Tuesday, 9/12/17 – Empty, Seductive Philosophies

Suppose you drive up to the preschool to pick up your grandchild. There are twenty or thirty little ones standing out front, and a teacher is monitoring the group. When you stop to get your grandchild, the teacher takes one child at random and places her in the backseat of your car. You protest that this child is not yours. In response the teacher shrugs off your comment and says, “kids are kids; one’s as good as another.”

We would be horrified to hear a teacher talk this way. Of course, in many ways kids look the same, but there is an infinite difference between my grandchild and another child chosen at random.

How is it that we know the critical importance of recognizing our true grandchild, but when it comes to religion, we buy easily into the statement, “religions are pretty much the same; one is as good as another?” We have accepted a strange kind of tolerance that leads us to surrender what is true—what is ours. St. Paul called this way of thinking an “empty, seductive philosophy.”

He warns the Colossians about getting seduced into a wrong way of thinking and watering down their understanding of Christ (Colossians 2:6-15).

“See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to the tradition of men, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ.”

Philosophies and religions abound. They are contrived by the thinking of men– based on human ideas. Christianity is not a philosophy or religion that some guru, named Jesus Christ, came up with. It is the truth that came, not from the minds of men, but was revealed by God himself. There is as much difference between revealed truth and human philosophy as there is between your grandchild and another random child in front of the preschool.

To emphasize his point, Paul reminded this people who Jesus really is. He is not just a religious leader among other religious leaders.

“For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily, and you share in this fullness in him, who is the head of every principality and power.”

There is no other human being who has the “fullness” of God in him or her. There is no mere human being who rules over the angelic principalities and powers that govern the universe. Comparing any other religious leader or philosophy to Jesus Christ is like comparing a drop of water to the Pacific Ocean. How is it that we are so easily seduced by empty ideas and opinions?

The truth of Christ is not just something that we learned in a theology class. It is something that has actually happened to us.

“In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God…he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions…”

We were stripped of our natural selves, drowned in the water of baptism, and wiped clean of sin which held us in eternal bondage. Could we forget an experience in which we were stripped, drowned, and then resuscitated and set free? Our faith is not just a set of ideas that we studied in school; it is born of a life-changing transformation that no empty philosophy has the power to accomplish.

Jesus does not stand side by side with a variety of religions and philosophies, offering us a choice. He has conquered and exposed all of these making a prisoner of the ruling spirits that create such “alternatives.”

“…despoiling the principalities and the powers, he made a public spectacle of them, leading them away in triumph by it (the cross).”

Paul exhorts us to stay rooted in Christ Jesus the Lord, to walk in him, and to be established in the faith we were taught, “abounding in thanksgiving.”

We would not, through carelessness, want to give up one of our children or grandchildren. So, also, we go to extremes to make sure we do not let someone put some empty philosophy into the “backseats” of our minds. When we value what we have, we never stop thanking God for it.

“I chose you from the world, that you may go and bear fruit that will last” (John 15:16).

About the Author

Author Bob Garvey lives in Louisville, Kentucky. He has a master’s degree in religious education and has been an active leader in the Catholic charismatic renewal for forty years. After retiring as a high school teacher, he began to write daily commentaries on the Church’s liturgical readings and other topics relevant to Catholic spirituality. He is married to Linda, has three daughters and four grandchildren.

Author Archive Page


  1. Thank you Bob Garvey for directing us into deeper faith in christ jesus. So many of us have lost direction of God purpose for bringing us into the world. But the holy spirit just direct you to make us understand our purpose, so that we can go back to our root(holding firm to our faith).God bless you. AMEN

  2. Bob,

    Thank you for the wonderful reflection. I especially loved the example of the preschool children which beautifully explains the first reading from St. Paul to the Colossians. The reading itself is amazing. St. Paul lays to us the guiding principle of any Christian who believes in Christ. How lucky we are to have such scripture and more so to have people like Bob to explain to us such Scripture!

    God Bless you Bob

  3. Thanks Bob for this. It touches my heart more so in todays world where institutions like marriage is viewed from a different perspective mostly on the “what is it for me if I marry you ” eg nuptial agreement with what i call consequences if something does not go ones way……very unfortunate we allow ourselves to be seduced Amen and thanks for sharing ….

  4. Thank you, Bob. It must have also been a problem in Paul’s time. It is so wonderful to hear the truth, when there is so much confusion and hopelessness, addictions and distractions. It is always so beautiful when someone comes back to Jesus, to the faith. It is worth all the celebration by the angels in heaven. God bless all.

  5. I appreciate so much your ability to connect your reflection with a lived experience example that all of us can relate to! I look forward to your writings every week! Thank you for sharing your faith and deepening mine.

  6. Thank you Bob. I love reading your your reflection on the readings. God bless you all at Catholic Moment.

  7. Yes thanks you and God for your reflections. I think (as I know what happened to me) many of us for what ever the reason, conform ourselves to the world (society) to darkness, to sin (due to cultural and societal influences or our own wants). Once this occurs then it’s not an easy road back to conforming to Christ. If conforming to Christ is done at an early age or “coming out of the gate” it’s a much easier road then the one I took. Oh, how I wish I did things different. Thanks be to God I’m on the road back. Love to all. Amen.

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