Statesboro, GA, USA
Plato did not ever convert to christianity
Go back and read Essorant's question again ... you must have missed the word "before". Plato lived from 428 BC to 348 BC. What do you mean he did not ever "convert" to Christianity, seeing there was no Christianity to convert to?
the bible teaches not to learn from those who are non-christian because those who do not have the holy spirit residing in them are of a carnal mind and not of the mind of God.
This is a misrepresentation of what the Bible teaches. You are probably basing this on scriptures like 1 Corinthians 1:20-24
"Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
But keeping things in context, this is talking about the gospel, and being reconciled to God. Paul was saying that no religion or philosophy apart from God could reconcile us to God and make us right with him. Religion was embodied in the Jews, while philosophy was embodied in the Greeks.
Does this mean that there is nothing true, or nothing to be learned from Pagan Philosophers? I don't think so. It means that their systems of thought, their contingent truths were not able to bridge the gap between humanity and God. But the Bible also teaches that God gave knowledge to all people, Pagans included, even a partial knowledge of himself. Consider this scripture ...
"... since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made..." (Romans 1:19-20).
This speaks of a knowledge of truth given to ALL men not just Christians or Jews ... even if it was not yet the knowledge that leads to salvation.
Another thing to consider is the Magi in the nativity account of Jesus in the Gospels. These men were Pagan philosophers or astronomers who came to pay homage to Christ. Think poetically for a moment. This is suggestive symbolism. The sincere Gentile philosopher or seeker after wisdom or truth is not shunned, nor does he seek Christ because Christ is wholly different from what he already knows. He seeks Christ because in him is a fulfillment of all partial truths ... confirmation and expansion as well as correction. I am now reading a book by Chesterton. He describes this very well, mentioning the Magi who visited Jesus as his birth ...
" ... tradition has wisely remembered them almost as unknown quantities, as mysterious as their mysterious and melodious names; Melchior, Caspar, Balthazar. But there came with them all that world of wisdom that had watched the stars in Chaldea and the sun in Persia; and we shall not be wrong if we see in them the same curiosity that moves all the sages. They would stand for the same human ideal if their names had really been Confucius or Pythagoras or Plato. They were those who sought not tales but the truth of things; and since their thirst for truth was itself a thirst for God, they also have their reward. But even in order to understand that reward, we must understand that for philosophy as much as mythology, that reward was the completion of the incomplete. Such learned men would doubtless have come, as these learned men did come, to find theselves confirmed in much that was true in their own traditions and right in their own reasoning... " (The Everlasting Man)
And did you know that Paul quotes non-Christian Greeks in the Bible?
Acts 17:28 "For in him we live and move and have our being" (Epimenides, Cretica, 600 B.C.)
Acts 17:28 "We are his offspring" (Aratus, Phaenomena, 315-240 B.C.) and ... (Cleanthes, Hymn to Zeus, 331-233 B.C.)
1 Corinthians 15:33 "Bad company corrupts good character" (Menander, Thais, 342-289 B.C.)
Titus 1:12 "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons" (Epimenides, 6th century B.C.)
It's just not accurate to say that the Bible teaches that learning from "Pagans" is wrong. That's an overly simplistic view, that doesn't take in account what the Bible teaches as a whole concerning knowledge in the world.
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (12-09-2003 03:29 AM).]