There are so many titles that we give to Jesus: Savior, Lord, King, Friend, Redeemer, Shepherd, etc. It is rare to see anyone name or even relate to Jesus as a philosopher. Yet, Pennington shows us in this much needed book that Jesus is indeed the Great Philosopher through which we can truly find the Good Life.
The book begins by taking a brief look into how the church has lost the vision of not only Jesus as a philosopher, but Christianity as a religious philosophy as a whole. As a result, we tend to compartmentalize our faith and disconnect it from other areas of our lives, look to other people (gurus) for help and guidance apart from Jesus, stop asking the big and right questions, and limit our witness in the world. Here, Pennington also surveys ancient philosophy and what we can learn from those that have gone and wrestled through the important things before us.
Philosophy was an allegiance to a certain way of seeing and being in the world, learned and lived in community for the purpose of finding the Good Life.Pennington, p. 34
Secondly, this book looks at both the Old and New Testaments individually to see how they both focus on the big questions of philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. These are big ideas that are important to God and how to properly live in God’s world. So naturally we will see these big ideas in God’s revealed Word to us. Finding the right answers to these questions in God’s Word is a step to living a complete and virtuous life which is argued in this book as the way to properly flourish as God’s creation.
On the important questions of epistemology, the New Testament presents itself as a distinct philosophy, with the key idea being the spiritual blindness of all people and the necessity of the Spirit of God to reveal the knowledge that is necessary for life – knowledge of Jesus Christ.p. 74
At this point, Pennington takes a deep dive into the world of emotions and the necessity to educate and to learn to live in a world that demands emotions created by a God with emotions. We tend to lean in one of two extreme directions in the world of emotions: they are bad and must be avoided, or they are a (maybe the only) guide to how we ought to live. As with many things, the answer lies somewhere in-between, and Pennington navigates this reasonably and biblically. (This section is worth reading the book all on its own!)
Philosophy teaches people to judge the world rightly so as to experience appropriate and manageable emotions.p. 91
The next section of the book walks through the importance of relationships and the vision that the Bible gives us for both friendships and how we function in society and relate to our nation and government in politics. These are important issues that the Bible does indeed have answers for. These answers of course are tempered with the truth of our brokenness and fallenness in this world. A right view of relationships will include all of these realities, no matter the cost.
Lastly, Pennington explains what it means to be happy, and whether or not this is a worthy pursuit as humans in God’s world. The title of the last chapter explains the goal well: to live a whole, meaningful, and flourishing life that will inevitably include pain and suffering, but will be characterized by hope and joy in the Good God that has provided the Good Life.
I am excited about this book! It was hard to put down. Up to this point, I have read very little books on philosophy and how it relates to Christianity and the Bible. The way that Pennington writes and explains difficult topics in an understandable way is very captivating. Philosophy can be very intimidating and challenging. I highly recommend this book for those just starting out, getting your feet wet in the world of philosophy and the Bible. Even for those that are already steeped in this world, this book only draws a clearer picture of Jesus as the Great Philosopher and will steer you in the right direction when thinking about those philosophical big ideas that the world and our culture throw at us. It will further your progress and pursuit of the truly Good Life that only comes through Jesus Christ!
Grab a copy from Brazos Press today!
*This book was graciously provided by Brazos Press in exchange for an honest review.
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