Saturday, September 9, 2017


Since my life-altering car accident in 1997, I have had the time-luxury of immersing myself in history and Christian philosophy. I have encountered such fascinating figures as Homer, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero; Cicero being my favorite so far.

These great men of old seemed to have had an ancient, unified cry-of-the-heart for truth. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Cicero's writings to his son, Socrates and Platos writings were profound attempts to solve the same cosmic questions of: "What is goodness?" "What is virtue and heroism?" 

Only lately have I been able to discern, from my considerable historical distance, that these men did not ask these questions as we do today. They were not being wistfully romantic or sentimental. This was a raw, existential quest to make sense of what many saw as a meaningless, hopeless life.

While they had the oracles, these philosophers' search for truth was not settled in any satisfying way by the Greco-Roman gods. Their gods were like humans: fallible, capricious, narcissistic, blaming others for their mistakes. Zeus gave men little truth or hope. All seemed chaotic and unfathomable to the ancients. Therefore these thinkers—their time, their energy and their very lives were poured out in search of the meaning of life and death. What does it mean to be human? 

We get a glimpse of this heart-rendering nihilism that had befallen the world in the question of Pilate to Jesus, "What is truth?" (John 18:38)

This encounter with the ancients has made me realize that Christ did not come into the world simply to solve the problems of the afterlife. He came as the answer to the unending fount of questions for those living during the millennia before Him. The Messiah was the answer for the world's questions. His authentic heroism stood in stark contrast to Achilles and Odysseus. His life gave meaning to existence. With His incarnation, death and resurrection, Jesus answered the heart-cry of the ancients of what is good and virtuous.

For two thousand years, we have lived within the grand framework of The Answer. Christendom built an entire civilization upon the values and teachings of Jesus. Western civilization has flourished in the rich Christian soil for so long it taints our view of history. We study the ancient struggle for truth with an entertaining romanticism. For we have the light of Christ so brilliantly surrounding us that we take it for granted and often close our eyes to truth when it makes us uncomfortable. We no longer understand the desperate struggle for meaning pre-Christ and can be presumptuous about living in the era of the answer.

Our culture celebrates our political freedom on July 4, Veteran's day, Memorial Day with mindless festivities and gluttony, forgetting that our freedoms were paid for with the incalculable sacrifices of our young men. So, too, do we bask in these days of eternal answers, made so clear by Christ, that we are no longer aware that questions--real, heartfelt questions of why--ever existed. In fact, our post-Christ, comfortable peace has entertained us into a stupor where asking such philosophical questions is considered a bore. 

Or much worse. Those who rejected The Answer fall back into the same nihilistic question of Pilate. 

Thinking themselves kindred spirits to the noble Socrates, many modern intellectuals dismiss two-thousand years of light, assuming that the philosophers of old would reject the Cross. They waste away formulating new, irrational answers to their unending existential inquiries. Yet, there is nothing similar in those who die of starvation searching for bread during a famine and those who die of starvation ignoring a banquet around them. 

Christians live and move and breathe within the living bread and the banquet of God. It is unconscionable for us who have tasted that God is good and have been nourished by Christendom to not cherish our preeminent position in time. 

Jesus has a warning for us today, "Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it." (Matt. 13:17)

Christians have the incredible honor of living after many of the great mysteries have been revealed, having been born into or chosen to walk into the Kingdom of God. The Answer should permeate everything we think and do with eternal awe and gratitude.