“Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” (Colossians 2:8-10 CSB)
Philosophy as an academic discipline is good, in and of itself. It is actually akin to mathematics, since it deals with such things as one plus one equals two. It follows a line of thinking that says if “A” is true, and “B” is true, then “C” must also be true. That is an oversimplification of the discipline, of course, but it captures something of the idea in philosophy. It essentially uses logic to talk about truth.
Paul would not have intended to run down philosophy as a discipline. What he is talking about here is systems of thought about truth that are based on humanistic belief and thinking, rather than on the centrality of the truth of Christ. There was no shortage in his day of the proponents of such systems of thought, and part of the motivation for writing this letter to the Colossians came from the need to re-orient the Colossians to the supremacy of Christ.
There is no shortage of “alternative” systems of thoughts in our day either. Some talk show host always seems to be discovering “a new truth.” Someone comes out of the hinterlands of a far off country with a mystical and misty system and says, “If you will just follow me and practice my system, you can have peace and prosperity and happiness and fulfillment and satisfaction in your life. You won’t need anything else.” Even some who call themselves Christians have been influenced by such “fool-osophies.”
Any system of thought that is not based on the truth of Christ, on the truth of His word, or on the authority of His centrality, is nothing but deceit. It cannot deliver on its promises, because it is based on human tradition or on the “elemental forces of the world,” and not based on Christ. Jesus is supremely central for everything in a genuine theology.
Lord, Help us today to not be thrown off-track by any kind of divergent thinking, or theology, or philosophical system of thought. Help us to keep Christ central in all our thinking. Amen.