Voices From the Sacred Roads: Clement
Intellectual discipleship burst onto the stage of church history during the Protestant Reformation. It was fueled by a desire to learn and was captured by Martin Luther’s statement at the Diet of Worms, “unless I can be convinced by Scripture or by plain reason…I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God.” Intellectual discipleship happens when we learn something new about God that changes the way we live. But the reformers certainly weren’t the first champions of intellectual discipleship. Clement argued for the reasonableness of the faith back in the 2nd century AD.
Clement (150- 211 or 216)
Known as the "first Christian scholar,” Clement was well studied in the Scriptures, Greek philosophy and classical literature. People called him a "messenger of Christianity in philosopher's garb." His prolific writings include Exhortation to the Heathen, the Instructor, and the Miscellanies. Likely born in Athens, Clement’s search for God led him to study under and later serve as an assistant to Pantaenus, the first president of the catechetical school of Alexandria. Pantaenus sought to combine the Greek philosophical systems with the beliefs of Christianity, but unlike the Gnostics, the Bible remained the foundation for truth. Clement regularly quoted Greek poets and philosophers. Like Paul in the Aereopagus, sought to engage the philosophers of his day (in this case the Gnostics) on their turf using their terms. In Exhortation to the Greeks, he focused on errors in pagan thought and argued for the reasonableness of the Christian faith: "Away then, away with our forgetfulness of the truth!" he exhorted. "Let us remove the ignorance and darkness that spreads like a mist over our sight, and let us get a vision of the true God." He was forced to flee Alexandria under the persecution of Emperor Severus in 201-202 AD. His influence was eventually overshadowed by his most Popular pupil- Origen- who became head of Catechetical School of Alexandria.
To read more about intellectual discipleship, check out Sacred Roads: Exploring the Historic Paths of Discipleship.