My thoughts wander this morning to my Teacher, Encourager, and Friend, D. Elton Trueblood. Our relationship began when he was 70 and I was 27 years of age. It ended twenty-four years later with his death at the age of 94. I am more fortunate that Aristotle! Aristotle had Plato as his teacher for only twenty years!
While I knew about Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle before meeting Elton, he made these ancient philosophers and teachers come alive for me. Elton took me on as his student and as he often said, became my “unofficial” Bishop. He taught me many things and introduced me to some of the greatest minds and the greatest books the world has ever known. How grateful I am!
Plato (c. 428-348 B.C) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Socrates and a teacher of Aristotle. Plato founded the Academy in Athens, one of the first institutions of higher learning in the Western world. Centuries before John wrote in his gospel, “The true light that lightens every man that cometh into the world,” Plato was already teaching it. Plato believed there was in every person a spark of good, of the divine, which could be kindled into a flame. To make the spark blaze up in the souls of men was the object of Plato’s work, which he called the service of God. “One must turn the eye,” Plato said, “from the perishing world to what is real and eternal…turn the eye of the soul to the light.”
As Socrates fanned the spark in Plato so Plato did in Aristotle. The flame in Aristotle, however, gave forth a different light. Aristotle was a scientist. Through Plato Aristotle came to believe in God, but Plato never attempted to prove God’s reality. Aristotle had to do so. Plato contemplated God. Aristotle produced arguments to demonstrate God. Plato never defined God, but Aristotle tried. Both Plato and Aristotle were ardent seekers of truth, but they sought and found it by different paths. (Aristotle later became Alexander the Great’s teacher).
I am so grateful to Elton, for through him, I became friends with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.