Plantinga, Alvin. Knowledge and Christian Belief. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2015. 144 pp. $16.00.
Apologetics and Christian Philosophy
For most Christians, Alvin Plantinga’s masterpiece Warranted Christian Belief looks like an intimidating and uphill challenge. 528 pages of philosophical jargon are not exactly what most of us would call “light reading.” Never fear, though, because Plantinga has provided Christians with an accessible version of his magnum opus in his latest work, Knowledge and Christian Belief.
This book provides readers an introduction into Plantinga’s philosophical thought. The main thrust of the book is quite simple actually. Plantinga argues that Christian belief can be rational, justified, and warranted without having to be confirmed by propositional evidence or argument. To show how this possible, Plantinga first explains how the current epistemological theory of classical foundationalism is false. After this, he sets out to show how Christian belief has warrant. In Plantinga’s thought, warrant is “the property that distinguishes knowledge from mere true belief” (25).
In chapters 3-6, Plantinga specifically discusses how Christian belief has warrant. He does this by explaining the A/C (Aquinas and Calvin) Model, the extended A/C Model, the role of faith, and how the Holy Spirit seals belief upon the Christian’s heart. Understanding these chapters are essential to understanding why Plantinga’s apologetic thought has been so revolutionary. The final chapters deal with objections to Christian belief in general. In these chapters, Plantinga shows that historical biblical criticism, pluralism, and the problem of evil do not defeat the truth of Christian belief. In summary, Plantinga shows that if Christian belief is true then it most likely has warrant and cannot be deemed irrational, unjustified, and childish.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of Knowledge and Christian Belief for pastors is that it helps strengthen one’s faith in the Christian storyline. Also, it seems to me that Plantinga provides a thorough and detailed explanation of how many people have come to believe in the truthfulness of Christianity. For example, most people have not come to believe in Jesus Christ because they sat down and evaluated all of the evidence and arguments for and against Christian belief. Rather, many people simply find themselves believing in the truth of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Plantinga’s apologetic thought brings all of this together in a very clear and concise way.
The main strength of this book has do with how Plantinga takes complicated philosophical and epistemological topics and converts them into accessible, layman’s language. If there are any weaknesses with this work, they are mainly due to the fact that Plantinga had to make some necessary cuts to present his work in a more intelligible manner. Nevertheless, Knowledge and Christian Belief is still well worth your time. It is the uniqueness of Plantinga’s approach that makes Knowledge and Christian Belief one of the best Christian apologetic books that you could read in 2015.
In conclusion, pastors will benefit immensely from reading Plantinga’s latest work simply because of the lasting influence that Plantinga’s apologetic thought has had on both the Christian and secular academy. And since TIME Magazine once referred to Plantinga as the world’s most important living Christian philosopher, perhaps it would be wise to become acquainted with this important work in defense of the Christian faith.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
Knowledge and Christian Belief presents the apologetic method of Alvin Plantinga in a clear and concise way and should definitely be read by all Christians.