Because of his position in describing the principles of religion, Socrates’ ideas have had a significant influence on Christian practices. Socrates believed in natural powers in the same way as modern Christians do. As a result of his questioning of Athens’ god and teaching the youth to disobey rules that were unjust to them, he was accused of being an atheist. However, a close examination of many of the ideas he presented reveals certain fundamental Christian characteristics. This has necessitated a study of how Socrates would have viewed Christianity and the Christian God if he had spent his time teaching about religion. This paper illustrates ways in which Socrates can be regarded as a Christian thinker by focusing on his teachings on justice, truth, and the ideal of happiness.
Ways in Which Socrates Can be considered as a Christian Thinker
A major area which has led to the association of Socrates perceptive to Christianity is his view in relation to the idea of Justice in which he states that justice occurs in two forms: justice in the city and in the soul. According to him, human souls are composed of three components: the rational, the appetites, and the spirited. If a person experiences anger caused by unjust act, such as the case where one is bullied by others, the rational side acts as a mediating factor so that the person does not cause greater destruction than what has already been done (Shulman, 1987). This is similar to bible teachings which recommend that people should not work for fleshly needs. For instance, in Galatians 5:19 warns Christians about the need to avoid sinful acts such as involvement in sexual immorality, selfish interests, rage, and envy. These represent the same aspects of injustice that Socrates thought about when someone lets appetites and spirited parts of the souls control them. Socrates also examines the aspect of justice in the city by illustrating that people tend to belong to certain groups or organizations. The objective of associating oneself with a particular group or organization empowers an individual with the ability to benefit from the groups activities or objectives. Socrates teaches that justice in the city is achievable when people play the specific roles to which they are assigned even if they think that they should belong to a particular group. He states that focusing on their roles does not prevent them from being associated with particular practices or social organizations. This ensures they develop e sense of satisfaction and safety. This is similar to Christians teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:27 which states that each person is an individual as a member of the church but they represent his body. When Christ died and ascended into heaven, he left his role to the redeemed people who are members of churches. The Church is regarded as one body because members are joined by similar beliefs irrespective of their gender, race, or ministry. 1 Corinthians is similar to the teachings of Socrates about justice of in the city by recommending that people should focus on their talents despite being part of the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, the Bible States, To one there is a gift of wisdom, to another the gift of knowledge, yet to another the gift of faith, and another the gift of speaking in tongues. However, all these are given by the same spirit and he distributes them to each person in a manner that he determines.
There is a similarity of Socrates teaching about the truth and the Christian teachings. He taught the youth to embrace truth irrespective of whether it is hurting or humiliating to others who might be affected by it. The objective of discovering truth by Socrates was nit based on the view that it would result into a better life, but understand what life is. For instance, he accepted that fact that he knew nothing, an irony that made him being regarded the wisest person of his time. When he was convicted of corrupting the youths minds and was provided with a poison to drink, he showed his devotion to truth by refusing an exile request from Athens stating that discussion of issues affecting life and virtue are important aspects of human life. This is analogous to Christian teaching which recommends that followers of Christ must speak the truth. In Ephesians 4:15, it is written, Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way as Jesus Christ. Christian teaching requires its followers to be truthful since God loves the truth and wants us to treat one another with love, kindness, and consideration.
Another concept of Socrates teaching which associates him with a Christian thinker is the view of an ideal of happiness. According to Socrates, people tend to achieve happiness by developing certain preconceived perspectives or points of views in relation to an issue under consideration. He believes that many people try to achieve happiness by developing perspectives which give them a sense of identity and security (Wenley, 1889). He challenged the preconceived opinions that people develop which he claims to be merely based on hearsay and faulty logic. This is similar to 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 which says that a person who has a particular ability such as the ability to prophesy, knowledge, and the ability to understand all mysteries should demonstrate love in order to achieve happiness. If such a person does not show love, he is nothing. This is similar to the concept of Socrates which recommended that people should not be boastful, arrogant, or having pride.
This paper explains the reasons why Socrates was considered as a Christian thinker by examining his ideas about justice, happiness, and truth. There is a similarity between Socrates teaching and Christian teachings in relation to truth since they both emphasize that one must be truthful irrespective of the implications. The teachings of Socrates in relation to justice shows that he was more interested in promoting justice by recommending that people should not act justly by enhancing their involvement in the specific tasks and duties they are assigned to perform irrespective of being a member of a particular group. This is similar to Christian teaching which recommends that people must exercise justice by promoting the practice of applying their talents and abilities in different areas of work.
Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard educational review, 57(1), 1-23.
Wenley, R. M. (1889). Socrates and Christ: a study in the philosophy of religion. W. Blackwood and sons.
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