The Bearing Of One’s Philosophy On One’s Creed -- By: Robert E. Neighbor

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 069:273 (Jan 1912)
Article: The Bearing Of One’s Philosophy On One’s Creed
Author: Robert E. Neighbor


The Bearing Of One’s Philosophy On One’s Creed

Robert E. Neighbor

Philosophy — if a true philosophy — may be denned as the rational explanation of the world. It aims to create a “universe.” That is to say, it aims to reduce heterogeneousness to homogeneity, to find for each isolated fact its proper relation to all other facts, to explain why it is, how it is, and whence it is, and thus to constitute a “system of things” coordinated through all its parts by law and dominated by intelligent purpose. The quest and goal of philosophy is unity. And unity means the presidency of Mind.

Philosophy interprets but it does not discover. And in fulfilling its function as an interpreter it balks at nothing. It both scales the heavens and “dives into the wells of Death.” It seeks to know God and spirit as well as things purely physical and material. It aims to render such account of them to the reason as it can, and to determine their relations to whatever else is. Philosophy in this way becomes also a Theology.

“Flower In the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies;
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower — but If I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man Is.”

One of the old thinkers used to say that “man is the meas-

ure of his universe”— and the saying is true. The remark of Sir William Hamilton is equally true, that no problem ever emerges in theology which has not previously arisen in philosophy. Thus closely related is one’s theology to one’s philosophy; in truth, the theology is dependent on the philosophy. Error in the latter will run out into the former, and you can tell what a man’s theology is likely to be as soon as you know his philosophy. Doubtless one’s creed will react on one’s general system of thought, but the measure of its power in modifying that system of thought will not compare with the influence the latter will have upon his scientific formulation of the problems of religion and his interpretation of the Scriptures. For always the greater includes the less and dominates it; and theology is, after all, only a part of the wider and all-inclusive domain of philosophy.

To put the matter in another way: Every man has his own mental bias or personal point of view. No two men see the j same thing in precisely the same aspects — nor can they, until they each occupy the other’s place. Every man contributes something of himself to his interpretation of whatever problem is presented to him, whether it be one of science or religion. He who looks out on nature through green spectacles sees everything ...

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