How to look at thoughts of philosophers and philosophical systems

In certain religious groups there are people who say one may not read philosophers their work.

Many philosophers their thought have influenced lots of people. We always should remember that their thoughts are best read in context. In the context of the lives that they lived, the times that they lived in, and the history of what came before and what happened after.

Many of the ideas of great thinkers of the past, so many centuries later might look dated to us. And our post-modern sensibilities make it easy for us to find fault, to criticize and to deconstruct these earlier works. Some even think that there is not much real value to be found in their works, whilst others think today some people give not enough interest to those ancient thinkers.

The real value for us is to hunt down the true genius that was driving the ideas. What was the inspiration, the spark that fuelled truly original thinking? We should wonder how they came to think about certain matters and how their thinking was   original or could bring something extra to that period of thinking or for later generations.

If they had not much to tell, I do not think we would still speak of them or would not be interested to read those ancient writings.

What did for example Ralph Waldo Emerson or William James bring that was new, that was passed on from them to the next generations? What made it that people were willing to listen to them or to give them so much attention? Or what did James offer that had not been thought of before and how has that affected the course of things since?

thinks

This is where the value is to be found. You won’t find answers to these questions through only reading the ideas, you have to know about culture and history and personality. {How Do You Read Philosophy?}

What we do have to question is

  • what has this person to tell us
  • in what kind of light is that person looking at things
  • how are their thought fed by the trends in their time or what was the general thinking of their time
  • in which way where such thinkers willing to listen to people of their time
  • how were they willing to place their ideas in context with other ways of thinking
  • what is are were the angles to look at things
  • how could they cope with agreement or disagreement and what were their reactions on critique

Today we have to try to approach the ancient and the present philosophers from different sides.

According

Philosophy is generally seen to be comprised of three main components; Metaphysics, which tells you what is real; Epistemology which tells you how you know what is real; and Ethics which tells you what you should value.

To his understanding

a philosophical system is complete in the sense that it fulfills all of these functions. {Why do worldviews clash?}

His generalised idea of Christians is limited to Trinitarian Christians who believe in hell to be a place of torture, and the belief that man

will abide in one or the other after death based on the way you live and the state of some invisible part of you called a soul. {Why do worldviews clash?}

He writes

Epistemologically the way Christians know what is real is that God has told human beings what is real through the Bible, so what is true is what is written in the Bible. Christian Ethics revolve around things like charity, loving thy neighbor, duty to family, etc. In a closed system like this you can always ask questions from within the system. Question: Should I steal? Answer: No. Justification: Because the Bible dictates that you don’t. But when you start to ask questions from outside of the system such as: Does God exist? Things get more challenging. {Why do worldviews clash?}

He seems to forget many Christians wonder in their life if God exists. So to call it a non-christian question is in our eyes not exactly right or forgetting that all people question matters of life, what is behind it and what is in it.

He probably agrees that

a complete philosophical system – a worldview – dictates what is real, how you know what is real and what to value about what is real. Without those agreements there is only flimsy basis for discussion. {Why do worldviews clash?}

As such we not need as such the Bible to explain that there is a god or The God. Though the problem can be when one says or thinks:

If the question is inserted into the system from the outside, a Christian could answer by saying, ‘yes, God exists because the Bible says so.’ But that argument only works if someone shares the epistemological presupposition that the Bible is the source of truth. {Why do worldviews clash?}

A Christian shall consider the credibility of the Bible being it the infallible Word of God, but a real Christian shall also be able to point to the Divine Creator God and His possessions without having to need the Bible.

also seems to know only creationist or to classify Christians as creationists or people who would not believe in any form of evolution. He also calls his view modernist whilst the Hebrews already had his modernist view then. Perhaps he should come to know some present and ancient views of Bereshith or Genesis.

He writes:

So a complete philosophical system – a worldview – dictates what is real, how you know what is real and what to value about what is real. Without those agreements there is only flimsy basis for discussion.

If we think about the modernist worldview we have a different system. Metaphysically we have a universe that is composed of matter that has evolved to a complexity that gave rise to human beings and a mysterious property we call consciousness. Epistemologically we know what is true based on ‘logical positivism’ which means adhering to certain laws of logic applied to the evidence we gather through our senses. And the ethics of modernism revolves around the inherent goodness of progress. This is also a complete philosophical system.

It looks like he does think we Christians have no sense or “laws of logic” and that because we live by old “ethics of …..” wich would not be the same as his ethics of modernism even when he considers himself a post-modernists. Seemingly believing we as Christians can not have different views about matters, or would not have similar worldviews as certain philosophers.

He argues:

As postmodernists we recognize that there are different worldviews and we value that diversity. We also recognize that we can’t impose one worldview on another because they rest on different fundamental beliefs and each person has a right to believe as they wish as long as they don’t hurt one another.

We wonder where he gets it that Christians would not say that behaviourism is something that can be true.

The pragmatists were trying to find a way that takes us beyond the deadends of clashing worldviews when debating what is true. That is why they said that it was more useful to argue the truth of something by examining its effect. It isn’t that useful to debate, for instance, whether Behaviorism is true or not.

A Christian might say no because that is not the view that the Bible tells us. (This lets us wonder if he has ever read the Bible); A modernist might say yes because that is what the evidence proves. The question that is more useful to ask is what results from a belief in Behaviorism. Does it work? When does it work? Does it work in this instance and not in that? What results from materialism, what results from a belief in the soul, a belief in freewill, a belief in God? Everything can be examined based on Pragmatic grounds. {Why do worldviews clash?}

All the time man is bombarded in his mind with the question of what should he believe, or what is true or what is real. In his postings Carreira also argued that

if a philosophy dictates “what is real,” “how you determine what is real,” and “how you value what is real,” then it is a closed system. Internally it will be completely consistent, and as long as you “believe” in these three pillars everything (to lift a phrase from Carl) on the inside will look like non-fiction (ie. true) and everything on the outside will look like fiction (ie. not true.) {Test Drive a Worldview}

Carreira continues:

A worldview is not only a set of ideas or beliefs about the world; it is a complete psycho-emotional mental filter of the world. It is a 360 panoramic view of the real. Your worldview dictates how you think about the world, how you feel about the world and how you respond to the world. It envelops us so that the world from inside what worldview looks and feels completely different than the world seen from inside another. {Test Drive a Worldview}

We totally agree with his view that it is each individual his or her worldview which shall dictate how that person thinks and how he or she is going to react to certain matters.  How a person feels about the world and how he or she shall respond to the world depends firstly on the way that person looks at the world and secondly how that person his ethics and moral ideas are formed.

We do not need the the romantic poets, philosophers and scientists to see

a world of open and unlimited possibility in which strangely marvelous and unseen natural forces were guiding the movement of life. {Test Drive a Worldview}

Christians are aware of the many sometimes incomprehensible ways of nature. For him

These natural invisible movements were continuously revealing themselves and there was a sense of awe and wonder at the marvel of life and reality. {Test Drive a Worldview}

And that is just where we say is the Power of God. There, by the wonders of nature, man is able to come to see the invisible Hand of the Divine Creator.

Carreira has been thinking about how challenging philosophical discussion can be and he thinks that part of that difficulty comes about when we are not discussing ideas within a single worldview, but are actually clashing one worldview against another.

As I see it a worldview is a belief in a complete philosophical system. Discussing within a given philosophical system is easy, discussing across one system into another gets challenging. {The Trouble with Worldviews}

Is not that the nice challenging idea of our world where everyone may think freely?

William James believed that humanity had evolved beyond the point of absolute truth. We don’t know the absolute truth; we only know part of the truth and what that truth is, is always changing. For that reason truth had to be seen as evolving; utilized for as long as it worked in those circumstances in which it worked. He, along with his Pragmatist colleagues imagined a complete revisioning of all of philosophy based on Pragmatic grounds. {The Trouble with Worldviews}

Genuine Christian behavior

Genuine Christian behavior

“14 Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but {1 } condescend to {2 } things that are lowly. Be not wise in your own conceits. {1) Gr be carried away with 2) Or them }17 Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men. 19 Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto {1 } the wrath of God: for it is written, {2 } Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. {1) Or wrath 2) De 32:35 }20 But {1 } if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. {1) (Pr 25:21 f) }21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Ro 12:14-21 ASV)

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In this world we may encounter lots of name Christians (worshipping a three-headed god) who hate those real Christians who prefer to live according the Holy Scriptures and to worship only One God.

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Very often those trinitarian Christians like calling the other ones names and sent them all sorts of hate mail and wishing them eternal torture in a place they call hell. With such fear-mongering they also try to get others to their faith and to keep them in their denomination, calling all other denominations works of the devil. Often we do find in several of those denominations also people who call themselves Christian but who are not ashamed to use such vocabulary their grandparents for sure would turn over in their grave. Today we can find lots of so called Christians who use one f… word after the other as if it is nothing.
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Each person who want to call himself “Christian’ should make sure that his or her attitude is in line with the teachings of the master teacher Jeshua (Jesus Christ) and should make sure he or she can be an example for and of the Body of Christ.

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To remember

  • God planned for all of us who are alive today, to be in this time for a specific purpose.
  • Sin invading this earth for thousands of years > influence seems to be growing immensely => Many being led astray from confines of God’s covering + walking along broad path that leads to destruction.
  • imperative Christians carry themselves in a way that demonstrates character of Christ,
  • hard to win others to God when behavior is just as bad, or worse as theirs.
  • trying to witness to people + tell them to turn away from same things being caught up in
  • When we do good while others treat us badly => our resistance to retaliate causes a seed of love to be planted in the hearts of those who come against us.
  • important to be rooted in God, + have wisdom + understanding of His word, because Scripture tells us why theses things happen, + how we are to react in them.
  • church should be of the same mind, + walk in humility.
  • church = direct representation of Christ
  • Instead of fighting against all those who attempt to knock you off track, show love toward them, + let God do the fighting for you, because vengeance is His, and He’ll be sure to give them a spanking they’ll never forget.

Trying to Get Rid of Holy Days for a Long Time

For real Christians it is clear that lovers of God should keep their hands of the many pagan feasts, like Christmas and Easter, which entered the Roman Catholic Church and several protestant churches.

Luckily we may come to see some changes in some protestant churches willing to debate the reason why to keep only to God given holy days.

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To remember

Reformed churches historically opposed to observing man made holy days such as Christmas and Easter.

on the continent left some holy day observance to Christian liberty in some of their confessions < compromise with stubborn people for sake of further Reformation, or because civil magistrates forced them to.

Gisbertus Voetius, (delegate to the Synod of Dordt), relates Dutch Church had been trying to get rid of holy days for a long time, but allowance of holy days by the synod was “imposed from the outside, burdensome to the churches,

In Why are Ecclesiastical Feast Days in our Church Order? Rev. Dr. R. D. Anderson gives

Article 65 – Ecclesiastical feast days
On Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Day, and at Pentecost the consistory shall call the congregation together for church services. The sacred events which the congregation commemorates in particular on these days shall therein be proclaimed
Already in 1573 we see the topic coming to the floor of the Particular Synod of North Holland, that year held in Enkhuizen.
Also decided in respect of feast days, that in common no feast days are to be held other than Easter (Sunday) and the day thereafter, Pentecost (Sunday) and the day thereafter, Christmas, and similarly New Year’s day and Ascension day.
The churches in South Holland were somewhat stricter. A year later their Synod gathered in Dordrecht
making the following pronouncement:
Respecting the feast days which are in addition to the Sunday: it has been decided to rest content only with the Sunday. Nevertheless, the normal material relating to the birth of Christ shall be handled on the Sunday before Christmas day together with an admonition to the people not to observe Christmas day. If Christmas day falls on a Sunday, the same material shall be preached on that day. It is also permitted to preach on the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday, the which is left to the freedom of the ministers.
That seems clear enough. Behind the scenes, however, there was a political battle going on between the Roman Catholic forces and the Protestants. The celebration of these extra days came right in the middle of all that. It was the sort of thing that got people fired up. The Reformed churches needed to be careful to steer a righteous course between all manner of Roman Catholic superstitions which had become associated with these days and an over zealous extremism which could easily lead to political riots. We see that reflected in the decision of the Particular Synod of South Holland held in Rotterdam a year later:

As much as concerns feast days: The government shall be petitioned that they allow everyone to open his shop and to work 6 days in accordance with the 4th commandment of our Lord. And if the government desires to ordain any others besides the Sunday, the delegated ministers will petition parliament that they inform them in such a way that they may consider how much and how far one can permit in this matter, so that on the one hand people don’t fall into superstition as warned by Paul in Gal. 4, and on the other hand that people will not be led to fight too fiercely against the aforesaid government because of certain feast days.
Three years later a national synod was finally able to be held in Dordrecht. By this time it was slowly becoming clear that the political will to be rid of these extra feast days was weak.
On the 12th of July 1578 the government made a “declaration of religious freedom” in which the various Roman Catholic feast days were made compulsory for protestants. The synod in its response attempted to minimise the damage by steering the churches away from any special ways of celebrating these feast days, and keeping them as “normal” days.
1578 National Synod of Dort {Acta, Rutgers p.253 (art. 75, cap.4,23)}
It was indeed to be desired that the freedom from God to work 6 days be permitted in the church, and that only the Sunday be celebrated. Nevertheless since certain other feast days are maintained by authority of the government, namely, Christmas day and the day thereafter, likewise the day after Easter and the day after Pentecost and in some places new years day and ascension day; the ministers shall do their best to teach the congregation to transform unproductive and harmful idleness into a holy and profitable exercise by sermons especially dealing with the birth and resurrection of Christ, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and suchlike articles of the faith. The ministers of churches in those cities where yet more feast days are observed by authority of the government shall do likewise.
In the meantime all the churches shall work to make the use of all feast days except Christmas day (since Easter and Pentecost fall on Sunday) as normal as possible, and as soon as is fitting to abolish them.
By 1581 the goals of the churches had been reduced. It did not any longer seem possible to be rid of all the extra feast days.

 

Sadly, today, not only are many Reformed churches going back to observing Christmas and Easter, some are even beginning to observe Lent, Good FridayAdvent, etc. as well.

Exploring biblical worship from a Protestant Perspective “The Worship Blog” looks at

How little concern for the idea that what is done in the name of worship in so many churches has no warrant from the mouth of God! {About The Worship Blog}

Meg writes

The Scottish Presbyterians managed to remove observance of any pretended holy days other than the divinely prescribed Lord’s Day in their reformation. Indeed, the Reformed early on seemed ready to precede them in this; but due mostly it seems from desires of magistrates to preserve accustomed holidays, ie. days off for workers and servants, they retained various sets of days. This retained a set of other issues, and to ensure the riotous activities of the old days were not retained, the state churches prescribed that there be services and preaching at those times. {John Calvin and Holy Days}

In 1543–44 Calvin advised the church, that

“the observation of feast days was also to be rejected since it so easily led to superstition.”

“Calvin advised the ministers of Montbéliard to stand firm on these matters of principle but to yield wherever else their consciences would allow”. { Jill Raitt, The Colloquy of Montbéliard Religion and Politics in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 21.}

As an aside — The Reformed church of Montbéliard continued as best they could even when the rulers imposed Lutheran practices. Later, the oppressed Reformed churches of France, ruled by Roman Catholic magistrates which prohibited working on the pretended holy days,

“left unto the prudence of Consistories to Congregate the People, on such Holy-Days, either to hear the word Preached, or to join in common publick Prayers, as they shall find to be most expedient” (2nd Synod of Vitré, 1617).

American Presbyterians were opposed to the religious observation of Christmas and other ‘holy days.’  > Read more: https://www.naphtali.com/articles/chris-coldwell/the-religious-observance-of-christmas-and-holy-days-in-american-presbyterianism/

Read also: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/91380-Three-Books-on-quot-Christmas-quot-and-a-33-off-Black-Friday-Sale, Comment 25

The Worship Blog

Purely Presbyterian:

Reformed churches have historically been opposed to observing man made holy days such as Christmas and Easter. Even the Reformed churches on the continent, which left some holy day observance to Christian liberty in some of their confessions, did so because of either compromise with the stubborn people for the sake of further Reformation, or because the civil magistrates forced them to. Gisbertus Voetius, a delegate to the Synod of Dordt, relates that the Dutch Church had been trying to get rid of holy days for a long time, but the allowance of holy days by the synod was “imposed from the outside, burdensome to the churches, in and of itself in an absolute sense unwelcome; to which Synods were summoned, compelled, and coerced to receive, bring in, and admit, as in the manner of a transaction, in order to prevent worse disagreeable and bad situations

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