelation (traditionally the most prominent version of propositional revelation) so as to render it intellectually credible today.

    Chapter 1 describes the research problem and the method. Chapters 2-3 address the first purpose by distinguishing, following Nicholas Wolterstorff, between manifestational and propositional conceptions of revelation, and by arguing that unless theologians posit some form of propositional revelation (e.g. revelation as divine testimony), theology will be threatened by incoherence. On the basis of a survey of several manifestational theories of revelation, selected on the basis of Avery Dulles’s categorization, the author argues that they all suffer from certain systematic limitations connected to their manifestational character. Since manifestational models of revelation provide an insufficient basis for theology, theologians have reason to take a second look at the intellectual viability of the propositional model of revelation as divine testimony.      

       To evaluate the viability of this model is the second and main purpose of the dissertation, and it is addressed by the method of hypothesis construction and testing. In the present context, this means to construct a version of the divine testimony-model with the help of the best philosophical and theological tools available, and to examine whether internal coherence and coherence with established knowledge can be achieved, and if the model can withstand various types of criticism. In chapters 4 and 5, the author describes the philosophical tools that will be used, viz. Nicholas Wolterstorff’s analysis of the idea of divine speech, and John McDowell’s analysis of testimony as a source of epistemic justification and knowledge. In chapters 6-8, the model is elaborated using these tools and tested for internal coherence, coherence with external knowledge such as contemporary Biblical scholarship, and coherence with Biblical and traditional views of the nature of Christian faith. The model’s ability to withstand philosophical objections of various kinds is also examined. The tentative conclusion of the dissertation is that the model is intellectually viable in light of current knowledge, but that further testing in the context of a wider scholarly debate is needed.

  • 18.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Revelation as testimony: a philosophical-theological study2014Book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    According to the pre-modern Christian tradition, knowledge of God is mainly testimonial: we know certain important truths about God and divine things because God himself has told them to us. In academic theology of late this view is often summarily dismissed. But to do so is a mistake, claims Mats Wahlberg, who argues in this book that the testimonial understanding of revelation is indispensable to Christian theology.

    Criticizing the currently common idea that revelation should be construed exclusively in terms of God's self-manifestation in history or through inner experience, Wahlberg discusses the concept of divine testimony in the context of the debate about how any knowledge of God is possible. He draws on resources from contemporary analytic philosophy— especially John McDowell and Nicholas Wolterstorff — to argue for the intellectual viability of revelation as divine testimony. 

  • 19.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Seeing Nature as Creation: How Anti-Cartesian Philosophy of Mind and Perception Reshapes Natural Theology2009Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This dissertation constructively explores the implications for natural theology of (especially) John McDowell’s anti-Cartesian philosophy of mind and perception. Traditionally, an important element within natural theology is the idea that nature testifies to its creator, thereby making knowledge of a creator available to humans. In traditional accounts, the relevant knowledge is usually conceived as inferential. From observations of “the things that have been made” (Rom 1: 20), we may reason our way to the existence of a creator.

    The dissertation presents an alternative construal of creation’s testimony. It argues that biological nature may have expressive properties of a similar kind as human behaviour and art seem to have. We may be able to perceive nature as creation, i.e., as expressive of the mind of a creator. The knowledge of a creator acquired from nature is, according to this construal, perceptual rather than inferential.

    The viability of the dissertation’s suggestion depends, however, on the rejection of certain common and fundamental assumptions about the nature of mind and perception – assumptions that may rightly be called “Cartesian.” In chapters 1-3, a radically anti-Cartesian outlook on mind and perception, drawn mainly from McDowell’s work, is presented. The outlook (labelled “open-mindedness”) conceives the mind as a system of essentially world-involving capacities. One such capacity is perception, which is portrayed as (when all goes well) a direct, cognitive openness to the world.

    Chapter 4 argues that open-mindedness makes an attractive construal of our knowledge of “other minds” available. Human behaviour may, as McDowell suggests, be construed as having expressive properties, i.e., perceivable properties the instantiation of which logically entails the instantiation of certain mental properties. The main problem confronting this idea is the so-called “argument from pretence” – a version of the more general “argument from illusion.” The fact that behaviour that is the result of pretence can be indistinguishable, for an observer, from behaviour that is genuinely expressive of the mental property pain, can seem to entail that it is impossible to perceive that somebody else is in pain. It is argued that accepting the outlook of open-mindedness and the view of perception it includes dissolves this problem and makes it possible to construe (some of) our knowledge of the mental states of other people as perceptual rather than inferential knowledge.

    Chapter 5 argues that the same philosophical moves that dissolve the “problem of other minds” also can be used to overcome the problems confronting the (from a Christian perspective) attractive idea that nature may be perceptibly expressive of the mind of a creator. It is argued that the idea that other phenomena than human behaviour can be genuinely expressive of mind is not at all counter-intuitive. Artworks have, for instance, (according to a common view) expressive properties that make something of the mental life of the artist available to others. Furthermore, many people seem to have experiences in which natural structures appear to them as intentionally created. Even atheists report that biological organisms strike them as “designed.” Experiences in which natural phenomena appear to the subject as intentionally created or “designed” are candidates for being veridical perceptions of expressive properties in nature. It is argued that the suggested construal of biological nature as expressive of the mind of a creator is completely compatible with the fact that biological species have evolved by natural selection. Chapter 6 briefly reflects on the consequences of the dissertation’s argument for Christian theology.

  • 20.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    The medium, the message, and the mass: Marshall McLuhan and systematic theology2017In: Religious education in a mediatized world / [ed] Ilona Nord, Hanna Zipernovszky, Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer GmbH, 2017, p. 98-111Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 21.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    The Two Faces of Amoris Laetitia2017In: First Things, ISSN 1047-5141, E-ISSN 1945-5097Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 22.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Tre myter om mirakel: reflektioner kring övernaturliga förklaringar och historisk metod utifrån boken Den okände Jesus2017In: Svensk teologisk kvartalskrift, ISSN 0039-6761, no 3-4, p. 191-208Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Some New Testament scholars argue that as historians, they must reject all miracle reports a priori. When asked to justify this view, the scholars usually appeal to some of the following philosophical claims:

    1) Miracles are incompatible with our natural scientific knowledge.

    2) Even though miracles are theoretically possible, we can never be rationally justified in believing that a reported miracle actually happened (Hume’s argument).

    3) Miracles entail the existence of a supernatural realm, and the supernatural (God) cannot be the object of scientific or scholarly knowledge or study.

    I argue that there are no good reasons to believe any of these claims, which should be regarded as “myths”. The first claim confuses science with a controversial philosophical theory – naturalism. The second claim is undermined by the devastating philosophical criticism that has been directed at Hume’s anti-miracle argument. The third claim entails that philosophers of religion who debate theistic arguments are wasting their time, since no theistic argument can ever succeed. It is very unclear, however, how anybody could possibly know that no theistic argument can ever succeed.

    All three myths are exemplified in a recent book by Cecilia Wassén and Tobias Hägerland: Den okände Jesus: Berättelsen om en profet som misslyckades (The Unknown Jesus: The Story of a Prophet Who Failed). Taking this work as my point of departure, I discuss the myths with reference to a wider horizon of Swedish and international Jesus research. I also suggest a more reasonable framework for dealing with miracle reports in the context of historical scholarship.

  • 23.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Was evolution the only possible way for God to make autonomous creatures? Examination of an argument in evolutionary theodicy.2015In: International journal for philosophy of religion, ISSN 0020-7047, E-ISSN 1572-8684, Vol. 77, no 1, p. 37-51Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Evolutionary theodicies are attempts to explain how the enormous amount of suffering, premature death and extinction inherent in the evolutionary process can be reconciled with belief in a loving and almighty God. A common strategy in this area is to argue that certain very valuable creaturely attributes could only be exemplified by creatures that are produced by a partly random and uncontrolled process of evolution. Evolution, in other words, was the only possible way for God to create these kinds of creatures. This article presents and examines two versions of the “only way”-argument. The anthropocentric version tries to justify God’s use of evolution by reference to the value of human freedom, and argues that freedom presupposes that God lets go of full control over the process of creation (Arthur Peacocke, Nancey Murphy). The non-anthropocentric version presents a similar argument with respect to more inclusive creaturely properties, such as that of being “truly other” than God, or of being a “creaturely self” with a certain degree of autonomy in relation to God (John Polkinghorne, John Haught, Christopher Southgate). With the help of a number of thought-experiments of the “Twin-Earth”-type, the author argues that both the anthropocentric and the non-anthropocentric only way-arguments fail.

  • 24.
    Wahlberg, Mats
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Why isn’t faith a work?: An examination of Protestant answers2015In: Scottish journal of theology, ISSN 0036-9306, E-ISSN 1475-3065, Vol. 68, no 2, p. 201-217Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Protestant critique of the Catholic idea of inherent righteousness has, since the time of the Reformation, given rise to counter-questions about the status of faith in Protestant theology. Is faith a human condition for justification (that is, a human act or inherent property which is necessary for justification), and why should not faith in that case be counted as a kind of work? Many Protestant theologians, however, view it as very important to dissociate faith from works. This article examines a number of Protestant attempts to explain why faith is not a work. The examined explanations rely on a number of ideas, for example, that faith is not a work because faith is a gift of God, or because faith is non-voluntary, or because faith is not a condition of justification, or because faith does not merit justification, or because faith is union with Christ. The problem with many of these Protestant answers to the question of why faith is not a work is that they can equally well be used to explain why the supernatural virtue of love is not a work. The Reformers, however, strongly associated love with ‘works of the law’, and wanted to keep love out of the doctrine of justification. For Protestants who share this view of love, the present article poses a challenge. Is it possible to dissociate faith from works without at the same time dissociating love from works, thereby legitimising the Tridentine understanding of justification? The author concludes that this is indeed possible, but only if an important identity marker for much Protestant theology is given up, namely the purely forensic understanding of the doctrine of justification.

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