Plato's, Tertullian's and Augustine's Influence on Christianity

Categories: Plato

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, then he became the dominant person to spread Christianity. However, the higher class of Jewish criticized the idea of Jesus and treated him badly. After the death of Jesus, his apostles continued spreading Christianity. In conception of Christianity, Christianity was influenced by Platonic ideas of afterlife and eternal life, though the early fundamentalist perspective of Tertullian reflected the fear of heresy and life of Christians, while the open-mindedness of Saint Augustine, who embraced Greek contributions, stemmed from Christianity's widespread dominance after the rule of Constantine.

Before Jesus died, in 427 BC, the Greek philosopher, Plato states that the division of heaven and hell, and the punishment and reward among unjust and just people. When Plato tells Socrates a story about Alcinous, he uses the experiences of this strong man who comes back from the underworld to show the existence of heaven and hell. Plato illustrates that " there were two openings in the earth next to one another, and, again, two in the heaven, above and opposite the others.

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Between them sat judges who, when they passed judgment, told them just to continue their journey to the right and upward, through the heaven" (Plato, The Republic 614c). When Alcinous sees the condition of dead people and their stories, he says that "if some men were causes of the death of many, either by betraying cities or amies and they received for each of these things tenfold sufferings; and again, if they had done good deeds and had proved just and holy, in the same measure did they receive reward"(Plato, The Republic 615b).

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In addition to the idea of Plato, he points out the theory of forms that the physical world is not a real one, instead, the perfect world is behind people. Plato uses the cave of three men to show the theory, he states that people spent a lot of time to see the actual world. If they see it and find it, they will know the truth of right and good. This real-world is eternal and perfect that God knows its existence. Plato's ideas about heaven and hell determine the afterlife of good people and bad people, and his ideas also reflect the perfect form of God and the perfect form of the world is heaven which contains good and right. Plato's idea is important because his early thought is the verification of Christianity about the afterlife of Christians and the existence of God.

After Jesus died, in 155 AD, Tertullian is a philosopher and an early Christian writer comes from the Carthage of Tunisia. Tertullian hates the heresy because he believes the heresy is "the greater evil, showing that it was in view of the greater evil that he readily believed in the lesser ones"(Enduring Legacies, 214). Tertullian also against the two philosophers, Zeno and Plato. He calls the philosophers are "worldly wisdom" (Enduring Legacies, 214) that are foolish to God, and philosophers explain the interpretation of God's nature and purpose to supply heresies. Tertullian believes that religion shouldn't be affected by philosophies, So Christians should cut and separate from their influences. And the Bible is the central book to believe and read for ignorant Christians. He mentions the meaning of " ‘seek, and ye shall find.' "(Enduring Legacies, 215) is to seek Christ with reading the Bible and if people doubt the truth which they find, he says, " to establish that Christ' teaching is to be found with us"(Enduring Legacies, 216). Additionally, Eve is misled by the snake to eat a forbidden apple and she leads Adam to eat it, too. Her mistakes make human loss their eternal life. So Tertullian condemns women are " The devil of the gateway; it was you who first violated the forbidden tree and broke God's law"(Enduring Legacies, 213). He believes the human bodies are sinful when they are born in this world because of the fault of Eve. Tertullian's ideas spread the life of Christians to read the Bible and follow the words of God. Christians should avoid to touch heresies or believe other people's authority. Tertullian's idea is important because his thought influences how Christians live in the world and how Christians educate themselves.

In 293 AD, the Roman king, Diocletian split the Roman Empire into the west and east to be easier to control the Empire. Then in 303 AD, Diocletian published the law to persecute Christians. He forced Christians left from the military and gave up their beliefs, he also burned their Christians'books. Until 311 AD, Constantinus published the law, "Edict of Milan" to give back the rights of Christians, and accept Christianity as a legal religion. After this year, Constantinus fought with Maxentius to form the battle called "Battle of Milvian Bridge". This outcome of the battle became the turning point of the fate of Christians and the Roman Empire. Constantinus took control of Rome that Christians could spread and practice their religion, they also could build their Chrisitan Church and publish books.

After Christianity became the major religion, the Roman African, Saint Aurelius Augustine believes that not only studying the Bible, rather, studying the words of the philosophers. Because he says, " We rank such thinkers above all others and acknowledge them as representing the closest approximation to our Christian position"(Enduring Legacy, 220). Philosophers study the truth about God have the same agreements with Christians. Also, Augustine mentions that people are educated by the Bible with charity and people live in a unity society. He says, "The Bible contained everything a Christian needed to know to recognize what to avoid and what to embrace: ‘scripture teaches nothing but charity, nor condemns anything except cupidity' "(Enduring Legacy, 217). Augustine mentions that people only have own belief are not enough; instead, they need to find the truth of God. He claims that how we find the truth, "Rather, every good and true Christian should understand that wherever he may find the truth, it is his Lord's"(Enduring Legacy, 222). Augustine believes that eternal love is God's and learning the Bible can learn everything about God and the truth. However, he points out a Christian should seek and find the truth of God, not only having own belief. Augustine's idea is important because his thought influences the community of Christians and how Christians close to God.

Plato's afterlife and the form of God make the foundation of later Christianity, Tertullian and Augustine affect the basic life and rule of Christians, and Constantinus pushes Christianity into a legal and popular religion. All change Christianity from weaker religion into a stronger Christan community and move Christianity into the society of the world and affect medieval culture with the modern world.

Updated: Feb 22, 2024
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Plato's, Tertullian's and Augustine's Influence on Christianity. (2024, Feb 16). Retrieved from

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