Introduction: The history of Christianity and Greek philosophy
The history of Christianity and Greek philosophy is complex and intertwined. Christian theology and doctrine were profoundly influenced by Greek philosophy, which emphasizes logic and reason.
Furthermore, Christianity’s concept of the “Logos” or “Word” has its roots in Greek philosophy, in particular in Stoic writings and the concept of “Divine Reason” that governs the universe.
Between Greek philosophy and Christianity, however, there were also tensions. In particular, they related to the nature of God, the Trinity, and the relationship between faith and reason.
As a result of these tensions, Christian thinkers debated and disagreed throughout the centuries, with some embracing Greek philosophy as a means of understanding Christian doctrine and others rejecting it.
Christian theology and thought continue to be shaped and influenced by the relationship between Christianity and Greek philosophy
Christian theology and thought continue to be shaped and influenced by the relationship between Christianity and Greek philosophy.
Professor Dietrich Schwanitz explains the lifeline of Western civilization as follows.
The lifeblood of Western culture originates from Israel and Greece in one of these two rivers. In blessing cultures, these two rivers provide nourishment through their stories.
He cites two central texts of European culture, one of which is the 『The Bible』, the 『The Iliad』 about the Greek siege of Troy, and the two epics of Odysseus getting lost on his resourceful journey from Troy to the return home of his wife, 『The Odyssey』.
During the reading of this book, we discussed some of the myths and philosophies of ancient Greece. Just as mythology and philosophy cannot be divided, neither the Bible nor philosophy can be divided.
John explains Christ in words and introduces and explains the concept of logos by Heraclitus. The Logos that John the Apostle described is both Hellas and Hebrew.
Before the Acts of the Apostles, there is an image of the Apostle Paul preaching the gospel to the Athenian philosophers. He explained the gospel based on Greek ideas. After the Apostle Paul, Augustine and Aquinas organized Christian theology with the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Greek philosophy, especially Plato’s philosophy, has been used to facilitate the conversion of Christian ideas into theology for the following reasons.
Platonism had two principles, which were so attractive to early Christians that other philosophical systems were hidden behind them.
Unlike Stoic, this is a theory of Eros, the power that expresses the belief in the transcendental world where non-material beings live and the human desire for the beauty of “the divine work.”
The successful growth of mid-Platonism assimilated much of Aristotelian philosophy, Stoic philosophy, and even skepticism, making the ascetic side of Cynic-Stoic ethics more entrenched in Platonized metaphysical ethics.G.R. Evans
Christianity in the Greek Philosophy
In their deep thoughts, ancient Greek philosophers experienced God vaguely, despite not knowing God precisely. They were people who reached knowledge of the divine only through the reasoning of reason.
Therefore, today they are equally clear witnesses that humans take time to meet the living creatures of God who are indefensible if they infer reason deeply using reason.
In Christianity, reason is often referred to as ‘general revelation’. The use of reason, a general poem, is equally required for saints who meet God through special revelation.
In church history, Christianity has been able to meet the other wing of Greek philosophy and create an extraordinary synergy effect.
Philosophy, which led Hellas’ ideas and culture, faced challenging topics that had not been encountered in the past as it met Christianity. It is the problem of human salvation, free will, and evil, and the things that have been dealt with in the Greek tradition have undergone fundamental transformation.
Meanwhile, early Christianity also suffered from various forms of heresy in the process of overcoming the attacks of Greek philosophy and explaining its position in philosophical terms and systems. As a result of these trials, the two ideas reached a new point of convergence.
Greek philosophy holds that as the Germans made significant migrations, the ancient civilization collapsed and its existence was almost forgotten. However, it was protected by Christianity, which gained an unrivalled position in Western Europe.
It was essential to embrace Greek philosophy in order for Christianity, which was born in the Palestinian region, to spread Greek and Roman culture throughout the Mediterranean.
In the process, Christianity was able to achieve a comprehensive system that religions in other regions could not reach. This persuasion became the basis for the creation of a universal religion that could spread around the world.
Like this, Greek philosophy helped enrich Christianity by adding the logos of reason to the pathos of faith. This is also true of the meaning of the word theology.
Faith of Seeking Understanding
Aurelius Augustine of Hippo, who pursued the “Faith of seeking understanding,” laid the foundation for medieval Christian theology using Plato’s philosophy and Neo-Platonism philosophy. The same is true for Thomas Aquinas and Anselm of Canterbury.
Faith requires reason, and true faith stimulates the activities of reason. We need philosophy to respond to the challenges Christianity faces today, especially since we need to explain it in their language.
So today, Christians’ intellectual laziness, which is neglected not only in philosophy but also in Christian doctrines and theology, should be avoided.
In the early days of Christianity, philosophy and theology were not distinguished like the latter. Therefore, it should be considered that early Christianity had no choice but to meet Christian ideas and secular philosophy.
Through such a meeting, We developed a clear understanding of Christian theology from Christian philosophy. It wasn’t until the 12th century that these distinctions became concrete.
With other Christians, those who were called Christians and Christians who answered pagan questions began discussing both theological and philosophical topics.
But living as a philosopher at the time meant studying so-called metaphysics or being committed to something eternal and immutable, or doing so much magic.
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