The Fullness of Time

Those who read well, think well. Thus they write well and speak well. In speaking of how Jane Austen based all her writings upon Aristotle’s Ethics, Dr. Warren Gage said, “These people who wrote well, read well.”[1] When it comes down to it, all men are made in the Image of God. Even the most depraved of men have semblances of God’s order in them, though always perverse to one extent or another. But standing at this juncture in history, we have the benefit of looking back upon the Great Tradition. Time has tested the very best of what man has been able to produce, and much of that we can still glean from today.

In his Confessions Augustine says, “I was enkindled and inflamed to love, to seek, to obtain, to hold, and to embrace, not this or that sect, but wisdom itself wherever it might be.”[2] For Augustine, it was Cicero that began leading him back to God before he even realized it. What we begin to see through reading the classics, Christian or non-Christian, is a universal consistency in their assessment of human nature.

The nature of man has been a constant since the fall of man in Genesis 3, so “as far as the curse is found” there is a discernible pattern to the constitution of man. This has been hashed and re-hashed throughout history, and even before the writing of the New Testament, the philosophers had very nearly approached the revelation of Scripture. Augustine says of the philosophers that they “see many true things about the creature but they choose not to seek the Truth, the Architect of Creation, with humble integrity and hence do not find Him.”[3]So what we find in this universal assessment of human nature is a universal culpability against God. In explicating that the obligation of the beneficiary to the magnanimous benefactor is to give him honor and glory,[4] even such as Aristotle did not give glory to God, his own Benefactor. And Socrates, in criticizing the Greek gods, demonstrates that these supposed gods are as “Immoral” as they are “Immortal.”[5] Euripdes’ Bacchae demonstrates a god that is self-consumed and petty, served by ravenously vile, sexual deviance. What we see is the universal depravity of man on display throughout the course of history.

But just as there is a universal depravity, we also see the testimony of a pervasive longing for God. Close to the end of the Republic, Socrates says that their only hope of the city described in the discourse up to that point is found in a city that is to come. Echoing the author of Hebrews he says that Philosopher “would mind the things of this city alone, and of no other.”[6] Even Paul testifies in this very same city to philosophers such as these, “that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us.”[7] And thus we are reminded in reading the classics that the mystery of the Gospel did not just materialize out of thin air, but landed in the context of real history, as the plan He had foreordained in the “fullness of time”[8] came to fruition in Christ.

[1] Warren Gage, “CC504 Module 3 Lecture 25.” Lecture. August 23, 2017. Accessed November 27, 2017. https://knoxseminary.edu/moodle/mod/page/view.php?id=4551. lecture 25.

[2] Augustine and Tom Gill. Confessions. Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2003, 58.

[3] Ibid., 106-7.

[4] “Well, a person is considered to be magnanimous if he thinks that he is worthy of great things, provided that he is worthy of them….” Aristotle, J. A. K. Thomson and Hugh Tredennick. The Nichomachean Ethics. London: Penguin Press, 2004. 93.

[5] Plato, and Allan Bloom. The Republic. New York: Basic Books, 2016, 55-61.

[6] Plato, 275.

[7] Acts 17.27

[8] Ephesians 1.10

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