Myodicy, Issue 27, November 2006

Reformational Movement:
Documentary Series

Number 8:
Runner's Introduction
to Philosophy:

Fourth (Final) Instalment

What follows is # 8 in the documentary series on the Reformational Movement and Its History. Click here to view the table of contents and homepage of the series as a whole.

Click here to read the preface to this set of student notes.

Lecture # 18, April 14, 1965

The Apriori in Hellenistic Thought

The mark of the apriori is that it is universal and binding. It is absolutely necessary as well as binding. It has the power of law and is not subject to change because it is antecedent to experience. The apriori is part of man's existential structure.

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The movement of Antiochos has in common with Karneades that it is semi-realistic. The apriori is both in the macrocosmic and in the microcosmic mind. The microcosmic subject in its higher nature was divine for Plato. Thus the macrocosm is the divine mind; the microcosm is the human mind.

In the intermezzo between the Fifth Academy and the rise of Mesoplatonism the theme of the apriori advanced in mathematical objectivistic circles. Classic Pythagoreanism recognized the law for the subject in the object. The law is not only in the quality of the object but in the numerically measured intensity of the quality and in the geometric aspect of the quality. Mathematical limits exist only in connection with the qualities. These mathematical limits are the law for the subject. In Neo-pythagoreanism the object has lost its mathematical aspect and the primal mathematicals become part of the apriori thinking equipment. Neo-pythagoreanism is nonmathematical objectivism with metrical and geometrical apriority. Neo-pythagoreanism has a mystical and a non-mystical wing. The non-mystical wing maintains that both macrocosm and microcosm, i.e. both human mind and divine mind, possess the metrical and geometrical apriori. The mystical wing maintained that only the macrocosm or the divine mind possessed the mathematical apriori thinking equipment. In the-non-mystical wing man had certainty or the apriori law in himself while in the mystical wing man did not. The mystical wing had to look into the universal, divine mind to find the rule for life.

Only after an intermezzo of about two centuries there arose in the Academy, ca. 150 AD the question as to the.knowability of the numbers themselves, that is, the primal mathematicals in the background world. The knowability of the functional foreground numbers was not called into question. In this respect this stage of skepticism differed from the stage just described in Classic Pythagoreanism.

The skeptical process lasted AD 150 to 200. There was a twofold preamble to Mesoplatonism. In the first stage Attikos questioned the eminent knowability of the numbers themeselves. In the second stage Favorinus declared them unknowable and for all practical purposes non-existent. At this point semi-realism was exchanged for Pythagorean anti-realism. What was left was a mathematical objectivism with an apriority of ideas.

Mesoplatomism, following upon the heels of Favorinus, argued that the numbers themselves do in fact exist but not where Classic Pythagoreanism took them to be. Mesoplatonism made the numbers themselves part of the apriori equipment of the macrocosmic and microcosmic nous. Thus Mesoplatonism embraces Classic Pythagorean ontology with the double apriority of the ideas and the primal mathematicals. Late Mesoplatonism was represented by Harpokration.

Neoplatonism diverges from Late Mesoplatonism only on the matter of who possesses the apriori. Neoplatonism is mystical because it awards apriori thinking equipment only to the divine mind while Mesoplatonism awards it to both macrocosmic and microcosmic mind. With Neoplatonism the men of the Academy finally broke with the theme of macrocosm and microcosm.

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Plato was a monist for the last twenty years of his life. Becoming dissatisfied with the duality of foreground and background he looked for a ONE behind it.

In connection with Neoplatonism two movements can be distinguished. Ammonios Sakkas and his followers merely stated that man must look into the divine mind and left it at that. Plotinus, on the other hand, revived this vague theme of Plato and posited that beyond the duality of macrocosm and microcosm there is the ONE. The microcosm, by which he meant simply man, must be absorbed into the ONE in order to behold the ideas in the divine,mind, so that he could use these ideas as his rule for life after descending. Affirmative theology means that in the ONE he beholds the ideas and the mathematicals themselves. Negative theology means that he loses his individuality when he is absorbed into the ONE.

Aristotle said that all existents are made up of matter and form. He derived his four causes from their involvement with God and the Universal Active Intellect.

God                             --final cause
Universal Active Intellect             --efficient cause
        form -- passive intellect       --formal cause
potential ------------------------------------------------
        matter                   --material cause

The influence of Plato was felt also in the Lyceum, although the final conception of Aristotle had maintained itself quite well. Ptolemy, under the influence of Platonism, declared that there is an overflow of independent apriori ideas from the divine mind into the passive intellect. Other men in the Lyceum, like Alexander, were non-platonizing.

The theme of the apriori is a pagan answer to the problem of Law. The Law in reality is not subjective. The Law is the structure of creation. Law goes with meaning and truth.

Some Christians, trying to fit the theme of the apriori into their thinking, have declared that empirical facts are neutral. The Holy Sprit, they continue, has provided us with an apriori web of interpretation by which we assign meaning to the creation. The problem with this view is that it does not recognize that the whole creation of God is true and meaningful.

The History of Political Theory:

The history of political,theory is continuous and unified from the Roman lawyers of the second century AD to the theorists of the French Revolution. The only significant break in the history of political theory is between Aristotle and the second century Romans. The basis of this change is the development of the theme of the apriori in the interval. The political theory of the Middle Ages is founded upon the political theory of the 2nd to 6th century Roman lawyers and the 2nd to 7th century Church Fathers. The two great Roman proponents of political theory were Cicero and Seneca. Cicero was a Mesoplatonist; Seneca was a Stoic. The Roman lawyers and the Church Fathers based their political theory on Cicero. Cicero

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said that there is a universal apriori law of nature arising from the rational and social nature of human being and making them akin to God. The law is universal and binding upon all men and all nature. No legislation contradicting this law is justifiable. The law of nature is right itself. Cicero defines the law as right reason. It is binding for all areas of life. It is knowable to all; it needs no interpretation. The good obey this law; only the bad do not. It is because all men possess this apriori law that they are equal. This is a startling change from the political theory of Aristotle because Aristotle believed in the inequality of man which was clearly implied for him by the existence of social order.

Lecture # 19, April 15, 1965

The History of Political Theory:

    jus civile -- Civil law, for the city.
    jus gentium -- Law of nations. A similarity with the law systems of other nations was observed.
    jus naturalae -- Natural law on the basis of which jus gentium was possible.

There is an ambiguity in political theory based on the apriori. Rousseau, to take an example, believed in a "will of the majority" and a "general will." By general will he means that which is the right thing to do. Those who see this general will may be only a few. Thus, they must speak for all. These see more quickly what the duty of right reason is. Through education the general will can and will become the will of the majority. The principle of imposing the general will on all the people with the intention of making it the will of the majority through education is the principle Communism operates on.

The Church Fathers also believed that there is a natural law written by nature in men's hearts, which is the rule of life for man. Ambrose said that law is twofold. All men are under the natural law which tells us what is good and evil. The Mosaic Law of God was added because the natural law was neglected. The Church Fathers took the Scriptures to be quite compatible with Cicero's theories.

That a fraction of the electorate can legislate for the whole is a confusion of Rousseau's general will with the will of the majority. The two are mistakenly thought to be identical. By this view the natural law is the will of the majority. What the majority wills is right.

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Lecture # 20, April 20, 1965

The History of Philosophy:

We must look at the problem of the division of the history of philosophy from a religious perspective. The coming of Jesus Christ into the world wrought a change in philosophizing. It is the dynamic breaking upon the scene of the Word Revelation that gave rise to the "attempted" synthesis or accommodation of the themes of Revelation to themes that had been developed in the previous pagan period of philosophy. The preaching of the Word opened problematics in philosophy to peoples who had lost the revelation. In this situation their attitude was anything but purely receptive.

Synthesis must be distinguished from eclecticism and syncretism. The latter two fail to take into account the central ordering principle of the philosophy, and synthesis is largely on a religious plane. Synthesis is the attempt to hold together two mutually exclusive ordering principles. One is the Word Revelation; the other is a pagan account of the creation. The second is the suppressing ordering principle. If such an attempt were successful, man would have succeeded in bridging the cavern between the two religious directions. The attempt at synthesis composes the second division in the history of philosophy. Synthesis being a religious and intellectual impossibility, there are divided men and systems, or there is the giving up of either the gospel or the thought results of previous men. Synthesis is an untenable position. The two irreconcilables leave man invariably drawn to one or the other. This fact of dynamics explains further how the second main period of philosophy had to lead to a third in which the choice between the two alternatives is shown to be more and more clearly necessitated by the nature of reality itself. There is an increasingly strident cry against the Christian churches. Humanism and the Renaissance chose against the Revelation; the Reformation chose for it.

Lecture # 21, April 27, 1965

The History of Philosphy:

The Christian synthesis arose in the period of the Church fathers; it was therefore worked out in a scholastic sense, after the analogy of Islamic and Judaistic synthetic conceptions, by the Christian philosophers of the High Middle Ages; and it was finally refreshed pedagogically by the early Humanists, and religiously by the pre-Reformation. Through all of these currents Christian synthesis philosophy maintained itself essentially unchanged. Even men like Petrarch and Bradwardine, representing early Humanism and pre-Reformation respectively, did not perceive the internal inconsistency of the synthesis position, and yet these very two men were standing on the threshhold of a new age, for the difference that distinguished them from each other is rooted in the same religious antithesis that fundamentally dominates the anti-synthetic thought that dominates later ages right down to the present. Yet, there is

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one more thing that must be said. We have stated that the synthesis began in the Christian period and that it arose from the proclamation of the Word Revelation. Christian synthesis could only have arisen as a result of the preaching of the divine Word Revelation during and after the missionary journeys of Paul, but the Word Revelation could hardly have been the cause of the synthesis. There had also come up in Jewish circles a kind of synthesis, the Judaistic-Hellenistic synthesis among the Alexandrine Jews two and a half centuries prior to the birth of Christ, and culminating in the Jewish Gnostic philosophy of Philo, who perhaps symbolically is known to us as both Philo Judaeus and Philo Alexandrinus.

Judaistic-Hellenistic synthesis of Philo:

Philo must be seen as representing the culmination of a process beginning with the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament into Greek. Philo was divided in his loyalties between two religious motivations.

The Palestinian Jews were marked by particularism and nationalistic hopes. For the Palestinians only those who submitted to the law could have a part in the promised glory. The Diaspora Jews had been affected by their sojourn in Babylon. Upon their return they spread out all over the world. They adopted the view that since God was the one true God He should be worshipped by all men the world over. Thus, they concerned themselves with winning the Gentiles.

Lecture # 22, May 4, 1965

Jewish History:

In 588 BC was the deportation of the Jews into Babylon. Many Jews were absorbed into Babylon and Persia. In 586 Jerusalem was destroyed. Jerusalem was rebuilt in 537. A state under Persian sovereignty was established. The Ptolemids of Egypt controlled Palestine 300 to 266. This period was a time of quiet accommodation to the Greek Hellenistic spirit. In 198 Antiochus III added Palestine to his great Syrian Mesopotamian empire. There was a great change wrought by the change in rulers. Taxation was increased by the decay of the empire, and the temple treasures were [stolen]. The intrigues of the leaders of Jerusalem caused Antiochus IV to pillage and subdue Jerusalem in 168. The Seleucids tried to suppress the Jewish cult, and to hasten the Hellenization of the population, and to extend this Hellenization especially to the sphere of religion. The Maccabean revolt was 167 to 141. It was primarily a revolt of the religious peasantry. It resulted in complete political and religious freedom. This condition lasted for about a century. This century of freedom was what the later Jews looked back to with longing.

Jewish Literature:

There was a great deal of literature produced by the Alexandrian Jewish community. It began with the Septuagint translation of the Bible. The influence of a sort of

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Hellenism is evident from the tendency of the Septuagint to try to spiritualize God. Many of the anthropomorphisms and the anthropopathisms of the original Hebrew were lost in the translation. The Jewish literature had a twofold apologetic and irenic (missionary) purpose. It tried to fill the gaps in Jewish history and thought, and tried to ward off the attacks of heathendom. Irenically, it tried to show that Greek thought supported and was even identical with the fundamental truth of the Old Testament. The Wisdom of Solomon and part of the books of the Maccabees are examples of this tendency to accommodation. The ground for common truth among the Hebrews and Greeks was the Logos or Revealed Word which illumined both groups. The Hebrews had the whole truth in the Scriptures, the Greeks had partial truth. The accommodation here is that there was truth admitted in common with the Greeks. Judaism tried to ally itself with Platonism and Stoicism. The theology of the Old Testament found a rational basis in Platonist ontology, and ethics in the moral philosophy of the Stoics. The Stoic influence is strong in the books of the Maccabees where reason is proclaimed to be supreme. The proposition is simply that pious reason holds absolute sway over the passions. The Wisdom of Solomon contains Platonist and Stoic elements. The pre-existence of the soul is also discussed in the Apocrypha.

Philo Judaeus:

Philo is the culmination of this process of Hellenization. What we find in Philo is a synthesis of Old Testament principles with Greek philosophy. He belonged to the more or less apostate Jews of the Diaspora. He came into contact with Hellenistic philosophy and tried to synthesize it with Judaism. He did so by allegorically exegeting troublesome passages of Scripture. Allegory must be distinguished from typology. An allegory is a narrative expressly feigned for the purpose of representing higher truths or principles. Typical interpretions require the reality of the circumstances in the original. The typical is not then higher; it is a higher application. The latter, following holy Scripture, sees much already referred to in seed form in the Old Testament [that] was to become clear in the New Testament. Typology thinks scripturally and historically. Allegory exegetes a meaning that is neither scriptural nor historical.

Lecture # 23, May 6, 1965

Philo Judaeus:

In the book of Genesis God told Abraham to leave his native land, leave his kindred and his father's house for the land that He was yet to show him. Philo interprets this passage to be about death. When we die we leave our native land (body), further we must leave our kindred (psyche), and third, we must leave our father's house (thought life), and go to the land that God will yet show us (union with the universal).

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Patristic Synthesis:

The first Christians came from a heathen background. These Christians were generally synthesists. Many retained the pagan conceptions they adopted before their conversion and after their intellectual maturity. The problem they faced is: What is the Bible? A series of items or an intergrated principle of life?

  I. Patristic Synthesis
    A. Method of eisegesis and exegesis
    B. Method of paradox
    C. Nature and Grace

Justin Martyr:

Justin was martyred at Rome in AD 165. He is connected with the Logos speculation. He had been a travelling Hellenistic philosopher. The Stoics had been impressd with the variety of things the senses present, but reason holds these perceptions together in a unity of rational explanation. The Stoics argue that all things are held together by the principle of rationality, the Word Logos, reason. The reason of the individual was a spermatic (seed) reason, a spark or fragment of the world reason. When Justin was converted he was faced with the problem of presenting Christianity in such a way that his old associates would be sympathetic to it.

Justin translated John 1:9: "It was the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." On this basis he could accept the thought-results of the Greeks since the logos illumined them as well. The correct translation is: "It was the true light which, coming into the world, was a light unto every man." Justin took Christianity to be teaching the same thing as the Greeks, only Christianity said it more clearly. The antithesis between true and false prophecy is concealed behind an assumed mere difference of clarity or insight. In the Prologue John is not interested in the effect of the light upon every man. What he is concerned to point out is that there is light for every man. The rest of the Prologue denies Justin's interpretation. It states that regeneration is a necessary prerequisite to receiving illumination.

Lecture # 24, May 11, 1965

Justin Martyr:

Justin identified, the second Person of the Trinity with the subjectivistic Logos of the Stoa. He thought he found traces of the Logos in Socrates and Heraclitus, but these two men used the word in an entirely different sense. There is in Justin an anti-materialistic energetics, a Christianized subjectivism in respect to the higher functions, and a misconception of Common Grace, changing it from the goodness of God to the activities of (heathen) men.

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Augustine is many diverse schools of thought, and is said to represent different positions by a number of different people. Augustine first developed the idea of the equality of the three Persons of the Trinity. He dominated Western philosophizing up to the 13th century.

Augustine attended the ludus litterarum (grade school) in Thagaste. He did not like his first school, and he then attended the schola grammatica in nearby Madaura. Finally, he went to the scola rhetorici, studies of literature, in Carthage, where he took a mistress and also read Cicero's Hortensius.

He wanted to be a Christian from the beginning of his life, because he had "taken in Christ with his mother's milk," but he felt he could not join the Church because the Catholic Church taught a corporeal God. He embraced Manichaeism because it was connected with Christ and eliminated the problem of the corporeality of God. Augustine had decided to drop Manichaeism when he came to Rome. Here he adopted the Academic skepticism of Mesoplatonism.

Lecture # 25, May 13, 1965


The Manichaean sect was founded by a Persian named Manes (215-277). It was at bottom a purely dualistic system, but it called itself Christian. There are two ultimate principles, good (light) and evil (darkness). The god of good is pure luminous matter. The kingdom of darkness is the sphere of material being. The present world arose out of a clash between the god of light and the god of darkness. In the present world light and darkness are mixed, light penetrating the dark as world soul. In man the two elements are present as body and soul. The body is the prison of the soul. The light must be separated and returned to the kingdom of light. The not yet redeemed light is the suffering Jesus. One day the entire kingdom of light will be restored.

The Old Testament God is the God of darkness. The early Christians adulterated the New Testament. Manes was the true prophet. Christ is not the Christian Jesus but a spirit with a non-redeemed body from the kingdom of light. The crucified Jesus was a prophet from the kingdom of darkness. Manes.was the promised comforter and head of the Church. The elect were internally freed from darkness. The imperfect were hearers of the doctrine. The elect lived ascetic lives and went to the kingdom of light after death, while the hearers only reached it after a process of purification.


Tertullian was educated by a phytological interactionistic non-contradictory cosmogono-cosmological monist. Thus he conceived of the universe as existing in bodily (plant) form. Through his influence, most North African Christians thought that God was a corporeal being.

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Although Augustine's father Patricius did not become a Christian until he was baptized on his deathbed, his mother Monica brought Augustine up as a Christian. At the death of Patricius, Augustine was sent to Carthage to the school of the rhetorician, by Romanianus, a benevolent citizen of Thagaste.

Carthage was a pagan city. The pagan basilicas far outnumbered the Christian churches. A busy port city, it was full of temptation for the sensual Augustine. It was here that he broke in practice with the Christian way of life. His chief field of study was rhetoric, but he also studied the trivium and the quadrivium. During this initial stay in Carthage he took a mistress or concubine by whom he quickly had a son, Adeodatus. At the same time he read Cicero's Hortensius, one of the protreptic writings, urging people on to the study of philosophy. Although he had thus become interested in philosophy, he did not pursue it in heathen books because of the influence of his mother who had taught him that the Catholic Church possessed the truth. He turned to the Scriptures, but its simple language repulsed him. A few days later he joined the Manichaean sect, thus maintaining his connection with the name of Christ.

One of the primary reasons Augustine felt he could not join the Catholic Church was because he, like the North African Christians, thought that the Catholic Church taught the corporeality of God, a notion he could not reconcile in his mind.

He noticed shortly after becoming a hearer that the Manichees liked to debate rather than expound their position.

At 21 years of age he returned to Thagaste for a year. A year later he returned to Carthage as a teacher. He began to be more aware of the shakiness of Manichaeism. He noticed that the elect did not live as ascetically as they might. He questioned the doctrines of Manes on scientific grounds. He met Nibridius who brought up an objection against Manes' conception of the body. He asked how the evil substance could have penetrated the good substance if God had not been willing. Nibridius tried to prove how this conception of God was untenable, and Augustine conceded the point. He did not know the answer to the problem of evil. When the Manichaeans could not answer the question to Augustine's satisfaction, they had him ask the great bishop Faustus. Faustus proved to be unable to satisfy Augustine. Then Augustine began to lose interest in Manichaeism rapidly, and no longer considered it seriously, although he maintained outside connections with it for some time yet.

He moved to Rome to teach because he heard the students were better behaved there. Though Monica wanted to come with him, he left her behind. While at Rome, Augustine became a skeptic. After a year in Rome he got a job as city orator in Milan. St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, became a good friend of Augustine. Ambrose explained many passages troublesome to Augustine by allegorical exegesis. Augustine decided to retain his status as a catechumen in the Catholic Church. He gathered around him a circle of his family and friends. He finally came to realize that the Catholic Church did not teach the corporeality of God. He took a great step toward conversion when he dismissed his concubine.

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Lecture # 26, May 18, 1965


Monica found a girl for Augustine to marry after two years when the girl would come of age, so Augustine dismissed his concubine.

Augustine's intellectual objections to Christianity had been:
  i) His reaction against the language and style of the Old Testament. He later understood why this was necessary when he realized the importance of historical development in Revelation. Ambrose's allegorical exegesis helped him to reconcile difficult passages in his mind.
  ii) His difficulty in seeing God as a corporeal being, which was partly a remnant of Manichaeism and partly due to Tertullian's phytological monism. Through Ambrose's preaching he finally came to realize that the Catholic Church did not teach the corporeality of God.
  iii) He could not explain the origin of evil. If everything that is is from God, whence then is evil?

Neoplatonism made it possible for Augustine to free himself from the corporealism of Manichaeism. Before that, he had never been able to accept the idea of incorporeal reality. Unfortunately, Neoplatonism also gave rise to Augustine's idea of evil as the privation of good. Neoplatonism made it possible for Augustine to see the reasonableness of Christianity.

From Simplicianus, Augustine heard the moving story of the conversion of Victorinus, a great rhetorician and neoplatonist philosopher. Only the pleasures of sexuality restrained him from following Victorinus's example. Ponticianus told Augustine the story of Antony and of the new practice of monasticism. On that day Augustine's conversion took place. Augustine then resigned his office as rhetor and with his circle in September 386 left Milan for Cassiciacum. It was here that the Cassiciacum Dialogues were written.

The Philosophy of Augustine:

After Manicheeism, Augustine adopted academic skepticism. The problem for him was whether or not it is possible to attain certitude. He thought this problem so significant that he wrote three books on the subject against the academic skeptics after his conversion. The possession of truth is indispensable for happiness. If truth is not had, neither can likelihood be had because what is likely can be judged only in the light of what is true. No one can be wise without knowledge. Wisdom cannot be merely a confession of ignorance and a resultant suspension of judgment for this would be to identify wisdom with the unreal and the false. If knowledge is an essential part of wisdom, it is only necessary for happiness, because only the wise can be truly happy. What particularly attracted Augustine to this view was the idea of the immediate certitude of man's experience. The truth, for Augustine, rests in the innermost part of man. Augustine, then, finds certitude in

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self-existence and in trans-individual, self-evidencing principles: i) mathematical, ii) logical, iii) aesthetic, iv) ethical.

Lecture # 27, May 20, 1965


Universally valid and practically applicatory truths were sought by Augustine in all fields of knowledge. The veritates or rationales aeternae were internal self-evidencing truths independent of experience and not subject to change. He found these truths in four fields: mathematics, logic, aesthetics, and ethics. These self-evidencing principles seem to have come from the late Mesoplatonist conception of double apriority in both the macrocosmic and microcosmic minds. Augustine's mathematical principles were in mesoplatonism the apriori primal mathematicals. His logical, aesthetic, and ethical principles come from the apriority of the Ideas of the True, the Beautiful, and the Good. It follows, then, that it would be more correct to call Augustine a late Mesoplatonist than a Neoplatonist because Neoplatonism denies apriority in the microcosmic mind.

Augustine erred when he called on the cognitive powers of human reason against skepticism when he should have called on the revelation of God.

Augustine said that the body is the inferior part of man; the soul is the superior part. The body was made to serve the rational soul. It is an inferior tool used by the soul.

The Synod of Orange:

Some time after the death of Augustine there was a conflict in the South Gallic and North African Churches. This controversy was settled by the Synod of Orange A.D. 529. Pelagianism had won considerable support in the Eastern Churches. A form of semi-Pelagianism arose in the West and became dominant in the churches in South Gaul and North Africa. Semi-Pelagianism acknowledged that Grace is necessary to rebirth, but said also that the individual is capable of taking the first step by feeling his need and turning to the gospel. Although rejecting Pelagianism, the Synod of Orange thus opened a wedge for its reentry. Grace properly understood is a changing and redirecting of the whole man. The Synod of Orange accepted a sacramental view of Grace, seeing Grace as an addition to the natural life of man.

The Scholastic Synthesis:

The Patristic synthesis was accomplished spontaneously by men who were converts from paganism and were thus well acquainted with pagan philosophy while being new to Christianity. The scholastic synthesis was acquired, that is, the original patristic synthesis was inherited and built upon.

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Outline of the Scholastic synthesis:

  I. Rise of the Scholastic synthesis
    A. Compilation -- The views of the authors of the patristic synthesis were collected and compiled. Manuscripts were saved. There was no real original thought.
    B. Concordantiae -- There was an attempt made to bring order into the many differing manuscripts. It was the beginning of reflection on the manuscripts of the church fathers. It was necessary because of difference of opinion to posit an authority higher than that of the church fathers. Abelard, to take an example, did not use the Scriptures here, although he would by no means question their authority. He made it the task of the theologian to reconcile conflicting traditions by the use of dialectic. Gratian used the same method in reconciling conflicts in canon law.
    C. Sententiae -- Men expressed their own opinions about handed-down material. Peter Lombard is a typical example of this period.
  II. Flowering of the Scholastic synthesis
  III. Dissolution of the Scholastic synthesis

Lecture # 28, May 27, 1965


Tertullian was not a materialist but a phytological interactionistic cosmogono-cosmological monist. In phytological interactionism everything is plant. The seed of man is passed on in the form of little sprouts that generate and grow into new men. This is the background of his doctrine of traducianism which is really a philosophic doctrine with a theological expression.

What he means with his paradox is that philosophic truth (inherited from Soranus, his Stoic phytological interactionistic teacher) may contradict theological truth (Scripture) while both are still true.

Flowering of the Scholastic Synthesis:

The flowering of the scholastic synthesis is distinguished from the rise by the influence of newly discovered Jewish and Islamic cultural material. The cultural gap had been somewhat bridged by the crusades.

Aristotle's writings disappeared after his death and were rediscovered a few centuries later. In the 4th and 5th centuries a number of men were cast out of the Church in the East for heresy. Many of these men, now subject to persecution, moved to Persia and set up translation centers there. They first translated Greek writings, especially those of Aristotle, into Syriac. About 100 to 150 years later the Muslims began to move into the area. Thus, the monks in the translating centers began to translate into Arabic. Besides the works of Aristotle, medical works and works in other sciences were translated. These writings spread right across the Islamic empire and into Spain. Around the year 1225 a few students from Paris went to Spain to take back copies of the writings of Aristotle who at the time was highly regarded in

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Europe. The original Aristotle which had been translated from Greek into Syriac and then into Arabic now underwent further translation into Latin. Thus, Aristotle was somewhat misrepresented. Western students also began to study the Eastern commentaries on Aristotle. Most of the Eastern scholars were Aristotelians although a few were Platonists of one type or another. For the Islamic philosophers Avicenna (980-1037) and Averroes (1126-1182) and the Jewish philosophers Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) and Ibn Gebiral or Avicebron (1021- 1069/70) Aristotle was the philosopher par excellence. However, their interpretation of Aristotle was not at all accurate. In the first place it represented Aristotle unhistorically, and in the second place it subordinated him in a synthesis to Islamic and Jewish apostate theology.

The only point in the Patristic synthesis that anticipated the scholastic synthesis was the decision of the Synod of Orange about semi-Pelagianism in the year A.D. 529. Their decision was interpreted to mean that man at the fall lost supernatural grace but retained a lower or natural grace. This lower grace was unaffected by sin. If philosophy were placed in the realm of natural grace its relation with theology would not be that of paradox but that of portal and sanctuary. If philosophy is in the lower realm then the Greek philosophers were not affected by the Fall in their thought life and so their thought results are valid as far as the natural realm is concerned.

There were difficulties in introducing Aristotle into Western philosophy. Christian theology had already been developed in Platonist terminology. Another difficulty was that Aristotle's philosophy contained an essential philosophy and thus did not want to be confined to the natural realm. This gave rise to the idea of a natural theology and a supernatural theology. However, the 13th century thinkers accepted Aristotle's conception because of the advantages it offered, not the least of which was the common rational basis for discussion of theology among Jews, Muslims, and Christians that it provided.

Dissolution of the Scholastic synthesis:

The later scholastics said that five attributes of God (one, good, etc.) could be known by reason and that all others had to be known by Revelation. These scholastics began to allow the former characteristics to slip away until there was almost nothing that could be proven about God from reason. In this manner the split between nature and grace widened as God belonged exclusively to the realm of grace and the realm of nature was identified with the world. It was this modified conception of nature and grace that laid the groundwork for the secularization of the modern world. The idea that man could be complete without faith or God arose within the very walls of the Christian Church and was later taken over by the rationalists.

Third Synthesis:

The third synthesis is distinguishable from both humanism and scholasticism. It wished to escape scholasticism and made somewhat of a return to Platonism.

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Prelude to the Post-Synthetic Period

The late middle ages were weary of scholasticism and sought a "homo novus" or new man. The Church's answer of ecclesiasticized regeneration was insufficient. The Reformation rejected ecclesiaticized regeneration and said that God deals directly with man. The Scriptures are clear; God himself interprets them to man. The Reformation wished to do away with Greek philosophy and stick to the Scriptures. Humanism and the Renaissance wished to do away with the authority of the Scriptures. Humanism with a small h is to be distinguished from Humanism with a capital H. Humanism with h denotes any movement that wished to put man at the centre of the universe. Humanism with a capital H was that pedagogical movement about the time of the Renaissance that said that the new man is made through the constant reading of Greek and Roman texts. The Renaissance, on the other hand, said that in order to get the new man we must look within ourselves and call up our own inherent powers. Humanism died out quickly because it had so little to say. The Renaissance as a scientific movement formed the basis of the modern rationalist movement.

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