In the early stages of the development of Christian development it was ridiculed and refuted as too mysterious and not liable to be understood by the human mind. The Church father Clement and his followers had the challenge of presenting Christianity as a form of philosophy without ever compromising the essence of the Christian faith. These early defenders of the faith worked against a twofold danger. While they genuinely tried to resolve the pagan antagonisms they experienced because they were Christians, it was their own fellow believers who were also hostile for any sort of theological compromise. (sounds familiar )
One of these early church peers observed, it seemed that a chance of any peace between the Greeks and Christians was virtually impossible:
On the one hand, the completely negative attitude of many uneducated Christians towards Greek philosophy prevented Christianity from assuming a scientific and philosophical character, and thus limited greatly its chances of success; on the other hand, the pagan world did not refrain from attacking the new religion.
However, the Alexandrian fathers found a solution. It was contained in the mission of the Alexandrian school and its teachers to develop once and for all a coherent synthesis of Greek science and religion. The result was Christian philosophy, which, Clement realized, was the only hope of joining the pagan and Christian parties together under one rational and acceptable Christian religion. While those in the like of Tertullian renounced the remolding of Christian doctrine to fit philosophical ideals, the Alexandrian party became a pioneer in both its fresh theological endeavors and in its success to finally spread the Christian faith among the intellectual circles of imperial society. Clement of Alexandria, one of the most revered deans of the Catechetical School for his philosophical theology and intellectual acumen, was one of the foremost figures who succeeded in uniting the missions of religion and science.
Our 21st century challenge is to reignite the dynamic dialogue that existed at the time of Clement- a dialogue that brought all parties together to explore the great mysteries of life. Such a dialogue could transform the mission of the church and revitalize it as a bastion of thinking and enlightenment to the world. We must battle the same uneducated and fearful bias that existed in the time of Clement, for by doing so, we open up a great avenue of opportunity for the gospel.
- Early Church Battle Royale: Alexandria vs. Antioch (ehyde.wordpress.com)
- C. S. Lewis on pagan philosophy as a road to Christian faith (gratefultothedead.wordpress.com)
2 responses to “Clement, Philosophy and Paganism”
Well said. Very interesting. Thank you.
Reblogged this on multicolouredsmartypants and commented:
Excellent post examining the challenges faced by our forebears which so readily echo the challenges the Church faces today.