Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Many historians agree that the philosophical systems of Platonism and Stoicism had an important role in the efforts of the early Church to communicate the message of the Gospel to unbelievers, and even in informing some early Christians' interpretations of the writings of Paul and others.

Did any other philosophical systems have a similar level of influence early in the life of the Church?

share|improve this question
3  
Gnosticism and Docetism come to mind. –  Jas 3.1 Jul 10 '13 at 1:27
1  
Also the Nicolaitans, whatever their beliefs were. Augustine was enamored with Manicheeism for a while. I suppose that was a gnostic branch, so Jas 3.1 already covered that. –  Adrian Keister Jul 10 '13 at 15:59
1  
@Jas3.1, Gnosticism and Docetism are not philosophical systems. Both are religions, or religious doctrines. Docetism is a product of the early church, not an influence on it. Most probably Gnosticism as well. –  Greg Bala Jul 11 '13 at 13:34
1  
The philosophy of Aristotle had a profound impact on the later church, not sure how much on the early church however, but something to look into –  Greg Bala Jul 11 '13 at 13:36
add comment

1 Answer

Philosophy is divided into several major branches ranging from metaphysics to aesthetics I list the major influences from the prominent branches both those which helped and hindered the progress of Christianity which I was able to identify in order bellow.

Act 22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

The ethics teachings of Gamaliel and Hillel the Elder were common during the early Church. The Master's Two Commandments as encompassing the Law and the prophets is a similar interpretation as Hillel the Jewish elder.

Rev 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

1Co 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.

The anti-ethical teachings of the Hedonism and Gnosticism (the philosophy of the Nicolaitans) (both antinomian) also are mentioned in scripture

1Co 15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

Materialism as metaphysics, the idea that that there is no spiritual realm and the dead be not raised is mentioned in scripture.

1Pe 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Theocracy the political philosophy as taught in the New Testament also predates Christianity though its difficult to say who started this ideal as something similar is in Old Testament literature.

Rom 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

1Co 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

The philosophy of natural law and doing things in accordance with nature also was common in the church but it is a less centralized philosophy and is not part of any main doctrines.

Luk 14:13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: Luk 14:14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

I mentioned the hedonist in a negative light but the concept of a feast as a social gathering for enjoyment and other Epicurean ideals are praised and taught (the whole book of Philippians) in the New Testament just not the excess and rioting.

share|improve this answer
    
What is the basis for assuming that the Nicoliatans were Gnostic? –  Affable Geek Jul 12 '13 at 22:34
    
@AffableGeek en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaism its a very common idea –  caseyr547 Jul 12 '13 at 22:35
2  
So, in the question, I tried to first name the two philosophical systems, then relate that some historians say that they may have influenced early (ie, ante-Nicene) Christian thought more than any others, and then asked whether there is any reason to think that other system(s) may have had a greater influence. This post then seems to list about a half-dozen thought systems - some of which may be plainly relevant to the Biblical text, others of which are perhaps less so - and then offers no particular analysis of any of them. That is to say, this post doesn't really seem to answer the question. –  Philip Schaff Jul 13 '13 at 5:16
    
@PhilipSchaff i'm sorry you feel that way but both Jas3.1 and I agree the Epicurean influenced as much as the stoics and likewise the House of Hital influence on early Christianity is equally well documented and at least as great as the greek influence. The other philosophies play a lesser but equally necessary role in Christianity. Perhaps if you wait longer someone else will answer to your satisfaction or you could always go to philosophy se. –  caseyr547 Jul 13 '13 at 6:32
    
@PhilipSchaff i added an introduction sentence to help you understand why i list different branches of philosophy –  caseyr547 Jul 13 '13 at 6:56
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.