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Philosophy & the Christian Faith Paperback – April 1, 1969

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Colin Brown is senior professor of Systematic Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He served as editor of The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and is the author of several books, including Miracles and the Critical Mind, History and Faith, and Jesus in European Protestant Thought.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (April 1, 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877847126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877847120
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #480,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Brown provides a fine, brief survey of philosophy from the historical viewpoint. He begins with medieval thinkers, which set the pattern for so much of the thought that followed and still has its affect today. Covering Augustine to Aquinas, it is Augustine who sets the framework for the successors. Brown stresses a good point here, that the Middle Ages were focused not on the physical universe for its sake, but for the sake of the reality behind it. A strange mixture of Christinaity, pagan philosophy and a great portion of Greek philosophy. At the end, comes the major thinker Aquinas with his arguments that natural theology forms the intellectual basis for the philosophical arguments of the church.
Moving to the 16th-18th centuries, Brown shows that this was the cradle for modern thought. Recovery here of world and man for their own sakes, and the Reformation turns away from natural theology to revealed theology. Thus, the development of the rationalists, empiricists, deists and to Kant, this is time of major turning in philosophy. Major directive to modern man's power of reason to understand his world.
Creatively taking tagents off of this is the 19th century world of Schleiermacher, Hegel and Kierkegaard, spurning on the prominent 20th world of Barth, Tillich, Bultmann, etc.
This is a great, general intro to philosophy and its relationship to Christianity. Brown warns against alignment with any particular philosophy too closely, but does see the need and value of the stimulus philosophy provides for Christian thinkers to rethink their position.
Bibliography leans toward British publishing. Great reference is the five-volume "A History of Western Philosophy" by W.T. Jones.
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Format: Paperback
Work Scope:
Dr. Brown starts by introducing his own reflective observations, on the tenuous liaison of philosophy and faith. Both theologians and philosophers had their respective doubts and frustrations. He pursues his goal by surveying the intellectual movements and their western thinkers during the second millennia.
He categorizes his work thus; "Histories of philosophy are not normally designed to be read through in bed, and the present one is not necessarily intended to be read through consecutively."

Views & Conclusions:
Colin Brown exposes an insightful brief survey of alternative philosophical bases of Christian doctrine, that influenced the faith of Christian Churches in the course of history. This is a systematic work of an uncommonly talented, and deeply commited theologian to present an analytical history of philosophy, with an emphasis on the different interpretations of the sustained encounters of the fads and fashions of philosophy with Christian faith. Colin Brown concludes in the postscript with lessons from the past criticizing the incompleteness of philosophical systems. Although he warns against dependence on a particular philosophy, he recognizes the necessity of the philosophy's invigorating inquiry that drives Christian theologians to reconsider their positions.

Unique treatment:
In contrast to his intentional fast tour of medieval philosophy, he already started to interpret Anselm by Barth and Hartshorne. The author gave the Twentieth Century a relative elaborate and critical evaluation of new trends in logical positivism, and religious language before he reviews existentialism in the example of Bultmann and Tillich. He then introduces New Radicalism in Bonhoeffer, before his thorough exposition of J.A.T. Robinson's, Honest to God.
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This survey by Prof. Brown is a beautifully conceived book that is a tour de force of commitment and scholarship. It is especially strong in its treatment of natural theology, although I don't consider his dismissal of the ontological argument for the existence of God to be the last word. He brilliantly covers the writings of Von Til, Shaeffer, and Barth as well. His criticisms of Robinson's Honest To God is powerful and helpful to students of modern theological trends. In his criticism of "situation ethics" I was reminded of my time spent at Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. Situation ethics was popular among many students and teachers there. For example, a number of the ministerial candidates had their girlfriends sleeping over in their dorm rooms. You see, fornication is wrong in the Holy Bible, but on the other hand [sic] Jesus calls us to "love our neighbor as ourselves." Hence, if the fornication is mitigated by love in the right amount and in the right way, that "situation" might allow one to go ahead and shack up with a clear conscience. So, it was both pleasant and useful to be reminded of that wicked Mr. Robinson and his wicked book, although Prof. Brown, more tactful than this reviewer, does not called Mr. Robinson "wicked." The reader should have a knowledge of philosophy and theology before reading this "introduction." If one is not already familiar with the terminology, it will be tough sledding. However, for those of us already familiar with many of the names and terms, it's a refreshing read from front cover to back. Thanks Prof. Brown!
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Colin Brown wrote a fantastic survey of various Philosophical systems of the past millennium. His writing style is not static or stale. He beautifully weaves together the systems you will encounter and I believe it will help you see how the variety of philosophical systems interacted and responded to each other. I will admit that I did not agree with him on everything, such as his disdain for natural theology, but broadly his book "gets the job done" and in an engaging way despite some flaws. His summation near the end of the book best describes what I felt as I enthusiastically devoured the pages:

"...no system of philosophy has ever turned out to be complete and perfect. In fact, it could be said that those systems which, like Absolute Idealism, have laid the greatest claims to comprehensiveness and completeness are precisely those which are the most defective. At almost regular intervals down the centuries someone will hit upon an idea which has some claim to truth. It is then blown up into a system which is thought to be capable of explaining everything. It is hailed as a key to unlock every door. But sooner or later its advocates find themselves obliged to deny the existence of anything that their key fails to unlock, or to admit that it was not quite what they thought it was...what often happens in philosophy is that someone stumbles across something that has been ignored or feels a need to account for some aspect of experience or relate it to 'modern' thought....In each case the thinkers concerned were so impressed with their particular insight that they built it into a more or less rigid system which virtually destroyed its original usefulness." - Colin Brown, Philosophy & The Christian Faith, pg 268-269
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