Monday, April 1, 2013

Trust of People, Words, and God

Trust of People, Words, and God: A Route for Philosophy of Religion
By Joseph J. Godfrey, University of Notre Dame Press, 2012, 498 pp., ISBN 978-0-268-03001-8, $49.00 (paper).
This is the author's version of a work that was submitted/accepted for publication in the following source:
Catholic Library World, Mar2013, Vol. 83 Issue 3, p204.
Godfrey’s Trust of People, Words, and God argues that trusting is central to the practice of theistic religion. Trusting that is directed “towards some people and towards some words and towards God are key to what theistic religion offers as the target of hope” (ix). The book emphasizes religion as practiced. It “includes how people live as well as what they hold to be true” (ix). A key image of the book is open hands. It illustrates the idea that trusting “is to be receptive to enhancement” (398). Godfrey asserts that trusting is something that a person does. The author analyzes the concepts of trust, faith, and belief and explores ways that connect these ways with trusting God.  
Trust of People, Words, and God is a well-argued essay on the subject of trust. The book does a good job of engaging some of the key authors on trusting and religious faith: Marcel Sarot, Paul Helm, Richard Swinburne, Annette Baier, Russell Hardin, Gabriel Marcel, Richard Foley, Hans Kung, Alvin Plantinga, and others. The author employs the tools of Anglo-American Analytic philosophy, Continental philosophy, and Scholastic philosophy in analyzing trust. Chapter one introduces the topic and defines the key terms that will be used throughout the book. Chapter two shows how trust will be explored in four dimensions: “reliance trust, I-thou trust, security trust, and openness trust.” The author draws from the thought of Martin Buber and Gabriel Marcel, especially, when describing the I-Thou model of trust. Chapter four describes how analogy can bridge human trusting to religious trusting. Chapter five “considers how trusting can be virtuous” (24). The relationship between trusting and knowledge is analyzed in chapter six. It “considers how knowing is helpful for good trusting, and how trusting is helpful for knowing” (xi).  Chapters nine and ten consider whether trusting can offer an argument for God. The final chapter explores religious faith and trust. The author argues that the act of faith is neither primarily intellectual nor moral, but includes an intellectual and volitional aspect. Religious faith not only includes reliance trust, but I-Thou trusting as well. The author makes a distinction between believing that and believing in. The knowledge of God is mediated through messengers and a message. So in believing the message the believer believes in God. Godfrey notes that what connects people with God are “language, community, and the presence of God-who-is-not simply-available” (385).
Trust of People, Words, and God is a well-crafted essay on trusting people, words, and God. Religious believers will see how trusting “is connected to religious living and believing” (399). Non-believers’ understanding of trusting will be enhanced. This book will help anyone trying to understand trust, both conceptually and practically. This book will also help those who want to understand the role of trust in “human relationships, religious experiences, and the nature of knowledge.” It is recommended for all libraries.

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