How Do the Bible and Philosophy Interact?
by Bill Pratt
Some Christians have a negative view of philosophy, mostly, I think, because they don’t understand what it is and they see it being wielded against their most cherished beliefs. However, philosophy, properly understood, is not an enemy of biblical authority, but a great support.
Philosophy has been called by one Christian philosopher “the skill of thinking really hard.” The ancients thought of philosophy as the love of wisdom. Surely, if you are a Christian, you are not opposed to thinking really hard or the love of wisdom, but just how does philosophy practically interact with the Bible? To the person who says, “I don’t need philosophy; all I need is the Bible,” what can be said in response?
David Baggett and Jerry Walls, in their book Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality, provide some helpful ways to answer this kind of question.
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[T]rust in the reliability of scripture in the first place assumes trust in the experiences of those biblical writers whose written words God genuinely inspired. Without the requisite trust in those experiences, we are left without rational conviction in the authority of the Bible. Or take the choice of the Bible as authoritative rather than, say, the Koran; this selection, to be rational, requires that we have good reasons for believing the Bible to be God’s real revelation. Appeal to those considerations involves trust in reason, which involves trust in our ability to think philosophically.
So we need good reasons to trust that the biblical writers really experienced what they recorded. We also need reasons to believe that when the biblical writers contradict writers from other religious traditions, that the biblical writers can be trusted. These are not issues that can be resolved by appeal to the Bible. We need to think philosophically, or put simply, reason our way to these conclusions using logic, evidence, and argumentation…
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