OVERVIEW OF PHILOSOPHY [updated 12-17]
THALES AND THE PRE-SOCRATICS
Ok- let me do a little teaching- maybe finish it tonight.
Christianity is not simply ‘made up stories’ from some bible.
No- the history of Western Thought- Philosophy- ideas- all of the various World Views are imbedded with God- our concepts of God- and ask the ultimate question ‘where did all this come from- and why are we here’.
We usually trace the beginning of Ancient Philosophy to the 6th century BCE.
A thinker by the name of Thales sought to find ways to describe natural phenomena without the use of Greek Mythology.
Even though Philosophy deals with Metaphysics [things beyond the natural- physical realm- Physics] yet Thales wanted to find explanations for existence- without leaning on Myth.
He is considered a ‘Pre Socratic’ thinker [before Socrates] and espoused an idea that water was the key source of all things.
These guys were looking for a singular thing to explain stuff.
Sometimes referred to as a unified theory- the same thing that Einstein was seeking to find some 2 Millennia later.
So- Thales surmised that water was the key thing.
There are various ideas of why he came to this conclusion- but one reason might have been the idea of motion.
Many Geek thinkers were looking for the source of motion- where did it come from?
And to the natural eye- if you observe the ocean- rivers- etc. – there does seem to be no cause for the moving of water- so to these guys it seemed like water itself was the source- motion came from water.
Now- there were other religions who taught a sort of idea along these lines.
Some pagan religions said that the ‘god’s’ moved upon the water- and life came that way.
If you read the Christian account of creation in Genesis- you will notice that God did move upon the waters- and the account in Genesis does indeed say that he brought forth life from the water.
Thales came from for Miletus- in Asia Minor.
He was famous for the prediction of a Solar Eclipse that occurred on May 28th– 585 BCE.
The earliest account of this is found in the writings of Herodotus.
Thales is considered one of the 7 sages of the time.
Christianity was born at a time where Greek thought/ideas were a big part of society.
We do find the early apostles using the language/ideas of the Greek philosophers when describing the reality of Christ.
The apostle John refers to Christ as THE LOGOS- The word Logos- is a Greek word for ‘word’.
Jesus is called ‘the word of God’.
Now- the Greek thinkers were in fact seeking for the Logos- they used this term to describe the ultimate answer to all tings.
They were on a search for some Divine principle that could explain things.
So- the writers of the New Testament were in a way saying ‘look- we have found the Logos- the thing that you guys are looking for- it is Christ- the Divine Logos’.
We also see the apostle Paul debating with the Greek thinkers in the city of Athens [the seat of Geek philosophy- the city/state where Socrates was forced to drink cyanide].
In Acts chapter 17 he is preaching to these guys on Mar’s Hill- he says ‘In him we live AND MOVE and have our being’.
Now- today as we read this- we don’t get the full import of what he was doing.
But- to the Greek mind- the source of motion was a big thing.
Paul was a smart guy- and he was saying ‘in him we move’ showing that yes- the ‘source of motion’ [Thales water] is not found in the natural world [Physics] but the source comes from the Metaphysical world [God].
He also says ‘when I was walking thru your town- I saw one of your altars- to the unknown god’.
At the time many believed in a Pantheon of gods- and to cover their bases- they had an altar for any god they might have missed- smart thinking!
So Paul says ‘him I declare unto you’.
Notice how Paul was able to debate- converse with them- and at the end actually use their own ideas- to present the gospel.
In this chapter- Acts 17- we read of the only 2 groups of philosophers mentioned in the bible.
The Epicureans and the Stoics.
The Epicureans were an early form of what we call Hedonism today- the idea that pleasure is the principle purpose of man.
The Stoics believed in ‘stoicism’ that man should have no emotional response to pain or pleasure- that’s why we call people today ‘Stoics’- when they seem to not be moved by anything.
Ok- that’s it for now- might make some comments tonight- but I’m getting ready to fly out soon- and trying to wind down before I leave.
If I don’t write tonight- I’ll talk again when in North Bergen- God bless you all.
1Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
1Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
1Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
1Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
1Corinthians 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
1Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
1Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1Corinthians 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1Corinthians 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
1Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
1Corinthians 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
1Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
1Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
1Corinthians 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
1Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
1Corinthians 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1Corinthians 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
1Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
1Corinthians 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.
See? Paul the apostle had the intellectual capacity to engage with the best of them- but he knew that the core issue- was sin. That is those who reject Christianity on the basis of ‘it’s a religion of foolishness’- in reality- even if you win the intellectual argument- yet for the most part people will still not believe. In the end it is always a matter of true repentance- being honest with ourselves- and others. So- Paul didn’t rely on the ‘wisdom of men’ but the power of the Cross. When needed- he would ‘use it’ [men’s wisdom- Acts 17- Mars Hill] but he closed his argument by declaring Christ.
THE 5TH ELEMENT.
Ok- let’s talk philosophy today- the last post on this subject I traced what we normally refer to as the beginning of Greek philosophy- a man by the name of Thales- 6th century BCE.
We said that Thales had an idea that water was the principle element- water seemed to have the ability to move [motion] by itself- so Walla- maybe water is the principle thing.
He was what we refer to as a Monist.
Monists believed that there was one principle element- responsible for all other things.
Now- the pre Socratic philosophers debated about this- some said it was air- others earth- some said fire- as a matter of fact- some said all 4 of these elements were responsible for existence.
Now- some sought a 5th element- some yet to be discovered thing that would explain it all.
A man by the name of Anaximander described it as ‘the boundless’- something that has no origin- he said it was ‘both unborn- and immortal’ ahh- you can already see the attributes of God in this [boundless- what Theologians call omnipresent- God having no limits- he is everywhere [but not everything- get to that in a moment] and ‘unborn’ that is he himself has no beginning].
Ok- this 5th element [some called it Ether- or Aether- a sort of wave theory- that light travels along this ether- this idea lasted till the day of Einstein- who showed us that Ether does not exist [in this way] but that light itself is made up of particles- photons- this was one of the major breakthroughs of modern physics].
A few years ago the movie ‘the 5th Element’- Bruce Willis- hit on this theme- sort of like the ‘God particle’- that is they were in search for some type of being that was eternal – self existent.
The term Quintessence [quint- 5] came to be defined as this 5th element- and today we use the word Quintessential to describe the pure essence of a thing- the perfect embodiment of something.
Over time the Greek thinkers would arrive at the idea that yes indeed- there was one main thing- Monism- that could be the source of all other things.
It is interesting to note that the Jewish prophets- and wisdom literature- which predates these guys- already started from the standpoint of Monotheism- one God.
Now- Monism is not Monotheism.
Monism is really a form of what we call Pantheism [in the study of religion].
Pantheism says that God is ‘everything’- some eastern religions hold to this concept.
The Christian view is that God is separate from creation- that he is indeed the original source of creation- but not the creation itself.
The Geek philosophers even described this 5th element as ‘The One’- see- they were getting close.
In today’s debates- some espouse an idea that there was no beginning point- that the universe is either eternal [something Einstein disproved with the Big Bang theory] or that there is a sort of infinite regress- that there is no one starting point- but that there have been a never ending [or beginning] series of ‘big bangs’ that go on forever.
This defies the laws of logic- and math.
Yeah- many of the great physicists were also great mathematicians [like Einstein- and Max Plank- who was first a mathematician].
If there was no beginning point- mathematically it doesn’t ‘work’.
You would never be able to arrive at the present time- if there was no starting point to measure from [I know this might sound strange- but this is indeed a proof- that there had to be a starting point].
What these thinkers show us is that even thru the ancient field of Philosophy- you still arrive at some type of ‘thing’ that is responsible for all other things.
Some Christians reject the Big Bang theory- but in my view it gave the Christian apologist the greatest tool to argue for the existence of God.
For many centuries it was believed that the universe was eternal- and if that was true- then indeed you did not have to have an outside source that was responsible for it.
But Einstein showed us that there was a beginning point- that the universe is in a continual expansion mode- and if it is getting ‘bigger’ by the second- then yes- it did have a starting point.
Many today think that it ‘popped’ into existence on its own- this is both scientifically and logically impossible- it violates the law of Cause and Effect [every effect has to have a cause also ‘out of nothing- nothing comes’].
There was a famous Christian who abandoned the faith- Bertrand Russell- he said ‘if everything has to have a cause- then God must have one too- and if God needs a cause- then why not see the universe as the cause’.
Tough Russell was a good man- he made a mistake here.
The laws of logic do not say that everything has to have a cause- but every effect has to have one.
In essence- somewhere along the line- going back to the beginning- there must be an initial cause- that has no beginning- Anaximander’s Boundless One.
Ok- I won’t do too many of these posts in a row- because as you can see- this takes time- and you lose people along the way.
But- over the next few weeks I’ll slip a post like this in- it helps when dealing with those who have sincere objections to the faith- and it also debunks some common misconceptions.
HERACLITUS- Ok- lets pick up on my philosophy stuff.
Heraclitus lived in the 6th/5th century BC. – He was from Ephesus and his key thought was Ever Present Change.
That is he saw everything as being in a state of continual flux- one of his famous sayings was ‘No man ever steps into the same river twice’.
He is called the Weeping Philosopher- sort of like the prophet Jeremiah in the bible- also called the Weeping Prophet.
Heraclitus is known for his concept of the Logos- the Word- or thought/reason.
Now- this aspect of his thought plays a role in the development of the Christian understanding of Christ himself- in our New Testaments [written in Greek] Jesus is indeed referred to as the Logos- or Word of God.
The Greek philosophers understanding of the Logos was not the same as the Christian view- mainly expressed thru the writings of John [The gospel- the 3 epistles- and Revelation].
But- some see the Greek view as a precursor to Christ.
In the work of one of the early church fathers- Hippolytus ‘The Refutation of all Heresies’ he attacks Heraclitus view of the Logos as an early form of heresy.
The apologist Justin Martyr is more gracious- he [Like Ulrich Zwingli- the great Swiss reformer of the 16th century] viewed the early Geek thinkers as ‘pre- Christian’ or ‘Christians before Christ’.
Though many reject this view- yet there is some scripture to back it up.
The apostle Paul said in his letter to the Romans that if the Gentiles [non-Jews] do by nature the things contained in the law- then they are justified in God’s sight.
Of course these things are debatable- but I add this to show you that some great Christian thinkers did indeed view the early Greek thinkers- who did live by a moral code- as being right in God’s eyes.
And the bible does teach a theme that we will be judged according to the amount of light [understanding] that we had at the time.
I should note that Plato [one of the 3 titans that arose after Heraclitus- from the city/state of Athens] disagreed with Heraclitus on all things being in a state of constant change.
When [if?] we get to Socrates- Plato and Aristotle- I’ll try and cover the ways they advanced- built upon- the thought of the pre Socratic thinkers.
As a side note- the most famous student of Aristotle- who was the most famous student of Plato- who was the most famous student of Socrates- was Alexander the Great.
This goes to show you how great an influence Greek philosophy had on the ancient world.
A few nuggets from Heraclitus- ‘all things come to pass in accordance with this Logos’ ‘follow the common’ ‘not having their own judgment’.
Recently I covered Acts chapter 2- and we see some of these ideas in the early Christian movement.
The first Christians did ‘follow the common’ they sold their goods- and had ‘all things common’ [communal lifestyle].
The apostle Paul teaches the early church to all ‘speak the same thing- that there be no divisions among you’.
And the New Testament also says the scripture should not be given to Private Interpretation- meaning- ‘not having your own personal judgment’.
All in all- we do indeed see a sort of pre Christian thought in the pre Socratic thinkers- they did indeed speak of the Divine- God- though there understanding of him was not the same as the Christian church.
In a sense- Heraclitus idea that in life- the only ‘constant’ is the fact that there is no constant- that life itself is made up of an ongoing journey- we live day by day- not ever knowing what ‘the next day will bring forth’- Jesus.
Yeah- the man had some good points- the later Stoics would consider Heraclitus as the father of their movement.
And in the study of Philosophy- the Stoics- who had a good run from a few years before the Common Era- were overtaken in the 4th century [as the main influential philosophy of the time] by some new and lasting philosophy- started by a man named Jesus Christ- who his followers claimed rose from the dead.
Yeah- this New Way was called Christianity- and this philosophy has endured now for over 2 thousand years.
Socrates was born around 469-470 BCE.
He is famous for introducing a way of learning that engaged the students in a dialogue- the question would be put on the table- and thru rigorous debate- you would come to an understanding thru the process of questioning.
This is referred to as the Socratic Method.
Socrates came on the scene during the famous Spartan wars.
The other day I watched the movie 300- which depicts the battle between the city state of Athens against the city/state of Sparta.
As you know- the Athenians suffered a great defeat at the hands of the Spartans.
The Spartans were outmanned by the Athenians- but their motto was ‘come back with your shields- or on them’.
They were a true warrior nation- trained to fight from their youth- and this defeat sent the people of Athens into a time of disillusionment.
They questioned the power of their gods- and a sort of malaise fell over Athens after the defeat.
This was when Socrates entered the fray- when the people had many questions about life.
He was called the Gadfly of Athens- a title that would also be given to the 19th century Danish father of existentialism- Soren Kierkegaard.
They were called Gadfly’s- because they were like flies that would pester you- and elicit a response.
The leadership of Athens saw Socrates as one that was stirring up the youth of his day- and creating discontent among the populace.
He rejected the many god’s of the day- but did have a belief in a single deity- he- like the Christians 4 centuries later- would be accused of atheism- because of his rejection of multiple god’s.
He was sentenced to death in 399 BCE- and his form of execution was drinking Hemlock.
His most famous student- Plato- spoke with him before his death.
Many were surprised at how willingly Socrates faced his demise- and this willingness had a great impact on those who witnessed it.
Socrates never wrote anything- but most of what we do know about him comes from the writing of others- most notably from Plato’s Dialogues.
Plato wrote down what Socrates taught- In his writings we see Socrates engaging in this method with various people- thus the name of Plato’s works- Dialogues.
There is a debate about how much of what was written about him was actually true- Plato did add his own ideas into these debates- and the controversy about this is so strong that we actually have a name for it- the ‘Socratic Problem’.
During the time of the disillusionment of the Athenians- there were a group of philosophers known as the Sophists.
The word comes from Sophia- meaning wisdom.
Philosophy itself means The Love of Wisdom.
In our day the words Sophomore- Sophistry and Sophisticated are derived from this root word.
The Sophists were the original Pragmatists.
Pragmatism is a form of belief that says ‘do what works- regardless of the ethical implications’.
We will get to Pragmatism at the end of this whole series on Philosophy.
But for now- we see the division between what Socrates taught- and the Sophists.
Socrates did indeed teach a form of Ethics- which contrasted with the Sophists.
He said that the pursuit of virtue was better than the pursuit of wealth- much like the words of Jesus ‘what does it profit a man if he gain the world- and lose his soul’.
His most famous saying is ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’.
He emphasized the importance of mind over body- which inspired Plato’s philosophy of dividing reality into 2 separate realms- the world of senses and the world of ideas.
Socrates actually challenged the Democratic process- he believed it better for the wise men- the Philosopher Kings- to run the show.
Athens did have a form of Democracy at the time- and because of the rise of the Sophists- and the itinerant teachers- you had sort of an election process- much like in our day- where those who would attain office were those who spoke the best- and made the best public argument.
We elect judges and stuff in our day- and even presidents- not because they are the most capable- but because they ran the best campaign.
So- in a way I agree with Socrates- at times I think we need a better process of electing those to higher office- then the one we have now.
It’s important to note that even though we started this study with Thales- and in the study of Western philosophy it’s commonly understood to have started with Thales.
Yet- Socrates seems to be the Father of philosophy in many ways.
He probably has had the most influence in the field philosophy- and the 2 great philosophers that we’ll get to next come right out from the heels of Socrates [Plato and Aristotle].
Why is this important to note?
As we progress in this study- and get closer to the 19th/20th century philosophers- we will see a trend- away from the idea that there are actually any ethical values- moral virtues- or ‘right or wrong’.
These philosophers dabbled with the idea that values themselves are the cause of man’s problems [Freud].
So- keep in mind- one of the main streams of thought in the early stages of philosophy was that values were indeed the main thing- Socrates challenged the Sophists of his day- he said that moral virtue was very important- that to live life with the values of courage- honesty- self-denial- these were the things that made men good- noble.
The bible says ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ ‘those that seek the Lord understand all things’.
Christian tradition would agree with Socrates in many ways- Jesus showed us that the virtue of service to others- to love your fellow man- to honor God- that these were indeed the heart of the matter.
Socrates feared the loss of virtue in society- that if we simply lived for the present time- with no higher values [a form of hedonism] then the foundations of society will erode.
He also believed that it was good to question things- not to simply believe a thing for the sake of believing.
Over time- thru debate and the discourse of other people- he believed you would get to the truth.
The bible says ‘in the multitude of counselors there is safety’.
Yeah- as people have a conversation- as they dialogue- often times they themselves come up with the answer to the question.
The apostle Paul penned the letter to young Timothy- he said ‘preach the word- in doing this you will save yourself- and those that hear you’.
Yeah- when you engage- and even try and teach others- this will have an effect on you too- the actual act of engaging- of teaching- often brings more insight to the one doing the communicating- then the ones who hear.
Yeah- I like Socrates- he believed in what he taught- he drank the Hemlock- knowing full well that his life would pass- but he had belief- faith- that after death man would pass over into another realm- a much better one.
No- he was not ‘Christian’ in the traditional sense of the word- but he was about as close as you could get- for his time.
Plato was born in 427 BC- he was the most famous student of Socrates.
He is best known for his theory of Ideas/Forms.
He believed that the material world was an imperfect copy of the Idea world.
That is he believed that Ideas exist apart from the construct of the human mind- that they were the perfect forms of the things we see in the material realm.
He could also be referred to as a Realist- because he believed these Ideas actually existed [for real]. Where did he get this from?
As we study Philosophy- each one that comes down the line has been influenced in some way by those that preceded them.
There was a famous thinker- Pythagoras [his followers were the Pythagoreans] who taught a concept called the Transmigration of the Soul [a sort of Reincarnation].
They believed that the soul of man went thru various stages- and existed independently of the body.
In Greek thought the soul is immortal- it exists before the body.
In Christian teaching the Soul [mind- Spirit] comes into existence when God creates man [the bible says ‘and man BECAME a living soul’- referring to the creation of Adam].
The Greeks saw the soul as preexisting before the natural life.
In the mind of Plato- the body was a receptacle- in this life we recollect the knowledge that comes from the Idea world.
He ascribed Ontological status to ideas themselves.
In Philosophy there are 2 basic ways knowledge comes [we study this in Epistemology- an offshoot of Philosophy- which deals with how we know things].
A Priori knowledge is knowledge obtained independent of experience.
A Posteriori is knowledge obtained thru the senses- what we call Empirical evidence.
In Plato’s schema he believed that the knowledge that comes to us from the Formal world [ideas- forms] was A Priori knowledge- that the human mind recalls- and in the present material world- knowledge comes to us from the perfect idea world.
The Greeks believed that all matter was flawed- that the Body was an imperfect vessel- and after death we are released into the perfect world- and free from the material realm.
Christian Tradition does not hold to this view.
The Church teaches that the created world is good- not evil.
Among Christians there is some confusion about this- because the older versions of the bible [King James] seem to teach that matter [world, flesh] is evil.
Paul the apostle talks about no good thing being in The Flesh- he talks about the Carnal mind- the apostle John says ‘all that is in the World- the lust of the flesh- the pride of life- is not of the Father but is of the world’.
There are many references like this in the bible- but they are speaking about the sinful nature of man [the flesh] and not about the human body itself [For instance Paul says in Romans ‘present your BODIES as living sacrifices unto God- Holy and acceptable’ in Corinthians ‘your BODY is the temple of the Holy Spirit’- there are many references in scripture that speak of the Body as Holy.
When the bible says ‘satan is the god of this world’ it is not speaking of the earth- which God created- and calls GOOD- but it is speaking of the ‘world’ system- an age of wickedness.
So- at times Christians have confused this- and have held a sort of Dualistic view of matter- that is not the biblical view- but a Gnostic view- that all matter is evil.
Plato saw the unseen world of Ideas as the perfect- pure world.
He taught that in this life we obtain the knowledge of the pure- by reason of recollection- that these pure ideas come to us ‘are recalled’ in this life.
He is famous for founding the first Philosophical school- it was called The Academy- named after a man by the name of Academus.
The land was donated for the school- it was previously used as an Olive Grove- and in honor of the donation- Plato named the school after the donor.
This is why we use the phrase ‘The Groves of Academia’ today.
Plato was actually a nick name- he wrestled in Athens- in a sort of precursor to what would later become the Olympic games- and he was broad shouldered- that’s where his name comes from- Plato means broad shouldered.
So- to sum up- Plato believed that Forms [ideas] were eternal, the cause of all that is.
He believed we are born with innate ideas- these are not learned thru sense experience- but exist independently of the mind- and in this bodily life we retrieve [the body is a receptacle] these ideas.
Does the bible teach anything along these lines?
Christians believe that God himself is infinite- without beginning or end.
That wisdom- ideas- ‘forms’ of things do indeed exist- prior to our own life.
But these ideas are not without a Mind- God is Spirit- and he is everywhere [Omnipresent] he knows all tings [Omniscient] – so- in a way- there are indeed ideas- forms- but they come from the ultimate Mind of God.
A good example would be the building of the Tabernacle- and later the Temple- under Moses and King David [his son Solomon actually built it].
God told Moses ‘see that you build it after the Pattern shown to thee in the mount’.
In the book of Hebrews we read that the earthly Tabernacle [Temple] was simply an image- a symbol- of heavenly realities.
That God himself had the ‘form’ in his mind- indeed- like Plato taught- the heavenly form is perfect- the earthly expression imperfect.
But these patterns- forms- ideas- are from the Mind of God- they are not Innate in the soul of man- nor does the soul of man exist before his birth.
In the past few months I have had several Christian friends tell me that they feel like they existed before this life- a type of reincarnation.
I explained to them that in the Christian faith we do not hold to this view.
But- the bible does tell us that God had a purpose for us- Predetermined- before the ‘foundation of the world’.
Meaning that yes- in the Mind of God- in a way- we did exist- but we did not have actual being [called Ontological status in the field of Philosophy] until we were created by God.
God’s purpose for us was already in the Mind of God before our birth.
The bible says that Christ is made unto us wisdom- we are not Receptacles in the sense that Plato taught.
But yes- in time God reveals to us this Hidden Wisdom- about his love and purpose for us.
And in this life we act out- we fulfil this eternal purpose.
Man [or woman] can never find true happiness- true meaning- until they tap into this purpose.
We were created by the hand of God- to bring glory and honor to him- and we in this life can ever find true fulfilment- until we make it back to God.
1Chronicles 28:10 Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.
1Chronicles 28:11 Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat,
1Chronicles 28:12 And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things:
1Chronicles 28:19 All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.
Exodus 25:9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.
Exodus 25:40 And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.
Hebrews 8:5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Ecclesiastes 7:12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.
Ecclesiastes 7:19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.
Ecclesiastes 7:25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:
Ecclesiastes 7:26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [FaceBook#] – I have posted lots.
Born in Northern Greece- in 384 BC.
The most famous student of Plato- attended Plato’s Academy for around 20 years.
His main disagreement with Plato was on his theory of Forms.
Plato believed that the ‘idea’ world contained the forms of all things we see in the physical realm.
Aristotle taught that substance itself was the main thing- that the forms of what we see in the natural realm come from matter itself.
He spoke about Potentiality and Actuality- that is the material things have in ‘seed’ form the final product.
The acorn has the Potential of becoming a tree- the fetus has the Potential of becoming a man- etc.
The form is already embedded in the thing itself- it does not exist in the ‘idea’ world of Plato.
Aristotle loved and admired his teacher- yet Plato had somewhat of a disdain for his most famous student.
Plato passed over Aristotle to head up the Academy- twice.
As things go- Aristotle went and started his own school- called the Lyceum.
Aristotle did not just teach Philosophy- but Biology- Logic- Ethics- Rhetoric.
Some refer to him as the first real scientist.
His development of the laws of Logic- Cause and Effect- play a key role in the Scientific Method till this day.
Aristotle taught that the main way we gain knowledge is thru sense perception and experiment.
As we study the natural order of things themselves- we gain understanding from them.
What we refer to as the Empirical method- knowledge gained thru the observation and experimentation of things.
He referred to God as the Final Cause- not the First Cause.
He believed in God [some debate this- Aristotle himself called him God in his work on Metaphysics] and called him the Prime Mover.
As I said before- a big thing with the early thinkers was the origin of Motion- who started the ball rolling- so to speak.
Aristotle credited the source of all motion to an ‘un- moved Mover’.
He gave the attributes of God to his Mover- said he had no beginning- was not material- an eternal and imperishable substance.
So- why the Final Cause?
He said God attracts all things to himself- so in his mind- motion started by attraction- not by a ‘push’ so to speak.
This is interesting indeed- in modern physics we see that the universe is undergoing a continual expansion- heading somewhere- of course we believe this somewhere is God himself- the source of all things.
Isaac Newton agreed with Aristotle on this point- he referred to it in his 3rd law of Physics.
The medieval Muslim thinkers called him ‘The First Teacher’- and Kant [who we will get to later in this study] credits him with the bulk of what we know today as the Laws of Logic.
Aristotle taught that the main activity of God was thought.
The bible says that thru Wisdom and Understanding God made things [‘Wisdom builds the house- Understanding establishes it- and thru Knowledge it’s rooms are filled with all pleasant and precious riches- Wisdom is profitable to direct- the words of the wise are like nails fastened by the masters of assemblies- as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation’- various bible verses found in Proverbs- Ecclesiastes and Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth] – in a way Aristotle was right.
One of his key contributions was the Syllogism- you start with a Logical argument- you engage in Deductive reasoning- and come to a Conclusion.
A famous example would be ‘All men are mortal- Plato is a man- Plato is mortal’.
Aristotle did not believe that something comes from nothing- a phrase that will come up a lot as we progress in this study is ‘ex nihilo nihil fit’- meaning Nothing comes from Nothing.
He was also what we refer to as a Teleolologist- he believed that there was design and purpose in the created order of things.
He saw design in the universe- world.
Many today embrace an idea that there is no purpose or design- that the design we see in the material world is by accident- and furthermore some say all that we see- CAME FROM NOTHING.
I can’t stress enough that this is simply not possible- I don’t say this from the Christian view point alone- but from a scientific one.
Science deals with the observation and testing of things- we look into the material world and come to certain conclusions based on what we see- observe.
One of the most fundamental observations that science SEES- is what I quoted above- NOTHING COMES FROM NOTHING.
That is- every effect has a cause.
This is important for our day- because many have capitulated to the view that all things CAME FROM CHANCE.
Not only is this statement illogical [chance is simply a word- this statement ascribes Ontological status to a word- which is impossible].
But it is scientifically not true.
Because science shows us that things do not ‘pop into existence’ without a cause- from nothing.
True science in no way contradicts belief in God- no- it backs it up.
Aristotle- as well as most of the great thinkers we shall cover- came to the conclusion that there had to be some immaterial thing [being] that was the cause of all other things.
Now- why did he argue for a PRIME MOVER?
Because he believed that the universe was eternal- if there ever came a time when science showed us that the universe had a beginning point- then the argument would be over.
The Theists [those that believe in God] would win.
Sure enough- in the 20th century that’s exactly what happened.
Today Physics teaches us that time- space- matter did indeed have a beginning point- what we refer to as the Big Bang Theory.
If the early thinkers had this knowledge- then the argument for a Prime Mover would be moot- because instead we would have a Prime Starter- see?
Aristotle is credited with writing the second greatest work on Ethics from the ancient period- called Ethics [the first one being Plato’s Republic].
He wrote on political theory- believed that Aristocracy [rule by the excellent] was the best form of government [sort of like Socrates Philosopher Kings].
Aristotle’s most famous student was Alexander the Great.
During Alexander’s conquests- he took a huge team of scientists with him- they collected all types of specimens from these conquests- and Alexander brought them back to Athens and they were used at the Lyceum for further study.
It has been said that this was the most expensive scientific enterprise up to the day of the modern space program.
He taught that the intellectual virtues can be taught directly- but the moral ones HAD TO BE LIVED FIRST.
The bible says ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom’.
Proverbs 3:19 The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
Proverbs 3:20 By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
Unfinished study- will complete over time.
JOHN LOCKE- JESUS- AND MONEY.
Today’s video [and post] is one of those ‘spur of the moment’ ones-
I made the video/post yesterday- ‘off the cuff’-
I’m at the ranch as I write- and have no WiFi out here- or I’d post it now- I also don’t have my on-line concordance- so I’ll try and remember exactly where some of the verses are and add them in [I do have my on-line bible saved to the drive!]
This video/post is in keeping with some of the stuff I’ve been recently teaching.
As Christians- we often look for the things we are supposed to do.
Which is fine- but what I have learned in my experience of doing ministry for many years- is many Pastors/ministers- learn a certain pattern/form- early on-
And as well-meaning as these men are- they often unconsciously do not realize they are violating scripture in their efforts to do the right thing.
When people feel God has called them ‘to preach’ [ called into ministry] most of the times they are taught that this means ‘starting a local church’.
In the American mindset- this means starting a nonprofit 501 c3- either renting or building some type of structure to meet in-
And then teaching a form of giving- usually called ‘the tithe’ [meaning 10 percent]-
And then saying ‘the local church is this place/501c3- the storehouse- and you will be cursed if you do not tithe to the storehouse’.
And without realizing it- in the more extreme cases- actually teaching people that they will fall under the curse of God- if they do not put 10% of their income into the ‘local church’.
This verse from Malachi is often used- Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
Malachi 3:9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
And this basic idea of ‘church government’ is then propagated thru out the land.
I’ve discussed this recently- and for these short videos- I just want to note that the New Testament churches we read about in the bible- are talking about communities of believers living in your city/area.
The early Christians met in homes- and later on in church buildings-
I am not against any of these formats- but we need to be careful that we are not unconsciously telling people they will be under the curse of God if they do not ‘tithe to the storehouse’ [then applying the ‘storehouse’ to the building- and it’s 501c3 status- as- quote ‘the local church’].
The tithe was actually an income tax for the nation of Israel in the Old Testament- and it entailed more than simply putting goods/money into an ‘offering’ plate-
No- it was a system that supported 3 main things in the Jewish economy-
The Priests [who were forbidden to own property].
The poor [meeting their needs].
And for banquets-
So- in short- the churches we read about in the bible were communities of people who supported one another- and this included- yes- financial support for the minsters too-
That’s all ok-
But the balance about money in the New Testament is it is a tool to be used to help others-
And is never something we should seek after- sort of like ‘God has called me to become rich so I can fund ministries’ type thing. No- that ‘calling’ would violate many actual teachings in the bible- that warn against seeking to be rich- even for noble causes-
I’ve copied some of those verses the last few days-
So- as we continue to teach thru the bible in the next year- look at the relationship we see in these New Testament letters between giving and receiving-
How the early Christians viewed their roles in the church-
How the ministers related to the people-
The bible does give us guidelines about all of this- it actually makes it quite clear-
Ok- enjoy the video/post- talk to you soon.
1To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
Acts 20:18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
Acts 20:19 Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
Acts 20:23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
Acts 20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Acts 20:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Acts 20:33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.
Acts 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Acts 20:36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
Acts 20:37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,
Acts 20:38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
Understand here- that Paul is speaking to the leaders of the church- and he told them that for the 3 years he was with them he worked- supported himself- and those that were with him.
He then says he did this for an example- to show them [the leaders] that they too are not in ministry for the people to support them-
But for the benefit of the people-
We do read later in the writings of Paul that the Christians should meet the needs of their spiritual leaders- that’s ok.
But here he is showing them- leaders- that ministry is not about collecting a bunch of money for ‘ministry projects’.
It’s giving your life for others.
1Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
1Corinthians 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
1Corinthians 16:3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
1Corinthians 16:4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.
This is also a common verse to teach tithing-
Often times when ministers take offerings- they clap- do a sort of celebration-
But here Paul is saying ‘when I get there- I don’t want to waste time making a big thing out of the offering- so take it up before I get there’.
This money was simply used as a charitable donation for the poor Christians living at Jerusalem- it was in no way a ‘tithe’ and it was not money for Paul.
1Corinthians 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
1Corinthians 9:2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.
1Corinthians 9:3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,
1Corinthians 9:4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?
1Corinthians 9:5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
1Corinthians 9:6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
1Corinthians 9:7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
1Corinthians 9:8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
1Corinthians 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
1Corinthians 9:10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
1Corinthians 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
1Corinthians 9:12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
1Corinthians 9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
1Corinthians 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
1Corinthians 9:15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.
1Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
1Corinthians 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
1Corinthians 9:18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
Here Paul clearly teaches them that they should support their leaders- yet he then goes on to say he himself would not use ‘this right’-
And he used strong language- making it sound like he would be charging them for his services- which- to him- would be wrong.
I could give more examples- but what I want you to see is we never see a type of ‘tithe or you will be cursed’ mindset when the New Testament talks about giving.
The Storehouse verse has nothing to do with the Ecclesia- it was a room in the temple- not a spiritual community of people.
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
John 13:2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
John 13:3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
John 13:4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
John 13:5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
John 13:6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
John 13:7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
John 13:8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
John 13:9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
John 13:10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
John 13:11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
John 13:12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
John 13:13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
John 13:16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
John 13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Locke taught that each man has individual rights- and he empowers government- an elected designated body- to have rule-
Yet- that government exists solely for the benefit of the people- and when/if that government ‘forgets’ this- the people have a right/duty to revolt.
Locke’s ideas were formed at a time when his own government experienced a sort of revolution [1600’s- England].
The people revolted against monarchy- and replaced it with a sort of Democratic Parliament-
Referred to as the bloodless revolution or the glorious revolution.
The king [or today- queen] would still play a role- like a figurehead- but the power was in the people- willingly given over to a Parliament.
The political ideas of Locke influenced our founding fathers- and our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are in parts almost word for word taken from the writings of Locke.
Locke believed in natural law- that morality was indeed a universal reality [some scholars/thinkers will say that Locke does not fully embrace the Christian concept of natural/moral law].
He taught that knowledge comes from man’s experience- the things he interacts with thru the 5 senses.
That man is not born with innate ideas [like the early Greek thinkers said] but his mind is a Tabula Rasa- or blank slate at birth.
This is an Empirical understanding of knowledge.
Locke also believed in the concept of the separation of church and state- this idea was not unique to our founding fathers- no- they got it right out of the writings of Locke [his parents were Puritans- and they obviously influenced their son].
Locke’s political views were-
Contractual [social compact]-
These ideas differed from the early Greek thinkers [especially Aristotle] who held to a naturalistic view- meaning that nature itself ‘intended’ for certain individuals to have rule over others [the smarter should have rule over the ‘less smart’- and of course Aristotle saw himself in the more nobler crowd!]
Locke also believed in religious toleration- a view held by most in the Western world today.
He saw the Right to private property- as a natural right.
He believed that denial of the existence of God would lead to anarchy in the long run.
He believed that the cosmological argument for the existence of God was valid [called teleology].
I think I mentioned him on today’s video [I am writing this before I review the video and add the bullet points].
In the study of philosophy- he is not known for deep thought- or new ideas.
He lived in the 5th century B.C. – died in the 4th in the biblical city of Corinth.
Diogenes believed in ‘living with less’- he was known to have slept in a ceramic pot- he lived and ate on the streets- and was basically like many of my homeless friends.
Yet- he felt in doing this he was a sort of ‘prophetic’ sign to the world around him.
He is believed to be the first to refer to himself as a ‘cosmopolitan’- meaning a man of the world- and not identifying with any one city.
He was born at Sinope- [Modern day Turkey] traveled to Athens- the main center of wisdom/philosophy.
Attended the lectures of Plato- and interrupted them
He disputed Plato’s interpretation of his teacher- Socrates.
And had a memorable encounter with Alexander the Great.
The story goes [there are a few versions of it- maybe more along the line of myth] that Alexander wanted to meet with Diogenes- and he heard he was in town [Corinth] so Alexander went to meet him.
Upon arriving at the spot- he greeted Alexander and told him he would fulfill any request that the Cynic asked.
Diogenes replied ‘Move over- you’re standing in my sun light’.
It is said that as Alexander left- and made the statement ‘If I were not Alexander- I would be Diogenes’.
How true- well we will never know for sure.
He did live at a time- and in a place- where the famous philosophers would come from.
He believed rejecting wealth- and the comforts of life- were a statement against the society of his day.
He purposefully challenged the ‘normal’ way of life- by being different- and at times- vulgar.
It is said that he carried a cup- for drinking.
And he saw a young boy one day- drinking from the brook with his hands.
He then threw away the cup- realizing that ‘the god’s’ had given to men the basic things to survive- and he really did not need all the material things of life.
Like I said at the top – he is not known for his great thinking ability- but he was respected by the stoics-
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John..#