This unit explores the philosophical underpinnings of some key theological turns in Christian history. Variants of Platonism provide the background against which the Hellenistic elements in the New Testament can be interpreted; subsequent Platonist developments inform Augustine s thought, and thereby, much later, Luther’s. Similarly, Aristotle sets the scene for Thomas Aquinas; Kant for Schleiermacher and the nineteenth century liberal theologians; Hegel, in a different way, for Kierkegaard and Barth; Heidegger for Bultmann and Rahner. The unit gives the student an engagement with the philosophers concerned, both in their own right and as they provide a background for scriptural and theological contemporaries and successors.

Unit code: AP1000P

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 1

Unit discipline: Philosophy

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Explain the difference between philosophical and theological approaches to exploring truth


Discuss the ways in which the particular philosophers studied have extensions of their philosophical claims that are essentially theological


Identify and describe the issues involved in assessing the theological merits and demerits of the various philosophical positions studied


Describe the relationship between the philosophers studied and the theological responses and reactions they generated in others


Outline the ways in which secular-philosophical and religious-theological currents have flowed together in Christian history.


Lecturing, with discussion and a weekly tutorial

Indicative Bibliography

Allen, Diogenes and Eric O. Springsted. *Philosophy for Understanding Theology. 2nd ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster-John Knox Press. 2007. (recommended for purchase)

  • Allen, Diogenes and Eric O. Springsted, eds. Primary Readings in Philosophy for Understanding Theology. Louisville, KY: Westminister-John Knox Press, 1992. *Suggestion: seek second hand copies.
  • Beilby, James K., ed. For Faith and Clarity: Philosophical Contributions to Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.
  • Bonsor, Jack A. A*thens and Jerusalem: The Role of Philosophy in Theology*. Marwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993.
  • Brown, Colin. Philosophy and the Christian Faith: a Historical Sketch from the Middle Ages to the Present Day. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1980.
  • Copleston, F. A History of Philosophy. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1962-1977.
  • Craig, William Lane, and J.P. Moreland, eds. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Chichester, UK; Malden, MA: Wiley- Blackwell, 2009.
  • Gilson, Etienne. God and Philosophy. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1941.
  • Melchert, Norman. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. 4th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill, 2001; or 3rd. ed. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co, 1999.
  • Vesey, Godfrey, ed. The Philosophy in Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Written Examination

2 hour examination

0 50.0

2000 word essay

2000 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Aug, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:49 +1000