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Platonic Christian perspective

26 Nov 2015


Platonic_Christian_TraditionPlato often gets lumped in with humanistic philosophy, but he in particular is more spiritual then much religious dialogue today.

While Socrates spend most of his formal career in inquisitive discussion, his apprentice wanted to arrive at answers to his questions.  Socrates claimed to have no wisdom of his own, but merely questioned those who supposedly did have answers.  This “Socratic method” was quite effective, as it rendered the aristocracy unconfident in their comprehension of general concepts of life.  But as Plato came onto the scene, he had begun the first written record of philosophy.

While his records were in the form of written dialogues, he portrayed concepts that profoundly spiritual.  He wanted to understand the true essence of reality, and his he perceived the physical world as a shadow, or reflection.  He wanted to know the true real, not just the chalkboard representation of real.  He had hit on a powerful keynote that any good scientist, engineer, mathematician, or theologian considers.  Where to begin?

For Plato, he had a profound desire to understand this other realm.  He wanted to know that what he saw in this life is merely a reflection of some much more beautiful origin.  His pursuit in this direction led him to some pretty obscure beliefs, but his pursuit was meritoriously noble in my opinion.  Many Greek words come into meaning that are commonly misinterpreted for its lustful connotations.  The Greek word “kosmos” can mean “order” in addition to “world”.  The well-known term “eros” is commonly translated “sexual love” or “desire”.  But “Platonic love” was a particular view Plato held that didn’t necessarily require an external perception of beauty.  The Greeks had a lot of issues, but they did value beauty in life, and they brought out discussion on level of reality that is worthy of some respect.

Plato’s later apprentice Aristotle would take some concepts from Plato, and reject others, but Aristotle was the one to develop the most important concept of “an unmoved mover”.  This is essentially the same position as the “intelligent design” position we have today.  Intelligent design doesn’t not necessarily require God to designed the universe, it merely demands that the universe was designed.  Could order and design have come through the big bang?  If so, something would have had to start it, so it still leaves someone or thing at the start.  Other presuppositions that could be formed would be a deistic perspective of God.  One in which God started but would not act with His creation.

Many Christians would take the concepts developed here and advance them; some using them to prove Christianity, and others using them to reveal the folly of a humanistic philosophical mentality.  Thomas Aquinas would use Platonic concepts to prove Christianity, and yet proofs are only as solid as the weight of the terms used defined in them.  Greek language would permit the Judeo-Christian Scriptures to be conveyed in a most-exquisite language.  But the question is: was the Messianic concepts really articulated better using the thoroughness of Greek?

So Greek philosophy was a contributing factor to advance the message of truth, and the language allowed Scripture to advance through the West.  So God chose to bring out the greatest message of all through a cultural conduit that had some problematic conclusions, but nevertheless well-established methods…

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