Do you think the physical and spiritual are separate? If you do, you may have a Trojan horse in your brain. If you want to retire rich and join the leisure classes (like me), you may be a Hellenist and not know it.
Christianity started off as Jewish thing. The thinking and believing was essentially Hebrew. When Lord Jesus walked the earth, Greek thinking or Hellenism already had an influence on Hebrew culture through the Sadducee’.
Later in the 4th century AD. Emperor Constantin and Theodosius legalized Christianity into Roman culture. However, their education had a strong Hellenic influence, which filtered into Christian thinking and remains to this day.
Hellenism is based on Greek philosophy, (philosophy is simply a way of thinking and doing things). Greek philosophy is not all bad. Greek philosophy paved the way for western reasoning. By any measure, the Greek philosophers were probably genius. However, on spiritual matters, Hebrew-ism and early Christianity do not agree with Hellenism so much.
Inexpert handle on Hellenism.
- Hellenism believes that lesser gods’ created everything and that creation is flawed and undesirable. Admittedly this is observable yet superficial and incomplete.
- Judaeo-Christians read that God made everything and that He made it good. People allowed corruption. Good is not the same as nice or pretty. Going to the toilet is not big on most people’s nice and pretty list, however, the Hebrews have a ‘toilet prayer'(Asher yatzar), which thanks God for healthy body functions.
- Creation remains God’s hand work. God gave it to humanity and we should not dismiss it too casually. Many understand that the ‘icky’ stuff is somehow ungodly or undignified, however, God created pretty flowers as well as doggy doo-doo.
- Because Hellenism views creation as flawed, it separates the spiritual from the physical. The physical has little influence over the spiritual as the spiritual is kind of, ‘out there in some misty perfect place where the gods live, having fun all day.’
- Hebrew philosophy says that God made everything, both the invisible and the visible. The relationship between the physical and spiritual is seamless and they both affect each other directly. Thus physical acts like murder and theft have a direct spiritual and physical effect.
- Separating the spiritual from the physical enables us to live without accountability and conscience. As long as we are not caught, or we can kind of balance the books somehow, we hope everything should be sort-of-OK? We believe we can deal with the spiritual later when the time comes (hopefully?)
- Although Hellenist s saw the world as flawed, they pursued beauty and happiness as a spiritual objective. Nudity, pride and a-moral behavior were not uncommon.
- Judaeo-Christians honor God and discourage pride and excess. Respect for privacy in the form of modesty and the beauty of balance are valued as part of the greater whole.
- Contemporary culture could probably better manage celebrity, excess, pornography, pride and so on. Many aspects of our culture (especially western culture) overly glorify the achievements of people.
- Hellenism has many gods (the pantheon) and are tolerant of other gods. Their gods are mostly human or human-like in form and behavior.
- The Judaeo-Christians have one God. Man is made in Gods’ image, not the other way around. God tells us to worship no other gods. Just because you claim the title god, doesn’t mean you are, or just because you worship it, doesn’t make it God.
- Pop culture tolerates ‘hero worship’ and ‘idols’. Anything that excessively occupies our resource or focus is a potential idol. Tolerance is one thing, internalization is another.
- Hellenism favors entertainment and leisure. Work is seen as drudgery and to be avoided. Work is for ‘lesser beings’ like workers or slaves.
- Hebrew thinking sees work as Gods blessing. God blesses the work of our hands and we occupy ourselves with good works.
- To this day the ‘white collar’ look down on the ‘blue collar’ and the leisure classes are seen as the top of society.
Fringe thinking is not so non-biblical.
Regardless of its origins or who’s to blame, anything that separates us from God is suspect in my view. I want to purge myself of anything that robs me and mine of the truth and liberty that God planned for us.
The Hebrews connect us to God directly and constantly. The Hebrew word for Spirit is the same as the wind or the air. It’s almost as if we are immersed in God. God is. He is not somewhere else, He is everywhere.
When I imagine that in Him I live and move and breathe, I need to think more carefully about my words, deeds and thoughts. Hellenism displaces God to a spiritual realm which may or may not ‘notice’ me. This allows me to conduct my affairs unaccountably.
This does not mean that God is constantly invading our space. He made us, breathed life into us, gave us skills and access to Himself and then said, (paraphrased) “go out and do stuff.” He gave us freedom to choose and very seldom intrudes unless He is asked to.
Unlike Hellenism, Hebrew thinking does not disconnect God from our daily lives. Our labor and work is a blessing from Him. He made everything we see. The natural world comes from His mind. This includes the somewhat awkward things like birth, death, sex and smelly body functions. He made bears and butterflies as well as those weird worms at the bottom of the ocean.
God is not an up-tight spoil sport. He wants us to enjoy life, push the limits but do it with respect for Him and others.
God is inclusive, Hellenism is exclusive, God gives liberty while Hellenism seeks license. Hellenism leads to religion when God offers us relationship.