Saturday, September 22, 2012

Philosophy for Understanding Theology (Book)

I have posted about a good number of books (Pascal's Pensées, Forgotten God, Confessions of a Sinner, and Life Together). And, I really hope to post about more (Man's Search for Meaning, Mere Christianity, and the Freedom of a Christian).

I have just began to read Philosophy for Understanding Theology by Diogenes Allen and I am ecstatic to carry on.

While I was at the Concordia University of Wisconsin obtaining my BA in Pre-Seminary and Philosophy studies, I always pointed out the philosophies that sounded like theology. While we went through both the Ancient and Modern philosophers, I realized that many of their thoughts have made their way into our beliefs (both Christian and non-Christian). Not only that, I also knew that many of our beliefs expounded where the philosophers left off. Theology was able to reach a better understanding of what many of the philosophers just dabbled in.

This book shares the impact of God's gift of Wisdom and Reason in our understanding of Him. Allen also points out the necessity for learning some philosophy in order to understand even more about God.

I already thought the book was worth buying just after reading the Introduction.

"Philosophical knowledge enables one to appreciate more deeply the meaning of virtually every major doctrinal formulation and every major theologian." "All too often such material is of fundamental importance for the understanding of Christian doctrine and theology." p x.

"I have made my selection from the mass of philosophical material by first looking at theologians. I have determined from a study of their works what philosophy influenced them and what philosophical concepts and terms they use. It is what theologians do that determines what I present and how..." This is "the principle of selection what matters for theology rather than what matters for philosophy." p x.

Allen shares some brief concepts of theology and philosophy. One thing that really stuck out was that the Jews knew God because of his revelation, while Aristotle knew some form of god due to his observations.

Allen gives credit to Hellenistic influence (started by the Greeks) for our yearning to study the big questions such as "Why?" Although, before the Greeks many people (such as the Jews) asked God for answers, Allen feels that those questions were more concerned with justice rather than the Greek's need to expand their knowledge (a need that we still share today).

One good quote that he has as he's describing both our role and God's role in the universe is: "God created us in order to have a life with God, indeed that we are ultimately to share the divine life, which is beyond our mode of existence." p xxiii.

As we enter this realm of thought, we tread dangerous waters. We must hesitate and remain certain with our Biblical theology being careful to secure it as "theology" (the study of God, Prov. 9:10 [God starts our understanding of Him]) as opposed to "theosophy" (godly wisdom, building ourselves up to God [bad, inaccurate stuff]).

Stay tuned for more.

Buy the book here:


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