Review: Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview

148102Together with the disciplines of biblical studies and theology, philosophy is widely recognized as an indispensable model for constructing a Christian worldview. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview accompanies the reality of this statement to the examination room. What is accomplished by such scrutiny? The result is this definitive introduction by two of the most qualified voices in contemporary Christian philosophy, J. P. Moreland, and William Lane Craig.

Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview is divided into six major sections: (1) Introduction, (2) Epistemology, (3) Metaphysics, (4) Philosophy of Science, (5) Ethics, and (6) Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Theology. Each section (apart from the introductory section) contains a number of important chapters. Throughout the book, the reader will discover a number of charts and diagrams to help illustrate the concepts being discussed. Keywords are also bolded to help readers recognize their importance in context, and each chapter ends with a summary and a checklist of terms and concepts. Moreland and Craig close the volume with a “further reading” bibliography specific for each chapter and a few indexes. However, what is missing from this volume, in my opinion, is the inclusion of chapter summary questions and a glossary of the terms and concepts used throughout the book. These additions would make the volume more accessible for classroom purposes and self-reflection.

I am admittedly not one with a deep interest in philosophy. I recognize its importance and enjoy its discussions, but I tend to spend more time in the world of biblical studies and other related disciplines than philosophy. That said, I found Moreland and Craig to be extremely accessible and clear in their presentation throughout, even in some of the complex areas of epistemology and metaphysics. However, it should also be noted that this is certainly a college-level (possibly even a graduate-level) philosophy textbook and it does anticipate the reader is at least vaguely familiar with its material. Moreland and Craig do well in guiding the novice reader, but there is truly only so much guidance that can be offered if significant ground is going to be covered, and significant ground is covered in this volume.

Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig is a first-rate, one-stop reference work worth occupying the shelf space of any serious student of philosophy, theology, or apologetics. It’s not a resource that everyone will enjoy. But, for those who will, Moreland and Craig have provided a treasure-trove of philosophical riches that will effectively establish a foundation for the Christian worldview. It comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: The Mosaic of Christian Belief

26598226The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity (2nd ed.) by Roger E. Olson is an up-to-date, revised and expanded exploration into the history of Christian doctrine. As with the previous edition, Olson does an excellent service to the reader by thematically tracing the contours of Christianity down through the centuries in and easy-to-read package. Olson carefully unearths much of the consensus teaching to be discovered in the history of the Church, including details surrounding various areas of doctrinal diversity, and adds an additional chapter on the Holy Spirit.

There is much to be excited about here. First, and probably foremost, Olson does an incredible job keeping his audience in focus as he surveys the land of theological belief. Olson makes historical theology exciting and accessible for the nonspecialist. Second, Olson’s overall tone is to be appreciated as he interacts with various figures and ideas that have plagued the history of Christianity—some for good, others not so much. Third, while addressing various doctrines (divine revelation, the Trinity, divine providence, Christology, Soteriology, Eschatology, etc.), Olson constructs a picture (or mosaic) of Christian belief as it has been handed down through the centuries. The benefits of this are immediately accessible to the reader and compound as the journey continues.

Those familiar with Olson’s work will be able to easily detect his theological bias and Arminian presuppositions. This framework is visible throughout and should be noted. However, compared to some of Olson’s other works, The Mosaic of Christian Belief is much more mild and balanced. If you identify with Olson’s tradition, you will likely find his analysis helpful and cooperative in your convictions. Those who do not identify with Olson’s theological tradition will unavoidably approach disagreement more frequently than others. Still, as one who rarely agrees with Olson, for the reasons mentioned above (and more), I found The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity to be an excellent (possibly even one of the best) introduction to historical theology.

 

I received a review copy of this books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Paul and Judaism Revisited

17364976Paul and Judaism Revisited: A Study of Divine and Human Agency in Salvation by Preston Sprinkle is an exciting and refreshing investigation into the thought and theology of Paul as it relates to Second Temple Judaism. This book follows in the footsteps of Sprinkle’s previous work Law and Life: The Interpretation of Leviticus 18:5 in Early Judaism and in Paul (2008). In fact, much of the research and questions answered in Paul and Judaism Revisited arose out of the latter investigation. In both of these works, Sprinkle has shown with clarity the divergence of Pauline thought from that of Early Judaism and thus has provided a significant contribution to the ongoing conversation pegged by the New Perspective on Paul (NPP).

Paul and Judaism Revisited sets out “to compare soteriological motifs in Paul and Qumran in order to better understand how these two Second Temple communities understood divine and human agency in salvation” (p. 36). For Sprinkle, there appears to be no straightforward line of continuity between Paul and the Qumran communities concerning a singular soteriological motif. Moreover, as Sprinkle acknowledges, there doesn’t even appear to be a line of continuity within the Qumran community itself. This diversity adds to the complexity of understanding Paul and does much to undermine traditional and NPP soteriological claims. Sprinkle presents a portrait of Paul that is framed within a Prophetic Restoration structure rather than the Deuteronomic Restoration structure generally found in the Qumran communities.

Paul and Judaism Revisited: A Study of Divine and Human Agency in Salvation by Preston Sprinkle is an excellent book for anyone interested in Pauline thought concerning salvation, the NPP, Second Temple Judaism, and the intersection of any of these areas of study. Sprinkle has offered a fresh and up-to-date exploration of one of the most frequently traveled roads in biblical-theological studies today. While disagreement will assuredly come from those rooted within the NPP, the caliber of Sprinkle’s work cannot be denied, and his presentation should be praised. This is a book that will make you think long and hard about the external influences on Paul’s thought and theology, and provide grounds for reevaluation and consideration therein. As with all of Sprinkle’s books, this book comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of this books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Delivered from the Elements of the World

26598227Peter J. Leithart is President of Thepolis Institute for Biblical, Liturgical, and Cultural Studies in Birmingham, Alabama, and adjunct Senior Fellow of Theology at New St. Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. Leithart is ordained in the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches. He has earned an M.A.R. and a Th.M. from Westminster Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. Leithart has written numerous books on a wide range of biblical and theological topics. Most recently, Leithart has provided an up-to-date, well-researched, and thoroughly documented investigation into the unique nature and function of the Atonement for everyday life—Delivered from the Elements of the World: Atonement, Justification, and Mission.

Delivered from the Elements of the World is primarily concerned with repositioning the dialogue of atonement towards a more practical and applicable social theory. It is here that Leithart offers a helpful approach that detaches the abstractness of the doctrine and shines a fresh light of practicality into the contemporary conversation. The process of developing this reality is founded in Paul’s letter to the Galatians (specifically Paul’s words “the elementary principals of the world” in Galatians 4) and provides the reader with a host of biblical-theological themes that will cultivate deeper reflection. For Leithart, the person and work of Christ has brought about a required social change that challenges every corner of society, as the world is no longer bound by “elementary principals” but the lordship of Christ—a reality that affects all mankind (p. 203), including Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Jews (p. 239-257).

Delivered from the Elements of the World will be recognized as controversial despite Leithart’s efforts to stay within the confines of orthodoxy. Nevertheless, while there were a few disagreements here and there, I found the overall intention and approach of Leithart’s work to be rather refreshing and creative. It isn’t often that you come across something new and exciting when it comes to the atonement. It tends to be the same conversations and the same debates using the same points of argument and the same biblical references. Leithart’s work is different. It was practical and inviting, and yet scholarly and well-researched. Leithart hypothesizes about the implications of the atonement in such a way that the reader will be challenged more deeply to live within the reality of Christ’s atoning work—and, for that reason alone, Delivered from the Elements of the World: Atonement, Justification, and Mission is a book that should be read and pondered by all. It comes highly recommended!

 

I received a review copy of this books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.