Category Archives: philosophy
Joe Barnard in his forthcoming book The Way Forward: Clear Advice for Confused Men gives the following illustration from C.S. Lewis as Lewis powerfully describes his first encounter with the living presence of God in Surprised by Joy.
He says, “As the dry bones shook and came together in that dreadful Valley of Ezekiel’s, so now a philosophical theorem, cerebrally entertained, began to stir and heave and throw off its grave-clothes, and stood upright and became a living presence. I was allowed to play with philosophy no longer.”
We have been thinking through a few issues of an introductory nature that need to be discussed before we get into the specific subject areas of God, the Bible, Christ, the Holy Spirit, etc. [For those of you who like technical words, this area of study is called PROLEGOMENA, literally, “things you discuss first.”]
There are many of these preliminary matters to be considered. This morning we want to consider the issue of philosophy. “Philosophy” is the love of wisdom. How does philosophy relate to theology (the study of God and the things of God)?
The Apostle Paul says in Colossians 2:8- “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Philosophy can quite easily become theology’s enemy, especially if it elevates the thinking of fallen man above the infallible Word of God.
But notice that Paul warns against “hollow and deceptive” philosophy, not philosophy in general. If one’s philosophy is how one views life, everyone has one, and needs to have the best one possible!
We are not to put down good philosophy, but test it by the word of God. I love the quote from John Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Lyndon Baines Johnson: “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”
2 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.