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The question's title says it all. Who are the most prominent Christian philosophers of the 21st century (if there are any) and why?

By "Christian philosopher", I mean a philosopher who believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ and has philosophical works that try to show that this belief is justified.

  • Perhaps helpful for answers: That would be a subset of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – user3164 Jul 4 '14 at 12:23
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    I think based on the meta discussion, we should take "who are the greatest" type questions out of currency here. – virmaior Oct 16 '15 at 4:46
  • @virmaior This doesn't ask "who are the greatest", but "who are the most prominent" which is an objective question, not a subjective one --assuming prominence equates to measurable things like popularity, books sold, etc. I disagree with the decision to close and have nominated for re-opening. – Chris Sunami Oct 16 '15 at 14:18
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    I don't think "who is the most prominent" is objective. Prominent from what vantage? There's not some universal vantage where all philosophers are looking from. – virmaior Oct 16 '15 at 15:13
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    For the record, I'm actually an upvote on the question and at least one of the answers. I just think this style of question is a poor fit for the SE format. – virmaior Oct 19 '15 at 7:39
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I'm not sure how to give an exhaustive list of prominent philosophers who are also Christians, but some philosophers who come to mind are: Bas van Fraassen, Michael Dummett (recently deceased), William Alston (recently deceased), Alvin Plantinga, Peter van Inwagen, Marilyn Adams, Robert Adams, Robert Audi, Keith DeRose, Anthony Kenny, Alasdair MacIntyre, Richard Swinburne, Nicholas Walterstorff. idk, there are lots more, but these are some who come to mind. All of them have made significant contributions to areas outside of philosophy of religion or distinctively Christian philosophy (actually, some of them -- van Fraassen, Dummet, for example -- have done very little, if any, work in philosophy of religion).

(Coincidentally, William Lane Craig is not a particularly prominent philosopher, although he's produced some fine work. He's well known in certain circles outside of academic philosophy because he's debated alot of people. Oh, and Craig isn't a fundamentalist. The person who gave the answer about Craig kind of doesn't know what they're taking about.)

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    I would add Elizabeth Anscombe to the list; also Peter Geach and Paul Helm. – Bumble Oct 16 '15 at 3:31
  • Anthony Kenny is an agnostic. But otherwise it's a good list. – shane Oct 23 '15 at 17:47
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Edward Feser—most well-known for his The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, Aquinas: A Beginner's Guide, and Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction*—is one of the most prominent contemporary Thomist philosophers. See also his excellent blog.

*This last book is an excellent confrontation of Thomistic thought with modern, analytic philosophy.

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I would say the most important (maybe not always very popular. At least not in the states) are: David Bentley Hart, Richard G. Swinburne, Rowan Williams, Keith Ward, Roger Scruton and of course Robert Spaemann.

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William Lane Craig is the top contemporary philosopher for the Christian worldview, if not one of the top philosophers. Here is a subjective list of the top philosophers (in alphabetical order) and Craig is the first Christian on it (#11)

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Whether he counts as a philosopher proper or a scholar of philosophy, one important philosopher (in some sense) is Bishop Robert Barron. Bishop Barron is an interesting example of a "21st century philosopher" in that (1) he has formal training in philosophy at the PhD level, and (2) much of his work disseminating his take on things has taken place via YouTube videos, meaning he is a 21st century philosopher in medium as well as chronologically.

I also happen to like Peter Kreeft, and he is at least prolific as an author.

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William Lane Craig would be on that list, without a doubt. For the avoidance of all doubt, I disagree with almost everything he says. However, he defends his brand of fundamentalist Christianity with well-sourced cogent arguments, and is a skilled debater.

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    Really? I'm a Christian, probably one who you might call a "fundamentalist" and I think most of his philosophical argumentation is junk. – virmaior Jul 4 '14 at 13:10
  • Well I tend to agree that it is junk, when you look carefully at it, but I am impressed by the way he persuades so many people. The question was 'who is the prominent'. – quis est ille Jul 4 '14 at 14:07
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    that actually isn't the definition of fundamentalist... (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism) / merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fundamentalism. But I would also refer you to Al Plantinga's argument: uncommondescent.com/philosophy/… . In the first place it doesn't refer specifically to homosexuality. In the second place, it's basically just a term. (This is why I scare-quoted it). – virmaior Jul 4 '14 at 15:38
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    Nope. The bible really says: "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV translation) – Wandering Logic Jul 4 '14 at 19:08
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    @quisestille - fundamentalist is a term for a theological school like Platonist or Kantian or materialist is in philosophy. It's also generally an unhelpful one. There are plenty of other groups that are committed to a "literal or near literal interpretation of the bible" that are not technically fundamentalists. Regarding your question about homosexuality and the bible, yes, it does condemn it (Romans 1:26, 1 Corinthians 6). But you don't have to be a literalist to accept that (robgagnon.net - uses most of the methods of higher criticism [which is the idea opposed to fundamentalism]) – virmaior Jul 5 '14 at 1:06
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As written, the question is ambiguous and attempting to answer the question as is leads to the further questions of: do you mean philosophers that are also christian, or - considering your capitalization of an adjective - do you mean people purporting a "Christian philosophy"?

  1. As for philosophers that are also christian, do you mean "christian"

    • in the sense of similar to the fictional character known as "Jesus Christ" which is otherwise a "John Frum" amalgamation?
      Answering that would be an entirely subjective evaluation and depend much upon which texts chosen as reference for his character. In the sense of Jesus Christ as presented in the Thomas Jefferson Bible, I'd say of all the living published philosophers: John R. Searle is the most like the unpretentious and thoughtful characterization of Jesus presented in "The Life and Morals or Jesus of Nazareth" - as well for Jefferson's scholarly strategy of consulting different translations as well as his deist redaction of miracles, magic and nonsense.

    • in the sense of raised in a predominantly christian culture?
      There's John R. Searle, Hubert Dreyfus, Nancy Cartwright, Edmund Gettier, Noam Chomsky, Jürgen Habermaas, Daniel Dennett, David Chalmers, etc.

    • in the sense of a philosopher who identifies as a christian?
      Well there's William Lane Craig.
    • in the sense of a philosopher that has received a christian baptism?
      Presumably William Lane Craig, and there's also John Haldane

Given your statement in the comments that you mean the most prominent "philosopher who believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ and has philosophical works that try to show that this belief is justified" an answer will depend largely upon what you mean by "philosophy" because:

  1. There simply is no "Christian philosophy" - the term is oxymoron. Philosophy has to do with what is, not "what is to Christianity." Philosophy contends with ponderables heuristically and does not deal in hermeneutics and imponderables except to reject invalid and unsound argumentation in support or drawn from of such nonsense. Philosophy has to do with knowledge and truth. Christianity, like all religions, has to do with belief and coherent statements of faith.

To the point of your clarifying comment - every belief is justified by the mere fact that you sincerely believe it. Such is a fundamental difference between statements of belief and statements of knowledge.

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    Still, most of this answer is irrelevant to the question. You seem to misinterpret it, because for example Daniel Dennett is not a christian. – user2953 Mar 14 '17 at 20:51
  • @Keelan In the sense that "christian" means raised in a predominantly christian culture, Dennett is a christian philosopher. Without the OP's input to clarify the ambiguity I've identified, there remains no way to determine what is or is not relevant such that per SE guidelines we may benefit from a laser-like focus. Likewise, you seem to intentionally mis-read yet another of my posts. – Mr. Kennedy Mar 14 '17 at 20:57
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    Yes, but that is not what "christian" means. Hence, the suggestion that you have misinterpreted the question. It seems clear what sense the author of the question intended. – user2953 Mar 14 '17 at 21:01
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    @Mr.Kennedy although there is technically ambiguity in the question, it is fairly obvious that the OP meant Christian philosopher as in Augustine or Aquinas. – Alexander S King Mar 14 '17 at 21:13
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    @AlexanderSKing see my updates to the answer. – Mr. Kennedy Mar 14 '17 at 21:26

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