Review: Mark W. Foreman’s Prelude to Philosophy

Prelude to Philosophy is a primer to philosophy for Christians. It’s been a neglected discipline in my own studies. It’s been something I’ve used as I write, but not something I’ve intentionally nurtured. I’m remedying that. Prelude starts my refresher studies in philosophy.

Dr. Foreman addresses the suspicion many Christians approach philosophy with. He notes, “Faith is important, but Scripture never promotes the idea of blind faith--believing anything with no reason at all” (36 also see 35). This suspicion is ironic because you cannot live without using philosophy--both as you form your worldview (42) and as you act and live in this world. “Although everyone holds a worldview, not everyone has done the real labor of cultivating a worldview” (62). The first part of this book then is justification of philosophy.

“For philosophy, the search for the ultimate is an exercise in critical reflection, not something one accepts because some authority claims it” (44).

Part of this justification includes an insistence that we must argue well and clearly. And that’s what he demonstrates in the second part of Prelude.

He gives basic instruction in deductive and inductive logic. This chapter can be digested by the least trained Christian in logic. It provides a foundation for better argumentation and also for picking out weak argumentation. Foreman builds on this foundation as he discusses fallacies. With a basic understanding of philosophy and logic, being able to pick out fallacies may be the most practical exercise in the Prelude.  He also ends with an exercise in analyzing arguments. I appreciated that he didn’t leave the instruction provided in the tell, but ended with the show. I should also point out that this was a common thread through the entire book. He would instruct and then demonstrate. The last sentence of the book folds the entire enterprise of philosophy into the Christian’s life of discipleship. “[Arguing well isn’t easy.] By doing so, you will live a fuller and richer life and will become more effective disciple of Jesus Christ” (189). If Prelude is about understanding philosophy, arguing well, and ensuring conclusions follow from premises, I give Foreman high marks on demonstrating the important of philosophy for Christian discipleship.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and writes for CBMW Manual, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Borrowed Light, and other publications. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and offers freelance editing and book formatting services. His family is covenant members at Downtown Presbyterian Church.