Should a Christian Theologian or Pastor Use Philosophy?
by David Haines
I have already written quite a bit on questions concerning the relationship between faith and reason (see here, ici, here, here, here.). It is a subject that interests me for a number of reasons. This subject interests me primarily because I am a Christian who studies philosophy. My interest in this subject began during my undergraduate studies which were in Theology. Near the end of my studies I interned as a Pastor in an evangelical protestant church for a year, and became extremely interested in Apologetics.
After my internship I pastored for another three years in the same church, and during that time read through a number of books by Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, Gary Habermas and all of the other well-known Protestant Apologists. During that time one of the things that struck me as extremely interesting is that they all quoted well-known philosophers either using their arguments or refuting their arguments. Furthermore they not only used logic, but some of them, such as Geisler and Craig, wrote books in which they explained some of the basic principles, not only of logic, but of the other domains of philosophy. (see Geisler’s Introduction to Philosophy, and Craig’s Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview) Almost 50 % of Norman Geisler’s Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics are about philosophies, philosophers, or problems that deal with philosophy.
I was introduced, mainly through Norman Geisler’s works, to medieval philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, and Augustine, and ancient greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato. During my third year in the pastorate I read through Plato’s Republic, the first part of the Summa Theologiae, and a number of other philosophical works by thomistic philosophers such as Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain. It occurred to me that in order to be a good apologist I needed to begin by being a good philosopher (some domains of apologetics require you to be a good historian, a good scientist, and a good exegete as well). That’s where it all began…
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