Summary and a thought on Plato’s Story/Allegory of the Cave

In Plato’s story of the cave, found in his Republic, a group of people are bound in a cave from the moment of their birth. They are facing away from the cave and have their hand and feet bound so that they cannot turn or interact with their environment except by seeing shadows portrayed on the back wall of the cave by those who pass the cave door in front of a fire or the light from the sun. They would think those shadows portrayed on the wall to be reality and would not guess that there is a “more true” reality behind them. If one got free and saw the people and objects making those shadows and told the others, they would not believe him, instead remaining firmly committed to their belief that those shadows are the only reality there is.

This allegory is important for Christians to consider and seems to have parallels with the Christian view of reality. Christians perceive the truth about God revealed in nature to be incomplete. The non-Christian world is like those who sit bound in the cave; they look at the shadows of this world and have no idea that the shadows are not the true reality. Those distorted shadows do not tell the truth of God though they may give some ideas about God that nay or may not be true. The Christian has been set free and has seen, revealed in Jesus Christ and in the Scriptures, the reality about God and this world, but try as they might they are unable to convince most people that there is any other reality than the distorted, shadowy world they see portrayed on the wall of their cave.


About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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