I began reading the Dialogue of Justin, a Greek philosopher who came to the knowledge of Christ and is considered to be one of the Early Church fathers. I’d read bits of this dialogue between Justin the Martyr and Trypho the Jew when I was stationed in Germany in the mid 1980s. I recently stumbled upon the Dialogue while doing research about the First Church for a message I’m sharing this Sunday at LifePointe Church in Crowley, TX.
When I rediscovered this dialogue it got my attention because it is very indicative of what the emerging church is experiencing and expressing. I find it interesting how the Church has come full circle with its desire to find simplicity, relevance, authenticity, purpose, reason, cause and hope for existence. Without giving away too much of my message I can say that there are many believers (young and old) who have come to a point in their faith where they want to experience more and do more. It’s not just about the experience, but also about the questions we should be asking. Here is an excerpt from the Dialogue of Justin that I find to be very intriguing, challenging and confirming:
Trypho: Are you, then, a philologian, but no lover of deeds or of truth? and do you not aim at being a practical man so much as being a sophist?
Justin: What greater work could one accomplish than this, to show the reason which governs all, and having laid hold of it, and being mounted upon it, to look down on the errors of others, and their pursuits? But without philosophy and right reason, prudence would not be present to any man. Wherefore it is necessary for every man to philosophize, and to esteem this the greatest and most honourable work; but other things only of second-rate or third-rate importance, though, indeed, if they be made to depend on philosophy, they are of moderate value, and worthy of acceptance; but deprived of it, and not accompanying it, they are vulgar and coarse to those who pursue them.
Trypho: Does philosophy, then, make happiness?
Justin: Assuredly, and it alone.
Trypho: What, then, is philosophy? and what is happiness? Pray tell me, unless something hinders you from saying.
Justin: Philosophy, then, is the knowledge of that which really exists, and a clear perception of the truth; and happiness is the reward of such knowledge and wisdom.
I am captivated by Justin’s definitions of philosophy and happiness. It sounds like a very profound and deep thought, but in essence it is the most practical and rational view of both philosophy and happiness. Of course, this is only a glimpse of philosophy from the heart of one man, but it truly should challenge us to think about those things we hold to be true to our hearts and minds. The dialogue reminds me of Paul’s quest to Mars Hill as he challenged the philosophers of the day with a new thought of the day by using their own idols to explain the existence of the unknown god. More so, this is about the importance Jesus placed on the renewing of the mind that He might transform the heart. My challenge with this post is that we not be afraid of asking the tough questions. More importantly, that we not shy away from being asked the tough questions. We don’t have to know the answers…just know where to find them and how to lead someone to those answers as well.