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PLATONISMíS INFLUENCE ON CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY
Theological Studies ^ | Michael J. Vlach, Ph.D

Posted on 07/22/2012 12:14:15 PM PDT by wmfights

Much attention in recent years has been devoted to the influence of Greek philosophy on Christian doctrine. This has been especially true in regard to the nature and attributes of God. Some have also contended that Christian eschatology has been negatively influenced by Greek Platonic assumptions and ideas. Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven, for instance, asserts that biblical eschatology has been largely replaced by Christoplatonism which is a merger of Christianity and the ideas of Plato.1 According to Alcorn, common conceptions of heaven are often influenced more by Platonic ideas than they are the Bible. In an interview with Time, N. T. Wright blamed Platonic influence on Christianity for a distortion of the doctrine of Heaven. “Greek-speaking Christians influenced by Plato saw our cosmos as shabby and misshapen and full of lies, and the idea was not to make it right, but to escape it and leave behind our material bodies,” 2 says Wright. In this article we will summarize what Platonism is and survey the impact of Platonism on Christian eschatology. This paper will end with a summary of observations concerning how Christians should view the relationship between Platonism and eschatology.

PLATONISM AND NEO-PLATONISM

Platonism is rooted in the ideas of the great ancient Greek philosopher, Plato (427–347 B.C.). Plato was one of the first philosophers to argue that reality is primarily ideal or abstract. With his ‘theory of forms,’ he asserted that ultimate reality is not found in objects and concepts that we experience on earth. Instead, reality is found in ‘forms’ or ‘ideas’ that transcend our physical world. These forms operate as perfect universal templates for everything we experience in the world. For example, all horses on earth are imperfect replicas of the universal ‘horseness’ that exists in another dimension. One result of Platonism was the belief that matter is inferior to the spiritual. Thus, there is a dualism between matter and the immaterial.3 This perspective naturally leads to negative

1 See Randy A. Alcorn, Heaven (Sandy, OR: Eternal Perspective Ministries, 2004). Alcorn devotes an Appendix to the topic, “Christoplatonism’s False Assumptions,” 475–82. 2 David Van Biema, “Christians Wrong about Heaven, Says Bishop,” Time [Online] February 7, 2008. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1710844,00.html; accessed March 23, 2009. See also N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2008). 3 Diogenes Allen calls for balance on this point when he states, “Plato’s view is by no means that of Genesis, but it is not the total rejection of the world by the Gnostics and Manichaeans. We should not confuse Plato’s attitude to the physical universe, however much he stresses the need to transcend it and the body, with views which totally reject it, as superficial Christian writers so often do.” Diogenes Allen, Philosophy for Understanding Theology (Atlanta: John Knox, 1985), 9.

perceptions concerning the nature of the physical world and even our human bodies. Plato’s account of Socrates in Phaedo is one such example. When sentenced to death, Socrates rebuked his friends for mourning over him by declaring that he longed for death so he could escape his carnal body and focus on higher spiritual values in a spiritual realm.4 For Plato (and Socrates), the human body is like a tomb for the soul. Plato’s ideas have had an enormous impact. Gary Habermas observes that Plato’s concept of forms, along with his cosmology and his views on the immortality of the soul, “probably has the greatest influence in the philosophy of religion.”5

This exaltation of the spiritual over the physical in Platonism carried over to Judaism as evidenced in the writings of the Jew, Philo (20 B.C.–A.D. 50).6 Philo, in an attempt to make the Old Testament more attractive to the Greeks influenced by the Platonic ideal, allegorized many Old Testament passages that appeared too crass and unworthy of God. For Philo, statements in the Old Testament that discussed the wrath of God or God changing his mind needed to be allegorized.

Platonism also influenced its more religious counterpart, Neo-Platonism. Neo- Platonism was a complex system for understanding reality that was founded by the Roman philosopher Plotinus (A.D. 204–270). The Egyptian-born Plotinus carried on some of the main ideas of Plato such as (1) there is an immaterial reality that exists apart from the physical world; (2) a strong distinction exists between an immaterial soul and the physical body; and (3) the immortal soul finds its ultimate fulfillment as it becomes one with an eternal, transcendent realm. According to Plotinus, the lowest level of reality is matter.7 Thus, matter is viewed very negatively in Neo-Platonism. Plotinus himself held such disgust for physical things that he even despised his own body. To be consistent with his philosophy, Plotinus did not take care of his physical health or hygiene, much to the chagrin of his students with whom he was sometimes affectionate.

PLATONISM’S INFLUENCE ON EARLY CHRISTIAN THEOLOGIANS

Many of the early Christians were not suspicious of or threatened by Plato. According to Diogenes Allen, Plato “astounded the Apologists and the early Church Fathers.”8 For instance, when early Christians encountered Plato’s creation story in his

4 See, “Phaedo,” in Classics of Western Philosophy, ed. Steven M Cahn (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2002), 49–81. 5 Gary R. Habermas, “Plato, Platonism,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 859. 6 Ibid., 859-60. 7 See Christopher Kirwan, “Plotinus,” in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995), 689–90. According to Plotinus, the basis of all reality is an immaterial and indescribable reality called the One or the Good. There are several levels of reality that emanate from the One, much like ripples in a pond emanate from a dropped stone. The second level of reality is Mind or Intellect (nous). Mind results from the One’s reflection upon itself. The level below Mind is Soul. Soul operates in time and space and is actually the creator of time and space. Soul looks in two directions—upward to Mind and downward to Nature, which created the physical world. 8 Allen, Philosophy for Understanding Theology, 15.

Timaeus, some believed he had read Moses or received his insights from divine revelation.9 The similarity of some of Plato’s ideas with Christianity was seen as evidence why pagans should be open to Christianity.10

Platonic thinking influenced significant theologians of the early church. This was true for the Christians of the Eastern church, particularly those in the Alexandrian tradition such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen. As Jeffrey Burton Russell states, “The great Greek fathers of Alexandria, Clement and Origen, firmly grounded in Scripture, were also influenced by Platonism and Stoicism.”11

Theologians of the Alexandrian tradition carried a high view of Greek philosophy and attempted to show that Christianity was consistent with the best of Greek philosophy. Viviano points out that Clement of Alexandria (150–215) followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Philo by adopting a “preference for an allegorical meaning of history which turns out, upon closer acquaintance, to transform much biblical history into general moral truths of a philosophical cast.”12 For Clement, God used philosophy to prepare the Greeks for Christ just like He used the law of Moses to prepare the Hebrew people for Christ. Clement held Socrates and Plato in high regard. He even believed that Plato served a role that was similar to that of Moses. In line with Greek philosophy, Clement viewed the body and matter as lesser in nature than the spirit (although he did not view the body as evil).

Origen of Alexandria (c. 185–254) was important in bringing Platonism into Christianity. As McGrath has observed, Origen “was a highly creative theologian with a strongly Platonist bent.”13 Viviano also points out that Origen “wrought some bold changes in Christian eschatology.”14 Origen “dissolved the Christian expectation of the resurrection of the body into the immortality of the soul, since Christian perfection consists, on this Platonizing view, in a progressive dematerialization.”15 He even went further than most of the early Christian theologians by asserting that “the resurrection body was purely spiritual.”16 Origen also understood kingdom texts in the Bible “in a purely spiritual, interior, private and realized sense.”17

9 See Allen, Philosophy for Understanding Theology, 15. Christians denied Plato’s view of the use of preexisting materials for creation. Christians asserted ‘creation out of nothing.’ 10 Ibid. 11 Jeffrey Burton Russell, A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), 69. 12 Benedict T. Viviano, O.P. The Kingdom of God in History (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1988), 39. 13 Alister E. McGrath, A Brief History of Heaven (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003), 33. 14 Viviano, The Kingdom of God in History, 39. 15 Ibid., 39-40. 16 McGrath, A Brief History of Heaven, 34. 17 Viviano, The Kingdom of God in History, 41.

The influence of Platonic thinking was not just on theologians of the eastern tradition. Alister McGrath observes that Ambrose of Milan (c. 339–97) “drew upon the ideas of the Jewish Platonist writer, Philo of Alexandria” in promoting “a Platonic world of ideas and values, rather than a physical or geographical entity.”18Ambrose’s pupil, Augustine of Hippo, too, was influenced by Platonic thinking. Allen refers to Augustine as “one of the great Christian Platonists.”19 According to Gary Habermas, “Christian thought also came under the influence of Platonism, as scholars of the third century such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen mixed this Greek philosophy with their theology. In particular, Augustine’s interpretation of Plato dominated Christian thought for the next thousand years after his death in the fifth century.”20 In his Confessions, Augustine openly describes the help he received from the Platonists. Augustine was also influenced by neo-platonism as well. As Viviano states, “we need only note that Augustine was strongly influenced by neo-Platonic philosophy and has even read Plotinus and Prophyry . . . . This philosophy was highly spiritual and other-worldly, centered on the one and the eternal, treating the material and the historically contingent as inferior stages in the ascent of the soul to union with the one.”21 Viviano summarizes the impact of Augustine’s Platonic thinking on the kingdom of God:

Thus Augustine was attracted to the spiritual interpretation of the kingdom we have already seen in Origen. Indeed, ultimately for Augustine, the kingdom of God consists in eternal life with God in heaven. That is the civitas dei, the city of God, as opposed to the civitas terrena.22

Augustine’s spiritual view of the kingdom contributed to his belief that the period of the church on earth is the thousand year reign of Christ. According to Viviano, “Augustine’s view would dominate and become the normal Roman Catholic view down to our own times.”23 It is difficult to deny the importance of Platonic thinking. As Habermas points out, “Plato has exercised an enormous influence on Western thought and must therefore be dealt with by those of all philosophical persuasions.”24 This influence also applies to the area of Christian eschatology.

18 McGrath, A Brief History of Heaven, 51. 19 Allen, Philosophy for Understanding Theology, 82. 20 Habermas, “Plato, Platonism,” 860. Allen states, “The Greek Fathers and Augustine drew most extensively on the philosophy of Plato and the Platonists.” 91. 21 Viviano, The Kingdom of God in History, 52. 22 Ibid., 52-53. 23 Ibid., 54. Daley points out that near the turn of the sixth century Aeneas of Gaza wrote the “first Christian work to challenge long-accepted Platonic assumptions. . .” Brian E. Daley, S. J. The Hope of the Early Church (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 191. The Platonist doctrines that were challenged included reincarnation, the eternity of creation, and the preexistence of souls before their bodily existence. Daley points out that these views were “considered favorably as possibilities by Origen and Evagrius.” 24 Habermas, “Plato, Platonism,” 860.

TWO MODELS OF ESCHATOLOGY

SPIRITUAL VISION MODEL

At this point, we shift specifically to the topic of Platonism and Christian eschatology. According to Craig Blaising, there have been two broad models of eternal life that have held by Christians since the time of the early church. The first he calls, the “spiritual vision model.”25 This model is influenced by Platonism.26 With this model, heaven is viewed primarily as a spiritual entity. Heaven is the highest level of ontological reality—the realm of spirit as opposed to base matter. “This is the destiny of the saved, who will exist in that nonearthly, spiritual place as spiritual beings engaged eternally in spiritual activity.”27 The spiritual vision model, Blaising argues, is a combination of biblical themes and cultural ideas that were common to the classical philosophical tradition. The biblical themes the spiritual vision model draws upon include:

1. the promise that believers will see God.

2. the promise that believers will receive full knowledge.

3. the description of heaven as the dwelling place of God.

4. the description of heaven as the destiny of the believing dead prior to the resurrection.28

In addition to the biblical themes, the spiritual vision model also drew upon cultural (Greek) ideas that were common to the classical philosophical tradition:

1. a basic contrast between spirit and matter.

2. an identification of spirit with mind or intellect.

3. a belief that eternal perfection entails the absence of change.29

According to Blaising, “Central to all three of these is the classical tradition’s notion of an ontological hierarchy in which spirit is located at the top of a descending order of being. Elemental matter occupies the lowest place.”30 Heaven is realm of spirit as opposed to matter. Heaven is a nonearthly spiritual place for spiritual beings who are engaged only in spiritual activity. This heaven is also free from all change. Eternal life,

25 Craig A. Blaising, “Premillennialism” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, ed. Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 161. 26 Ibid., 162. Snyder calls this approach “the kingdom as inner spiritual experience model.” “As a distinct model it may be traced to the influence of Platonist and Neoplatonist ideas on Christian thinking and especially to Origen” Howard A. Snyder, Models of the Kingdom (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1991), 42. 27 Blaising, “Premillennialism,” 161. 28 Ibid. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid.

therefore, is viewed primarily as “cognitive, meditative, or contemplative.”31 The spiritual vision model has led many Christians to view eternal life “as the beatific vision of God—an unbroken, unchanging contemplation of the infinite reality of God.”32

In his book, Models of the Kingdom, Howard A. Snyder points out that a purely spiritual view of the kingdom, which he calls “the kingdom as inner spiritual experience model,” “may be traced to the influence of Platonist and Neoplatonist ideas on Christian thinking. . . .”33 According to Snyder this model “draws to some degree on Greek philosophical roots.”34 He also states that “One can sense the Platonism lying behind this model.”35 Snyder says: “Historically this model has often been tainted with a sort of Platonic disdain for things material, perhaps seeing the body or matter as evil or at least imperfect and imperfectible. It is thus dualistic, viewing the ‘higher’ spiritual world as essentially separate from the material world.”36

The spiritual vision model was inherently linked to allegorical and spiritual methods of interpretation that were opposed to literal interpretation based on historicalgrammatical contexts. Blaising also notes that the spiritual vision model “was intimately connected with practices of ‘spiritual interpretation’ that were openly acknowledged to be contrary to the literal meaning of the words being interpreted.”37 “The long term practice of reading Scripture in this way so conditioned the Christian mind that by the late Middle Ages, the spiritual vision model had become an accepted fact of the Christian worldview.”38

NEW CREATION MODEL

In contrast to the spiritual vision model, the second model Blaising discusses is the “new creation model.” This model is contrary to Platonism and the spiritual vision model and emphasizes the physical, social, political, and geographical aspects of eternal life. It emphasizes a coming new earth, the renewal of life on this new earth, bodily resurrection, and social and political interactions among the redeemed.39 As he states, “The new creation model expects that the ontological order and scope of eternal life is essentially continuous with that of present earthly life except for the absence of sin and death.”40 Thus, eternal life is embodied life on earth. This approach “does not reject

31 Blaising, “Premillennialism,” 162. 32 Ibid. 33 Snyder, Models of the Kingdom, 42. 34 Ibid., 52. 35 Ibid. 36 Ibid., 54. 37 Blaising, “Premillennialism,” 165. 38 Ibid. 39 Ibid., 162. 40 Ibid.

physicality or materiality, but affirms them as essential both to a holistic anthropology and to the biblical idea of a redeemed creation.”41 This approach, according to Blaising, follows the language of passages like Isaiah 25, 65, 66; Revelation 21; and Romans 8 which speak of a regenerated earth. A new creation model emphasizes the future relevance of matters such as renewal of the world and universe, nations, kings, economics, agriculture, and social-political issues. In sum, a new creation model operates on the belief that life in the future kingdom of God is largely similar to God’s purposes for the creation before the fall of Adam, which certainly involved more than just a spiritual element. Thus, the final Heaven is not an ethereal spiritual presence in the sky. As Russell D. Moore points out, “The point of the gospel is not that we would go to heaven when we die. Instead, it is that heaven will come down, transforming and renewing the earth and the entire universe.”42 Far from being only a spiritual entity, the eternal destiny of the redeemed includes a holistic renewal of human existence and our environment:

The picture then is not of an eschatological flight from creation but the restoration and redemption of creation with all that entails: table fellowship, community, culture, economics, agriculture and animal husbandry, art, architecture, worship— in short, life and that abundantly.43

The new creation model appears to have been the primary approach of the church of the late first and early second centuries A.D. It was found in apocalyptic and rabbinic Judaism and in second century Christian writers such as Irenaeus of Lyons.44 But, as Blaising asserts, the spiritual vision model would take over and become “the dominant view of eternal life from roughly the third century to the early modern period.”45

41 Blaising, “Premillennialism,” 162. 42 Russell D. Moore, “Personal and Cosmic Eschatology,” in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B&H, 2007), 912. 43 Ibid., 859. 44 Blaising, “Premillennialism,” 164. 45 Ibid.


TOPICS: Charismatic Christian; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: eschatology
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According to Craig Blaising, there have been two broad models of eternal life that have held by Christians since the time of the early church. The first he calls, the “spiritual vision model.”25 This model is influenced by Platonism.26 With this model, heaven is viewed primarily as a spiritual entity.

the second model Blaising discusses is the “new creation model.” This model is contrary to Platonism and the spiritual vision model and emphasizes the physical, social, political, and geographical aspects of eternal life. It emphasizes a coming new earth, the renewal of life on this new earth, bodily resurrection, and social and political interactions among the redeemed.39

1 posted on 07/22/2012 12:14:20 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: Alamo-Girl; Amityschild; AngieGal; AnimalLover; Ann de IL; aposiopetic; aragorn; auggy; ...
Ping

I broke this paper into 2 parts and will post the 2nd part in a couple days. Also, I left the footnotes in and italicized them so anyone who wishes to see the sources can do so.

I think the great question to look at is how we view Heaven. Is it strictly a spiritual realm, or is it also physical. Any thoughts?

2 posted on 07/22/2012 12:22:01 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: Alamo-Girl; Amityschild; AngieGal; AnimalLover; Ann de IL; aposiopetic; aragorn; auggy; ...
Ping

I broke this paper into 2 parts and will post the 2nd part in a couple days. Also, I left the footnotes in and italicized them so anyone who wishes to see the sources can do so.

I think the great question to look at is how we view Heaven. Is it strictly a spiritual realm, or is it also physical. Any thoughts?

3 posted on 07/22/2012 12:23:08 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: wmfights

I would say neither, but something we cannot fully grasp in this life.

I imagine everyone has heard the analogy, but it’s said we have as good a grasp on what life after death is as a baby in the womb has of life after birth.


4 posted on 07/22/2012 1:13:56 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: wmfights

Excellent - thank you for posting.

Do you have an “eschatological ping list”? I’m interested in the 2nd installment. 8^)


5 posted on 07/22/2012 1:17:37 PM PDT by jonno (Having an opinion is not the same as having the answer...)
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To: wmfights
Very interesting paper. Thank you for posting it.

I can't agree with his view of the influence of Platonism, but I don't think he's WAY off base at all. In Catholic and, especially, Orthodox conversations, we would have to work on the distinction drawing pretty carefully. It wouldn't be a wholesale operation at all, IMHO.

Two semi off the wall observations:

(1) The “Greeks” I know don't think all that much of Augustine.

(2) The writer uses the phrase “an historical eternal state.84” To me that illustrates how difficult the conversation would be. That, to me, is almost a contradiction in terms. It is more Aristotelian than Platonic thinking that leads me to think that God is “eternal” and that in some sense “eternal” means “Outside of time”and therefore outside of history.

Here is why I say “almost” and “in some sense”: When “sophisticated” non-believers challenge the idea of a personal God, two things become speedily apparent. Their idea of personality includes the defects of character and ability that we experience in ourselves and in every other personal being (excepting angels). We would say those defects are the result of the fall or of the limitation of being a creature. They are not of the “esse” of personality as such. We can envision a person without defects and inabilities.

Further, when you ask them, “Well, what is God LIKE then?” they come up with something which, upon examination seems lifeless and pallid in comparison with persons. In denying that God is personal, they come up with — or are stuck with — an idea that God is LESS than personal.

So, in talking with such folks, I adopt the language of “God is AT LEAST Personal, MORE than personal, not less.”

So if the idea of an eternal God ends up being described as —or having the ‘flavor’ of — something LESS than temporal, then it is rightly rejected. A kind of pallid, wispy, anemic Spirituality just won't do the job. Heaven may be sexless for example, but that's because it's BETTER than sex. (It's more like beer,I guess.) :-)

And this is even implicit in the careful thought of Aristotle and the “Unchanged changer” argument. The Unmoved Mover MUST have SOME sort of relationship with temporality, because where there is change, there is time, and what “the First Cause” causes is change, and therefore temporality and history.

So the usage I have come up with, with no pretense that I understand what I am saying, is that Eternity “comprehends” temporality.

I ‘get’ that some dispensationalists, JW’s in particular, are all over the idea of the eschaton working out on a new earth. Certainly they make a fine Biblical case. I think, to be less rigorous, I would say that compared to the transforming vision of God it SEEMS to me (but maybe I misunderstand) a lesser promise than being able to see with perfect vision Him who made me and who loved me before all worlds.

I don't mean any of this to be confrontative or argumentative. This is just meant to be a friendly response by a Dominican Catholic who is kind of an auto-didact in theology.

6 posted on 07/22/2012 1:18:31 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: jonno
I will add you to the "end times" ping list.

I'm glad you enjoyed this.

7 posted on 07/22/2012 1:23:35 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: wmfights

Very interesting. Thanks for posting.


8 posted on 07/22/2012 1:28:43 PM PDT by albionin (A gawn fit's aye gettin.)
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To: wmfights

Gnoticism teaches that human spirit was God, is now trapped in the evil matierial and only through the sufficient knowledge, can we return to be God. The process of being removed from God is called “alienation”, a theme that should be familiar to students of Marx, even as he put a secular interpretation on it. Humanity could return to God when it achieved the perfect socialist condition. The foundational ideas of Gnosticism go back to the time of Plato.

“To understand [alienation] we have to go back behind Hegel, the immediate source of Marx’s ideas, to Hegel’s own ultimate source: viz. Gnosticism. For alienation is the central theme of Gnosticism, along with the saving knowledge of how we became alienated, and from what, and of how we can escape from it. That theme is summarized in the Valentinian
formula:

‘What liberates is the knowledge of who we were, what we became; where we were, whereinto we came; what birth is and what rebirth.’

All the Gnostic texts, though they differ in details, declare that we are strangers, aliens, sparks of Light or Spirit trapped in evil matter. They recount the cosmic process whereby the circles of the world have been
created, by ignorant or evil creators and not by the Light, and whereby we have become entrapped in the midmost or deepest dungeon. Finally they impart the knowledge needed to escape back to the one Light whence we have come and which is our real home.

This is the pattern of thought that Hegel took over. But, rejecting all other-worldliness, he sought to reconcile men to this world, of nature and society, from which they had become estranged. We are the vehicles of a self-creating Geist which, in order to become and to know itself, has gone out into what is most alien to itself—the merely physical
world of Newtonian science—and is progressively coming thence to its full self-realization and self-knowledge in and through human life and history. With this knowledge, given by Hegel’s own philosophy, man’s alienation from the world is in principle, overcome although Geist has not yet fully realized itself in the world.

Marx took from Hegel two basic themes of Gnosticism, which Hegel had secularized, and re-interpreted them in his own way: viz. the cosmic drama of a fall into alienation from nature and one’s fellow men, and the saving knowledge, Marxism, which explains this and the way out of alienation back to an unalienated existence. But in one central
respect Marx did not fully learn the lesson that Hegel had to teach him about modifying ancient Gnosticism.

The Gnostic texts state that we are sparks of Light or fragments of Spirit (pneuma), and imply that we are distinct from each other and from the Light or Spirit only because of our fall or seduction into the circles of the world. As we fell through each circle, we were clothed with an outer covering. The return to the Light will be a reversal of that
process, so that, as we pass back through each circle we shall strip off each coating. Consequently, but this is never stated, as far as I know, at the end of that process each spark or fragment will cease to be distinct and will merge back into the One Light or Spirit. Hence the End will be the same as the Beginning.”

From Flew, Marx and Gnosticism, by R.T. Allen,
Philosophy Vol 68, No 263, (Jan, 1993),
pp. 94-98

(”Flew” is Antony Flew, 1923-2010, a British philosopher)

see also:

Marx as Millennial Communist
http://mises.org/daily/3769


9 posted on 07/22/2012 1:33:07 PM PDT by theBuckwheat
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To: Mad Dawg

The most logical support, to me, of the idea of the new creation is that God’s original purpose, presumably, was for Man to live here on the Earth. Surely his response to Satan’s opposition would not be to give up on this original purpose and haul everybody off to Heaven to be spirits, but rather to bring about a re-creation that implements his original purpose.


10 posted on 07/22/2012 1:36:33 PM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: theBuckwheat
Gnoticism teaches that human spirit was God, is now trapped in the evil material and only through the sufficient knowledge, can we return to be God.

The failure to completely discredit this heresy can be seen today by how many Christians think of Heaven as strictly spiritual. We will have resurrected bodies. Heaven will be a return to how we were in the Garden before the fall.

Plato’s account of Socrates in Phaedo is one such example. When sentenced to death, Socrates rebuked his friends for mourning over him by declaring that he longed for death so he could escape his carnal body and focus on higher spiritual values in a spiritual realm.4 For Plato (and Socrates), the human body is like a tomb for the soul. Plato’s ideas have had an enormous impact. Gary Habermas observes that Plato’s concept of forms, along with his cosmology and his views on the immortality of the soul, “probably has the greatest influence in the philosophy of religion.”5

Some ideas are hard to overcome.

Thanks for drawing in how communism drew from the same idea.

11 posted on 07/22/2012 1:47:07 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: Sherman Logan

Why is there any reason to believe anything other than humans were created exactly as we are and that our purpose is to live according to our nature, i.e. rational, volitional beings who are an integration of matter and consciousness? A being who has reason as his only way of perceiving reality and must use reason as his only guide to action. This is the most obvious and logical conclusion to draw it seems to me. Why is there this need to create all these theories of mystical realms and otherworldly existences? We have everything we need to make this world a heaven or a hell and for the most part it has been a hell precisely because of the rejection of reason as the primary tool for living.


12 posted on 07/22/2012 2:07:40 PM PDT by albionin (A gawn fit's aye gettin.)
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To: Sherman Logan
.... God’s original purpose, presumably, was for Man to live here on the Earth.

I think the usual answer from the other side would be "for a while."

13 posted on 07/22/2012 2:26:13 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Depone serpentem et ab veneno gradere.)
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To: wmfights
I think the great question to look at is how we view Heaven. Is it strictly a spiritual realm, or is it also physical. Any thoughts?

One is the philsophical, intellectual view while the other is the biblical view...

The spiritual vision model was inherently linked to allegorical and spiritual methods of interpretation that were opposed to literal interpretation based on historicalgrammatical contexts.

Now there's a mouthful of nothing...

In other words, 'I don't know what it means, but I certainly know it doesn't mean what it clearly says, otherwise, I'm out of a job'...

14 posted on 07/22/2012 2:26:44 PM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: wmfights

Bookmark


15 posted on 07/22/2012 2:26:44 PM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: albionin

I think you put too much faith in reason.

Reason is a tool, it is only a tool. It provides no guide as to the purpose of life, but rather acts as a tool that can be used effectively to work towards whatever purpose one assigns to life from other than rational determination.

In particular, IMO, morality cannot be derived from reason. Reason can be used to develop a system of morality,if one accepts a few non-rational moral precepts. But freestanding reason, not so much.


16 posted on 07/22/2012 2:31:41 PM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: wmfights
I am listening to this course right now:

It is very good. I recommend it, though Kreeft is so sure he's got it all figured out that it's irritating sometimes.

17 posted on 07/22/2012 2:37:41 PM PDT by x
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To: wmfights

“Thanks for drawing in how communism drew from the same idea.”

The same motivating spirit is with us to this very day. Notice that BHO has been quoted on collective salvation, and collectivist social policy. Notice also that liberals far more than conservatives use the word “alienation” in a social policy context. These are all bread crumbs from the same loaf.


18 posted on 07/22/2012 2:49:11 PM PDT by theBuckwheat
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To: Iscool
In other words, 'I don't know what it means, but I certainly know it doesn't mean what it clearly says, otherwise, I'm out of a job'...

LOL

One is the philsophical, intellectual view while the other is the biblical view...

I came away from reading this article with the same thought. It's interesting though how this philosophical view crept into Christianity and how hard it is to get rid of. Just ask a bunch of Christians what they think Heaven will be like; will we be disembodied spirits floating around, or physical beings. I think a lot of Christians will pick the former rather than the latter.

19 posted on 07/22/2012 2:50:29 PM PDT by wmfights
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To: Sherman Logan

“I think you put too much faith in reason.

Reason is a tool, it is only a tool. It provides no guide as to the purpose of life, but rather acts as a tool that can be used effectively to work towards whatever purpose one assigns to life from other than rational determination.

In particular, IMO, morality cannot be derived from reason. Reason can be used to develop a system of morality,if one accepts a few non-rational moral precepts. But freestanding reason, not so much.”

I don’t understand you, and I really want to. Are you saying that there is no logical purpose to life?

What do you mean by freestanding reason?
Standing free from what?

What other faculty of man besides reason (logic, identification, integration) is there?

You say reason can be used to work towards irrational ends. Isn’t that a contradiction.

Why can’t morality be derived by reason?

I would really, really like answers to these questions and to my initial question because whenever I ask them the answer I get is that reason is not sufficient to understand reality. Why? No one has ever given an answer to this question and their answer is to attack reason. Are you saying that man was created by a rational God without the means to perceive reality?


20 posted on 07/22/2012 2:52:34 PM PDT by albionin (A gawn fit's aye gettin.)
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