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Wisdom and Philosophy

The term "philosophy" means "love of wisdom" and is derived from the Greek philos meaning love, and sophia meaning wisdom. Philosophy has been defined as our "scientific total-view of all created reality". The human mind finds satisfaction in being able to relate the various parts of creation to the whole and in being able to attain to a worldview where the various fragments of human knowledge are seen in their true interrelationships.

Through the centuries philosophers have reasoned with a view to increasing our understanding of the universe and what life is all about. Different philosophers have reached very different conclusions.

It is important to appreciate the limitations of philosophy in relation to true wisdom. As our wisdom is limited because we can only attain to a finite understanding of the world and that only so far as God's revelation permits us, so philosophy being a human enterprise is similarly limited. As philosophy is strictly concerned with created reality it is more limited than true wisdom which also includes "theology" which is the science which treats of God as he reveals Himself in His relations to man. As there are two kinds of wisdom, the wisdom of God and the wisdom of this world, so there are two main kinds of philosophy, the true and the false. Particular philosophers are found to be more or less reliable depending upon the extent to which true wisdom influenced them.

In learning about the various philosophers we must carefully examine what they have to say and we must do so in the light of true wisdom. We will want to know what they have to say about God, the origin and structure of the universe, man, sin, redemption, history, social order, work and the future. We can see in this way the extent to which their teachings are of value to us in advancing our wisdom.

O children, hither do ye come

    and unto me give ear;

I shall you teach to understand

    how ye the Lord shall fear.

What man is he that life desires,

    to see good would live long?

Thy lips refrain from speaking guile,

    and from ill words thy tongue.

Depart from ill, do good, seek peace,

    pursue it earnestly.

God's eyes are on the just; his ears

    are open to their cry.

(Psalm 34.11-15)

A Digest of True Wisdom

A digest was originally a collection of Roman laws, digested or arranged under their proper titles. We now use the term for any similar summary set out in a methodical way. As our memory fails to retain so much of what we read and learn it is of great value to have our own digest of true wisdom compiled through the years as we increase in understanding about various matters. In this way we will produce our own encyclopedia as a rich storehouse of information from which to draw in the future.

The term Encyclopedia means "the circle of the sciences" (en kyklos paideia) and is used to describe books which give a systematic survey of all departments of knowledge. Large encyclopedias seek to give exhaustive information about the main areas of human knowledge. Usually they are arranged alphabetically. This is useful for locating articles on a particular subject but it does not help to show how all things are related to one another within a unified view of reality. It has been argued that the real function of encyclopedia is to show the interrelationships between all the sciences.

A digest will be more in keeping with this view if it uses a topical arrangement rather than an alphabetical one. An alphabetical arrangement puts different subjects next to one another but an arrangement by topics keeps closely related subjects together. The human mind as created by God makes more progress in understanding when the relations between various things can be appreciated. Also our memories are assisted in retaining more information by logical arrangement.

No one is too young to start a digest but adult guidance and checking from time to time will help. Avoid the mediocre and trivial and gather the best like precious stones into a treasure chest. This is how some of our great scientists began their work. "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 shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God." (Proverbs 2.3-5)

Hints for your digest

1. Basic - seeks to lay a foundation

2. Brevity - avoids too much detail

3. Biblical - keeps to the Biblical world view

4. Logical - follows an orderly arrangement

5. Beneficial - gives "good doctrine" (Proverbs 4.2)

6. Practical - includes experiments done.

A Diagram to Illustrate True Wisdom



The Written Word of God:

Our Standard


The Knowledge of

the Supreme Being:

God Himself

Now and Beyond:       3            The Universe:

                        God's Challenge                            God's Workmanship

Work: God's task for us                   (4)                   Man: God's steward

Divine Institutions:             History: God's Purpose

God's Order for us

1. Our knowledge must come from God.

2. Our knowledge must lead us to glorify God.

3. Our Knowledge is bounded because the universe has its limits and what we can know of God is limited to what he has revealed of Himself.

4. Our Knowledge is unified through Scriptural truth.


Start a personal digest.

Use a large folder for your personal digest with 8 divisions.

Wisdom: God's gift to those who seek it

1. The Supreme Being: God Himself

2. The Universe: God's workmanship

3. Man: God's steward

4. History: God's purpose unfolding

5. Divine Institutions: God's order

6. Work: God's task for us

7. Now and Beyond: God's challenge to us

Some ideas for development are given in the following table.


    Division                  Main Contents                                     Special Points

Wisdom                            True and false wisdom                         You will now have plenty of ideas for this

The Supreme Being       Existence - Known- The Bible -            Include any worksheets

                                            God's character and purpose.              done on these subjects

The Universe                   Science-Origins-Matter-Energy            Include worksheets and

                                             Land - Vegetation - Animals                 records of experiments

Man                                    Origin-Dominion- Marriage- Work     Use the workpack units

                                             The fall - Human body - The Soul        as a starting point

History                               Origins-Moses & Egypt - David           See workpack for

                                              World Empires - Times of                     The detailed outline

                                              Messiah - The Early Church -

      Middle Ages - Reformation -

                                             Modern Times

Institutions                      Sovereignty - Law - Family -

                                            Church - Kings and judges

Work                                 Origin - Significance - Benefits -             Do not include

                                            Organisation                                                practical work projects

Now & Beyond             The World Today - Religion -                   Include facts and

                                           Science - Arts - Culture -                            figures as available

The Future