Review: Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview

Moreland, J. P. and Craig, William Lane.   Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview.  Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2003.

This is one of those books in which I have spent more time over the past ten years than any other.

Time and a second reading, along with various shifts in worldview, can fundamentally alter one’s perception of an author. My first experience with Moreland and Craig, Moreland in particular, was *Love your God with all Your Mind.* Despite the title’s fluffy, evangelicalish devotional appeal, LYGWALM actually was very rigorous and probably did more for getting my intellectual life started than anything else.

I decided to read everything by Moreland (and Craig). Since *Philosophical Foundations of a Christian Worldview* had just come out in 2003, I felt it would be a good text to read.

When I got it though, I experienced several let-downs. It was waay over my head. And the parts I did understand I had to reject: Molinism and the classical arguments for the existence of God.

In response to the theonomy debates later on (circa 2006) I began studying ethics and Moreland/Craig’s section on ethics, emphasizing the roles of normative, situational, and personal ethics, was outstanding.

An Overview of Key Concepts:

property: a universal (Moreland and Craig, 219), that which can be instantiated in more than one place at once.  It would still exist apart from the substance. A substance “owns” a property (215).  Properties always come together in groups.

substance: more basic than properties. Substances do the having, properties the “had.”  “A substance is a deep unity of properties, parts and capacities.”

The Soul

Moreland outlines the five states of the soul (sensation, thought, belief, act of will, and desire).  What’s interesting about that is the above states of the soul cannot be reduced to purely physical categories.  This means the soul/mind is not reducible to the brain, which means scientific naturalism is false.

Not only does the soul have the aforementioned five states, it also has capacities or hierarchies.  Without getting too technical, understanding the soul’s capacities is key in the abortion debate.

The Book’s Value:

They show the philosophical difficulties with all of Western philosophy (and theology).

The Book’s Highpoints:
1. Excellent, if somewhat intellectually painful, chapter on how to do logic. Be warned, this is very, very hard to read.

2. Gives a good discussion on whether knowledge is really “justified, true belief.”

3. Introduces the reader to the categories of time, substance, and space.

4. Very good internal critique of Scient(ISM)’s presuppositions. Completely defangs modern science.

5. Excellent discussion on the nature of ethical reasoning.

6. Good critique of the Western doctrine of Absolute Divine Simplicity.

Cons of the Book:
1. This book is simply too hard and inaccessible for most people.

2. I admit–I now see that their proofs for the existence of God are logically compatible. I reject the presuppositional critique of the Five ways. However, who has actually been convinced by this reasoning?

3. The chapter on Molinism is very interesting However, I am not sure Molinism isn’t itself another variant of Augustinian determinism.

As a reference resource, this book is outstanding. However, to fully understand what they are saying, one needs to read upper-level philosophy and theology for about a year (I had to study for three or four years) to really understand what they are saying


About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
This entry was posted in American Evangelicalism, Apologetics, Book Review, Philosophy, theology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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