#214 Shadowed Reality

I’ve been reflecting on some of Plato’s ideas recently, as I’ve been teaching them this year.

Plenty of things that Plato thought and taught are questionable, including his idea of forms.

This being, that the perfect, ideal form of anything actually exists in another realm and we have an innate or instinctive understanding of what that form is like. This is how we know that something, whilst imperfect in our world is still a circle or a triangle, or a Filet-O-Fish with fries.

Personally, I don’t mind a Filet-O-Fish with Fries, but Plato tells me that it, and everything else in this world is imperfect in form.

This, Aristotle didn’t agree with and instead went with knowledge via the senses.

That is, empiricism.

However, whilst I’m not totally sold on some of Plato’s ideas, I do see some links to biblical thinking.

These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

This is the apostle, Paul, speaking of the Jewish festivals, Jewish food laws and the like. Paul projects forward saying that these regulations were set up in the past to point us to look elsewhere. They aren’t the real deal of biblical living.

Similarly to Plato, Paul sees them as a shadow form. A shadow form pointing to Christ.

This echoes the book of James, which I was reading recently, in which God is described as being unlike shadows:

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

The God of the Bible is not a shadow, but a reality and one full of heavenly light.

He does not change his form either. It is set. And this set form is presumably perfect, as it’s a deity form.

So was Plato right? Is the perfect form in another realm?

Well, from the biblical perspective yes and no.

Quite obviously we are not in heaven, so the no part is obvious. But the yes – well,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

That’s a paragraph of the Bible that’s going to sit well with Aristotle, not Plato.

The perfect form – “Word Of Life” meaning Jesus – left the other realm and came to earth. We know this because the disciples saw him with their own eyes.

That is, empiricism.

The shadows and mystery have been removed. The true reality has been seen.

I think Plato had some brilliant ideas, but this one on forms from the biblical perspective is missing a bit.

Yours wanting fries with that,


Photo by Thijs van der Weide on Pexels.com

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