Loving God with Your Mind: Essays in Honor of J. P. Moreland

Loving God with Your Mind: Essays in Honor of J. P. Moreland

by Paul M. Gould

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Over the past twenty-five years, no one has done more than J. P. Moreland to equip Christians to love God with their minds. In his work as a Christian philosopher, scholar, and apologist, he has influenced thousands of students, written groundbreaking books, and taught multitudes of Christians to defend their faith.

In honor of Moreland's ministry, general


Over the past twenty-five years, no one has done more than J. P. Moreland to equip Christians to love God with their minds. In his work as a Christian philosopher, scholar, and apologist, he has influenced thousands of students, written groundbreaking books, and taught multitudes of Christians to defend their faith.

In honor of Moreland's ministry, general editors Paul M. Gould and Richard Brian Davis have assembled a team of friends and colleagues to celebrate his work. In three major parts devoted to philosophy, apologetics, and spiritual formation, scholars such as Stewart Goetz, Paul Copan, Douglas Groothuis, Scott Rae, and Klaus Issler interact with Moreland's thought and make their own contributions to these important subjects. Moreland concludes the volume with his own essay, "Reflections on the Journey Ahead."

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Introduction Over the course of the past few decades, perhaps no Christian thinker has been as influential as J.P. Moreland. Thirty years ago, the idea of the importance of a Christian developing a distinctly Christian mind to take captive every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) was in its infancy in the church. Today, the Christian apologetic and intellectual landscape looks very different with apologetics clubs, conferences, ministries, blogs, radio/podcast programs, and professional societies. Much of the impetus behind this growing movement has been the work of Moreland; through his scholarly and popular writings (numbering over thirty books and hundreds of publications), university lectures, public debates, etc., he inspired a generation of young evangelicals to love God with all their minds for the sake of the Church and the fallen world in which we live.

Loving God With Your Mind is a compilation of essays in honor of Moreland written by his friends - colleagues, former students, and partners in ministry. The contributors are a veritable "who's who" in the areas of Christian philosophy, apologetics, theology, spiritual formation, and church ministry. Written to honor Moreland as well as to introduce readers to the rich intellectual resources of his thinking, this book is a treat for any fan of J.P. Moreland and any Christian interested in philosophy.

Overview Part 1, "The Building Blocks of the World," gives us a panoramic view of Moreland's metaphysics. The first essay provides a rough sketch of the world according to Moreland, addresses several worries about this overall picture, then shows that Platonic theism provides a satisfactorily powerful and satisfying view of reality. Essay 2 sketches out naturalism, shows its discord with Christian theism, and describes three lines of attack mounted by Moreland against naturalism. Garcia elaborates upon Platonism as one of Moreland's lines of attack and shows how thinking about Platonism catalyzes integration. Essay 3 deals with the problem of individuation, the dispute of which Moreland has been a central figure. This essay shows how "bare particulars" solve "the problem" and how they even give us some traction in articulating a coherent, orthodox metaphysics of the Incarnation. Essay 4 gives an overview of Moreland's understanding of a human being, summarizing his understanding of substance dualism and interacting with a few of his arguments for the existence of the soul. The first section concludes with an essay that summarizes Moreland's treatment of truth and postmodernism, and then unpacks the general ontological patterns of postmodernism, tests their ontological positions, and argues that they undercut all knowledge.

Part 2, "Thinking for Christ in the World," address a whole host of questions that arise given that there is a world to be known. Topics covered in this section include Christianity as a knowledge tradition, natural theology, relational apologetics. Essay 9 was particularly interesting to me, as it relayed Moreland's contribution to the philosophy of science and its relationship to theology and his affirmation of intelligent design. Furthermore, Keas builds on Moreland's work to outline how greater attention to epistemic virtues can guide future interdisciplinary scholarship. Essay 10 was also very interesting, as it connected Moreland's metaphysics to bioethics. Issues covered in this apologetic for pro-life activism include abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and physician-assisted suicide.

Part 3, "Living for Christ in the World," explores the emotional side of life since becoming out of touch with this is a risk of engaging in the rigors of philosophy and apologetics. Essay 11 explores Moreland's contribution to cultural apologetics by going public with his struggles with anxiety and depression. Essay 12 explores Christ in the garden of Gethsemane as an example to guide our spiritual formation. Essay 13 chronicles Moreland's development of a Christian view of how we ought to live. And finally, Essay 14 discusses Moreland's most significant book for the church, Kingdom Triangle. "The three sides of the triangle are the recovery of the Christian mind, the renovation of the soul through spiritual formation, and the restoration of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit at the center of the Christian life" (212). Erre's essay examines each of these, considering the implication of each for the church. The volume concludes with an afterword by Moreland himself, in which he charges not just Christian philosophers, but all believers in Christ, to love God with their minds with courage and resisting compromise.

Conclusion This book is a treat and highly recommended for fans of Moreland and anyone who has studied under him, whether in the classroom or via his writings. It is also a great read for anyone who appreciates philosophy. I consider this book at an intermediate level; for those who are uninitiated in philosophy, this book (especially part 1) will be a difficult read.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Review by Jennifer Guo on Net Galley

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Loving God with your Mind

Essays in Honor of J. P. Moreland

By Paul M. Gould, Richard Brian Davis, Mikel Del Rosario

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2014 Paul M. Gould and Richard Brian Davis
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8024-8770-4


On What There Is: Theism, Platonism, and Explanation


J. P. IS A METAPHYSICIAN. The word is used in the previous sentence is not the is of essential predication, nor the is of identity, nor the is of constitution. It is the is of accidental predication. J.P is not essentially a metaphysician—he could have been a chemist or a pastor or a Kansas City Royal's batboy. He is not identical to The Metaphysician (was that Plato? Aristotle? Husserl?). But thank God he freely chose, guided by God's sovereign hand, to become a metaphysician.

I (Paul) first got a sense of how important metaphysics (and philosophy in general) was to J. P. on September 11, 2001. Two weeks into my graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology, I woke up to the horror of America under attack by terrorists. Later that morning I had J. P.'s class on metaphysics. I wondered how much philosophy we would discuss that day, given the national emergency unfolding before our eyes. When class began, J. P. walked in and talked for a few minutes with us about what was happening in New York. But then without fanfare, J. P. said (loosely from memory), "Okay folks, we've got important things to do today, let's begin." At first I was a little shocked. I thought to myself, "Don't we have important things to talk about already—like terrorist attacks and people dying and what it all means?" The more I reflect on that day (we talked about the nature of identity, I still have my class notes), I have come to realize we were doing important things. Metaphysics does matter. It contributes to shalom—since being rightly related to reality and living life well are good things in themselves and without engaging in substantive metaphysics they remain elusive. For over thirty years, J. P. has led the way in helping us all to think rightly about reality.

So, how ought we to think about reality so that we might be rightly related to it? Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that takes up the challenge of thinking critically about our world. According to J. P., metaphysics is the "philosophical study of the nature of being or reality and the ultimate categories or kinds of things that are real." In this chapter, we shall be concerned with understanding the world—the kinds of things there are and how they all fit together. We want to understand reality and think that J. P. Moreland is a good guide to help us in that project. Our plan of attack is as follows. First, we'll articulate a rough sketch of the world according to J. P. by stating three theses that build on each other and help ease us into the project. Next, we'll consider some worries about the overall picture thus erected and show how they can be set aside. Finally, we shall show how the resultant picture—a magical world full of God and man, abstract and concrete objects, souls and bodies, bare particulars and complex wholes—is an explanatorily powerful and satisfying view of reality.



We begin our investigation of the world with the question "What is there?" Of course, any answer to this question presupposes some theory of what it means "to be" or "to exist." J. P. argues that existence is univocal—there is one sense of the verb "to exist" and that sense is as follows:

"x exists" = df. "x has some property F."

For example, Jones exists if and only if Jones has some property, say being human; the number three exists if and only if the number three has some property, say being prime. Alternatively, the unicorn, Pegasus, does not exist since there is no object that has the property being a unicorn. Nothing has that property and "nothingness is just that—nothing." Still, our concept of Pegasus (a mental property) does exist since it (the concept of Pegasus) is a concept of something that would have the property of being a one-horned flying horse if it existed. An important corollary of J. P.'s definition of existence is there is a difference between a thing's nature and its existence. The vast difference between me and God does not consist in our having vastly different sorts of being (or "reality" or "existence"); it consists rather in our having vastly different sorts of natures; the vast difference between an abstract object and a concrete object does not consist in their existing in difference senses (e.g., one is not more real than the other), rather it consists in having vastly different sorts of natures. Armed with this theory of existence, we can again ask our ontological question, "What is there?"


One answer to this ontological question is of course "everything"—and we are in no need of philosophical or scientific investigation to convince us of the truth of this answer. Everything that is, exists. But this is at once too general and non-systematic to be informative—or to be considered a satisfactory answer to the ontological question. We try again. J. P. believes that reality is "cut at the joints"—there is a ready-made world and this world consists of natural groupings of objects. Thus, an answer to the ontological question will be in terms of ontological categories—(nonempty) natural classes of objects that constitute the building blocks of the world. The concept of "natural class" is a bit vague but not so much so that it cannot be usefully employed. For our purposes, we shall consider a natural class of objects a group of things that exhibit (i) "sufficient internal unity" so as to constitute a real division among things; and (ii) whose membership comprises a really significant proportion of the things that there are. Call the universal class—the class of all existent things—"object."

The primary ontological category is the highest link in the great chain of nonarbitrary classification below the universal class. J. P. endorses what van Inwagen calls a polycategorical ontology: there are two categories—universal and particular—that are not subcategories of any other ontological category. Universals are entities that can be exemplified (had, instantiated, possessed) by many things at the same time whereas a particular is defined contrastively as a non-universal. J. P.'s primary ontological categories, universal and particular, could also be labeled correspondingly as "abstract object" and "concrete object" where an abstract object is a nonessentially spatio-temporal necessary being that is not a person and a concrete object is defined contrastively as nonabstract.

A "secondary ontological category" or "tertiary ontological category" are natural subclasses of their higher-level class: "x is a natural subclass of y if x is a subclass of y and x is a natural class." J. P.'s secondary ontological categories consist of his ontological simples—objects that possess no intrinsic complexity. Subclasses under "universal" include "property," "relation," and "number." The subclass under "particular" is the Morelandian "bare particular." J. P.'s tertiary ontological categories consist of high-level complex objects, that is, objects that have other constituent objects from a secondary ontological category as metaphysical parts. Under the subclass "property," there is "potentiality," which grounds modal discourse (that is, talk about the possible and impossible) and "proposition," understood as a kind of structured mental property; under the subclass "bare particular," there is "state of affairs," "substance," and "ordered aggregate." This sketch of J. P.'s ontology can be seen in Figure 1 below.

To believe, as J. P. does, in abstract objects is to endorse Platonism. For J. P., there are an actually infinite number of abstract objects. A discussion of how members of the abstract world, the Platonic heaven, relate to members of the concrete world ("the universe") leads us to one of J. P.'s novel theses—ordinary objects have abstract objects non-spatially "in" them as constituents.


Minimally, to exemplify a property is to possess or have a property. This much, most philosophers can agree on. Broadly speaking, two distinct styles of metaphysical explanation can be discerned for understanding property possession by ordinary concrete objects. Aristotle tells us that the items (intuitively) had or possessed by sensible particulars can be understood to exist either "separate from the sensible things" or "present in them" (996a15-16). More recently, van Inwagen (following Nicholas Wolterstorff) speaks of relational and constituent ontologies. Aristotle's and van Inwagen's distinction is meant, it seems, to mark out the same contrast. The expressions "in" and "separate" can be used to mark a variety of contrasts, but the operative contrast in these two distinct styles seems to be as follows: to be in a thing is to be a proper constituent of the thing, whereas to be separate is to exist apart from the thing. As Michael Loux points out, the force of "separate" here is parasitic on its opposition to "in."

Both approaches tell us that substances exhibit whatever character they have in virtue of properties had by it. Thus, we find the following framework constraint in play for both metaphysical styles:

Principle for Character Grounding (PCG): Properties Explain the Character Things Have

God's being divine is partially explained by the property being divine; Socrates' being wise is partially explained by the property being wise. In some sense then, properties are explanatorily prior to the things that have them. PCG highlights what we shall call the primary role for Platonic properties, a role J. P. endorses: that of making or structuring reality. As George Bealer observes, "[Properties] play a fundamental constitutive role in the structure of the world."

So, both approaches endorse PCG. However, the two approaches differ in their account of how character exhibition is to be further analyzed. Those who endorse the constituent approach tell us that the familiar objects of our everyday experience exhibit their character in virtue of their constituent metaphysical and physical parts (where a metaphysical part is meant to range over properties that are in ordinary concrete objects). On the relational approach, by contrast, familiar concrete objects exhibit their character through objects that are not immanent in those substances. Rather, as Aristotle puts it, they exist "apart from the sensibles," and it is in virtue of standing in some non-mereological relation to those objects that the familiar concrete objects exhibit the character that they do.

J. P. is decidedly a constituent ontologist with respect to ordinary concrete objects. Consider the following sentence:

(1) Socrates is human.

According to J. P., (1) can be further analyzed as:

(2) Being human inheres in Socrates as a constituent.


(3) Socrates' bare particular exemplifies being human.

Sentences (2) and (3) are understood as follows: Socrates (a substance) has "rooted within" himself the property being human as a constituent. The property inheres in Socrates where "inherence" is understood as "a non-spatial, primitive relation that cannot be analyzed further." Inherence, according to J. P. is further grounded in the exemplification relation (also understood as a primitive, non-spatial relation) expressed in (3). That is, the same property inheres in the substance Socrates (the whole) and is exemplified by the individuator (Socrates' bare particular), which is also a constituent of Socrates. Thus, properties inhere in substances and are exemplified by the substances' bare particular. Substances (such as Socrates) as well as other concrete objects that possess abstract objects as constituents are particulars and (thus) spatio-temporally located even though some of their constituent parts are not spatio-temporally located due to what J. P. calls the victory of particularity: "When a particular exemplifies a universal, the resulting state of affairs ... is itself a particular." Universals (abstract objects) are nonspatially "in" the concrete particulars that have them. Further, J. P. believes that we can be directly aware of the universal "in" the concrete object through a kind of perception called (following Husserl) eidetic intuition. Much more can be said of course, but the above suffices to raise worries about the coherence and intelligibility of the world according to J. P., worries we shall next consider.


One worry, advanced recently by Peter van Inwagen with much bewilderment is that the kind of Platonic constituent ontology advance by J. P. is literally meaningless—and (if not meaningless) queer besides. To say that something can be "in" another thing in a non-spatial sense does seem a bit queer, so let's call this first worry the Queerness Worry. Upon reflection, the notion of a nonspatial sense of "in" is not entirely opaque, however. Consider immaterial agents such as God or souls. It is plausible to endorse the claim that thoughts are in immaterial minds non-spatially. Prima facie, it is natural to think that thoughts must be in the substance that has them. And if the substance is immaterial, then they are in it non-spatially. So, the notion of a non-spatial "in" doesn't seem problematic, or queer, for the theist, since God and His thoughts are already in the picture. Perhaps it is the idea of something being non-spatially "in" a material object that is behind the Queerness Worry. But here we arrive at a kind of trade-off with our objector. Recall that there are universals. Universals are multiply-instantiable—they can be had by more than one particular. But, if universals are spatially-located where their concrete particulars are, then one and the same object would be multiply located. But this possibility is (to say the least) highly counterintuitive. Rather, our everyday experience of spatial objects supports the following axiom, called the "axiom of localization" by Reinhardt Grossmann: "No entity whatsoever can exist at different places at once or at interrupted time intervals." Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that universals are not spatially "in" the concrete objects that have them. If such considerations aren't helpful, one can simply follow J. P., who thinks that Platonism regarding properties requires a constituents approach to adequately solve the problem of individuation, and so too the notion of being "in" a substance nonspatially. It is just a cost of an otherwise fruitful metaphysical theory. We conclude that the Queerness Worry isn't insurmountable and the benefits of adopting a non-spatial sense of "in" far outweigh any putative costs to the overall picture in terms of queerness.

The second worry about the overall picture thus erected has to do with the conjunction of theism with Platonism. According to traditional theism, God is the creator of all reality distinct from Himself. According to traditional Platonism, abstract objects exist independently, and thus as uncreated necessary beings. Traditional theism and traditional Platonism are obviously at odds with each other, and their conjunction leads to incoherency. Let's call this the Incoherence Worry regarding Platonic theism. Can the Incoherence Worry be avoided? One natural move is to bring the Platonic horde into the realm of God's creative activity: God is the creator of all abstract objects distinct from Himself. This is a move that many find initially attractive but ultimately unworkable because it simply relocates the incoherency. Here's how: If God is the creator of all abstract objects, then God is the creator of those abstract objects that He Himself has. But then God is the creator of His own nature (i.e., His properties such as being all-powerful, being all-knowing, etc.). But how can God create His own nature unless He already has a determinate nature (with all the requisite abilities and powers)?24 And we are off on a vicious explanatory circle from which many think there can be no escape. God pulls Himself up by His own bootstraps! We think that the so-called bootstrapping worry can be avoided for the Platonic theist. Recall, as creator, God is the creator of all properties distinct from Himself, not all properties whatsoever. Thus, it is open to the theist to endorse the claim that God and God's properties exist a se and it is all other properties that are created by God. Thus, the Incoherency Worry can be set aside. The Platonic Theist can have it all—an attractive theory of the mind-language-world nexus and a fully sovereign creator of all distinct reality, including those members of the Platonic horde that are not part of God (or God's mental life).


Excerpted from Loving God with your Mind by Paul M. Gould, Richard Brian Davis, Mikel Del Rosario. Copyright © 2014 Paul M. Gould and Richard Brian Davis. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

PAUL GOULD is married to Ethel and has four wonderful kids¿Austin, Madeleine, Travis, and Joshua. Paul has a Masters in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics from Talbot School of Theology and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Purdue University. He works on the Executive Team of a Christian ministry to university Professors called Faculty Commons. He is also an adjunct professor teaching the History of Ideas a the College of Southeastern, the undergraduate college of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

DR. DAVIS is associate professor and chair of the Philosophy department. He specializes in metaphysics and ontology, focusing on questions concerning individuation, substance, relations, modality, and constituent ontology. He also has interests in epistemology, philosophy of science, and philosophical theology.

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