Monday, October 7, 2013

The God of Faith & Reason

Robert Sokolowski, The God of Faith & Reason: Foundations of Christian Theology. Catholic University of America, 1995. ISBN: 0813208270

I recently read Sokolowski's God of Faith & Reason for the second time. It is the type of book that you can read multiple times and continue to learn from it. Sokolowski is professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America. He is a respected philosopher of phenomenology. He applies his thinking on phenomenology to theology in this book. Sokolowski states that "phenomenology reflects on the appearance of things, but it takes such appearances as generally valid and true, as manifestations of the things presented in them. It does not begin, as so much of modern thinking does, with a skeptical bias against appearances" (ix). The theology presented in this book the author calls the theology of disclosure which "tries to bring out the structure of manifestation that is proper to Christian 'things,' and most centrally it tries to bring out the structure of disclosure proper to the Christian God, the God of faith and reason.

One of the major themes addressed in this book is the distinction between God and the world, and how this distinction will cause us to see things differently. The author urges throughout the book the compatibility of faith and reason, and the natural and theological virtues.

The book begins with a Christian understanding of God. In this chapter he analyzes Anselm's definition of God. Chapter two describes the pagan understanding of God. In chapter three he begins his theme of distinguishing between God and the world. Chapter four shows how this distinction is different from the distinctions of things within the world. In chapter five he discusses the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas and how it addresses the distinction between God and the world. Chapters six and seven deals with natural and theological virtues. Chapter eight addresses the difficulties of "reconciling" the natural and theological virtues. Chapters nine through twelve discusses God's existence, Scripture reading, "Christian experiences," and the sacraments.

The chapters are short and can easily be read in one sitting. The writing is clear, but not easy reading. I believe the content can be understood by the general educated reader. This book is well worth the effort required to understand its contents.

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