Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Journeys with Justin

I'm moving to the 2nd century AD and beginning to read Justin Martyr.  He lived from around 114 to 165.  He was raised as a Gentile in Samaria on the teachings of Plato and Socrates.  When he became a Christian, he discovered that "what Plato was feeling after, he found in Jesus of Nazareth."  He began a new era in gospel history, an era where Christian apologetics are  mixed in with secular philosophy.  R.C. Sproul is a man today who ties in philosophy with Christian teachings.  It brings a new perspective on things.

Scholars all agree that Justin wrote his two apologies and the Dialogue with Trypho.  They debate on whether he wrote his Address to the Greeks, his Hortatory Address to the Greeks, On the Sole Government of God, Epistle to Diognetus, Fragments from a treatise on the Resurrection, and other fragments.  They are all certain that he did not write Exposition of the True Faith, Replies to the Orthodox Christian Questions to Gentiles, Gentiles Questions to Christians, epistles to Zenas and Serenus, and a Refutation of certain doctrines of Aristotle.

Philip Schaff begins his Justin anthology with his first Apology.  Clearly the Roman government accuses the Christians of the Holy Land of all the problems in Rome.  Justin demands that they investigate before they jump to conclusions.

It is amazing how the word "atheist" meant a different thing in the 2nd century and even in the time of Socrates.  The Greeks and Romans had a god or goddess for every aspect of life, even aspects within the aspects of life.  These gods would allow them to engage in revelry and encourage the violation of women and children.  Socrates denied that these gods were actually gods.  Since he denounced belief in these gods, the Greeks labelled him an "atheist" and made him drink poison.

Christians refuse to even genuflect toward any Roman god or emperor.  They won't even pinch some incense out of respect.  They only worship and give homage to Jesus Christ.  According to the Romans, this must mean that they are atheists.  If they were right, I wish all professing Christians would be atheists except for worshiping the one true God who revealed himself to the world in Jesus and still lives with us in the Holy Spirit. 

Christians are atheists in regard to the gods but not for the most true God.  They bow down and worship the Triune God only and consider all the other idols to be soulless and dead.

Justin has the same theory about the origin of the Greek gods that Mark Driscoll has.  Somebody appeared the the people as Zeus or Apollo, but they were actually demons.  My theory is that these were real people who ruled and who were very arrogant and insisted that they were gods and convinced the people that when they died they still ruled.  The Egyptian rulers did that.  The Caesars did that.

Just the same, they appeared to people in secret in remote corners of the world.  The true God revealed himself publicly.  "He does not need the material offerings which men can give...He is the provider of all things."

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