Why did the early Christians adopt metaphysical explanations for their beliefs?

“The early Christians didn’t adopt metaphysical explanations of their beliefs because it was stylish to do so. They weren’t trying to fit in among pagan intellectuals or make themselves popular with their persecutors and former persecutors. Contrary to what some Mormons think, neither is there any evidence of a cabal working to destroy God’s work and using Greek philosophy to do so. Instead, early Christian leaders were, first of all, responding to the real issues that confronted the Christian community as it was attacked from outside and as it encountered heresies within, heresies created or at least underscored as theological arguments and requiring response.

“Whatever the problems of metaphysics, apology is an unavoidable Christian activity, and apology often requires metaphysics. Perhaps eventually it always does. If you’re going to do apology, then you’re going to do theology, and unless you practice your religion in a vacuum, you’re eventually going to do apology of some kind. Q.E.D. for theology.

“Presumably, just as we sometimes run up against questions for which we feel an acute need for rational answers, early Christians were also, secondarily, responding to questions that arose in their minds as they thought about their religious lives. Apart from the challenges to religion made by skeptics of one sort or another — believers or not — genuine intellectual challenges arise as we think about our life before God. In a culture with a history such as that of the West, those challenges push us to demand answers that accord with reason. Unavoidably those answers will eventually be metaphysical / theological. Q.E.D. again.

* * *

“James Faulconer is a Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding at Brigham Young University, where he has taught philosophy since 1975.”

James Faulconer, “Just say . . . whatever!”, Speaking Silence blog (on patheos.com), December 9, 2010.


2 thoughts on “Why did the early Christians adopt metaphysical explanations for their beliefs?

  1. Pingback: Paul and his use of Greek Philosophy | Agellius's Blog

  2. Pingback: Is philosophy necessary to Christianity? | Petty Armchair Popery

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