Claiming the high ground

(Book: First Apology, by Justin Martyr, courtesy of The Christian Classics Ethereal Library.)

We’re up to Chapter 27 of Justin’s First Apology, and we find him in fine form today, denouncing the people he’s trying to convince, praising Christians almost to the point of deifying them, and hopping from topic to topic in a way that says more about free association than about organized exposition. He does have a theme, though, and that theme is “Us good, you bad.”

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Justin’s proof

(Book: First Apology, by Justin Martyr, courtesy of The Christian Classics Ethereal Library.)

As I mentioned last week, Justin Martyr apparently never got the memo about how the story of Jesus was supposed to be unique and unlike any of the pagan myths that preceded it. In fact, he’s been using parallels between pagan myths and the Gospel as an argument in favor of the historical authenticity of the latter (!). He continues in the same vein in this week’s installment, and proceeds from there to make a threefold argument for why, despite his own reasoning, Caesar ought to conclude that only the Gospel is true, and that all of the pagan stories it so closely resembles are false.

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Proof of life after death

(Book: First Apology, by Justin Martyr, courtesy of The Christian Classics Ethereal Library.)

At the end of Chapter 17, Justin warned Caesar that someday he was going to be judged by a Christian God and possibly punished for his conduct as Caesar. Having made that thinly veiled threat, he begins Chapter 18 by inviting Caesar to consider those kings who have already died.

For reflect upon the end of each of the preceding kings, how they died the death common to all, which, if it issued in insensibility, would be a godsend to all the wicked.

Justin’s first proof of life after death is an appeal to the fallacy of the consequences. We don’t want the wicked to escape unpunished, therefore they must continue to live on after they die so that God will be able to punish them, Q. E. D. Believe it or not, his argument actually gets worse from there.

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