- Paperback: 56 pages
- Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (June 17, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1419162306
- ISBN-13: 978-1419162305
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,110,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The First Apology Of Justin
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Donaldson and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin
Martyr and Irenaeus.Vol. 1 of Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Writings of the Fathers
Down to A.D. 325. New York: Cosimo, 2007.
At first glance an apologetic book (a treatise of defense of Christianity) would not be a missions book, but Justin's Apology gives a glimpse into a historical time period of Christian persecution as well as has serious implications for Christian missions. Justin's book is a defense against the injustice that Christians are experiencing at that time, largely due to their association with the name Christian. Therefore, it is a call for Antoninus to stop these persecutions.
Christians are being unjustly condemned and even charged with atheism and treason, the equivalent of modern date hate speech. Justin, however, points out that Christians above all are good moral people and that all of the elements of Christianity are widely accepted in other forms of cultural mythology. Justin says that Christian beliefs are to be found even in heathen religions; however, the clearer form of those beliefs is evidenced in Christianity. As propaganda circulated in the first century AD about Christians as being cannibals and committing incest, Justin also has to counter those accusations. Justin's apologetic work raises several cross-cultural issues that relate to missions today.
First, Justin's claim that Christians demand a higher moral standard than most is at question in modern missiological circles. His claim is based on the evidence of morality prevalent in the lives of those who adhere to the faith. From a modern western perspective, Christian missions has to constantly readdress the issue of morality. The role missions plays in seeking out justice for the oppressed, liberating those in chains, and demanding a moral standard for society has been infused into the cultural mandate. Justin, it seems, would have had no problem with addressing these modern issues.
Second, his interaction with a pluralistic or even polytheistic society is still representative of the missions endeavors of some Christian workers today. Justin plainly labeled these indigenous gods as "demons" (p. 164). He frankly commented that "in obedience to Him, we not only deny that they who did such things as these are gods, but assert that they are wicked and impious demons, whose actions will not bear comparison with those even of men desirous of virtue" (p. 164). This brings to light our modern missionary methods of pluralist interaction and interfaith dialogue. Perhaps we have become too uncomfortable in naming false gods and demonic spirits at ecumenical tables. Justin clearly would not have been shy about that.
Third, the missions mandate of Christians is evidenced in his statement that not only proper legal defense but Christian duty demands verbal witness. For Justin, "it is our task, therefore, to afford to all an opportunity of inspecting our life and teachings, lest, on account of those who are accustomed to be ignorant of our affairs, we should incur the penalty due to them for mental blindness" (p. 163). He believed that missions should occur naturally as an outgrowth of the Christian life. Failure to be intentionally missional is to participate in the spread of ignorance about Christ and his followers.
Perhaps Justin's apologetic work has more to say to us in the area of contextualization than it may seem at first glance. The church's mission is more than a historical activity of spreading the gospel. In a much larger way, missions should involve the outworking of the gospel in every aspect of Christian life.
More reviews can be found at buckburch(dot)blogspot(dot)com.