The Early Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasuis

The Early Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasuis

The Early Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasuis

The Early Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasuis

Synopsis

The authors represented in the volume, first published in 1956, are the principal writers of the Church in the Roman Empire from the period immediately after the New Testament down to the age of Constantine and the Council of Nicaea (AD 325). Mr Bettenson has selected a range of passages to display as fully as possible the thought of the early Fathers, especially on the great doctrinal themes, with brief annotation where necessary.

Excerpt

Martyred c. 165.--EDITION: Apologies, A. W. F. Blunt (Cam bridge Patristic Texts, 1911).

The Defence and Explanation of Christian Faith and Practice

(a) Heathen Gods are Demons

This is the truth of the matter. In days of old evil spirits appeared in various guises and defiled women and corrupted boys, and made a show of such horrors that those who did not judge actions by the light of reason were struck with amazement. Such men were seized with dread and failed to understand that they were wicked spirits: instead they called them gods and addressed them all by the titles which each demon bestowed on himself. When Socrates tried to bring these matters to the light and to rescue mankind from those demons by the critical application of sound reasoning, then those very demons used the agency of man who delighted in wickedness to secure his execution for atheism and impiety, alleging that he was introducing novel supernatural powers. They are active against us on just the same lines. For not only was the truth of those matters established by Socrates among the Greeks by the application of reason (logos), but also among the barbarians by the Word (logos) himself who took the form and was made man, and received the name of Jesus Christ. Taught by him, we aver that these demons are not only not good, but wicked and unholy demons whose actions are inferior to those of mere men who set their hearts on virtue. Apologia I, v

(b) The God whom Christians Worship

Thus we are called atheists. And we admit that in respect of such supposed gods as those we are atheists: but not in regard to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and moderation and the other virtues, the God who is without a trace of evil. Him we worship and adore, and his Son, who came from him and taught us of these things, and the host of other good angels who attend on God and are of god-like nature, and the Spirit of prophecy. These we worship with reason and truth. Ibid. vi . . .

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