Justin Martyr, Huxley and the Perennial Philosophy

By: Jay Justin's Hortatory Address is interesting. In it we see an apologetic for a convert from Greek philosophy and religion to early Roman Christianity. What is more interesting is the appeal to the so-called perennial philosophy as an apologetic defense against Greek polytheism. Many fathers cite the tradition that Pythagoras, Plato, Orpheus and Sibyl relate a tradition that comes from Egypt, not as paganism, but from Moses.  Indeed, this is very plausible, though discarded by moderns. The reason it's discarded is that it presupposes the veracity of the biblical texts, particularly the Law and prophets, which were the first to be attacked by Luther's reformation sons and daughters through higher criticism, through Satanically-inspired men like Julius Wellhausen. Justin refers interestingly to The Timaeus as well, which I recently read, where an Egyptian priest relates to Solon, who then relates to Socrates, the ancient tradition of creation that is somewhat monotheistic. So we see that the ancient occult lineage of polytheism at places intertwines with the true monotheistic lineage as maintained by the prophets of the true God, but most strikingly, what emerges is that the Egyptian and Greek lineage of this "tradition" clearly become corrupted and introduce polytheism. The Timaeus does just this, introducing demiurges and co-creator gods along with God. Many scholars retrace this Egyptian period to Rameses II and the Hyksos, which may have been the period when Joseph ruled in Egypt.  This also raises interesting questions about Egyptian monotheism and the resurrection. It makes sense that, given the presence of the Jews in Egypt, the Egyptians would have adapted some of their doctrines, especially if Moses and Joseph had been among them and taught the doctrine of the one, true and pure religion.


Thus, the perennial philosophy as it is so-called is hard to decipher and hard to pin down, but the point I have been making above cancels out the blasphemies and attacks on God that are common in liberal circles, as well as modern new world order proponents like Aldous Huxley, who in his The Perennial Philosophy seeks to destroy the notion of a single Personal God, and thereby destroy the notion of personhood. Once the notion of personhood is gone as a metaphysical doctrine, it can be granted (and removed) at will via the apotheosized world-state. Yes, literally, by the pantheistic future world government.  Huxley is quite candid about this, too. But all such attempts at deification of the state and destroying the biblical tradition are doomed to fail.  

And so if there is in some sense a “perennial philosophy,” it is the perennial philosophy of the One True God, and not a pagan truth of generic, a-personal monotheism whereupon we can later attach the conception of a Personal deity, after we have borrowed bad arguments from Aristotle. We must begin with the Personal God who guides history by His providence. Only in this metaphysic do we have a grounded notion of person and protect the rights of the individual from the superstate-play-acting-as-God. We must then toss out the ‘traditionalists’ school of Coomaraswamy, Huxley and others, which really comes from Hinduism and is the sludge of the occult tradition passed down through the ages. The true perennial philosophy, then, as Justin points out (whether consistently or not) is the perennial philosophy of “Eyeh asher Eyeh.”

5 Comments on Justin Martyr, Huxley and the Perennial Philosophy

  1. Good article, just one minor correction though, Solon (638-558 BC) wasn’t the Egyptian priest himself, rather he was a Greek Law maker who traveled to Egypt, where an Egyptian priest related to him the Egyptian’s ancient secret traditions, which he in turn brought back to Greece and passed down to some of his fellow country men, who passed it to their descendants, one of whom was Timaeus, who then passed it on to Socrates. This in no way effects your argument of course but I just thought I should point it out anyway, before some bigger a-hole than me spots it and makes a big thing of it.

    The Perennial Philosophy is a fascinating subject. On the one hand it can be an excellent contribution to a Christian apologists arsenal but on the other hand it has the potential to degrade into pluralism and occultism, which happened with many of the well meaning Renaissance humanists like Picco and Ficino to name a few. That of course doesn’t mean we shouldn’t practice it, just that we should tread the path carefully.

    I always find it funny that certain opposing philosophies scoff Christianity for assuming the Primordial philosophy of Man to be Christian, and yet they themselves do the same with their own systems. Scientistic types tell us that the earliest myths were but a primitive form of science . Man, they tell us, originally observed natural forces and attempted to explain them via allegory, in time this degraded into myths about gods that were taken literally, now the disciples of modern science have restored the perennial philosophy to its true intent. The Marxist Communists also argue that early man was indeed a practitioner of the communist philosophy, till it degraded into hierarchical civilization.

    On the topic of Perennial Philosophy, what do you think of Kabbalah? How much of it, if any, do you think is part of a legit tradition going back to Moses or one of the Patriarchs and how much is heretical? I’m not the world’s biggest expert on it myself (I certainly can’t read Hebrew) but I can see how some aspects of it were appealing to some Renaissance Christians, however I can also see how some of it is a slippery slope to heresy.

  2. Many manifestations of kaballah are pantheistic. Other explanations appear to come very, very close to the Eastern Orthodox conception of essence/energy distinciton, so I’m not sure yet what to say there.

  3. You have in several articles and comments mentioned the personal God distinction between the christian faith and almost all other faiths. I’m having some trouble finding the argument for this position and wish to know more. Basically: How do we know that God is a personal entity and why is it so important?

    Besides the obvious “because the Bible says so” that is the sole foundation googling has brought me.
    And that argument in itself doesn’t work for me for the simple reason that I haven’t found an argument for treating the Bible as infallible. If you could point me towards a greater understanding here as well I would be grateful.

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