Friday, June 15, 2007

Thinking Like a Christian, Week 2: Philosophy (Part 1)

Of all the topics in the "Thinking Like a Christian" series, this has got to be the hardest to distill, in understandable, concise, and yet sufficiently thorough language, into a 40-minute S.S. lesson! The word philosophy, recognized by many as a Greek word meaning "love of wisdom", occurs only once in the entire Bible, in Colossians 2:8:

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
There are many "philosophies" out there. Some of them are almost comically erroneous; others are quite difficult to discern from truth. What are some important biblical truths about philosophy? I offer these observations:

1. The most significant and important philosophical truth in the Bible is that Jesus Christ is the Logos (Word) of God (John 1:1-4). Christ is the explanation for the universe and everything in it. Furthermore, all the Christian doctrines of God, creation, design, etc., etc. are consistent with the findings of science, history, and personal experience. The philosophies that "spoil" you will teach you otherwise.

2. The Bible does not ask the Christian to abandon reason in order to accept truth. Isaiah 1:18 reminds us: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Understood in the context of salvation (a rather important topic in the Bible!), God asks us to use our reason to understand not only our need, but also His provision and gift of salvation. A great truth! 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us of our Christian duty to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear," which again emphasizes our need as Christians to reason with biblical truth.

3. I offer this golden quote from Warren C. Young's book A Christian Approach to Philosophy:
"The crucial problem is that some thinkers place their trust in a set of assumptions in their search for truth, while other thinkers place their trust in a quite different set of assumptions."
Our set of assumptions is found in the Bible. Everything else is "vain deceit."

4. Christianity answers more of the deeper questions of life more completely than any other worldview. Again, this should not surprise us, since our philosophy and faith ought to founded in the Book which God Himself wrote.

5. Philosophy leads us astray when it is based on "vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." What should we do with such philosophies that lead us astray? Read 2 Corinthians 10:5:
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
Cast them away! Know that God wants you to intentionally remove such philosophies from your life whenever they might exert a control over you. (One extra word to parents: Teach this to your children by precept and example—every single day! Teach them that thinking biblically is good, and that following the world's thinking is not good—it must be "cast down"!)

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