Is Philosophy at Odds with Christianity?

Philosophy is almost universally frowned upon in the Christian church, especially in more fundamental leaning congregations. Many within the Christian church consider philosophy to be completely at odds with Christianity or Christian doctrine. There are certainly many unsound philosophes that are directly in opposition to Christianity or Christian teaching.

The apostle Paul warns Christians to “beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit.” (Colossians 2:8, KJV) Others view philosophy as simply being man’s wisdom as opposed to God’s wisdom, and, as such, to be avoided if one is to avoid error. Still others view philosophy as inaccessible to the average person and therefore unnecessary or irrelevant to the practicing Christian.

This apparent opposition and tension between philosophy and Christianity causes many within the Christian church to avoid philosophy altogether, regardless of its form. Is it possible that avoiding philosophy is more harmful than beneficial in relation to Christianity? Further, is it impossible to delve deeply into Christian theology without the tools of philosophy? Is philosophy really at odds with Christianity, or is it essential to Christian theology?

This research paper will examine the above topics and will make the argument that philosophy itself, while not necessarily essential to the practicing Christian, is not at odds with Christianity. To the contrary, the tools of philosophy can do much to aid in the study and development Christian theology and, in fact, are essential to that. Philosophy, in the individual sense, is unavoidable in that we all develop our own philosophies about the world around us. The key is to be able to ascertain and discern between sound and unsound philosophy so that unsound ideas can be rejected. Additionally, the Christian should be mindful not to elevate philosophical assumptions or opinions above clear special revelation.