Book Reviews

Review of The Soul of Theological Anthropology: A Cartesian Exploration by Joshua R. Farris
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / August 31, 2017

Joshua R. Farris. The Soul of Theological Anthropology: A Cartesian Exploration. London, UK: Routledge, 2017. pp. 198. $119.96, hardback. $38.47, ebook. Joshua R. Farris (Ph.D., University of Bristol) is Assistant Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University, School of Humanities, The Academy and The Honors College, in Houston, TX. He is also a member of the Department of Theology and is Director over Trinity School of Theology. Nearly 30 years ago, John W. Cooper wrote and published his widely read theological defense of substance dualism and the doctrine of the intermediate state: Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting. To this day, when one researches Christian accounts of the afterlife and attendant accounts of the human person, Cooper’s work is ubiquitous. Indeed, Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting has been something of the “gold standard” by which all defenses of the doctrine of the intermediate state and a theological defense of substance dualism have been measured. By my lights, that reign ends with the publication of Joshua Farris’s book, The Soul of Theological Anthropology. Farris is clear that his theological account of the human person “is motivated and influenced by John Cooper’s . . . work” and that he intends to “take some…

Review of Contemporary Philosophical Theology by Taliaferro and Meister
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / August 29, 2017

Taliaferro, Charles and Chad Meister. Contemporary Philosophical Theology. New York, NY: Routledge, 2016, pp. 242, $44.95, paperback. The authors are both well-established experts in the fields of philosophy and philosophical theology. Charles Taliaferro, Professor of Philosophy at St. Olaf College, is the author, co-author or editor of over twenty books. Recent books include The Golden Cord: A Short Book on the Sacred and the Secular (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012) and The Image in Mind (Bloomsbury, 2013, co-authored with Jil Evans). He is the co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Theism (Routledge, 2012, with Victoria S. Harrison and Stewart Goetz) and The Ashgate Companion to Theological Anthropology (Ashgate, 2016, with Joshua R. Farris). Chad Meister is Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Bethel College. He, too, is the author, co-author or editor of over twenty books. Recent books include Christian Thought: A Historical Introduction, second edition (Routledge, 2016, with J. B. Stump) and Introducing Philosophy of Religion (Routledge, 2019). He is co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Problem of Evil (Cambridge University Press, 2017, with Paul Moser) and God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views (IVP Academic, 2017, with James K. Dew, Jr.). Together, in Contemporary Philosophical…

Review of How I Changed my Mind about Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science edited by Applegate and Stump
Book Reviews , Philosophy / August 24, 2017

Applegate, Kathryn and J. B. Stump, eds. How I Changed my Mind about Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016, pp. 196, $10, paperback. Kathryn Applegate and J. B. Stump are the Resources Editor and Senior Editor, respectively, at BioLogos—a Christian organization whose mission is to advocate a view of “harmony between science and biblical faith” rooted in “an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation” ( Applegate holds a PhD in computational cell biology from The Scripps Research Institute. Stump, who recently authored Science and Christianity: An Introduction to the Issues (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), holds a PhD in philosophy from Boston University. How I Changed my Mind about Evolution is a collection of autobiographical essays from evangelical Christians who believe the theory of evolution is compatible with the truth and authority of the Bible. Among its twenty-five contributing authors are pastors, Bible scholars, theologians, philosophers, and scientists. Some are distinguished scholars with doctoral degrees from Oxford, Yale, Harvard, Berkeley, or MIT. Eight have doctorates in the biological sciences, and two of these biologists—Denis Lamoureux and Jeff Hardin—have additional graduate degrees in theology. Two other contributors hold prestigious positions in the scientific community: Jennifer Wiseman is a…

Review of A Little Book for New Scientists by Reeves and Donaldson
Book Reviews , Philosophy / August 22, 2017

Reeves, Josh A. and Steve Donaldson, A Little Book for New Scientists. Downers Grove, IVP Academic, 2016, pp. 141, $12.00, paperback. A book title by an evangelical publisher purporting to provide help for scientists immediately raises questions in today’s overheated world of Christianity in relation to science. But this is precisely the purpose of this truly little blue book (7 x 4 x ½ inches). And for such a small work, the authors do a remarkably good job of at least pointing out to us the right questions. The authors teach that the scientist can expect felicitous surprises (e.g., opportunities for mission and ministry) as well as trials for their Christian faith (e.g., science-religion conflicts). The latter can lead to intellectual crisis for Christians. So the authors state: “The primary purpose of this book, then, is to help Christians studying and practicing in the sciences to connect their vocation with their Christian faith” (p. 13). The authors, who teach at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, are well-qualified to write such a book. Reeves serves as a project administrator in the university’s Center for Science and Religion (CSR), managing the New Directions in Science and Religion project. Donaldson, who co-founded the…

Review of God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism by William Lane Craig
Book Reviews , Philosophy / August 17, 2017

Craig, William Lane. God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 242, $80.00, hardback. God Over All is an expansion of William Lane Craig’s 2015 Cadbury lectures. A more in depth volume on God and abstract objects is forthcoming with Springer Publishing. This work then can be considered as a succinct summary of Craig’s research on the topic. Given that this is the case, we should judge this work in light of the aforementioned context. Craig begins the volume by defining the problem of God and abstract objects. The idea is something like this: Classical theism sees God as a se, that is, God does not exist through another or from another; instead it is he who is responsible for all of reality (p. 1). And yet, if Platonism – the thesis that there are abstract objects which are eternal and immaterial – is true, God would not be a se. Craig gives the following as an example of why this would be the case: Consider the cluster of divine attributes which go to make up God’s nature. Call that nature deity. On Platonism, deity is an abstract object existing independently of God,…

Review of Four Views on Christianity and Philosophy edited by Gould and Davis
Book Reviews , Philosophy / August 15, 2017

Gould, Paul M. and Richard Brian Davis, eds. Four Views on Christianity and Philosophy. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016, pp. 240, $19.99, paperback. Perhaps reflecting the influence of his colleague, Rudolf Bultmann, Martin Heidegger makes what at first seems a curious statement in a 1927-28 lecture entitled “Phenomenology and Theology”: “there is no such thing as a Christian philosophy” (in The Piety of Thinking, James G. Hart and John C. Maraldo, eds. [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976], 21). For Heidegger, philosophy examines the most basic of human pursuits (the question of Being) while all other disciplines (including theology) examine various aspects of Being. Some in the Society of Christian Philosophers may disagree, but Heidegger is basically correct—if by Christian philosophy one means a philosophy that differs in kind from other alleged types of philosophy. Philosophy, though, properly understood, is not a set of beliefs or method of analysis that is susceptible to qualifying titles such as “Christian,” or “atheistic,” or Buddhist.” This is not to say that one who is a Christian may not philosophize differently from one who is an atheist, or a Muslim, or a Buddhist. The practitioner changes while the practice does not—or, at least, it should not….

Review of The Religious Philosophy of Roger Scruton edited by James Bryson
Book Reviews , Philosophy / August 10, 2017

Bryson, James, ed. The Religious Philosophy of Roger Scruton. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, pp. 273, $114.00, hardback. In 2016 Roger Scruton, eminent British philosopher and writer, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth on her birthday. Sir Roger, recognized for his accomplishments in philosophy, teaching, and public education, was at the apotheosis of career spanning decades where he wrote and lectured on topics ranging from aesthetics, art, politics, and natural conservation. Surprisingly, there has been very little academic literature about Sir Roger’s writings, even less about his religious views. Given that he has written works on both religion and church life, this absence is glaring. It was to a great surprise that I noticed The Religious Philosophy of Roger Scruton. Originally conceived as a conference on Scruton’s writings, the work is a collection of papers presented on Sir Roger’s religious philosophy. The collection is well-thought out and organized clearly. The book itself is divided into four parts, each with essays devoting their time to exploring various areas of Scruton’s work. Part I is an exploration of Scruton’s writing on religion, Part II attempts to dive into the influences that shaped Scruton and his writing. Part III explores Scruton’s defense of art,…

Review of Alternative Concepts of God: Essays on the Metaphysics of the Divine edited by Backareff and Nagasawa
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / August 8, 2017

Buckareff, Andrei A. and Yujin Nagasawa, eds. Alternative Concepts of God: Essays on the Metaphysics of the Divine. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp 299, $51.80. The renaissance of philosophy of religion in the 20th Century brought with it an in-depth exploration of the metaphysics of theism. Other alternatives to theism have been explored such as pantheism and panentheism. Yet, these alternative models of God have not been given the same level of attention as theism in contemporary philosophy of religion. The collection of essays in Alternative Concepts of God seeks to provide readers with non-theistic explorations of the metaphysics of God. Each essay is well written, and the scholarship is fairly solid. However, most of the essays do not offer alternative conceptions to a theistic understanding of God in any significant depth. For example, Karl Pfeifer’s paper, “Pantheism as Panpsychism,” spends more time developing panpsychism than it does articulating pantheism. The connection to pantheism is not altogether clear as it seems that a theist could easily adopt panpsychism without endorsing pantheism. Andrei A. Buckareff develops a powerful argument for thinking that God must have spatial location; however, he does not develop this model of God in any depth….

Review of Structure and the Metaphysics of Mind: How Hylomorphism Solves the Mind-Body Problem by William Jaworski
Book Reviews , Philosophy / August 3, 2017

Jaworski, William. Structure and the Metaphysics of Mind: How Hylomorphism Solves the Mind-Body Problem. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 362, $85.00, hardcover. William Jaworski advances a unique take on an ancient metaphysical notion to solve the most confounding problems in the Philosophy of Mind. In Structure and the Metaphysics of Mind: How Hylomorphism Solves the Mind-Body Problem, Jaworski’s modest aim is to “…show that hylomorphism deserves a place at the table alongside more familiar theories such as nonreductive physicalism, emergentism, and Russellian monism” (p. 314). This goal is achieved. The first five chapters of the text may be taxing for the beginner scholar, as they focus on metaphysically abstract questions like the problem of universals, the nature of structure, powers, and puzzling questions in mereology. Nonetheless, the payoff in the subsequent chapters is a lucid and original hylomorphic theory of mind which can provide compelling responses to a wide variety of problems physicalist theories of mind face. Hylomorphism, for the uninitiated, is the position that among the basic constituents of reality are matter (ὕλη) and form (μορφή), or as Jaworski prefers, structure. Jaworski argues that, “A worldview that rejects hylomorphic structure… is a worldview that lacks a basic…

Review of The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God by John Schellenberg
Book Reviews , Philosophy / July 27, 2017

Schellenberg, John. The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, pp.xii+142, £25.00, hardback. John Schellenberg, Professor of Philosophy at Mount Saint Vincent University (Canada), brought “The Argument from Divine Hiddenness” (ADH) into the purview of academic scholarship. This (quite easy) argument goes like this: the Christian tradition depicts the ultimate well-being of human creatures as being dependent on a loving relationship with God. However, if God exists and is perfectly loving, why does not God make sure that all come to believe in Him? God’s hiddenness and the phenomenon of nonbelief seem to count against the very existence of a perfectly loving God. The hiddenness argument takes the form of a philosophical argument against theism, and much of this short book is dedicated to strengthening and defending the premises that when joined together entail the conclusion, “God does not exist”. Chapters 1 and 2 establish the philosophical groundwork for Schellenberg’s project. He provides the reader with the basic tools, explains the nature and purpose of making an argument, and what “philosophers are up to when they produce what looks like technobable” (p. 14). He further explains the key term of “hiddenness” and what…