I’m answering a question often asked of me by atheists – What would move a strong atheist to become a strong theist? In my case the answer was evidence for theism, specifically for Christian theism. We started sharing the evidence that can lead an atheist to theism … Continue reading Convince Me There’s A God: The New Testament Part 10
The Christian Church reached a pivotal point as the 3rd century blended into the 4th century. The Great Persecution under Roman Emperor Diocletian and his co-rulers went after Christians with a vengeance. It began in the early part of the 4th century (303 AD) and continued for several years. Their intent was to destroy Christianity.
It is this story of the Great Persecution and its impact on the Christian Church that we now take up in our special series A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists.
We are currently looking at the writings of Origen of Alexandria. While admired by many Christians of his day, some thought him to be a heretic because of his views about the pre-existence of human souls, allegorical interpretation of Scripture, and eventual universal salvation.
In the last part of our series, we looked at Origen’s declarations against heresy and heretics in De Principiis. We will now look at what is believed to be Origen’s most famous writing about heresy – Against Celsus.
Alexandria, Egypt was a major center for Christianity in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Coptic Christians believe that John Mark (author of the Gospel of Mark) was the first to preach the Gospel in Egypt. The Catechetical School of Alexandria was started by Pantaenus toward the end of the 2nd century and many believe it to be the oldest Christian catechetical school. Clement of Alexandria became head of the school after Pantaenus’ death in about 200 AD. One of Clement’s prominent students was Origen.
We are currently looking at the writings of 3rd century Christian apologists. We started with Hippolytus and Clement of Alexandria. We’ve looked at Clement’s Exhortation to the Heathen, To The Newly Baptized, and Paedagogus Books I, II & III.
Before we move to another apologist, let’s see what Clement of Alexandria accomplished in his Stromta series and what a 21st century Christian apologist can learn from him.
We began this series, A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists, 18 months ago for the purpose of emphasizing the importance of reading for apologists –
“Christian apologists must be thinkers. That means they must also be readers. Thinkers read. Readers think. The goal is to become a better thinker for the purpose of becoming a better truth communicator with both Christians and non-Christians. The goal is not to keep what you learn to yourself or amaze your friends with “feats” of knowledge. The goal has not changed since Jesus and His apostles told Christians what to do with the gifts the Lord gave them: 1. glorify God, 2. make disciples (teach them to obey Christ), and 3. equip the saints for their work of ministry for the edifying of the Body of Christ (to name a few).” Reading Plan, June 2016
So far, we have published 23 articles that cover major Christian writings from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries. In our last two articles, we looked at the 3rd century writings of Hippolytus and Clement of Alexandria. We looked at Clement’s Exhortation to the Heathen and Paedagogus (The Instructor), Book I. We now turn to Books II & III.
We are looking at Christian apologists of the 3rd century. In our last study, we looked at Hippolytus of Rome, who is probably best known for writing ten books that refuted heresies of the early part of the 3rd century.
The Egyptian city of Alexandria was an early center of Christianity. Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, who lived during the 3rd and 4th centuries, wrote that John Mark (who wrote the Gospel of Mark) preached the Gospel in Egypt and established churches in Alexandria during the 1st century (Ecclesiastic History, Book II, Chapter 16).
Three prominent Christian apologists in Alexandria during the 3rd century were Clement, Ammonius and Origen. We will look at some of their writings to learn more about what heresies they and other Egyptian Christians faced at that time.