And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity.
(PRWEB) October 02, 2012
Justin Martyr was one of the earliest contenders for the Christian faith. Like so many other Christians at the time, Justin suffered the ultimate punishment: death. Justin Martyr argued with philosophers, cynics, and skeptics wherever he found them. This included even the Roman Senate, the audience Justin had in mind for the two apologies (or, 'defenses') contained in a new edition released by Athanatos Christian Ministries.
Justin sought to set the record straight about what the Christians truly believed in the face of lies, slanders, and misunderstandings that were prevalent throughout the Roman Empire.
One of those misunderstandings included the notion that Christians were actually atheists. It may seem surprising to moderns who generally have some appreciation of basic facts about the Christian religion, but there was a time when Christianity seemed new to people. The Romans, like many cultures, believed in gods of various sorts. Christians not only rejected those gods, when they argued for the existence of God their contentions were so foreign to their pagan audiences that they really believed Christians believed in no gods at all. This led to the charge of atheism.
Justin Martyr replied: "And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity."
In making this argument, Justin Martyr proved that his work was not old and dusty and irrelevant to our present times. In this quote, he anticipates a point made by atheist Stephen F Roberts who said in the 1990s, "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
That this cannot possibly be an accurate assessment is illustrated by the confusion that Justin Martyr was addressing. The 'other possible gods' are not at all the same kind of being that Christians say they believe in. The Romans understood the radical departure Christians were making; many modern atheists do not. Reading classic works like Justin Martyr's Apologies helps modern readers keep perspective and put Christianity's claims in their proper context.
Of course, Justin Martyr isn't content merely to assert that Christians do believe in a being that is fundamentally different than the 'other possible gods' embraced by the Romans. He goes on to explain the difference. In doing so, not only would he answer the charges his contemporaries were lodging, but he unknowingly answered charges that would be made more than a thousand years later.
Justin Martyr left an indelible mark on the history of the Christian Church and influences Christians--and non-Christians--to this very day. If only they would read him.
ACM's new edition of the Apologies of Justin Martyr is available in both print and ebook editions and are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, and the Nook.