Philosophy in Christian Education and Thought

2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Many good Christians evaluate the concept of Philosophy and wonder if its usage in Christian education is really necessary. Some even wonder if can be a Christian practice. These are certainly sincere dilemmas but they do seem to be flawed with a basic misunderstanding of Philosophy itself. Philosophy must not encompass necessarily all the trappings from the Classical to the Post-Modern types. This type of ideology is noticeable as well when you survey the course offerings of many Religious academic institutions; accordingly, many are absolutely void of Philosophy courses or seem reticent to say so. Mark W. Foreman of Liberty University has noticed and expressed this concern as well; however, he is only one of many who can see this famine of Philosophical teaching.

I am not naïve, Philosophy is not a cure-all. Nonetheless, it provokes and asks the question, “Why?” To some Philosophy is a pagan method and therefore should be void of Christian education. I feel this is due, as mentioned, to a fundamental misunderstanding of Philosophy and misapprehending the simple observation that Philosophy was used by pagans. Philosophy is closely linked with certain pagan figures in time; however, its usage is eclectic. Such great philosophers that were either theists or Christians were men like:

St. Anselm, William Paley, and C.S. Lewis contended for a Christian worldview. Other European philosophers such as Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal were similarly inclined in their philosophical constructions. Italians such as St. Ambrose and St. Thomas Aquinas have firmly placed philosophical arguments for the existence of God that are still taught, in principle at the least, in many Universities. The American philosopher Alvin Plantinga from Notre Dame, William Lane Craig, or Ravi Zacharias have given Christianity a firm footing in secular society—one that highly antagonizes the idea of God and Him as Creator.

First. It should be obvious then that decent and good men have used and proved the worth of Philosphy. It is NOT a purely pagan method. The founder of Modern Science—Francis Bacon—once stated, "A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." He also noted that “Knowledge is power.”

The term Philosophy simply means “the love of wisdom” (See Miller, Jensen). Philosophy is actually two Greek words, phileo and sophia. φιλέω or phileo means love and σοφία or sophia means wisdom (Newman). However, “have no illusions that this [definition] is not how one comes to understand it [philosophy].” (Miller, Jensen) Philosophy is best understood when viewed as a method to confront or explore a person or institutions ideas, theories, theologies, or etc. It must be participated in; it is not an abstract ideal that only Greek pagans held as dogma to their religious tenets—it is a method of speculation and/or analysis that leads to fruitful discussion and knowledge of God’s Creation.

Second, the thing we must understand is that Philosophy is a method that the most degenerate or simple of persons can enjoy. The most pious of Christians have philosophized in one way or another. To question one’s beliefs is to philosophize, to incorporate reason and deduction into doctrine to establish clarity is to philosophize. It is not the goal of Philosophy to square everything in a nice logical box. It is to make sense of all the data and information we have as thinking creatures, instituted thus by God Himself.

Third, the lack of such philosophical provocation can and will lead to divergent theology and presuppositions (often an inherent assertion/assumption believed without question). Christian Theology has taken a turn in the 20th Century that is fearful. Theology in general—the science or study of God—has always been diverse and eclectic. Christian Theology, however, amid its expulsed heresies, has arisen to a pure form—this is to the credit of one who asked, “Why?” The early 1900’s and subsequent years have helped to reshape the bulk of global Christianity. Statistics give very good favor to the growth and influence of the Pentecostal resurgence in the 1900’s. The Church will come full circle and God will parade His Bride.

Contemporary Christianity has experienced the like of Shelby Spong, David Koresh, The Jesus Seminar, and other various divergent thoughts and peoples. Spong “challenges […] the Church's position on human sexuality, the virgin birth, and the physical nature of Christ' resurrection. […]” (Westar Institute). David Koresh brought a “New Light doctrine” and placed himself as a prophet and adopted a messianic role that was essential to human salvation. “With his focus on the Book of Revelation, Koresh desired to create a new lineage of God's children from his seed, making him the perfect mate for all female adherents.” (University of Virginia) The Jesus Seminar was a quest under the Westar Institute to attempt to discover the real historical Jesus. Actually they discredit Jesus as the self-acclaimed God and his own certainty.

True Philosophy stands opposed to these divergent ideals. How do I know this? The answer is simple: Philosophy of religion seeks the ultimate reality. It seeks to know what is truly real. Accordingly, objectivity is paramount and is literally forced upon those who truly philosophize.

Fourth, Philosophy is inevitable. I am frequently amused by those who tell me to discard Philosophy. In his book A Preface to Philosophy, Mark B. Woodhouse lists 10 examples of the inescapability of Philosophy.

1. A neurophysiologist, while establishing correlations between certain brain functions and the feeling of pain, begins to wonder whether the “mind” is distinct from the brain.

2. A nuclear physicist, having determined that matter is mostly empty space containing colorless energy transformations, begins to wonder to what extent the solid, extended, colored world we perceive corresponds to what actually exists, and which world is the more “real.”

3. A behavioral psychologist, having increasing success in predicting human behavior, questions whether any human actions can be called “free”.

4. Supreme Court justices, when framing a rule to distinguish obscene and nonobscene art works, are drawn into questions about the nature and function of art.

5. A theologian, in a losing battle with science over literal descriptions of the universe (or “reality”), is forced to redefine the whole purpose and scope of traditional theology.

6. An anthropologist, noting that all societies have some conception of a moral code, begins to wonder just what distinguishes a moral from a nonmoral point of view.

7. A linguist, in examining the various ways language shapes our view of the world, declares that there is no one “true reality” because all views of reality are conditioned and qualified by the language in which they are expressed.

8. A perennial skeptic, accustomed to demanding and not receiving absolute proof for every view encountered, declares that is impossible to know anything.

9. A county commissioner, while developing new zoning ordinances, begins to wonder whether the effect or the intent (or both) of zoning laws makes them discriminatory.

10. An IRS director, in determining which (religious) organizations should be exempted from tax, is forced to define what counts as a “religion” or “religious group”.

To conclude this short hodge podge of thoughts I want to elaborate on the first point briefly. Have you considered your consciousness? Where does it reside? Is man merely material or material and immaterial? Philosophy helps us to know these things because the human consciousness is something that is not organic matter. It is an immaterial nature of man.

A philosopher who most likely would want to know more than he did states: “I tell you that to let no day pas without discussing goodness and all the other subjects about which you hear me talking and examining both myself [sic] and others is really the very best thing that a man can do, and that life without this sort of examination is not worth living.” (Plato).

True introspective examination and true Philosophy will purge thought. Philosophy will challenge ideals, it will dismantle dogma, and it will destroy heresy. Philosophy will help you think more rightly and it will help you understand your relationship with the Creator. Philosophy is simply what we participate in as we desire wisdom and knowledge, it asks “why?”

In every situation there is a right and a wrong thing to do. We must determine which one is right and indeed which one is wrong. Philosophy can get you there. To each of us some things will be clearly right or believable while other things are not. Each and everyone of us are confronted with such things daily. Philosophy begins with ideas, perspectives, and experiences that you and I already happen to enjoy. This is the on ly place to begin, if you want to get anywhere at all.

Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”


1. Foreman, Mark W. “Philosophy 201Liberty University” Lecture One

2. Miller, Ed L. Jensen, Jon. Questions that Matter: an Invitation to Philosophy. 5th Ed. McGraw Hill Pub. © 2004

  1. Newman, Barclay Moon. Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993.

4. Westar Institute, John Shelby Spong http://www.westarinstitute.org/Fellows/Spong/spong.html

5. University of Virginia Religious Movements Homepage, http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/bran.html#biblio

6. Plato, Apology, 38-A, tr. Hugh Tredennick, in Plato: The Collected Dialogues, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (New York: Pantheon Books, 1961).

7. Woodhouse, Mark B., A Preface to Philosophy, Wadsworth Publishing. Pp. 25-26

8. All words from Scripture are from the King James Version of the Bible.


More Worthwhile Quotes

Stephen Hawking proved mathematically that the Singularity is not in time or in space, but outside both. In other words, the Singularity is transcendent to space and time...In physics, all causal chains begin in the Singularity. The Singularity has no cause. For a thousand years and more, Christian theologians have asserted that there is on and only one "achieved" infinity, and that infinity is God...The Cosmological Singularity is God.

~Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Christianity~

It is likewise necessary to know that although the soul is joined to the whole body, there is yet in that a certain part in which it exercises its functions more particularly than in all the others; and it is usually believed that this part is the brain, or possibly the heart; the brain, because it is with it that the organs of sense are connected, and the heart because it is apparently in it that we experience the passions.

~Monroe C. Beardsley, The European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche~

An obsession with individual rights is destroying our society.

~Don Feder, A Jewish Conservative Looks at Pagan America~

In his desire for church unity, Constantine went out of his way to assimilate the heretics who insisted upon the splitting of the Godhead in to earthly and heavenly parts.

~John Romer, Testament-The Bible and History~


Assembly of God and the Holy Spirit

In his Systematic Theology, Stanley M. Horton editor, suggests some Pentecostals “are contending for an experience that is in some sense distinct from regeneration and also accompanied by the initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues.” The Statement of Fundamental Truths by the Assembly of God says the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit "is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth," they claim that the proof of this is provided in the Book of Acts.

Upon reviewing the Acts accounts it seems the distinction is lacking. It seems to be elusive at best for such a pivotal principle in soteriology. The text of Scripture does say that without the Holy Spirit we are none of His.

In Acts 1:8 we see that the "Holy Ghost is come upon you," (AV) in Acts 2:4 filled with the Holy Ghost,” in Acts 2:17 "pour out … Spirit," in Acts 2:33 "received the promise of the Holy Ghost," and in Acts 2:38 the "gift of the Holy Ghost." All of these phrases and occurrences refer to the same event, and same experience that was accompanied by speaking in tongues. Luke never records that “they were baptized with the Spirit”. This is the faux pas of those who hold to a distinction of infillings. The Scriptures more often than not suggest that they received the promised Holy Spirit (See 1:4-5; 1:8; 11:15-16; 2:4; 2:16-17; 2:33; 2:38-39).

In Acts 8:15 they "receive the Holy Ghost," and in verse 16 it indeed has "fallen upon … them," and this same experience, in verse 20, is a "gift of God." Notice that all of these refer to the same event. In Acts 10:44 the "Holy Ghost fell on," Cornelius and his household. In the same chapter, verse 45, it was identified thusly "poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost,". Yet two verses later, in verse 47, it says that they "received the Holy Ghost." These all refer to the same event within the context of each chapter. Interestingly enough, when Peter began explain what had happened, he said that Cornelius was "baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 11:16).

From the account of Luke, in the Book of Acts, we do not see a separating distinction between two types of receiving the Spirit--at least in how it is described with such interchangeability. Man must be born again and he must be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Paul makes this clear in Romans:

Romans 8:9 KJV, But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

What are the implications of such a doctrine being present in a movement that is rooted, historically at least, in Pentecostalism? What then of the over 3/4 not filled with the Holy Spirit evidenced by tongues within such a movement? They are yet sinners in the hands of an angry God. His wrath has not been satisfied against them. They need an Apostolic experience such as was on the Day of Pentecost.


Horton, Stanley, et al Systematic Theology © 1994, 1995 by Gospel Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Bruner, Baptism 61, 69. Minutes of the 44th Session of the General Council of the Assemblies of God with Revised Constitution and Bylaws (Springfield, Mo.: The General Council of the Assemblies of God, 1991), 129.

Albert Louw: Physical Constants

There are, in nature, a number of physical constants designated by letters that are common to all scientists world wide. Here are a few:

• e: the basic unit of electric charge associated with an electron. Electrons are the particles moving around the positive nuclei of atoms.
• m: the mass of the electron.
• c: velocity of light in vacuum.
• h: Planck’s constant, a very important constant associated with energy.
• G: the gravitational constant associated with the force of attraction between material bodies.

If such constants did not have the precise values that they do possess and did not stand in relation to one another (in size), in the way they do, then the programme that ultimately led to life on planet earth, indicated in the sketch, could not have taken place.

Alberts, Louw. (1997, c1996). Christianity and the enquiring mind:Essays on the compatibility of the Bible and the findings of science. Also available in Afrikaans. Vereeniging: Christian Publishing Co.

More Worthwhile Quotes

President Calvin Coolidge in his Innaugural Address commenting on American Government:

"No ambition, no temptation, lures her to thought of foreign dominions. The legions which she sends forth are armed, not with the sword, but with the cross. The higher state to which she seeks the allegiance of all mankind is not of human, but of divine origin. She cherishes no purpose save to merit the favor of Almighty God."

Inaugural addresses of the Presidents of the United States : From Washington to Clinton. 1998. Oak Harbor WA: Logos Research Systems.

"A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." ~ Francis Bacon ~

"...the dirty secret of Planned Parenthood is this: its founder, a one-time nurse named Margaret Sanger, believed that America needed “to cut down on the rapid multiplication of the unfit and undesirable at home” through methods of eugenics. Merriam-Webster defines eugenics this way: 'a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.'

Much evidence points to Sanger being a racist. To stop the “multiplication” of those she saw as unfit, Sanger sought to halt “medical and nursing facilities to slum mothers,” as she wrote in her book, “The Pivot of Civilization.” (Of course, we cannot depend on our so-called mainstream media to report on Sanger’s shameful writings.)" ~Jonathan Falwell~

Some people, even a few Pentecostals, believe in a village god. A god that is created and sustained to meet their needs. It does not reach out and does not transcend their current crisis most of the time. The closer we get, as a collective, to sole human reasoning as a guide in our society the closer we return to dark ages or when men grope in darkness and not knowing.

Mark Twain, in his writings about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, alluded to a gilded era that believed they were really getting something. Ever whitewash a fence for an apple core? How much was that entry fee to Barnum Bailey back then anyways? He saw that as a picture of his times but I see it in Christianity too. Too many Christians are satisfied with thin or superficial relationships with God and His Word. When we shout it better be more about Him rather than our desperation to pay the bills or get out of "trouble" card. ~ JN Anderson~

To be ignorant and simple now - not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground - would be to throw down our weapons, and betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory p. 50

The Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, and for the People.? ~ John Wycliffe ~

The Moral of the Story: Casting Lots for Matthias?

In Acts 1:12-26, we find the Disciples of Jesus wrestling with the problem of Judas who was once part of the 12, yet now has become one who has ended his life with suicide (Matthew 27:3-10). Sounds like an "only serious applicants need apply" type job. Judas, after all, was the treasury for the the 12 Disciples (John 13:29).

In vs. 24 they all prayed and then proclaimed that the “Lord knew everyone’s heart” (NRSV). They then beseech the majestic wisdom of God and the Holy Spirit to “show” them which one He would choose, Justus or Matthias. The “respectable precedent in Hebrew sacred history” of casting lots was used for God to overrule their opinion since either man was probably worthy of the calling.

F.F. Bruce noted that there is no “NT example of this procedure after the descent of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost; this may or may not be significant.” This is a unique happening in the literary corpus of the text of Scripture. In their minds, they were essentially leaving it up to God. Bruce also notes Proverbs 16:33 which possibly influenced this custom or occasion in Acts 1:6:

Proverbs 16:33, The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. NIV

One commentator-Kenneth O. Gangel-suggests that the casting of "lots" by the Disciples is a “sovereign election…they prayed directly for God’s will and he gave it.” Notice, there does not seem to be any wrongdoing in the method’s and processes of the Disciples. These were men bereft of their Messiah, betrayed and even offered up by one of their own—Judas Iscariot the "assassin" from Kerioth. Their using of lots was possibly an indicator that they were at least willing to allow God to overrule what they, even as a collective, might have wanted.

Later we realize that the number 12 was hardly a number held to since Paul and Barnabas both are added to the number. Even when James, the brother of Jesus was killed by Herod (12:1) there was no casting of lots. Here we see the only reconstitution of the 12 given us in Scripture.

I think there is a pattern here. I am not sure exactly how much divinity we should invest into all our choices but I do believe that we still have the capacity for human error. I believe we must pray and be willing for God to intervene. That is the attitude of the Disciples, at the very least.


Gangel, Kenneth O. Holman New Testament Commentary-Acts of the Apostles © 1998 Broadman & Holman Publishers Nashville, Tennessee pg. 10

Bruce, F.F. The New International Commentary on the New Testament-The Book of Acts Wm. B. Eerdman Publishing Company Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA Reprinted February 1980 pg. 51

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)