Advice to Christian Philosophers + Advice to Christian Apologists
There are times when I am studying and I wonder: Why am I doing this? What is a minister doing in a graduate program in philosophy?
I am much more interested in discipleship than in philosophical logic, yet I spend a lot more time thinking about the latter. I am much more interested in justification in terms of atonement before God than notions of epistemic justification, yet I spend a lot more time thinking about the latter. It’s not that I don’t love philosophy, I do. I just love ministry more.
When I have to get through some very difficult philosophical arguments, I feel that I’m just lacking in philosophical talent. I know I’m at a certain disadvantage b/c I got a late start. I had already graduated seminary and was working as a minister before pursuing a graduate degree in analytic philosophy. If top philosophers are NBA all-stars and good philosophers are NBA role players, I consider myself a CBA player at best. That is on a very very good day, I can ‘somewhat’ compete with the NBA players but for the most part I just don’t have the talent to ball with them. Yet God has a different calling for each person, and I have no doubt that my calling is tied both to ministry and philosophy. I value training and I’m convinced this is a part of my training. However, like any person running a difficult race – even those with a clear purpose – sometimes one can lose sight of the goal. We all need reminders that what we are doing is worthy and that it is not in vain. Here are two of those reminders for any Christian who is working in philosophy:
1) Advice to Christian Philosophers by Alvin Plantinga
(I read this article nearly 15 years ago as an undergraduate, and to this day I still read it a few times a year. Alvin Plantinga has been my biggest philosophical influence. After reading everything he has published I finally met the man. Not only was I impressed by his razor sharp intellect, I was equally impressed by his gracious spirit.)
2) Advice to Christian Apologists by William Lane Craig
(I met William Lane Craig a few years ago at a conference, and he is just the type of scholar that I hope to become. He can go from explaining the resurrection of Christ to a high school student and then without missing a beat get into some really technical analytic philosophy. He too is an amazing intellect full of grace.)