Language and Christian Belief

Language and Christian Belief

Language and Christian Belief

Language and Christian Belief

Excerpt

The phrase 'philosophy of religion' is still used to refer to an important field of study. But today the area of that field is not marked out with any precision. That it has changed, and is still changing, is evident from a comparison of standard works on the subject written more than thirty years ago with those written today; yet it is still far from clear what the philosopher of religion is supposed to be doing. This lack of clarity at a high intellectual level is only one symptom of a general, though I hope only temporary, failure on the part of religious believers to meet an important challenge. Part of my purpose is to make the nature of this challenge clear.

What has changed in the last few decades is not religion, but philosophy. Predominantly in England and Amercia but also in other countries, the word 'philosophy' has taken on an entirely new meaning. It no longer implies wisdom, or an advanced insight into reality, or an enlarged knowledge of the natural and supernatural worlds around us. The typical philosopher in a British or American university does not claim the powers of a sage. To be sure, he is still concerned with truth; but he is not concerned in the same way as his predecessors. It is commonly said that he is concerned only with language: and the phrase 'linguistic philosophy', like 'logical positivist', is widely used by laymen. But this view misses most of the point. Modern philosophers are concerned, not with the facts of the world . . .

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