Digital Persecution and A Look at Early Christian Apologetics
by Pat Vincent
I know “Second Century Apologetics” seems like a pretty boring subject, but trust me, it is really just a mirror to our present day struggle with explaining and defending our faith to a society that doesn’t understand it. Give it a chance and you will see that not much has changed in 2,000 years.
Description of Christian Apologetics in the Second Century
I believe Christian Apologetics in the second century can be summed up in one word: proactive. They met the opposition head-on and without shame. I fear the boldness these early pioneers displayed has been largely lost in the sea of PC-ness that saturates our modern society. Whereas in our times, it seems Christians are reactive, in the second century, they were proactive. They directly confronted detractors instead of cowering or pandering to them.
Accusations Against Christians
The accusations against Christians were somewhat of their own making. For instance, one of the charges brought against them was their aloofness. They kept to themselves and were therefore seen as secretive, mysterious, and cultish. Since people fear what they do not understand, terrible misunderstandings and rumors circulated. Christians called each other, “Brothers and Sisters.” Therefore, rumors circulated that they were incestuous. The Eucharist involves “the body and blood of Christ.” Therefore, outsiders thought the Christians were literally cannibals. Another claim was that the Christians were atheists! Since the Greeks and Romans believed in many gods and Christians would not honor these gods with sacrifices or tithes, they were deemed, atheist. These all seem pretty ridiculous today, but in the second century many Christians were martyred over such trivial misunderstandings. They needed a good PR person! Or a Community Outreach Program to inform the public of their ways! Continuing to stay away from society did not help their cause.
Response of Second Century Apologists
Apologists like Justin Marty responded by trying to show how moral Christians were rather than immoral as had been suggested. By lifting the veil (so to speak) of secrecy, Justin sought to inform those who were misinformed. He made the plea so often heard today…
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