With what lens we should study other philosophers?

Greetings Matt,

Thank you for telling about this website. Great to see you. My question is sorta dually-pronged…so forgive me if it seems contradictory.

-My ministry partners often talk anecdotally about Apologetics. While we value logic and also being good stewards of the faith and “. . .being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. . .” but often we are concerned that often Apologetics can get into the “weeds to much” and often be a bit to defensive (IE: some of those who purely argue with Atheists or want to win arguments). I personally have never seen an un-saved person saved from Apologetics (I know there are cases), but generally, from a response that is from their heart and more pathos/ethos driven – followed by logos. What would you say to those Christians who feel called not to study Apologetics?

Second question! What value is it to study those who are non-Christians? I know that the contemporary-Christian faith often has been influenced by Greeks (IE: the reference to the “Soul”). An old Christian teacher I had told me that, “All truth is God’s truth” – I am curious, with what lens we should study – if at all – other philosophers?

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Hey Luke, good to hear from you on here my friend! Let me give these questions a shot.

I think you’re right that becoming too heady or argumentative are dangers for apologetics. But I think an awareness of that danger, mixed with a true love for God and for people can prevent our witness from being that way. At the heart of apologetics is a desire to meet people where they’re at and answer the doubts and questions that are stopping them from believing. Most people have things that are preventing them from faith, whether it’s an intellectual objection, an emotional hurt, or a moral shortcoming. Those barriers need to first be knocked down if someone is going to be free to walk across the bridge of faith. When apologetics is done with this mindset and intention, it can be very effective at bringing people closer to the Lord, and I’ve seen many people come to faith through it. I also believe that this is what we’re all called to do in our own way (1 Peter 3:15, Col 4:5-6, 2 Cor 5:11, 2 Cor 10:5, 2 Tim 2:24-26).

As far as studying the philosophy of those who are non-Christians, I think it’s definitely worth it! There can be a lot of truth and wisdom found in these places. We always need to test it by the Bible, but Paul was very familiar with the philosophers of his day, and used their arguments to show the truth of Christianity (Acts 17).

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