Monday, January 30, 2012

Platinga On Being A Christian Philosopher



          Yesterday, I finished reading Alvin Plantinga's esssay "Advice To Christian Philosophers," and, a few days earlier, "Christian Philosophy at the end of the 20th Century." If you are a Christian and interested in the academic discipline of philosophy, I highly recomend these essays. Plantinga, for those who are not familiar with him, is probably the single most influential person involved in reviving Christian philosophy. He points out that there are certain starting points Christian philosophers have, and thus, many of the problems in contemporary philosophy are not problems for us. Consequently, he believes that we need to focus our time and energies on our own problems and projects and not waste time attempting to resove problems that only exist for nonChristian philosophers. The Christian philosopher's duty, says Plantinga, is to the Christian community and, ultimately, to God. Reading these essays was a breath of fresh air. Last semester, I took a class on modern philosophy, and found most of it uninteresting, unlike the previous semester, when I took Medieval philosophy. The problems that arise in modern philosophy, whose intellectual parentage is found in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment humanism, are only problems if you reject the sinful nature of man and take a low view of God. Granted, the medievals were not perfect, and many of the problems in the modern period have roots in the High and Late Scholastic philosophers like Aquinas and Occham, the material seemed far more relevant and interesting to me, as a Christian student of philosophy, overall, than modern and contemporary issues. Indeed, Plantinga, a Calvinist, sees himself as within the intellectual tradition of Augustine, Anselm, Bonaventure and the Reformers. If there is going to be a context to my philosophical investigations and musings, I would rather it be with these men than with those whose fundamental presuppositions about telology, God and man are opposed to my own.

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