The First Apologists and Why They Still Matter
The importance of learning from the Church of the first two centuries
By Misty Callahan
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, once said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Here it is, 2017 and his words still ring true. While modern Christians may face some challenges that are unique to our age, I’ve learned that a great many more are not. From the accusation that Christians are “intolerant haters” to the insult of being “ignorant” for “believing such foolishness”, many Christians are learning that the first and second century Church Fathers have already navigated similarly choppy waters and there is much we can learn from them.
An Introduction To The Past
A couple months back I was attending a lecture for the C. S. Lewis Institute’s Fellows Program where Dr. Tim McGrew was speaking on the topic of apologetics. He suggested that modern Christians would do well to study the early Church Fathers and learn from their example on how they engaged with the culture of their day because the parallels between now and then were stunning.
This intrigued me because as a self-proclaimed “history nerd”, it was the historicity of the eyewitness accounts found in the gospels that eventually led me to believe that the resurrection was the best explanation for those events. I committed my life to Christ and ultimately, started down the path to seek out more knowledge which plunged me into the world of apologetics.
Recently, Dr. McGrew suggested that I read a book called “Testimonies of Heathen and Christian Writers of the first two centuries” by Rev. Thomas Browne. The book is a simple collection of letters from Taticus to Tertullian and many in between. Reading the translated letters from both Christians and non-Christians in first two centuries has been a complete eye-opener!
Parallels found between what the Christians in the first two centuries faced and what we face today are striking. Which is why we need to begin to rediscover our roots and learn from the wisdom of the early Church Fathers…
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