I am grateful for Tertullian and Jerome.
As all of us in the Great Books Honors Program consume our energies with reading the great works of Christianity and Western culture, it is refreshing to read the passion of Tertullian and the confession of Jerome. I find myself often being drawn to the great philosophers due the wealth of wisdom found in their work. Yet, I must confess to my neglect of scripture as my mental energies are focused on the great works.
Although some have expressed dislike for Tertullian’s boastful style, I found his words a refreshing reminder of the focus of our mental faith. The works of Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, etc. are rich treasures. They are truly gifts from God. But I am grateful for Tertullian’s reminder that our faith is not in the works of the Greek philosophers, but rather in the sacrificial redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tertullian states: “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?…Our instruction comes from the ‘porch of Solomon,’ who had himself taught that ‘the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart.’ ”
Tertullian’s reminder to me is encouragement in that my faith should, “…want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after enjoying the gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief.” (Readings in Christian Humanism – p. 92)
Likewise, Jerome’s confession to seeing his library of Cicero and Plautus as idols above Christ reminds me of the proper perspective of my studies. He writes, “O Lord, if ever again I possess worldly books or read them, I have denied thee.” (p. 103)
I am reminded by these honorable Patriarchs of the Church the proper perspective in studying the great works of the pagans. While there are great truths to be found, and great methods for study and discussion learned in them, my primary love is that of Scripture, and the great works by men of God.