APPENDIX: The basic questions addressed in RBBR
Prof. Stephen Palmquist, D.Phil. (Oxon)
Department of Religion and Philosophy
Hong Kong Baptist University
The following is a list of the most important questions for which Kant provides answers, either explicitly or implicitly, in each of the four "Books" of RBBR. I include it here as an indication of the breadth of subject-matter covered in RBBR, in hopes of encouraging those who have assumed a reductionist interpretation to take a more serious and balanced look at the details of Kant's religious system.
Book I: Is man good or evil by nature? Does this question refer to man's outer actions or to his inner disposition? What does it mean to say man is created good? What is evil and where does it come from? What is original sin? Is self-love good or evil? How can we believe in an inward experience of God, without falling into fanaticism?
Book II: How can a religious conversion take place? How does God communicate to man His offer to accept imperfect human beings--i.e. His grace? What is the function of examples in a person's religious development? What is faith? How are faith and reason related in true religion? Can I ever be absolutely certain God has accepted me? What is the rational basis on which a person may hope to be saved? Why is virtue alone unable to make a person morally good? Is it reasonable for God to forgive my sins by vicarious punishment (i.e. punishing someone else)? What is the rational basis for believing God has forgiven us for moral evil done before (justification) and after (sanctification) our conversion? How can a death-bed conversion provide a good basis for hope in salvation? What dangers arise if we choose to believe that a man is an incarnation of God? In what sense could it be rational to say that a man is God incarnate? What is the theoretical and practical value of the idea of a virgin mother? How can we believe in an external experience of God, i.e. a miracle, without falling into superstition?
Book III: Why is a community of men necessary if man is to become good? Can a community based only on political laws achieve this goal? Can a community based on ethical laws reach its goal (i.e. virtue) without assuming that God exists? What is a church, and why is it necessary? What is the relationship between the human and the divine aspects of a true church's organization? Can the true church actually be realized on earth? What can man do to help such a transition gradually take place? What is the proper relationship between historical faith and pure religious (i.e. rational) faith? Is some visible form of church always necessary? Can there be more than one true religion? Can there be more than one true ecclesiastical faith? Can a set of statutes or dogmas from one church tradition be necessarily applicable to everyone? What is the proper function of revelation and statutes within a given church? What is the proper religious (as opposed to scholarly) principle for interpreting Scripture? How are philosophical theology and biblical theology related? What constitutes a saving faith? What is the solution to the antinomy between faith and works? Should the true church make a distinction between clergy and laity? What is the difference between Judaism and Christianity? What was the original purpose of the Christian message? Can the Bible be trusted as a guide for discovering true religion? Is the Bible's religion consistent with the pure religion of reason? To what extent can we regard the Bible as the revelation of God? Is Christianity the universal religion of mankind? What is the value and danger of regarding God as a Trinity? To what extent can we understand the mysteries of the divine call, the atonement, and divine election?
Book IV: What is the final end (i.e. the ultimate purpose) of moral action? What is religion? How does God wish to be honoured and obeyed? What is the difference between true and false service of God? Are there any special duties to God? What is the difference between natural religion and revealed (or learned) religion? Can they be compatible? To what extent can Christianity be regarded as a natural religion? Who was the founder of the first true church? Should Christianity ideally be torn away from its historical roots? Is unconditional belief in revealed propositions the proper starting point for true religion? What is the proper function of dogma in the true church? Can a person earn salvation simply by living a good life? Can man control God in any way? What is the purpose of devotion to God, or of any form of religious activity? How does man learn what God's will is? Can a religious believer do away with all outward forms of religious service? What is the true purpose of praying, church-going, baptism, and communion? How should we view the relationship between virtue and grace?
This etext is based on a prepublication draft of the published version of this essay.
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