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Knowledge and Christian Belief

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In his widely praised Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford, 2000) Alvin Plantinga discussed in great depth and at great length the question of the rationality, or sensibility, of Christian belief. In this book Plantinga presents the same ideas in a briefer, more accessible fashion. Recognized worldwide as a leading Christian philosopher, Plantinga probes what exactly is mean In his widely praised Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford, 2000) Alvin Plantinga discussed in great depth and at great length the question of the rationality, or sensibility, of Christian belief. In this book Plantinga presents the same ideas in a briefer, more accessible fashion. Recognized worldwide as a leading Christian philosopher, Plantinga probes what exactly is meant by the claim that religious -- and specifically Christian -- belief is irrational and cannot sensibly be held. He argues that the criticisms of such well-known atheists as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens are completely wrong. Finally, Plantinga addresses several potential defeaters to Christian belief -- pluralism, science, evil and suffering -- and shows how they fail to successfully defeat rational Christian belief."


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In his widely praised Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford, 2000) Alvin Plantinga discussed in great depth and at great length the question of the rationality, or sensibility, of Christian belief. In this book Plantinga presents the same ideas in a briefer, more accessible fashion. Recognized worldwide as a leading Christian philosopher, Plantinga probes what exactly is mean In his widely praised Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford, 2000) Alvin Plantinga discussed in great depth and at great length the question of the rationality, or sensibility, of Christian belief. In this book Plantinga presents the same ideas in a briefer, more accessible fashion. Recognized worldwide as a leading Christian philosopher, Plantinga probes what exactly is meant by the claim that religious -- and specifically Christian -- belief is irrational and cannot sensibly be held. He argues that the criticisms of such well-known atheists as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens are completely wrong. Finally, Plantinga addresses several potential defeaters to Christian belief -- pluralism, science, evil and suffering -- and shows how they fail to successfully defeat rational Christian belief."

30 review for Knowledge and Christian Belief

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This is a simplified version of Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief. It attempts to make his argument in that book accessible to a general audience. It does an excellent job. Plantinga addresses the question of whether Christian belief can be warranted (basically, whether Christian belief can qualify as knowledge). Plantinga argues that it can, but not that it does. In other words, this book is not an argument that Christian belief is *true*, only that there is a model of knowledge such that, This is a simplified version of Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief. It attempts to make his argument in that book accessible to a general audience. It does an excellent job. Plantinga addresses the question of whether Christian belief can be warranted (basically, whether Christian belief can qualify as knowledge). Plantinga argues that it can, but not that it does. In other words, this book is not an argument that Christian belief is *true*, only that there is a model of knowledge such that, if Christian belief is true, it counts as knowledge. That seems like a modest enterprise, perhaps too modest to warrant (pardon the pun) a book on the subject. But, in fact, Plantinga's project is of immense value. Plantinga distinguishes between de jure objections and de facto objections to Christian belief. De facto objections seek to show that Christian beliefs are false. De jure objections seek to show that Christian belief is in some way inappropriate, whether or not Christian beliefs are false. Since the de jure claims are more modest they are also the stronger philosophically: they aren't supposed to be burdened with having to demonstrate that Christian belief is false. But Plantinga demonstrates that all the best de jure objections (Marx/Freud) *presuppose* a de facto objection. And since no one has offered a good de facto objection to Christian belief, the de jure objections fail as well. Next Plantinga provides a model of warrant wherein theism can be warranted (he calls this the Aquinas/Calvin model or A/C model). The basic idea is that if God has designed our cognitive faculties to produce God-belief when we are in the right environment and if God has been successful in this intention, then theistic belief is warranted. Next Plantinga provides a model of warrant wherein Christian belief can be warranted (he calls this the extended A/C model). This model takes into account the fall of man into sin, which damages the sensus divinitatis (the cognitive faculty that is designed to produce God-belief), the divine plan of salvation, the giving of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of faith (what he calls "the great truths of the gospel", following Edwards). The idea here is that Christian belief is warranted when a person receive the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit (IIHS) and the gift of faith: since these are designed by God to produce true belief (and knowledge). Next Plantinga addresses several objections. While Christian belief might be warranted, there may still be defeaters such that Christian belief never or rarely achieves (or maintains) a state of warrant. The defeaters addressed are historical biblical criticism (HBC), religious pluralism, and the problem of evil. In regard to HBC Plantinga distinguishes between two kinds and notes that one kind adopts assumptions that Christians have no reason to adopt and the second kind ignores a line of evidence that Christians have no reason to ignore. In regards to pluralism Plantinga distinguishes between an epistemological challenge and a moral challenge. The epistemological challenge is that the Christian has no reason to accept their own beliefs and reject other religious beliefs since both sorts of beliefs have the same merit. Plantinga points out that it is not the case that contrary religious claims have the same merit as the Christian beliefs, according to Christians. The moral challenge is that it is arrogant to cling to Christian belief when intelligent people disagree with those beliefs and there is no argument that would compel all of them to adopt Christian belief. In response to this Plantinga points out that so long as the Christian attends to their belief in an intellectually responsible manner and finds those beliefs compelling they aren't being arrogant to maintain Christian belief. In regards to the problem of evil (POE) Plantinga notes that most scholars no longer think the logical problem of evil is viable. In regards to the evidential POE, Plantinga points out that any serious presentation of the problem must weigh it against Christian evidences to show that the POE outweighs any consideration in favor of the existence of God. Since no one has done this, there is no serious POE to address. Even if there were such an argument and all of our other lines of evidence also weighed against the existence of God this would not necessarily present a defeater for Christian belief if the IIHS is overwhelming. Plantinga uses the analogy of someone playing poker. All the independent lines of evidence would weigh against Jones' belief that he has a straight flush in his hand (e.g., the behavior of his poker opponents, the probability of him having drawn such from the deck, etc)... and yet if Jones looks at his hand and sees a straight flush then this properly basic perceptual belief outweighs all the other evidence. A third option for the POE, and what Plantinga takes to be the strongest, would be to cast it in terms of proper basicallity. Maybe the POE isn't an *argument* at all, but is rather like an "inverse sensus divinitatis" but this would most likely be false on the extended A/C model. God wouldn't design a cognitive faculty to produce atheistic belief under those conditions and it's entirely plausible that a Christian upon experiencing or reflecting on some intense evil could still be compelled to believe in God.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Plantinga, Alvin. Knowledge and Christian Belief. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015. This is a summary of Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief. While there are a few updates, is the lay version of WCB. In fact, some paragraphs are identical (e.g., his legendary definition of “fundamentalist”). As such, this serves as a nice introduction to Plantinga’s project. It is accessible to the educated lay reader. It doesn’t have the intimidating Bayesian formulae, for example. On the other hand, if you h Plantinga, Alvin. Knowledge and Christian Belief. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015. This is a summary of Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief. While there are a few updates, is the lay version of WCB. In fact, some paragraphs are identical (e.g., his legendary definition of “fundamentalist”). As such, this serves as a nice introduction to Plantinga’s project. It is accessible to the educated lay reader. It doesn’t have the intimidating Bayesian formulae, for example. On the other hand, if you have read WCB or his other warrant books, there is nothing in this volume that you haven’t seen. Plantinga makes a distinction between two different types of objection to religious belief: de jure and de facto. De jure objections mean the adherent is irrational in holding to religious belief. De facto objections suggest that the belief is erroneous. On the contrary, by exploring these objections, Plantinga argues that the Christian is justified or warranted in holding to theism. A few words on epistemic justification. I am justified in believing something (on the old Lockean view) if I have fulfilled my epistemic duty: in other words, I am believing something on the basis of good evidence. Plantinga suggests that the old classical view of justification isn’t necessary and the theist is within his epistemic rights if he holds to a position when a) the belief is produced by his mind in a b) proper functioning environment. Minor premise (which all Protestants must accept though no theologian will): the Holy Spirit produces the belief in me via the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. Conclusion: therefore, I am warranted. Does this mean that announcing the Christian position makes it so? No, and this is where many critics of Plantinga miss the argument. The Christian position is open to undercutting and rebutting defeaters. Plantinga explores three types: biblical criticism, pluralism, and the problem of evil. The important thing about defeaters is that if someone faces a defeater, he has to face that defeater within the larger context of his hierarchy of beliefs. Conclusion: This is a good summary of Plantinga’s epistemology and a good intro to his work.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Combs

    Pretty solid book, his writing style is p good and a great book for someone looking for a philosophical approach to the Christian worldview. I found it far more compelling than typical evangelical books, however there were definitely some parts where it felt hand wavy. Ofc I'd expect Warranted Christian Belief to be far more rigorous but I don't have the brains for that right now haha. Pretty solid book, his writing style is p good and a great book for someone looking for a philosophical approach to the Christian worldview. I found it far more compelling than typical evangelical books, however there were definitely some parts where it felt hand wavy. Ofc I'd expect Warranted Christian Belief to be far more rigorous but I don't have the brains for that right now haha.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Braley Chambers

    Not exactly a page turner, but definitely a great introduction to Plantinga’s religious epistemology. Also, Plantinga’s definition and mockery of the word “fundamentalist” on page 55 is is hysterical and true.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Oliver

    This was may first sort of 'formal' theology book. It was interesting to read a formal/analytical approach to big theological questions. The logic can be somewhat hard to follow at times, and the conclusions reached are somewhat underwhelming in my opinion. But the logical framework that is established is a very useful tool for thinking about these problems. This was may first sort of 'formal' theology book. It was interesting to read a formal/analytical approach to big theological questions. The logic can be somewhat hard to follow at times, and the conclusions reached are somewhat underwhelming in my opinion. But the logical framework that is established is a very useful tool for thinking about these problems.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    A shorter version of Plantinga’s *Warranted Christian Belief*. Quite good.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Hughes

    Alvin Plantinga’s Knowledge and Christian Belief was written as a synopsis of his much larger work: Warranted Christian Belief but is by no means a quick and easy read. While it is only 126 pages (not including index), Plantinga wrote about subjects that should cause the reader to slow down in order to think through much of what has been written. In addition, Plantinga’s writes with sophistication. At times, it seems as if he sought out the most obscure wording or phrasing possible and put them Alvin Plantinga’s Knowledge and Christian Belief was written as a synopsis of his much larger work: Warranted Christian Belief but is by no means a quick and easy read. While it is only 126 pages (not including index), Plantinga wrote about subjects that should cause the reader to slow down in order to think through much of what has been written. In addition, Plantinga’s writes with sophistication. At times, it seems as if he sought out the most obscure wording or phrasing possible and put them into the book. “What sort of phenomenology is involved in this epistemic process: what does it seem like from the inside?” (P. 97) is one such example. It took this reviewer a while to remember that some people do, in fact, speak in such a manner.
The goal of the book is to show that Christian belief is not without warrant. There is reasoning behind faith in general and the Christian faith in particular. To show this, the author lays out his argument in ten short chapters, going from the basic belief in God to Christian beliefs such as the Trinity, resurrection, and such, ultimately to answer defeater arguments against Christian belief (or belief in God in general). As he began the book, Alvin Plantinga quickly explained the philosophies of the detractors of faith, such as: Hume, Freud, and Marx. In doing so, arguments were made as to why these men were wrong and demonstrating that faith is not irrational, but highly rational when and if the mind is working as it ought.
For most of the rest of the book, Dr. Plantinga utilizes much of philosophy and theology of Aquinas and Calvin, putting their similar thoughts together in what he deems: The Aquinas/Calvin model of philosophy. This model basically states that there is an innate knowledge within humanity that knows there is a higher being. One does not have to philosophize or conjure up some notion; it naturally comes from within. Dr. Plantinga extended the model to other areas of Christian belief. Humanity knows there is a God, it seems then that man is made in his image yet fallen, and in need of a savior. The reader is walked through how this can all come about simply by extending the Aquinas/Calvin model.
It was in chapter four that the book began to come together a little better, but in an odd way. To this reviewer, it seemed as if faith was being deconstructed. This is the chapter from which the quote above was taken. To answer his question on the sort of phenomenology in the epistemic process, Plantinga asserts that “In the model, the beliefs constituting faith are typically basic; that is, they are not accepted by way of argument from other propositions or on the evidential basis of other propositions.” (P. 97). In other words, no one has to argue the point. Scripture is read and because one believes Scripture as authoritative or someone over them who is authoritative, he believes what he read or was read to him.
The sixth chapter is all about the Holy Spirit turning one’s affections toward God. This was by far, the most understandable and thought-provoking chapter in this book. This would be a chapter for every believer to read. Plantinga explained that eros is not simply a sexual love, but a love that has longings. That means that sex is a strand of eros, but not eros in its entirety. This eros is the love that a Christian has for God and God has for the believer as well. The explanation within this chapter can be life-changing for many believers in this world.
The objections begin in chapter seven; systematically and methodically, Plantinga dismantles the atheologian’s arguments. Beginning with higher criticism or as the author calls it, “Historical Biblical Criticism” it is shown that conservative Christians discount this way of reading the Bible because there is no warrant in their eyes to accept it. “It offers her no reason at all for rejecting or modifying her beliefs; it also offers little promise of enabling her to achieve better or deeper insight into what actually happened.” (P. 106). From there, one reads a short chapter on pluralism—the multiple and conflicting religions of the world. The author explained that a Christian believing himself to be right and all others to be wrong does not have to be egoism or elitism. It certainly can be but does not have to be.
Finally, Plantinga takes on the problem of evil. The philosopher is sure to make the reader understand that he is not writing on theonomy but is writing on how evil excludes there even being the possibility of God’s existence. This chapter was written well until he wrote these words: “The list of atrocities human beings commit against others is horrifying and hideous; it is also so long, so repetitious, that it is finally wearying. Occasionally, though new depths are reached.” (P 120). If the author had stopped there, all would be in agreement and continue on. However, Plantinga quoted from a book about such a depth of atrocity. The illustration was absolutely beyond the pale. There was no need, no warrant (to use Plantinga’s word) to put such an illustration into the book. Was not the holocaust, the rape of Nanking, or some other well-known atrocity not enough? What person needs to read such an illustration to know that mankind is capable of such horrors? How or why this got passed the editors at Eerdmans Publishing is uncertain.
For that reason, this reviewer would not recommend this book to be read by anyone. Perhaps that is a bit harsh, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” as it were, but it is not only a pastor’s job to put good defenses into the hands of his members, but also to protect them from harm. This pastor existentially believes that the illustration could be an assault on the mind and heart. It is possible to use the material within the book to teach a class on this branch of apologetics and leave out the illustration. It is possible to white-out the illustration in its entirety and share the book to one well-acquainted with philosophy. Given its complex language and thought process, along with the illustrations, it is believed that there are easier, clearer books on apologetics for a layperson to read if he desires to learn more.


  8. 5 out of 5

    Justin Matthews

    Reading Alvin Plantinga is a cookie for the brain. Even if you're not concerned or even familiar with the concept of warrant when it comes to religious belief, he draws you in and gets you to follow his arguments, which are clear and interesting. I even found the book to be motivating in piety at various parts, such as when he describes the internal work of the Holy Spirit upon the Christian believer. Reading Alvin Plantinga is a cookie for the brain. Even if you're not concerned or even familiar with the concept of warrant when it comes to religious belief, he draws you in and gets you to follow his arguments, which are clear and interesting. I even found the book to be motivating in piety at various parts, such as when he describes the internal work of the Holy Spirit upon the Christian believer.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Warranted Christian Belief for Dummies

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Many years ago I picked up a copy of Warranted Christian Belief (WCB) and read through it in a matter of days. I don't say that to brag or to pretend that I am somehow more accomplished than anyone (I just happen to be a pretty good speed reader) but I mention this because I want to express how incredibly impactful the book was. I simply could not put it down. It captivated my mind and utterly demolished my previously held fideism. I have heard some claim that Plantinga himself is a fideist. Thi Many years ago I picked up a copy of Warranted Christian Belief (WCB) and read through it in a matter of days. I don't say that to brag or to pretend that I am somehow more accomplished than anyone (I just happen to be a pretty good speed reader) but I mention this because I want to express how incredibly impactful the book was. I simply could not put it down. It captivated my mind and utterly demolished my previously held fideism. I have heard some claim that Plantinga himself is a fideist. This is most popularly held by Panelhum. Nothing could be further from the truth! For more on this I recommend reading On Fideism and Alvin Plantinga.Warranted Christian Belief was a book that set forth the rationality of theism. Fifteen years later I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Plantinga re-released his book in a more accessible (and 392 pages shorter) book called Knowledge and Christian Belief published last April. In his introduction, he sets out his reasoning for writing this shorter version, "My book Warranted Christian Belief came out more than a dozen years ago, I still endorse nearly everything I wrote there; but some have told me the book is too long and in places too technical. I'm afraid I have to agree, and I would like to put things right. . ." If that was Plantinga's purpose in writing Knowledge and Christian Belief than he has absolutely achieved his goal.`The book retains the general line of argumentation and logical flow without getting too deep into peripheral issues which (though I believe add more weight to his arguments) are not necessary in order to have a basic understanding of Plantinga's thought. In fact, one could gain just as much from this book as WCB if the purpose is simply to understand how and why belief in God is a warranted belief. Some may ask why such a book is necessary. Plantinga answers this by rightfully pointing out that one of the most damaging (and yet least thought through) arguments against theism is the false notion put forth by Freud and Marx that such belief is unwarranted- that it lacks justification. Pantings spends a brief amount of time defining the language and thought those who hold this view and then spends the bulk of the book demonstrating that belief in God is not only rational, but also warranted. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a good understanding of the warrant we have to believe in God and yet doesn't have the background knowledge required to read WCB. This book would be invaluable to anyone who is struggling with the belief in God or for anyone who regularly (or even occasionally) encounters those who believe that such belief is unwarranted. This book would be perfect for the homeschooled junior or senior in high school but may be difficult to follow for most who are younger. The book is also ideal for anyone about to enter college. The beauty of Knowledge and Christian Belief is that it takes Plantinga's arguements from WCB and makes them accessible to anyone who is able to follow the logical flow of a conversation. This book should be on everyone's bookshelf. It is that good.. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WM.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Shane

    Don't pick this up if you're expecting a traditional Christian apologetic - it is very much a book of philosophy, but it is good to read philosophy from time to time. Plantinga essentially argues, especially pulling from Aquinas and Calvin, that Christian belief could have warrant - not that Christianity is true, note, but rather something more along the lines of "if something like Christianity is true, then rational well-thinking people could have warrant for believing in it". So... back one st Don't pick this up if you're expecting a traditional Christian apologetic - it is very much a book of philosophy, but it is good to read philosophy from time to time. Plantinga essentially argues, especially pulling from Aquinas and Calvin, that Christian belief could have warrant - not that Christianity is true, note, but rather something more along the lines of "if something like Christianity is true, then rational well-thinking people could have warrant for believing in it". So... back one step, if you will. (Of course, he also thinks it is true, but that is not his thrust here.) The biggest complaint you might raise to such a book is simply that very few of the objections people raise to Christianity these days take place on such a philosophical level - I think "I don't need Christianity" or "Christians/Christianity is immoral/bad" are a lot more common these days. All the same... it is good to think about what it *means* to *know* something, and I think Christians in particular will be better for having thought through the book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aid

    Interesting book, I'm not sure if I buy into Reformed Epistemology but it was fun to read about nonetheless. I don't see how the extended A/C model couldn't be extended to any religious belief system, be it Christian or otherwise, and so I'm not sure if it's sound. Interesting book, I'm not sure if I buy into Reformed Epistemology but it was fun to read about nonetheless. I don't see how the extended A/C model couldn't be extended to any religious belief system, be it Christian or otherwise, and so I'm not sure if it's sound.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eclaghorn

    Great book. Belief is basic. Aquinas and Calvin have provided a model; Plantinga extends it. Higher Criticism, pluralism, and evil cannot undercut or defeat belief; de jure arguments end up being de facto. Chapter 6 was less understandable.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    A good summary of reformed epistemology, much quicker than reading 'Warranted Christian Belief'. A good summary of reformed epistemology, much quicker than reading 'Warranted Christian Belief'.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Simpson

    This is a fantastic book. I’ll not complicate this review with subheadings and bullets - I’ll play it straight, just like Dr. Plantinga does in this book. ‘Knowledge and Christian Belief’ (KCB) is not a book that many Christians would be interested in, or, frankly, want or need. Plantinga is a top-notch Christian philosopher: you won’t find a self-help style or run-of-the-mill, feel-good book among his works. His material is abstract (without being lofty), academic (without being pretentious), a This is a fantastic book. I’ll not complicate this review with subheadings and bullets - I’ll play it straight, just like Dr. Plantinga does in this book. ‘Knowledge and Christian Belief’ (KCB) is not a book that many Christians would be interested in, or, frankly, want or need. Plantinga is a top-notch Christian philosopher: you won’t find a self-help style or run-of-the-mill, feel-good book among his works. His material is abstract (without being lofty), academic (without being pretentious), and dry (without being ‘boring’; although I’m aware most of these descriptors are subjective). In ‘KCB’, he sets out to make his case that we can actually have knowledge about the claims of Christian theism, and, further, that the person holding these beliefs enjoys warrant for them (i.e. the person with these beliefs are within their rational ‘rights’ in holding to them, and the beliefs were formed by properly functioning faculties which were designed to be aimed at truth... yeah, it’s not a simple concept, but the words aren’t terribly hard to understand and piece together). To keep this short, I’ll just say that Plantinga obviously knows his subject matter, and is not interested in making it flashy or appealing to those not interested in learning about it. To those that do desire to take the plunge, this book is supposed to serve as kind of a ‘Reader’s Digest’, or bottom shelf, version of his more extensive work on the topic. Therefore, while the material still requires patience and critical thought, it’s very accessible and mercifully concise. However, it is still heavily philosophical and abstract, and thus is not meant to be a book that was going to fly off a bookstore shelf any time soon. It’s not ‘light reading’ by any means. I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I’ve been around some of this block before. Some of the material was over my head still, but it was a tremendous subject to engage with and Plantinga was obviously made to write about it. My only complaint is that, while I appreciated the conciseness and relative simplicity of the book, I found myself wanting a little more depth in some of the explanations and maybe more illustrations; exploring some of the possible objections to Plantinga’s position on the matter might have been good as well. BUT, this was meant to be a more simple introduction on the topic, for people to wet their toes in the ideas of reformed epistemology. I suppose I can go read his multi-hundred page trilogy on warranted Christian belief if I desire to go deeper.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brent Pinkall

    Concise and clear. Plantinga shows why belief in Christianity is reasonable. But this isn't a list of "evidences" for the Christian religion. On the contrary, Plantinga argues that very few if any Christians actually believe Christianity on the basis of these evidences. We don't consider evidences or arguments, analyze them, and then decide to believe that Christianity is true. Rather, belief is spontaneous. And this is not just true for Christian belief but for other properly basic beliefs, lik Concise and clear. Plantinga shows why belief in Christianity is reasonable. But this isn't a list of "evidences" for the Christian religion. On the contrary, Plantinga argues that very few if any Christians actually believe Christianity on the basis of these evidences. We don't consider evidences or arguments, analyze them, and then decide to believe that Christianity is true. Rather, belief is spontaneous. And this is not just true for Christian belief but for other properly basic beliefs, like sensory perception or memory. I believe I had pizza for lunch yesterday not because I analyzed a series of arguments and then concluded on the basis of these arguments that I had pizza. Rather, the fact is simply presented to me, and the moment it is presented to me I instantaneously belief it because it is clear and distinct--like seeing a tree in front of me and immediately believing a tree is there. There is a place for arguments and evidences, but these are all based on basic beliefs that themselves have no evidence supporting them. Trying to "prove" basic beliefs is impossible for anyone and just leads to circular reasoning. Plantinga's main point is that belief in Christianity is arrived at by means of basic belief, and the mechanism by which we do so is the sensus divinitatis--the inward "sense" that God has implanted in us that intuitively knows that he exists. We can claim to know God simply on the basis that our sensus divinitatis makes it obvious to us that he exists--just like my memory gives me immediate knowledge that I had pizza yesterday without me having to consider any evidences or arguments. Moreover, we arrive at the more specific claims of Christianity through the Holy Spirit's inward testimony to us through Scripture and faith. I found this book refreshing and, in many ways, freeing. If you are a Christian and you have sometimes felt that you must be able to "prove" Christianity true through apologetic arguments in order to justify your belief in Christianity then read this book. No such obligation lies on you. You can believe simply because you read the Bible and find it true. Don't let philosophers, like the Pharisees, place unbearable burdens on you. You can respond like the blind man when asked how God opened his eyes: "I don't know. But one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    The author's condensed version of many of the arguments made in his Warranted Christian Belief. The author wishes to make a rational defense for Christian belief using traditional epistemology. To this end he explores wider questions about whether we can speak and think about God (a fairly easy refutation of some Enlightenment excess), what warranted belief in God might look like, his "extended Aquinas/Calvin model" for warranted belief, and exploration of some of the possible "defeaters" for thi The author's condensed version of many of the arguments made in his Warranted Christian Belief. The author wishes to make a rational defense for Christian belief using traditional epistemology. To this end he explores wider questions about whether we can speak and think about God (a fairly easy refutation of some Enlightenment excess), what warranted belief in God might look like, his "extended Aquinas/Calvin model" for warranted belief, and exploration of some of the possible "defeaters" for this belief. From what I can tell it's a good short introduction to Plantinga's way of approaching things, his critiques of many models of epistemology, the advancement of the "sensus divinatus", and a robust rationalist attempt at a justifiable Christian epistemology. For the average reader a lot of the points may seem inane or pedantic. The Calvinism is strong in this one, and that very much informs his posture and his epistemology. The work is hailed for what it attempts to do with the tools it wants to attempt to do it with, but I find the work to be a great demonstration of the inability to really anchor faith in this kind of apologetic endeavor. The argument against the evil "defeater" proves to be sleight of hand, and much of the refutations end up being attempts to finely distinguish between terminology - a helpful endeavor to some extent, but ultimately not one that can support the weight of what the author would try to have it bear. Thus, a great work of apologetics to expose the limitations of apologetics. No wonder the Apostles insisted on proclaiming their witness of the Christ and the work of God as attested in Scripture and in Jesus.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Egerer

    When all is said and done the job of the intellectual is to challenge our perception of reality. Alvin Plantinga has done this in his new book "Knowledge and Christian Belief," not by challenging non-believers to consider the act of believing, but by challenging "you shouldn't judge a book by its cover." What exactly is on the cover of this revolutionary book? An orange square within an orange square. How exactly does it read? Like you are looking at pictures of orange squares. The title is blan When all is said and done the job of the intellectual is to challenge our perception of reality. Alvin Plantinga has done this in his new book "Knowledge and Christian Belief," not by challenging non-believers to consider the act of believing, but by challenging "you shouldn't judge a book by its cover." What exactly is on the cover of this revolutionary book? An orange square within an orange square. How exactly does it read? Like you are looking at pictures of orange squares. The title is bland and unsexy as a convent. The arguments are precise and sterile as a surgeon's knife. There are moments in reading Knowledge and Christian Belief, however, where Plantinga breaks from the tedious routine of "debunking" the well-grounded arguments of Freud and Marx against religion and begins to talk about the religion itself. In these moments, sparse but memorable, well-written and bursting with emotion, we begin to see that what Plantinga is arguing about is not a matter of logically true or logically false, but the experience of something greater than reason -- something which Plantinga plainly feels, and which the feelings prompt him to think. Had he stuck with this we might not have ended up with a logical argument -- but we might have been more interested in being Christians.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I actually like Richard Swinburne's blurb as a description of the book: "A very clear, easy-to-understand presentation of the main steps of Plantinga's argument in Warranted Christian Belief. Using the tools of modern epistemology, Plantinga defends a classical position - that Christian belief does not need to be supported from any generally agreed premises in order to be fully rational, and that belief cannot be shown to be false by any such arguments." Plantinga's argument can be summarized a I actually like Richard Swinburne's blurb as a description of the book: "A very clear, easy-to-understand presentation of the main steps of Plantinga's argument in Warranted Christian Belief. Using the tools of modern epistemology, Plantinga defends a classical position - that Christian belief does not need to be supported from any generally agreed premises in order to be fully rational, and that belief cannot be shown to be false by any such arguments." Plantinga's argument can be summarized a little bit like this: If Christianity is true, it has warrant (i.e. it is rational). That initial "if" is, of course, a big "if," (Plantinga argues that it cannot be answered philosophically in the final pages of the book) but this is a valuable book if you think questions like what sort of knowledge of God is possible? is belief rational? etc. are worth exploring. Regarding Swinburne's blurb above, I do agree with the "clear" part ... but it is dense (and I worry that the density makes it easy to miss some of the details in the various arguments). I do think there is some sort of tradition/culture/history piece that's missing in Plantinga's portrait of faith, and I'll have to think about how it might fit (or not) with his model.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jay Batson

    Meaty philosophy Significant and systematic defense of the Christian faith, proposed in a highly logical and self-contained treatise. An incredible feat of using logic & reason to show the merit & warrant of the faith of intelligent & carful thinkers. Clearly one of the most important religious philosophy books of modern time. I’ll admit I felt portions of his core (Aquila’s/Calvinistic) model were not as impregnable as they had been billed. However, on average, I fit into the mold he describes, s Meaty philosophy Significant and systematic defense of the Christian faith, proposed in a highly logical and self-contained treatise. An incredible feat of using logic & reason to show the merit & warrant of the faith of intelligent & carful thinkers. Clearly one of the most important religious philosophy books of modern time. I’ll admit I felt portions of his core (Aquila’s/Calvinistic) model were not as impregnable as they had been billed. However, on average, I fit into the mold he describes, so maybe I’m objecting too much. And most of what comes after the A/C model presentation requires acceptance of the model as a predicate; if you’re not with him on that, I made tons of highlights that I’ll make into a personal study guide.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marc Sims

    This is a simplified version of Plantinga’s magnum opus, “Warranted Christian Belief,” but make no mistake, this thing is still d e n s e. If you are not familiar with issues regarding epistemology you could still read this book, but it would be tough. I found his argument for the knowledge of God as being “basic,” that is immediately aware to us, much like truthfulness of our sense perceptions, a priori knowledge, and memory, to be persuasive. Why do you believe what you believe? And how do you This is a simplified version of Plantinga’s magnum opus, “Warranted Christian Belief,” but make no mistake, this thing is still d e n s e. If you are not familiar with issues regarding epistemology you could still read this book, but it would be tough. I found his argument for the knowledge of God as being “basic,” that is immediately aware to us, much like truthfulness of our sense perceptions, a priori knowledge, and memory, to be persuasive. Why do you believe what you believe? And how do you know what you believe is true? Is belief in Christianity even a rational position to take? Pick up this book to find out.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Curby Graham

    This is a simplified version of Platinga's Warranted Christian Belief. If you want to understand Plantinga's thought this is the one work you should get. It isn't typical apologetics but rather makes a compelling case that Christian belief is warranted and fully rational and doesn't need to be supported by any particular argument. He also demonstrates that the three main defeaters for Christian belief - Biblical criticism, pluralism and the problem of evil do not succeed. Highly recommended. This is a simplified version of Platinga's Warranted Christian Belief. If you want to understand Plantinga's thought this is the one work you should get. It isn't typical apologetics but rather makes a compelling case that Christian belief is warranted and fully rational and doesn't need to be supported by any particular argument. He also demonstrates that the three main defeaters for Christian belief - Biblical criticism, pluralism and the problem of evil do not succeed. Highly recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I'd actually give this 3.5 stars. Having no background in epistemology, it took me a year to finish Warranted Christian Belief (about 10 years ago). It was a tough read. So I appreciate Plantinga's simplified and updated version here, if for no other reason than it was far less demanding. But then _Knowledge and Christian Belief_ is also far more superficial. I was also a relatively new Christian when I read WCB and had no understanding of the Calvinist undertones of Plantinga's epistemology. To I'd actually give this 3.5 stars. Having no background in epistemology, it took me a year to finish Warranted Christian Belief (about 10 years ago). It was a tough read. So I appreciate Plantinga's simplified and updated version here, if for no other reason than it was far less demanding. But then _Knowledge and Christian Belief_ is also far more superficial. I was also a relatively new Christian when I read WCB and had no understanding of the Calvinist undertones of Plantinga's epistemology. Today, I am less inclined to accept this dependency.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Nance

    Pretty heady, but a lot of good stuff to mull over. Is there warrant and justification for holding to a Christian theistic belief? That’s a huge question that I think Plantinga handles well through examining what it looks like to properly use our rational cognitive faculties. If those faculties are working properly, it would lead to what we can understand to be “properly basic” rational conclusions that form our beliefs.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Typically brilliant work by Plantinga. Especially appreciate his treatment of the problem of evil, developing it in the context of a rational believer having knowledge of the full breadth of God’s attributes and situating the problem of evil within that context rather than abstracted from the character of God on the one hand or attempt to over-rationalize the problem through specific accounts of how evil fits into God’s plan.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katerina

    Alvin Plantinga’s Knowledge and Christian Belief is analytical philosophy. Despite that, I enjoyed this book. Plantinga argues that belief in God and Christianity is warranted. By this he means that Christian faith cannot be summarily dismissed as something that people are incapable of knowing as true.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I found this to be a good and somewhat more approachable read from Plantinga. I have read some of his other works and found them interesting. This one is definitely less dry than his other works, and somewhat more straight forward. I found it to be an interesting and helpful read when it comes to looking at how faith and reason do not need to be separated. They must go hand in hand.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Corey Woodfield

    Overall I think he makes good arguments for the possibility of having knowledge regarding God and fundamental Christian doctrines. I did find a few parts to be a bit sloppy or unprofessional (perhaps a result of trying to make his arguments in Warranted Christian Belief more accessible?) but overall I think it's a worthwhile read Overall I think he makes good arguments for the possibility of having knowledge regarding God and fundamental Christian doctrines. I did find a few parts to be a bit sloppy or unprofessional (perhaps a result of trying to make his arguments in Warranted Christian Belief more accessible?) but overall I think it's a worthwhile read

  29. 4 out of 5

    josua

    Probably the best presentation so far on how belief in Christianity can be rational. Its claim is modest, not that Christian belief is true but rather, it can be true. It is the concise version of Plantinga's magnum opus, Warranted Christian Belief. Probably the best presentation so far on how belief in Christianity can be rational. Its claim is modest, not that Christian belief is true but rather, it can be true. It is the concise version of Plantinga's magnum opus, Warranted Christian Belief.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Glen Johnston

    Excellent read The arguments were on a level that is easily accessible by a non-philosopher. I cut and pasted several excerpts to Facebook and twitter. Nice afternoon read. I recommend it.

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