The Lion of Princeton (Riddlebarger)


Riddlebarger, Kim. The Lion of Princeton: B.B. Warfield as Apologist and Theologian. Lexham Press.

Classic Reformed apologetics is making a comeback, and who better to serve as the focal point than B. B. Warfield? This is an accessible version of Riddlebarger’s dissertation on Warfield.

Warfield the New Testament Scholar

In a somewhat ironic fashion, the man today vilified for defending inerrancy was attacked in his own days for opening a Pandora’s Box. Theodore Letis called attention to this fact. Warfield’s inductive, scientific approach to textual criticism, including his endorsement of Westcott and Hort, was no different from a liberal.


Riddlebarger argues that your opinion of Warfield’s apologetic method depends on how favorable you are to Scottish Common Sense Realism.

For Warfield, apologetics is an offensive, rather than defensive, science. It is theological prolegomena. Indeed, Warfield doesn’t hold back on his language: apologetics will “reason its way to the dominion of the world” (review of Bavinck’s De Zekerheid des Geloofs). Following Thomas Reid, Warfield’s project would look something like this:

a) Man as imago dei has the capacity for knowledge. Faith is complete trust in Jesus Christ, “about whom one must possess objective knowledge.”
b) We must establish the grounds of faith by evidences.

Warfield has five subdivisions
1) Philosophical apologetics–being of God
2) Psychological apologetics–man’s religious nature
3) Reality of the supernatural in history
4) Historical apologetics
5) Bibliological apologetics

Warfield’s focus is more on the resurrection than the proofs for God, which is also how the NT presents it. While such an approach might be probabilistic at points, Warfield applies the law of non-contradiction to Jesus’s claims, giving them an “absolute” character.

Warfield’s epistemology: He draws upon Calvin. Revelation provides the objectivee ground for our knowledge of God. The Internal testimony of the Holy Spirit provides the subjective ground. Faith is different from knowledge, not because the latter is “better,” but because the grounds of it is more direct. This lines up nicely with Warfield’s Scottish realism as “an element of trust is always present in our knowledge.”

Systematic Theology

“The Idea of Systematic Theology.” While much of this is standard prolegomena, Riddlebarger provides a nice graphic.

Contemporary Critics of Warfield

Concluding question: does common sense realism compromise Reformed theology? It’s not immediately clear how it does. Rogers/McKim say Warfield overlooked Calvin’s antipathy towards Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. But it’s not immediately clear what Common Sense Realism has to do with either. Indeed, if you want to trace a genealogy of common sense realism, you won’t go to Thomas or Aristotle. Rather, you would find it in Reformed guys like Dick, Thomas Chalmers, and William Cunningham (and Charles Hodge and Dabney and Thornwell).

Riddlebarger draws upon Paul Helm to note several advantages that the Reformed thinker would have seen in Common Sense Realism
1) A ready reply to skepticism
2) Everyone uses the same faculties for testing truth.
3) It is compatible with Baconian methods of inductivism without the problems of pure empiricism.

Faith and Reason

Instead of labeling people “closet Arminian,” let’s see what the greatest Reformed theologian of all time, Francis Turretin, said about reason. Turretin affirms for reason a “ministerial” authority, not a magisterial one. Reason is an instrument of faith.

Warfield doesn’t disagree with Kuyper that sin colors one’s reason. The problem is that Kuyper had so absolutized the difference between Christian and non-Christian that communication was rendered (at least in theory) impossible.


Riddlebarger successfully defends Warfield from the charge that he was a “rationalist.” He was anything but, and that on certain levels. Warfield was much closer to an empiricist, which by definition rules out rationalism. Riddlebarger calls attention to Wafield’s indirect dependence on Thomas Reid, and if genealogical arguments are to be trusted, Warfield bypasses Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle and drinks from Reid

Reliability of Sense Perception (Alston)

This work is a continuation of Alston’s earlier project in Perceiving God.  Earlier he claimed that critics of religious epistemology could not give a non-circular account of basic doxastic practices like trusting in sense perception.  This work expands upon those claims.

Alston makes important contributions to epistemology, but the work itself, which will be reviewed below, suffers from several drawbacks.  It’s not always clear what Alston’s larger point is. And the structure of the book isn’t always clear, either. He does spend several LONG chapters rebutting different defenses of sense perception (which seems to vitiate his larger point), only to propose a non-circular defense of sense perception at the end.  And some chapters just seemed to end abruptly.  

Alston presupposes some form of reliabilist epistemology: 

to know that p is to have a reliably generated belief that p is” (Alston 3). 

In line with later epistemologies of proper function, we form beliefs when our given psyches at a given time have a relatively fixed number of dispositions to go from a certain belief input to a certain belief output.  

Along the way he rebuts Wittgensteinian and Kantian defenses of belief and sense perception. Some of these are quite interesting but can be passed over for the moment.

Several points are worth noting if Alston’s thesis holds

  1. a) The reliability of sense perceptual practices (SP) is not the same as an argument for the existence of the external world.  
  2. b) Wittgenstein’s “Language Games” are similar to Thomas Reid’s “doxastic practices” (to borrow a later phrase that Reid wouldn’t have used).  

Alston’s specific argument (99ff):

We should adopt a specific world-scheme that trades on an ability to anticipate reliable SP. This is not circular reasoning, however, since we use SP involving the world-scheme, rather than SP working from within a specific doxastic practice.   So what does this mean? As I understand it, a circular account of SP says “SP is warranted because our doxastic practice justifies SP” (understanding, of course, pace Hume and Russell, that we need SP to begin the doxastic practice). Alston argues, by contrast, that our world-scheme/human constitution (Reid) allows for the existence of SP.  I agree with him. I’m just not sure how different his proposal is.


The book makes a number of important contributions, if densely and indirectly.  His final proposal, that we should rely on Thomas Reid and his modern followers, is one I agree with wholeheartedly: doxastic practices are innocent until proven guilty. That sounded familiar when I read it. The reason it was familiar is because several pages seemed to be lifted straight from Perceiving God (an admittedly fine work, but see:  PG, p. 151 = RSP, p. 126-127). I don’t fault him for repeating Reid.  That is something we all should do. But to be honest: it seemed tacked-on to the whole work.  

Perceiving God (Alston)

M-beliefs:  beliefs to the effect that god is doing something currently vis-a-vis the subject, or that God has some perceivable property (Alston 1).

Alston’s “perceptual beliefs” are analogous to Plantinga’s “properly basic beliefs” (3).  These beliefs will often (always?) be direct and non-sensory.  

CMP: Christian mystical practice

Thesis:  “The chief aim of this book is to defend the view that putative direct awareness of God can provide justification for certain kinds of beliefs about God” (9). 

Alston notes that many perceptual accounts of God are a) experiential, b) direct, and c) reported to be of God (14).  A note about sense perception: seeing my house, for example, differs from my thinking about my house…it is the difference between presence (to consciousness) and absence” (14-15).  

Direct and Indirect Awareness of God

perception: the object is directly presented or immediately present to the subject.

absolute immediacy: One is aware of X but not through anything else, even a state of consciousness.

Mediated immediacy: One is aware of X through a state of consciousness distinct from X.

perceptual consciousness:  something presents itself to the subject’s awareness as so-and-so

  • direct awareness: from the side of the subject
  • presentation/givenness/appearance: from the side of the object

External Conditions of Perception

Theory of appearing:  the notion of X’s appearing to S as so-and so is fundamental and unanalyzable (55). For S to perceive X is simply for X to appear to S as so-and-so.  Applied to religious experience, this means:

  1. Is it possible that “God” should be appearing to S in y experience?
  2. Is it possible that God should figure in causation in that experience in such a way as to count as what is perceived?
    1. Per Catholic simplicity:  Can God be experienced in a partial manner (pace Garrigou)?
  3. Is it possible that that experience should give rise to beliefs about God?

Epistemic Justification: Perceptual and Otherwise

argument:  mystical perception is a source of justification for M-beliefs (69).  

question to be asked: does the concept of justification exhibit truth conducivity–does my believing P entail that it is likely P is true? (69).

General Epistemological Background

concerned with the state or condition of being justified in holding a certain belief, rather than the activity of justification.

If one conflates the condition of being justified in a belief with the activity of justifying a belief, then one will think that all justifications are mediate.  

  1. justification is an evaluative status
  2. justification is a matter of degree

Perceptual belief: a belief about a perceived object, about an object that presents itself to the subject (77).  It is based on perceptual experience directly, instead of on other beliefs.

Are M-beliefs self-authenticating?  

The problem with saying perceptual beliefs, especially M-beliefs, are immediate, is that most perceptual beliefs are formed on the basis of other beliefs, which means they won’t be immediate.  Alston says this problem isn’t that big a deal.

The Reliability of Sense Perception

Many of the problems that face justifying one’s M-beliefs also face sense-perception.  None of our most basic “doxastic” (belief-forming) practices can escape circularity (103).

SP: sense perceptual practice

MP: mystical perceptual practice, that which creates M beliefs.


A doxastic practice is reliable if it yields mostly true beliefs in a sufficiently large and varied run of employments in situations of the sorts we typically encounter (105). 

“Reliability is a matter of degree.”  It can be a source of belief (105).

We cannot give a non-circular defense of SP.  

The solution: the scheme we use (realism about external world) to bring off these predictions fits the reality we perceive, and the procedure we use to form perceptual beliefs is a reliable source of belief (136).

Doxastic practices: 

The problem of criterion and regress will face every scheme (146-147).  However, we seek the justification of beliefs on adequate grounds. These ground are certain doxastic practices (belief-forming practices).  Enter Thomas Reid,

“For belief is of such a nature that, if you leave any root, it will  spread; and you may more easily put it up altogether, than say, “Hitherto shalt thou go and no further: the existence of impressions and ideas I give up to thee; but see thou pretend to nothing more.  A thorough and consistent skeptic will never yield to this point. To such a skeptic I have nothing to say; but of the semi-skeptic, I should beg to know, why they believe the existence of their impressions and ideas.  The true reason I take to be, because they cannot help it; and the same reason will lead them to believe many other things. (An Enquiry in the Human Mind, VI, 20, p. 207).

I am very impressed with Alston on this section. I had feared that his previous argument: SP-beliefs are warranted because they take place within doxastic practices” would lead to a kind of coherentism.  Alston is aware of this problem, but counters it by saying we have a “negative coherentism with regard to doxastic practices, but not with regard to our beliefs” (152-154).

The Nature of Doxastic Practices

practice: a system or constellation of dispositions, habits, or “mechanisms” which yields a belief as “output” (153). 

generational (belief-independent) practices fit to form beliefs to a certain sphere of reality.

irreducible plurality of practices: 

What Alston calls Doxastic practices, Thomas Reid called “the evidence of Sense, evidence of Memory, evidence of Consciousness, the evidence of Testimony, the evidence of Axioms, the evidence of Reasoning” (164).   We give the name “evidence” to whatever is a ground of belief.

We utilize these principles in practice long before we form theories about them.  

Individuation of Doxastic Practices

summary of argument so far: Since a doxastic practice is essentially the exercise of a family of belief-forming mechanisms, the unity of a doxastic practice is most centrally a function of important similarities in the constituent mechanisms.  And since a belief-forming mechanism is simply the realization of an input-output function, the unity of a doxastic practice most basically consists in important similarities in input, in output, and in the function connecting the two (165).

Overriders and Defeaters

  • internal consistency (if two perceptual beliefs contradict each other, one of them is false).

Return to Reason (Kelly James Clark)

This is the first “Reformed Epistemology” book I read, sometime back in 2007.

Review of Kelly James Clark’s Return to Reason

God and Evil

He interacts with the standard atheist argument against God because of evil. He then defines and distinguishes theodicy from defense. He proposes, following Alvin Plantinga, a “transworld defense of God’s actions in the face of evil.” In other words, “if a person suffers from a transworld depravity, then in all the worlds God can create in which that person exists and is free, that person would have freely gone wrong at least once” (73). This removes the logical contradiction in the argument from evil.

Critique of Enlightenment Evidentialism

Clark takes the evidentialism of W.K. Clifford to task in this section. Clifford maintains that we can only believe something—and act on that belief—if we have proper evidence for it. Clark rebuts this using the arguments of William James and C.S. Lewis. Belief in God is a passional decision that can legitimately be made apart from Clifford’s standards of evidence. In short, if we adopt Clifford’s approach to evidence, we will have very few true beliefs. In reality no one thinks this way. We hold many beliefs—justifiedly so—apart from such evidence. Also, Clifford’s belief is itself a passional decision made apart from evidence.

Belief in God as Properly Basic

Clark, following Alvin Plantinga, argues that God has so constituted our cognitive faculties that we are perfectly rational to believe in him without regard to Enlightenment evidential criteria. This is concurrent with a discussion on Classical Foundationalism, its defects, and a turning to a Reformed Epistemology. Classical Foundationalism—the view that foundational beliefs are self-evident, incorrigible, or evident to the senses—is self-falsifying. In its stead Clark proposes a Reidian epistemology that relies on “common sense.” For Clark, belief in God is “properly basic.” Properly basic beliefs are those that are foundational and non-inferential.


Clark has a snappy, engaging writing style. He couldn’t be boring if he tried. He will strike some readers as arrogant. The book was an excellent, succinct introduction to Reformed Epistemology. I have a few cautions:

1) I am not convinced—yet—of transworld depravity and Plantinga’s free-will defense. Maybe he is right. TWD isn’t necessarily wrong, it just hasn’t been fleshed out properly.

2) Is knowledge “justified” or “warranted”? Is the proof of the Christian God found in the “impossibility of the contrary” (Bahnsen) or is it found in “the God-structured cognitive faculties” of our brain (Plantinga)?

2.1) Some Reformed Epistemologists like William Alston has suggested that the line between warrant and justification is a fuzzy one. I think that is probably true.

John Locke: Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Image result for john locke

Locke should have put Book IV first, not because of order of argument but of style.  Books 1-3 are so badly written and tedious, whereas Book IV is interesting and occasionally funny.  Be that as it may.

The how of knowledge

(1) At the risk of oversimplification, ideas for Locke are sense-impressions.  If I see a tree, light waves from the tree reach my eye, go to my brain/mind, and from there form a mental image of a tree in my mind. An idea is the object of understanding when a man thinks.  The power to produce any idea is a quality (II.8.7). Ideas are in the mind, qualities the body.

On the Soul

problem of identity: the soul cannot be reduced to physical causes/objects, otherwise how does one account for personal identity if we are just matter in motion (II.1.12)

  • primary qualities are inseparable from a body: solidity, extension, figure.
  • secondary qualities are that which produce various sensations in us by means of the primary qualities: colors, sounds, tastes.

Substance: combinations of simple ideas representing distinct things subsisting in themselves (II.8.6)

Modes of thinking:  

  • thinking: when the mind contemplates itself (II.19.1)
  • sensation: the entrance of any idea into the understanding by the senses (II.1.24).
  • intention: the mind focusing on an object

Thinking is the action of the soul, not its essence.  Otherwise, when we stop thinking we stop having a soul (implications for pro-life arguments).   

On Free Will

power: the possibility of acting change.

  • The will is a power.
  • we can’t speak of free will.
    • Liberty is a power that belongs to agents (II.21.14).
    • It doesn’t make sense to ask if one power has another power.
  • will is the ability to choose.
    • the mind operates the will.  
    • faculty, ability, and power are names of the same thing.
    • The mind determines the will (II.21.29).
  • Uneasiness: psychological determination of the will (II.21.34-40).  Locke has a very perceptive chapter on the difficulty of “willing ourselves to be better.”  A drunkard knows his decisions are destructive, but he is habituated in them. A direct charge to change won’t do anything for him.  
    • The good cannot determine our wills (practically, psychologically) because we are so overwhelmed with desire and unease.
    • There might be some spiritual import to this.  Fasting and other disciplines “turn down the volume” of the flesh.  
    • Our wills are only truly free when we suspend the desire.  
  • Psychological remarks (very perceptive)
    • We cannot directly change our beliefs (doxastic voluntarism), but we can change the surroundings which condition our beliefs (II.21.62).
    • The pain anyone actually feels is the most intense of any possibly present pains.
    • Future pleasure (absent good) is usually unable to prevent uneasiness/wrongdoing. This is why social justice programs have universally failed to reformed poverty-stricken neighborhoods.


Essence is “the very being of anything, whereby it is, what it is” (III.iii.15).  Locke held to the corpuscular hypothesis: the constitutions of things consists of minute particles of some sort, and that their workings are entirely due to such configurations (IV.iii.25).


The Ethics of Belief (Courtesy of Wolterstorff)

(2) Our assent is regulated by the grounds of probability (IV.16.1).

Doxastic Duty

Book IV. 17.24

“Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind…regulated…as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything but good reason…He that believes without having reason for believing…neither seeks truth as he ought nor pays the obedience due to his Maker.”

(3) For Locke epistemology is linked with doxastic duty.  

Epistemic justification is deontological justification.  Is this Knowledge as Justified, True Belief? Maybe; however, Locke applies duty to belief, not knowledge.


(~1) Is Locke’s account of belief-formation really how the mind works?  Following the godly and right-thinking Mr Reid, we offer the critique: “idea” is a visual term.  How does Locke’s project work when we take a non-visual sensation like “touch?” How does the mind form an “image” of a non-imagery sensation?

(~2) This seems true and it is probably a wise way to live, but as later thinkers have pointed out (Wm. James, Wolterstorff, Plantinga, Kelly James Clark), what is the evidence for this claim?

David Hume: Concerning Human Understanding

Image result for david hume enquiry concerning human understanding

Agnosticism is bad, but not all agnosticisms are equally bad. Such is the case with David Hume. If one reads Karl Marx or Herbert Marcuse, one has to decode the dialectical system before you can even understand what they are saying. Further, Marx was probably demon-possessed and his economic system caused the deaths of hundreds of millions. Not so with Hume. Like many Anglo philosophers, his writing is fresh and clear. So when he is wrong, it’s easy to see where he is wrong. And in economics, he champions liberty (of a sorts).

Hume’s Argument: (1) all our ideas are copies of our impressions (VII.i.49). (2) There can never be an idea of a cause because there can never be a sense impression of a cause (Ibid sec. 50)

{A} Knower——->——-> Object–>Mind—>Idea—>knower

{A’} Knower——>—–>Object—> Mind —> Impression–>Idea—>knower

Our thought is a faithful mirror that copies objects truly. Perceptions of the Mind:

  • thoughts/ideas (weaker)
  • impressions (strong). Hume also means “sensations.”

Our ideas are always copied from some precedent (II.14). Ideas must follow from impressions. These impressions/sensations are always more vivid than the ideas.

Critique of Hume

Critics of Hume have to resist the temptation to read Berkeley back into Hume. I will assume, in the spirit of charity, that Hume believed in an external world. Further, we must also point out that Hume is not a modern atheist materialist: he believes in the existence of the mind and that the mind is not the brain.

[1] As Owen Barfield and others have pointed out, if all we can know are sense-impressions, then Hume’s three qualities of association fail the test: “resemblance, contiguity, and causation” are not sense-impressions, or did not originate as such (Barfield 25). Of course, this is the same criticism Hume offered of causality. But why stop at causality? Why not apply it to the other two?

[2] It is here that Hume’s nominalism becomes vicious. How are ideas “in the mind” held together? Hume says they are “bundled” together, but doesn’t bundling imply some sort of unity or association? If Hume’s criticism of causality holds, then it must also hold to any form of association. Thus examining the mental process, Hume is left with an array of facts that cannot relate to each other in any possible way. “All is flux.”

[3] This critique is not so much a refutation of Hume but points toward an ambiguity. During the mental act I perceive an object, we will say the sensory impression of touch, to which it comes back to my mind as the idea of touch. When I reflect upon the ideas “in my mind,” I do so in visual categories. But what does the visual category of “touch” even mean? [sidenote: As Wolterstorff pointed out, this is more a criticism of Locke than Hume].

[4] Hume cannot escape the reality of universals, as Bertrand Russell pointed out (Russell 96ff). If we deny, for example, the universals of “whiteness” and “triangularity,” we will still, in order to form an idea of a triangle, imagine a patch of whiteness and a three-sided figure and say that anything meeting these criteria is white and a triangle–we say that the resemblance must hold. We will also say that the resemblance must hold among many white 3-sided things. We will say that the resemblances must resemble each other. We have made “resemblance” a universal.

As Russell pointed out, Hume failed to note that not only are qualities universals, but so are relations.  The relation of “being north of” is also a universal

[5] Much has been made of Hume’s critique of miracles. I’ll give him credit on one point: if you define miracle as a violation of God’s law or nature’s law, then it’s hard to argue with Hume. But why must we accept Hume’s definition of miracle, or of reality in general? I can’t recall a good reason. There is no reason to view reality as as self-enclosed monads.

A theist could very well argue, as James K. A. Smith does, for an open ontology that allows the Spirit to move from within nature, rather than a miracle that is “tacked on” to nature from the outside. Miracles are not “add-ons.” They are not anti-nature, since “nature is not a discrete, autonomous entity” (Smith 104).

[6] Per Thomas Reid and N. Wolterstorff, Hume needs to explain how a physical sensation can cause a mental apprehension (Wolterstorff 2004).

[6.1] Hume’s analysis of perception and reflection seems to privilege visual ideas. Perhaps that can work. Such has been the tendency of philosophy since Plato. Yet when we move to the other senses Hume’s analysis breaks down. How does my idea (weakened sensation) of touch bear any resemblance to the apple I just touched? Even worse, doesn’t the phrase “mental idea” connote visuality? Could this possibly work on ideas like “touch”?

[7] As Thomas Reid pointed out, it seems Hume has lumped all mental reflection (sensation/though) under the label of “perception” in the mind. How does Hume make a distinction between the “idea” of sight and the “idea” of touch (Reid 301ff)?

Works Cited

Barfield, Owen. Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, reprint [1973]).

Reid, Thomas. The Works of Thomas Reid, ed. Sir William Hamilton. Edinburgh: McLachlan and Stewart, 1863.

Russell, Bertrand. The Problems of Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, reprint [1964]).

Smith, James K. A. Thinking in Tongues. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas. Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004

Review: Plantinga, Warrant and Proper Function

Plantinga begins by examining the Gettier-type problems that internalist accounts of knowledge face. Having shown these difficulties, Plantinga is now able to set the stage for his externalist approach to warrant. This he does by explaining our design function: Any well formed human being who is in an epistemically congenial environment and whose intellectual faculties are in good working order will typically take for granted at least three things: that she has existed for some time, that she has had many thoughts and feelings, and that she is not a thought or feeling (Plantinga 50).

He then examines three apparent weak points of externalism and show not only are they strong points, only a fool would challenge them: memory, other persons, and testimony. In the nature of the case we do not have basic beliefs about these three entities in the sense that evidentialism and classic foundationalism require (especially memory and testimony; solipsism has a host of problems beyond this). Throughout this defense we see the vindication of Thomas Reid.

The book is quite difficult and technical, though. The sections on probability will lose all but the most formidable philosophers. While reading these chapters one is reminded of Eowyn’s comments to Merry before the battle: “Courage, Merry; it will soon be over.”

He then gives a (mostly) wonderfully lucid discussion of coherentism, classic foundationalism, and Reidian foundationalism. Coherentism sees truth as a source of warrant in the existing relations of one’s beliefs: does a belief “cohere” and “mesh” in a larger noetic structure? Plantinga suggests this is inadequate because coherentism only tells us of the doxastic relationships between beliefs. Warrant, by contrast, needs far more, experience among other things (179). Classical foundationalism is wrong because it is self-referentially incoherent. It is not the case that the foundationalist claim (a belief is properly basic because it is either self-evident to me or immediately present to my senses) meets its own criteria: it is not self-evidently true nor is it available to the senses (182). This leaves us with Plantinga’s position: Reidian foundationalism. If a belief is formed in proper circumstances according to its proper cognitive design, it has warrant.


The book began well and ended well. The middle sections were good, too, but likely only of interest to the most doughty of analytic philosophers. While I agree with Plantinga’s thesis, there are some shortcomings (but these can be excused because they have been treated in later works). The section on Reidian foundationalism, for example, while fundamentally sound, seemed to lack, forgive the pun, coherence in articulation. I kept seeing what RF was not in relation to classical foundationalism, but very little on what it was. The final chapters on naturalism are interesting, but have since been further refined in Plantinga’s later works.

Harassing the Hobgoblins: Intro to Analytic Theology

I am not an expert in analytic theology, and I have been critical of analytic philosophy in the past.  Nonetheless, it can be useful in clarifying concepts.  One problem is that people jump into the deeper waters, reading countless computer symbols and the analytic guys never bother to clarify what’s going on.  I’ll try.


McCall, Thomas.  Introduction to Analytic Theology.  It is what the title says. He introduces some key concepts but doesn’t really get beyond Leibniz’s Law.  Still, anything McCall writes is worth getting.

Moreland, JP.  Love Your God with all your Mind.  What would it look like if you applied analytic reasoning to the development of the soul?

Morris, Thomas V.  Our Idea of God.  He doesn’t call it analytic theology, but it is an early essay into how it is done.  Wonderfully accessible.

Nash, Ronald.  The Concept of God.  Kind of a simplified version of Plantinga’s Does God have a Nature?  Some great responses to open theism.

Clark, Kelly.  Return to Reason.  This is the unsung volume in apologetics.


McCall, Thomas.  Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism?  Not primarily analytic theology, per se, but it is a great application of analytic theology.

Crisp and Rea, Analytic Theology: New Essays.  Some outstanding essays, some bleh.  Sadly, Rea, Wolterstorff, and possibly stump have surrendered the field on sexual ethics.

Craig and Moreland, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview.  Somewhat technical, but simply grand.

Moreland and Rae, Body and Soul.  Outstanding defense of substance dualism.  Moreland writes with Kingdom Power.

Moreland, JP.  Kingdom Triangle.  Triangulates (sorry) analytic theology with continuationist theology.

Morris, Thomas V. Logic of God Incarnate.  Rescues Christology from the contradiction charge.  Several very important concepts introduced.

Plantinga and Wolterstorff.  Faith and Rationality.  Almost as important historically as it is philosophically.

Richards, Jay Wesley. The Untamed God.  Introduces modal concepts and show where they advance beyond Aristotle.


Kripke, Saul.  Naming and Necessity.  Some technical chapters, but a mostly accessible work on language and possible worlds.

Lewis, David.  Counterfactuals.  Very difficult, but Lewis does walk you through his method, so it is readable.

Plantinga, Alvin. Nature of Necessity.  One of the most important philosophy works in the last century.  Possible Worlds matter.

———–.  Does God Have a Nature? Plantinga got accused of denying simplicity in this book.  I never saw where he did so.  Great primer on how to do analytic theology.

———–.  Warrant and Proper Function.   Clears up a lot of (perhaps deliberate) misunderstanding on what Plantinga means by “warrant.

———.  Warranted Christian Belief.  Application of his previous two books.