Some Christians feel squeamish about learning anything from non-Christian authors. This is understandable, especially in light of the fact that in the Bible there is a clear emphasis on not emulating the evil or desiring the riches of evil people or basing your life on human traditions and false philosophies (see Colossians 2:1-10). Perhaps the most obvious example of this is Psalm 1:
Psalms 1:1-2 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (2) but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
But other passages of Scripture place the emphasis on learning wisdom wherever it can be found. But the fact of the matter is that the Bible has many cases wherein God’s people can learn from non-Israelites and non-Christians. The only sinful thing would be to learn from sinners (whether Christian or not) to emulate their sinful habits (See Exodus 23:2).
Here are some of the Bible passages about learning from people just because they are wise, regardless of their religious situation:
- Moses’ father-in-law, who certain respects the Hebrew people and even sacrifices to their God, but is not a Hebrew himself. Never-the-less, Moses not only follows his advice, but his advice is included as a part of the Torah in Exodus 18.
- In Acts, one of Stephen’s praises of Moses is that he was wise in “all the learning of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22).
- Paul quotes pagan philosophers in Acts 17, 1 Corinthians 15, and Titus in order to make specific points. In 1 Corinthians, the quote is concerning the capacity of bad character to corrupt good morals. Paul could have easily quoted Proverbs on this score, but didn’t.
- In Titus 1:15 Paul notes that to the pure, all things are pure, including the very mythologies he says not to obsess over earlier in the book (1:14).
- In Daniel, Daniel knows all of the wisdom of the Chaldeans, and this is considered a good thing.
Anyhow, the point is that while Christians should be concerned to avoid emulating the evil they see in others (whether Christian or not), they should not feel bad about learning to be wise or discovering truth from non-Christians. Instead, in all their getting, they should get wisdom.