Is All Philosophy Bad?

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It is written:

Proverbs 4:7-Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.


Proverbs 16:16-How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.


Ecclesiastes 7:12-For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.


Colossians 2:8-Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

I remember when I was in preaching school and learning about the subject of philosophy. My instructor pointed out to us that in its’ most basic form, the word “philosophy” means “worldview.” And, since every person has their own view of the world, then that means that every person is in one sense a philosopher.

Nevertheless, the question arises about Paul’s statement here in Colossians 2:8. Is he in this passage condemning all forms of philosophy?

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, he was addressing Christians who were being tempted to reject the way of Christ and accept either paganism or Judaism. It is especially worth noting that Paul’ specifies that Christ’s death on Calvary had removed the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Old Testament Law (Colossians 2:14-15). It is worth nothing here that the word “philosophy” was used by Jewish writers (and others) in the first century to describe Judaism.

“(c) Philo and Josephus, Jewish writers of the first century, both use the word ‘philosophy’ to describe Judaism, or particular parties within it, to pagans, 12 and there is no reason why Paul should not have done the same–particularly if his purpose here is precisely to describe Judaism as ‘just another religion’.” (N.T. Wright, Colossians and Philemon: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Book 12), 28 (Kindle Edition): Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic)

Paul’s condemnation of “philosophy” in Colossians 2:8 for used on those who attempted to bind Judaism on Christians during the Age of the New Covenant.

Regarding the nature of “philosophy,” we can readily see it is in its basic form a very good thing!

“”Philosophy” is difficult to define. The academic, professional discipline involves hard and skillful thinking about ethics, knowledge, life’s meaning, or what’s real (metaphysics). The Greek word philosophia literally means “the love of wisdom”-which isn’t a bad place to start. Scripture takes wisdom to be more than intellectual, rational, and theoretical. It can involve having a Ph.D. or a high IQ, but it doesn’t stop there. Wisdom involves knowledge that’s immensely practical, relational, insightful, and virtuous: it is a God-centered and God-drenched engagement of the world and personal relationships. Wisdom (Latin sapientia) is the skill or craft oflir ing-intellectually, morally, emotionally, spiritually, and creatively-in right relationship to God, human beings, and the world around us. True wisdom begins with “the fear of the LORD” (Ps. 111:10; cp. Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 15:33)-a humble submission to God’s revealed will and purposes for us (Prov. 15:33; 23:4; cp. Gen. 20:11).3 Wisdom-living sapientially-centers on being mindful of God, just as he is mindful of us (Ps. 8:4). Wisdom comes through first saying Yes to God, by placing our will into his hands, reorienting our lives under God’s direction and rule (God’s “kingdom”). Jesus the Nazarene is no mere prophet, the Scriptures shout, but is rather God’s own wisdom authoritatively revealed and embodied (Mt. 11:16-19; cp.Jn. 1:1-18 with Prov. 8:22-31).4 He epitomizes wisdom in his parables, sayings, and beatitudes-or, when enemies try to stump him, in declarations such as, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mt. 22:21, NIV). He makes this startling claim: “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Mt. 11:27). No wonder Jesus proclaimed himself greater than Solomon the wise (Mt. 12:42). Paul confirms this: all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Col. 2:3). Despite baffling questions, mysteries, and conundrums, we can still embark on the life-long quest for ever-deepening wisdom, using heart and mind for God’s glory and praise. With all of our limitations, wisdom-seekers can’t afford to be anti-intellectual, which would be a rejection of God’s gift to us. As hymnwriter F. R. Havergal wrote, “Take my intellect and use / every power as thou shalt choose.”5”. (Paul Copan, Loving Wisdom: Christian Philosophy of Religion, 2-3 (Kindle Edition); St. Louis Missouri; Chalice Press)

The truly wise man is he who chooses Jesus.

Colossians 2:3-in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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