Christian Themes

A summary of the main Christian concerns of Clement of Alexandria’s The Instructor and Miscellanies would include the following points:Our chief instructor is the Word of God, the risen Christ, who spoke in ancient times through both the Greek philosophers and the Hebrew prophets, became incarnate and taught in the flesh, and still continues to teach through the Spirit. We can learn from the Word in many ways but especially through his own instruction in the Gospels. In behavior Christians should adhere to the principle of moderation in food, drink, dress, speech, and other aspects of life. Philosophy is not, as some argue, useless for Christians; on the contrary, it may contribute to the cultivation of piety, preparing the Hellenic mind for reception of Christ, the Word of God. Faith is an essential prerequisite for spiritual understanding (gnosis) whose aim is the vision of God. It is a “voluntary preconception, an assent of piety” given as a gift which entails obedience to the Word of God. Human beings possess free will, and thus must do good works, but since the soul was weakened as a result of the Fall, they must have the Instructor to guide them in doing good. Grace alone can equip the soul to rise above the divine light, attaining the perfection of love which the “gnostic” should achieve in learning from the Instructor.