The First Philosopher-Christian -- By: John Alfred Faulkner

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 088:351 (Jul 1931)
Article: The First Philosopher-Christian
Author: John Alfred Faulkner


The First Philosopher-Christian

John Alfred Faulkner

In the early years of the second century there was born in Palestine of Greek parents, Justin, who tried in philosophy to find the way of life. He first sought the Stoics, so highly praised by some moderns. “I surrendered myself to a certain Stoic, and having spent a considerable time with him, when I had not acquired any further knowledge of God (‘for he did not know himself, and said such instruction was unnecessary), I left him, and betook myself to another who was called a Peripatetic, and, as he fancied, shrewd”. After several days intercourse the Peripatetic demanded a fee, which convinced Justin that he was no philosopher. “Eagerly, and desirous to hear the peculiar and choice philosophy, I came to a Pythagorean, very celebrated, a man who thought much of his own wisdom”. He put him to the study of music, astronomy and geometry, which would lead him to that which is “honorable in its essence and good in its essence”. Reflecting on the length of time this study would take, “I was not able to endure longer procrastination”. He therefore turned to the Platonists, and was soon enraptured with the perception of immaterial things, “and the contemplation of ideas furnished my mind with wings”, and he expected soon to look upon God, “for this is the end of Plato’s philosophy”. All this is supposed to have happened in Ephesus, whither he had travelled.

Walking by the sea one day Justin meets an old man of meek and venerable manners with whom he gets into conversation and defends philosophy. “Without philosophy and right reason, prudence would not be present to any man”. “Does Philosophy make happiness?” asked the old man. “Assuredly, and it alone”. “What is philosophy?” “It is the knowledge of that which really exists”, replied Justin, “and a clear perception of the truth; happiness is the reward of such knowledge and wisdom”. “But what do you call God?” “That which maintains the same nature, with the same manner, and is the cause of all other things,—

that indeed is God”, said Justin. The result of this part of the conversation is the conclusion of the old man that souls “surely neither see God nor transmigrate into other bodies. . . But that they can perceive that God exists and that righteousness and piety are honorable, I also quite agree with you”. Further debate related to immortality, which is the attribute of God alone, and not necessarily of the soul. Justin asks whether he can trust teachers, or whence we can be helped. The old man replies: “There existed long before this time certain men more ancient than all those who are esteemed philosophers, both righteous and beloved by God, who...

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