“Philosophy vs Misosophy”: Paul’s theology and my (admittedly peculiar) terminology

Christians believe that the ultimate truth is a divine person. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” says Jesus Christ. “No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus, the Son of God, the creator of the heavens and earth (Genesis 1:1), is the express image (eikon) of the Father (Hebrews 1:3).

He is also the Word (logos) of God (John 1:1) as well as the wisdom (sophia) and the power (dunamis) of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Jesus Christ is before all things (ta panta), and by him all things cohere (susesteken) (Colossians 1:17). Every human being is surrounded and penetrated by creation, as the Apostle Paul wrote:

Because that which may be known (to gnoston) of God is manifest (phaneros) in them (enautois); for God has made it evident (ephanerosen) unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:18-19

This is our epistemological situation with respect to God. We either responsibly affirm or ignobly suppress God’s plainly evident existence in creation. Reason is a tool, not a court before which God may appear as a defendant.

Philosophical theology as it is practiced rejects the epistemological situation as Paul described it.

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I believe that I may avoid absurdity and foolishness

The “motto” that summarizes my understanding of the relationship between faith and reason is not Tertullian’s Credo quia absurdum est (“I believe because it is absurd”).

It is, rather, a corollary of Anselm’s subjunctive Credo ut intelligam (“I believe that I may understand”) or Augustine’s imperative Crede, ut intelligas (“Believe that you may understand”).

It is: Credo ut evitam absurditatem somniumque. I believe that I may avoid absurdity and foolishness.

Absurdity and foolishness are the fruit of “philosoph[izing] after the elements of this world” (Colossians 2:8). In those elements is rooted the opposite of wisdom, “every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV). The term “misosophy” marks off that discourse from philosophizing “after Christ.”

“We will hear again of this matter” (Acts 17:32) was the lame response of the Areopagite misosopher to the preaching of the Apostle Paul.

“He who is not with Me is against Me” (Luke 11:23). Non-Christians are not disinterested observers. What God says about them is what matters, and He denies the possibility of their neutrality.

The non-Christian who claims to be neutral about Christ may think he makes good on his claim if he only refrains from ridiculing Christians. They, however, may not (at least not integrally) take the non-Christian’s self-representation at face value.

In Proverbs 8 Wisdom is a person who was with God at Creation. John 1 elaborates upon and complements that picture: the Wisdom of God is the Word of God.

There is a dual promise: “For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:35-36; ESV).

It’s safe to assume that he who loves death does not love wisdom. To remove all doubt, God says that such a man hates WisdomHe is, therefore, a misosopher