Before formally embarking on philosophy Friday discussions, I thought it would be helpful to post some suggested reading. From what I gather, most people don’t take a philosophy class as part of their education (the horror!). Unless you’re a bookworm, you probably don’t have the random philosophy book at your disposal. Even if you are, you might not have the best starting point for wading into the wide world of philosophy. To keep drowning to a minimum, I thought I’d share my reading path and you can decide what suits you best.
First off, I became interested in philosophy when I took it as part of my degree completion through Liberty University. The textbook for that particular class was Questions that Matter: An Invitation to Philosophy. As with most textbooks, don’t pay full price and get the most recent edition. There is a shorter version, but just go with a good used copy of this edition if the book looks inviting.
The particular class I took was taught by Mark Foreman, whose new book, Prelude to Philosophy: An Introduction for Christians is probably the best starting point for most readers. It is just what the title says. That is, it is not an intro to philosophy per se, but a introduction to the study of philosophy, why it’s important and all that jazz. He also has an introduction to epistemology co-authored with James Dew which looks like it will be good as well. Also along these lines, you could check out Philosophy: A Student’s Guide, as well as other books in that series.
After that initial undergrad philosophy class, I didn’t do much philosophical reading until my second semester of seminary. At that point, I was taking Trinitarianism, discovered philosophical theology, and read Van Til for the first time. Quite the semester. During this semester, which was thankfully the only one in which I worked two jobs and took full time classes, I read Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview and almost transferred to Talbot. Thankfully I stayed, because Dr. Blount the faculty that semester and I was able to do my emphasis in systematic theology and philosophy while staying at Dallas.
While I would recommend picking up Philosophical Foundations (flirtations with heresy aside), some readers might not want to embark on a nearly 700 page book. A different route, is to read the individual volumes in the series that I display in the above picture. Both the Contours of Christian Philosophy and Contours of Christian Theology series are worth adding to your library. While it might be difficult to replicate my collection (since they’re the old school versions), you can piece together your own collection of new editions:
- Metaphysics: Constructing a World View
- Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous
- Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions
- Philosophy of Religion: Thinking About Faith
- Science & Its Limits: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective
- Our Idea of God
I’ve found these (the ones I’ve read) to be helpful in giving an introductory framework. They’re not exhaustive, but they’re not intended to be. If you’re looking to expand your philosophical horizons, these little volumes can be a great place to start.
If you want to do a little more heavy lifting, you could read the 4 books I’m having to plow through to prepare for entrance exams:
- Faith and Reason by Ronald Nash
- Life’s Ultimate Questions by Ronald Nash
- Warranted Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga
- The Analytic Theist: An Alvin Plantinga Reader ed. James Sennett
These are listed in order of difficulty. I’ve read the two by Nash and found them both helpful and enjoyable reads. I’m familiar with Plantinga (the aforementioned Blount studied with him at Notre Dame, so I’m kind of a educational grand-kid), but haven’t completed my trek through either title listed. That’s on the docket for today, so I better get to it.