This post concludes my interview with Dr. Mark Coppenger (SBTS) in 2007 on the role of philosophy for the believer. Here I offered my thoughts on my interview with Dr. Coppenger; I post my thoughts from 2007 unchanged for my sentiments remain the same. I hope to write another post soon tying together my interviews with Drs. Cabal and Coppenger.
Many people view, study and even teach philosophy as if it were just a collection of thoughts and ideas from the past with no real bearing on our lives today. Dr. Coppenger likens this to the insect trapped in amber – it’s something interesting to look at, but it’s dead and useless. Philosophy, however, is not a passive discipline. Continuing with Dr. Coppenger’s illustration, we should “crack open the amber, fire up that insect, and fly it around the room.” In other words, we should interact freely with philosophy, for the issues dealt with in the past are practically the same issues we deal with today. Rather than just merely studying philosophy, we should do philosophy as we study the thoughts and ideas of the past and seek to answer today’s questions.
I’ve had the opportunity to sit in three of Dr. Coppenger’s philosophy courses in the past two years – Apologetics, Worldviews, and Ethics – and he teaches philosophy the way he learned it, by getting right into the issues and getting your hands dirty. Every night in class, we cracked open more amber-trapped insects and flew them around them room. Though this form of learning is quite different from that which I’m used to (straight lecture), Dr. Coppenger taught me how to look at issues and what questions to ask – he taught me how to do philosophy. More importantly, though, I realized how lazy a thinker I’d been and how I took for granted my beliefs. So, I encourage you, if you have the opportunity to study under Dr. Coppenger, do it. You will be challenged and stretched, but will learn much in the end.
written by Danny McDonald © 2007, 2012