Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Thoughts on Oliphint's Christianity and the Role of Philosophy

Christianity and the Role of PhilosophyChristianity and the Role of Philosophy by K Scott Oliphint
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

K. Scott Oliphint gives the reader a brief tour of philosphy as it relates to the Christian.  He lays out the basics of philsopy's big three:metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.  He shows how, despite some possible disagreement, there is no true consensus on answers to the questions posed by the big 3.  Oliphint uses an analogy of road map vs GPS and argues that philosophy is akin to a road map.  The user of philosophy is not sure where one begins and finds it hard to figure out how to get to where you're going or seek to go.(He uses it better than I am)

"Philosophy, by and large, in its quest for and love of wisdom, has tied itself to the first way above(that of road map as opposed to GPS), it has sought to discover the answer to its big three questions by looking around its limited surroundings, using whatever maps may be available at the time, and moving inexorably toward some destination."

This has led the pursuit of philosophy to show "little to no progress" in answering the questions it seeks to answer, at least in any definitive way.

Christianity also seeks to answer these big questions.  "What is the nature of ultimate reality?"(metaphysics) and "How do I know that?"(epistemology) are both questions that Christianity seeks to answer.  But, the difference for the Christian is that the Christian has a "view from above", a "GPS" that orients the Christian to where they are and gives direction from there.  This "GPS" is the revelation of God.

Oliphint then outlines possible ways that philosophy and theology interact and settles on the fact that theology governs philosophy and then goes on to defend this position by looking at the principia of both theology and philosophy.  Oliphint argues that since "reason does not have the perogative to act independently of what God has determined" and that God is "the principium essendi of all disciplines, since it is from God alone that any and every discipline derives anything and everything that it is and has."  Or, a "simpler way to put this is that God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things."  So, being said, philosophy is subservient to theology.

For a short book this is quite detailed.  It is fun.  Oliphint is clear and engaging, as always.  This book has a nice glossary and some great questions to guide the reader's study.  This is well worth the cost, both time and money.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.com

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