How To Be a Baptist Philosopher

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How can one be a Christian philosopher, rather than just a philosopher who happens to be a Christian? Or a Reformation philosopher, rather than just a philosopher who happens to be a Reformation Christian? Or a Baptist philosopher, rather than just a philosopher who happens to be a Baptist? I will give some provisional answers to these questions. I will not give answers about the only ways to be a philosopher, a Christian philosopher, a Reformation philosopher, or a Baptist one. I will only propose some good ways.

But why should anyone care about how to be a Baptist philosopher? First, perhaps the question is at least interesting. Second, those of us who are Baptist philosophers have reason to care. Third, part of my answer applies to all Reformation philosophers, while another part applies to all Christian philosophers, and another to all philosophers, so these are also partial answers to the corresponding questions for Eastern Orthodox philosophy, Catholic philosophy, Anglican philosophy, Presbyterian philosophy, and so on. And perhaps the distinctions between different versions of Christian philosophy will help to clarify how one should be a Christian, non-Baptist philosopher.

In short, this is an exploration of the sort of Christian philosophy Christian philosophers have a responsibility to offer the world, which I take it that the world also needs.

Since all Baptist philosophers are Reformation philosophers, all Reformation philosophers are Christian philosophers, and all Christian philosophers are philosophers, a promising approach is to work backwards: First find out how one can be a philosopher, then how a philosopher can be also a Christian philosopher, then how a Christian philosopher can also be a Reformation philosopher, and finally how a Reformation philosopher can also be a Baptist philosopher.

Specifically, I suggest the following. A good way to be a philosopher is to, like Socrates, seek wisdom concerning spiritual good. A good way to be a Christian philosopher is to, like Augustine, seek that wisdom in Jesus Christ. A good way to be a Reformation philosopher is to recognize a distinction between two inseparable spiritual goods on which we are seeking wisdom: justification and sanctification. And a good way to be a Baptist philosopher, taking some inspiration from the likes of Locke and Kierkegaard, is to also reflect on some signs of these spiritual goods, signs Baptists emphasize: resistance to the idea of a state church and believers’ baptism.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
EventChristian Philosophy and Its Challenges (2022) - Jesuit University Ignatianum, Krakow, Poland
Duration: 20 Sept 202222 Sept 2022


ConferenceChristian Philosophy and Its Challenges (2022)
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