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Study Guide: Lesson 3
The Importance of Philosophy for Christians

Lesson Overview

In our last lesson for this module/week, we examined why developing the philosophical mindset is important for people in general. In this lesson, we want to ask that question specifically for Christians. What value does philosophy have for Christians? We will begin by examining the biblical basis for developing a philosophical mindset. We will discuss the biblical mandate for philosophy and three elements in fulfilling that mandate. We will then survey a number of roles that philosophy functions for Christians. Finally, we will examine the role that the Bible plays in doing philosophy.

Tasks

Read and take notes from chapter 3 of Philosophy: Critically Thinking about Foundational Beliefs, “What Athens has to do with Jerusalem: The Importance of Philosophy for Christians.” As you read, make sure you understand the following points and questions:

• Know the historical and literary background to Col 2:8. Paul starts this passage off with a Greek term “blepete” meaning “beware” or “be on your guard.” Then follows this with a strange phrase that literally means “to be carried off as booty” but here is probably meant more like “kidnap” The literal wording here is actually “philosophy and vain deceit” knowing the historical and literary context of this passage one can see that Paul is not condemning philosophy in general. He is contrasting two kinds of philosophy: one that is based on human traditions and the basic principles of the world and another that is based on Christ.

• Be able to explain Col. 2:8 (know what it says, but you do not need to memorize it). “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” Not only do we need to beware of deceptive philosophy, but we need to establish a philosophy that “is according to Christ” We need to contrast a Christen worldview.

• Identify the 3 elements in fulfilling the biblical mandate. Appreciation of the role reasoning plays in evaluating philosophies, construction of a Christian system of philosophy, and refutation of contrary philosophies. *Each of these requires the philosophical mindset.*

• Why do some Christians devalue the use of reason? First we need to appreciate the value scripture places on the use of our reason and intellect. Unfortunately, in much of the modern church, the opposite view is the case: many contemporary Christians devalue the use of reason. Much of this is due to the post-enlightenment view of the dichotomy between faith and reason. It is often asserted that religion is about faith, not reason.

• What does Jesus affirm about the use of reason?

• How does Acts 17 demonstrate the value of reason? • Know what I Pet 3:15 states (you do not need to memorize it). • What does II Tim 2:15 have to say about constructing a Christian worldview? • What are some elements of II Cor 10:5 that inform us that Paul is referring to philosophy here? • What are we all called to do? • List and explain the 5 functions of philosophy for the Christian. • Explain how hermeneutics is a philosophical endeavor. • How does philosophy help in systematic theology and developing theological concepts? • List 2 ways in which philosophy helps in the task of apologetics? • How does philosophy help in doing polemics? • How is the philosophical mindset effective in doing evangelism? • Explain the problems with the 2 extreme views of the role of the Bible in doing philosophy. • What are some reasons why Christians adopt an “erroneous view of the use of the Bible”? • Know the 6 guidelines for a critical use of scripture in doing philosophy. • Explain what is meant by critical and strategic use of scripture.

View and take notes of the presentation, “The Bible and Philosophy”.

Terms

Make sure you fully understand the following terms and concepts:

|Reasonable Faith |Evangelism |
|Ladder of Abstraction (footnote 67) |Myth of Neutrality |
|Hermeneutics |Proof-Texting |
|Theology |Supererogatory Act |
|Systematic Theology |Critical |
|Apologetics |Strategic |
|Polemics | |

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