Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Reformation. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 1. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Ch. 7, “The Defense of the Faith.” Loc. 1125-1319
Gonzalez reminds the reader that through most of the second century and into the third persecution of Christians was not widespread. Yet an accusation could prove lethal. To ward off accusations, “Christians felt the need to refute rumors and misconceptions regarding their beliefs and practices (Gonzalez 2010, Loc 11130). The people who defended the faith were known as apologists. They would attempt to explain the facets of Christianity which, if misunderstood, would cause offense (Ibid, Loc. 1136). Gonzalez describes several potential misunderstandings. Additionally, there was hostility based in class prejudice which could bring intellectual attacks against the Christians (Ibid., Loc. 1155). Christian apologists wrote treatises to refute these arguments (Ibid., Loc. 1201). Most notable is Justin, also known as Justin Martyr (Ibid., Loc. 1203), but we also have examples from Tatian, Athenagoras, and Theophilus, along with the later Origen. Gonzalez also mentions the Latin works Octavius by Minucius Felix and Apology by Tertullian. The apologists made sharp contrasts between Christian and Pagan ideas (Ibid., Loc. 1215), especially noting their thoughtful withdrawal from many civil ceremonies. There was some disagreement in their view of the value of pagan literature (Ibid., Loc. 1221). While Tertullian rejected pagan learning, Tatian affirmed that the pagans would not have learning except for the knowledge base of the Hebrews (Ibid., Loc. 1241). Justin Martyr deliberately sought out points of contact between classical and Christian culture, pointing from those points to the hope we find in Christ (Ibid., Loc. 1252). Gonzalez views this as a very important step in the apologetic task, though it still required the Christians to make a compelling case for the positive Christian doctrines (Ibid., Loc. 1276). He then gives examples of some of the arguments which were used to accomplish this task.