Some people might wonder why we have a Philosophy section on our website.  Well the answer is fairly simple.  Philosophy has a profound impact on cultures and how people view life and reality.  Throughout the centuries philosophers have thrown ideas around in an effort to figure out the nature of the lives that we live and the world we live them in.  As a result, we have learned about math, astronomy, chemistry, gravity, physics … etc.  The concept of the atom originated with the ancient Greeks in the fifth century BC.  The Greek philosopher Pythagoras is credited with creating the Pythagorean Theorem in geometry.  Sir Isaac Newton was heavily influenced by the French philosopher Descartes, and went on to build the foundation for modern physics.

We have also developed concepts in the world of economics and political science as a result of philosophy.  The concept of democracy also originated with the ancient Greeks.  The English philosopher John Locke presented his views on the social contract, and influenced America’s founding fathers which led to the American Revolution.  A few years later the French Revolution was influenced by the French Philosopher Rousseau, who strongly contributed to the trend toward representative forms of government as opposed to monarchies and theocracies as had been the norm in 18th century Europe.  The German philosopher Karl Marx laid the foundation for the economics of communism.  The Chinese philosophy of Taoism has created a different worldview among billions of people in the East throughout the centuries, which has complicated East-West relations.

Philosophy helps us to develop critical thinking skills and logic.  It lays the foundation for biblical interpretation.  It gives us a frame of reference for a wide range of topics.  It helps us to separate truth from error, and it helps us to present the case for why we believe what we believe in a thoughtful, coherent fashion.

Theology has also had a profound impact on cultures.  Judaism established a monotheistic culture in ancient Israel when the world was primarily polytheistic.  Today most of the world is monotheistic.  Additionally, Judaism laid the foundation for the modern systems of civil and criminal law.  The invention of the printing press fueled the Reformation because the common people had access to the Bible for the first time.  As a result the West moved away from monarchies and theocracies toward the democratic model of government.

For the believer who wishes to share their faith with others, a basic understanding of philosophy is helpful because it enables you to understand the world view of the person you’re addressing.  Such was the case with the Apostle Paul when he addressed the Greeks at the Areopagus in Athens.  If you’ll read the account of this in Acts 17:22-31 you’ll see that he didn’t preach from the scriptures.  Why?  It wouldn’t have meant anything to the Greeks.  They weren’t into the scriptures.  They were into philosophy.  So Paul reasoned with them by quoting some of their own.

“Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;  for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:   “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.  And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,  so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;  for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Paul couldn’t have done this if he hadn’t familiarized himself with their culture and philosophy.  He found common ground with them so that he could persuade them.  We see this also in I Corinthians 9:19-22.

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

This is why it’s a good idea to know basic philosophy.  It helps you to relate to people from different cultures or educational backgrounds.

This is an excerpt from the University of Oxford’s website.

The study of Philosophy develops analytical rigour and the ability to criticise and reason logically. It allows you to apply these skills to many contemporary and historical schools of thought and individual thinkers, and to questions ranging from how we acquire knowledge and form moral judgements to central questions in the philosophy of religion, including the existence and nature of God and the relevance of religion to human life.

The study of Theology provides an understanding of the intellectual underpinning of religious traditions, and of the social and cultural contexts for religious belief and practice. It brings together a wide range of skills and disciplines, historical, textual, linguistic, sociological, literary-critical and philosophical.

Philosophy and theology both help you to learn a wide range of skills.  For the believer, the common experience of navigating through this journey of life can provide a launching pad for sharing the gospel.

 

 

Philosophy and Theology

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