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Vern Poythress: Redeeming Philosophy

So then, all three subdivisions – metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics – offer perspectives on one another. In fact, in many ways, they presuppose one another. Tentative answers about epistemology guide what we do in ethics and metaphysics. Similarly, answers in metaphysics influence epistemology and ethics, and answers in ethics influence metaphysics and epistemology. In this title, Poythress does not attempt to comprehensively cover all three subdivisions of philosophy that I mentioned. Rather, he concentrates the bulk of his discussion on metaphysics. However, he acknowledges the influence of the other two subdivisions on metaphysics in this title. He hopes that by working on one area thoroughly, he can give readers a good idea of what it would be like to work out the other areas as well.

What is distinctive in this title is Poythress’s usage of the Bible as the source of his extrapolations, rather than using mere reason. Whether or not you accept the Bible as the Word of God, he invites his readers to see how the Bible supplies answers to big questions. One can see other differences in the way Poythress has chosen to pursue philosophy compared to how other, in fact most, philosophers do it. First, there is a difference in heart insomuch as he does his philosophy from a renewed heart in God. Second, he differs with regard to abnormality of human thinking due to sin, whereas most philosophers think the human situation is normal. There is also a difference in focus, for while many philosophers might focus on revelation from nature, the theologian that Poythress is focuses particularly upon special revelation. Without hesitation, I recommend this title to Christians who have an interest in philosophy.

Reviewed by Bradford McCall


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Category: In Depth, Summer 2016

About the Author: Bradford L. McCall, B.S. in Biology (Georgia Southwestern St. University, 2000), M.Div. (Asbury Theological Seminary, 2005), grew up on a cotton farm in south Georgia. A graduate student at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Bradford has particular interest in teleology, causation and early modern philosophy.

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