Why I Am A Philosopher

21 07 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2010 – Vol. 15 Issue 7 – Why I Am A Philosoper – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Why I Am A Philosopher

Reviewed By Rev. Robert Liichow

There is within Lutheranism a general distaste for philosophy inasmuch as it is a discipline based primarily upon fallen human reason. When the term philosophy is mentioned among a group of pastors one will surely blurt out “philosophy is the love of wisdom, whereas theology is the knowledge of God.” this response always garners reverent head nods by the other pastors gathered.

Although I applaud and support Dr. Luther’s stance against “that whore reason” (paraphrased, actual quote available at: http://en.wiliquote.org/wiki/Martin_Luther ) when addressing humanistic reason, I do not decry philosophy — because I am a lover of Wisdom (and you are too whether you know it or not yet).

Wisdom is mentioned two hundred and twenty-two times (222) in the Authorized version. In the Hebrew we first see it regarding God granting a spirit of wisdom (hm’k.x) in Exodus 28:3 in the creation of Aaron’s vestments. In fact throughout Exodus we see where wisdom is a gift from God and He gives it liberally to both men and women (see Ex. 31:3, 6; 35:26, 31, 35; 36:1,2). In these texts wisdom is defined in the BDB:

H2451 hm’k.x’ chokmah {khok-maw’} from 02449; TWOT – 647a; nf

AV – wisdom 145, wisely 2, skilful man 1; 149

(1). Wisdom 1a) skill (in war) 1b) wisdom (in administration) 1c) shrewdness, wisdom 1d) wisdom, prudence (in religious affairs) 1e) wisdom (ethical and religious)

Chokmah is a gift from God. This type of wisdom might be compared to the charismatic concept of “revelation knowledge.”

By God’s sovereign good pleasure He enables and equips men and women to do His will by granting them the wisdom necessary. Chokmah is sometimes viewed as a type of the Holy Spirit, who bears the title “Spirit of Wisdom” (see Isa. 11:2, Eph. 2:17).

Sixty-five times another Hebrew cognate is used regarding wisdom throughout the Old Testament:

H7919 IK;f sakal {saw-kal’}

A primitive root; TWOT – 2263,2264; v

AV – understand 12, wise 12, prosper 8, wisely 6, understanding 5, consider 4, instruct 3, prudent 2, skill 2, teach 2, misc 7; 63

1) to be prudent, be circumspect, wisely understand, prosper 1a) (Qal) to be prudent, be circumspect 1b) (hiphil) 1b1) to look at or upon, to look upon, have insight 1b2) to give attention to, consider, ponder, be prudent 1b3) to have insight, have comprehension 1b3a) insight, comprehension (subst) 1b4) to cause to consider, give insight, teach 1b4a) the teachers, the wise 1b5) to act circumspectly, act prudently, act wisely 1b6) to prosper, have success 1b7) to cause to prosper 2) (Piel) to lay crosswise, cross (hands)

Sakal is the correct application of knowledge and is a process of learning how to make wise decisions in the whole sphere of our lives. In many places sakal is translated “prosper.” Here is just one well know example of this translation:

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. KJV Joshua 1:7

Sakal, although still having as its source God, is granted By Him through mental exercise, study and meditation as opposed to Him simply “plopping” Chokmah in our melons. God is promising the Jews that if they would observe (shamar, to heed closely) God’s law and keep it as their guide they would achieve sakal in life.

For most of us when we think about wisdom we immediately think of the Book of Proverbs. The first four verses reveal to us the purpose of Proverbs:

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom (Chokmah) and instruction: to perceive the words of understanding: To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. Proverbs 1:1-4

In verse 5 Solomon switches and uses Sakal to describe the wise man. Through giving oneself over to the love of biblical wisdom eventually one attains the station of being a wise counselor or at least having the wisdom to seek those of “wise counsels.” Seeking to become wise is indeed a worthy calling, suitable for any vocation in life!

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. Psl. 111:10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me (wisdom) thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shall bear it. Pro. 3:10-12

As God’s people we should all reverence God in our hearts, but many times we do not. This is where a solid catechetical upbringing comes in handy — as we are taught in Luther’s Small Catechism regarding the First of the Ten Commandments: “we should fear and love, and trust in God above all things.” As we consciously strive to fear God by reverencing Him as God and His name as holy we find ourselves on the road to becoming wise! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

My son, if thou will receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shall thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:1-6

Solomon is passionate abut how to attain wisdom, and considering he is often referred to be the wisest man in the Bible who better to teach us how to become wise? Wisdom comes through diligent pursuit and it is rare (know of any really wise men or women in your life?). Godly wisdom, obviously, is grounded in the Word of God. As His Word is sown deep into our hearts, yes true faith is indeed sown into our hearts through the hearing of God’s Word (Rom. 10:17), we then begin to apply our hearts to understanding what we have received from our hearing. We begin to engage in the process of spiritual development. Martin Luther said it this way (I paraphrase) — one hears the Word of God, meditates upon It, Satan comes to steal the Word sown in the heart which in turns drives the saint back to God and His Word. It is a lifelong cycle.

In essence this is what Solomon is advocating. Get into the Word of God…yet more than that become a hearer that does/applies what he or she has heard (James 1:22) in the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Those who only hear and do not act upon godly instruction deceive themselves and in the end others who follow them. Cry out to the Lord in prayer, commune with Him on your beds in your hearts (see Psl 4:4; 77:6) ask Him for an understanding of His Word. I can assure you of the result of such a life:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraided not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8

We are without excuse if we are not dealing wisely in the affairs of life. A good practical definition of wisdom is this: the proper application of knowledge resulting in the right decisions being made with godly outcomes. I say we are without excuse because God’s Word tells us to ask God for wisdom! When we act upon this text here is what takes place: (1) we go to our Lord in prayer asking Him for wisdom (let’s say regarding buying a home). (2) God hears our cry for wisdom (remember: And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 1 Jh. 5:14-15 (3) He will give the wisdom being sought in a liberal manner. (4) He will not “upbraid” us, I.e. call us “dummies” for bothering Him by asking. However, points 2-4 are conditional upon us (1) asking in faith, in this case I base my faith upon 1 Jh. 5, knowing I am asking in accord with His will, ergo He hears, ergo having heard He will grant it to me. (2) I must remain steadfast in my trusting in God’s willingness to supply me with more than enough wisdom to meet my need. Sadly, what often happens in our lives is that we do not go to God first and foremost. Often we rely on our own intellectual ability or that of the so-called experts around us. This is the danger in relying upon our fallen human reason and wisdom. This is where Luther was correct in his hatred of fallen wisdom and all that has sprung form that corrupt spring.

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. James 3:13-18

There is a wisdom that is not from God, that has its origins in Satan and it is earthly and sensual. This i9s the wisdom of this age which God has demonstrated to be foolishness (see 1 Cor. 1:19-20). Godly wisdom is juxtaposed to earthly wisdom and is easily discerned by the observant:

I can assure you that all of my mistakes in life can be traced back to either a lack of godly wisdom, or me acting upon my own or others fallen wisdom…which probably seemed to make sense at the time (to my still being transformed mind). Now as a lover of wisdom, yeah verily a philosopher — may I never forget the following:

Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom: and with all they getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go; keep her; for she is thy life. Proverbs 4:5-13

Godly wisdom is the principle thing, therefore GET WISDOM. Obtaining and learning how to walk in wisdom requires a lifetime engagement. It is not an instantaneous experience per se. This probably explains the dearth of wise people in the Church today. Most people are too busy living their lives to give themselves over to the disciplined and rigorous study and meditation of God’s Word. Problems faced biblically lead to lasting solutions with no bad unintended consequences. Whereas tackling life’s problems with the insights of Oprah & Chicken Soup for the Soul will lead only to confusion, self-reliance and in the end darkness.

One way to begin to take the conscious steps to becoming wise is to hear the words of the wise. What I have done for some years now (and yes it is finally paying off, thanks for asking) is to listen to the Book of Proverbs & Ecclesiastes over and over and over. For example, in the summer when I see some scantily clad woman strolling down the street I am reminded instantly of the “strange woman” of Proverbs and I am not led astray by her deceptive advertising. This one example is simple but profound! Think about all the immorality, divorce rate, the adultery (web sites abound to facilitate cheating) the sexual impurity and its incurable diseases like herpes and HIV, etc. All of which could and can be totally avoided by walking in the simple wisdom of God when it comes to dealing with morality as shown in Proverbs alone!!

DMI is offering to send you a FREE CD with the book of Proverbs & Ecclesiastes on it. Simply, mail back the envelop requesting the FREE CD and we will get it out to you. It will be in Mp3 format and if you have an Ipod or something akin to it, it can be placed onto that from the CD. ♦

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow





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