I feel sorry for the philosophical concerns. All the “isms” ad infinitum. And it isn’t just because I believe that knowing Jesus provides the salient existential answers for which the mind and heart yearn after we step out of our childhood cocoon. Thing is, I really wonder how philosophy will fare after science “proves” that all is matter, or energy, or whatever. Maybe things will come back around. I mean, George Berkeley’s 18th century proclamation of “esse est percipi” (to be is to be perceived)—meaning that nothing exists outside the mind—is not too far a cry from recent advances in theoretical cosmology positing that all is holographic and we’re only observing it—perceiving it. Hmm…
“To be or not to be, that is the question.”
The first line of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy. I don’t quote this because I agree with it, nor because I need it to substantiate my argument. I merely bring it up because this statement stands shoulder-to-shoulder, at least notoriously, with some of the most famous passages of the Bible. Which also speaks of our yearning to become something. A yearning that is not answered by anything outward—in my opinion. Nor by anything inward, in-and-of-itself. And now that I’ve implicated the 1. Philosophers, 2. the Scientists and 3. the Poets/Romantics, maybe I’ll get to my point.
“But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:” (Galatians 2:6, emphasis mine)
I will open and opine with the statement esse quam videri. “To be rather than to seem.” This necessarily touches on the subject of perception and as everyone’s perception is different, sometimes radically so, I feel that being must necessarily be the topic of discussion.
“A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” (Proverbs 18:2)
“I am become a fool in glorying…” (2 Corinthians 12:11)
Ouch. Can I put those together in context? We’ll see…
When God tells Moses to tell the Israelites “I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14), He was effectively giving Moses the inner courage and bravado and all-around existential substantiality that He Himself has. And Is. It’s as if Moses was literally God’s ambassador to the Israelites. Jesus took it one step further. “Before Abraham was I Am” (John 8:58). The “I Am”, the “self-existent one” who showed Himself first to Abram, then Moses. He tells His disciples “as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20:20) and elsewhere “All power is given unto me in Heaven and earth. Go ye therefore…” (Matthew 28:18-19, emphasis mine). What Jesus is saying here is that the courage and confidence we need to do and be what God has created us to do and be is found in Jesus, who in turn received it from the source of being, and doing: His Father.
The word “philosophy” appears exactly once in the King James Version, so much emphasis is placed on such a broad topic: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
Casuistry is a means of explaining something that might sound plausible and palatable but in the end ends up deceiving and misleading. Benjamin Franklin referred to himself, however facetiously, as “The Casuist”. At least I hope he was joking. Point is, many of philosophy’s isms might seem substantive on the surface and they might be worth knowing in order to tell the difference and sift through the fine points in polite conversation. But when Paul asks in 1 Corinthians (1:20, emphasis mine) “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe” Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” I’m hard pressed to find any salutary answer. None of philosophy’s “vain deceits”, to put it bluntly, have ever held a candle to the wonder and majesty of knowing God, not only in His awe-inspiring cosmological creativity, but also in the gentle sweetness of the fresh buds on an oak tree (and no, in no way am I referring to a pagan symbol). And it’s all wrapped up in love. God is in the light.
When we lead with Jesus, whether silently in the heart or vocally at the insistence of the Holy Spirit, you’re introducing an entity into the conversation and arena that stands opposed to most—if not all—of the world’s philosophies. His philosophy of self-abnegating self-realization, runs counter to that which is preached from the philosopher’s pulpit. And it’s more than mere philosophy. It’s something that through knowing Him, gets ingrained into your being. It’s who you are and it’s who you become. Don’t let it dissuade you. Let God be your guide, your anchor in this life as you move through to the next. And if all is matter, or mind, or perception, what’s doing the perceiving? Who’s doing the perceiving, rather? The questions of philosophy are raised when we are seen as more than matter. Questions that are answered in the person of Jesus. And don’t stop there, you can know Him. “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
“God is love.” (1 John 4:8) God’s love is. Whatever you need.