On the Nature of Philosophy: An Interview with Dr. Cabal: Part I

This an interview I did with Dr. Ted Cabal, Professor of Christian Apologetics at SBTS, back in 2007 on the the place of philosophy in the life of the believer. Because the question of philosophy’s value is still asked today, this 10-year old interview still has value today.  I believe the study of philosophy coincides with the study of theology as the two disciplines have spilled over into each other (intentionally or not) throughout history, thus to understand philosophy can help the believer to understand certain aspects of theology, why certain theologians avoided or reworked particular doctrines, etc. 

Dr. Cabal has played an integral part in my development as a student and as a developing philosopher, particularly in his fostering in me a love for the history of philosophy.

The interview is broken into four posts.

When and how did you come to the realization that philosophy was the area that you wanted to study?  And, what were some of the misconceptions that you had about philosophy before you studied philosophy?

Dr. Cabal:  I made fun of philosophy as a baby Christian, and in fact, did so for approximately the first dozen years of my Christian life.  I had a popular misconception as a Christian that philosophy was the equivalent to these wild speculations of weird ivory tower thinkers that had not only  no relationship to the every day world, but that they were almost always inventing theories that were antithetical to the Christian faith.  And so, even though I knew very little about philosophy, I had a popular conception of it, and frequently made fun of it.  It was later in my Christian life, after I had already developed a reasonable foundation in understanding biblical studies, and theological, historical studies that, because of my going to school again, I was forced to read some philosophy in relation to apologetics.  As I began to discover the importance of apologetics in Christian history, as well as in my own understanding of evangelism and strengthening the faith of myself and other Christians, I began to realize that philosophy had been the key element to quality apologetics.  I realized that I didn’t know what philosophy was; I had a definition that was wrong, a conception that was wrong.

Consequently, through my getting interested in philosophy via apologetics, I came to find out as I studied the history of philosophy that philosophy per se was incredibly helpful to me in understanding the broader world, both of Christian history – how ideas had affected theology – but more specifically how the history of ideas had affected the world in which I lived and how ideas were critical if I were to understand how to interact with it.  So, though I’ve never, and I’m grateful for this, never wanted to make philosophy more important to me than understanding the Bible and developing a consistent theology based upon it, nonetheless, I’ve come to understand that it’s impossible not to be a philosopher any more than it’s impossible not to be a theologian.  And therefore, I’ve made it my goal ever since to want to do both of those things well.

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