Drinking Deeply

Thursday, January 03, 2008 at 3:29 PM

Book Review: Christian Philosophy

From the way John Robbins represents him in defending him and the way that most theologians in arguing against him, I expected to find Gordon Clark's Christian Philosophy vitriolic and dripping with sarcasm. Thankfully, that was not the case and the book was very informative and enjoyable.

The book itself was a compilation of Clark's works:

3 Types of Religious Philosophy was informative and useful, but very broad. It covered what typical views of Rationalism, Empiricism, and Irrationalism, were, refuting (broadly) and it laid down a foundation of Christian Dogmatism, put forth as the only way to escape complete irrationalism. Good, but very technical at times. I wish I understood more philosophy. Like all sorts of studies, it carries with it special and specific language, a lot of which I was unfamiliar with.

Religion, Reason, and Revelation was a treatment of how faith intersects with reason, examining how representatives have approached God and how it fits in with Christianity. Contrary to the popular notion of reason against faith, or faith above reason, Clark emphasizes that the Christian faith is a rational and logical one, not set apart from or above or below, but wholly with. What a refreshing emphasis in a world where it is often perceived that you have to be stupid in order to be Christian, or you have to be irrational to be Christian. Clark also puts forth a Christian view on language, which I had sometime thought about, but found interesting and informative. This book also includes a view on morality and Christianity, putting forth the divine command view on ethics over and against utilitarianism and kantianism, both of which he described (using Mills and Kant). I must say some of Kant's passages were difficult to interpret, even when Clark himself interpreted it for the reader. The book finishes by dealing with the often rehearsed problem of evil, pointing the deficiencies in the free will defense and laying out how Calvinism solves it conclusively from a rational standpoint. One of the clearest expositions on the problem of evil (and its solution) I've read.

The last book was An Introduction to Christian Philosophy. This rehashed the issues with traditional philosophy, dealing with some similar material already covered, albeit in briefer form (this book was 3 lectures to students at Wheaton College). He then goes into Christian Philosophy and it's foundations upon the Word of God, a form of "foundationalism" if you will, of presupposing and building up, via reason and revelation, the truths of life. The last chapter of this book (or last lecture) was several implications to political theory, history, ethics, science, and religion. A most informative (though short!) section.

All in all, I really liked my first taste of Gordon Clark. His writing was easy to read, filled with personality and oftentimes humorous. He does an excellent job summarizing various positions in a readable way, and he's way more charitable than his defenders or detractors make him out to be. Though he catches a bad rap from some, his rationality and clarity when presenting a Christian argument against secular philosophy make him an enjoyable and informative read. I am mucho glad I read this book, though it was hard reading at times with all the terminology. Since sometimes the logic was difficult to follow, I often times had to put together the syllogism on the side in syllogism form. heh, just goes to show how little I really understand logic.

Well, praises be to God for being our divine Logos, who grants us all His reason.

1 Cor. 2:16 - “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

And indeed we do, and with the mind of Christ, no secular philosophy can stand. Glory to the Lord in the highest.

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