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How Christianity Lost Sight of Its Original Purpose
17
PLATO
(c .
428-348 8 .C.)
with a host of similar concepts
from the Oriental mystery reli–
gions. Salvation was to be
achieved by perfect knowledge
(gnosi
).
They ins isted that
there were hidden truths in the
Sct;ptures which only the true
Gno tic could di cern"
(op.
cit.,
p.
5 1).
The heavy influence of Greek
philosophical concepts on
Christianity was also apparent
from the writings of the post–
aposto lic fathers. Origen , for in–
stance, even urged that Helle–
nistic philosophy be used as a
basic primer for Christianity: " I
am t herefore very desirous that
you sh ould accept such parts
even of Greek philosophy as
may serve for the ordinary ele–
mentary instruction of our
schools, and be a kind of prepa–
ration for Christianity"
(Philo–
calia of Orige.n,
p.
57).
Clement of Alexandria
echoed these sentiments: 'The
philosophy of the Greeks, par–
tia l and particular though it is,
contains the basic elements of
that genuine and perfect
knowl–
edge
which is higher than
~
human , which is engaged upon
~
purely intellectual objects, even
§
.. upon those spiritual objects
~
which eye has not seen.... until
~
t h ey were made plain to us
.;: Christians by our Great
Teacher . . ." (Shiel,
op. cit.,
p.
3).
Compromise and Defeat
Visible Christianity was well
on the way to becoming just
another version of a modern ,
updated Oriental mystery reli–
gion. Elaborate ceremonie
were instituted, an inte llectual
priestly caste began to assert it–
self, and esoteric doctrines were
kept back from the multitudes.
Many of the major tenets of
competing pagan religions read–
ily found a safe haven within
the walls of a changing Chris–
tianity.
Pagan divinities were trans–
formed into Clu-istian saints,
martyrs and angels. The cult of