Establishing the Boundaries of a Biblical Worldview


“The history of Graeco-Roman Christianity resolves itself largely into a criticism of that undertaking [i.e. the Roman ‘effort to create a world which should be safe for civilization’) and of the ideas upon which it rested; viz. that it was possible to attain a goal of permanent security, peace and freedom through political action, especially through submission to the ‘virtue and fortune’ of a political leader. This notion the Christians denounced with uniform vigour and consistency. To them the state, so far from being the supreme instrument of human emancipation and perfectibility, was a straight-jacket to be justified at best as ‘a remedy for sin’. To think of it otherwise they considered the grossest of superstitions.

“The Christians traced this superstition to the acceptance of a defective logic, the logic of classical ‘naturalism’, to which they ascribed the characteristic vitia of the classical world. In this connexion it is important to notice that their revolt was not from nature; it was from the picture of nature constructed by classical scientia, together with its implications for practical life. And what they demanded was a radical revision of first principles as the presupposition to an adequate cosmology and anthropology. The basis for such a revision they held to lie in the logos of Christ, conceived as a revelation, not of ‘new’ truth, but of truth which was as old as the hills, and as everlasting. This they accepted as an answer to the promise of illumination and power extended to mankind and, thus, the basis of a new physics, a new ethic and, above all, a new logic, the logic of human progress. In Christ, therefore, they claimed to possess a principle of understanding superior to anything existing in the classical world. By this claim they were prepared to stand or fall.”

Charles Norris Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1940), p. vi.