What does a Philosophy of the Bible look like?

I suppose someone may agree with that [the previous post], and yet still be very unclear of what, exactly, a philosophy of the Bible would actually look like. How do you translate a story into a textbook?

You don't. Story is always primary. Story is hard-wired into us, for we are part of a story.

Yet stories can be analyzed in various ways. One way is by asking if the story teaches anything, and, if so, what is it teaching.

For at least a hundred years now critics have revolted against the idea that a good story teaches anything. But I disagree. Certainly not every story is designed to teach, and many fictional stories have become unpalatable by mixing in moralist messaging of various kinds.

Yet only a fool could read something like *The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich* without learning anything about good and evil, bravery and cowardice.

The Bible is a story, but is a story that transforms both thoughts and values; or at least it has that potential.

In this book we will look at how understanding the Bible transforms our thoughts about the biggest questions that mankind has asked.

It might be helpful to describe the plan; how do you get a consistent philosophy or worldview from an ancient text?

One of the simplest forms of deductive syllogism is called the Hypothetical Syllogism, which takes the form:

If A, then B

If B, then C

If A, then C

This book will follow the basic pattern of that syllogism, fleshed out as:

If the Bible is true, then certain core philosophical beliefs are true

If those certain core philosophical beliefs are true, then many other philosophical beliefs are true.

If the Bible is true, then many other philosophical beliefs are true.

Now, of course, the above syllogism does not address the question of whether or not the A clause [that the Bible is true] is a valid statement or not. Nor will that be the main focus of this book. The main focus of this book is to describe, in some detail, what are the right answers to the questions of philosophy if one assumes, even for argument's sake alone, that the Bible is true. To that end, we will also glance at competing worldviews or philosophical systems for comparison and contrast.

In the last section of the book we will come then come back to the validity of that first clause, vis-a-vis the intellectual alternatives. After all, the question we ultimately face is not, "Can you prove it with certainty?" but rather, "Which belief system will you give your life to?" After all, refusing to choose is simply choosing the default.


  1. Looks good! This is something that I have stated for years now - I can't prove that God exists, but you equally can't prove that He doesn't. Faith is a matter of choice.

    This should be very interesting. Thanks, Daniel.

  2. Hi Ruth. You are in good company. Both Kant and Kierkegaard argued that you cannot prove that God exists, or that God does not exist. They viewed the existence of God as a plausible but unprovable hypothesis.

    Therefore, one must distinguish faith from knowledge. You can have one or the other but not both.

    1. I always particularly liked Kierkegaard's phrase "a thinker’s pious bungling" when describing those who would try to prove God's existence. It is so descriptive.

    2. I had not heard that phrase; thanks

  3. I think this sounds interesting too. It reminds me a wee bit of some of the epistemology I read as an undergraduate. That was about 40 years ago so I'm pretty rusty on it. Two books that I still have on my bookshelf that I loved were Nicholas Wolterstorff's "Reason Within the Bounds of Religion" and an IVP book simply called "Epistemology" by David Wolfe. What you said about evaluating the alternatives was something Wolfe argues too I think, although possibly in a different way. I look forward to reading more and I think I might have to dip into Wolterstorff and Wolfe again!

    1. Hey, I think I had that same book by Wolfe. Wish I still had it.

  4. Daniel! You got the forwarding link back from Mystery and Meaning! And just in time for Christmas!

    I'm listening to Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" on Maine Public Radio right now, so I shall say Merry Christmas, and especially "God bless us, every one."

    1. Yeah, I sure bungled the transition, but I am glad a few of you found it. Merry Christmas, Ted

  5. Yes, a very Merry Christmas to all who visit here, and especially to Daniel who is kind enough to provide this space for those of us who need the continuation of community originally found at Internet Monk. Daniel, you do Michael Spencer's memory proud! Thank you.


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