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Orthodox Apologetic Theology - I.M. Andreev - Bp. Alexander

Orthodox Apologetic Theology - I.M. Andreev - Bp. Alexander

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Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
2
1. A short historical review of Apologetic works.
R
eligious delusions (paganism, pantheism, atheism, etc.) appear in the history of mankind justas early as other delusions (scientific, philosophic, political, etc.). We find refutations of them inprofound antiquity. For instance, in the book 
Wisdom of Solomon
, there are elements of cosmo-logical proofs of the existence of God, and a historical refutation of the falsity of idol worship. Ingeneral, the Bible concerned itself very little with questions of proof of the existence of Godsince in biblical times very few doubted the existence of God. Belief in God then was so clearand strong that every doubt in His existence seemed simply lunatic or another form of psychicabnormality and irrationality.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God 
(Ps. 13:1). Ancient Greek philosophy,mainly in the persons of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, contributed much that is valuable for de-fending the foundations of religious beliefs and for criticizing atheistic and materialistic teach-ings.Our Lord Jesus Christ, in view of the supernatural signs and miracles performed by Him,
had no need 
to turn to so-called scientific and philosophical proofs to corroborate His teachings.For that time, faith alone was enough. Faith was summarized in a heartfelt reception of thatwhich the extraordinary Teacher spoke about.What could Chr
ist‘s answer be to Pilate‘s question:
What is truth?
When He Himself 
 — 
 Truth incarnate
 — 
 
(I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life)
stood before the questioner?The Apostles and early Christians preached Christ crucified and resurrected as a veritablefact, and were not in need of any scientific and philosophical structures and dialectical subtleties.And preachers themselves, in the name of Christ, performed miracles through their faith. At first,Christianity was accepted only through faith, and only later did faith itself become an object of reflection.Appearing in a Judeo-pagan world, Christianity, in defending itself from attack, wasforced to disclose the delusions of the pagans and Hebrews. It was necessary to prove to the pa-gans that the Christian God is the true God; and to the Hebrews that Christ is the Messiah prom-ised by the prophets. In answer to the persecutions of the governing powers, the Christians had torefute defamation and prove that they not only were not injurious to the government, but on thecontrary, were very useful, in consequence of the high moral basis of the new teaching. This ex-plains the character of early Christian Apologetics.The most ancient Christian Apologetic belongs to Quadratus (written to the Roman Em-peror Hadrian in 126 A.D.) The historian Eusebius cites a fragment on it in which Quadratuswitnesses that some of those resurrected by Christ lived up to his own day.Since Christianity was being accepted not only by ordinary and unlettered people, but al-so by people highly educated in philosophy and acquainted with all of the Hellenistic wisdom,the latter most naturally began to defend the new Christian truths in the light of rationalistic, phi-losophical achievements of honorable, worldly knowledge. In answer to the criticism of Chris-tianity by the pagan savants and philosophers Flavious Arrianus (+96 A.D.), Lucian of Samasata
 
Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
3(120-200 A.D.), Celsus (2
nd
century), and later the Neoplatonists Porphyrious (233-304), Philo-stratus (+217), Hierocles (+305) and others, Christianity put forth remarkable apologists fromamong former pagan philosophers and savants who had accepted Christianity. Among them weresuch as Apollos (mentioned by Apostle Paul), Justin the Philosopher (100-165), his pupil Tatian,Quadratus (mentioned above as the first apologist), Aristides, (the full text of whose apology wasfound by Randall Harrison in 1889), the philosopher Athenagoras, then Pantaenus (formerly aStoic philosopher), Clement of Alexandria and others.In the struggle between the young Christian idea and the age old pagan philosophy, anurgent need became apparent: to show forth Christianity as a coherent system of thought or phi-losophy with a reasonable argumentation which could be contrasted to and could respond to pa-gan philosophical systems. In connection with this, a new problem appeared. It was necessary todecide in principle the question of the relationship of intellect to faith and philosophy to Chris-tianity, in order to resolve the perplexing questions which were arising concerning the properplace of science in regard to Christian faith. The appearance of new heresies also suggested thesame problem. In view of this, some Fathers and teachers of the Church began to deem it neces-sary to reveal the dogmas of faith with the help of logical methods and to fashion them into asystem, setting up against the false gnosticism of heretical schools the true gnosticism of theChristian Church. These teachers of the Church gave a wide scope to their intellect in investigat-ing and defining the dogmas of faith. Other teachers and church writers, believing the cause of 
heresy to lie in the heretics‘ faulty understanding of the role of human intellect and therefore in
their improper application of it to Christian dogmas, endeavored to expound Church teachingusing only Revelation as a basis.The main defender of intellect and philosophy was the so-called Alexandrian School. InAlexandria, that center of learning, with its schools and institutes of learning eclipsing famousAthens, the Christian Church for the first time mastered school learning and took advantage of philosophy for the service of faith. Working here were philosophers who had turned to Christian-ity, among whom was Clement of Alexandria. Clement, in a definitive manner, solved the ques-tion of the relationship between Christianity and philosophy, faith and science, in terms of a fullrecognition of the participation of honorable intellect in matters of faith. According to Clement,there is no knowledge without faith, and no faith without knowledge. He contended for the in-dispensability of a faith revealed by learning and supplied with possible proofs, and for an inter-nal bond of faith and knowledge.Knowledge obedient to faith, and faith strengthened by knowledge, both accompanyingeach other, comprise a beneficial accord between themselves. Knowledge succeeds faith; it doesnot precede it. Clement of Alexandria, the first to attempt to prove Christian theology throughknowledge and philosophy, can be called the ancestor of Apologetics as a science.The same thoughts about the benefits of science and the participation of intellect in mat-ters of faith were also spread by Origen, a pupil of Clement. The thesis of Origen,
On First Prin-ciples
, was the first attempt to create a theological system in which the dogmas of faith arelinked, argued, and elucidated by general thought.A sharp contrast to the Alexandrian school was presented by the North-African school.The most characteristic representation of it was a Carthagenian priest, Tertullian. He sharply de-nied all that Clement and Origen affirmed. Having accepted Christianity at a mature age, he gavehimself to it with the passion of his ardent nature
 — 
to fanaticism. Tertullian completely deniedthe importance of the intellect in uncovering the do
gmas of faith. In his opinion, ―heresy is thedaughter of philosophy.‖ ―Believing in Jesus Christ and the Gospel, we have no need to believe

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