Does the Catholic Church receive its theology from Pagans?

I didn’t want to derail the other thread so I started my own from the question that arose from some of the responses there.

From another thread:

Response I received from another poster:

Addressing the bolded, I have no issue in ceding that all truth comes from God. I do believe that other religions contain some truths, but the Catholic Church claims it has the fullness of truth, so how is it that Greek pagans knew about these truths well before Catholics did? Claiming these philosophies as our own, or having “developed and evolved them in a Christian context” still seems much like piggybacking on the philosophies of pagans and repackaging them to fulfill our needs, bringing us back to square one.

Any other posters feel free to jump in and reply, too. :thumbsup:

Since we as Catholics believe that God influences all of us in some way shape or form. The pagans can still get ahold of some truth or at least half truths. For instance, Aquinas builds Catholic philosophy off of Aristotle because he realizes that Aristotle was on to something. Aquinas just finished it.

In other words, Aristotle found it, Aquinas fulfilled it.

Of course they can, but ultimately Catholicism is said to contain the fullness of truth, which it didn’t until Aquinas thought Aristotle was onto something. If Aristotle had never philosophized about Transubstantiation, would Aquinas, or Catholicism in general, have ever known about it? Furthermore, why didn’t Jesus ever speak or teach about the reality of Transubstantiation?

The way this is worded doesn’t make me feel any better. If we’re speaking about objective truths here, then don’t people build these philosophies off of reality? “Aquinas builds Catholic philosophy off of Aristotle” makes it sound like Aristotle had a unique idea that we later borrowed. Essentially what is being said here is, Transubstantiation is not a unique idea. Non-unique ideas need not be built off of someone who merely noticed the obvious.

Not all theology is based on philosophy.

We need to distinguish between scholastic and monastic theology. This thread is about ***scholastic ***theology.

Scholastic theology is based on philosophy and was introduced into the Church in the tenth century. Monastic theology however, predates scholasticism and is as old as the Church. Monastic theology is based on prayerful reading of Scripture and has nothing to do with philosophy.

A short read titled Monastic and Scholastic Theology by Pope Benedict XVI.

Most of our beautiful Marian doctrines come from monastic theologians such as the Cistercian Abbot St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Here are some characteristics of the two schools of theology.

FORMATION
Monasticism: Abbot
Scholasticism: Master

AIM
Monasticism: Purity of heart
**Scholasticism: **Truth

MEANS
Monasticism: Scriptures,psalms
**Scholasticism: **Logic, syllogisms

PREREQUISITE
Monasticism: Grace (faith)
Scholasticism: Brain

FORM
Monasticism: Desire, experience
**Scholasticism: **Science,research

RESULT
Monasticism: Integration
**Scholasticism: **Reports,books

There were great struggles when scholastic theology was introduced into the Church. Some of the great monastic theologians aggressively opposed the introduction of philosophy into the area of faith. It caused huge fights, many arguments, the intervention of several Popes and threatened to rip the Church apart in may places.

-Tim-

The Church contains the fullness of truth necessary for salvation*. Understanding the word and the philosophical underpinnings of transubstantiation is not necessary. It is necessary to believe that the bread and wine become the whole, entire, undivided body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Such was believed before Aquinas, but he expounded on the belief and expressed it in philosophical terms.

*Notice that I qualified that the Church has the fullness of truth concerning salvation. The Church does not pretend to have all knowledge (Scientific, medical etc.), even of things that are true.

:thumbsup:

I do believe that other religions contain some truths,

:thumbsup:
but the Catholic Church claims it has the fullness of truth,
:thumbsup:

so how is it that Greek pagans knew about these truths well before Catholics did?

Oops…Failure to connect the dots here…
You seem to be equating the Greeks having some “these” (undefined) truths with the Church having the fullness of Truth in regards to salvation. Looks like a jump in thinking to me.

Actually as I am thinking about this, I am reminded of when Paul went to speak to the Greeks and walked past the many altars to the various gods…He came to an empty altar to the “unknown god”. He then took this as his launching point in his preaching.

Yes the Greeks had some wonderful knowledge…but they did not know about the One True God. So - they did not have the fullness of Truth.

Claiming these philosophies as our own, or having “developed and evolved them in a Christian context” still seems much like piggybacking on the philosophies of pagans and repackaging them to fulfill our needs, bringing us back to square one.

What is wrong with taking these philosophies and using them? I see no harm in it? What problem do you see in it?

St Paul teaches that we should look at everything and keep what is good.

Peace
James

Hardly a stalwart defender of Catholicism here, but I think this particular criticism is off the mark. Aquinas had some ideas about how his god worked, and he wanted to communicate these ideas to his fellow educated Catholics. Every educated person would be familiar with Aristotle, so it just makes sense to refer to his work when there’s a connection. Moreover, although Aristotle was a pagan, that doesn’t mean all of his ideas are explicitly pagan.

It really doesn’t matter what skeptics say, the Catholic Church receives its doctrinal truths from Jesus Christ. The fact that some pagan cultures may have had what some view as some beliefs or teachings similar to the teachings of the Catholic Church does not mean that Catholic theology comes from these sources. Rather it speaks to the fact that all men spring from Adam and Eve who had a well founded belief in God and the nature of God and what the relationship between men and God should be. In time most of their decendants abandoned God and proper worship of God. But the ancient faith could not be abandoned entirely. And the so called similarities between ancient pagan cultures and Catholic teaching stems from the fact that the remnants of the historical religious memory, which these pagan cultures had unconsciously retained, found expression in their pagan beliefs and worship…

Linus2nd

It just seems that if Catholicism had all the answers, it wouldn’t need Aristotle to build off of. Most people don’t need to rely on a scientist to build off of in order to come up with something that is based on the sky being blue.

Since the allegations exist that Catholicism takes its ideas from paganism, it doesn’t sit well with me. Since Catholicism is unique in its fullness, shouldn’t it have its own philosophies to build from?

I can’t think of any other instances where Transubstantiation is said to occur, other than Catholicism and what Aristotle believed. If you have any other examples of Transubstantiation occurring, I’d love to hear about them. It would seem that Transubstantiation is a unique idea, so referring back to it and “evolving” it to fit your ideas, seems like borrowing.

Well said.

Ed

Not all educated people would have been familiar with Aristotle throughout all Christian history. Aristotlean philosophy was hardly known in European Christian circles before the tenth century. The Arabs had embraced it much earlier.

Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033 – 1109) is considered the father of scholasticism and is credited for being the first western Catholic to use Aristotlean philosophy in any kind of systematic way to explain the faith.

Aristotlean philosophy was practically unheard of in theological circles prior to St. Anselm and even then, rejected by many monastic theologians for at least two centuries.

-Tim-

Sorry to snip your post.

The Jews believed that God could change the essential nature of elements. This is stated explicitly in the 19th chapter of the Book of Wisdom.

My point is that transubstantiation did not originate with Aristotle or Christianity. Transubstantiation has a firm basis in the Hebrew Scriptures. Dr. Brant Pitre explains this at length in his book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist.

books.google.com/books/content?id=t4EaqOT4nKUC&printsec=frontcover&img=1&zoom=1&edge=curl&imgtk=AFLRE717R2WZPgTxchy7boJUdhlknsLrtfQHUBCRa4b1jZPXh6L-pr8XHGjtscwRbSq0owCCDwVcsUNJdVxYpk8YN6DWHUec1wKHvClHOau-XBZC_ETJ5BkJebriGbGypT4zmlbMgK4_

-Tim-

Yet if one finds something good and useful…something that others can understand as well, there is no problem using it.

Actually it is one of the great strengths of Catholicism that it CAN and does use these other things. It need not fear them or avoid them in order to not look pagan or whatever.

Since the allegations exist that Catholicism takes its ideas from paganism, it doesn’t sit well with me. Since Catholicism is unique in its fullness, shouldn’t it have its own philosophies to build from?

I would say that Catholicism does have it’s own philosophy given us by our Loving God Himself. The core of that philosophy is to Love God above all else and Love your neighbor as yourself.
This philosophy requires no long string of logic, or lengthy explanation or any of the other trappings of “philosophy” - - It only requires a good heart and a willingness to act.

When given a glimpse of God’s Glorious Love for us, Aquinas referred to all of his writings as just so much straw.

Other philosophies and philosophical tools etc are nice…but they pale in comparison to the real truth which is Agape.

I can’t think of any other instances where Transubstantiation is said to occur, other than Catholicism and what Aristotle believed. If you have any other examples of Transubstantiation occurring, I’d love to hear about them. It would seem that Transubstantiation is a unique idea, so referring back to it and “evolving” it to fit your ideas, seems like borrowing.

You know what? I have no problem with “borrowing”. None what-so-ever. If the description we call transubstantiation helps people understand the tremendous mystery of the Eucharist, then I say go for it.

Peace
James

The fullness of Truth is not a nicely phrased argument, or a well developed philosophy: the Fullness of Truth is Christ himself.

All the rest is humanity’s feeble attempts to understand the depth of this.

It does have all the answers - RELATIONSHIP with Christ.

**Luke 10:21
**
“At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

A Doctor of Theology is no more likely to have a full relationship with Christ than an illiterate, but fervent Catholic in the third world.

Even Jesus used a Pagan coin to establish His Kingship.

God Bless:)

The Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has always been true and accepted as such by Christians.

The explanation of that Presence known as Transubstantiation borrowed Aristotelian terminology because it was useful. Note that Aristiotle himself did not think that Transubstantiation as it occurs in the Eucharist – changing the substance of a thing without any change in its accidents – is possible. Even in his terms it is something unique that only God can do.

Usagi

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