Dec 10, 2012

Apologists of the Early Church

95-600 AD is time frame in the ancient church for the Apostolic Fathers and the Apologists.
some of the reasons why the Apologists wrote:
t
he apologists wanted to persuadepeople to become Christians or at the very least to present Chrsitianity as an acceptable and sensible religion to the people of their day. They were writing in a time of either potential or actual persecution and they wanted to ease the attacks. To do this, they would try to show that Christianity was not bad or subversive in the ways the mob and politicians often thought. This task involved them dispelling common myths about Christian faith and practice. Some of these charges included atheism, cannibalism, and incest. Furthermore, the apologists would often tried to appeal to the intellectuals by utilizing (and often overemphasizing) things they saw as “common ground”. Sometimes this makes them look “compromised” or “sub-biblical” to us – and sometimes they indeed were these things!  
Three apologists and their contributions:-ATHENAGORAS OF ATHENS, ca. 177 AD
Wrote Supplication for the Christians, where he rebuts the charges of atheism, cannibalism, and incest against the Christians. He also wrote On the Resurrection of the Dead. The dead being physically raised was an absurd idea to the pagans of his idea and in this work, he attempted to show that this belief is not illogical or even impossible. Athenagoras was commendable in that he avoided subordinationism, affirmed the deity of the Holy Spirit, and developed the doctrine of the Trinity
THEOPHOLIUS OF ANTIOCH, ca. 180 AD
A convert from paganism. In one of his works, he defended Christianity against the charges of his pagan friend.  He expounded upon the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture, calling it the “Holy Word of God”. This is one of his most important contributions. Further, he used the seminal word triad (a collection of three objects) in regards to the nature of God.
MELITO OF SARDIS, ca. 170 AD
Wrote an apology, which we have a few parts of, as well as a sermon on the passion of Christ, which includes a typology based on the Exodus in the Old Testament. Melito asserted the full divinity of Christ, including his preexistence. He recognized that Jesus was God incarnate and yet fully man – the God-Man. Another contribution he made was his fairly robust doctrine of original sin.
The Main features of the theology of Justin Martyr:
Justin believed in engaging the culture. He wrote to the emperor of his day to explain, defend and justify Christianity. One of Justin’s methods in evangelism was an emphasis on contextualization, sometimes to mixed results. He wore the pallium (classic garb of a Greek philosopher) even after his conversion and touted Christianity as the one true philosophy.
Justin tried to bring together Greek philosophy and biblical ideas. One key example of this marriage was his idea of Christ the Logos, in which he took the common Greek idea of logos and applied it to Jesus. He did affirm that Jesus was completely divine as well as completely human.
Justin viewed the Old Testament as a fully Christian book. He saw the New Testament church as the New Israel. He saw the Old Testament chock full of prophecies regarding the Messiah. These ideas can be found in much of his writing but especially in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew.
One thing “odd” to us now was Justin’s focus on demonology. Christians of his day were not as tepid regarding such issues and spoke of demons a lot; well, at least more often than most of us are probably accustomed to in our era. Lastly, Justin’s anthropology provides the framework for Pelagianism and later on Arminianism, in that he believed men have complete and free independence of will.

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