Christian Platonism

Rediscovering Ancient Wisdom

Why Catholicism for Europe: Reason 2

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2. Philosophical and psychological depth

Today many people equate Christianity with simple-mindedness. Another group — fundamentalists — naively insist on a strictly literal interpretation of the Bible.

The truth is that Christianity encompasses an extremely sophisticated system of religious, philosophical, and psychological thought. This system, though based on ideas present in Scripture, required several centuries to articulate and elaborate. This task was accomplished by the Church Fathers — figures such as St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. John Chrysostom in the East, and Sts. Justin, Irenaeus, Ambrose and St. Augustine in the West, to name but a very few. In fact there are well over 100 writers commonly considered as Church Fathers. But this is just the top tier; beyond these are dozens more erudite, profound, insightful, and articulate Christian thinkers of late antiquity whose works have come down to us.

They were among the most brilliant and best-educated philosophers of their times — men who followed in the footsteps of Plato and Aristotle. The works of these Greek, Latin, Syrian, and Egyptian Fathers are a vast storehouse of knowledge still scarcely mined. Many of their works have not been translated into modern languages yet — not even all those St. Augustine.

As these works become more widely known and studied (thanks in part to the Internet) the profundity and modern relevance of their thought will become increasingly clear.

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Written by John Uebersax

August 11, 2008 at 6:40 pm

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