hits counter Warranted Christian Belief - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Warranted Christian Belief

Availability: Ready to download

This is the third volume in Alvin Plantinga's trilogy on the notion of warrant, which he defines as that which distinguishes knowledge from true belief. In this volume, Plantinga examines warrant's role in theistic belief, tackling the questions of whether it is rational, reasonable, justifiable, and warranted to accept Christian belief and whether there is something epist This is the third volume in Alvin Plantinga's trilogy on the notion of warrant, which he defines as that which distinguishes knowledge from true belief. In this volume, Plantinga examines warrant's role in theistic belief, tackling the questions of whether it is rational, reasonable, justifiable, and warranted to accept Christian belief and whether there is something epistemically unacceptable in doing so. He contends that Christian beliefs are warranted to the extent that they are formed by properly functioning cognitive faculties, thus, insofar as they are warranted, Christian beliefs are knowledge if they are true.


Compare

This is the third volume in Alvin Plantinga's trilogy on the notion of warrant, which he defines as that which distinguishes knowledge from true belief. In this volume, Plantinga examines warrant's role in theistic belief, tackling the questions of whether it is rational, reasonable, justifiable, and warranted to accept Christian belief and whether there is something epist This is the third volume in Alvin Plantinga's trilogy on the notion of warrant, which he defines as that which distinguishes knowledge from true belief. In this volume, Plantinga examines warrant's role in theistic belief, tackling the questions of whether it is rational, reasonable, justifiable, and warranted to accept Christian belief and whether there is something epistemically unacceptable in doing so. He contends that Christian beliefs are warranted to the extent that they are formed by properly functioning cognitive faculties, thus, insofar as they are warranted, Christian beliefs are knowledge if they are true.

30 review for Warranted Christian Belief

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This is the third, and hence final, book in "the warrant trilogy." Here Plantinga begins by looking into the de jure question, viz., is it rational, reasonable, justified, warranted, to accept Christian belief. Or, is the Christian epistemologically negligible for accepting such beliefs - belief in God, belief in the great truths of the Gospel, etc? Plantinga concludes (after much rigorous philosophical investigation) that all such objections depend on the de facto question, viz., does God exist This is the third, and hence final, book in "the warrant trilogy." Here Plantinga begins by looking into the de jure question, viz., is it rational, reasonable, justified, warranted, to accept Christian belief. Or, is the Christian epistemologically negligible for accepting such beliefs - belief in God, belief in the great truths of the Gospel, etc? Plantinga concludes (after much rigorous philosophical investigation) that all such objections depend on the de facto question, viz., does God exist? This obviously takes the wind out of the sails of many objections to the Christian's faith. That is, the non-Christian is assuming that God does not exist in order for his blows to have the desired force. So, if a detractor wants to engage himself in that debate first, he's free to do so. But, we've been debating the de facto question for millennia. So a good inductive bet is that the non-Christian won't succeed here, and hence he won't succeed with the de jure question. But, there is one such de jure objection that comes close to hitting what it is aiming for (actually, Plantinga credits others with this kind of argument too). This is the Freud-Mark complaint (Freud and Marx get the credit, but Plantinga finds the objection in men like Nietzsche, Rousseau, Hume, &c.). Christianity is something like "wish fulfillment." Thus, what produces belief in God is a cognitive faculty not aimed at truth, but aimed at some other non-epistemic outcome, say, comfort. Thus we have a belief that is produced by a cognitive faculty not aimed at truth, even if it is properly functioning (which is why proper function isn't sufficient for warrant). If true, we have a successful de jure objection. Plantinga then spends all of part III developing a possible account of how, if Christianity is true, Christian belief is warranted. Building off some of the work in his previous two volumes, he concludes that the Christian's belief in God, the great things of the Gospel, etc., are properly basic. God made us with a certain design plan, and knowing him, knowing about salvation, is important for us. Thus belief in God B can be the product of properly functioning cognitive faculties, functioning in a congenial epistemic environment, and according to a design plan aimed at producing true beliefs; and B is subject to no undefeated-defeaters. Plantinga spends part IV discussing the nature of defeaters (which is an interesting subject in and of itself, Plantinga just hits the tree tops), and then specific defeaters to the Christian faith. This is because a non-Christian might make the move that accepts Plantinga's claim that if Christianity were true the believer would be warranted, but since there are defeaters for the Christian's belief, this takes away their warrant. Plantinga, I think, succeeds in showing that objections to Christianity rely on the de facto question. He succeeds in providing a model (he calls it the Aquinas/Calvin model) which, if Christianity is true, shows that Christian belief can be rational, warranted, epistemically permissible, etc., and, not only that, but it would be rational to believe in God without evidence for that belief, given the proper basicality of theistic belief. The main complain I have is that I don't follow Plantinga in his understanding of A/C. He says humans have a knowledge producing faculty, the sensus divinitatis. But, I think that both A/C, and the Bible! (cf. Romans 1), teach that all men have knowledge, not just a knowledge-producing faculty. But this is easily overcome. All in all, I find Plantinga's book here, indeed the entire trilogy, to be extremely successful. Much future work will no doubt build off the very strong basic foundation he laid. Even if Plantinga is wrong about the specifics, then, as he says, something like his model is true.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Genni

    Warranted Christian Belief is highly relevant to today's intellectual climate and covers a lot of ground. Everywhere there are charges of irrationality or charges that Christian belief is not justified. This is not an apologetic work. Plantinga sets out to show that Christian belief is warranted, that there is not anything irrational about believing it, even in a basic way. Whether are not it is actually true is left up to others to argue. I did not interact very much with part I. He basically ar Warranted Christian Belief is highly relevant to today's intellectual climate and covers a lot of ground. Everywhere there are charges of irrationality or charges that Christian belief is not justified. This is not an apologetic work. Plantinga sets out to show that Christian belief is warranted, that there is not anything irrational about believing it, even in a basic way. Whether are not it is actually true is left up to others to argue. I did not interact very much with part I. He basically argues that there are two main interpretations of Kant and that neither one shows that our concepts or language cannot refer to God. I will have to come back and read this again after I finally make it through my chronological readings to Kant. Part II is definitional. What exactly do people mean when they throw out words like “irrational” or “justification”? How exactly are people flouting their epistemic duties in believing Christianity? And, as the main point of the book, what is warrant? It is the difference between true belief and knowledge. A belief has warrant “if and only if it is produced by cognitive faculties functioning properly in a congenial epistemic environment according to a design plan successfully aimed at the production of true belief”. If there is no such environment, then charges of irrationality make no sense. All of that is of interest to both theists and non-theists, I think. Part III is geared a little more toward the believer as he begins to give an epistemic account of Christian belief based on a Calvin/Aquinas model. (While he is at it, he references Danny Kaye which made me smile happily:There are models of many different kinds: model airplanes, artists' models, models in the sense of exemplars, models of a modern major general.”) He argues that this belief is properly basic by showing the similarities with other cognitive processes we believe in a basic way such as memory or perception. He deals with defeaters in Part IV, choosing Historical Biblical Criticism, Postmodernism, Pluralism, and of course, the big problem of Evil and showing that none of these constitutes as a defeater for Christian belief. It was an interesting exercise throughout to apply the arguments to atheism. I definitely think Christians fall into the same trap atheists do in their charges (i.e. a sort of reverse “wish-fulfillment” a laFreud where the atheist believes God does not exist because he does not “wish” him to so he can live his life however he wants). In closing, just a quick note on writing style: although some of the material is difficult, Plantinga writes in a conversational way that aids understanding, but is not terribly “dumbed down”. Furthermore, he writes with humility and does not treat his opponents abrasively, demonstrating a sympathetic understanding of his opponent's view.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David M

    Reading philosophy means learning about one's own ignorance. There may still be a few things in life of which I am fairly certain, but atheism is no longer one of them. To be dissuaded from holding atheism as true, however, is obviously not to be convinced of theism; still less is it to be converted to any particular religious faith. If I'm making any intellectual progress at all it's of a wholly negative variety. Alvin Plantinga has been a great help in this respect. * According to the Aquinas/Ca Reading philosophy means learning about one's own ignorance. There may still be a few things in life of which I am fairly certain, but atheism is no longer one of them. To be dissuaded from holding atheism as true, however, is obviously not to be convinced of theism; still less is it to be converted to any particular religious faith. If I'm making any intellectual progress at all it's of a wholly negative variety. Alvin Plantinga has been a great help in this respect. * According to the Aquinas/Calvin model, this natural knowledge of God is not arrived at by inference or argument (for example, the famous theistic proofs of natural theology) but in a much more immediate way. The deliverances of the sensus divinitatis are not quick and sotto voce inferences from the circumstances from the circumstances that trigger its operation. It isn't that one beholds the night sky, notes that it is grand, and concludes that there must be such a person as God: an argument like that would be ridiculously weak. - pp 175 I checked the index but found no references to Husserl or Merleau-Ponty (there are a few to Heidegger, but these seem to be throwaway lines about 'postmodern' authors). I think that's a shame, since phenomenology provides an extremely important resource for understanding this sort of experience. Famously, in the the fourth Cartesian meditation, Husserl endeavored to show something quite similar about intersubjectivity: that we do not infer the existence of other minds from external evidence but intuit them directly. Plantinga is extremely good at propositional arguments, but the point of all his arguments seems to be that arguments ultimately don't matter very much when it comes to believing in God; or at least that the atheist doesn't have any definitive arguments that should sway the believer. I think I am willing to accept that, but then I also wonder about vice versa. He also seems to acknowledge that the believer doesn't have any definitive arguments to sway the agnostic or atheist. What then ? Are we just at an impasse? A lot seems to depend on this sensus divinitatis, but even if it's fairly widespread it still seems very far from being universal (otherwise there wouldn't be so many non-believers; I'm not sure I recognize anything like it from my own life and experiences). It's not enough to simply invoke it, which unfortunately is what Plantinga tends to do. This is where a phenomenology of religious experience could be pertinent. * In Plantinga's scheme sin occupies the opposite pole from the sensus divinitatis. Sin is what keeps God's presence from being clear and obvious to all of us in the manner of, say, the existence of the world or other minds. This requires a concept of not just sin but original sin, to account for our universally fallen condition - a fallenness that's as much cognitive as ethical. Though his system requires it, I don't think Plantinga does a paritcularly good job selling original sin. As a concept it seems both cruel and absurd - one of the least attractive aspects of our Christian inheritance. At the same time, I'd grant that it does have a certain intuitive resonance; that is, I think I recognize what it means to speak of our 'fallen' state. Plantinga's reliance on clear propositional arguments is in many ways a strength, but here I think it fails him. Perhaps there are aspects of human existence that just are inherently ambiguous or paradoxical. Philosophy may still have something to say about these things, but it won't be a philosophy of logic and propositions. From the essay 'Original Sin: A Study in Meaning,' collected in The Conflict of Interpretations, behold the great Paul Ricoeur We must not make the transition from myth to mythology. It will never be said enough what evil has been done to Christianity by the literal interpretation, the 'historicist' interpretation, of the Adamic myth. This interpretation has plunged Christianity into the profession of an absurd history and into pseudo-rational speculations on the quasi-biological transmissions of a quasi-juridical guilt for the fault of an other man, back into the night of time, somewhere between Pithecanthropus and Neanderthal man. At the same time, the treasure hidden in the Adamic symbol has been squandered. The strong mind, the reasonable man, from Pelagius to Kant, Feuerbach, Marx, or Nietzsche, will always be right against mythology, although beyond any reductive critique the symbol will always invite thought. The Adamic myth reveals at the same time this mysterious aspect of evil, namely that if any one of us initiates evil, inaugurates it - something Pelagius saw very well - each of us also discovers evil , finds it already there, in himself, outside himself, and before himself. For every consciousness which awakens when responsibility is taken, evil is already there. There is something desperate here from the viewpoint of conceptual representation and something very profound from the metaphysical viewpoint. It is in the will itself that there is a kind of quasi-nature. Evil is a kind of involuntariness at the heart of the voluntary, no longer facing the voluntary but within the voluntary; and it is this which is the servile will. (This, I think, would constitute a phenomenology of religious experience. God damn, if the above doesn't give you chills, well there's not much else I can say) * Hm, well I have to give Plantinga credit for his discussion of sexual longing as a pathway to God. Maybe he's not quite as square and dry as I thought Human love is a sign of something deeper, something so deep that it is uncreated, an original and permanent and necessarily present feature of the universe. Eros undoubtedly characterizes many creatures other than human beings; no doubt much of the living universe shares this characteristic. More important, all of us creatures with eros reflect and partake in this profound divine property. So the most fundamental reality here is the love displayed by and in God: love within the trinity. - pp 321 (my emphasis) For me, that word uncreated immediately calls to mind Mlle Weil and her notorious spiritual practice of 'decreation.' In her own writings she never gives it a specifically sexual meaning, but, pervert that I am, I always considered that a possibility . Also, this is an interpretation of the trinity I wasn't taught in Sunday school. I'm not sure I completely understand it, but I think I like it. The classical, Thomisitic line of Christian theology actually has an excessively Aristotelian conception of God; that is, a philosopher's god who is disinterested and unchanging. Plantinga, departing here from his intellectual forefathers, argues that this downplays what is most poignant in the Christian revelation.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    I want to say right out of the gate that this is a preliminary review, and I hope to chew on Plantinga's theory like the cud, sending it through all seven of my mental stomachs. So I wouldn't burn at the stake for anything I say below (right now), but here goes anyway... "But is it true? This is the really important question. And here we pass beyond the competence of philosophy, whose main competence in this area, is to clear away certain objections, impedance, and obstacles to Christian belief.. I want to say right out of the gate that this is a preliminary review, and I hope to chew on Plantinga's theory like the cud, sending it through all seven of my mental stomachs. So I wouldn't burn at the stake for anything I say below (right now), but here goes anyway... "But is it true? This is the really important question. And here we pass beyond the competence of philosophy, whose main competence in this area, is to clear away certain objections, impedance, and obstacles to Christian belief..." (pg. 499) Thus Plantinga ends his 499 page tome, nicely summarizing his book's strengths and limitations. What Plantinga displays is that any Christian, even those who don't know much (or care to know much) about epistemology/philosophy not only can be, but generally are warranted on a hobbit level. When most people set out to write a tome on philosophy, they set up tall, lego skyscrapers of propositions upon which the belief sits. This really is helpful in its own right, but most people obviously don't actually think like this on a regular day to day basis. Plantinga, by contrast, is an observant philosopher who parks at this level arguing that Christian belief is likely warranted as a basic belief (if Christianity is true. If it isn't, it probably isn't warranted). Of course, granting the truth of Christianity for argument's sake is a tough sell in a work like this, but Plantinga shows that our understanding of how our minds are supposed to work (the teleology of the human mind), is very much informed but what we believe to be the nature of the world. At times, this sounds very much like presuppositionalism, but it really isn't because of his idea of how the sensus divinitatis would provide external warrant (assuming we really have this sense). This means that most Christians think presuppositionally most of the time, and they are warranted in doing so because this is how we have been designed by God. I'm inclined to agree with Plantinga that the sensus divinitatis (or something similar to it) does provide warrant for Christian belief, but most atheists would be unwilling to concede the point. So, as his above quote indicates, he does a good job of weed-whacking away at sloppy atheistic thinking, but it is beyond the scope his work to prove that they are wrong. More is needed, and as he would point out, that more is the instigation Holy Spirit

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Tidwell

    This is a fairly dense 500 pages of epistemology, theology, and general philosophy. Although the author does a great job making the majority of the content accessible to the lay reader, he occasionally runs up against topics of irreducible complexity which can be hard to fully appreciate without a lot of effort and at least a little formal training in philosophy. Nevertheless, I think it's an important and worthwhile read regardless of one's religious proclivities (so long as you have the patien This is a fairly dense 500 pages of epistemology, theology, and general philosophy. Although the author does a great job making the majority of the content accessible to the lay reader, he occasionally runs up against topics of irreducible complexity which can be hard to fully appreciate without a lot of effort and at least a little formal training in philosophy. Nevertheless, I think it's an important and worthwhile read regardless of one's religious proclivities (so long as you have the patience to see it through). Three main points worth highlighting: -The standard modern way of justifying one's beliefs - Classical Foundationalism ("Evidentialism") - is false (or at least not completely true in the manner typically conceived). In simplified terms, most Westerners tend to treat only "reason" (a very loaded word) as the self-justified epistemological criteria par excellence. It isn't, and we can blame John Locke that no one realizes it. -Upon closer analysis, de jure objections to theism typically rely on an unstated de facto objection (i.e. most arguments against theism implicitly presuppose its falsity). In fact, discovering a purely de jure objection to theism that is actually independent of a de facto objection is rather difficult. No doubt this point cuts both ways though; some arguments for theism presuppose its veracity. -Each worldview has its own "epistemic structure" (my term, not the author's). For example, IF theism is true, then things like faith and divine inspiration are warranted sources of knowledge in the same way we think of reason or empirical observation. This opens a whole new can of epistemological worms though: if voodoo were true, would a trance-like vision fueled by mind altering drugs be a warranted source of knowledge? Of course, this type of counterargument assumes a false commonality between all (or at least most) aspects of the "voodoo worldview" structure and, say, Christian theism, when in reality the two share almost nothing in common. If I could give a full exposition of this idea though, I would be writing a book right now, not a book review. I'm sure the author has covered this base somewhere in his other works.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David

    Plantinga sets out in this book to answer the de jure objections to Christian faith which are arguments that, apart from whether Christianity is true or not (de facto objections), argue that Christian belief is unjustifiable, irrational or not intellectually respectable. After discussing whether we can speak of God anyway (Part 1), the second part of the book seeks to discover just what the de jure objection is. Plantinga is an excellent philosopher and this book is filled with philosophical jar Plantinga sets out in this book to answer the de jure objections to Christian faith which are arguments that, apart from whether Christianity is true or not (de facto objections), argue that Christian belief is unjustifiable, irrational or not intellectually respectable. After discussing whether we can speak of God anyway (Part 1), the second part of the book seeks to discover just what the de jure objection is. Plantinga is an excellent philosopher and this book is filled with philosophical jargon and extended arguments. Thus, it is no easy read. Plantinga discusses justification and rationality before concluding that the only promising candidate for a decent objection is the Freud/Marx complaint (mostly Freud) that Christian knowledge lacks warrant because it is merely a sort of wish fulfillment. Over the course of two previous books (which I have not read and are not necessary to read to get this book), Plantinga defined warrant: "a belief has warrant if and only if it is produced by cognitive faculties functioning properly in a congenial epistemic environment according to a design plan successfully aimed at the production of true belief" (498). What Plantina points out in regard to the Freud is that the objection that Christianity is merely wish-fulfillment assumes that Christianity is false. Thus, the objection that Christianity is irrational is not independent of whether Christianity is true. So really, if Christian belief is false than perhaps Freud is right. But if Christianity is true, then Freud is wrong and believing Christianity certainly does have warrant. What this all really demonstrates is that the refrain: "I have no idea whether Christian belief is true, but I do know that it is irrational" cannot be defended. If it is true, believing it is rational; if it is not true, believing it is not rational. In part three of the book Plantinga presents a model for warranted belief in God based on John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas, which he (obviously) calls the Aquinas/Calvin model. He argues that the sensus divinitatis (sense of God) operates in humans to automatically produce belief in God. Thus, belief in God is a basic belief (akin to memory or perception). It is not a belief held on the basis of other beliefs (I do not need evidence to prove it). Throughout the rest of part three he shows how the great truths of the Christian faith, beyond simple belief in God, can be warranted. Finally, in part four Platinga considers four possible defeaters for Christian belief. Defeaters are beliefs that, once held, make other beliefs no longer possible. Upon examination Platinga concludes that none of these (projection, sorts of biblical scholarship, religious pluralism and evil) constitute a defeater for Christian faith. He closes the book by again stating that Christian belief is warranted. Is it true? Plantinga says: "And here we pass beyond the competence of philosophy, whose main competence, in this area, is to clear away certain objections, impedances, and obstacles to Christian belief. Speaking for myself and of course not in the name of philosophy, I can only say it does, indeed, seem to me to be true, and to be the maximally important truth" (499). Overall, this is a heavy and difficult read. Plantinga presents a strong argument from a Reformed Apologetic position, although I think his argument is applicable to all sorts of Christian belief. Or at least, I am not picky enough to try to see why a Catholic or Methodist could not be grateful for this work. Plantinga probably will not, and does not really intend to, convince anyone of the truth of Christian belief. But his work serves to show that Christian belief is warranted as opposed to many charges. Plantinga's work has had great influence in philosophy departments and among academics. I recommend this book for Christian leaders as the arguments can answer Christians' questions and provide fodder for discussion with skeptics. Again I note though, this book is very difficult. I am sure I missed much, despite my best efforts! But I believe the effort in grasping Plantinga, and I may return to this book often, is worth it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Few books in a genre can lay claim to the title of “game changer.” This one just might (or any of his “Warrant” books). Thesis: A belief B has warrant for one if and only if B is produced by one's properly functioning cognitive faculties in circumstances to which those faculties are designed to apply; in addition those faculties must be designed for the purpose of producing true beliefs (Plantinga 498). The goal of warrant, as opposed to simple epistemic justification, is that one can rationally Few books in a genre can lay claim to the title of “game changer.” This one just might (or any of his “Warrant” books). Thesis: A belief B has warrant for one if and only if B is produced by one's properly functioning cognitive faculties in circumstances to which those faculties are designed to apply; in addition those faculties must be designed for the purpose of producing true beliefs (Plantinga 498). The goal of warrant, as opposed to simple epistemic justification, is that one can rationally hold to a belief without having to meet evidence upon evidence for that belief. Plantinga’s famous analogy is to other minds. There really isn’t good evidence for the existence of other minds, yet people are (generally) not considered irrational for believing in other minds. Plantinga places this thesis in the background and the examines Freud’s and Marx’s critique (F&M) of theism. the section on Freud was actually quite fun. Reading Freud’s hypothesis of religious origins is actually very moving fiction. AP demonstrates that F&M have not shown that belief in God isn’t warranted. Plantinga’s most important section is the Aquinas-Calvin (A/C) model. Per this, we have a special belief-producing faculty called “the sensus divinitatis.” But Plantinga rightly goes beyond this. We do not merely have this knowledge in our hearts, but as believers the Holy Spirit has sealed them on our hearts. (And while he doesn’t develop this point, this is a crucial insight into the doctrine of assurance. We can be warranted in believing we are “sons of God, and if sons, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” even if we can’t meet evidentialist demands for assurance: e.g., “how do you really, like really really know you are elect?” Plantinga hints towards a response: given what else I know and read in the gospels, and given God’s promise of salvation in Christ, I am fully rational in holding to this belief). Criticisms I understand that in reading this book last that I might have missed where Plantinga outlines key points which he takes for granted. Still, I think the section on “defeaters” went by too quickly. Further, I don’t think he fully showed how the Great Pumpkin (SGP) objection misses his position. He seemed to assert that a believer in SGP doesn’t have warrant for that position. Perhaps, but I must have missed it. Some of Plantinga’s students have told me that the more robust an account of warranted belief is, the harder it is to find a defeater. I agree, except it really wasn’t developed here. Further, while I appreciate the section on the A/C model, and as many reviewers have pointed out, Calvin (and Paul!) does not say that the sensus divinitatis is a knowledge-producing faculty, but that it is in fact knowledge (Calvin’s Institutes, I.3). His rebuttal to Biblical Higher Criticism is not enough, as he perhaps realizes. He is merely responding to the claim that Christian belief is irrational in the face of liberal critiques, not whether the critique is actually true. I don’t think this can work. If the liberal critique of the historicity holds, then we must say with the Apostle Paul “that we of all men are most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). We must face the liberal charge head on and destroy it, not merely aim for mutual respectability (I’m not imputing this to Plantinga, but merely observing Evangelical institutional tendencies).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Hiemstra

    Part 3 of my Longfield review ended with a rather frustrating assessment: “The weakness in the evangelical position is philosophical: very few PCUSA pastors and theologians today subscribe to Scottish Common Sense Realism. If to be postmodern means to believe that scripture can only be interpreted correctly within its context, then we are all liberals in a Machen sense. A strong, confessional position requires philosophical warrant—a philosophical problem requires a philosophical solution—which w Part 3 of my Longfield review ended with a rather frustrating assessment: “The weakness in the evangelical position is philosophical: very few PCUSA pastors and theologians today subscribe to Scottish Common Sense Realism. If to be postmodern means to believe that scripture can only be interpreted correctly within its context, then we are all liberals in a Machen sense. A strong, confessional position requires philosophical warrant—a philosophical problem requires a philosophical solution—which we can all agree upon. In the absence of philosophical warrant and credibility, the confessions appear arbitrary—an act of faith.” [1] For most of the period since 1925, evangelicals have had a bit of a philosophical inferiority complex—having to take on faith that the confessional stance of the church since about the fourth century was not defensible in a rigorous philosophical sense. It is at this point that Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief becomes both an important and interesting read. The philosophical problem is more specifically found in epistemology—how do we know what we know? Because Christianity is a religion based on truth claims, epistemology is not just nice to know—it is core tenant of the faith. For example, Jesus said: "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32 ESV) Being unable after 1925 to agree on the core confessions of the denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and evangelicals more general were placed on the defensive. Faith increasingly became private matter as more and more the denomination withdrew from public life, from active evangelism and missions, and from teaching about morality. Later, unable to meet the modern challenge, the denomination came to be coopted by postmodern philosophies—if faith is simply a strongly held value, then it will crumble when confronted with more deeply held beliefs. Into this crisis of faith, Plantinga defines his work in these terms: “This book is about the intellectual or rational acceptability of Christian belief. When I speak here of Christian belief, I mean what is common to the great creeds of the main branches of the Christian church.” (vii) Notice that Plantinga has to both specify that he is writing about epistemology (theory of knowledge)—“intellectual or rational acceptability of Christian belief”— and specify what Christianity is—“what is common to the great creeds”. Plantinga expands on this problem saying: “Is the very idea of Christian belief coherent?...To accept Christian belief, I say, is to believe that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, wholly good person (a person without a body) who has created us and our world, who loves us and was willing to send his son into the world to undergo suffering, humiliation, and death in order to redeem us.” (3) In other words, in his mind the measure of the depth of this crisis of faith extends to the very definition of the faith. Alvin Plantinga wrote Warranted Christian Belief while working as the John A O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame [2]. He writes in 14 chapters divided into 4 parts: Part 1: Is There a Question? (pages 1-66) Kant Kaufman and Hicks Part 2: What is the Question? (67-166) Justification and the Classical Picture Rationality Warrant and the Freud-and-Marx Compliant Part 3: Warranted Christian Belief (167-356) Warranted Belief in God Sin and Its Cognitive Consequences The Extended Aquinas/Calvin Model: Revealed in Our Minds The Testimonial Model: Sealed in Our Hearts Objections Part 4: Defeaters (356-499) Defeaters and Defeat Two (or More) Kinds of Scripture Scholarship Postmodernism and Pluralism Suffering and Evil Plantinga lays out his argument in a lengthy preface and follows his chapters with an index. Plantinga’s book focuses on two main points which he describes as: “An exercise in apologetics and philosophy of religion” where he answers a “range of objections to the Christian belief”; and “An exercise in Christian philosophy…proposing an epistemological account of Christian belief from a Christian perspective.” (xiii) In other words, Plantinga responds to objections the faith and lays out a model for understanding the philosophical acceptability of faith—an idea that he calls “warrant”. Plantinga defines warrant as: “warrant is intimately connected with proper function. More fully, a belief has warrant just it is produced by cognitive process or faculties that are functioning properly, in a cognitive environment that is propitious for the exercise of cognitive powers, according to a design plan that is successfully aimed at the production of true belief.” (xi) The core discussion of warrant lays out what he refers to as the Aquinas/Calvin model of faith. He writes: “Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin concur on the claim that there is a kind of natural knowledge of God.” (170). This innate knowledge of God given at birth he refers to as a “sensus divinitatis” which is triggered by external conditions or stimuli, such as a presentation of the Gospel (173). Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief is an important contribution to epistemology because he meets the objections to faith head on and others a plausible explanation for why Christian faith is reasonable, believable, and true. Christians need to be aware of these arguments both to know that their faith is defensible and to share this defense when questions arise. Part of this argument is that if the existence of God cannot be logically proven and cannot be logically disproven then it is pointless to talk about logical proofs—the modern challenge to faith is essentially vacuous—empty without philosophically based merit. Faith rests on what is more reasonable and more consistent with experience—what beliefs are warranted, not mathematical proofs[3]. From Plantinga’s perspective, we accordingly do need not be defensive about our faith. In this review, I have outlined Plantinga’s basic presentation. In part 2, I will review the arguments against faith and, in part 3, I will look at Plantinga’s model of faith in greater depth. This review will post during the week of June 1 to 8 2015 on T2Pneuma.net. [1] Longfield Chronicles the Fundamentalist/Liberal Divide in the PCUSA, Part 3 (http://wp.me/p3Xeut-11i) [2] http://philosophy.nd.edu/people/alvin.... [3]In financial modeling of complex firms, the rule of thumb is that it takes a model to kill a model—managing the firm without a model threats firm profitability and ultimate survival.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Watson

    I am on record in stating that Alvin Plantinga is the single greatest living Christian philosopher. I should clarify that, in my estimation, this places him among the greatest living philosophers *period*. “Warranted Christian Belief” is a powerful attestation to this claim. Plantinga has made enormous contributions in various areas of philosophy, whether it be theodicy, or modal logic. In WCB, he reaches the culmination of his contribution to the field of epistemology, and the result is a tour d I am on record in stating that Alvin Plantinga is the single greatest living Christian philosopher. I should clarify that, in my estimation, this places him among the greatest living philosophers *period*. “Warranted Christian Belief” is a powerful attestation to this claim. Plantinga has made enormous contributions in various areas of philosophy, whether it be theodicy, or modal logic. In WCB, he reaches the culmination of his contribution to the field of epistemology, and the result is a tour de force. This volume is technically the final installment in a trilogy of books(the first 2 mapping out preliminary considerations), however it is written in such a way that it can be read in isolation. Plantinga sets out to propose that Christian Belief is not only rational, but also he presents a model by which Christian Belief is “Warranted.” Warrant being that property which differentiates knowledge from mere true belief. This book is at times very technical, and could be very challenging for someone who has no background in epistemology, or analytic philosophy. Having said that, Plantinga writes in a style that is approachable, and charming. His humor, and congeniality softens what may otherwise be stale, and monotonous subject matter. Not only are Plantinga’s arguments rigorously logical, but his approach is thoroughly biblical. I was both persuaded by his reasoning, and inspired by his commitment to “the great things of the gospel.” The reader of “Warranted Christian Belief”, will undoubtedly receive a full blooded account of Christian Knowledge.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    (Selections)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kenan Baldwin

    Alvin Plantinga at his best. Christian philosophy at its best.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    In this last book of a trilogy Plantinga lays down an argument for the defense of the warrant and rationality of Christian belief. He first argues that warrant is conferred to beliefs obtained via properly functioning faculties working according to some design plan in an environment congenial to their aiming at truth. He then argues for a sensus divinitatus, an interpretation of Calvin's theology, as a primary source for belief formation about God. Akin to a perception or experience, beliefs for In this last book of a trilogy Plantinga lays down an argument for the defense of the warrant and rationality of Christian belief. He first argues that warrant is conferred to beliefs obtained via properly functioning faculties working according to some design plan in an environment congenial to their aiming at truth. He then argues for a sensus divinitatus, an interpretation of Calvin's theology, as a primary source for belief formation about God. Akin to a perception or experience, beliefs formed this way he argues to be properly basic and fully warranted. Plantinga explains that the only way to attack Christian belief then is to address the de facto (is it true) question rather than the de jure (even if it is true could beliefs about it be justified, warranted, rational). Given what he called the Aquinas-Calvin model beliefs about God are likely to be warranted if Christianity is true. The prime example he presented of a possible defeater in a de jure way, Freud, who argues that our faculties are not actually aimed at truth, he dismisses. He adds in the instigation of the Holy Spirit to testify about more particular Christian doctrines. The last several chapters of the book deal with possible defeaters to the de facto question. First he discusses postmodernism and the possibility of truth, then Biblical criticism, the problem of religious pluralism, and the evidential problem of evil. Plantinga makes a decent case that lacking a defeater Christians are generally warranted in their basic claims. As he argues, if Christianity is true then it is likely that God would communicate with people the basic facts of the situation in some manner. Likewise, this isn't true of just any worldview. For instance, he brings up his argument against naturalistic evolution in his chapter on the noetic effects of sin as a sort of anti-example. I think this argument ultimately fails, (the best that could be determined is that the probability that our faculties are reliable is inscrutable, not low, and I am not sure if this good grounds for a defeater by itself), but the point is taken. All that then leads to possible defeaters to Christian belief to threaten its warrant/rationality/justification for belief. So how is his case against the primary argues he presented? I agree with him that the problem of religious pluralism doesn't need to present a strong case against Christianity but I don't think he dealt with the second tier of the problem, which is, Christianity generally assigns those who disbelieve to hell. So rather than asserting that people disagree, they disagree over all kinds of objective facts (i.e. some people are racists, they are obviously wrong) Christianity attaches special significance to disagreement that he did not comment on. Likewise with his treatment of Biblical historical criticism. He argues that since historical critics as a matter of method (or in stronger terms) dismiss the possibility of miracles Christians needn't pay attention to their conclusions as possible defeaters for Christianity. Granted, it's true, a historical critic is very unlikely to conclude that Jesus could have been resurrected for that reason, however, that is not where a lot of the main challenge issues from. For instance, how can the Bible be considered the word of God in a meaningful sense if it is discovered that it is riddled with historical inconsistencies, factual contradictions and the like? Or can Titus be considered inspired if it is discovered using linguistic analysis that it is very very unlikely to have been written by Paul? Though he did mention possible inconsistencies he insisted that these could be dealt with using traditional commentary, but the inconsistencies he mentioned were theological in nature, not the sort of outright, factual historical contradictions found between the gospels as an example. Overall, I'd agree that Christians have a prima facie warrant based in their experience via positing some kind of sensus divinitatus. Likewise I'd have to grant people of other religions that could come up with a parallel model the same thing. However I think Plantinga, at least in his treatment in this book, does not fully grant the strength of possible defeaters to Christian belief. There is then the secondary issue of what I'd take as warrant. I am not sure if I fully buy into his notion or not. But as that is not the primary focus of this book I suppose at some point I will have to turn to another in his trilogy to investigate that matter.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Luis Espinoza

    I was not aware that it was the third part of a trilogy when I began the book and, considering the discussions of the first part of the book (concerning the process of the production of true beliefs), I am now really eager to go back and read the first two. The distinction between the “de jure (is it rational?)” and “de facto (is it true?)” arguments against Christian belief are really illuminating, however, I found it a little irritating that, once I finished the first part and was aware of thi I was not aware that it was the third part of a trilogy when I began the book and, considering the discussions of the first part of the book (concerning the process of the production of true beliefs), I am now really eager to go back and read the first two. The distinction between the “de jure (is it rational?)” and “de facto (is it true?)” arguments against Christian belief are really illuminating, however, I found it a little irritating that, once I finished the first part and was aware of this distinction, Plantinga focused solely on the “de jure” problem, stopping at every point when the discussion was moving necessarily towards the “de facto” part of the subject. The A/C Model (Aquinas/Calvin model) proposed by the author is really interesting, although in its extended model it hardly has any Aquinas-related material (the Aquinas-part of the book actually just consists of two quotations next to a more lengthy development of Calvin´s ideas). When Plantinga deals directly with Christianity (making use of the A/C Model to support his points) it can feel as if he´s getting kind of preachy, and for me as a Christian this all seems really stimulating, however I don´t think it would be very convincing or even controversial for someone who is not a believer. Finally, the last part of the book deals with defeaters for Christian belief, and although they´re all very engaging, I personally think he completely failed even to take serious Michael Martin´s critique of the A/C model (the proposition of belief as basic), which I found disappointing because I think it´s the most important. Nonetheless this book is worth its 500 pages, except for two brief section (together they´re no more than 15 pages in total) were he babbles some statistical exercises that don´t prove or entertain any relevant point (and by “babble” I mean they are insufferably difficult to follow, purely imaginative in content, and completely irrelevant at the end). Nonetheless, a really good book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris Via

    This is a superb epistemological argument for the de jure (as opposed to de facto) validity of warranted Christian belief. Plantinga's main goal is to determine whether it is rational, intellectually acceptable, to hold Christian belief. Using a hybrid Aquinas/Calvin model, Plantinga defines what exactly he means by Christian belief (teaser: the crux of the model is what Calvin terms the sensus divinitatis). Turning to Freud and Marx on the other side, Plantinga distills all opposition to warran This is a superb epistemological argument for the de jure (as opposed to de facto) validity of warranted Christian belief. Plantinga's main goal is to determine whether it is rational, intellectually acceptable, to hold Christian belief. Using a hybrid Aquinas/Calvin model, Plantinga defines what exactly he means by Christian belief (teaser: the crux of the model is what Calvin terms the sensus divinitatis). Turning to Freud and Marx on the other side, Plantinga distills all opposition to warranted theistic belief since Epicurus's eloquent paradox (what we call today the argument from evil) into two strains: fantasy or illusion that stems from our wish-fulfillment faculties; and external pressure (e.g. societal, parental, etc.). In 500 pages, this book covers more ground and turns more stones than any other book I've read, and uses a mix of analytical philosophy and dialectics. Before reading, I would get at least a working knowledge of probability calculus, Freud's FUTURE OF AN ILLUSION, Hume's ENQUIRY, Kant's PURE REASON, and the main positions of more contemporary individuals like Rorty, Dawkins, and Dennett. (Marx is unnecessary, as he didn't write much on religion, and most know the common quip about religion being the opiate of the people). After setting up the models of the sides of the arguments, the de jure question of warrant is raised in the context of Enlightenment, scientific reason, atheism, agnosticism, postmodernism, pluralism, and, as I said, the argument from evil. Through it all, Plantinga hunts for defeaters to the stance that Christian belief does not imply lack of intellectual warrant. No matter one's position on the topic, this is a masterwork of scholarship worthy of careful reading and consideration. Yes, it will take quite some time and effort to work through, but it is the worth the journey.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    The only reason I did not give this book a 5 star rating was because it was on epistemology, in addition to its apologetics. Will Durant did not speak highly of epistemology, "No apology is offered for the neglect of epistemology. That dismal science received its due in the chapter on Kant, ..." The Story of Philosophy: the Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers, 2d ed. (New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1952), viii. That aside, Plantinga is masterful in his straightforward respons The only reason I did not give this book a 5 star rating was because it was on epistemology, in addition to its apologetics. Will Durant did not speak highly of epistemology, "No apology is offered for the neglect of epistemology. That dismal science received its due in the chapter on Kant, ..." The Story of Philosophy: the Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers, 2d ed. (New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1952), viii. That aside, Plantinga is masterful in his straightforward response to the new atheists, the agnositcs and skeptics of all ilks. Apologetics and especially epistemology are not normally thought to carry the gospel evangelically (in most settings,) but in their role as debunking a lot of secular humbug, Plantinga has used them to a tee. While Bayesian probability, ("Bayesian Probability," Wikipedia), was beyond my immediate comprehension, the rest of the arguments were easily absorbed. Hats off to a philosopher Christian.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    In this, the final part of the Warrant series, Plantinga attacks de jure objections to Christian belief. De jure objections in some way claim that, regardless of whether or not Christian belief is true, Christian belief is in some way irrational, unjustified, or unwarranted. Plantinga argues that all de jure objections are either based on faulty arguments or presuppose the falsity of Christian beliefs. As a result, Plantinga claims that there is no viable de jure objection to Christianity that i In this, the final part of the Warrant series, Plantinga attacks de jure objections to Christian belief. De jure objections in some way claim that, regardless of whether or not Christian belief is true, Christian belief is in some way irrational, unjustified, or unwarranted. Plantinga argues that all de jure objections are either based on faulty arguments or presuppose the falsity of Christian beliefs. As a result, Plantinga claims that there is no viable de jure objection to Christianity that is separable from a de facto objection (an objection that states that Christian belief is, in fact, false). The conclusion, which seems modest at first, is that if Christianity is true, Christians are warranted in their belief. This conclusion is important for at least two reasons: i) it gives an advantage to theism over its competitors, for, even if true, we are not warranted in believing in naturalism (so Plantinga argues), and ii) the role of philosophy with respect to religion is to make theistic belief rationally acceptable (according to Plantinga, that is all that philosophy can do in this domain). This book is clever and engaging.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    It's misleading, really, that I've given this book three stars. It's important and even majesterial - in part because of it's content (which is, on the whole, excellent), but moreso because of its effects. For Christian philosophy students, I hardly need to recommend it. It carries its own recommendation. For non-philosophers, I would recommend it - but I would recommend reading from it "as needed." There's no need to sit down and plow through this 500 (oh - 499 page) book unless you've a keen i It's misleading, really, that I've given this book three stars. It's important and even majesterial - in part because of it's content (which is, on the whole, excellent), but moreso because of its effects. For Christian philosophy students, I hardly need to recommend it. It carries its own recommendation. For non-philosophers, I would recommend it - but I would recommend reading from it "as needed." There's no need to sit down and plow through this 500 (oh - 499 page) book unless you've a keen interest in the subject. So why three stars only? It got a bit redundant. It got a bit too much into the details of disputes among those who do professional philosophy. (Granted, these were in small print; I might have skipped them.) And, frankly, it's not that exciting. Important - but I read it and go "Oh. That's all?" Such, I guess, is philosophy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ben Nasmith

    A very important book for understanding the justification, or warrant, for one's Christian beliefs. Plantinga distinguishes between the de facto and de jure objections to Christian belief. He argues that there is no valid de jure objection without a valid de facto objection. Roughly speaking, Christian belief is rational unless it is in fact false. It becomes very difficult to show that it is irrational because this requires showing that it is false. The de jure objector must instead put forward A very important book for understanding the justification, or warrant, for one's Christian beliefs. Plantinga distinguishes between the de facto and de jure objections to Christian belief. He argues that there is no valid de jure objection without a valid de facto objection. Roughly speaking, Christian belief is rational unless it is in fact false. It becomes very difficult to show that it is irrational because this requires showing that it is false. The de jure objector must instead put forward a de facto objection.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    A very interesting work in the field of epistemology, and an effective apologetic to a certain extent. The essential apologetic claim is that, while there may not be "evidence" per se for Christian belief, there are many beliefs that people hold that do not require evidence, nor is there actually evidence for them, but nonetheless these beliefs are warranted; and that Christian belief is of this sort of belief, and is therefore warranted despite the objections that there is no "evidence." It cou A very interesting work in the field of epistemology, and an effective apologetic to a certain extent. The essential apologetic claim is that, while there may not be "evidence" per se for Christian belief, there are many beliefs that people hold that do not require evidence, nor is there actually evidence for them, but nonetheless these beliefs are warranted; and that Christian belief is of this sort of belief, and is therefore warranted despite the objections that there is no "evidence." It couples nicely with Van Tillian presuppositionalism although they might disagree at some finer points.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rick Davis

    I remember doing a paper on Plantinga's use of Bayes' Theorum in my Philosophy of Religion class in college. Plantinga is able to write incredibly dense and erudite philosophy while maintaining a quirky sense of humor that catches the reader off guard from time to time. Someday I'd like to go back and read the other two books in this series.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    The popular approach to critiquing (sp?) Xtianity has to do with finding it unjustifiable based on evidence - like approaching the question of the truth of Xtianity like the truth of a scientific hypothesis. From what I can tell so far Plantinga is questioning whether or not that approach has any validity or not...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is an excellent work in Christian Philosophy. Plantinga articulates a comprehensive system for epistemically justified Christian belief. I particularly appreciated his responses to Kaufmann, Hick, and the Freud/Marx Complaint. Regardless where you land epistemologically, Warranted Christian Belief is a must read for any Christian doing philosophy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jared Leonard

    Hardcore Christian Philosophy. A long, tough read but well worth the effort if you want to hold your own in that wonderful arena called the marketplace of ideas. This book will step up your game in apologetics and there are very few books which enable you to do so more than this one.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    This book will definitely appeal most to those with a background in philosophy and the debate surrounding belief justification. It's not apologetics in the traditional sense- it really engages with the current philosophical debate and contributes to it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robert Hutchinson

    A little slow going even for a philosophy book but a classic in Christian philosophical apologetics. Personally, I think all philosophy should be easier to read than it is. That is what I love about Sandel's JUSTICE. Anyone can read it and understand the concepts he presents.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Final book in the Plantinga classic trilogy on Warrant and a must-read for the Christian philosopher interested in epistemology...fairly technical though and a bit dry at times.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Walter

    Outstanding and lucid, but difficult read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Boyle

    Extremely intriguing and engaging suggestions and models for Christian epistemology.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Josh Shelton

    One of the greatest books I have ever read. Certainly the Greatest apologetical epistemological book I have ever read. In terms of apologetics, nothing surpasses this that I know of.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Advanced: admittedly this was a pretty difficult read for me, but I felt like the topic was too important to give up on. After re-reading sections several times I found it helpful.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.