Pagan Influences in Christian Theology

Calling Christians

I recently read from a budding South African theologian of Ad Lucem Ministries that the New Testament’s concept of God is not based on Graeco-Roman philosophy. Yet this does not seem to be the case…(see attached photo), Acts 17:28 (NIV):

cc-2018-jw-acts1728

It is quite peculiar that the New Testament uses the term “ειμι” (to exist) for God but never in the present participle form of “ὤν” (being). What’s interesting is that New Testament’s translators continue to replace in their translations “ειμι” for “ὤν” in English, almost as if the allegedly inspired texts in and of themselves use insufficient language…

We see further examples of a dependency on Platonic-Aristotelian metaphysics in Philippians 2:6, where “μορφε” (form) is translated as “nature or essence”, a completely Platonic-Aristotelian pre-Christian concept in philosophy, referring to the “material whole”.

The Trivium Final

This is why in Christianity, God who is a “ουσια” (substance) can also be immanent, because it…

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Categories: Islam

6 replies

  1. Mr Williams,

    Remember God called his creation good in Genesis and Adam handed it over to the devil, so God in Jesus Christ at the Cross brought back God and his creation together. We are not Manicheans.

    God Bless

    Jonathan S

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    • Jonathan,

      as salaamu alaykum,

      This may not be an accurate depiction of New Testament theology, but it seems that it is at least somewhat Manichean, even before the Manichean sect appeared.

      I think 1 Corinthians 1-3 specifically portrays the flesh as sinful, even to a higher degree than the synoptic Gospels. Romans 13:14 also says “make no provision for the flesh”; this is the section of the Bible that converted Augustine of Hippo. If I have some extra time, I will re-read some excerpts in John, since I can recall that he also called the flesh sinful.

      Of course, original sin screwed everything up. Romans 5 talks about that.

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    • “…Adam handed it over to the devil, … Jesus Christ at the Cross brought back God and his creation together.”

      vs

      “We have to deal with the Meta-narrative otherwise known as reality.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “In him we live and move and have our being”.

    The OT teaches the equivalent of this. There is no dependency.

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  3. Number 7:

    Thomas Aquinas: (Doctor of the church, 13th century

    “But a woman is naturally of less strength and dignity than man . . .”

    Summa Theologica, Volume 1, Question 92, Article 1, Objection 2.

    “As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.”

    Summa Theologica, Vol. I, Q. 92, Art. 1, Reply to objection 1.

    https://simplyseerah.com/2017/05/09/top-10-sexist-quotes-from-men-of-the-church/

    That is from a collect of sexist quotes from various Christian men. (I was actually searching for something Augustine said, and I stumbled upon this.) I am not posting that to point out how “sexist” Aquinas was (and it seems fairly mild), but to show how that view has been influenced by pagan (Aristotelian) metaphysics. Yes, Aristotle did believe in that (although I did spend much of my reading of Aristotle on his Metaphysics and Physics, not his biology). I don’t know where in Aristotle that he explicitly says that a woman is formed through a perceived “defect”.

    Aquinas seems to be saying that the generation of females is due to a defect in reproduction. If this is so, then why did God create Eve in the first place?

    I remember reading this from the paper “Aristotle’s Conception of Final Causality” by Allan Gotthelf.

    Just as we would not say that fire alone produces an axe or any other instrument, neither [should we say this of] a foot or a hand. Nor, likewise, of flesh, for even this has a certain function. Accordingly, hard, soft, tough, brittle, and all other such qualities belonging to the parts having soul? heat and cold may very well produce these; but never the organization (logos) by which one thing is flesh and another bone: only the “motion” from the generating parent who is in complete actuality what that out of which [the offspring] comes to be is potentially [can produce this] just as it is with the things which come to be according to an art: heat and cold make the iron hard and soft, but the sword [is made by] the “motion” of the instruments, [this “motion”] having a definition corresponding to the art, [which is] the source and form of the product.

    The citation given is “734b28-735a3”. I don’t know what work corresponds to those numbers, but it should be enough for someone who wants to track down the primary source.

    Essentially, Aristotle is saying that the form (shape/physical organization) of a human being comes from the sperm while it is the female that produces the matter of the newborn. This matter only possess potential (that is has the ability to be shaped/develop into a mature human being) while it is necessary for this matter to be infused with an active principle (from the sperm) so that it could have the “nature” to move towards the final stage (telos) of becoming a mature human.

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  4. On the matter of pagan Graeco-Roman philosophy, I think Justin Martyrs statement is very revealing, “…..we propound NOTHING DIFFERENT from WHAT YOU BELIEVE regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.”

    Like

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