Their particular position, represented by Carneades and mediated to Augustine through Cicero's Academica , was actually a defense against the Stoic empiricism of Zeno of Citium. Augustine used several arguments against skepticism in Contra Academicos , such as the argument of common sense. Augustine framed his Christianity in terms of Neo-platonic thought. Nowhere is this as evident as in his theory of knowledge. According to Plato, levels of knowledge correspond to levels of being.
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In Book VI of The Republic , this correspondence is described using the simile of a line divided into two parts: one representing the visible world and the other the intelligible. As each part is again divided into the two sections of shadow and object, we see a progression of increasing reality. For each of the four levels, Plato describes a type of knowledge that alone pertains. In Augustine as in Plato, levels of knowledge correspond to levels of being. His ontological levels, however, had a specifically Christian orientation.
At the apex of being is the God revealed in Jesus Christ as attested to by scripture, i. But we ought rather to believe that the nature of the intellectual mind is so formed as to see those things which, according to the disposition of the Creator, are subjoined to intelligible things in the natural order, in a sort of incorporeal light of its own kind, as the eye of the flesh sees the things that lie about it in this corporeal light, of which light it is made to be receptive and to which it is adapted.
Just how does this illumination take place? In Augustinian terms, no part of the human intellect, mutable as it is, can access the ideas by itself. Another interpretation of this theory holds that God is an ontologically separate agent intellect infusing the ideas directly into a human mind. Copleston and Gilson represent the Formal interpretation of illumination  in which the divine activity only conveys certainty and necessity to human judgments.
Thus, for example, the idea of Beauty does not consist of content infused into our intellect, but is a regulative principle evident only in the moment of making a comparison. This interpretation commends itself to us moderns who hold to the regulative function of ideas, but it requires us to stipulate that Augustine used an implicit doctrine of abstraction to explain universals in the human mind.
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Neville and Kaufmann on Plato; there the forms can be abstractions in a limited sense, as refractions of the form of the Good in things. Nash presents a strong case for an interpretation of illumination that might be called Qualified Ontologism. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts Romans — The time now is nearer than when we first believed. How are we to redeem the time? Wake up! Time is short; opportunity is fleeting. The Lord is coming soon, and the event draws nearer every moment. The time to obey is now. The only time we can take for granted is now. And since there is no guarantee of more time, it is unconscionable to defer our obedience.
Consider this: The apostle Paul was stressing the urgency of this commandment in his day, two thousand years ago. He believed the coming of Christ was near—and getting nearer by the moment. How much more urgent are these things for our time? Now is certainly not the time to let down our guard or fall asleep. But no genuine believer should ever think that way. Rather than despairing because He tarries, we ought to realize that the time is nearer now than it has ever been.
He is coming. As we saw earlier, His Word guarantees that He will come. Our hope should be growing stronger, not diminishing, as He delays his coming. Perhaps Paul had seen signs of spiritual lethargy or dullness among the believers at Rome.
Like the society in which we live, Roman life catered to the flesh, offering many material comforts and earthly amusements. Perhaps they were inclined to forget they were living in the last days. Spiritually, they were falling asleep. It sometimes seems as if the entire church today is in an even worse state of spiritual drowsiness. Where is the sense of expectation that characterized the early church?
Too many Christians in our time have settled into a state of insensate lethargy and inactivity—an unresponsiveness to the things of God. They are like Jonah, fast asleep in the hold of the ship while raging storms threaten to sweep us away Jonah —6.
It is high time to awake from that slumber. Never was such an alarm more needed than today. He was not suggesting that the Romans were unregenerate. He was not telling them their justification was a yet-future reality.
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He was reminding them that the culmination of what began at their regeneration was drawing closer by the moment. Notice that the writer of Hebrews employs the word salvation the same way Paul uses it in Romans Daylight—the final consummation of our salvation when Christ returns to take us to glory—is imminent.
We have no idea how much sand remains in the hourglass of human history. But we ought to realize that a lot of sand has passed through the hourglass since the apostle Paul said the dawning of daylight was already at hand. How much more urgent is this wake-up call for the church today!
The apostle Paul used precisely the same imagery of darkness and dawn when he wrote to the Thessalonians:. But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ 1 Thessalonians —9.
God did not appoint us to wrath. The day of wrath that shall come in the Tribulation is not what we are to be preparing for. The sudden appearing of Christ to take us to glory is our hope. Be sober. Be alert. Your redemption draws near. Throw off! Still clad in the garments of his sin, he has fallen into a drunken sleep. But dawn is approaching, and now it is time to wake up, throw off the clothes of night, and put on the armor of light. The Greek term is used only three other times in the New Testament, and in each case it speaks of excommunication from a synagogue John ; ; So the term carries the idea of renouncing and forsaking sin or the unrepentant sinner with vigor and conviction.
Paul is calling for an act of repentance. Paul often employs the imagery of changing garments to describe the putting off of sin and the old man. The picture this evokes is that of Lazarus, raised from the dead, given new life, but still bound in old grave-clothes that still needed to be put off cf. John — There he pictures the Christian like an athlete, stripped of all encumbrances and ready to run. There is much we must throw aside if we are to be prepared for the coming day.
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