- Truth is truth and all truth is God's truth for Jesus is the truth (Jn 14:6). We readily admit that all truth isn't found in the Scriptures. There are other areas of knowledge. For example we learn things from math, physics, biology, archaeology, history, and (oh yea!) Philosophy. 95% of this information cannot be learned from the Bible. That is not the intended nature of the Bible; it is not to a book to declare all knowledge. It is a book which can make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim 3:15). The Scriptures are a collection of God's words to us explaining His plan for the redemption of the world. But all truth belongs to God since He is the creator of this reality. There is no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5) and He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Therefore, the Church should not run from the truth we can learn from other areas of study, including philosophy, we should embrace them.
- God is the creator of the Laws of Logic. Therefore, we shouldn't be scared to examine them, use them, explain them, or teach them in the Church. Just like God gave us creativity and we would not suppress the artist so we should not suppress the philosopher. I like what St. Augustine said in On Christian Doctrine, "Moreover, if those who are called philosophers, and especially the Platonists, have said aught that is true and in harmony with our faith, we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it."
- Whereas philosophy only recognizes reason, theology recognizes reason and revelation. When we begin with philosophy we simply start with the basic laws of logic, examine nature, and then draw conclusions to this reality. On the other hand, with theology we begin with a set of presuppositions; that God exist, that He is active in our world, that He has revealed to us His will, that we can reason (we use logic intuitively), that we can know Him. We should view theology as the foundation of our worldview & philosophy as the mortar which can hold it together. Thus, philosophy is actually a compliment to theology.
- The Church is the pillar & support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). If any organization should be heralding truth it should be the Church. I don't know about you and your Church but as for me & the one I attend, we will proclaim all Truth. If God created DNA then lets rejoice in his wisdom, if He created the galaxies then lets stand in awe of his majesty, if He created our bodies then lets proclaim his creativity, if He created the elements then lets examine His wondrous works. The Church shouldn't be scared of any truth for it all points back to God. The mathematician, scientists, & philosopher should feel welcomed in the local Church. What a testimony it would be if a non-believer were to walk into your church & see multiple people who have earned PH.D in various fields all worshipping the God of the Bible?!?!
- Knowing the Laws of Logic actually helps us to interpret Scripture. Whether we know it or not we all use the laws of logic intuitively. For example we all use the Law of Non-Contradiction to simply communicate. If someone denies the law by saying, "I don't believe in it", you can prove that they don't by simply saying, "Yes you do". Once you go round and round a few times tell them they are using the Law of Non-Contradiction to Contradict you! They are arguing that they are right and you are wrong and that both propositions can't be right at the same time. But there are many other informal laws of logic that we use and should use when interpreting Scripture. Understanding these laws will help us develop our theology to be more clear and accurate. With the laws of logic we can detect our presuppositions and/or our contradictory theology. In future blog posts we will examine the different laws of logic and their examples in Scripture.
- It helps our evangelism. We are commanded to be able to defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15). Paul said that he became all things to all men so that he might win some (1 Cor 9:22). Not everyone has to become a scientist, historian or philosopher but some Christian needs to! We need Christians who are willing to study philosophy in order to answer bad philosophy. C.S. Lewis said in The Weight of Glory, "Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered."
- Philosophy can defend absolute morality. Have you ever heard of the moral argument? If not, click here to watch a short video. It is strictly a philosophical argument which helps point to a moral lawgiver; which we could say is God. Tell me this couldn't help support the Biblical worldview!!!
- Philosophy can demonstrate the existence and attributes of God. Did you know that you don't have to turn to the Bible in order to show that a Non-Created Being who has a mind created the universe from nothing, is powerful enough to speak things into existence, is creative enough to plan this reality, is the ultimate standard of morality, is spaceless/timeless/immaterial?!?! That sounds like the God of the Bible to me, but I didn't have to open the Bible at all to show it. I can do that from philosophy. With this ability it only adds validity to the Biblical statements of a personal God who created the universe by his power and is the standard of 'good'.
Some may object by pointing to Colossians 2:8, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." They argue that Paul was against Philosophy. But a closer look at the passage actually reveals this is a bad interpretation. The NASB translation does a good job at translating the preposition κατα (according to) accurately three times in this passage. The point is not that philosophy is bad per se. In fact we see three different types of philosophy in this text:
- According to the Tradition of Men
- According to the Elementary Principles of the World
- According to Christ
Can you think of any other ways Philosophy helps the Church?