To inaugurate the relaunching of this blog, I thought I would re-post an interview I did with Dr. Ted Cabal, professor at SBTS, back in 2007 on the the place of philosophy in the life of the believer. I believe the study of philosophy coincides with the study of theology as the two disciplines have spilled over into each other (intentionally or not) throughout history, thus to understand philosophy can help the believer to understand certain aspects of theology, why certain theologians avoided or reworked particular doctrines, etc. Dr. Cabal has played an integral part in my development as a student and as a developing philosopher, particularly in his fostering in me a love for the history of philosophy (hence the direction I am taking in my doctoral studies). I hope you find the subsequent posts helpful today as they were for me several years ago.
“Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.” – Ambrose Bierce
“Leisure is the mother of philosophy.” -Thomas Hobbes
“All philosophies, if you ride them, are nonsense, but some are greater nonsense than others.” – Samuel Butler
“There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it.” – Cicero
The quotes above present the sentiment most people have of philosophy. Philosophy is thought of being nothing more than thinkers thinking up weird and lofty ideas that have no application in the real world. As such, philosophy receives a bad rap and little attention in our world today. This sentiment is especially true among Christians. I will venture to say that when most Christians think of philosophy, they think of evil ideas and theories expounded by men and women set up against the Jesus Christ and the Gospel. The popular verse referred to as a warning against philosophy is Colossians 2:8:
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. (NASB)
Yet, as previously pointed out, Paul did not intend to warn us against philosophy itself, but against philosophies that set itself up against God and Jesus Christ. Instead of shunning philosophy, Paul utilizes philosophy in the very logic and argumentation used in his letters! So, if Paul used philosophical principles of logic and argumentation, should we as Christians today avoid philosophy as a whole, or can we employ philosophy, without shame, for the furtherance of God’s kingdom and for the defense of His Gospel?
This semester [that is, Fall 2007] I am taking History of Philosophy I taught by Dr. Ted Cabal. This course, in conjunction with my previous philosophy courses, has fostered in me not only a joy for philosophy, but also an awareness of its place and role in Christianity. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Ted Cabal, Professor of Christian Philosophy and Applied Apologetics, for a short interview on the issue of philosophy in the Christian’s life and its proper place. Below is his biography from his faculty page on http://www.sbts.edu/:
Dr. Cabal has sought to instill in his students a drive for academic excellence, as well as devotion to Christian apologetics. Once an ardent atheist, Dr. Cabal was converted while reading the New Testament Gospels. He has planted and pastored several churches, and served on the faculties of Dallas Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary before coming to Southern. His interest in helping others to know the truth in Christ has motivated his numerous college campus talks and debates with philosophy professors. In addition to journal articles on issues such as postmodernism and the age of the earth controversy, Dr. Cabal is the general editor of The Apologetics Study Bible (2006).
(A note of correction on The Apologetics Study Bible – was released on October 1, 2007).
Here are the questions that I presented to Dr. Cabal:
- When and how did you come to the realization that philosophy was the area that you wanted to study? (Part I)
- What were some of the misconceptions that you had about philosophy before you studied philosophy? (Part I)
- What are some common misconceptions that Christians have about philosophy, and how would you answer them? (Part II)
- What role should philosophy play for the seminarian: the seminarian called to study philosophy and the seminarian not called to study philosophy? (Part III)
- What is the role of philosophy in the life of the Christian? (Part IV)
- Part 2 of “What is the role of philosophy in the life of the Christian?”