Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reject Philosophy And Look To Christ Alone

Col 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. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, Col 2:10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority

Today our pastor taught from Col. 2:8-10. This portion of Scripture speaks about rejecting philosophies and empty deceitful words, and stick with the supremacy of Christ Jesus. Within philosophy lies psychology which is highly accepted among many professing Christians. In fact, many "churches" have relgated the MINISTRY of encouragement and exhortation, to professional "counselors" who in turn try to mix philosophy with Biblical truth--causing tremendous confusion and false hope, and worse, turn people away from the supremacy of Christ and the Scriptures. Here's what John MacArthur has noted and is worth thinking about:

MacArthur on Colossians 2

Verse 9, “For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form and in Him you’ve been made complete.” This refers to whatever systems men invent, whatever ideologies, philosophies, psychologies, theories, religions. And they’re innumerable, aren’t they? Cults and isms and schisms abound all over everywhere. Everybody’s got his own little hip-pocket idea of God and truth and Christ and how the Bible fits in, etc., etc., etc. Philosophers, authors, playwrights, novelists, academicians, movie producers, talk show hosts, psychologists, sociologists, religious leaders ad infinitum, ad nauseam have their opinions about everything. There is this endless verbosity, isn’t there, streaming across our radios and our screens and in the literature that we read from books all the way to newspapers and everybody has his view of life and everybody has his view of morality. And no matter what view you espouse and you put it in the column in the newspaper, there’s going to be a stack of letters to the editor and you’re going to have at least 15 people spinning their own thing in response to yours. No wonder people find it difficult to know where to land, to know what to believe in a world with so many opinions. And, of course, we now live in a post-modern world which means that there really is no truth, no true truth, no absolute truth. Everybody comes up with his own idea of what truth is and you’ve got your truth and you’ve got your truth...that’s great, I’m so glad you have your truth and I’m so glad I have my truth. And it’s just everywhere. And so, Paul says, “Look, see to it that no one takes you captive.”

It’s a rare word, sulagogeo, it means to carry you off like plunder. Sula is the word booty, treasure; ogo is to carry away, don’t let anybody haul you off, take you captive. It was used in later Greek writings, it’s rare around the biblical times, but it was used in later Greek writings to refer to kidnapping, or plundering a house, or seducing a maid, or taking people captive in a war. Don’t let anybody kidnap your mind, kidnap your soul, seduce or plunder you by philosophy, the study of wisdom, human reason. Don’t let anybody move you away from Christ by viewpoints, world views, values, morality, principles that come from human wisdom. He says this philosophy is empty deception. You could read it this way, “See to it that no one seduces you, plunders you, robs your soul through human wisdom, even empty deceit.” Philosophy is empty deceit. It is an empty lie. It is a delusion because it sounds good, it attracts the mind, it seduces the mind, it has certain properties of rationality, but it has no spiritual value at all. Why? Because verse 8 says it is according to the tradition of men. It’s human. If you want to know divine truth, if you want to know supernatural truth, don’t go to a human source. It’s that simple. Because all you’re going to get out of a human source is human wisdom. And human wisdom does not transcend time and space. It is just inadequate human thinking and, 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, the natural man understands not the things of God. How can he know them? They’re spiritual. They’re not in his dimensions.

It’s amazing how often people will say, “Well, I think this about God, and I think that about God.” Well just why would I believe what you think about God is authoritative? How did you, by the way, get out of your time/space environment to say that about God and think that you actually knew the truth? We’re talking about transcendent God, we’re talking about a God who is outside our world. I’m going to have to have information about God that He Himself has delivered. We live in a box, time/space box. We bang around in here and we draw all kinds of conclusions. But nobody ever gets out and God is on the outside. The only way we will ever know God is not that some of us can crawl through a hole somewhere and say, “Oh, you know, there He is,” it’s not going to happen. The only way we could ever know is if God invaded the box from the outside, and He did. And He gave us a revelation in Scripture, and then He gave us a revelation in human flesh, Jesus Christ. And that’s God bursting into our world.

What are you going to find out of philosophy? I’ve often said this about philosophy, philosophy is the search for the truth but you never find it. If they ever found it, class would be over. It would be over. So you get a degree for looking. It’s inadequate. You can’t get there from here. It is...he says further... “According to the elementary principles of the world.” It’’s earthbound. It’s just this system talking to itself. It’s not transcendent. It’s not from the outside. Rudiments means ABCs, it’s baby talk. It’s amazing to think about that. But you talk about a philosopher and usually you’re talking about the elite minds of any age, or any society, those who are the philosophers are usually considered to be the great brain trust, you know, the people who are off the chart on the IQ test, the geniuses who think in levels of complexity that stagger most of us. But the truth is, no matter how intelligent they are, no matter how capable they are of processing information and retaining it in their heads and sorting it through and drawing conclusions, they may stagger us with that, they’re still in the box and it’s nothing but the ABCs of the world. In a sense, it’s baby talk, the kind of thing you hear the mumbling, stumbling baby talk of one who hasn’t the capability to make any connection with the rational world. They think they’re advanced, they’re not. They’re primitive. They’re not advanced, it’s just the opposite, they’re retarded when it comes to truth. Human wisdom may be an exhibition of brain power but it has no ability to grasp the truth which is beyond human capability. And so what happens is, it’s proud about its baby talk and it is truthfully nothing more than the infantile musings of poverty-stricken minds. You can’t know the truth about eternity, you can’t know the truth about origins, you can’t know the truth about consummation of the ages, you can’t know the truth about heaven and hell, you can’t know the truth about the world of God unless God comes and tells you...and that’s what this is, a supernatural book. And He came not only in the truth written, but in the truth incarnate in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philosophy does not advance man, it goes the other way. It regresses him, it keeps him ever increasingly infantile. So beware of philosophy.

MacArthur says elsewhere:

“First Corinthians 2:9-10 says, "...Eye hath not seen [You can't discover truth by empiricism], nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man [You can't discover truth by rationalism], the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." Science is empiricism; philosophy is rationalism. According to 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, neither of them will ever discover ultimate truth.

The historian Schlatter says, "Everything that had to do with theories about God and the world and the meaning of human life was called `philosophy' at that time, not only in the pagan schools but also in the Jewish schools of the Greek cities." He is saying that the term philosophy was used of every single theory about God and the world in that era. It was the common term. So, anyone who had any new theory about God, or any new theory about the world--its origins, its meaning, and its destiny--was considered a philosopher with a philosophy.

Josephus, the historian of that day, has shown that any elaborate system of thought and moral discipline was called a philosophy. He says, "For there are three forms of philosophies among the Jews. The followers of the first school are called Pharisees, of the second Sadducees, and of the third Essenes" (Jewish War II. viii. 2). That leads me to think that the Essenes may have been propagating their philosophy in Colosse.

You don't need to be captured by philosophy--you can be complete in Christ. You can throw away human philosophy, all the traditional religions of the world, and all the man-made forms and theories. "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in Him..." (Col. 2:9-10a).

At the Fall of man, we fell into a sad state of incompleteness. An unsaved man is spiritually incomplete because he is totally out of fellowship. He is morally incomplete because he has no standard of conduct. Even if he did, he couldn't live up to it. And he is mentally incomplete because he is incapable of knowing the truth. So man is spiritually, morally, and mentally incomplete.

Jesus Christ enters the scene, and Paul says, "And ye are complete in Him...." In 2 Peter 1:4 Peter says, " might be partakers of the divine nature...." Think of it! You have become a partaker of the divine nature. A man instantly becomes spiritually complete and has fellowship with God. The life of God is now in him. He becomes morally complete; not because he is perfect practically, but because he recognizes the authority of God's will. He now has a standard and the energizing of the Holy Spirit to give him the strength to obey. And he is mentally complete; not in the sense of knowing everything, but in the sense of having the truth and the resident truth teacher--the Holy Spirit. Christians are partners in the divine life. What an incredible truth!

When you became a Christian, you received everything you needed. Peter says we have "all things that pertain unto life and godliness..." (2 Pet. 1:3b). You don't need any higher knowledge. You don't need the words of Mary Baker Eddy or Joseph Smith. You don't need the Book of Mormon. You don't need the words of Annie Besant, Madame Blavatsky, Judge Rutherford, or anybody else. You don't need Mr. and Mrs. Filmore or Sun Myung Moon to add to what you have. You don't need anybody because you are complete in Him.

Go here for a history and a look at the failing attempt of psychology by Dr. John Street.


Phil Perkins said...

Good article. This problem has been on my mind for years and I've thought about it a lot. One of the great temptations in "Christian" colleges and seminaries is the race to be more "cutting edge", "intellectual", "hip", etc. than your competitors. This is true of individual teachers, departments, and entire institutions. Even the students compete this way.

Here are two examples.
1. Cornelius van Til didn't understand the practical implications of the doctrine of regeneration. CVT was hyper-intelligent and I have two of his books in my library. A very gifted man. But he actually said that while he disagreed with Karl Barth's ideas, he couldn't say that KB wasn't a Christian brother. KB said that all people were "the elect", so KB was a universalist. That's another gospel. Paul said that if he preached another gospel he wanted his followers to count him as one among the damned. Galatians 1:8.

2. Ronald Nash said that until Plantinga, Christians had no answer for the problem of evil. How did Plantinga solve the POE? He said that evil is something God has designed into history and allows for some reason He has. So, God has a good reason for evil whether or not we know what that reason is.

Yet, if RN had read the Scripture regularly he would have understood that God allows evil to glorify Him, hammer the elect into Christ-likeness, display His wrath, display His mercy by contrast, display His power, etc. Exodus 7-10, Romans 8-9.

Don't misunderstand me. I don't hate these guys or think their work is useless, but it does demonstrate that they haven't stuck to Scripture really well.

The Scriputre says it's sufficient. Either it is or it isn't. Imagine what effect CVT could have had if he'd consecrated all that brain power to biblical teachings and study.

But then, he probably have become famous.

Just a thought,
Phil Perkins.

PS--This is one of the reason, I'm starting my internet Bible academy. This way good quality preparation for the pulpit can happen inside the churches. Just plug in. The pastor can participate, supplement, and monitor. So can anyone else in the church. This was young men can be trained without going head over heels in debt, without leaving their congregations and pastors, and can be discipled right there in their churches, where it should happen.

Think about it.

Denise said...

This is a very serious issue because so many intellectuals and their followers try to intergrate philosphy with Scripture and God says it can't be done.

Ron Nash, Greg Koukl and RC Sproul, among many others, try to do this with psychology. The foundation of psychology is humanism and the occult. Why would anyone try to merge the two....UNLESS their view of Scripture is a whole lot lower than they are willing to admit (but demonstrate nonetheless). Wht they end up doing is causing people to DOUBT God's Word. See:


Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Yet how many "scholars" say that "all truth is God's truth"? That is also a philosophy made up by someone. While I disagree with Doug Bookman and Dave Hunt on certain doctrines, they are right on this, as is Jay Adams.

Phil, when I am researching various professors/speakers I end up reading their biographies usually found at the seminary or conference they are at. Many times these men have doctorates in "Philosophy" or "Religious Studies" (RTS has a Philosophy department; Reformed Baptist Seminary has four profs (out of 14) that have degrees in Philosophy)I believe they infest their minds with so much garbage they can't tell the difference anymore between good and evil, for they violate Ps. 1:1-2.

Sadly, men think that Greek philosophy of logic can lead one to spiritual truth, but it can't. There's nothing logical nor rational about a virgin giving birth to a son. Logic and reason can't explain substitutionary atonement or the Trinity. These are spiritual truths that the flesh will never be able to grasp or explain.

I believe that Scripture is never enough for the scholar.

Phil Perkins said...

My first degree is in psychology. It isn't a science. Did you know that talk therapy does nothing in most cases? If you have a problem, talking with a close friend will give you quicker relief than spending thousands on a therapist. Studies have been published on this since I was in school in the late 1970's.

So, even if you forget the spiritual implications, therapy is really a scam. If a liver therapy had proved useless and a doctor still did it and charged money for it, he'd lose his license. A mechanic who does work that does nothing for your car is considered a crook.

Psychologists are crooks.


Stephen said...

Denise, Phil,

Amen, and Amen!

I've been checking this thread over the past few days (on my iPhone due to a heavy traveling schedule this week), and I've read the article a few times.

I haven't had too much time to comment yet, but if God allows time in the future I will.

Phil Perkins, forgive me if this question has an obvious answer, but, where can I learn more about your "internet Bible academy?"

Denise has my email if you need it. It is also somewhere on my Blogger profile (I think!).

Grace and Peace!