Book Reviews

Review of The Nature and Promise of Analytic Theology by Crisp, Arcadi, and Wessling
Book Reviews , Featured , Philosophy , Theology / June 10, 2021

Crisp, Oliver D., James M. Arcadi, and Jordan Wessling. The Nature and Promise of Analytic Theology. Leiden: Brill, 2019. vi + 104 pp. €70.00/$84.00. Ever since the publication of the edited volume, Analytic Theology: News Essays in the Philosophy of Theology, which formally launched the analytic theology movement in 2009, questions and confusions remain as to what exactly analytic theology (AT) is. Not only do scholars from various disciplines take issue with the qualifier analytic in AT, a number of them doubt that AT can even be called theology (e.g., Martin Westerholm, “Analytic Theology and Contemporary Inquiry,” International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 80, no. 3 [2019]: 230–54). After ten years of various attempts at definition, Oliver Crisp as the co-founder of the movement, together with some of his A-Team, James Arcadi and Jordan Wessling, once again take up the task of restating and clarifying a definition in their The Nature and Promise of Analytic Theology. In writing this brief, yet substantive monograph, Crisp et al.’s ultimate aim is not simply to respond to some common misunderstandings to AT; rather they aim to highlight how AT has been operating and developing in the past and how it can contribute further to…

Review of The Eternal Covenant: Schleiermacher on God and Natural Science by Daniel James Pedersen

Pedersen, Daniel James. The Eternal Covenant: Schleiermacher on God and Natural Science. Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2017, pp.xli+187, $114.99, hardback. The focus of this work is the “eternal covenant” between the Christian faith and natural science that is commended in the work of Friedrich Schleiermacher. As the introduction rehearses, two interpretations of this proposal have dominated the literature: a “separationist model”, in which there is a rigid demarcation of the disciplines, and an “accommodation model”, in which the Christian faith always has to accommodate advances in natural science. But Pedersen considers both models flawed: not only do they fail to account for the terms “eternal” and “covenant”; they also fail to consider that the “eternal covenant” is not so much a methodological proposal as a carefully argued conclusion, undergirded by “a host of claims and commitments supported by argumentation” (p. 12). To demonstrate this latter position is the principal task which this book sets itself, and its proving ground is Schleiermacher’s major work in Christian dogmatics, Christian Faith. The ultimate starting-point for all Schleiermacher’s claims and commitments in Christian Faith is, famously, the feeling of absolute dependence. Crucially, however, Pedersen observes that these claims and commitments can be held on…

Review of Divine Omniscience and Human Free Will: A Logical and Metaphysical Analysis by Ciro De Florio and Aldo Friderio
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / March 22, 2021

De Florio, Ciro and Aldo Friderio. Divine Omniscience and Human Free Will: A Logical and Metaphysical Analysis. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Frontiers in Philosophy of Religion, 2019, pp. 264, $80, Hardcover. The problem of divine foreknowledge and human free will exists at the impasse of two seemingly independent, yet, arguably mutually exclusive propositions: that God has foreknowledge of future contingents and that human beings possess libertarian free will. Roughly stated, if God knows at some past time (say, the creation of the world) that tomorrow I will drink coffee for breakfast, then, when tomorrow arrives, it seems that I am not free to do anything other than drink coffee (call this the foreknowledge dilemma). In their recently co-authored book, Divine Omniscience and Human Free Will, philosophers Ciro De Florio and Aldo Frigerio highlight an often overlooked aspect of the foreknowledge dilemma, namely, the metaphysics of time, arguing that solutions to the problem that do not account for the nature of time often are found wanting. Thus, the authors’ primary goal is not to provide a solution to the problem; rather it is to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the most common solutions in light of differing metaphysics of time. The book consists…

Review of Scientism: The New Orthodoxy by Williams and Robinson
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / January 22, 2021

Richard N. Williams and Daniel Robinson. Scientism: The New Orthodoxy. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016. 208 pages. $42.95. As anyone in the academy will admit, the natural sciences have been extraordinarily successful. That success translates over into wonderful (even if sometimes dreadful) technological innovations: the light bulb, GPS, laptops, transportation, iPhones, vaccines, atom bombs, television, the Internet, the plane, telescopes, et al. The list is long and growing. The methods of science appear to be so powerful that some thinkers begin to ask themselves the following questions. What if one needs the sciences to really know anything at all? What if other disciplines have been using methods that do not lead to knowledge? Why is it that the sciences have a marked history of measurable progress that the other disciplines do not have (and if they do have it, why does it take so long, and why is it so small and inconsequential?)? If the methods of science have been this powerful, why are not such methods used in all domains of inquiry? Thus, if the sciences are the only way to have real knowledge of the nature of reality, then other disciplines seem to have two choices: either gradually go…

Review of But What About God’s Wrath? The Compelling Love Story of Divine Anger by Kevin Kinghorn with Stephen Travis
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / January 14, 2021

Kinghorn, Kevin (with Stephen Travis). But What About God’s Wrath? The Compelling Love Story of Divine Anger. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, pp. 157, $18.  Kevin Kinghorn (DPhil, Oxford) is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Asbury Theological Seminary. He has authored The Decision of Faith: Can Christian Beliefs Be Freely Chosen? (T&T Clark, 2005) and A Framework for the Good (Notre Dame, 2016) along with numerous articles and book chapters. While this book is written by Kinghorn, he acknowledges extensive dependence on the Biblical exegesis work of Stephen Travis (PhD, Cambridge), which is why Travis is referenced on the title page. The issue of God’s wrath is a practical point of contention in contemporary theology, as it has been throughout the history of Christian theology. In But What About God’s Wrath? Kinghorn seeks to defend the thesis that God’s wrath is a pattern of action of God “pressing on us the truth” of our sinfulness rooted in his love for all humanity (see p. 92). Kinghorn attempts to accomplish this in two ways. First, he provides a philosophical argument beginning with biblically and philosophically reasonable theological commitments for the conclusion that “God’s wrath is entirely an expression of…

Review of Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions: Prospects and Problems by Baldwin and McNabb
Book Reviews , Philosophy / November 12, 2020

Baldwin, Erik and Tyler Dalton McNabb. Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions: Prospects and Problems. London, UK: Lexington Books, 2019, pp. 315, $95, hardback. Baldwin and McNabb’s Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions is the first in-depth assessment of the prospects of extending Alvin Plantinga’s strategy for defending the epistemic rationality of Christian belief to other religious contexts. To this end, the authors engage representative positions in Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Judaism, and Islam for determining which, if any, are able to sustain something at least analogous to the Plantingian religious epistemological model. This project is important in light of the well-known Pandora’s Box objection to Plantinga’s religious epistemology: some are weary of Plantinga’s theory if just any proponent of any major world religion can employ it to congratulate themselves for having epistemically rational religious beliefs. The book is structured in four parts. The first introduces and defends the main outlines of Plantinga’s religious epistemology; the second evaluates select eastern religions in their capacity for integrating that epistemology; the third evaluates Judaism and Islam with respect to the same question; and the fourth engages the aforementioned Pandora’s Box problem. Ultimately the authors conclude that, while the Abrahamic religions have resources for…

Review of Dysteleology: A Philosophical Assessment of Suboptimal Design in Biology by Michael Berhow
Book Reviews , Philosophy / July 8, 2020

Berhow, Michael. Dysteleology: A Philosophical Assessment of Suboptimal Design in Biology. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2019. 148 pages, $21, paperback. “Dysteleology” is a term invented by Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) to describe the apparent suboptimal design and lack of function of biological order. Colloquially known as the “problem of bad design”, dysteleology has long been a central counterargument to the argument that biology was intentionally created by an omnipotent and perfectly good Creator. In the book, Dysteleology, philosopher Michael Berhow approaches the problem by contrasting theistic evolutionist Francisco J. Ayala’s dysteleological argument with Intelligent Design (ID) proponent William A. Dembski’s thought. The primary goal of the book is to show that dysteleology, as formulated by Ayala, fails as a counterargument against Intelligent Design. A secondary goal is to show that the project of theodicy requires a teleological worldview, and that Intelligent Design provides better support for such a worldview than Ayala’s brand of theistic evolutionism. Thus, Berhow concludes ambitiously that “If philosophers and theologians hope to develop a coherent evolutionary theodicy . . . they must appreciate the insights offered by ID advocates like Dembski” (p. 139). Berhow’s critique of Ayala’s theodicy follows familiar lines of argument from the literature….

Review of Necessary Existence by Alexander R. Pruss and Joshua L. Rasmussen
Book Reviews , Philosophy / January 27, 2020

Pruss, Alexander R. and Joshua L. Rasmussen. Necessary Existence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 223, $64, hardback. In Necessary Existence, Joshua Rasmussen (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Azusa Pacific University) and Alexander Pruss (Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University) aim to defend the coherence and plausibility of the existence of a concrete being that exists of necessity, that is, a being that cannot fail to exist that can stand in causal relations (call this being “CNB” for short). While many of the ideas in the book have their origin in a series of previously published journal articles by Rasmussen, there is a great deal of new material in the book that will be of interest to those working in metaphysics and philosophical theology. The book is composed of nine densely packed chapters, each chock-full of rigorous, careful, and even-handed philosophical argumentation. A short review like this cannot possibly do justice to the clarity, creativity, and force of the philosophical arguments crafted in the book. Philosophical arguments in support of a CNB have played an important role in the history of Western philosophy, specifically as it pertains to arguments for theism. Such arguments commonly appeal to some aspect of contingent existence (events, facts,…

Review of My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace by J. P. Moreland

Moreland, J. P. Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace. Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan, 2019, pp. 220.    J. P. Moreland is distinguished professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and director of Eidos Christian Center. With degrees in philosophy, theology and chemistry, Dr. Moreland has taught theology and philosophy at several schools throughout the United States. The author has numerous books, he has also served with Campus Crusade, planted two churches, and spoken at hundreds of college campuses and churches. Dr. Moreland has been recognized by The Best Schools as one of the 50 most influential living philosophers in the world (back cover). Finding Quiet (FQ) is an autobiographical testimony by Dr. Moreland about the trials and victories he has had over clinical depression which lasted for decades in his life. He writes in the Preface “The book you hold in your hands is an honest revelation of my own struggles with anxiety and depression, along with a selection of the significant spiritual, physical, and psychological ideas and practices that have helped me most. I am not a licensed therapist, and this book is not meant to be a substitute for professional or…

Review of The Hiddenness of God by Michael C. Rea
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / January 6, 2020

Rea, Michael C. The Hiddenness of God. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018, 198pp., $30.00, hardcover. Michael C. Rea is Rev. John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Philosophy of Religion. In this book, Rea deals with two problems induced by divine hiddenness. They are [1] the argument against the existence of God, most notably by J. L. Schellenberg; and [2] the challenge of the idea of God’s love. Rea’s approach to the issues involves two steps to respond to these two problems respectively. The first step involves two arguments to show that the hiddenness problems are based on an unfounded assumption about divine love. The first argument, in Chapter 2, is that Schellenberg’s problem is based on a concept of God which is different from and fails to target specifically Christian belief in God. For Rea, the problem of divine hiddenness is fundamentally “a problem of violated expectations” (p. 25). In Chapter 3, Rea argues that the concept of God in biblical portrayals emphasizes two key attributes, personality and transcendence, which are woven together while they are also in tension with each other. In short, we cannot understand divine love without the light of divine…