As Eclectic as Plotinus

For he asserted further that there could be no genuine piety towards the Lord of all in the man who despised this gift of philosophy,—a gift which man alone of all the creatures of the earth has been deemed honourable and worthy enough to possess, and one which every man whatsoever, be he wise or be he ignorant, reasonably embraces, who has not utterly lost the power of thought by some mad distraction of mind.

-Gregory Thaumaturgus. The Oration and Panegyric Addressed to Origen, VI.

The gift of philosophy! The Lord will have all of us, even our minds, as C.S. Lewis pointed out; and Gregory is here saying that Origen believed it too. Indeed, it is taken from Scripture, from our Lord’s quotation of the Great Commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all . . . thy mind.

But is it true of the age as much as of the individual? That’s what depends, isn’t it? Origen, a serious man, made sure it was in his by exercising real discernment.

Thus did he deal with us, selecting and setting before us all that was useful and true in all the various philosophers, and putting aside all that was false. And this he did for us, both in other branches of man’s knowledge, and most especially in all that concerns piety. (XIV)


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