Christians sometimes look at philosophy with skepticism. Given some of the modern philosophies and recent history, that skepticism makes sense. The Apostle Paul after all does warn against falling prey to “philosophy and empty deceit” (Col 2:8).
Traditionally, however, philosophy (often) aimed to describe the world. It overlapped with medicine, physics, and ethics. It was a more totalizing thing, something that described how someone lived their entire life. In Paul’s day, that would have been the general way philosophy was understood. And in Antioch where Paul lived, philosophers would preach in the open spaces to persuade people to certain ways of life.
So one does not have to reach too far to understand what Paul means in Colossians 2:8. He does not want Christians to dedicate themselves to a way of life according to the tradition of men (κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπω) but rather to a way of life according to Christ (κατὰ Χριστόν). Paul did not here mean to dismiss mathematics, medicine, ethics, astronomy, and much more besides, which were all topics of ancient philosophy. He meant to warn people against a totalizing acceptance of philosophy (a way of living) that did not accord with Christ. [Read more…] about Is Philosophy Bad?