Preamble – Dear Friends – I prepared a Reflection that I did not really like, so I contacted Richard Jones, former Anglican priest – now fervent Catholic- for his insight. He proposed the following which I Iiked so much that I forwarded it unedited, as he submitted. Here it is:
Although we live in the 21st Century and regard ourselves as enlightened Moderns — far removed from ancient mythologies — the issues we struggle with today are not really distinct to our age. St. Paul warned the Christians in Colossae to be wary of any deceitful philosophy that is based upon “traditions of men . . . according to the elemental powers of the world,” rather than upon Christ, the one in whom “the fulness of deity dwells bodily.” He spoke of “principalities and powers” that set themselves against Christ.
Yet, concerning philosophy or principalities and powers, few things are new under the Sun or unique to our age. Indeed, broadly speaking, there are two basic philosophical options: we can either pursue wisdom that is grounded in certain elemental aspects or powers of the universe, or we can pursue the wisdom of the Christ. Likewise, we can submit to principalities and powers of the age, or we can submit to the authority of Christ.
Why does Paul warn us against being taken captive to philosophy? Does he mean that Catholics should avoid the study of philosophy? Absolutely not. We have a rich philosophical tradition in the history of our Church. Furthermore, we must study it to discern true wisdom from deceitful philosophy.
The caveat of Colossians 2:8, then, simply means that we should not be deceived by philosophy that is according to the “traditions of men.” We are not to be seduced by principles of worldly philosophies that seek wisdom apart from Christ. Rather, we must submit our philosophy to the mind of Jesus and find answers to the deepest, most profound questions of life in a Christocentric philosophy. He is the One through Whom everything was made (Col. 1:15) and in Whom the whole Creation coheres (1:17); so, we desire to know what He reveals to us about God, the World, Truth, and Morality.
Principalities and Powers
Paul also wrote of “principalities and powers,” a phrase he employed in Ephesians as well; but what are they? Ephesians 3:10 suggests they are unseen angelic or demonic entities, because they are located in the “heavenly places.”
Nevertheless, the Spiritual realm does impact the Earthly domain; and demonic opposition to Christ is manifested in the secular realm. Spiritual realities exercise a profound influence upon the political and social structures of our world.
Yet, St Paul teaches that ALL principalities and powers were created through Christ, and they are thus subject to His dominion. Though all the evil powers in the heavens and on earth conspired to murder him, Jesus routed them by his resurrection. The resurrected Christ is God’s answer to all who oppose Him. Our Lord’s conquest of death, which we proclaim and celebrate at every Mass, decisively revealed to every principality and power in the universe — both seen and unseen — the utter futility of opposing the Lordship of Jesus.
Now if this is true — if Christ is the source of all Creation; if all power is derived from Him; if the fulness of Deity dwells in Jesus; if the whole of Creation coheres and finds its meaning in Him; and if by his resurrection Christ conquered His enemies; then why would we seek wisdom in empty philosophy or bow before any defeated power that vainly continues to oppose Him?
After all, Jesus is both Truth and Lord.