Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater

Logos, (Greek: “word,” “reason,” or “plan”) plural logoi, in Greek philosophy and theology, the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning. Though the concept defined by the term logos is found in Greek, Indian, Egyptian, and Persian philosophical and theological systems, it became particularly significant in Christian writings and doctrines to describe or define the role of Jesus Christ as the principle of God active in the creation and the continuous structuring of the cosmos and in revealing the divine plan of salvation to man. It thus underlies the basic Christian doctrine of the preexistence of Jesus.


I usually try to use quotes from original sources, but for this post I thought the above quote was the most instructive. The article is short and to the point and I suggest it to anyone who is interested in this topic.

The opening chapter to the Fourth Gospel (“John”) indicates how the concept of Jesus/Christ had developed by around 90 AD. By then, Christians had started to realize that maybe the Kingdom of God wasn’t arriving as soon as they had thought, and they started to modify the message into something more “sellable” given this unfortunate fact.

When I say this, I don’t mean any disrespect. But, it’s important for every well-informed Christian to understand the history of the core ideas that became orthodox (small “o”) Christianity.

The metaphysical concept of the Logos had been around Greek (and later, Roman) philosophy at least since Heraclitus (540 BCE). The word had/has multiple ordinary uses (such as “word”), but also became the go-to label for the organizing principle of the universe, something like the concept of “Tao” in Taoism. Thus, when trying to “market” Christianity to the Greek-speaking general public in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire, it was a natural step to equate Jesus Christ with the Logos — if for nothing else than as an easy way to explain what Christians were talking about.

In addition, there seems to be some evidence that the first verses of John were added to the rest of the material, and possibly came from another source entirely.

Even so, you might ask, then so what? Information like this helps to make it clear that Christianity is a human artifact. Years of divine inspiration and trial-and-error have honed its truth, but — like every human artifact — the dogma is not itself infallible. The trick, as I have written elsewhere, is not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” (as the old saying goes).

To be a Christian, you don’t have to check your brain at the door.

 Richfife [Public domain]