LECTURE #1: Philosophy & Christian Philosophy


A. Three branches: Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics

B. Metaphysics: the science of being.

  1. Some typical metaphysical questions: what is it to be or to exist? What are the basic categories or types of being? What are the most fundamental kinds of beings? What accounts for the existence of things? What are the relationships between reality, matter, mind, space and time?
  2. The One and the Many. Unity and diversity, universals and particulars. Two basic approaches:
    1. The priority of the One. There is one being whose existence is necessary and unexplainable. Everything else that exists is explained in terms of the expression or creativity of this One. This view includes classical theism, panentheism (God as a kind of world-soul), and pantheism (everything is part of or an aspect of God).
    2. The priority of the Many. There a number of separate beings, each of whose existence is a brute given. Higher unities (including physical objects, living things, minds) are to be explained by reduction to the uncoordinated, diverse activities of these many beings. This view includes: materialism (material particles or forces are ultimate), panpsychism (a large number of extremely simple minds or subjects of experience are ultimate), phenomenalism (quality events are ultimate -- organized one way,they constitute minds, organized another way, enduring physical objects), nihilism (there are only particulars -- no unities, order, enduring beings, mindes).

C. Epistemology.

The science of knowledge. What do we know, and how do we know it?

D. Ethics.

The science of value and moral obligation. What is the good life? What is to be morally good, and why pursue it?


A. The New Testament

  1. Opposition between God's wisdom and human wisdom: Matthew 11:25 (Luke 10:21), I Corinthians 1:17, 19-22, 26-27, 2:1, 4-7, 13, 19, 3:18-20. Old Testament roots: Isaiah 5:21, 29:4, Psalm 94: 8, 11.
  2. Warnings against heterodox philosophies: Colossians 2: 4, 8 ("let no one deceive you through persuasive words...philosophy and empty deceit"); I Timothy 6:20 ("vain babblings and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called"), II Corinthians 1:12 ("fleshly wisdom").
  3. Examples of the use of reasoning (dialegomai): II Corinthians 10:5 ("we demolish speculations"= logismoi, reasonings). Paul reasons with potential converts: Acts 17:17, 19:8-9.
  4. Defending the gospel (apologia = apologetics). I Peter 3:15. Paul offers apologia: Acts 22:1, Philippians 1:7, 17; I Corinthians 9:3.
  5. Refuting/correcting those in error: Titus 1:9. Isaiah 1:18 ("come let us reason together")
  6. Wisdom (sophia) used positively: Luke 2:52, 11:49; Acts 6:3, 7:10, 22; Ephesians 1:8, 17, 3:10; Colossians 1:28, 2:3, 3:16; James 1:5, 3:17, II Peter 3:15.
  7. Natural theology: natural knowledge of God and the moral law, apart from special revelation. Acts 14:16-20 (Paul at Lystra); Acts 17: 17, 23-29 (Paul at the Areopagus); Romans 1:18-21 (God's eternal nature evident to all men through what has been made); Romans 2:14, 15 (God's law written in the heart).

B. Early Christian apologists

C. Some Christian philosophers: