Tennant's Philosophical Theology

By Delton Scudder Lewis | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THE writings of Dr. Tennant are becoming increasingly important to philosophers of religion in the English-speaking world. Long an authority on the problem of evil, Dr. Tennant's work in philosophical theology is regarded by some as the best intellectual defense of theism in our time. The theological faculties of the United States are placing Tennant's writings upon the sine qua non lists of readings. References to Tennant appear in innumerable new books and articles. It is evident that the issues of his rigorous thinking cannot be avoided by philosophers either within or without the area of theistic conviction.

For a detailed outline of the subject matter here presented the reader may refer to the Contents. In brief summary, it may be said that Tennant's background, problem, and solution are first set forth (Introduction and Chapter I) upon the basis of all his published writings to date. Then in criticism (Chapter II), his empirical validation of theism which excludes the truth-claim of all direct religious experience is rejected because the empirical analogies, the cognitive analogies, and certain extrapolations fail to establish the case. Especially important in this context is the issue of our knowledge of one another which is critically debated in some detail. In Chapter III Tennant's seven objections to the "proof-value" of religious experience are also found inadequate to eliminate the testimony of religious experience from a comprehensive world-view. In the reconstruction of the theistic case, which follows in the concluding chapter, religious experience is given a basic, primary, but not solitary position in philosophical theology. It is contended that the task of philosophical thought is to validate true religious experience, to reveal the atheistic implications of naturalism, and to examine the evidence of an identification of the God of religious experience with the God of the cosmos.

The substance of this book constitutes "A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Yale University in Candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy" ( May, 1939). Its origin and continued inspiration reside in the vigorous mind of Professor Robert L. Calhoun of Yale, teacher, ad-

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