Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Justin the Martyr

. : Religion : .

In preparing for a discussion that I am leading tonight, I ran across a lot of information on Justin the Martyr. I find this guy to be quite articulate for his time and quite bold.

I read through his apology and got a good sense of 2nd century Christian beliefs. For those of you who are not familiar with him, he lived between 100 and 165 AD. He grew up in the area of Samaria but traveled all over the place. Around 150 AD he wrote to the Emperor and defended Christians from widespread persecution. I found several quotes from him to be fascinating.

This is his response as to why Christians allow themselves to be persecuted by the authorities. I found it to be a great statement of faith.
And concerning our being patient of injuries, and ready to serve all, and free from anger, this is what He said: 'To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other; and him that taketh thy cloak or coat, forbid not. And whosoever shall be angry, is in danger of the fire. And every one that compelleth thee to go with him for a mile, follow him two. And let your good works sine before men, that they, seeing them, may glorify your Father which is in heaven.'

I find this next statement a particularly bold statement in regards to who we worship. He basically says, I will give you everything you ask except my faith and worship.
Whence to God alone we render worship, but in other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging you as kings and rulers of men, and praying that with your kingly power you be found to possess also sound judgment. But if you pay no regard to our prayers and frank explanations, we shall suffer no loss, since we believe (or rather, indeed are persuaded) that every man will suffer punishment in eternal fire according to the merit of his deed, and will render account according to the power he has received from God, as Christ intimated when He said, 'To who God has given more, of him shall more be required.'

And lastly, he describes the 'church services' that he is used to participating in.
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.

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