The Influence of Christianity on Ancient and Modern Greece
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?From the earliest establishment of Christian churches in Macedonia, Achaia, Epirus, and Crete, to the expansion of the Orthodox Church, Greece has been a formidable landmark for development of Christianity throughout the world.? From its arrival to Greece with the first preaching of Paul, the Christian faith has undergone a unique assimilation into the cultural and philosophical traditions of the Greek people to create a church, visibly distinguishable from all other sects and denominations of Christianity.? Christianity has certainly influenced the nation of Greece.? However, it is safe to say that Greek culture has also had a notable effect on the way its people view Christianity.? The purpose of this paper is to examine the mutually significant and interacting influences of the Christian faith on Greece and of the Greek culture on Christianity.
?From the onset of Paul?s mission to evangelize the non-Jewish world, it was clear that the ministry to the gentiles would take on an entirely different form than that to the Jews.? Where converting the Jews was an issue of convincing a small people, otherwise knowledgeable about the nature of God, that this Jesus was indeed the Messiah they had long waited for, preaching to the Gentiles would be a fundamentally different task.? Greek culture, largely influential to the Roman world, was already rich with philosophy, science, art, literature, and political values.? Reaching out to this people that was, in so many ways, far advanced beyond the Hebrew nation, would mean appealing to its philosophy and tradition as a foundation for proving Christ?s supremacy.? Greek Christianity was destined to be deeply intertwined with Greek heritage.
Greek Philosophy and Christian Doctrine
?It would not be an overgeneralization to say that the Greek Church considers itself to be the original discerner of Christian theology.? Throughout the centuries, it has been largely dedicated to ?seeking to come to as careful a comprehension as possible of the mysteries of the Christian faith.?? Following Greece?s philosophical roots, it is not hard to see why Greeks put so much emphasis on doctrine.? Socrates introduced human logic as a sufficient means of examining human nature, as opposed to the superstitious beliefs of less ?enlightened? societies.? The systems of Plato and Aristotle laid the groundwork for doctrinal proofs through scientific theology.? Indeed, the Greeks prided themselves on a clarity of mind which the rest of the world had yet to achieve.? By coming to the height of human potential for reason and sophistication without the aid of Christianity, the Greeks were in a sense prepared to incorporate their progress into the truths of religion.
This philosophy would not only be a bridge to faith for the Greeks, but a recurring tool, used to define and refine Christian doctrine.? Doctrinal...