Archives For Philosophy

 

November 15 marked the birthday of Alvin Plantinga, the noted philosopher, who was awarded the distinguished Templeton Prize this fall.

 
In honor of the occasion, we offer a series of brief video clips that introduce his legacy…

*** Books by Alvin Plantinga

Introduction (Templeton Prize):

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Or So I Like to Think:
The Great Talk of
David Bentley Hart

 
 

The Hidden and the Manifest:
Essays in Theology and Metaphysics

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2017
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The Dream-Child’s Progress And Other Essays

Paperback: Angelico Press, 2017
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Essay by Martyn Wendell Jones

 

*** This essay first appeared in our Fall 2017 magazine issue.
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There are few things as pleasing to me as the great garrulous tradition in American literature. Our country’s abundance of grandly verbose storytellers represents the best of our cultural inheritance. Think of Melville, the wild and abyssal “thought-diver,” author of one of the world’s greatest stories of maritime and metaphysical adventure; think too of Whitman, irrepressible and expansive and democratic, who shed tears at the death of Lincoln—“O Captain!”; then there is Twain, whose creation Huckleberry sees his raft go “all to smash and scatteration,” which the critic Michael Schmidt identifies as evidence of a thrill for great speech.

Since our nation’s founding, we have been a polemical people; Gilbert Seldes’s The Stammering Century, American to its core, is a record of people of the 19th century, some of real eminence, giving themselves over to various utopianisms and cultic enthusiasms—the snake oil pitches and True Enlightenment hustles mixing with earnest seeking after the God-of-backwoods-revival. Our nation’s complete spiritual history and profile would show us to be strivers after the ineffable by way of quite a lot of declaiming.

Numbered among our country’s current generation of great talkers would certainly be the Eastern Orthodox philosopher-theologian David Bentley Hart, whose two recent essay collections attest to his capacity for a great speechifying all his own.

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A Good and Useful Guide to Kierkegaard

A Review of

Existing Before God: Søren Kierkegaard and the Human Venture
Paul Sponheim

Paperback: Fortress Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Brandon Pierce
 

Kierkegaard is one of those figures with a certain amount of theological sex appeal. Perhaps it is on account of his “existential” approach to faith or his almost prophetic invective against Christendom that still resonates today. The problem is that he’s a writer that takes a long time to really get to know. It is easier to know a few things about his work than to have actually read any of it. There are reasons for this.

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I have just started reading this excellent new book written in the style of a graphic novel…
 

Heretics!: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy
Ben Nadler / Steven Nadler

Paperback: Princeton UP, 2017
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Read the Introduction to this book, and an excerpt of it… 
(via Google Books)

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This week marked the anniversary of the death of philosopher Michael Polanyi, one of the most significant philosophers for understanding the roots of theology in the twenty-first century.

To mark the occasion, we offer the following introductory reading guide to his most significant works.

We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and offered a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve also included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.

 

 

1) Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy

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Excoriating Christendom
—and Suffering for it

 
A Feature Review of
 

Kierkegaard: A Single Life 
Stephen Backhouse

Hardback: Zondervan, 2016.
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Reviewed by James Dekker
 
 

In an entry of less than 300 words, the then peerless Encylopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, calls young Søren Aaby[e] Kierkegaard “delicate, precocious and morbid in temperament” (vol. 15, 788). One hundred five years later, I am sure that Kiekegaard maven Stephen Backhouse would agree, probably extending Britannica’s estimation to the maverick philosopher’s entire life.

Dying after a series of seizures in 1855 at age 42, Søren—as Backhouse calls him throughout this concise, yet full biography—was not merely precocious, but enormously productive and often acerbic in in his writing. As well, he was beset with intractable paradoxes that both attracted and repelled friends, family and colleagues. During his life he reaped few accolades and much scorn for his relentless, often slashing criticism of leading Danish literati (among them Denmark’s hitherto untouchable Hans Christian Andersen) academics, political theorists and state church leaders. After being ignored by his family pastor and erstwhile mentor, Bishop Jakob Peter Mynster, Kierkegaard added him to his phalanxes of targets. Calling Mynster a “poisonous plant . . . a colossus,” he concluded, “Great strength was required to topple him, and the person who did it also had to pay for it” (148).

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Over the course of last year, I set aside a number of books that I wanted to read because I knew that they would make significant contributions to public conversations, but I knew that they would require some time and effort to read carefully and well.

I’m hoping to read a number of these 10 books over the coming year…

By ERB Editor, C. Christopher Smith

(In alphabetical order by author’s last name…)

PAGE 1 OF 5

The Faithful Artist: A Vision for Evangelicalism and the Arts

Cameron Anderson

Paperback, IVP Academic

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When We are Ready to Love
Rather Than to Be Loved

 
A Feature Review of 

The Course of Love: A Novel
Alain de Botton

Hardback: Simon & Schuster, 2016.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]  

 
 
Reviewed by Alden Bass
 
 
 
This is not Alain de Botton’s first attempt to write a book about love. Twenty years ago he wrote his debut novel Essays in Love, a story about a boy and a girl who meet on a plane and – you guessed it – fall in love. An essay is an attempt, a beginning, and in this more mature reflection on love de Botton determines to see love through to its end. Along the way, he speculates on what precisely is the end of love in a series of philosophical narratorial asides.

Rather unromantically, The Course of Love is a story about marriage. Specifically, two very average Edinburghers named Rabih and Kirsten who date, get engaged, marry, settle down, have kids, have affairs, and go to counseling. Their marriage is the Everymarriage. Which is precisely the kind of story de Botton needs to develop his thesis. (Yes, this is a novel with a thesis.) Namely, love is a sort of existential rootedness, a sense of security and familiarity which grounds one to love and serve others.

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A Prophet in His Hometown

 
A Review of

Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians
Mark Tietjen

Paperback: IVP Academic, 2016
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Reviewed by Michial Farmer

 

If it’s true that we become like what we worship, readers of Søren Kierkegaard must always keep in mind that his God was inscrutable, labyrinthine-minded, confounding, terrifying—but ultimately loving. So, too, is Kierkegaard’s jungle of writings. Producing two or three treatises simultaneously, under different (though equally ridiculous) pseudonyms, he was not afraid of self-contradiction and sought controversy more than agreement. If he could find no one else to disagree with him, he’d do it himself. It’s the rare reader indeed who can open the puzzle box of his thought without an instruction manual. And yet, as Mark Tietjen shows in his latest book, Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians, Kierkegaard wrote what he wrote (and wrote it the way he wrote it) as an act of service.

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Kierkegaard

Yesterday marked the birthday of Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (b. 1813).

 
In honor of the occasion, here is one of his renowned essays:
 

The Crowd is Untruth

Søren Kierkegaard

Translated by Charles K. Bellinger

 
 
My dear, accept this dedication; it is given over, as it were, blindfolded, but therefore undisturbed by any consideration, in sincerity. Who you are, I know not; where you are, I know not; what your name is, I know not. Yet you are my hope, my joy, my pride, and my unknown honor.

It comforts me, that the right occasion is now there for you; which I have honestly intended during my labor and in my labor. For if it were possible that reading what I write became worldly custom, or even to give oneself out as having read it, in the hope of thereby winning something in the world, that then would not be the right occasion, since, on the contrary, misunderstanding would have triumphed, and it would have also deceived me, if I had not striven to prevent such a thing from happening.

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