Friday, January 25, 2013

Second Century Apologetics

          Before we can describe Christian apologetics in the second century, I think we first need to clearly define what apologetics is. Almost all historians will agree that the word comes from the Greek root Aplogia meaning “to give a defense.” This does not mean that these people men in general were going around telling people they are sorry. What they were doing was writing to emperors and the highly educated of their day in attempts to answer attacks and accusations made against Christianity; while pointing out the flaws of paganism.[1] Also, “the Apologists were not content with defense. They took the offensive by attacking the pagan cults, which were mythological, irrational, and often connected with immorality.”[2]
            It is rather ironic that the very people the Apologists were arguing against were the ones accusing them of the same type of scandalous behavior or worse. For instance there was a belief that Christians were cannibals. According to Justo Gonzalez, “Since Christians spoke of being nourished by the body and blood of Christ, and since they also spoke of him as a little child, some came to the conclusion that, as an initiation rite, Christians concealed a newborn in a loaf of bread and ordered the neophyte to cut the loaf.”[3]
            Apologists in that time also played a major role in defending the church against heresies that were one the rise, about the body of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. On top of all that they were being accused of being Atheist, having orgies and committing incest. How could they be atheist because they had no visible gods then most of their greatest philosophers and poets were atheist also?[4] Gonzalez also points out that, “How can anyone believe that our worship is orgiastic and incestuous, when the rules of our conduct must be cast aside?”[5] In order to clear the air about the supposed secrecy that took place in the Christian life, especially say aspects of a worship service Justin Martyr answered most points raised, whether it had to do with baptism, the relationship of the Son to the Father, or any other doctrinal beliefs established at that time.[6]
            The way that we can respond in today’s culture is to remember what gets people’s attention, and be willing to answer their questions head on. Far too often when we are confronted we shy away from the question and do not answer what has been asked. We must take the Scripture serious when it tells us, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)

[1] Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language Second Ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995)33.
[2] Everett Ferguson, Church History Vol One: From Christ to Pre-Reformation. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005)78.
[3] Justo L.Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity Vol One: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. (New York: Harper Collins, 2010)60.
[4] Ibid, 66.
[5] Ibid, 67.
[6] Ferguson, Church History, 74.

1 comment:

  1. Blessed are the Peacemakers not blessed are the Peacelovers. Always present truth but let God receive the glory.