Justin’s Apology, ch 23-24

The argument that Christianity is just a borrowed religion (that is, it is simply a re-mix of older religious beliefs, from Judaism and paganism) is as old as Christianity itself.  We certainly weren’t the first generation to face that accusation, and we won’t be the last.

No hesitation, no pause from Justin.  Straight forward, head held high, heart blazing with the Truth.  Gotta’ love it!

justin2.jpgChapter XXIII.-The Argument.

What we hope to show you is that the words taught by Christ are true, and conform to prophesies given through the ages, confirming them and completing them.  We hope you can acknowledge our right to have faith in Him, not just because there are similarities between His teachings and the stories of the gods, but because there is truth in His words.

We hope that you will come to see that Jesus is who He claimed to be, the one and only Son of God; that He descended from a heavenly realm and took on flesh in order to rescue the human race from the fallen state of this world.  We are aware that before Jesus took on flesh and became a man, some poets and writers wrote stories that seemed to be the same story we tell of Jesus, only distorted.  We believe those writers were influenced by demonic forces that had some knowledge about what Jesus would accomplish, prompting these stories that seem to be so similar to the truth we tell about Jesus.  Some say it undermines our story, supposing we are simply telling a variant version of someone else’s religion.  We insist, there is no proof that we’ve done such a thing, nor is there anyone who can corroborate such a theory of conspiracy.  We hope to prove just the opposite, that what Jesus has taught is Truth.

Chapter XXIV.-Varieties of Heathen Worship.

First of all, we believe doctrines that are very similar to what the Greeks have believed all along, but because we follow the teachings of Christ and are Christians, you hate us.  Even though we live law-abiding lives, you arrest us and put us to death like common criminals.

As we observe the Empire, we can see a huge variety of religions and a wide assortment of venerated gods.  Some people worship trees, rivers, crocodiles, cats, mice, all kinds of dumb animals.  Not everyone worships the same animals.  To one person, the cat is a god.  Another person bows down to the mouse.  The cat guy thinks the mouse guy is nuts, and the mouse guy calls the cat guy a heretic, but Rome allows for these differences.

The only accusation you bring against us is that we don’t worship the same gods as you do.  We don’t pour wine on the statues of our ancestors, burn candles at the altars of the gods, put wreath-crowns on the heads of the statues or kill animals to get the favor of the gods.  So what if we don’t?  What about all the other differences between all the religions that Rome tolerates?  One man worships a mouse which another man kills in a trap.  The Empire allows for those differences, why not ours?

3 comments

  1. Our society calls “intellectuals” any of those who are willing to compromise around the edges of the Christian faith. If and when church leaders or just prominent figures “admit” to contradictions in the bible and say its about having faith and not answers, or postulate that Jesus visited India and was just a reincarnate of Buddha, they seem so cutting edge to the voices that ring out on these subjects.

    If anyone would have been tempted by this track, it would have been a Greek thinker, like Justin. But instead he attributes the more complex parts of our faith, or the parts that look too similar to other faiths, as a result of “demonic” interference – and this is a suggestion that the “forward thinkers” of all times would have and still do scoff at.

    But its funny, for all my hatred of Buddhist teachings (I cannot find a religion any more deceptive and oppressive as Buddhism; it tells its followers to love, and then subjects them to heartless and impossible rote) I am still reluctant to call it the product of demons’ direct interference. I am more happy to chalk it up to “lies” or just “wrong”. But aren’t we told again and again by the stories in the New Testament that demons are real? And if they’re numbers were so prolific among the Jews – God’s people – how much more have they been among the Gentiles throughout history!?

    Also, concerning chapter 24: we still are seeing some of the same things today. The Chinese and Indian governments happily encourage religions that are self-combative. Like the temples to the rat gods in India – yet rats are the source of much disease and starvation among the Indians! And in China, Christianity is suppressed and made to look false and evil by propaganda, yet the ancestor worship that the government perpetuates turns whole families and villages into rivaling religious sects. Meanwhile in the pockets further inland where Christianity has been able to flourish has led to schools and health centers and – for the first time for many women – equality.

  2. Great point Brad. Here’s Justin, the intelligent, educated Greek philosopher arguing his point with the least verifiable evidence there is…. “demons did it!”

    It certainly makes me think about how unspiritually I often think.

  3. Justin was smart about that. We should be happy to not be intellectuals as defined by those who would value division amongst us. Understanding and attributing bad behavior to demons is a perfectly acceptable belief and logical conclusion to the bad things that happen around fallen man. Any good that happens to man is with the grace of God.

    Even in todays technical world it is possible to see the use of technology to to evil or good is at work. Young adolesent males spending hours on dark shooter games, locked away and anti-social becoming stone faced killers. Can’t you see the demons at work at the hands of people working its way into our culture and our minds.

    With that we must pledge to use technology only for good. We must pray to God to show us the way to do good in all things.

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