Medieval/Christian philosophy: Is Christian active faith at stake?
Shortly, after the fall of Roman Empire around 5th century, the west drowned into what came to be known as Dark ages. In this period, people had no schools of thoughts and general formal learning fell back. Many Christians of this error were so intuitional and mystical and had no logic or reasoning to back up what they believed in (Neo-Platonism). However, around 8-14th century, medieval kind of philosophy which had earlier been championed by Augustine came into existence and Thomas Aquinas was better known for this movement. We can say that true scholarly came back into open.
By definition, we can say that medieval philosophy is that era in which theologians were trying to answer most of the theological questions using methods and techniques that had been applied by ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. Many scholars believe that while Plato's arguments carried no weight of reasoning or logical proofs, Aristotle arguments always carried logical explanations, and indeed Aristotle is liked to be quoted by many Christian theologians than Plato.
As years went on, what had begun as a simple movement of renewal of philosophy but more in support of theology became a big movement for rebirth of knowledge (Renaissance) around 16th century. Actually, it is said that by 787 AD, a decree had been made in western empire to establish schools around under the advisory of Charlemagne. Yes, it is from this earliest 8th century to 14th century that scholasticism developed with so many scholars leading the era.
According to Gracia and George (2003), about three principles characterized the medieval writers and philosophers and these included;
1. The use of logic, dialectic, and analysis to discover the truth (also known as ratio).
2. Respect for the insights of ancient philosophers, in particular Aristotle, and deference to their authority (auctoritas).
3. The obligation to co-ordinate the insights of philosophy with theological teaching and revelation (Concordia).
Applying these principles, a lot of Christian or theological mysteries were explained and answered using philosophy (especially that of Aristotle) and theological doctrine. Important topics of this era included, the problem of compatibility of divine attributes, the problem of evil and its genesis, the God's omniscience and predestination versus man's free will, the immortality of soul, and the existence of non substance angels, God's existence, individuation and so much more.
We have already discussed most the above topics in our daily bible exposition forum and hope to cover many more as days go by. As years went by, metaphysics from Aristotle was embarked on, and together with modern philosophies of science, religion and natural gave a solid and upright basis to explain and understand most of the theological issues that had been looked at as myths before.
While both Augustine (greatest father of faith) and Thomas Aquinas and other theological commentators of all times emphasized that philosophy or any other knowledge can only be helpful if illuminated by God's spirit or faith, it is important to note that the negligence of philosophy and logic was plunging the world into darkness. So as to be clear on the order of these things, Augustine advises us, "believe first and then seek to understand". In other words, let philosophy, modern science, theology, and all other knowledge help you to understand what you already believe in.
And I ask; do we still have great readers in our time who will not just take God's words literally as they are but will surely take time to digest the words, discover the hidden treasure and practical ways of making the word work for us? Do we still have people who want to push away the knowledge, science or logic in defense of what they believe in that does not possess any logical meaning? Are we not entering the dark times? Even though the internet is open and educational resources can be accessed from anywhere, how many of us are taking enough time to thoroughly read the bible and get out of the common habit of picking verses here and there in the bible to build our arguments? But also, could there be those who are trusting in the little philosophy or science they know and forget to use the eyes of faith to see beyond what we cannot prove?
All the above questions are important to us especially in this time of heavy duty and businesses and we have no time for God's word or doing enough and extensive knowledge search.
What is the point? The point is that it may not be helpful to just read God’s word as if we were reading newspapers. We need to take time to read God’s word, think about it and pray about it and let God use the educational knowledge we have or any other source of learning to deepen our understanding of His words/message. And while it is undeniable that knowledge without illumination of Holy Spirit is dangerous, it is also not right to pretend that philosophy, science or any other knowledge may not helpful in understanding God’s message for us.
God bless you so much.
If you have not yet received Christ Jesus as your personal Savior to help you in this crazy life and build you up for even the next eternal life, today is your day dear brother and sister. Repeat this prayer after me, "Lord Jesus, I am so much happy to meet you today. I have suffered and struggled to live for myself alone, but I am tired and I have sinned a lot along this way. I kindly ask you to take me in today and make me your holy child. Yes, I want to be there for your service Lord from today onwards. Save me and make me find true living in you alone. Thanks Jesus. Amen". If you have finished praying, we believe you are now saved and Jesus will never abandon you. Find a good church near you and be part of their congregation.
The Complete You Ministry, www.nemvicx.blogspot.com