Philosophy replaces revelation

Philosophy replaces revelation

Irenaeus accused the Gnostics of dragging philosophy into the church. Their works, he says, "read like a patchwork made up from the philosophers as all those call themselves who do not know the true God, piecing together a doctrine from philosophical shreds and tatters with high-sounding eloquence." All the attributes of God, he notes, they derive from the philosophers, "and they hold forth with hairsplitting subtlety on philosophical questions, introducing, as it were, Aristotle into the faith."

"O miserable Aristotle!" cried Tertullian shortly after, "who taught them [the Christians] dialectic, the art of proving and disproving, the cunning turn of sentences, forced conjectures, tough arguments, contrary even to itself."All heresies are suborned by philosophy, he says: from the philosophers they get the idea that the flesh is not resurrected—a thing on which all philosophers agree; hence, too, they get the doctrine of the baseness of matter and such set questions as whence is evil and why?—old chestnuts in the schools. Paul knew philosophy at Athens, Tertullian observes, and was not impressed by it. "What have Athens and Jerusalem in common?" he asks in a famous passage. "What the Academy and the Church?"

But by the next century, Minucius Felix sees no difference between the teaching of the prophets and those of the philosophers and concludes "either that the Christians are now philosophers, or that the ancient philosophers were already Christians."[1]


  1. Hugh W. Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 3rd edition, (Vol. 3 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), Chapter 5, references silently removed—consult original for citations.