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HISTORY of Christian Theology

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great’s father, Philip, united all of the various Greek states under his rule. He invited the most renowned thinker in Greece, Aristotle, to instruct Alexander when he was thirteen years old. Aristotle likely instilled in Alexander a vision of extending the blessings of classic Greek culture to the whole world. At a very young age Alexander conquered the Mediterranean world as far east as India and set about a concerted effort to assimilate each nation into Greek culture. His dream was to create a Pan-Hellenic world where there would no longer be Greeks and Barbarians. He encouraged his soldiers to intermarry and he established institutions like the gymnasium to infuse Greek culture into the conquered societies. He...

Artistotle

Aristotle (385–323 B.C.) was one of Plato’s star pupils and built his philosophy on much that Plato taught, but diverged from him in various ways. One of Aristotle’s greatest contributions was his creation of logic as a science. He developed formulas to test and correct ideas and propositions. He determined that correct thinking can be distilled down to universal rules like math and physics, and can then be taught to any normal person. His work became the foundation of medieval scholasticism, which we will discuss later. Based on his approach to logic, Aristotle finds Plato’s teaching that universal concepts are a reality to be nonsensical. He propounds a more tangible hands-on philosophy. Ernest Renan states, “Socrates gave philosophy to...

Plato

After Socrates’ death, twenty-eight year-old Plato realized that Athens was no longer safe, so he left and traveled the world, continuing Socrates quest for truth. He visited Italy, Egypt, Judea, and India. He returned to Greece as a well traveled 40 year-old man. The first Christian philosopher, Justin Martyr (110–155 A.D.), insisted that Plato adopted many concepts from Judaism while developing his philosophy. Plato believed in one God, that humans come down to earth from a pre-mortal existence with God and will either go back up to heaven or down to hell when we die. The Christian concept of a person’s ultimate end being either in heaven above the earth or in hell below comes from Plato, which binary concept replaced Paul’s teachings...

Socrates

Socrates (470–399 B.C.) is the most famous philosopher for a reason. Philosophers before him were mainly concerned with explaining physical phenomena and less concerned with the inner man. Socrates is credited with being the father of philosophy because he taught that the individual must begin by first examining himself. One needs to “Know thyself” in order to examine the world. Even then, he exclaimed, “One thing I know, and that is that I know nothing.” The basis of his approach to reason was to doubt everything, be inquisitive, and to ask questions. He taught by asking questions, a practice utilized in law schools to this day. The Socratic method insists on defining terms before any debate, logical thinking and accurate analysis. He...

Pre-mortal Existence

The concept that each human soul existed in a pre-mortal existence was universally understood and believed by many, Christian and non-Christian alike, during the early Christian era. (. . . more)