Affections and Cognition: The Viability of an Integrative Non-Hierarchical Epistemology Through Dialogue with James K. A. Smith, Alvin Plantinga, and Pentecostalism

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS)


College of Christian Ministries and Religion


Department of Christian Ministries and Religion

Primary Advisor

Peter F. Althouse, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Joseph H. Davis, Ph.D.


"What constitutes our ultimate identities -- what makes us who we are, the kind of people we are -- is what we love." These words of James K. A. Smith capture his main epistemological theme, i.e., that we are fundamentally feeling beings, not thinking or even believing beings as many accept. How do the affections shape our knowledge? According to Smith, the affections carry epistemic value, so that they are not mere emotions. Affections are pretheoretical construals of the world. While Smith constructed this affective epistemology in his earlier works, he aligned it with pentecostalism in Thinking in Tongues. The core idea of his Pentecostal epistemology is that affective knowledge is different than and primary than the cognitive.

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