Philosophy and Theology
When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.” And so Paul left them.
I remember hearing years ago Archbishop Fulton Sheen speak on this passage and more broadly the visit of Saint Paul to Athens. One basic theme of his preaching concerned why there was no letter of Saint Paul to the Athenians. It had to do with separating philosophy and theology.
Athens at one time was a major city, but not so in the time of Saint Paul. Like many places that were once great but are not so in the present, they glory in the past. The discussion of philosophy was the glory of Athens, and it was quite an important period in the development of philosophy.
Both Plato and Aristotle were great ancient Greek philosophers. Both developed ideas quite helpful to the understanding of Christianity. Philosophy has even been called the handmaid of Theology. And if they are so closely united, why did not Paul’s visit to Athens result in more people accepting the faith?
Using the insight of Archbishop Sheen, it is because Paul tried to use the gift of philosophy only to discuss why the Athenians should accept Jesus. But that is not enough. And so when he arrives in Corinth, his preaching focuses on Jesus, His life, death and resurrection.
Philosophy can demonstrate how it is our faith is reasonable. But it is theology that helps us to come to know Jesus. And it is this personal relationship with Jesus, and being active in His Church that leads to salvation.
On the friar, you can listen to our homilies (based on the readings of the day) and reflections. You can also ask us to pray for you or to pray for others. You can subscribe to our website to be informed whenever we publish an update.