The AHEPAN - Spring 2013 - (Page 16)

Of Plato and W e all know the Parable of the Sower. The sower casts seeds everywhere, but only in the good soil does the seed flourish. Of course, good soil isn’t good by accident! Something happened to prepare the earth for the seed. In this parable the seed is the Gospel, the sower is the evangelist, and the soil is the human heart. But what is the plow? What prepares hearts to accept the Truth of Christ? Historically it is a fact that in the ancient world the Gospel fared best where Hellenism was the strongest. Hellenic culture was the plow that prepared hearts for Christianity. When the Gospel seed fell in areas not well Hellenized—among the Germanic tribes, throughout Persia, in Jerusalem, in Arabia—the seed sprouted only to yield bitter fruit: Arianism, iconoclasm, legalism, and Islam. But wherever Hellenic values were accepted and celebrated—there, historically, the churches planted by the Apostles stayed Orthodox in their worship and theology, century upon century. And so it is worth thinking about what Hellenism is and how Hellenism prepared hearts for the Word of God. Hellenism is not about olives in our salad and line dancing in costumes. Hellenism is above all a frame of mind, an outlook on the world that shapes every experience. To understand Hellenism, you have to know something about the ancient world in which it developed. There were two kinds of societies. There was the tribal way of life, where people lived with their clan, and religion was a form of nature worship. Humans lived in fear of the spirits all around them, and worship was placating these spirits. Then there was the life of the ancient city-state, where people were organized into a society of different classes—the merchants, the artisans, the priests, the rulers, and the serfs and slaves. Fear of nature was replaced by fear of the king, who received worship as a kind of god, with absolute power of life and death over his subjects. And so whether you lived in the wilderness or in civilization, the operative principle of your world was fear—fear of “divinities” who menaced mankind either as natural elements or as tyrants. Not so among the ancient Hellenic people. For them fear was replaced by wonder. Yes, they worshipped many gods. But when looked up at the sky and watched the movements of the stars, they did not just see supernatural forces at play. They saw mathematics at work. They saw geometry and physics and chemistry. And seeing this, they did not cower in fear. They rose up in wonderment, and in delight. And they explored and 16 | The AhepAn · Spring 2013 The Greeks saw the world, not as the battlefield of a hundred warring deities, but as the lovely sculpted artwork of a wise and beneficent Mind. experimented and examined this wonderful world. To be sure, other ancient peoples, like the Egyptians and the Babylonians, had some knowledge of astronomy—but they always used this power to suppress the masses with fear of the king’s divinity—as if Pharoah or Nebuchadnezzar were the ones controlling comets and eclipses. The Greeks would have none of that! Their kings were revered, but not as gods. For the Greeks, science—and the sense of wonder that inspired it—were tools for progress, not weapons of enslavement. And so in the ancient world, the Gospel of a God Who is a heavenly Father, who is universal and is tied to no dynasty in particular, Who loves us as children, and in Whose love there is no fear, for “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:8)—this was a message that the Hellenized world was ready to hear. This was a God worthy to be worshipped as the Creator of the “wonder”-full world which they inhabited … the “kosmos,” as the Greeks named it, meaning the thing of beauty and design. The Greeks saw the world, not as the battlefield of a hundred warring deities, but as the lovely sculpted artwork of a wise and beneficent Mind. And so in the teachings of Jesus Christ, they recognized the loving Creator God of their science. But what about Greek religion, with its polytheism and all those funny myths of gods coupling with humans and turning out demigods like Heracles? Indefensible, of course, and yet … within the strict and absolute monotheism of Judaism, there was no room for the experience of God as Father, Son, and www.ahepa.org http://www.ahepa.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The AHEPAN - Spring 2013

The AHEPAN - Spring 2013
President’s Message
AHEPA Family News
Mailbag
Congressional Banquet to Return to Washington
The 2013 Supreme Convention: Join Us in Orlando
Civic Responsibility
PAC Update
The Periclean
Housing
Veterans
AHEPA Family Chapter News

The AHEPAN - Spring 2013

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