The world seems to be filled with philosophies, “The rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct” (Dictionary.com). Unfortunately, what is rational for one person might be fantasy to another. As believers it is perfectly rational to believe in a Creator who is all-powerful and all-knowing. To others it is fantasy because they fail to see beyond their own capabilities.
The world has always celebrated great thinkers, people who try to bring to light the complex questions of the world. In ancient times people like Plato and Socrates and Aristotle were celebrated for their wisdom, in more recent times it’s been people like Immanuel Kent, Nietzsche and Decartes. The world loves to discover, and they love those who can bring them to the next path of enlightenment.
As we humans are prone to do, however, we sometimes think too much, even so far as to try and rationalize God out of existence. Philosophizing is good, necessary even. But when it goes so far as to limit itself to its own humanness, it tends to make man its god thinking that by human ability alone we can figure out all the complexities of creation.
God through the Apostle Paul warns us of those who attempt to limit human thinking when He says in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
This is not a call to stop philosophizing, it is one that warns us of those who would try and convince you through human rationality that God is not a part of the equation of existence. He calls deceitful those who rely on the world for their answers and not the Spirit of Christ who did what He must to set things right.
Again, God says through Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:10-13, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” Through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Spirit imparts upon us a wisdom that can only come from God. Within the pages of Holy Scripture are found the answers to all of life’s most complex questions.
The devil knows that it’s all too easy to paint over the wonders of God with human self-centeredness. He knows that its is our old Adam’s natural inclination to want to achieve wisdom apart from God. Adam and Eve proved that at the dawn of human existence.
But God also gave us the freedom to choose whose philosophies to follow and the ability to make the right choice. He has given us power to “Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “Knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20). He has instilled in us enough wisdom to “Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless” (Titus 3:9).
By God’s Holy Spirit we have been given the gift of godly wisdom and that is where our philosophizing should start. Again, it is good to speculate and wonder about all the complex questions of existence, but our answers have to start with God and not attempt to think Him out of the equation. The more we in-take the wisdom given through God’s Spirit, the more the answers to the questions we seek will come to light.
Our example can be found again in the words of Paul when he said, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, instill in us the wisdom to answer every question we have in life through Your Holy Spirit. Help us to resist the worldly philosophies that exclude you as we boldly proclaim your truth. Amen.