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Presented at the CiRCE National Conference 2022.
Christians struggle – as readers and especially as teachers – with the question, “But how do we handle pagan literature?” And we should engage in that struggle, because the Greek and Roman classics before the time of Christ are clearly full of references to the worship of false gods, of advocacy of un-Christian values and moralities, of reliance on perspectives and practices that run counter to Christian teaching. Yet obviously Old Western Culture is based in large part on them and we continue to teach those “pagan” classics, and Christian teachers in particular need to have answers when the question arises from students or parents or their own thoughts. In sorting out the question, we do not need to reinvent the wheel, for the early church fathers have done so much work for us since they lived in that culture and had to struggle with just this question. So we need to listen to them; we will look at a number of those great Christian voices and consider what they say about Christians using the pre-Christian philosophers, poets, and other writers, and how they themselves model a sound use of them.