Is There A Christian Philosophy ? -- By: Warren C. Young

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 01:4 (Fall 1958)
Article: Is There A Christian Philosophy ?
Author: Warren C. Young


Is There A Christian Philosophy ?

Warren C. Young

Northern Baptist Theological Seminary

See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. — Paul

Introduction

Our attention in this paper will be centered on the world view which roots itself in the assumption that truth, in the final and complete sense, can only be attained if a special revelation from God be granted. It is the conviction of the Christian realistic philosophy that human experience as a whole can be understood only if the existence of a God who has disclosed Himself to us be admitted. Our concern, then, is with the philosophy, not according to human tradition, but according to Christ.

Before proceeding further, it is necessary to point out that there are those who reject the suggestion that there is a Christian realistic philosophy. Opposition comes from at least two sources. First, there are some who view religion of any type as superstition which had its beginnings in magic, myths, and legends of ages long past. Religion is to be regarded as an evidence of cultural lag. If it is to be of any value at all, it must be naturalized, or at least rationalized, in the light of modern scientific and philosophical theory. While there are some, particularly those of the idealistic tradition who do give religion a place of value and importance in human experience, yet, here also the revelational aspect so essential to Christian realism is either completely overlooked or openly rejected. All religions must be tested by empirical categories varying with the interest of the investigator before their teachings are to be accepted as even tentatively true. Such empirical investigation leaves no place at all for the authority of revelation as adhered to be Christian thinkers.

Secondly, there are those who live and move within the framework of the revelational approach to truth who would deny to the Christian world view the name of philosophy. Christianity is not a philosophy, but rather, a way of life based, not on human reason and speculation, but on faith in the supernatural. Philosophy is rationalistic; Christianity is nonrationalistic. Philosophy is man-made, speculative; Christianity is God-given, dogmatic. Hence, Christianity must not be contaminated with the foul epithet, philosophy.

Most of us would be agreed that if “philosophy” is to be defined in terms of empirical and rationalistic systems exclusively, then Christianity is not a philosophy. The Christian realistic faith is founded, not on human speculation, but on divine disclosure. On the other hand, if “philosophy” be understood to mean a...

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