CLOSED October 20th. Sign up for our newsletter to learn more!
 

Theologians & Philosophers

At face value, a philosopher is a lover of wisdom. The Greek words philos and sophia mean "love" and "wisdom" respectively, and this is certainly the kind of philosopher Socrates tried to be. Ever since the Enlightenment, however, academics have been trying to overcomplicate things, and for most secular thinkers a philosopher is one who attempts through his own reason and observation of the world to construct a complete, coherent, and consistent explanation and theory of all things.

A theologian, on the other hand, is exactly what he sounds like—one who studies God. Men at various times have attempted to deter theology from this noble course (particularly the German liberals in the 18th and 19th centuries), and in fact there are still those who call themselves "liberal theologians," but they don't really study what they claim to. Liberal theology is more concerned with man than God. Real theologians, however, reflect on God to learn more about Him and about His creation (most notably, mankind).

Ever since Tertullian (and probably before), Christians have argued about the relationship of theologians to philosophers. is there such a thing as a Christian philosopher? Can there be? In the secular sense, the answer is clearly no. Everything we can or need to know about life and the cosmos God has revealed to us, either through His Word or generally through His creation. Does this mean every Christian thinker who isn't a scientist or mathematician is a theologian? Was Soren Kierkegaard a theologian or a philosopher? What about St. Augustine, or C.S. Lewis?

Without getting into the doctrinal implications of such a statement, it might be easier to think of philosophers and theologians in terms of prophecy. Not all prophecy is concerned with telling the future: plenty (perhaps even most) is simply the illumination of difficult concepts or a preaching of the truth in response to heresy or immorality. In this sense, anyone defending God's truth against man's, anyone using divine revelation as found in the Bible as his standard for all things, is a prophet; secular philosophers, then, are false prophets.

Christians don't need to invent their own explanation for anything. God has given us His, and that is enough. That doesn't mean we can't deepen our understanding—we can, and should. We do need to compare everything to Scripture, however, and that is what Christian thinkers can help us do better than just about anyone else. Having some knowledge of their lives isn't absolutelynecessary for understanding their ideas, but to see how pious Christian thinkers were, or how wicked their secular counterparts, can offer important insights on our quest for truth.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

Did you find this review helpful?
49 Items found Print
Against the World
by Henry Coray
from Inheritance Publications
Biography for 5th-8th grade
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Augustine on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by Gerald Bray
from Crossway Books
for 9th-Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton
by G. K. Chesterton
from Ignatius Press
Autobiography for 10th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
Bavinck on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by John Bolt
1st edition from Crossway Books
for Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by Stephen J. Nichols
from Crossway Books
for Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom - Audio Drama (CD)
from Tyndale House
for 4th-9th grade
in Audio Books & Dramas (Location: APO-01A)
C. S. Lewis: The Man Behind Narnia
by Beatrice Gormley
from Eerdmans
Biography for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Calvin on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by Michael Horton
1st edition from Crossway Books
for Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
Common Sense 101
by Dale Ahlquist
from Ignatius Press
for 9th-Adult
in 20th & 21st Century Literature (Location: CLT-20C)
Cornelius Van Til
by John Frame
from P&R Publishing
for 11th-Adult
in Reformed Theology (Location: C06-01A)
$20.99
Edwards on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by Dane C. Ortlund
from Crossway Books
for Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
Faith of Our Fathers: Scenes from American Church History
by Mark Sidwell, editor
from Bob Jones University Press
Church History Reference for 7th-12th grade
in Clearance: Christian Books (Location: C01-CHR)
Francis Schaeffer
by Bruce Little, ed.
from P&R Publishing
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
George Whitefield
by Arnold A. Dallimore
from Crossway Books
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Heralds of the Reformation
from Canon Press
for 5th-Adult
in Church History for Kids (Location: CPB-07C)
Humble Leader
by Julia Cameron
from Christian Focus Publications
for 4th-6th grade
in TorchBearers & TrailBlazers (Location: A12-06C)
Ignatius of Antioch
Heroes of the Faith
by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson
from Banner of Truth Trust
for 3rd-6th grade
in Church History for Kids (Location: CPB-07C)
Incredible Scofield and His Book
by Joseph M. Canfield
2nd edition from Ross House Books
for Adult
in Covenant Theology (Location: C06-01C)
Irenaeus of Lyons
Heroes of the Faith
by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson
from Banner of Truth Trust
for 3rd-6th grade
in Church History for Kids (Location: CPB-07C)
John Owen
Christian Biographies for Young Readers
by Simonetta Carr
from Reformation Heritage Books
for 2nd-6th grade
in Church History for Kids (Location: CPB-07C)
Johnathan Edwards
Colonial Leaders
by Norma Jean Lutz
from Chelsea House Publishing
for 4th-7th grade
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Jonathan Edwards
by Iain H. Murray
from Banner of Truth Trust
for 11th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Letters of Geerhardus Vos
by Geerhardus Vos, James T. Dennison, Jr.
from P&R Publishing
for Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Life and Times of Archbishop James Ussher
by J. A. Carr
from Master Books
Biography for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones: 1899-1981
by Iain H. Murray
from Banner of Truth Trust
for 10th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Lion of God
by Dick Bohrer
from Multnomah Books
for 11th-Adult
Lord of the Elves and Eldils
by Richard L. Purtill
2nd edition from Ignatius Press
for 9th grade-Adult
in Lord of the Rings (Location: A06-00E)
Luther on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by Carl R. Trueman
from Crossway Books
for Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
Mighty Weakness of John Knox
Long Line of Godly Men Profiles
by Douglas Bond
from P&R Publishing
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Newton on the Christian Life
Theologians On the Christian Life
by Tony Reinke
from Crossway Books
for Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
Not a Tame Lion
Leaders in Action Series
by Terry Glaspey
from Cumberland House
Biography for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Owen on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by Matthew M. Barrett, Michael A. G. Haykin
from Crossway Books
for Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
Packer on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by Sam Storms
1st edition from Crossway Books
for Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
$11.50
Phonics Museum Reader #17
by R. C. Sproul, Jr.
from Veritas Press
for Kindergarten-2nd grade
in Veritas Press Phonics Museum (Location: B09-04B)
Pierre Viret
by Jean-Marc Berthoud
1st edition
for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Pilgrim Who Made Progress
by William Deal
from Good News Publishing
Biography for 6th-9th grade
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Polycarp of Smyrna
Heroes of the Faith
by Sinclair B. Ferguson
from Banner of Truth Trust
for 3rd-6th grade
in Church History for Kids (Location: CPB-07C)
Schaeffer on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by William Edgar
from Crossway Books
for 11th-Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
Seven Men who Rule the World from the Grave
by Dave Breese
from Moody Press
Biography Anthology for 11th-Adult
in Philosophy (Location: C08-05B)
$10.49
Spurgeon
by Ernest Bacon
from Christian Liberty Press
Biography for 7th-10th grade
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Story of Albert Schweitzer
World Landmark #33
by Anita Daniel
from Random House
for 5th-8th grade
in World Landmark Books (Location: A10-04D)
Ten Boys Who Made a Difference
by Irene Howat
from Christian Focus Publications
Biography Collection for 3rd-7th grade
in Light Keepers (Location: A11-02A)
Ten Boys Who Made History
by Irene Howat
from Christian Focus Publications
Biography Collection for 3rd-7th grade
in Light Keepers (Location: A11-02A)
Ten Boys Who Used Their Talents
by Irene Howat
from Christian Focus Publications
Biography Collection for 3rd-7th grade
in Light Keepers (Location: A11-02A)
Tolkien: Man and Myth
by Joseph Pearce
from Ignatius Press
Biography for 11th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)
Warfield on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by Fred G. Zaspel
Redesign from Crossway Books
for Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
Wesley on the Christian Life
Theologians on the Christian Life
by Fred Sanders
from Crossway Books
for 11th-Adult
in Theologians On the Christian Life (Location: C03-02C)
William F. Buckley
Christian Encounters
by Jeremy Lott
from Thomas Nelson Publishers
for 10th-Adult
in Christian Encounters (Location: A12-07A)
Wisdom and Innocence
by Joseph Pearce
from Ignatius Press
Biography for 9th-Adult
in Biographies (Location: A12-01A)