Philosophy and A Biblical Approach To Leadership

           Christian Ministry is, at its core, disciple-making. The labor of Christian ministry should be approached with the mindset of developing faith and spiritual foundations of other people. It is, then, vital that any individual engaging in Christian ministry have a clear understanding and solid foundation regarding their beliefs, because those beliefs and the degree to which they are understood greatly affects the labor of ministry and leadership. This article will offer a brief overview of several theological statements and how ones understanding of them affects ministry praxis.

Metaphysics

             Metaphysics at its core seeks to answer the question “what is real?”[1] A more formal definition would articulate that metaphysics is a “branch of philosophy that deals with ultimate reality by considering such things as the nature of time, freedom, essences, God, and the soul.”[2] A Christian worldview supposes that God is the root of ultimate reality (Isaiah 44:24).[3] He is the source of time (Gen. 1:14), nature (Gen. 1:20-25), mankind (Gen. 1:26,2:7,2:21-22), and the soul ( Psalm 139.13-14:, Ezek. 18:4). Through metaphysics, a Christian worldview recognizes that without God as the creator, the universe, the world, space and time, and the rest of all creation could not exist; therefore, what Christians hold to be true and real comes from the spoken commands of God (Gen. 1-2).

Epistemology

            Epistemology and metaphysics go hand-in-hand in a number of ways, though, they differ in various ways as well. Dew and Foreman assert that epistemology “is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of our knowledge.”[4] Epistemology seeks to answer questions such as how we know what we know. A Christian would understand that God, who is real and intelligent, created everything in existence; moreover, He created mankind in His likeness (Gen. 1:26). Furthermore, having been made in His image, God bestowed knowledge and intelligence upon His creation. Christians believe that God provides knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6). This is so Christians may grow in obedience and knowledge of Him (Proverbs 9:10). Understanding that knowledge comes from God allows Christians to better understand how He reveals himself to us through not only His Word, but His creation as well.

Axiology

        In short, axiology is the study of values. Specifically, axiology is “the philosophical study of goodness.”[5] In a general sense, values play a major role in cultural constructs both secularly and religiously. All individuals seek to understand what is inherently good, thought Christians understand goodness and values through education from the Word of God. The Bible is explicit in laying foundations for God’s design for what is good and all associated values. God knows what is good and evil and so does mankind (Gen. 3:22). God created mankind to bear good fruit (Galatians 5:23-25), Christians are to become more like Christ in our daily walk (Phil. 2:1-5) which is the process known to Christians as sanctification (2 Thess. 2:13). It is from studying God’s Word that the Christian, through a biblical perspective, can arrive to truths regarding goodness and values derived from questions brought on by the study of axiology. Therefore, an understanding of the study of axiology as it pertains to biblical “goodness” provides a clearer understanding of what it means to be sanctified in the truth (John 17:17).

Educational Assumptions

            There are a wide range of assumptions regarding Christian education. One specific reoccurring theme I have encountered are Christians who hold the presupposition that education is solely reserved for those pursuing formal training from a university or a seminary. I do not believe you will find in the bible where God’s Word is meant to be studied only through formal education. Rather, every person has been called by God to learn of his nature and live out His calling for His creation. Every believer has been given knowledge and wisdom from God (Proverbs 2:6, James 1:5). Therefore, the Word merely needs to be engaged intentionally and God sought after. All of this to say, there is a need for people to be taught practical ministry application form those who are further in their walk. Jesus modeled this approach in the way he taught his disciples. God created all people in his likeness (Gen 1:26) and He intends for them to learn and grow. Without education, faith, knowledge, and values cannot take root (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Leadership Assumptions

            The Bible lays foundations for leadership that apply to the home, the workplace, the community, and within the church. Christian leadership is more than just a pastor behind a pulpit, or a deacon, though there are specific qualifications that those leaders should possess (1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:7). Practical leadership principals such as spiritual formation can and should be taught to any Christian, because, all Christians are called to some level of leadership since all Christians have been called and sent (Acts 1:8, Matt. 28:19). While God reserves certain positions for those whom He calls as teachers and overseers, He intends for all of His creation to be equipped for the works to which we have all been called ( Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 4:11-16)

Conclusion

Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Axiology all apply to the Christian faith and possessing an understanding of each respective area is vital for Christian education and leadership development. While teach area studies and seeks understanding of various questions, when approached theologically, the answers to those questions can be found explicitly within God’s Word. In turn, the answers to these philosophical questions help lay spiritual foundations and continually shape ones biblical worldview. Lastly, with education comes the ability to teach God’s word practically (2 Tim 3:17) because the more we know of God, the better equipped we are to educate those around us for the various roles of leadership that we have all been called to.


[1] William Hasker, Metaphysics (InterVarsity Press, 2016).

[2] James K. Dew Jr and Mark W. Foreman, How Do We Know?: An Introduction to Epistemology (InterVarsity Press, 2014).

[3] All scripture is from the ESV Study Bible unless otherwise noted

[4] Jr and Foreman, How Do We Know?

[5] “Axiology | Philosophy,” Encyclopedia Britannica, accessed April 1, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/topic/axiology.

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