Merold Westphal is a first rate philosopher. Whether digesting his work on Hegel and Kierkegaard, or following him in his phenomenological forays into religion and transcendence, one feels the force of his patient scholarship rather than any unconscious compulsion to stuff his topic into a prefabricated Christian world-view. Irrespective of one's religious tastes, one can learn from Westphal in his resolute attendance and respect for the matter he treats. When he does move in a more `confessional' vein, he informs his reader at the outset, and executes his project with eminent clarity and good will.
Beyond being a good philosopher in his own right, Westphal is one of the most creatively prudent Christian intellectuals in North America. This book, taken with his `Suspicion and Faith' (and many other relevant articles), has become launching points for the Christian entry into continental philosophy in the English-speaking world; mark my words: history will recognize the influence.
In this book, Westphal advocates for and executes a critical `appropriation' of so-called postmodern philosophy. Interacting with the likes of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Lyotard, etc., Westphal demonstrates for us (as he has so many times before) that patient dialogue yields more productive and critical insight than trite repetitions of reductive caricatures. He actually reads and justly interprets those thinkers he wants to both learn from and criticize. His defense of anti-realism, his rigorous distinction between mega- and meta-narratives, his insight into faith as an openness toward others, and the humility this requires, are but a few of many gems swimming throughout these pages.
This book is a must read for any Christian intellectual wishing to do rigorous, reflexive, creative, and relevant work in theology and philosophy of religion.