I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One Good Reason for Developing a Philosophical Mindset

For all you Liberty students taking PHIL201 and finding this page by googling one form or another of your second discussion board topic, if you find this post helpful, take the time to drop a comment.  I'd love to hear from you and where your going with school. KLS.

One good reason for developing a philosophical mindset is that, philosophy helps us to define and clarify what we and others believe. Moreover, I have three reasons to believe this is a sufficient cause to culture a philosophical mindset.

First, for Christians, there is eternal significance in defining and clarifying one’s beliefs. In creation, God, whose mind is the final residency of the real, rationality, unity, coherence, et cetera, created humans in his image to reflect his rationality and glory in the world and so view it aright. Adopting and engendering a view of God, the world, and ourselves as his creatures, is a fundamental step in correctly reflecting God’s image. However, since man’s fall, our natural tendency is to throw of God’s view of things and create false epistemological constructs and pseudo-realities, wherein we ourselves become the ultimate authorities in predicating the real, the right, and the reasonable. Through the redemption in Christ, we are rescued from the futility of our self-idolatry; we are renewed in true knowledge after the image of him that created him (Col 3:10), given the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), and are thus enabled to again love the Lord our God with all our minds, thinking God’s thoughts after him (Mk 12:30). Finally, for the Christian, developing a philosophical mindset is an integral part of continually growing in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18); it is a discipline within the sanctification process.

Secondly, with respect to others, be they authors, movie producers, bloggers, or the next door neighbor, defining and clarifying the beliefs of others is critically important. Regarding beliefs and entire belief systems, there is no neutrality in one’s relation to God (Lk 16:13). Christ is the ultimate dilemma, one is either for him or against him; neutrality and middle ground are excluded (Matt 12:30). Everyone’s beliefs are therefore covenantally conditioned by their relationship to God. One will have either Christ speaking in his self-attesting word as their ultimate epistemological authority or will surrogate himself or herself as that authority. A philosophical mindset helps the Christian examine and systematize the corollaries and consequences of the innumerable non-Christian worldviews, which make up the philosophical ambiance and spirit of our age.

Third, then, is the profit of a philosophical mindset in the relation of the two antithetical views expressed in the two points above. By aiding us to define and clarify both our own and the beliefs of others, developing a philosophical mindset helps to detect and avoid the temptation of syncretism, the dangerous admixture of humanistic, materialistic, or otherwise antagonistic beliefs incompatible with Christian presuppositions. We hereby avoid the sin of “double mindedness” (James 1:8; 4:8; cf. Ps 119:113). Furthermore, on the one hand, by being enabled to define and clarify beliefs, Christians are in a much better position to defend and commend the gospel and the worldview in terms of which the gospel makes sense. On the other hand, we are better equipped to understand and deconstruct the non-Christian worldviews that are raised as strongholds against the knowledge of God in Christ (2 Cor 10:4, 5). Cultivating a philosophical mindset equips Christians to answer the folly of competing worldviews without becoming foolish themselves (Prov 26:4, 5).

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