Let me begin with a brief lament. As a Christian philosopher who teaches future ministry leaders and speaks to lay leaders and pastors, I frequently defend the need for philosophy. Allowing for some slight exaggeration, a typical student comment goes like this: “Why do I need to learn logic? Will I ever perform a logical proof in a Bible study?” Whenever I speak, teach, or preach at a church, I find a similar suspicion. Philosophers are viewed as a kind of novelty act: “Look what we found! A philosopher! Let him babble a bit to see if any koans drop out of his mouth.” All too often, the church assumes that Christianity and philosophy mix as well as oil and water.
In every generation, certain books profoundly influence individuals or entire cultures, serving as catalysts for new ideas, enlarged possibilities, and fresh perspectives on ancient truths. The Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant, for example, claimed that reading David Hume awakened him from a dogmatic slumber. I hope that Jonathan T. Pennington’s Jesus the Great Philosopher plays a similar role in the contemporary church, reminding us to value the brilliance of Jesus the Philosopher King. Pennington, who teaches New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, makes three arguments: that the Bible addresses the big philosophical questions, that Christianity is a philosophy, and that Jesus is a philosopher. Each of these claims seeks to recover a key truth lost by the contemporary church.
Modern secular philosophy is anemic and disconnected from everyday life; it was not always so. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a rich conception of philosophy. For the ancients, philosophy was a way of life: the love and pursuit of ...1
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