Philosophy of Christianity
Philosophy is extremely important in the formation of the Church. Philosophy is an important part of bringing out truth in the Church. Christianity without philosophy would still have God, but would certainly be lacking in understanding. Philosophy contributes to the formation of Christianity by the very understanding of philosophy, it’s implications, and Christianity’s need for philosophy. In addition, Augustine has displayed this in many ways.
To begin, one must have an in depth understanding of the meaning of philosophy. “Philosophy, the love of wisdom, is the means of seeking areas of deeper, truer, and more intricate development of one’s life in faith” (Colbert 1). Philosophy is the love of wisdom. Where would Christianity be without wisdom? God consistently calls for humans to seek after wisdom and let it guide them. Philosophy is a way of helping people to understand the deep mysteries of the Christian faith and use their understanding to draw them closer to God. Thomas White states, “Philosophical reflection helps us to identify concepts that can be used to express the inner mystery of the life of God itself” (4). In understanding and expressing the mysteries of God, one is capable of growing closer to God as the gap between him or her and God diminishes.
In fact, philosophy is not only important to Christianity, but creates a stronger Christianity. Colbert states, “To have philosophy in Christianity is to have a deeper Christianity” (1). Because philosophy, the love of wisdom, is ordained by God, it is a tool he uses to mold Christianity. Colbert goes on to say, “Philosophy in Christianity is the love of wisdom as it pertains to one’s Christian faith” (1). Philosophy plays a major part in molding one’s Christian faith through the pursuit of wisdom. In fact, to not have philosophy in Christianity is to take away major strides in wisdom as a whole and in the lives of individuals. Christianity would not be the same or anywhere near as wise if it had not let in philosophy.
Great strides is the recognition of evil in his own life preparing him to be won over by God. Algoe states, “Augustine’s study of the different concepts of evil and sin prepared him for his conversion and his influential role in the Christian religion” (1). This is a clear statement that in order for one to grow in a relationship with Christ, one must recognize his or her sinful nature and seek to fight it. In Augustine’s Confessions, Augustine is living an incredibly sinful life in order to attain happiness in his own way. After seeing a beggar in Milan, Augustine comes to realize that living his sinful life is not going to bring him true happiness (119). Augustine sets an example in Christianity through philosophy not by using his words, but by using the very experiences of his life in order to impact how Christians should look at their faith.
As Augustine continues in his faith, he comes to learn more and more about evil. Algoe states, “After Augustine’s conversion to Christianity, he learns that evil is the result of the misuse of free choice through rational thinking” (1). This time, Augustine incorporates philosophy verbally and through experience. Throughout Augustine’s life, he surely told himself time and time again that what he was doing was okay and that he would never take it a step further to where it was not okay and yet found that as he pushed the boundaries, they boundaries went further and further.
Because humans are allowed free choice, they have the choice to misuse that free choice. It is when that decision is made that evil originates. When people start to rationalize sin, it looks less and less evil and free choice makes it easier and easier to choose sin. Haselhurt states, “Philosophy is simply the study of truth as the necessary foundation for acting wisely” (1). Acting wisely allows us to look at that gift of free will and make the decision to use it wisely, rather than misuse it. In speaking about the behavior of Jupiter in Confessions, Augustine recognizes that Jupiter leads people to act immorally and turn from the truth (36). The right choice in free will means holding strong to the truth and letting go of falsehood.
To conclude, philosophy is not only important, but is a foundation to the formation of many ideals of the Church. Indeed, Christianity would not be what it is today without philosophy. One cannot have a deep Christian faith without a base in theologically philosophical thoughts. Philosophy has a powerful understanding behind it and has massive implications as to how it should look when it is played out in the world. Christianity cannot stand without philosophy. Great philosophers are needed in Christianity. Augustine, an important and influential philosopher of his time and of this time, has set forth philosophical experience and thought that is incredibly applicable and recognizable in the Church today.