Philosophy

“For philosophy is the offspring of right reason:
and this light of reason is infused into the human mind by God Himself,
according to that remark of Tertullian,
‘Reason is of God.'”

John Davenant
on Col. 2:8, p. 290

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Order of Contents

Articles
Book
Quote
On Thomism
Scottish
Latin: Contra Descartes

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Articles

1600’s

Davenant, John – on Col. 2:8  in An Exposition of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians, vol. 1 (London, 1831), pp. 387-407

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Contemporary

Articles of Richard Muller

De Boer, Cecil – ‘Cecil De Boer on Van Tillianism and Idealist Pantheism’  from  De Boer, ‘The New Apologetic’, The Calvin Forum, 19, nos 1-2 (August-September 1953), pp 2-3.  Van Til Responded to De Boer in The Defense of the Faith, 4th ed., pp. 284-287.

Duby, Steven J. – ‘In Defense of Christian Philosophy: A Response to Peter Leithart’  2018  22 paragraphs

“…it’s possible to articulate Christian doctrine without formally invoking concepts like “essence,” “substance” and so on. Instead of saying, for example, that in the incarnation there is one hypostasis subsisting in two distinct natures, one can say that there is just Jesus and not someone else and that Jesus always remains both truly God and truly human.

However, the fact that the use of the metaphysical language is not absolutely necessary does not mean that the metaphysical resources in question are detached from reality.  It does not mean that what they offer us is just a set of coherent rules for saying things – rules that we might either take or leave. On the contrary, the classical metaphysical tradition developed by Christian thinkers like John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas or the early Reformed theologians and philosophers involves a knowledge of how things are. Indeed, it is fundamentally an exposition of things human beings know to be true prior to engaging in any formal academic work. For example, things do have natures by virtue of which they are similar to other things. There really are substances in which accidents inhere…  As we seek ways to express what God is like according to scriptural teaching, we should look to this philosophical tradition, not Kant or Hegel, because it sheds light on reality.”

Haines, David

‘On the Use of Philosophy in Theology’

Abstract: “The claim that I would like to consider in this article is that it is wrong to mix philosophy and theology, or the stronger claim, that a Christian should have nothing to do with philosophy.  I propose that the problem springs, primarily, from a faulty understanding of the relationship between faith and reason.  In this article we will be attempting to answer the question what place is there, in Christian theology and practice, for Philosophy? We will note, first of all, the relationship between faith and reason, theology and philosophy. Secondly we will consider the ways in which it is permissible to use philosophy in theology, and finally, we will look at some errors that are frequently made when we use philosophy in theology.”

‘The Metaphysics of Scripture’  a chapter in ed. Joseph Minich, Philosophy & the Christian  (2018)

Haines has been a professor of philosophy at Veritas Evangelical Seminary.

Abstract: “…not only can philosophy help make sense of our common experience, but the Bible appears to assume a number of important philosophical concepts which, best explained by early Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato, are assumed by most people. This will be shown through a consideration of how the Bible takes for granted an approach to the world which is best described via a number of key Aristotelian concepts, such as, the four causes, act and potency, and the principle of causality…  We will conclude with some considerations about the importance of moderate realism for biblical and theological studies.”

‘The Use of Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle in Reformed Theology’

Introduction: “We will do this by showing that far from being contrary to the spirit of the Protestant Reformation, the use of the writings and teachings of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, and, indeed, dependence upon these two great thinkers, can be both beneficial and useful for the development and defense of evangelical Protestant theology. 

The first step, which we propose to take in this blog post, is to show that the very theologians who began the Protestant Reformation, and who provided it with its enduring form, not only used Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, but, in fact, that their theology was, on many points, dependent on Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle.  To do this we will begin by articulating the main premises that an argument of this nature requires.  We will then consider, briefly, those facts of history which may support the premises of such an argument.  This will be done by pointing out some of the most recent research concerning the relationship between Aquinas, Aristotle, and the early reformers. We will also note the continued Reformed dependency upon Aquinas and Aristotle.”

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Book

Feser, Edward – Aristotle’s Revenge: The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science  Buy  2019  515 pp.

“Actuality and potentiality, substantial form and prime matter, efficient causality and teleology are among the fundamental concepts of Aristotelian philosophy of nature. Aristotle’s Revenge argues that these concepts are not only compatible with modern science, but are implicitly presupposed by modern science.” – Blurb

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Quote

Herman Bavinck

Reformed Dogmatics (Baker), vol. 1, p. 607

“Though Christian dogma cannot be explained in terms of Greek philosophy, it also did not come into being apart from it.  There is as yet no dogma and theology, strictly speaking, in Scripture.  As long as revelation itself was still in progress, it could not become the object of scientific reflection.  Inspiration had to be complete before reflection could begin.

To speak of “Mosaic”, “Pauline”, or the “Bible’s” theology and dogmatics therefore, is not advisable; the word theology, for that matter, does not occur in Scripture and has only gradually acquired its present meaning.

Theology first arose in the Christian community after the naïveté of childhood lay behind it and the adult thinking mind had awakened.  Gradually a need arose to think through the ideas of revelation, to link it with other knowledge and to defend it against various forms of attack.  For this purpose people needed philosophy.  Scientific theology was born with its help. This did not, however, happen accidentally. The church was not the victim of deception. In the formation and development of the dogmas, the church fathers made generous use of philosophy. They did that, however, in the full awareness of and with clear insight into the dangers connected with that enterprise; they were conscious of the grounds on which they did it with express recognition of the word of the apostles as the only rule of faith and conduct. For that reason also they did not utilize the whole of Greek philosophy but made a choice; they only utilized the philosophy that was most suited to help them think through and defend the truth of God. They went to work eclectically and did not take over any single philosophical system, be it either from Plato or from Aristotle, but with the aid of Greek philosophy produced a Christian philosophy of their own.

Furthermore, they only used that philosophy as a means.  Just as Hagar was the servant of Sarah, as the treasures of Egypt were employed by the Israelites for the adornment of the tabernacle, as the wise men from the East placed their gifts at the feed of the child in Bethlehem, so, in the opinion of the church fathers, philosophy was the servant of theology.

From everything it is clearly evident that the use of philosophy in theology was based, not on a mistake, but on firm and clear conviction.  The church fathers knew what they were doing.  Mind you, this does not rule out the possibility that at some points the influence of philosophy was too strong.  But in that connection we must make a distinction between the theology of the fathers and the dogmas of the church.  The church was at all times alert against the misuse of philosophy; it not only rejected Gnosticism but also condemned Origenism.  And up until now no one has succeeded in explaining the dogmas materially in terms of philosophy; however often this has been attempted, in the end the scriptural character of orthodoxy has been vindicated.

Initially the Reformation assumed a hostile posture toward scholasticism and philosophy.  But it soon changed its mind.  Because it was not, nor wanted to be, a sect, it could not do without theology.  Even Luther and Melanchton, therefore, already resumed the use of philosophy and recognized its usefulness.  Calvin assumed this high position from the start, saw in philosophy an “outstanding gift of God”, and was followed in this assessment by all Reformed theologians.

The question here is not whether theology should make use of a specific philosophical system.  Christian theology has never taken over any philosophical system without criticism and given it the stamp of approval.  Neither Plato’s nor Aristotle’s philosophy has been held to be the true one by any theologian.  That theologians nevertheless preferred these two philosophical systems was due to the fact that these systems best lent themselves to the development and defense of the truth.  Present also was the idea that the Greeks and Romans had been accorded a special calling and gift for the life of culture.  Still to this day, in fact, our whole civilization is built upon that of Greece and Rome.”

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On Thomism

Articles

Intro

Geisler, Norman – Does Thomism Lead to Catholicism?  24 paragraphs

Reeves, Ryan – The Significance of Thomas Aquinas  Ligonier Ministries

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Scholarly

Donnelly, J.P. – Calvinist Thomism  Viator, vol. 7, pp. 441-455

Haines, David – ‘The Use of Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle in Reformed Theology’

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Books

Cleveland, Christopher – Thomism in John Owen  Pre  (Routledge, 2013)

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Scottish

Articles

Gellera, Giovanni

‘Descartes in Scotland and pre-Enlightenment Scottish philosophy’

‘The epistemology of sense from Calvin to [Francis] Hutcheson [d. 1746]’  Journal of Scottish Thought, no. 7 (2016), pp. 148-170

Hutcheson (1694-1746)

‘Common Sense and Ideal Theory in 17th Century Scottish philosophy’  in ed. C.B. Bow, Common Sense in the Scottish Enlightenment  (Oxford, 2018)

Abstract: “In the 19c James McCosh and many others identified the Common Sense school with ‘Scottish philosophy’ tout court: the supposedly collective ‘Scottish’ reply to Hume was the rejection of scepticism and Ideal Theory. This paper addresses the anticipations of the Common Sense school and its broader place in the history of Scottish philosophy. The 17c Scottish philosophers reacted to Cartesian scepticism with epistemological views which anticipate Thomas Reid: direct realism and perception as a faculty of judgment. Common sense-like views seem to have been a popular strategy against scepticism already before the Common Sense school, thus providing additional evidence for McCosh’s claim of the special role of common sense in the history of Scottish philosophy.”

‘The Scottish Faculties of Arts and Cartesianism (1650-1700)’  History of Universities XXIX (2), pp. 166-187

‘The Doctrine of the Fall in Early Modern Reformed Scholasticism: Philosophy between Faith and Scepticism’  eds. Zohar Hadromi-Allouche & Áine Larkin, Fall Narratives (Routledge, 2017), pp. 78-89

‘English Philosophers and Scottish Academic Philosophy (1660-1700)’  Journal of Scottish Philosophy, issue 2, vol. 15, (2017), pp. 213-231

‘A Scotistic Answer to a Thomistic problem. Scotism and the Eucharist in the Seventeenth Century’  Proceedings of the Conference: Implications philosophiques et théologiques de la doctrine eucharistique, Geneva, 17-18 June 2015

‘Sixteenth-century philosophy and theology after John Mair’  in eds. D. Fergusson & M. Elliott History of Scottish Theology  (2019)

‘Logic and Epistemology in the 17th Century Scottish Universities’  in Alexander Broadie, Scottish Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century  (2020)

‘Reformed Scholasticism in 17th Century Scottish philosophy’  in Alexander Broadie, Scottish Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century  (2020)

‘Calvinist Metaphysics and the Eucharist in the Early Seventeenth Century’  (2013)

“This paper wishes to make a contribution to the study of how seventeenth-century scholasticism adapted to the new intellectual challenges presented by the Reformation.  I focus in particular on the theory of accidents, which Reformed scholastic philosophers explored in search of a philosophical understanding of the rejection of the Catholic and Lutheran…”

‘The Scottish Faculties of Arts and Cartesianism (1650–1700)’  Vol. XXIX / 2

‘English Philosophers and Scottish Academic Philosophy (1660–1700)’  (2017)

‘“Calvinist” theory of matter? Burgersdijk and Descartes on res extensa

Abstract: “In the Dutch debates on Cartesianism of the 1640’s, a minority believed that some Cartesian views were in fact Calvinist ones. The paper argues that, among others, a likely precursor of this position is the Aristotelian Franco Burgersdijk (1590-1635), who held a reductionist view of accidents and of the essential extension of matter on Calvinist…”

‘Robertson’s Philosophical Theses (1596): between late Renaissance and early Modern Scholasticism’  eds. Alexander Broadie & J.S. Reid, Philosophical Discourse in Seventeenth-Century Scotland: Key Texts  (The Scottish History Society)

‘The Philosophy of Robert Forbes: A Scottish Scholastic Response to Cartesianism’  Journal of Scottish Philosophy 11(2) (Sept., 2013): 191-211

Abstract: “In the second half of the seventeenth century, philosophy teaching in the Scottish universities gradually moved from scholasticism to Cartesianism.  Robert Forbes, regent at Marischal College and King’s College, Aberdeen, was a strenuous opponent of Descartes.  The analysis of the philosophy of Forbes and of his teacher Patrick Gordon sheds light on the relationship between Scottish Reformed scholasticism and the reception of Descartes in Scotland.”

‘The Reception of Descartes in the Seventeenth-Century Scottish Universities: Metaphysics and Natural Philosophy (1650-1680)’  Journal of Scottish Philosophy, 2015

“In 1685, during the heyday of Scottish Cartesianism (1670-90), regent Robert Lidderdale from Edinburgh University declared Cartesianism the best philosophy in support of the Reformed faith. It is commonplace that Descartes was ostracised by the Reformed, and his role in pre-Enlightenment Scottish philosophy is not yet fully acknowledged. This paper offers an introduction to Scottish Cartesianism, and argues that the philosophers of the Scottish universities warmed up to Cartesianism because they saw it as a newer, better version of their own traditional Reformed scholasticism, chiefly in metaphysics and natural philosophy.”

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Book

Broadie, Alexander – Scottish Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century  Pre  (Oxford, 2020)

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Latin:  Contra Descartes

Revius, Jacobus

A Theological Examination of the Cartesian Method  (1648)  135 pp.  There is no table of contents to this work.

This work has been translated into English by Aza Goudriaan in his work, Jacobus Revius, A Theological Examination of Cartesian Philosophy, Early Criticisms (1647)  Pre  (Brill, 2002).

Cartesian Philosophy in the Balance, wherein its False Principles and Impure Dogmas are Expended and Castigated  (Leiden, 1650)  326 pp.

Thekel, that is, the Lightness of the Defense of Cartesianism that Johannes Clauberg Opposed to the Consideration and Balance of Jacobus Revius  (Brielle, 1653)  462 pp.

Schuler, Johannes – A Specimen of an Examination of the Philosophy of Renee Descartes, or a Brief & Perspicuous Refutation of the Cartesian Philosophy  (Amsterdam, 1666)  101 pp.  Table of Contents

Maresius, Samuel

A Theological Dissertation on the Abuse of Cartesian Philosophy, Things that Ought to Crawl & be Shunned in the things of Theology & Faith  (Groningen, 1670)  134 Theses

New Vindications of his Dissertation on the Abuse of Cartesian Philosophy…  being opposite Peter from Andlo Batavi’s most Inept Confutation…  (Groningen, 1670)

Clypeus Orthodoxiae, or His First Vindications for his Dissertation on the Abuse of Cartesian Philosophy…Clypeus Orthodoxiae, or His First Vindications for his Dissertation on the Abuse of Cartesian Philosophy…  (Groningen, 1671)  This is different than the above.

van Mastricht, Peter

The Gangrene of the Cartesian Novelties…  or Cartesian Theology Detected  (Amsterdam, 1677)  560 pp.  Table of Contents

The Insane Gangrene of Cartesianism, 12 Investigations…  (Utrecht, 1680)  57 pp.

Schweling, Johann Eberhard – Exercitations of the Chair, in the Censure of Cartesian Philosophy by Peter Daniel Huet, that Illustrious Man, Bishop of Suession  (Bremen, 1690)  476 pp.

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