Justin Martyr

Theology Thursday - Christians Aren't Atheists!

Justin was a Christian apologist who wrote in the mid-second century. He wrote his First Apology to the Roman Emperor “in behalf of those of all nations who are unjustly hated and wantonly abused, myself being one of them.”1 Justin eventually suffered martyrdom, according to Eusebius, at the hands of Crescens, a Stoic philosopher and apparent blackguard of the vilest sort. Eusebius remarked that, “After Justin had frequently refuted him in public discussions he won by his martyrdom the prize of victory, dying in behalf of the truth which he preached.”2

In this excerpt,3 Justin defends the faith against the pagan slur that Christians were atheists:

Chapter 5: Christians Charged with Atheism

Why, then, should this be? In our case, who pledge ourselves to do no wickedness, nor to hold these atheistic opinions, you do not examine the charges made against us; but, yielding to unreasoning passion, and to the instigation of evil demons, you punish us without consideration or judgment.

For the truth shall be spoken; since of old these evil demons, effecting apparitions of themselves, both defiled women and corrupted boys, and showed such fearful sights to men, that those who did not use their reason in judging of the actions that were done, were struck with terror; and being carried away by fear, and not knowing that these were demons, they called them gods, and gave to each the name which each of the demons chose for himself.

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