Philosophy is the Greek word for the love of wisdom. For a Christian to understand philosophy, we need only understand that there is the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God. The love of God is the discernment gained to know the difference and make proper assumptions based upon faith and revelation. We believe, therefore we know, we hear and receive confirmation. There is a true philosophy of God that can harmonize human endeavors and the will of God.

Aristotle tells us that "It is right that philosophy should be called the knowledge of truth. For the object of theoretical knowledge is truth, whereas of practical knowledge it is action. But we do not know truth without some knowledge of its causes. Hence the principal of eternal things must always be most true, since they are not only sometimes true nor is anything else the cause of their being, but they are the causes of the being of other things." To a Puritan fundamentalist, words of this sort are mere babble and endless discussion, to those that love wisdom and can meditate with the spirit of God, it is divine knowledge of an eternal source.

Saint Augustine taught us to "believe in order that you may understand." No other faith in history is distinguished by such a long lasting and flourishing excellence of speculation on the nature of God and man as may be found in the works of the early Greek and Latin apologists and of such later thinkers as the Christian philosophers. It was Christianity that kept philosophy alive rather than the reverse. The Middle Ages, in the beginning, took up the Neo-Platonic and Augustinian idea of the entire identification of philosophy with theology. The wisdom was almost lost but revived through the Arab philosophers and again taken up by the church which led to a profound Renaissance in literature and theology and the dark ages came to a close.

There are of course others in which philosophy is abused or misunderstood. There are reactionary minds, narrow theologians and disdainful mystics in the church that condemn philosophy as useless, or if they admitted philosophy, they reduce it to the rank of a vassal and a serf of theology. In the 11th Century, Otloh of St. Emmeram forbade monks the study of it; they, he said, having renounced the world, must occupy themselves only with divine things. St. Victor went so far as to say that philosophy is the devil's art. As if the love of wisdom is not of God.

To make clear the origin of the formula, that "philosophy is the handmaiden of theology," should suffice to do justice in the matter but not for Christians destroyed for lack of knowledge. Paul wrote for us to "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Many fundamentalists have used this scripture to reject philosophy altogether and replace it with the tradition of men, false doctrine and endless arguments of their own. We are not warned to reject the study of philosophy but rather not be spoiled by false philosophy. We all have a philosophy; to reject philosophy is a philosophy in itself but not in wisdom. If philosophy is rightly and wisely used, it is able to pave and to guard the road to the true faith. It is able to prevent false doctrine and heresy and in its meditation is able to prepare the minds of its followers for the receiving of revelation."

It has been truly called by the ancients "an education leading to the Christian faith," "a prelude and help of Christianity" and is a proper schoolmaster for the gospel. The freedom of philosophy from dependence on theology rests then on solid methodological grounds. Hence they are both touched - the one more than the other of course - by the religious spirit.

Philosophy is for the most part, a preparation for theological studies. Anyone who has studied Saint Thomas Aquinas cannot but be convinced that philosophy is of a divine calling. That philosophy holds the place of honor in the complete cycle of studies, and that it is the topmost in the pyramid of knowledge should not be surprising. Proverbs: "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.. Wisdom cries without; she utters her voice in the streets: How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?.. For the Lord gives wisdom: out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.. When wisdom enters into your heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee..."

We are created in the image of God. If the imagination is to be stirred, if the intellect that God has given us is to work, if mental life is not to sink to a low ebb, and the pursuit of truth or justice, or self-fulfilment is not to cease, assumptions must be challenged - sufficiently, at any rate, to keep society moving. This is what development of the total person and progress of mankind depends on. The world is in a mess and we have ignorance to thank for it. And in this process, those who ask these disturbing questions and are intensely curious about the answers have an absolute central role in taking us out of ignorance. When they engage in this activity systematically and use rational methods which are themselves open to critical scrutiny, they are called philosophers. It is not our business to preach, exhort or praise or condemn, only to illuminate.

Philosophy aims to clarify and to explain. Bertand Russell once said that philosophy consists of the questions we don't know how to answer. Those who deny the competence and value of philosophy usually hold an extreme view of the fall of man according to which that of completely cutting off the human intellect from all ultimate reality and truth. Others hold that the image of God in man still persists, so that here and there in human existence we can still observe and experience its reality. Thinking in this way frees the soul and the spirit from the shackles of ignorance that the traditions of men have enslaved the church with.

Philosophy is not a doctrine in itself but a methodology of life, so the philosophers, for all the differences in their teachings, have more in common with one another than with anyone else, even their own followers. The tiny little band of men who participate fully in this way of life are the soul of the university. Because everyone wonders about the nature of things; we are all philosophers in this context. Thoughtful persons demand answers to the problems that are part of our very lives. All philosophy rises out of man's question about nature and his destiny. Philosophy is closely related to religion, most philosophers base their work chiefly on reason, the greatest of them use reason and faith together. The first Greek philosophers, like the scientists, shunned mythology. The first Greek serious with questions about existence was Thales.

The Greek word sophis meant a wise man in the good sense, but it came to mean a man with a clever mind and cunning tongue, a mental acrobat, a man who with glittering and persuasive rhetoric could make the worse appear the better reason. One has written that philosophy has been a failure; instead of confining itself to the better understanding of the world as given in experience, the philosopher has aspired to pass at one bound beyond it. If that is so, intellect is a miserable present for Nature to give us. But we are wise in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, if we in fact know Him and are walking according to truth. And we have the guidance of the Holy Ghost leading us to revelation knowledge, if in fact we have been immersed by Him. If you believe that you lack wisdom, above all things, pray for it because God will not deny you in this. Just ask for it. And do not listen to those who would lead you away from the love of wisdom with the traditions of men; calling it conservative religion, they would have you destroyed for lack of knowledge.
[10, 23, 45, Colossians 2:8, 46, 74, 151, 230, Proverbs, 233, 296, 375, 397, 399, 403]

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