A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

I am writing this ongoing blog series on Reflections to encourage Christians to read more vigorously and enrich their lives with Christian classics in such fields as theology, philosophy, and apologetics. Hopefully, a brief introduction to these important Christian texts will motivate today’s believers to, as St. Augustine was called in his dramatic conversion to Christianity, “take up and read” (Latin: Tolle lege) these classic books.

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This week’s book, Making Sense of It All: Pascal and the Meaning of Life by Thomas Morris is, in my estimation, a contemporary classic in Christian philosophy and apologetics. Morris does a remarkable job of taking quotes and fragments from Penseés—the unfinished manuscript of seventeenth-century philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal—and organizing the ideas into an outstanding work of Christian apologetics.

Why Is This Author Notable?

Thomas Morris served as professor of philosophy at Notre Dame University for several years and now heads the Morris Institute for Human Values. He is a leading Christian philosopher and has authored several books on theology, apologetics, ethics, and business.

What Is This Book About?

Divided into 11 chapters, this book is unique both in its organization and content. Morris adopts 11 of Blaise Pascal’s central ideas in science, philosophy, and apologetics to marshal a reasonable case for the truth of Christianity. He does a masterful job of articulating how faith in Jesus Christ is the unique answer to humankind’s deepest yearnings for meaning, purpose, significance, and eternal life.

Though the book covers a lot of philosophical and theological ground, it is refreshingly readable and, at places, quite humorous. It addresses philosophical, theological, and apologetic issues with great clarity and an engaging style. Morris provides deep insight into why people living in today’s world avoid thinking about ultimate issues.

By fleshing out and augmenting Pascal’s ideas, Morris skillfully answers many of the existential objections that people give for not believing in historic Christianity. He does so by weaving together many of Pascal’s brilliant insights into a significant and powerful Christian apologetic work. In my view, Morris has captured the spirit of Pascal amazingly well. I only wish the book contained a bibliography and/or notes for further reading.

Here Morris reflects on how God’s existence provides the ultimate context for life itself:

The question about the existence of God, likewise, is not just a question about whether one more thing exists in the inventory of reality. It is a question about the ultimate context for everything else. The theist and the atheist should see everything differently. In the same way, the question about whether there is life after death should not be just a question about whether we are to expect one more segment of existence, however long, after bodily death. It should be viewed as a question about the overall context for all our actions in this life.1

Why Is This Book Worth Reading?

Thomas Morris has been called one of Christianity’s finest contemporary philosophers. This book provides evidence of his first-rate philosophical ability. Making Sense of It All is one of the best books I have ever read on the topic of Christian philosophy and apologetics. Be sure to put this excellent resource at the top of your reading list.

Resources

Endnotes
  1. Thomas Morris, Making Sense of It All: Pascal and the Meaning of Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 25.

Check out more from Dr. Kenneth Samples @Reasons.org

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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