Would Jesus cleanse the temple of Philosophy?
by Paul Gould
In his introduction to Jesus and Philosophy, Paul Moser asks, “How, then, is Jesus relevant to philosophy as a discipline?” This is a great question. Possible answers include “not at all,” “insignificantly” or “significantly” relevant.
Many in the academy would argue that Jesus has little or no relevance to the discipline of philosophy. Recently, the philosophers David Chalmers and David Borget conducted a survey that targeted 1,972 philosophy faculty members from 99 different institutions to determine the actual beliefs of philosophers on perennial topics within the discipline. Of the 931 who replied, 72.8% considered themselves atheists, while only 14.6% considered themselves theists. Undoubtedly, many of these atheist philosophers think Jesus has no place in philosophy. For those atheists who do allow Jesus a seat at the table—perhaps as a moral teacher or examplar—still, my guess is they are wary of Him and His followers. Just recall Quentin Smith’s essay published in 2004 in Philo where he laments how the “secularization of mainstream academia began to quickly unravel upon the publication of Plantinga’s influential book on realist theism, God and Other Minds, in 1967.”
Moser, on the other hand, argues that Jesus bears significantly on philosophy.For, in itself philosophy is inadequate and incomplete. It needs to be reconceived under the banner of Christ in order to yield an adequate understanding of intellectual and moral reality.
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As Moser puts it, “Philosophy in its normal mode, without being receptive to an authoritative divine challenge stemming from divine love commands, leaves humans in a discussion mode, short of an obedience mode under divine authority.”
That is, philosophy, carried out in the discussion mode consist of endless conversations, debates, arguments, circles, twists, and turns …with little action, little change, and little movement toward faithful obedience to Christ for the love of God and the good of man. Many of us who participate in the academic discipline of philosophy can relate: the endless march of journal articles responding to person A and position X, who is, in turn, responding to person C and the once-removed-cousin-of-X, who is responding to … (you get the point) can make one wonder what is really going on the discipline of philosophy.
In reality, I think important work is going on in philosophy, and in the academic journals of philosophy. Truth is being sought and Lord willing, found…