About Me

My Name is Glenn, I live in the USA, and live some distance down the road from where I took the picture above. I study philosophy and Christian apologetics, and I’m interested in cultural issues as they relate to ideas and belief systems. I have completed three graduate programs, totaling an M.Ed. and an MA in apologetics and philosophy from Southern Evangelical Seminary. I work with a college apologetics ministry called Ratio Christi (www.ratiochristi.org). My career is in technical job skills training.

I was always interested in what others believed and what separated one group from another. The closest people I ever had for mentors were a couple of radio folks, Walter Martin, who was an expert in cults, and J. Vernon McGee, who set me on a path of verse-by-verse bible study. The graduate education has given me the tools to understand most of the conversations that go on in theological and philosophical circles, even if I’m not equipped to always join in the discussions.

Since studying at SES, I’ve learned that the philosophical underpinnings have vanished from most Christian theologians and pastors, and certainly have been lost in most churches and believers. The theology and philosophy of Thomas Aquinas provides the foundation for explaining the truths of the Bible to a secular world. Thomas thought through and answered many of the modern questions that are being discussed today in academic circles, and provides answers for the thinking person who is interested in questions of faith.

Evangelical protestant Thomists are not common, but here I am. I believe in the historic theology, reject the divisions over peripheral issues, dislike legalism, will go to the mat for the essential doctrines,  and I believe a combination of philosophy, Bible teaching, and shoe leather (not necessarily in that order) can get us out of the current mess that the church is in, which has contributed to the mess the culture is in.

Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. As such, the basis for the faith is the object of the faith, Jesus. But it is also a faith for thinking people, for God invites us to reason with Him, and provides just enough in His Word for the simple person to have something to hang on to, yet He also provides enough information for the most advanced thinkers to spend their lives growing in the sacred romance.

Somewhere in between are the rest of us. In our most quiet and secret moments, we all know that what we believe now will impact our eternal destiny. I urge everyone to stop, turn off the TV and the phone, and spend an afternoon pondering some hard things.

If you have no difficult things to ponder, start here: Existence precedes essence, but God’s essence is His existence, which gives us part of the explanation for why John 14:6 is true. But the simplest person can also read John 14 and be comforted. How wonderful.

All entries copyright © 2010 Glenn Smith. All rights reserved. Use of any material without permission will cause your concience to bother you for the rest of your life.

21 Responses to About Me

  1. Will Farris says:

    I, too, am a graduate in Apologetics and Philosophy but more in the classical evidentialist wing of Reformed theology (think John Warwick Montgomery, John Gernstner, Sproul, Boice, etc. as opposed to the more typical presuppositional or so-called reformed epistemology within conservative Presyterianism (van Til, Frame, Poythress, Plantinga). And I suppose a more radical third reformed wing might be the Rushdooney and reconstructionist/restorationist crowd, but I digress even further. The point is that evangelical Thomism, such as Geisler, et.al, has strangely emerged from the Dispensational camp rather than the Reformed camp, but may be due to the need to distance oneself from the 5 pointers while maintaining a certain sharp level in intellectual rigor and respectability that the mainline reformed approach have enjoyed since the high days of 19th century Princeton Seminary.

    I think that in this “emergent” age, however, methodology, and I include here to some extent at least the term Thomism, is beginning to outlive its usefulness on the street and that in order to facilitate an effective apologetic to the onslaught of new atheism, etc. we must take an abductive approach from the entire buffet of apologetic traditions and tailor them to the specific situation. Of course, the typical modern day Church has little time, appetite, ability, or experience with what they characterize as ungodly scholastic endeavors when relationships, stories, and cultural relevance are the order of the day.

    Meanwhile, I keep my day job, as well!

    • humblesmith says:

      Excellent points.

      I’m starting the think that the biggest “bang for the buck” in is to teach evangelism as the overarching goal, with theology/apologetics/philosophy as the backbone. If we can inspire people to have a passion for evangelism & outreach, but give them the tools for a bit of academic rigor, we might have more effect. But as you so correctly point out, the church has no stomach for it nowdays. Further, we appear to be losing to war to the new atheists because they are better at soundbites and name calling.

      We can learn from all the names you mentioned, although we might not agree wholeheartedly with them. As Sproul so aptly said, in areas where we agree, we can join arms and work side by side.

      • humblesmith says:

        Actually, the classicists like Montomery & Sproul have a lot in common with the classical Thomists like Geisler, at least in the approach to apologetics. They disagree on the extent of the 5 points, but the approach to philosophy and evidence has much more in common than the Van Til group.

  2. Hey I somehow came across your blog from baptist board. I am strongly considering SES for the PhD program and saw that you have recommended it as well. I’d love to get some more info from you if that’s possible. Are you in the PhD or DMin programs, or the MA? Thanks!

    • humblesmith says:

      Randy:
      SES is a great school. If you’re interested in philosophy, apologetics, and a sound evangelical foundation, there is none better. Send me an email and I’ll respond. gsmith at ratiochristi dot org

  3. J.W. Wartick says:

    Another evangelical Thomist! I love it!

    I am an evangelical Christian with a Thomistic bent as well. Admittedly, I am not really well versed in Thomism, but I have started to explore it more deeply in my ‘down time’ (of which I have none right now).

    Could you recommend me some good books on the topic? I prefer more scholarly works, though a broad introduction would also be helpful!

    Looking forward to following your blog more!

  4. humblesmith says:

    Aquinas’ work is lengthy and dense.Ultimately, you want to work towards reading Thomas himself (which, by the way, not everyone does…….some “big names” in Christianity have critiqued Thomas and Thomism and, upon reading their work, you can tell they never read Thomas). However, works such as Summa Theologica require a good understanding of metaphysics before it makes very much sense.

    The book I would suggest for starters is “Thomas Aquinas: An Evangelical Appraisal” by Norman Geisler. It is a good introduction and lists some of the distinctives of Thomism. It should also have a good bibliography. From there, check out some of the articles on Thomas in encyclopedias of philosophy and dictionaries of philosophy. If you have some philosophy background, try “Two Logics” by Henry Veach, which gives a contrast of the modern analytic methods with the classical method used by Thomas. Geisler has a good article on Thomas in his “Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics”. For more scholarly works, check out books and journals of theology and philosophy for authors such as Elenore Stump, Etienne Gilson, Jaques Maritain. Ultimately, you want to read Thomas.

    • J.W. Wartick says:

      I’ve been slowly but surely reading the Summa. I have several works on Aquinas’ thought as well.

      Thanks for the recommendations!

    • Also Peter Kreeft has a few books that I have enjoyed. For example, his “Summa of the Summa” is very worthwhile. Actually I have read almost all his books and recommend anything he writes. His talks are especially good. Sorry for the late addendum here, but I just discovered this.
      BTW, I attend a Baptist church, but I really enjoy “First Things” (including the magazine), and definitely share the Thomist approach.

  5. portal001 says:

    Hey Glenn, where you been? you havent been posting on your blog lately, I hope everything is allright

  6. Bruce says:

    Good to find this blog post! I too am an evangelical and a Thomist. I am a Thomas specialist. I find that Thomas has a lot to offer and I think that protestants can make use of his deep and systematic thought.

  7. humblesmith says:

    Great to have you on board. Here’s a question: I’ve been trying to read Thomist authors, but have ironically found that it’s easier to understand Thomas than those who are trying to summarize him. Some of these authors are just not clear to me. Do you have any particular Thomist authors you like?

    • Bruce says:

      I hear you on this. Sometimes I pick up a book and end up reading an account of a Thomas that I hardly know, that leaves out important aspects of his thought. In any case, I tend to gravitate toward Copleston as the easiest to read. My main go-to authors tend to be Gilson, Chenu, Wippel, and Stump. Wippel can be a particularly difficult read but his book on Thomas’s metaphysics is a masterpiece. Chenu has short book called Aquinas and His Role in Theology that is a particularly good read.

  8. Pierre says:

    I’m a biblicist. I reason from the Scriptures. Acts 17:2. Acts 18:4,19. Acts 24:25. :-)

  9. Rev. Robert Mayes says:

    Hey, I just came across your site and am very intrigued. I’m a Lutheran pastor, a strong supporter of Biblical inerrancy, trained in Biblical Greek and Hebrew, well read in historical and systematic theology and interested in apologetics though not as well read.

    My question is about your last paragraph: “If you have no difficult things to ponder, start here: Existence precedes essence, but God’s essence is His existence, which gives us part of the explanation for why John 14:6 is true. But the simplest person can also read John 14 and be comforted. How wonderful.” So, I understand existence and essence not as chronologically occuring one after the other, but as bound up with each other inseparably and not chronologically divided. The argument from God’s essence and existence defines and shapes the way we understand essence and existence for all other things.

    Help me out here. Maybe clarify this point more for me. Or if you would, explain how this relates then to the essence of a living person (not Jesus). Thanks, and keep up the good discussions.

    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  10. humblesmith says:

    The essence/existence distinction, at least in the context of what I’m speaking, originates with Thomas Aquinas. While I’m not Roman Catholic, I find Thomas as having thought through most of the foundations of our faith. Note that the distinction is not in the sense of the existentialist philosophers such as Kierkegaard, who had big problems.

    You are correct that essence and existence cannot be chronologically separated….if a thing exists, it cannot exist without an essence, and vice-versa. Our distinction is a logical one, in that existence must logically precede essence. The $100 bill in my mind can have the exact same properties (essence) as the one in my wallet, except that the one in my wallet does not exist physically. The value to us by making this distinction is that most modern philosophers think of a thing as a bundle of properties…they say that if we can explain all the attributes, we have explained the thing. Thomas points out that if even if we explain all the properties, we have not explained the act of existing. So he asks for an explanation of what causes the act of existence, and not just an explanation of the propeties.

    Where this comes into play with systematic theology is that God is not just a bundle of properties. If we explain His attributes (power, wisdom, love, wrath, purety,….) we still must distinguish that He exists. In fact, God describes Himself as “I am”, a present-tense of the verb ‘to be’, in Exodus at the burning bush. Jesus follows this with “I am” in John 8:58. God describes Himself as the self-existent one, the one who is, who has an act of existence.

    This forms the basis of the cosmological argument for the existence of God. Humans are also not just a bundle of properties….we must explain our own act of existence also. We observe the world and see that we exist, but we are contingent, e.g., do not have to exist. To explain our existence, we are led to conclude that there must be a self-existent, necessary being, that has existence in Himself, and is not contingent. Romans 1:20 tells us we can observe the world and know some things about God, which this argument demonstrates. Colossians 1:17 tells us God upholds all things on an ongoing basis.

    Thanks for the comment. I always like talking about this stuff. Any ideas on how to communicate it better will be appreciated.

    You can find more on this here:

    http://mb-soft.com/believe/txo/neothomi.htm

    http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/existence-precedes-essence/

    http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/god-is-simple-and-does-not-need-a-cause/

  11. hollowfileds says:

    So, do you ever like think about talking to the Dominicans which St. Thomas Aquinas was a part of?

    • humblesmith says:

      I’m always interested in talking to people about spiritual things. I’ve toyed with the idea of taking classes at a Catholic school….I’d love to learn Latin. I’d also like to take a theology course or two from an official cannon-law perspective….that way I’d be able to quote the right sources.

  12. Thank you, I just discovered your site researching Paul and the philosophers, I must make the request that you take everything you know and put it in my head please, for I just read to slow. :) Im very interested and have the distinct suspicion that I may be returning quite often. Peace be with you friend.

  13. Jerome Danner says:

    Brother, I can’t tell you when I first started reading your blog but I have enjoyed reading it whenever I do. It is a constant reminder that I should read more and grow in my comprehension of things. I think it is rewarding to ponder things that are initially intellectually beyond me.

    Anyway, may God keep you as you are obedient to Him.

  14. Salli G. says:

    Thanks for the blog. I find it very helpful in my study of apologetics in the practise of evangelism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s