Tractatus Logico-Theologicus

Tractatus Logico-Theologicus

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Now, at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century, Montgomery has written a comprehensive, structured set of aphorisms that encapsulate and update his prolific, lifetime contributions to apologetics, in the style of Ludwig Wittgenstein's celebrated Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Like Wittgenstein's earlier work, Montgomery's Tractatus does not tell the reader what to think but rather forces the reader to confront and radically rethink received prejudices that obscure the real issues. The singular greatness of the new Tractatus is that it not only distills many of Montgomery's earlier works, but shows their overall coherence and enduring relevance, with connections made to the recent work of Michael Behe, William Dembski, Gary Habermas, Mary Midgley, John Polkinghorne, Alvin Plantinga, Alvin J. Schmidt, Richard Swinburne and many others.

Montgomery's approach to apologetics is resolutely evidential, premised on the natural knowledge of God available even to unbelievers (Romans 1 and 2), and opposed to Barthian attempts to locate Jesus' salvific actions in a realm of supra-history (Geschichte), accessible by faith, but not by the methods of historical, legal and scientific investigation applicable to ordinary history (Historie). He nowhere suggests that one can reason one's way to faith, being very clear that personal faith is the result of grace alone, but nonetheless maintains that the cognitive claims of Christianity are capable of rational defense, and that the superiority of Christianity to alternative religions can be objectively demonstrated. Montgomery is unafraid of controversy and so it is likely that readers will sometimes disagree with his specific claims, but even here, they will appreciate the lack of obfuscation in Montgomery's presentation.

Like Wittgenstein's Tractatus, Montgomery's work is organized around seven major propositions, the first 6 of which are analyzed and defended by subsidiary propositions. Wittgenstein believed his work showed that ethics and religion belonged to a transcendent realm, and that there was no way to reach up to this realm from the scientific and logical world of demonstrable fact: for Wittgenstein, not only is it impossible to argue to the transcendent, one cannot even meaningfully speak of it. Thus his work ends on a forlorn note: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." By contrast Montgomery inverts Wittgenstein's dictum, triumphantly proclaiming: "Whereof one can speak, thereof one must not be silent." Montgomery's work offers a solution to Wittgenstein's problem, by defending the Christian claim that the transcendent has reached down to us and made itself plain. This indeed is the key to understanding Montgomery's views about everything: transcendent revelation is the only way to provide us with the objective, universal principles we require, whether we are doing history, ethics or the legal theory of human rights.

The Tractatus is a complex and compendious book, engaging both our reason and our heart. Lewis once compared Christianity to a "good infection"—an infection one will die from not getting—and the dynamic, affecting quality of this book is indeed infectious, to the lasting benefit of the reader. No serious student of Christian apologetics should be without this powerful, integrated manual and manifesto.

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