I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Philip Schaff on the works of the Patristic Apologists

The Christian apology [i.e., vindication of Christianity] against non-Christian opponents, and the controversial efforts against Christian errorists, are the two oldest branches of theological science...

Their first object was to soften the temper of the authorities and people towards Christianity and its professors by refuting the charges against them...

Yet the chief service of this literature was to strengthen believers and to advance theological knowledge. It brought the church to a deeper and clearer sense of the peculiar nature of the Christian religion, and prepared her thenceforth to vindicate it before the tribunal of reason and philosophy; whilst Judaism and heathenism proved themselves powerless in the combat, and were driven to the weapons of falsehood and vituperation. The sophisms and mockeries of a Celsus and a Lucian have none but historical interest; the Apologies of Justin and the Apologeticus of Tertullian, rich with indestructible truth and glowing piety, are read with pleasure and edification to this day.

The apologists do not confine themselves to the defensive, but carry the war aggressively into the territory of Judaism and heathenism. They complete their work by positively demonstrating that Christianity is the divine religion, and the only true religion for all mankind.

History of the Christian Church, vol. II, pp. 105—07.

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