Paul M. Gould and Richard Brian Davis, ed. Loving God With Your Mind: Essay in Honor of J.P. Moreland. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013. 272 pp. $19.99
Over the course of the past few decades, perhaps no Christian thinker has been as influential as J.P. Moreland. Thirty years ago, the idea of the importance of a Christian developing a distinctly Christian mind to take captive every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) was in its infancy in the church. Today, the Christian apologetic and intellectual landscape looks very different with apologetics clubs, conferences, ministries, blogs, radio/podcast programs, and professional societies. Much of the impetus behind this growing movement has been the work of Moreland; through his scholarly and popular writings (numbering over thirty books and hundreds of publications), university lectures, public debates, etc., he inspired a generation of young evangelicals to love God with all their minds for the sake of the Church and the fallen world in which we live.
Loving God With Your Mind is a compilation of essays in honor of Moreland written by his friends – colleagues, former students, and partners in ministry. The contributors are a veritable “who’s who” in the areas of Christian philosophy, apologetics, theology, spiritual formation, and church ministry. Written to honor Moreland as well as to introduce readers to the rich intellectual resources of his thinking, this book is a treat for any fan of J.P. Moreland and any Christian interested in philosophy.
Part 1, “The Building Blocks of the World,” gives us a panoramic view of Moreland’s metaphysics. The first essay provides a rough sketch of the world according to Moreland, addresses several worries about this overall picture, then shows that Platonic theism provides a satisfactorily powerful and satisfying view of reality. Essay 2 sketches out naturalism, shows its discord with Christian theism, and describes three lines of attack mounted by Moreland against naturalism. Garcia elaborates upon Platonism as one of Moreland’s lines of attack and shows how thinking about Platonism catalyzes integration. Essay 3 deals with the problem of individuation, the dispute of which Moreland has been a central figure. This essay shows how “bare particulars” solve “the problem” and how they even give us some traction in articulating a coherent, orthodox metaphysics of the Incarnation. Essay 4 gives an overview of Moreland’s understanding of a human being, summarizing his understanding of substance dualism and interacting with a few of his arguments for the existence of the soul. The first section concludes with an essay that summarizes Moreland’s treatment of truth and postmodernism, and then unpacks the general ontological patterns of postmodernism, tests their ontological positions, and argues that they undercut all knowledge.
Part 2, “Thinking for Christ in the World,” address a whole host of questions that arise given that there is a world to be known. Topics covered in this section include Christianity as a knowledge tradition, natural theology, relational apologetics. Essay 9 was particularly interesting to me, as it relayed Moreland’s contribution to the philosophy of science and its relationship to theology and his affirmation of intelligent design. Furthermore, Keas builds on Moreland’s work to outline how greater attention to epistemic virtues can guide future interdisciplinary scholarship. Essay 10 was also very interesting, as it connected Moreland’s metaphysics to bioethics. Issues covered in this apologetic for pro-life activism include abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and physician-assisted suicide.
Part 3, “Living for Christ in the World,” explores the emotional side of life since becoming out of touch with this is a risk of engaging in the rigors of philosophy and apologetics. Essay 11 explores Moreland’s contribution to cultural apologetics by going public with his struggles with anxiety and depression. Essay 12 explores Christ in the garden of Gethsemane as an example to guide our spiritual formation. Essay 13 chronicles Moreland’s development of a Christian view of how we ought to live. And finally, Essay 14 discusses Moreland’s most significant book for the church, Kingdom Triangle. “The three sides of the triangle are the recovery of the Christian mind, the renovation of the soul through spiritual formation, and the restoration of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit at the center of the Christian life” (212). Erre’s essay examines each of these, considering the implication of each for the church. The volume concludes with an afterword by Moreland himself, in which he charges not just Christian philosophers, but all believers in Christ, to love God with their minds with courage and resisting compromise.
This book is a treat and highly recommended for fans of Moreland and anyone who has studied under him, whether in the classroom or via his writings. It is also a great read for anyone who appreciates philosophy. I consider this book at an intermediate level; for those who are uninitiated in philosophy, this book (especially part 1) will be a difficult read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.