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Plato, Athanasius and Western Society

Reader comment on item: Conservatism's Hidden History
in response to reader comment: Yes, Greek Philosophy and the West!

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Sep 7, 2018 at 18:16

Hi, Dhimminomore

Yes, I'm almost certain that Athanasius, the great troubler of the church, read Plato. Unfortunately, he didn't know the New Testament, especially the part that says,

Galatians 5:
[19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
[20] Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
[21] Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Athanasius' carnality, and the strife he stirred up at Alexandria and Nicaea, split and damaged the church for 1700 years.

I began reading Plato's "Republic" some time ago, but lost interest. I believe it was in the format of a discussion, centered around the teacher Socrates. (As a curious sideline, the format is remarkably similar to that of the Mishneh). I came away from the reading, having learned one thing: that Plato judged whether an idea was valid or not, by whether or not it was found in "nature". That was a curious discovey, sort of like the neighborhood cat discovering that we have shifted around the patio furniture: she duly notes the aberration, then gets on with life.

Yes, Plato had his impact on Athanasius; and Athanasius has left his scar on Western Civilization; but note that Athanasius could only twist the Bible, making the lives of ordinary Christians uncomfortable. Christians, meanwhile, have continued to this day, focussing on the meatier portions of the scripture -- such as:

Matthew 22:
[35] Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
[36] Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
[37] Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
[38] This is the first and great commandment.
[39] And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
[40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Plato may somehow have given the early "church fathers" some excuse to attack their fellow Christian over the supposed "homoousion" of Jesus; but he did not know Jesus nor the spirit that motivated him. But if one wants to know the latter, he only needs to visit the Christian rescue missions and charities around the country -- things that actually help the poor and keep Western Society going during good times and bad.

I could diverge here, in many directions. Suffice to say, that Jesus has played a MAJOR role in the lives of Americans, whereas Plato's role, if any, is largely unknown to them.


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