Sunday, May 18, 2008

Trinity Sunday

ON TRINITY SUNDAY, in the Year of Our Lord 2003 (which was the fifteenth of June in that year), I entered the Church and received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Like many of the well-known literary converts of the 20th century, I read my way into the Church: first by seeking out moral goodness, then later by the truth of philosophy; and then I rediscovered my latent love for the beauty of the Church.  Oddly enough, my conversion, like that of Saint Augustine, was catalyzed partially through the readings of non-Christian authors.

Like most everyone in modern liberal culture, I was inoculated against the real Gospel by a tasteless, low, and lazy version of Jesus that told me that everything was OK — and yet it had the severe side-effect of causing nausea.  Instead I sought wisdom elsewhere, and I found it.  All that is true, good, and beautiful ultimately comes from God, and we are told that if we seek, we shall find.  All through God's grace.

Augustine read his way back into the Church by his reading of the Greek Platonic philosophers, who although pagans, sought the truth and ended up discovering a close approximation to the Christian Trinity.   The mystery of the Trinity is a stumbling block for some, but rather it has a firm philosophic basis.  While these pagan authors gave Augustine a crucial insight into the central doctrine of Christianity, he also saw that Christianity offered an answer to the question that plagued the philosophers:  how does the impure soul ascend to the Godhead?  The Christian doctrines of the Incarnation and Redemption provided the solution to the Platonist's dilemma; these doctrines were latent in the philosophy, but were not discovered by the Greeks.

Greek philosophy should not be considered foreign to Christian thought, something that ought to be cut away to purify the Gospel message.  To the ancient Jewish Rabbis, Greek philosophy was Jewish philosophy; and to many of the Fathers of the Church, the philosophers were considered to be inspired by God, although fallible.  The Greeks, for all of their accomplishments, are mainly known for having written down the philosophy.  Many of the great Greeks, in their youth, studied elsewhere, like in Egypt, where they would have learned under the ancient and rigorous Jewish system of education.

1 comment:

  1. Learn under the ancient and rigorous Jewish system of education is not bad .I ma familiar with this system of education.

    ReplyDelete