'Eastern' vs. 'Western Thought,' What a Bunch of Skubalon!

doggie-pooper-scooperFirst things first.  What’s skubalon?  It’s the New Testament equivalent of the word s**t!  Let’s look at it in context:

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”  Philippians 3:7-8

The word “rubbish” here is translated by Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message, as “dog dung.”  Poop, Crap, or whatever your favorite word for excrement is.  Personally, I think that it’s a tired and intellectually irresponsible dismissal of other believers, because of they’re supposed trapping in a “western mind-set.”  

Some insist that these western-thinkers abandon their message/information/logos-centered theology, beliefs, and ideologies because they are steeped in Western or Greek thought.  Instead, or so it is thought, they must move towards a more mystical, experiential, or existential embodiment type theologies (i.e. more Hebraic and Eastern). 

This false dichotomy between western and eastern thought is pushed by people who want to show you that they’re too sexy for your thoughts.  Arguments that rely on these false dichotomies between “Greek and Hebrew” or “Eastern and Western” may look sexy but they are often nothing more than power plays. Beyond that, it’s just plain offensive.  Hurling accusations at other believers for not thinking “holistically” Hebrew is like calling them halfwits.  Despite what they say, ‘both & and’s,’ are not the proof of an enlightened mind. At the end of the day, the appeal that we embrace more “Eastern” or “Hebraic” thinking often is a ploy to lead us further from the Biblical text which points to the Christ.  John 5:39

It’s not Eastern or Western thought that should categorize your thought journey.  Nor is it any philosophy of thought that would set itself up against biblical thinking.  Biblical thinking is that which takes ever thought captive and subjects it to Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5  It is that thinking which shaped by the things that are true, noble, just, and of good report. Philippians 4:8.  It is an ever sanctifying thought process which results in the renewing of a believer’s mind.  Romans 12:2

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8

It’s high time we reject such shoddy argumentation and see it for what it is–the use of smoke and mirrors to mislead.  Let’s bag the poop and move on.

When someone tells a follower of Christ that they’re stuck in a Western Mind-set, or any other, then they’re as much as saying that Christ’s renewing of their mind is not happening, at least according to their liking.  In essence, they’re saying that Christ is not at work in them. Believers understand these things, because they have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) 





0 thoughts on “'Eastern' vs. 'Western Thought,' What a Bunch of Skubalon!

  1. Jim Wright says:

    That there’s some good (oops!) 😉

  2. David Woods says:

    I don’t disagree at all. In fact, that’s what I’ve been saying in the last few posts I’ve commented on. Philosophy (and most theology for that matter) DOES set itself up against biblical thinking. Colossians 2:8 is a very good example of this, thanks for mentioning it.

    It’s our relationship with the Lord (based on the foundation of Scripture) that GIVES us the testimonies to share, and it’s our relationships with each other that allows us to proclaim those testimonies to each other (through words, as you mentioned), and thereby encourage, exhort, and help each other maintain a healthy relationship with the Lord, while the doing of such helps us retain good relationships with each other. It’s a bit circular, but in a good way. Helping us all to obey the “two greatest commandments”.

    The kind of thinking you mentioned also helps to de-unify the church, and just bolsters the already astronomic confusion in the pews by those who, at the core of it all, just want to let their sin go, and do what’s right in life.

    I agree, if for no other reason than the unity of the body of Christ, let’s get the pooper-scoopers out, and throw out the philosophical/theological sewage that’s been stinking up the church for so many centuries, and move on to real relationship with Christ, and real relationships with each other sometime before He returns to find nothing but a bickering, bitter bride awaiting Him.

    (Admittedly, maybe not what YOU meant Miguel, but it’s the way I took it, and definitely what I meant)

    • Miguel says:


      It’s not just any philosophy, but “hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Funny how the word “worldview” comes into play here.

      • David Woods says:

        When you rest your mouse on the link for Colossians 2:8 the version your blog pulls up says “philosophy AND empty deceit” as if they are two different things. It also adds ” according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”.

        What I don’t find is the Bible having anything positive to say about philosophy (or most theology for that matter) I don’t think it’s as much a matter of worldview as it is my trying to put aside worldview and find out what the Scriptures actually SAY about such things. This has been my goal from the beginning of my “real life” with Christ. I started this “real life” by putting aside everything I’d been taught, and picking up the Bible, reading it for myself, and letting God Himself speak to me about what it says. In my opinion, the fact that it is in the same list with things that are hollow and deceptive, things that are about human tradition and the elemental spirits of this world, and that all of these things are said to NOT be according to Christ, says a whole lot.

        I’m not reading my worldview into the Bible, I’ve done everything I can to form my worldview according TO the Bible. My very point is that philosophers and theologians are reading THEIR worldviews into the Bible when it is very obviously NOT present there. If I am wrong, please show me where the Bible says anything positive at all about any philosophy or theology (other than maybe as theology is defined as doctrine. Some people use the two interchangeably which is why I say “most theology”. The vain theology I refer to is the philosophical, extra-Biblical, mindgames theological trash that most taut as solid doctrine)

  3. wbmoore says:

    I would not have used the word you chose, but I agree with you.

    I am really dealing with this in my own life. I have friends who are moving more and more to the Hebrew traditions so as to “improve” their understanding of scripture.

    I am also dealing with it in my blog.

    There are people who want to add to the gospel in our lives.

    We MUST throw out the rubbish.

  4. Marshall says:

    “Let no one be despoiling you through philosophy and empty seduction…” [Colossians 2:8; in apology for certain liberties taken by the NIV team]

    “eastern” and “western” are not dichotomous …except possibly in the west. {grin}

    Would you limit λογος to printed or spoken word? If so, possibly you do not “know” the Word?

    whatever philosophy I formerly clung to; defended; helped to nurse, I counting it as σκυβαλα that I should be gaining Christ [instead].

  5. Eli says:

    well said. there is a lot of mental gymnastics pushed on people. Some of it is a reaction against western christianity which has been exported all over the world. I know i would like to see less books, blogs and speakers coming out of the US/UK though thats off topic.

  6. Allan says:

    I think the attempts at being more ‘eastern’ (I think middle-eastern might be a better term) in the discussions lately have attempts to get away from the overly logical / naturalistic / scientific / humanistic centered thought patterns of the more ‘western’ world.

    The logical / scientific etc thought pattern has lead to a Christianity that people have attempted to explain away (ie if you can’t measure it or do a repeatable experiment on it then its not real). Gone (in too much ‘western’ Christianity) is the mystery, the wonder, the amazement. Gone is the life – its been sanitized and locked up in words to the point where we refuse to look at it if it looks like the Spirit has been active.

    If it weren’t so tragic it would be comical – the western mind wants to discount the reality of the Holy Spirit while throwing open our minds so Disney can have hits like Brave and Tangled that reveal a Satan controlled spiritual world. Vampires and Zombies (imagery of death) can be in just about every TV show. Oh how I look for the day when the one (Jesus) who overcame death and the devil will make all things new again!

  7. Tom Schultz says:

    Best put in the whole context here:
    Philippians 3:1-9(NET) Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! To write this again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials — though mine too are significant. If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials, I have more: I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee. In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless. But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ. More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things — indeed, I regard them as dung! — that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness — a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness.”
    It seems the “dung” was all the WORKS he had carried out to earn God’s favor. It wasn’t that he was particularly singling out theology or obedience the Jewish law… the key was CREDENTIALS. How well that fits in with the move to enable all Christians to participate and contribute!

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