Is all philosophy bad?
Can I confess something? As an christian leader and minister, one verse that many people interpret a certian way has really bother me for many years. Here is 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.
We have used this to mean that all philosophy is bad but that is not what it says. It says that philosophy depending on the traditions of men is bad. There is a place for Christian thinkers in philosophy. You know some of our thinkings concerning various elements of theology is just as depended on traditions as some of the secular philosophers.
A while back, I was talking with a woman that believed that Sunday School was something that Jesus commanded us to do. Why did she think that? It was because she grew from 9:30 to 10:30 on Sunday mornings going to class to learn the Bible. It was not a biblical concept but rather a tradition of men that is only about 150 years old. The issue was not Sunday school with her but she was joined at the hip to “that ole Pentecostal religion.”
However, I believe there is some really good understanding we can gain from guys like Søren Kierkegaard, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, and Jacobus Arminius. I even believe we can gain some understanding from guys like Plato, Aristotle, and Hippocrates. By no means do I support everything these secularists embraced but I also believe there are some some things they understood than Americans today desperately need.
Take for example, Plato’s understanding called “Allegory of the Cave” that in 1998 became a Jim Carrey Movie called The Truman Show. The basic theme of the doctrine is:
Plato imagines a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of the cave entrance, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.
Sound familiar? Yes, it should for us believers. That is the imaginary of conversion that Paul talked about in 2 Cor 5. As you can see, not all philosophy is bad, just what is based on man’s traditions instead of biblical beliefs.