Christian Philosophy


This third book in a series of successful introductory textbooks by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen builds on their previous projects, The Drama of Scripture and Living at the Crossroads, to offer a comprehensive narrative of philosophical thought from a distinctly Christian perspective.

After exploring the interaction among Scripture, worldview, theology, and philosophy, the authors tell the story of philosophy from ancient Greece through postmodern times, positioning the philosophers in their historical contexts and providing Christian critique along the way. The authors emphasize the Reformed philosophical tradition without neglecting other historical trajectories and show how philosophical thought relates to contemporary life.

Table of Contents


Part 1: Approaching Christian Philosophy

Why Philosophy?

Faith and Philosophy

Part 2: The Story of Western Philosophy

Ancient Pagan Philosophy: The Pre-Socratics to Socrates

The High Point of Greek Philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, and Their Legacy

Medieval Synthesis Philosophy: Augustine to Abelard

The Middle Ages: Aristotle Rediscovered

The Renaissance and Reformation

Early Modern Philosophy: Bacon to Leibniz

Modern Philosophy: Hume to Schleiermacher

Modern Philosophy: Romanticism to Gadamer

Postmodernism and Philosophy Today

Part 3: Christian Philosophy Today

Christian Philosophy Today

Reformed Epistemology

Reformed Epistemology Applied

Reformational Philosophy

Annotated Further Reading List

Preface & Introduction

Mission—real mission—involves a deep encounter of the gospel with our culture(s). In our view, one indispensable element in any such encounter is Christian philosophy. We are thus delighted to present this book, and hope that it will inspire you to take philosophy seriously even if you are not called to be a philosopher. While Christian Philosophy is a separate book in its own right, it is also a companion to our Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story and Living at the Crossroads: An Introduction to Christian Worldview, both published by Baker Academic….

… There are different ways to introduce philosophy. Our approach is a combination of systematic philosophy and close attention to the history of philosophy. After two introductory chapters looking at the value of philosophy and its relationship to faith, in the next several chapters we attend to the narrative of philosophy as it has unfolded since its origin among the ancient Greeks. As we will stress repeatedly, the way you tell the story of philosophy is never neutral, and our goal is to tell the story from a Christian perspective. Having a sense of this narrative is indispensable to studying philosophy.

In recent decades there has been an astonishing renaissance in Christian philosophy, particularly in the United States of America. We will tell this story, examine contemporary Catholic philosophy, and then look in more detail at the work of two (Reformed) Christian philosophers who have made major contributions to this renewal— namely, Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff.

In the twentieth century, another Reformed Christian philosophy, commonly called Reformational philosophy, developed out of the work of Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd. We are most in tune with this tradition of philosophy, and in conclusion we will explore its contours and note the many areas of agreement with the Reformed epistemology of Plantinga and Wolterstorff.


Christian Philosophy explains why philosophy is vitally important for all thoughtful Christians who want their faith to engage with the world today and also gives a clear account of what it means to do philosophy as a Christian. This book is full of wisdom and insight; the ideas are powerful, and the writing is clear and engaging. It is must reading for educated Christians.

- C. Stephen Evans, University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Baylor University

I have greatly appreciated the work of Bartholomew and Goheen and their thoughtful commitment to Scripture’s authority. They have proven themselves adept at articulating the truth, beauty, and explanatory power of the biblical worldview. Their application of the biblical worldview to the task of Christian philosophy reflects the richness, nuance, and breadth we have come to expect from these seasoned guides. A wise book indeed.

- Paul Copan, Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University

Bartholomew and Goheen have produced a clear, comprehensive, and vibrant case for Christian philosophy. Their book is an ideal text for thoughtful Christians of any age but especially for students or professors in a university context in which Christianity faces serious, sometimes hostile challenges from a secular culture. This book offers a balanced, compelling framework and line of reasoning that bring to light the intellectual power and integrity of Christian philosophy.

- Charles Taliaferro, professor of philosophy and chair of the philosophy department, St. Olaf College

It is a rare gift to be able to write many books, yet ones that are always worth reading regardless of the subject. Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen have demonstrated in their previous collaborations that their work is always accessible, thoughtful, and practical. … I think readers will find that this book is especially good for this reason—it just doesn’t tell the story. It helps Christian students engage and critique the story. It offers handles for students of philosophy who are trying to climb above caricatures to seeing the horizon of philosophy for what it is—yet through a particularly Christian lens… for Christian readers, Christian Philosophy clearly portrays the story that has shaped our civilization, as well as the tools to evaluate its movements, trajectories, and underlying theological commitments.

- Jackson Watts, Helwys Society Forum

This book should be compulsory reading for Christians at university whatever their discipline. Christian pastors owe it to those in their congregations who intend to go to university to make sure that they get a copy and inwardly digest it. I don’t apologise for being so effusive about this book – it is that good.

- Stephen Bishop, Koers

Finding a reliable and engaging one-volume introduction to the history of philosophy from an orthodox Christian perspective is rather like finding an empty taxi on Hogmanay, but Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen have significantly eased the task with this new offering…. Overall the book offers a well-balanced, coherent, and critical but charitable survey of Western intellectual history from a broadly Reformed perspective. The authors’ open admission of the authority of Scripture and the need to do philosophy as Christians is refreshing.

- James N. Anderson, Expository Times

[The authors] show not only the importance of Christians taking philosophy seriously but also why philosophy is absolutely necessary for real missional engagement with different cultures…. This is an important time for Christians to engage in philosophical discussion. Christian Philosophy is a remarkably useful book because it provides a foundational look at some of the most vital philosophical ideas in Western history…. The ground is fertile and the time is now for Christians to devote themselves to philosophical teaching. Let Bartholomew and Goheen guide you, and I promise you will not be disappointed.

- Matt Manry, Gospel Coalition blog

Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen’s Christian Philosophy is a clear introductory level text on the history of philosophy and the nature of Christian philosophical constriction… The work’s desire for an explicitly Christian starting point and methodology is a virtue to be celebrated, and the discussion of particular thinkers, though often brief, remains nuanced and careful…. The authors also display the powerful resources within Dooyeweerd’s Reformational philosophy for the analysis of other worldviews. Indeed, a potent assessment of a worldview is often the product of applying Dooyeweerd’s transcendent, immanent, and transcendental critiques. Likewise, the emphasis on the antithesis and the position of one’s heart is also a refreshing component in their analysis, employed consistently throughout the book.

- Nathaniel Sutanto, Westminster Theological Journal

Bartholomew and Goheen… offer stimulating analyses of the relationship of philosophy to faith. Anyone interested in that topic should take account of this book. I have not read an introductory book equal to this in clarity as well as breadth and that also is able to negotiate some of the central topics of tension and interest with respect to the history of–and a Christian approach to–philosophy.

- Scott Oliphant, Themelios

This interesting, clearly written introduction to Christian philosophy might be particularly helpful as a textbook for undergraduates, but also would be useful for graduate students and others. The authors use a narrative approach that would appeal to undergraduates: in nearly every chapter, two philosophy students correspond via e-mail messages about the ideas they have learned. Yet the book also has a significant level of depth and sophistication, e.g., particularly concerning the ways in which implications of particular philosophical developments are understood in light of a Christian worldview…. Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty.

- J. Jaeger, Choice

A historical step-by-step approach to Christian philosophy…. It is written in such a way that the reader does not need to be a philosophy major in order to enjoy and understand it…. The book does a good job bringing to the reader the importance of philosophy in understanding faith and its contribution to faith. In addition to understanding, the study of philosophy can provide insights on working with others in the mission field.

- Paul L. Whalen, Asbury Journal

Bartholomew and Goheen’s volume exhibits several notable strengths. Their explanations of difficult concepts and important historical developments were clear. Their selection of material was judicious. They often provide enumerated summaries and critiques of the various philosophies that they discuss. Furthermore, while historical surveys can sometimes oversimplify complex issues, Bartholomew and Goheen demonstrate an ability to provide nuanced treatments of debated topics…. Bartholomew and Goheen have provided an impressive introduction to philosophy from their own Neo-Calvinist perspective. They introduce their readers to the major concepts and movements in the history of philosophy and do so from clearly stated Christian presuppositions. For these reasons, their book provides an important voice in the ongoing conversation over the place of philosophy for Christian thought in the twenty-first century.

- Luke Stamps, Credo

Christian Philosophy is a good intro to philosophy for Christians who do not know much about the field, and it is an interesting book for those who do know the field…. This work offers many good points and is worth reading.

- J. Brian Huffling, Christian Apologetics Journal

[A] lively overview of what [the authors] claim is a diminutively Christian perspective on the history of philosophy, hinting at how to create a comprehensive, alternative way of doing the discipline…. Very cool, very helpful, and a very good introduction to a significant school of thought, allowing faith to influence even the doing of the history of philosophy.”

- Byron Borger, Hearts & Minds Books blog


Translation into Korean (Seoul, SK: Intervarsity Press, 2016)