Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary
Christianity and Philosophy: Strangers, Enemies, or Friends?
I. Christianity, Philosophy, and Me
A. Initial exposure to philosophy in college as a nonChristian
B. Conversion and reengagement of philosophy, largely through reading Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There (InterVarsity Press, 1968)
C. My profession as a Christian philosopher
II. Definitions: Philosophy and Christianity
A. Philosophy: the rational search for the most important truths in epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics
B. Christianity: set of truth claims about God, humanity, salvation, morality, history, and the afterlife (worldview or philosophy of life)
Creation (Genesis 1-2), fall (Genesis 3; Romans 3), redemption (John 3; Romans 1-8)
III. Christianity and Philosophy as Strangers
1. Faith as utterly different from reason
2. Items of Christian belief are alien to an impervious to claims of philosophy. Some aspects of Soren Kierkegaard’s thought.
3. Way of protecting Christian beliefs from critical evaluation
B. Against fideism
1. Bible verses used to support it fail: Colossians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 1-2
2. Scripture encourages critical thinking about biblical truth claims (Isaiah 1:18; Matthew 22:37-50; 1 Peter 3:15-17; Acts 17:16-34).
IV. Christianity and Philosophy as Enemies
A. Some secular philosophers
1. Faith as utterly different from and opposed to reason (Sam Harris, The End of Faith)
2. Faith as positive irrational, lacking in rational support (Bertrand Russell, Why I am Not a Christian)
3. No good arguments for God’s existence or Christian theism
1. Biblically, faith and reason are not anti-ethical. See J.P. Moreland, Love Your God with all your Mind (NavPress, 1997)
2. Many biblical examples of believers in God making a case for their beliefs as true and rational (Apostle Paul: Acts 17:16-34)
3. Christians have affirmed the value of philosophy throughout history: Augustine, St. Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, John Locke, C.S. Lewis, Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig (debates), J.P. Moreland, etc.
4. Resurgence of Christians in philosophy in the last thirty-five years. See Thomas V. Morris, ed., God and the Philosophers; Kelly James Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe. Journals: Faith and Philosophy; Philosophia Christi (well-respected philosophy journal).
V. Christianity and Philosophy as Friends
A. Against fideism (strangers) and secular philosophers (enemies)
B. Jesus as a philosopher (See Doug Groothuis, On Jesus)
1. God and the state (Matthew 22:15-23)
2. Jesus had a coherent worldview: personal theism. See On Jesus, chapters 4-7.
C. Philosophical arguments for God’s existence (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-21)
1. Types of theistic arguments (or natural theology): ontological, cosmological, design, moral, religious experience, etc.
The argument from reason (Alvin Plantinga, Richard Taylor): one of many arguments that make up a cumulative case for the truth of the Christian worldview.
1. If materialism is true, we cannot trust our cognitive faculties because they were not designed to know the world.
2. Our cognitive capacities are basically trustworthy.
3. Therefore (a), materialism is false. By modus tolens.
4. Therefore (b), we need another worldview to support our cognitive faculties.
5. Theism supports our cognitive faculties since it claims that God designed them to know ourselves, the world, and God (Genesis 1-2; Psalm 8; 94:8-10)
VI. Philosophy and Biblical Revelation
A. Unaided reason is limited in its abilities and worldview (Colossians 2:9)
B. Biblical revelation fills in and corrects what we can know otherwise (Deuteronomy 29:29; 2 Timothy 3:15-16)
VII. Conclusion: Think Well to Pursue Truth
A. Christianity and philosophy should be friends
1. Christian worldview is rationally supportable (1 Peter 3:15-16)
2. Other worldviews are rationally insufficient (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
B. Pursue this for yourself: ask, seek, knock (Jesus, Matthew 7:7)
1. Francis Beckwith, et al, eds. To Everyone an Answer (InterVarsity Press, 2004). Collection of essays defending Christianity philosophically. Includes an essay by Doug Groothuis on truth.
2. Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Christian Faith (InterVarsity, August, 2011). Twenty-eight chapters, 720 pages.
3. Douglas Groothuis web page: www.DougGroothuis.com.
4. C.S. Lewis, Miracles. See chapter three, “The Cardinal Difficulty for Naturalism.” This argument is related to the one give above.
5. J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (InterVarsity Press, 2003. See especially, chapter one, “What is Philosophy?”
6. James Sennett and Douglas Groothuis, eds., In Defense of Natural Theology (InterVarsity Press, 2005). Challenges the claim that David Hume destroyed natural theology. Chapter by Groothuis.
7. James Sire, The Universe Next Door, 5th ed. (InterVarsity, 2009). Explains the idea of a worldview and compares the Christian worldview with pertinent contenders for truth.
8. John Piper, Think (Crossway, 2010). Most of this book addresses biblical passages wrongly taken to advocate anti-intellectualism.
9. Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford, 2000), pp. 227-240.
10. Victor Reppert, C. S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea (InterVarsity, 2002). Develops and updates C.S. Lewis’s argument from reason.
11. Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator (Zondervan, 2004). Presents scientific and philosophical arguments for God’s existence. See also the DVD.