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Impact of Christianity on Philosophy Essay

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Introduction

Christianity’s doctrines and tenets draw from a rich heritage of long historical development. And since it is a religion shaped by history, it follows only that its teachings are influenced by the prevailing philosophies within it. But there are also good reasons to think that, conversely, Christianity is a religion that did not only draw from existing philosophies in history but also generated a significant impact on them. Three reasons may be cited to support this contention. First, philosophy was made popular by the rise of Christianity; second, key Christian thinkers have endeavored to incorporate philosophy within their belief-systems; and third, many of their teachings are actually philosophical issues Christianized in the process.

Christianity and Philosophy

            First, the rise of Christianity seems to be a factor responsible for the great interest many people have shown towards philosophy during the ancient times. It must be noted that even before Christianity as a religious movement was to be commenced (following the death of Jesus, and the rapid conversion to a belief in him), prevailing philosophies such as Epicureanism, Neo-Platonism, Stoicism, and Skepticism were already in place (Moore & Bruder, 2005, p.

77).

But since the Romans – the political power of that time – showed little or no interest to these philosophies, they remained largely an undercurrent phenomenon. In many ways, the rise of Christianity paved the way for such philosophies to become widespread, as they are (specifically, Neo-Platonism and Aristotleanism) employed in many “religious ideas and practices” (p. 78).

            Second, key thinkers such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas also contributed a lot in employing philosophy as a way to explicate Christian beliefs. With Augustine, “Christianity became so permanently interwoven with elements of Platonic thought” (Moore & Bruder, 2005, 79).

Augustine’s theology was chiefly concerned with arguing truths about the eternality of Christian God and the capacity of the mind to grasp the eternal truths; and these teachings are importations of the Platonic metaphysics and cosmology. Aquinas meanwhile was responsible conceiving the “underlying accord between Christian principles and Aristotle’s philosophy” from the ashes of the dark ages (p. 88). As with Plato, Aquinas’ teachings about God, nature and existence, knowledge and the world conveniently employed the methods used by philosophy.

            Third, many teachings forwarded by key Christian thinkers are actually philosophies which underwent a process of Christian adaptation. In other words, the manner by which these thinkers employed philosophy in explicating their theologies “in effect” may be regarded as a process of “grafting the principles and distinction” of Greek philosophy to “Christian revealed truth” (p. 88)

The doctrine of the human soul and the Trinity are glaring examples to this. If only to argue, the Christian teaching that human persons have both body and souls is very reminiscent of the Platonic dualistic cosmology, i.e., that reality is composed of matter and form. The doctrine of the Trinity meanwhile is heavily employing the concepts of universals – a teaching that enables one to infer the conceptual similarities defining of two otherwise distinct entities. The result of this adaptation process is very significant to philosophy. What this process achieved was to ultimately create a “complete Christian philosophy” (p. 89).

Conclusion

            This paper concludes that indeed, Christianity is a religious movement that had a significant impact in the development of philosophy. While there are many reasons that could be cited to substantiate such a claim, three factors were deemed to be of paramount importance: namely, the rapid rise of Christianity during the ancient era, the use of prevailing philosophies to explain Christian tenets by key Christian thinkers, and the creation of a complete Christian philosophy which capitalized on adapting philosophical issues within the context of Christianity.

Work Cited

Moore, B. & Bruder, K. (2005). Philosophy: The Power of Ideas with PowerWeb. Sixth Edition.           New York, Mc-Graw Hill

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