Thirdly, to be a philosopher meant, ordinarily, to belong to a philosophical school. And philosophical schools at that time were not the same as what we mean by them, e. g., that there are pupils of Dewey and Whitehead in different colleges in this country; rather, “school” meant, then, a ritual community in which the founder of the school was supposed to have had a revelatory insight into the truth. Acceptance in such a school was not a matter of a doctor’s degree, but of a whole personal initiation into the atmosphere of this school. So the word “philosophy” had a much larger sense than professors of “philosophy”, or textbooks on “philosophy”.
By the way, in English the word philosophy has still preserved some of this larger meaning. One speaks even of a philosophy of business management, and a philosophy of home cooking, etc. – very important things – and if the word philosophy is connected with them, then philosophy means a systematic understanding of a realm of reality which has something to do with real existence, and it is not only a matter of philosophical analysis in terms of logic, epistemology and metaphysics.
Now if, therefore, Justin called Christianity a philosophy, then he makes it a human existential enterprise which is neither superstitious nor magical, but follows the principles of sound reason. Now with respect to this Christian philosophy, he says that it is universal – and this is very important – that it is not a corner truth of a sectarian character, but that it is all-embracing truth about the meaning of existence. And from this follows that wherever truth appears, it belongs to us, the Christians. Existential truth..–..truth not in the scientific sense, but in the sense of truth concerning existence, truth about life and death, truth about to-be-and-not-to-be–is, wherever it appears, Christian truth. “What anybody has said about truth belongs to us, the Christians.” This is not arrogance. He doesn’t mean that the Christians now have all truth, which they invented, etc. , but they said exactly what they said later in terms of the logos doctrine, namely that there cannot be any truth anywhere which is not included in principle in Christian truth. This is what already the Fourth Gospel says, namely that the logos appeared, full of truth and grace.
And vice versa, he says: “Those who live according to the logos are Christians.” Now what happens here is very important. He includes, for instance, Socrates, Heraclitus, Elijah, and others. But there is a difference; he added, “the total logos,” which appeared in Christ and has become “body, mind and soul.” Therefore the philosophers, apart from Christianity, are partly in error and even partly subjected to demonic inspirations which come from the pagan gods. The gods of the heathens are not non-entities, but they are demonic forces, they are realities. But since they are on a limited basis (since) they are idols, they therefore have destructive power.
What does all this mean? It takes away the wrong impression..–..as though these Christians felt themselves as another religion. There is here actually the negation of the concept of religion, for Christianity: one religion beside others. All the others are wrong; ours is right: against this the Apologists would say: not.our religion is right, but the logos has appeared on which our religion is based, and is the full logos of God himself, appearing in the center of His being, appearing in His totality. This is more than religion. This is truth appearing in time and space. So here the word “Christianity” is still understood not as a religion but as the negation of religions, and for this reason as being able to embrace them all, in terms of universality. Justin has said what I think it is absolutely necessary to say: If there were anywhere in the world an existential truth which could not be received by Christianity as an element in its own thinking, then Jesus would not be the Christ.