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Knowledge & Christian Belief

Author: Alvin Plantinga
Published By: William B Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Pages: 129
Price: £10.99
ISBN: 978 0 8028 7204 3

Reviewed by Nigel Douglas.

Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan) – that cradle of Dutch Reformed thinking in North America – must have been an interesting place in the '60s and '70s. The faculty included Nicholas Wolterstorff and Alvin Plantinga, both of whom went on to achieve eminence in mainstream philosophical circles. Now in retirement, they continue to write helpful books to encourage thoughtful Christian believers.

Plantinga's Knowledge and Christian Belief is a response to criticisms of religion by representatives of the ‘new atheism’. In this shortened version of his trilogy on Warranted Christian Belief, Plantinga moves effortlessly from sharp philosophical analysis to heart-warming Christian affirmation, demonstrating both that modern thought should take the claims of Christianity seriously and that several of the common objections to the claims of the Gospel are less than convincing.

Influenced by John Calvin, Plantinga is unashamed to acknowledge that Christian faith is the work of the Holy Spirit confirming in the heart of the believer the truth of the Scriptures. His argument is that such knowledge is neither irrational nor unjustified and that it can properly be held by modern women and men.

Knowledge and Christian Belief will be a source of confidence for believers. If the earlier chapters may seem intimidating, the closing chapters, exploring three potential ‘defeaters’ of Christian faith (Biblical criticism, pluralism, and the problem of evil) provide an exciting finish.

This book is a reminder of the intellectual power of the neo-Calvinism stemming from the influence of the 19th century writer, Abraham Kuyper. Those who are concerned for the state of historic Reformed Christianity in this country may do well to turn their attention not to the sometimes confused voices of American Evangelicalism, but to the more coherent writings of Calvin's Dutch/American Kuyperian successors.

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You are reading Issue 65 of Ministry Today, published in November 2015.

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