The Problem with Philosophy

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

–Colossians 2:8

Karl Valentin, a clown from Munich, Germany, once performed a scene on a darkened stage that was illuminated by a single streetlamp. The clown walked around the circle of light with a frown on his face, desperately looking for something. A policeman entered the scene and asked what the clown had lost. He said, “The key to my house.” So the policeman joined the clown in walking around and around the circle of light, to no avail. Finally, the policeman asked the clown, “Are you sure you lost it here?”

The clown said no and pointed to a darkened area of the stage. “Over there,” he said.

“Then why on earth are you looking for it here?” the policeman asked. The clown replied, “There is no light over there.”

Many people are like that clown. They’re searching not for their keys but for answers to life’s most important questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Is there a God? If there is a God, what does He want from me? But instead of looking in the right place for answers, they’re looking at the most appealing philosophies of the day–philosophies that promise to offer light but are based on darkness. In Colossians 2, Paul reminded us that the answers to life’s most important questions are not found in human philosophy; they are found in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Colossian church was being infiltrated by false teachers who said Jesus is not sufficient for every need you have in life–you need Jesus plus something else. So Paul reminded the Colossians not to be lured away by other philosophies, experiences, or religions. He didn’t buy into an idea that is prevalent among Christians today: that you should never criticize anybody else’s beliefs but instead just be positive about your own religion. Paul recognized that as a spiritual leader, his job was to help protect God’s sheep by warning them about false teachings that were leading them astray.

One thing Paul warned against was human philosophy. He wrote, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (v. 8). Human philosophy can lead you away from God.

***

Today’s devotion is adapted from “The Problem with Philosophy” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Karl Valentin routine as described in Erich Heller, Disinherited Mind: Essays in Modern German Literature and Thought (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975), 196.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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