Thursday, September 5, 2013

He Placed Him Crosswise in the Universe

This is my last post on Justin Martyr's first apology.  I make no apologies that next I will start his second apology.

Justin closes his letter with an amazing observation about Plato that I had not known before.  "He placed him crosswise in the universe."  That is what Plato said.  He assigns a first place to God.  Then, he is aware of a Logos in the second place as "a power placed crosswise."  Finally, he assigns a third place to the "spirit borne under water."  Plato has a concept of the holy Trinity.  He almost hints at knowing the cross, but as Justin said of all pagan imitations of the Truth, they never quite understand the concept of a deity sacrificing himself for his people, especially with a humiliating death on the cross.

Accordingly, Plato got his ideas from Moses.  Moses wrote about a world made by just God's Word.  He understood that God and God's Word were separate persons but still one God.  He had a concept of the Spirit hovering over the waters in Genesis 1:2.

Where does "crosswise" come in?  It comes from the account in Numbers 21 about the bronze snake that Moses had placed on a pole.  The people were justly dying from a plague due to their constant ungrateful complaining to God.  God told Moses to place the snake on a pole.  The people could just look to it and be healed of their disease.  Clearly, Plato is impressed by this undue generosity from and offended God.  It might be God's way of revealing Christ and his sacrifice to Plato.

Matthew 11:27, however, states in no uncertain terms: "no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."  Nobody, not even Plato, can know God the Father unless he had revealed the Son to him.  How did he reveal himself to Moses?  It was not God the Father.  It was God's Word in the burning bush.  It was the Angel of the Lord, Christ himself.  Christ is God's physical revelation of himself to us.  Moses knew Christ.  The Jewish followers through the centuries only knew that God had spoken to Moses.  They had no concept of the Christ who would one day be looked to as the only cure from their deserved damnation.

Finally, Justin describes the welcoming of a new convert.  He believes in Christ and gets baptized into the visible church.  Then the church gets together with a holy kiss, brings out bread and wine, and celebrate Eucharist which is only for those who believe the truth of Christ.  Justin says an interesting thing which corresponds with my view of communion that I believe RC Sproul teaches.  It is "from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished."

Instead of the elements becoming Christ's body and blood, instead, Christ's spirit transmutes our spirits to heaven to partake of his true body which is there and cannot be in more than one place.  We don't bring him down here, but he brings us to him.  Justin Martyr believes what Calvin believed.

The apology ends with three letters from the Roman leaders.  Adrian says that anyone who accuses the Christians should be awarded more severe punishments.  Antoninus declares that he would have thought that the gods themselves would see to it that such offenders should not escape.  If they are so true, then they can defend themselves.  And lastly, Marcus Aurelius affirms that these supposed "atheists have God as their ruling power entrenched in their conscience."  In fact, they prayed for his army to not starve to death and for five days they had rain while the enemies had only hail.  Whether they ultimately accepted Christ or not is unknown, but nobody can deny his Presence.

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