ADVERTISING
 
Friday, November 22   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Mark Stirling
 

An engaging yet bittersweet read

Ferry, like so many, does not seriously consider Christianity’s truth claims; he simply does not believe.

SOLAS AUTHOR Mark Stirling 02 AUGUST 2018 12:10 h GMT+1

“To honestly and sympathetically deal with the best case that any form of unbelief can make and then show the desperate need that still remains and how it can only be met by the true God and His redeeming son - this is the excellent way.” - Ralph Winter



To read Luc Ferry’s A Brief History of Thought is to pursue Winter’s “excellent way”. It is to arrive at the end of Ferry’s excellent survey of over three millennia of philosophy feeling great respect for the author in his honest wrestling with the great questions, but simultaneously having become even more convinced of the “desperate need that still remains and how it can only be met by the true God and His redeeming son ...”.



Ferry’s book ends up bolstering Christian faith by demonstrating that the alternatives, including his own, don’t work.



Ferry’s starting point is the challenge to religion and philosophy of the peril of inevitable death. He rejects religion in favour of the great philosophies which can “be defined as doctrines of salvation (without the help of a God)”.



However, in his advocacy of a “transcendent humanism” that rejects any appeal to a transcendent God, Ferry makes two related errors.



First, he pits faith against reason: philosophy in contrast to theology, incites us “to turn aside from faith, to exercise reason ...”. To Ferry, faith is an anti-rational way of knowing. Yet this is not a definition of “faith” that any competent Christian theologian would accept.



The second and related error is revealed in Ferry’s statement that philosophy “unlike the great religions, promises to help us to ‘save’ ourselves, to conquer our fears, not through an Other, a God, but through our own strength and the use of our reason”.



This is a remarkable (and representative) expression of faith in human strength and unaided reason, and unmasks the unstated assumption that philosophy does not depend on faith commitments.



It would be a good critical reading task for the young Christian to familiarise themself with Ferry’s account and observe his unstated beliefs woven through the book.



Of course, it risks a cheap shot to ask how that particular project of dependence on “our own strength and the use of our reason” is turning out. The history of the 20th century has a great deal to say on the matter.



There is so much that is good in Ferry’s journey from early Greek philosophy to his concluding challenge of doing philosophy post-Nietzsche, and there are necessary corrections to common misunderstandings.



Nowhere is this more true than in his detailed and sympathetic outline of Nietzsche’s thought, which alone is worth the price of the book. Attention to Ferry at this point may prevent Christians from the failure of love that is the misrepresentation of those with whom they disagree.



Similarly, Ferry’s critique of materialism is trenchant and convincing, noting “our logical incapacity to put aside the notion ... that there is within us something in excess of nature or history”.



His personal investment in the project is what makes the book so engaging, but ultimately for the Christian reader, so bittersweet.



Ferry wraps up the whole book with the assertion that “amongst the available doctrines of salvation, nothing can compete with Christianity ...”. Though he does not believe it, he is attracted to Christian faith, confessing, “were it to be true I would certainly be a taker”.



It took 263 pages to get to this truth question. Ferry, like so many, does not seriously consider Christianity’s truth claims; he simply does not believe.



This is a pity, not least because Christianity also has the capacity to address Ferry’s argument that a good philosophy should enable us to live in and for the present.



Christian theology actually doesn’t do what he accuses religions of doing - robbing us of the present through nostalgia on the one hand and excessive hope on the other.



Rather, in Christ the past is dealt with by the cross and future hope inaugurated by faith becomes the basis for redeemed living now. By reconciling past, present and future, Christian faith offers the only way to what Ferry calls “the only life available to us”, his definition of the good life - a life lived fully in the present.



Mark Stirling. This article was published with permission of Solas magazine.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - An engaging yet bittersweet read
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Min19: Childhood, family and the church Min19: Childhood, family and the church

The first evangelical congress on childhood and family was held in Madrid. Pictures of the event, November 1-2.

 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference

Images of the fifth EFN gathering. Experts, activists, counsellors and church leaders met in Pescara, Italy.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Kanye West sings to Jesus with inmates Kanye West sings to Jesus with inmates

The hip-hop artist and his gospel choir performed ‘Jesus Is King’ songs in a Houston prison. Images of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

 
How can we encourage believers to serve Jesus with us? How can we encourage believers to serve Jesus with us?

“It is not just pastors who do ministry. When the saints are doing the ministry too, the Body of Christ is build up and grows towards maturity in the faith”, says Greg Ogden, Chairman Global Discipleship Initiative.

 
Porn exploits victims of human trafficking Porn exploits victims of human trafficking

The European Freedom Network launches a new anti-trafficking campaign: “You have no way of knowing if the porn you are looking at is from someone who chose to be there or not”.

 

 

 
A tent of hope for Venezuelan refugees A tent of hope for Venezuelan refugees

Thousands still cross the border to Colombia every week, and many continue on foot into the interior. Christian young people have set up an aid station along the road.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.