Phillip Cary

Professor of Philosophy

Fowler 305B

Dr. Cary is a philosopher married to a midwife (he thinks about the mysteries of life; she puts her hands on them).  He and his wife have three sons and two grandchildren.  His favorite theologian is Martin Luther, which means he feels quite comfortable in a high-church Anglican congregation where they love both Word and Sacrament.

Dr. Cary loves Luther because he thinks we know people by hearing their words, and that’s how Luther taught us to know God. He was writing a dissertation on this theme at Yale, while working on a double degree in philosophy and religious studies back in the early 90s.  He was planning to write a little chapter on the Augustinian background to Luther’s theology, but this grew into a whole large dissertation, which then grew over the years into three books on Augustine, who is endlessly fascinating and different from what he had expected.

Dr. Cary loves learning things by reading old books, and that is essentially what he teaches.  As far as he is concerned the best old book is the Bible, because it contains the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It always cheers him up to teach anything that has to do with the Gospel.  Consequently, he has written a theological commentary on the presence of the Gospel in the book of Jonah, as well as a little book based largely on conversations with his students where he hopes to lure them into trusting the Gospel rather than applying a whole slew of “practical” ideas to their lives—unbiblical ideas that do little more than make them anxious.  It turns out the Gospel of Christ tends to cheer them up, too. 


M.A. Yale University
Ph.D. Yale University
At Eastern Since 1998

Why I Teach at Eastern

It’s lovely to spend time in a classroom where teacher and students get to learn together how to think like Christians, which is one aspect of learning to be Christians.  Most universities wouldn’t allow this kind of thing; Eastern encourages and expects it.

Courses Taught

Western Civilization, Philosophy and Literature, Ancient Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, The Christian Mind, and Truth and Meaning.

Research Interests

Augustine, Luther, History of Christian Thought, Theological Interpretation of Scripture

Select Articles
  • “Augustine and Luther” in T&T Clark Companion to Augustine and Modern Theology, ed. C. C. Pecknold and Tarmo Toom (London and New York: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2013) 151-173.
  • “The New Evangelical Subordinationism: Reading Inequality into the Trinity,” in The New Evangelical Subordinationism? Perspectives on the Equality of God the Father and God the Son, ed. Dennis W. Jowers and H. Wayne House (Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012).
  • "Why Luther is not Quite Protestant: The Logic of Faith in a Sacramental Promise," in Pro Ecclesia 14/4 (Fall 2005): 447-486.
  • "Believing the Word: a Proposal about Knowing Other Persons," in Faith and Philosophy 13/1 (Jan. 1996): 78-90.