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A treatise on thought, wisdom, and the Word Part One

February 18, 2018

 wisdom This is going to be my second attempt at writing a treatise trying to wed philosophy, ( the love of wisdom) and God’s Word in the battle of faith versus reason. Or, perhaps more accurately–God’s knowledge verses man’s knowledge. I am a Christian, I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, and I make no bones about the fact I am coming at this from a Biblical perspective. I pray that what I have written is theologically sound but if I have erred in any way I will gladly accept criticism, correction, and guidance in my continuing study of God’s Word.

  Once you start this study it is a never ending quest, but it is rewarding and you must first start and than continue to learn. “If you begin you will discover, with a thrill of horror, that you are obliged to think.” (G.K. Chesterton “Orthodoxy”)

  This has turned into a much larger treatise than I originally intended so I am going to break it down into two parts and I hope you will bear with me as I “think” my way through this.

  In my first treatise on this subject I wrote “at this point it might be interesting to ponder exchanging the idea that god is thought [Aristotle’s god] with the term “Word of God” with Jesus naturally being the Word–Deism versus Christianity–but that might be the subject of a follow up post.”

  This is the beginning of that follow up post, but first I will share a little of my story about how I got to this point:

  I have been reading about American history for several years now and this inevitably led me to read the people the founders were influenced by, which led me to John Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire, and others. But of course these people were influenced by the thinkers before them so I had to dig deeper.

  Then about three years ago, while still studying history and the founding of America, I found out that Plato wrote a book about his ideal government called “The Republic” and all bets were off. This got me into ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and I was hooked. I started reading more Plato, as well as Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero, and on and on…

  This is where my ignorance is really going to show through: while reading these philosophers I was under the assumption that the ancient Greeks and Jews really did not know each other. I assumed the Greeks were seeking knowledge but were unaware of the Jews and that the Jews knew God but were unaware of the Greeks but nothing could be further from the truth. I did not realize how intertwined these cultures were and now I feel as if Greek thought and Jewish Word were also intertwined. It took Jesus to bring them all together.

   At this point I should apologize because some of what I am about to write is a repetition of my first post but I am hoping to expand on my original “thought” (do you see what I did there?) and take it on from a slightly different angle.

  While the ancient Greek philosophers did not have anything to say about the Jews the Bible is full of references to the Greeks and other pagans, or Gentiles, especially in Acts 17:18 where the Epicureans and Stoics are specifically mentioned (more on the Stoics later) and again in Acts 17:28. While I had been seeking God for many years I did not sit down and read the Bible, shame on me, how can someone so interested in ancient writings ignore the Bible?

  It was not until I started reading the Bible two years ago that all of this actually hit home with me. The Bible even prophesies about Alexander the Great in Daniel 8:5-8 and again in Daniel 11:3-5 about 250 years before it happened, and you might know that Alexander the Great was tutored by none other than Aristotle. Another connection I did not make until recently which intrigues me. Surely Daniel had the pre-incarnate “Word” because this “thought” became reality.

  On to the crux of this post: Greek “thought” versus the “Word” or, as I am now inclined to put it,  philosophy  versus theology. And wisdom is tied in to all of this. The Greeks had “thought” while the Jews had the “Word.” (I am of course here talking about the pre-incarnate Word which was with God and which was God before the Word became flesh)   “Thought” versus the “Word,” the terms are similar but the meaning could not be more different because the “Word” we are talking about is the “Word of God.” And the “Word” is of course Jesus Christ. Many of the ancient Greeks were searching for a god but they could not think their way to Him while the Jews had the Word of God but did not always follow it. Jesus took the “Word” beyond “thought.”

  Aristotle posited the idea of a “prime mover” or an “un-caused cause” that he called god. He said this god would have to be perfect, he called this god “thought.” He also said that because this god was perfect he could only think perfect thoughts which meant this god only thought about himself and did not concern himself with the world–a deistic approach.

  But there is a paradox in Aristotle’s “thought” which can not be ignored: if Aristotle’s god was perfect thought and self-absorbed in his own being how could this god be the “prime mover” or the “un-caused cause” of everything else? This would mean his god would have been an accidental “prime mover” or “un-caused cause.” Yet how could a perfect god accidentally move everything else? This thought-god could not be perfect if this is true. I think Aristotle’s paradox is a result of him not having the Word.

  In his extant writings Aristotle never rectified this paradox. In a play based on the book “Socrates Meets Jesus” by Dr. Peter Kreeft we find Socrates reincarnated in present times learning about the Word of God. In one memorable scene Socrates is asked “how is it that only Moses came up with it?” The question was in reference to God’s name, YHWH or Yahwey, I AM; he responds in this play that Moses did not come up with it, he came up to it. What a subtle yet brilliant distinction!

  And this is where the “Word” comes into play, while the Greeks thought about god the Jews and the early Christians had the Word of God and the difference cannot be more striking. It is the difference between men seeking God and God seeking men. God seeks men but until you accept the challenge and come up to Him you cannot find God. That might be too general of a statement but at least that is how it was for me. It was not until I came up to God and asked him for the “Word” that I was able to find Him, until that point I was trying to come up with Him and I failed, as did the Greeks.

  Think of it this way: God sought Moses and then Moses came up to the burning bush. God sought Paul and Paul came up to Him. (More on that later.) Actually God sought all the Jews and used Moses and Paul to help bring them up to Him because God seeks all men. This is no more evidenced than by God coming into the world as flesh in Jesus Christ. Jesus sought men, all men, and some of them answered the call and came up to Him while others rejected Him and wanted him killed because He was a threat to them. Jesus sought Peter and John and they came up to him, while Jesus sought the Pharisees and the Sadducees and they rejected him.

  This is still happening today: Although Jesus is no longer here with us in the flesh He still seeks us through the Spirit. Some accept Jesus and some wish to see His message–Christianity–killed because they consider it to be a threat, nothing has changed. We can either come up to Him or we can reject him, the choice is ours, and so are the consequences of our decision.

  John 1:-4 states: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

  Dare I say it? Can we compare Greek thought with the Word? I think we can, is not this Word actually the thought of God, in a sense, but put into action? Or, as Dr. Peter Kreeft put it in his book entitled “The Philosophy of Jesus” that Jesus is God’s philosophy. A brilliant combination of “thought” and the “Word” or if you like, the combination of philosophy and theology. That one sentence sums up all I am trying to say with this post, perhaps I should stop right here but I wish to try to expand on this idea. It is perhaps either arrogance or naivety to think I can expand on what Dr. Peter Kreeft posited but I am going to try anyway!

  Was it not God’s intention to spread His  Divine thought through the Word to the world which was separated and dispersed throughout the land after the fall of the Tower of Babel? (John 10:16: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”) The Word in this case of course being Jesus:

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

  The “Word” was made flesh and he came to this earth in a form we could comprehend to spread God’s thoughts and intentions (the Word) because men cannot think their way to Him on their own. God came up to man by incarnating himself as Jesus to spread his “Word.”

  The Greeks knew they were missing something, hence their alter to the unnamed god. Paul had to give them the Word once God sought him and he came up to it in an astounding leap of faith, leaving everything he “thought” he knew behind him. Paul’s leap cannot be understated because he was  a Jew persecuting the early Christians. He was present at, and condoned, the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, (perhaps I should day the second Christian martyr because Jesus would be the first) and yet the Word brought him beyond thought and changed him.

  There are some things we cannot comprehend by mere thinking alone, we need the Word to fill in the gaps. We need faith–the great leap, the leap that Paul took. I think the greatest example of this is the Trinity. We cannot understand the Trinity, we have to accept the Word. How can three be one? Monotheism versus polytheism. Early Greek versus Jew and Christian. The early Christians were accused of polytheism because despite their claim there was one God they believed in a trinity of gods. How can this paradox be rectified?

  The idea of “one” versus “many” is an ancient debate: are we all one in the universe, combined as one larger organism all working together for the betterment of nature, or are we many individuals living together in our separate lives as part of the universe? Much like I stated in my last post on this issue, it is basically Pantheism versus Christian theology.

  I am of the opinion we are many and not one, in fact on the surface it seems kind of silly to think we are all one, but how do we rectify this with the idea that God is three and yet one? We seem to be at odds here. Another paradox.

  Many of the ancient Greeks argued that even though the individual was one he was constituted by many: arms, legs, eyes, ears, nose, heart, liver all being parts of the individual, meaning the one was not one. This is not all that different from Romans 12:4 where the apostle Paul states: “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function.”

Can we relate this thought to the Trinity and the Word? Let’s see:

  Paul continues in Romans 12:5-6 thusly: “ so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”  According to Paul we are many working together as one.

  I have put quite a bit of thought into the trinity, more than I probably should have, and I have wondered whether the concept of the trinity is more of a metaphor which represents the different aspects of God. Playing on the thought of the Greeks of one being many, and Paul’s statement, could not the Trinity be three parts of one in the same sense yet on a deeper level? Memory, Thought, Will.

   Memory (or history) being the Father, God’s thought (Word) being the Son, and God’s Will (Spirit?) being the Holy Spirit? It is not one being many but rather many being one. I am not the first to posit this theory but I find it interesting. One of the great early theologians, who was maybe the first to link theology and philosophy, Thomas Aquinas, posited an idea close to this.

  But this “thought” leads me to a paradox of my own. I previously stated I believed we are many and not one but now I am saying when it comes to God it is a case of many  (three) being one. How do I rectify this paradox?

  The only conclusion I can come to is that in the material world, or the creation, we can be many parts (as Paul alludes to) but on a spiritual level we are all combined together as part of the creation. I think Jesus makes this distinction in Matthew 22:30. Earlier in the chapter Jesus is asked about the resurrection by the pharisees who were trying to trap him with the question of which of the seven brothers would be a widow’s wife in Heaven. Jesus answers: “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

  So there is a difference between Heaven and earth,  but this takes Soren Kierkegaard’s leap of faith. This is the leap I alluded to above, it is the Paul took and it is the leap I have taken. It might be interesting to look at 1 Corinthians 2:5 here: “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (KJV) Because “for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 KJV)

  At this point I will bring part one to a close. In part two I will compare the thoughts of Dio Chrysostom and Seneca with what Jesus taught us, and Charles Darwin will be refuted by G.K Chesterton. Buddha and Lao Tzu will make an appearance and we shall continue from there to a conclusion I did not expect–I began this treatise with a personal note about the beginning of my journey and I will end on a personal note as well.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Bruce permalink
    February 19, 2018 1:03 pm

    Steve, Dr. Jordan Peterson says that organizing thought, and doing had thinking is the most difficult thing to do. That you even tried is great. I am working my way through it, but I think you have done a great job.

    Liked by 2 people

    • February 19, 2018 5:20 pm

      Good point! I agree Bruce.
      Yep, glad you got part of it posted Steve! Good for you. 👍🏼 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 19, 2018 8:20 pm

        It took awhile but now it is finally started! Thanks for your input throughout!

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 19, 2018 9:38 pm

        You’re very welcome. I’m sure you have some other pots full on the back burners stewing! 👍🏼😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 20, 2018 9:09 pm

        I am working on a post about Jesus’ seven words from the cross which I intend to post before Easter. Unlike this post I am feeling pretty confident about this new one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 20, 2018 11:33 pm

        Well that sounds interesting! I’ve not considered that before.
        btw WP seems to be acting strangely. I click ‘Like’ and it keeps turning off. Weird, been having other “issues” with it too for a week or so. Oh well. If you’re not getting many ‘Likes’ might explain it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 21, 2018 6:29 am

        That’s odd, I haven’t noticed any problems with Worpress lately.

        Liked by 1 person

    • February 19, 2018 8:19 pm

      Thank you so much Bruce. I hope you enjoy the post. I have the words “talk hard” on the blog’s banner. maybe I need to change it to “think hard.” 🙂 This post got much larger and more involved than I expected.

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 19, 2018 9:35 pm

        Interesting thought: revising “talk hard”!
        There are many who ‘talk hard’ but lack substance, coming even from a faulty premise, whether they realize it or not.
        In a way its saying: speak the truth even though it might be hard at times to do or hard for the reader to receive.
        Some people ‘think’ they’re thinking (as I am, while typing this) but … now we’re back to your thought-filled writing! … are we just pricing together what we’ve been taught to ‘think’? vs actually doing it!
        Like the LORD states “Come now, let us reason together, …” Is 1:18
        That implies ‘cognitive reasoning’ and ‘consciousness of thought’ taught from the foundation of Truth, nothing more or less.

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 20, 2018 6:30 am

        Yeah, you can talk hard but it what you are saying isn’t true it doesn’t matter and usually those talking the loudest are the ones who are wrong.

        Liked by 1 person


  1. A treatise on thought, wisdom, and the Word Part Two | America's Watchtower

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