by Billy Dyer
To answer my title's question; NO!!! Philosophy and theology are not mutually exclusive? Actually, to say so would be a logical fallacy in and of itself called a false dichotomy. Space will not permit me to get on my soapbox here to tell you that reason is not the opposite of faith; sight is the opposite of faith (2 Cor 5:7). Philosophy can be a great tool of the Church. Here are 5 reasons we shouldn't be scared of philosophy:
1. 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.
2. 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."
3. 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.
4. 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…
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