Philosophy: Unavoidable in Theology

In my systematic reading seminar last fall, we read through several systems of theology: Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, liberal, etc.  A common theme tended to pop up among the conservative Protestant authors, and that is to denigrate philosophy while upholding some supposed pure theology of Scripture.  In fact, virtually every conservative Protestant author would take potshots at other systems, seeing them poisoned by philosophy, while claiming that his system was the one that was based purely on Scripture.  This sentiment is very common today, even among (or especially among) professional theologians.  Philosophy bad!  Scripture good!

On a certain level, this conservative Protestant suspicion of philosophy is understandable, given the downright nonsensical roads that liberal theology has taken.  However, as pious as this sounds, it shows a lack of self-awareness and a lot of presumption.  Though all of those authors claimed to jettison philosophy for the sake of Scripture, every single one of them would then sneak his own philosophy through the back door, seemingly without realization.  This remains true today, and it is both aggravating and amusing.  Christians need to realize this: Philosophy and reason are unavoidable when interpreting Scripture and developing theology.  That does not mean that they displace Scripture as the lead, but it does mean that pretending that one does not engage in philosophy at all is a quick way to adopt underlying philosophical ideas without awareness or critical thought.

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