New Credo Podcast: What Does Plato have to do with Jesus?
It’s all in Plato, all in Plato: Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?
― C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle
If you are doing theology, you are seeking an understanding of the truth. In the ancient world, few claimed the title of truth-seeker more wholeheartedly than Plato. Though he lived before Christ and was left without the benefit of the fullness of special revelation, Plato sought wisdom where it could be found in God’s book of nature and his realist philosophy became the default worldview of the Christian world. Liberalism has objected claiming Christianity was corrupted by Hellenization, thanks to the church fathers. But that objection is shallow. The greatest minds of the Christian faith understood the genius of our fathers; they knew how to Christianize Hellenism. In fact, a quick glance at the New Testament, most notably John’s gospel, Hebrews, and Paul’s writings, reveal that the biblical authors themselves utilized Greek concepts to convey and defend Christian truths. Christians must reckon with the fact that God chose to incarnate himself into a Greco-Roman culture. Could it be that God used this pre-Christian, ancient writer to help prepare the pagan Greco-Roman world for the coming of Christ? Since the apostolic period, Christan Platonism has flourished in the theology of the church fathers and subsequently provided the metaphysical foundations of the Reformation, and has been celebrated by brilliant minds since, such J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.
In this podcast, Matthew Barrett and Louis Markos discuss the philosophy of Plato and the fulfillment of his philosophy in the Incarnation. In doing so, they explore the relationship between philosophy and theology as they seek to show that Christian Platonism is not a relic of a bygone ancient world, but rather it remains an indispensable metaphysic for understanding Christian theology.
Louis Markos is Professor of English and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University where he holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities. His numerous books include From Plato to Christ (IVP, 2021), From Achilles to Christ (IVP, 2007), Literature: A Student’s Guide (Crossway, 2012), On the Shoulders of Hobbits (Moody, 2012), and Pressing Forward: Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the Victorian Age (Catholic University of America Press, 2002).
Matthew Barrett is the author of Simply Trinity: The Unmanipulated Father, Son, and Holy Spirit(Baker). He is the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine and host of the Credo podcast. He is associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.