Why Christians Should Not Be Afraid of Philosophy

PhilosophyI remember during my undergraduate degree, having only recently become a Christian, a friend of mine telling me if I took a philosophy course, I would be convinced there was no God. I never did take that philosophy course (although I have read widely in philosophy), but not out of fear of losing faith.

There are Christians who are suspicious of philosophy and who possibly fear philosophy as a faith-killer. I came across this quote by one of the church fathers, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), that I think is very helpful:

But the multitude are frightened at the Hellenic philosophy, as children are at masks, being afraid lest it lead them astray. But if the faith (for I cannot call it knowledge) which they possess be such as to be dissolved by plausible speech, let it by all means dissolved, and let them confess that they will not retain the truth. For truth is immoveable; but false opinion dissolves. (Stromata 6.10)

Truth is truth and no philosophy can change that. Study that is aimed at the truth will only reveal what is within us that is not true. For Christians, this may change some of their Sunday school faith, but it should lead to a solid and rational faith in Christ.

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4 thoughts on “Why Christians Should Not Be Afraid of Philosophy”

  1. Thank you for sharing the criticism you have received. When I was in university many many years ago I took a philosophy course. The professor encouraged me to change my major to philosophy because he found the Christian position challenging various philosophies was both stimulating and enriching to the class. It was awesome to share God’s way, presence, design and purpose in that class. U of O is my alma mater – very secular university – most often opposing faith. What we believe and how we present our faith is crucial – I am pleased with your posts – keep on!

  2. I couldn’t agree more, Stephen. In all my studies of scripture, I’ve never found a charge for followers of Christ to have a “blind faith.” Rather, everywhere faith is described in the Bible, it is described in the context of acting in the knowledge of God’s goodness. This knowledge is achievable and attainable. Philosophy isn’t something Christians should shy away from. Instead, it is simply a battle ground upon which, when presented in a bold yet gracious way, Christian thought will always prevail. This is because Jesus is the Truth.

    “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ.”
    Colossians 2:8 CSB

    “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.”
    1 Peter 3:15‭-‬16 CSB

    Keep up the good fight, brother.

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