Posts Tagged ‘apologetics’

Why Christians Should Learn Philosophy

// July 27th, 2013 // No Comments » // Apologetics

I’ve learned a lot of apologetics over the years and love everything I learn. One area that I would like to study to better equip myself for tackling the odd logic of our day is Philosophy. How many times have you shared the Gospel with someone and they say this, “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist,” and wonder how they could ever get such a conclusion?

There’s nothing new under the sun, really. This is actually a direct quote from the 1900’s by the German nihilist philosopher Friedrish Nietzche, which I’ve just read quoted in a letter from Dr. R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries. It’s simply relativism. R.C. Sproul said about this quote, “Few people today understand that their relativism can be traced directly to the influence of Nietzsche and philosophers like him. Such is the power of ideas. The ideas developed in the [ivory towers] of academia inevitably find their way to the street and shape the commitments of the common man.” What I think that R.C. Sproul is saying is that Nietzche’s quote is pure relativism, a certain defined philosophy that’s crept into prominence in the pop-culture of our day that previous pop-culture was not dominated by.

If you’re like me the very first verse that you think about whenever you hear the word Philosophy is, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8.

For months when I was first saved this verse made me keep from learning about Philosophy at all. I saw it as dangerous. This is the only verse where the word “Philosophy” appears in the New Testament, though we find Paul mentioning philosophies elsewhere (such as Acts 17:18 mentioning Epicurean and Stoic Philosophers, and that John was written contra to a lot of the gnostic teachings of 1st century, from what I remember). But what the verse is saying is to don’t let anyone deceive you using philosophy. It means don’t let anyone use philosophy against you. It’s not saying that philosophy is bad. I think we can say that it’s useful to learn in order to be able to spot when others are misusing/abusing philosophy.

John MacArthur in his study bible says, “[The words takes you captive] is the term for robbery. False teachers ar esuccessful in getting people to believe lies, rob them of truth, salvation and blessing. ‘Philosophy and empty deceit’ …the word [philosophy] referred to more than merely the academic discipline, but desccribed any theory about God, the world, or the meaning of life. Those embracing the Colossian heresy used it to describe the suppoed higher knowledge they claimed to have attained. Paul, however, equates the false teachers’ philosophy with ’empty deceit’; that is, with worthless deception… Far from being advanced, profound knowledge, the false teachers’ beliefs were simplistic and immature like all the rest of the speculations, ideologies, philosophies, and psychologies the fallen satanic and human system invents.” Verses 9 and 10 of Colossians 2 then focus on how the believer is complete in Christ, and that they don’t need some spurrious, secretive knowledge that’s being kept from them as the Colossian Heresy may have spoken about.

I think we can use philosophy as a tool to introduce Biblical truth — to be able to discuss a vain, worldly system of thinking in light of what the Holy Spirit inspired written Word has to say, to keep philosophy philosophy and the truths of the Word the truth — to sort it all out and make things less confusing for this world.

This is moreover what R.C. Sproul had to say about relativism:

“In the discipline of philosophy, we study the fundamental thoughts and commitments that shape one’s view of the world. Many people today look down on the study of past thinkers as useless or, at best, impractical. As Christians, we can’t afford to think like that — the stakes are too high. A working knowledge of philosophy is actually one of the most useful and practical tools for evangelism and apologetics.

If we know our audience’s fundamental thoughts and commitments, we can meet people where they are with the gospel and show how Christianity alone can fully account for truth, ethics, and beauty. Understanding the ideas of the great philosophers equips us to give an intellectually compelling answer for our Christian hope.

…You may not know this, but my Philosophy 101 class in college convinced me of the importance of philosophy for defending the faith and helped launch my career as an apologst. In order for us to continue helping the church to equip believers as apologists who can defend the faith wherever”

I think that Philosophy is important because it gets you to study history and the thoughts that they had during particular time-periods, and we as Christians can learn how to reply to those historical thoughts with biblical truth, which is where philosophy becomes useful. (Because as one old addage states, when we don’t learn history we usually repeat it.)

There’s one book on my bookshelf which I haven’t read and wished that I had the time to read. It’s called Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life, written by a non-Christian, but the information is important to our day. I wish that there was an equivalent to this book that Christians can pick up and read and learn how to even better listen to the objections of our day to the gospel and begin to form reasoned replies. I actually own Greg Koukl’s Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions but haven’t read it yet. Maybe that’s such a book. Maybe one day when I don’t have so many deadlines and exam-dates I can read it. lol



Note: R.C. Sproul is actually offering a series called The Consequences of Ideas: An Overview of Philosophy when you donate any amount to their ministry. I recognize how important that is. So, I’m ordering it (for future review when the time’s given to me to go over it, of course). The offer expires I think at the end of September.