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Proofs of God

Classical Arguments from Tertullian to Barth

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Leading theologian Matthew Levering presents a thoroughgoing critical survey of the proofs of God's existence for readers interested in traditional Christian responses to the problem of atheism. Beginning with Tertullian and ending with Karl Barth, Levering covers twenty-one theologians and philosophers from the early church to the modern period, examining how they answered the critics of their day. He also shows the relevance of the classical arguments to contemporary debates and challenges to Christianity. In addition to students, this book will appeal to readers of apologetics.


1. Patristic and Medieval Arguments for God's Existence
Gregory of Nazianzus
John of Damascus
Thomas Aquinas
William of Ockham
2. Reformation and Enlightenment Views
John Calvin
Michel de Montaigne
Francisco Suárez
René Descartes
Blaise Pascal
David Hume
Immanuel Kant
3. Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Responses
John Henry Newman
Maurice Blondel
Pierre Rousselot
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange
Martin Heidegger
Karl Barth


"This is the best kind of book: intellectually serious, lucid, and covering a topic of great importance and perennial interest. Levering's interlocutors range in date from the second century to the twentieth, and he is a judicious and lively interpreter of them. For a reliable depiction of the Christian enterprise of thinking about reason and the question of God's existence, this is the book to read."

Paul J. Griffiths, author of Intellectual Appetite: A Theological Grammar

"A splendid survey; ideal for students and for the intellectually curious of every vocation. Levering fits an enormous range of information in a small space without any sacrifice of detail or clarity."

David Bentley Hart, author of The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss

"Levering's work is a careful, scholarly treatment of the history of attempts to argue for and against the existence of God. Levering recognizes the limits of such arguments and understands that they do not provide the kind of knowledge of God that Christian faith considers necessary for true relation to God. Nevertheless, he defends the value of such arguments as pointing to a mystery and majesty that requires Christian revelation to fully understand. The book is especially good in retrieving the contributions of patristic and medieval thinkers and gives a helpful account of the work of more recent thinkers, such as Maurice Blondel, Pierre Rousselot, and Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, who are often ignored in contemporary Anglo-American philosophy."

C. Stephen Evans, University Professor of Philosophy and the Humanities, Baylor University

"Matthew Levering's panoramic, well-documented Proofs of God is a wonderfully insightful and wisely argued defense of theistic proofs. Whether or not one fully embraces the arguments for classical theism, this philosophical and theological survey of the natural theological terrain from antiquity to the present is a truly impressive work on the most important topic of all--the existence of the God in whom we live, and move, and have our being and the One with whom we have to do."

Paul Copan, Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University

"This fantastic tome serves as an essential road map to the most important thinkers in the Western tradition of natural theology. Levering provides the historical context for each thinker and expertly summarizes their work with precision and depth. Especially beautiful is the way he integrates this multimillennial conversation into the most important questions of human life. Without a doubt this book will be used with great success in philosophy and theology courses as an indispensable point of entry into the seminal texts on God and his existence. No philosophy or theology bookshelf should be without this gem."

Michael G. Sirilla, director of Graduate Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville

"Demonstrating a wide knowledge of the tradition and contemporary literature, Matthew Levering makes a significant contribution to the contemporary debate about atheism and the possibility of rationally demonstrating the existence of God. This fascinating account of the multiple attempts by brilliant thinkers over the centuries to show the rationality of belief in God is a uniquely original contribution that many will find of interest."

Ralph Martin, STD, director, Graduate Theology Programs in the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Archdiocese of Detroit

"In this extremely helpful book, Matthew Levering offers what is perhaps the best contemporary historical overview of the major positions on the subject of natural knowledge of God. His responsible and deeply insightful analysis of early Christians, great Scholastics, Enlightenment skeptics, and influential moderns produces an extremely varied tableau but also brings these diverse positions into effective conversation with one another. The book offers a strong defense of the contemporary importance of natural theology and its intellectual viability. This traditional position, largely eclipsed in modern Christian theology, is of vital significance to Christian intellectual life and Levering illustrates magnificently why and how this tradition can flourish today."

Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP, Thomistic Institute, Washington, DC

"Proofs of God is excellent. Matthew Levering has provided a much-needed resource that will greatly facilitate the rediscovery of neglected Christian thinkers in the history of natural theology."

Edward Feser, associate professor of philosophy, Pasadena City College

The Author

  1. Matthew Levering

    Matthew Levering

    Matthew Levering (PhD, Boston College) is the James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, in Mundelein, Illinois. He previously taught at the University of Dayton. Levering is the author of...

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