Christianity started as a messianic movement within Judaism. Jesus, in post-resurrection faith, delivers salvation to a fallen world that has become alienated from God. From the start the movement had a missionary focus, affirmed in Matthew 28:19, to bring its message to a pagan world. In moving beyond its Jewish roots, Christianity struggled to define how its Gospel message of salvation through Jesus was to be related to Greek culture. It took until the affirmation of the Chalcedonian creed in 451 CE for the Church to arrive at an agreed definition of belief, which settled much of the agonising of the past. It did this by using the language of Greek philosophy to affirm an agreed relationship between the biblically rooted faith of the community and the philosophical puzzles created by its interactions with Greek culture.
That such a settlement of belief was needed at all speaks volumes for the interaction of the Gospel message with the dominant intellectual culture of the time. For a religion to hold councils to debate the nuances of philosophical theology and to construct creeds as statements of belief was unusual, and witnesses a high level of engagement between Gospel and culture. Such debate was driven by competing attitudes within the Church towards the Greek philosophy of Plato. Platonic philosophy was seen as the secular philosophy most adaptable to religious belief in terms of its conception of the nature of reality.
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