Reasons for Faith

K. Scott Oliphint, Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, speaks about the relationship of philosophy to theology. Dr. Oliphint has written Reasons for Faith: Philosophy in the Service of Theology, and he takes us through a number of important sections in his book.

Related Articles by Dr. Oliphint

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.


7 years ago

Thank you for this show! I enjoyed the interview with Dr. Oliphint.

Camden Bucey

7 years ago

Thanks, I hope it’s helpful for everyone else who listens too. There is such a need, in my opinion, for thinking critically on how to relate philosophy to theology. Dr. Oliphint set the tone well.

Jim Pemberton

7 years ago

There was a lot of material covered in this excellent interview. One thing I want to touch on is the tension between philosophy and theology. We tend to notice the difference as being one of terminology, but what can make it confusing is the difference between the sets of categorical systems those different lexical bodies represent. Within philosophy there are variations of categories that use similar terms and within theology there are variations of categories that use similar terms. Regardless of what lexicon we use, we must be clear as to our meaning. But also, we must do some categorical accounting so that we aren’t mixing proverbial apples and oranges.

The most common abuse of categorical differentiation that occurs comes from the fact that we typically enter a system of thought from a non-intellectual level some apologetical levels above the foundation and construct an apologetical foundation to support what we already believe to be true. At this point I’ll mention what I call the Law of Intellectual Inertia: What we believe to be true we tend to want to continue to believe is true. This gives weight to disbelieve what we consider lesser arguments against our beliefs and construct arguments to demonstrate their lack of persuasiveness. When the argument is actually true, the most common method by far is to import inconsistent categories. For example, the same Bible that Roman Catholics use to establish sola ecclesia is summarily denied as the final authority in the matter. One categorical system is used to set up an incompatible system of categories that replaces it. So the meaning of the passages of the Bible used to establish the Magisterium become true because the Magisterium says so, not because the Bible meant that prior to the establishment of the Magisterium as a revelation of God.

So the breakdown between theology and philosophy occurs because most theologians don’t have a robust apologetic for their hermeneutic. Where our hermeneutical principles are falsely constructed and employed, they have been hung from our beliefs instead of founded on well-ordered philosophical presuppositions that acknowledge their metaphysical foundation and provide epistemological support for every last one of them. This requires a humility that is often lost in the maze of categorical discrepancies we construct to self-justify our beliefs.

Rev Michael M. Rico

7 years ago

I recall reading “Reasons for Faith” at the end of 2006 and early 2007. “What discriminating and intelligent theology this is,” I thought. “Reasons for Faith” is much more than an apologetical work. It’s treasurable theology.

From that perspective “Reasons for Faith has taken on a life of its own in my library and my history of reading. The memory of digesting it each night it the cold of winter made retreating to my den six years ago a joy. The fondness I had reading “Reasons for Faith” reminds me of my college days reading “Mere Christianity.” Those are hard days to recapture.

If someone said to me, “The Reformed Forum is doing a program with K. Scott on “Reasons for Faith.”

I would have said, “You must be mistaken; they likely did a program on that book years ago.”

Imagine my surprise and delight when the Reformed Forum did a segment devoted to this worthy volume just this week, now six years from the days when I read it.

The discussion with K. Scott was a profitable review.

Polished work.


dr. w. sheehan

6 years ago

Hi, Mike Rico,
Are you the person who graduated from Patrick Henry class of 1972? I heard your talk on one of the Psalms, and I enjoyed your literary references–the ability to weave the Hebrew of the Psalm with Longfellow’s Hiawatha. Well done in any case.


7 years ago

Another excellent show. Looking forward to Dr. Oliphint’s forthcoming book ‘Covenantal Apologetics.’ It’s already available for presale on Amazon. I’m also enjoying the new Confessional Presbyterian. Great work all the way around.


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