Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Philosophical Thieves

"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." (Colossians 2:8)

The word "spoil," in old English, meant to rob or plunder. A conquering army would go through the town, taking for themselves whatever they wanted, thus spoiling the land. Paul is saying that the philosophy of this world can do the same thing, if we allow it—spoil, or rob, us. This spoiling often disguises itself as the rediscovery of ancient truths (“tradition of men”); but the watchword from the apostle is “Beware.”

We worry that our young people in state universities will absorb the teachings of philosophers like Plato, Rousseau, or Nietzsche. But they are far more apt to embrace the philosophy of the media and their own peers—New Age distillation of old age fallacies. And, as I said, this is especially sinister, because it doesn't come across as philosophy at all, but, rather, things like "social-consciousness," “self-awareness,” cosmic consciousness,” or "twelve steps to success."

What will this world's philosophy rob you of? Here's a short list that comes to mind immediately:

--- your ability to reason without emotion
--- your incentive for excellence without recognition
--- your grasp of the value of honesty over expediency

Of course, the most tragic aspect of the plundering done by "vain philosophy" is its chipping away at one's faith in the Word of God. I don't like to be robbed, but I especially resent it when someone tries to rob me of something very dear to me. My mind, my heart, my integrity, my good name, my absolute faith in the authority of God and His Word—these are all precious beyond measure to me. And I refuse to relinquish them for any amount of eloquent, ear-tickling speech, based on faulty reasoning and New Age mumbo-jumbo.

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