Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 04:1 (Nov 1941)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous


Reviews Of Books

Étienne Gilson: God and Philosophy. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1941. xviii, 147. $2.00.

Here is a book every reader of this Journal should study. The challenge of its justly-famed author to contemporary thinkers is similar to that made so dramatically a year ago by Mortimer Adler to the members of the first Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion. Refusing to have God, man has fallen into mythology, the various gods of which are now at odds with one another on the grim battlefields of Europe. In order to save men from the wrath of their home-made deities, Gilson calls, as Adler did, to a more disciplined thinking. In this case is meant thinking on the problem of a natural theology. The subject dealt with is so important as to merit a careful reading for the book.

Being the lectures given at Indiana University by Professor Gilson as fifth lecturer on the Mahlon Powell Foundation, the book is edited by Professor W. Harry Jellema of the department of philosophy at Indiana. That this reviewer cannot at all accept the more positive position maintained in the lectures does not alter his desire that the book be widely read and thoughtfully studied. Rarely has this important subject been so clearly thought out and so lucidly expressed in language. Moreover, the author’s brilliant style and healthy sense of humor greatly enhance the book as a work of literary art.

More than one historian has remarked on the confusion of systems which distinguishes the modern thought-world from that of the thirteenth century. Today, in America, those fundamental differences are recognized as a problem pressing for democratic solution. The Neo-Thomist movement is one effort, an increasingly vocal one, towards reaching basic truth. On such a social background these lectures are to be viewed, and a Calvinist’s scepticism that mankind should ever reach any unanimity of opinion by serious thinking alone will affect his attitude toward the position taken in them. Yet, in other ways, the Calvinist will find so much in which he can whole-heartedly agree with the Thomist that he cannot but express his appreciation for this masterly contribution.

The author’s previous book, Christianity and Philosophy, dispensed, to

his satisfaction, with all Christian systems which deny the possibility of an adequate natural theology.1 For that reason, presumably, the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas is here offered without comment as the only adequate Christian philosophy, other Christian philosophies not having contributed anything to the progress of a natural theology. In the mind of the present writer, ...

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