Sunday, July 20, 2014


P&R Publishing continues to release solid, edifying, interesting works on a regular basis. A new series of booklets seeks to aid the Church in embracing “secular” disciplines as areas of study that belong to God and should not be forfeited to the naturalist.

"The Faithful Learning series invites Christian students to dive deeper into a modern academic discipline. The authors, scholars in their fields, believe that academic disciplines are good gifts from God that, when understood rightly, will give students the potential to cultivate a deeper love for God and neighbor."

One of these works is by James Spiegel and sets out to show exactly what Athens has to do with Jerusalem and why “rigorous philosophical study is actually crucial for heeding Paul’s counsel” in Colossians 2:8.

Spiegel focuses mostly on the 20th century and showing recent developments in secular philosophy and the Christian response as well as unique Christian contributions to the world of philosophy.  He starts by showing the roots of logical positivism in the 1920’s and, although it had a relatively short shelf life, the residual “hyper-empiricistic, anti-metaphysical bent “that remained after its demise.  He also goes over philosophical behaviorism of Wittingstein and Ryle and the prominent and influential work of atheist Anthony Flew and his subsequent conversion to theism.  Spiegel moves quickly to the work of Alvin Plantinga, his God and other Minds, and the rise of reformed epistemology (the argument that belief in God is properly basic), and Nagel’s work on the problem of the mind to strict materialist.

Spiegel not only highlights Plantinga work and reformed epistemology but also his advice to Christian philosophers on how to interact with the philosophy community at-large.  Plantinga encourages the Christian philosopher to exhibit more autonomoy from the philosophy world, exhibit more integrity that all those around them, and exhibit more courage or Christian confidence on their work.  Spiegel, using the example of other Christian philosophers and what has contributed to their success also encourages the Christian philosopher to be resourceful, shrewd, and irenic in their interactions with others.  

 This is a great introductory booklet to really generate interest in philosophy and the role of the Christian in this discipline.

From the back cover:
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle . . . great philosophers have a lasting impact.  For them, words and ideas are power. They can turn a phrase inside out and flip an argument on its head. They can put a spin on the world. But this power may be used wrongly—and the best response is not to avoid it, but to learn how to use it rightly! In the words of the apostle Paul, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.” Are you ready to match wits?

James Spiegel insists that studying philosophy is not only intriguing and mind-opening, but also crucial to following Paul’s counsel. Find out how you can navigate ideas as a philosopher and distinguish between human wisdom and the wisdom of God. 

*I received a review copy from the publisher through Netgalley...but then I bought a copy.  Take that for what it is worth.  I really enjoyed this little book.