(Book: First Apology, by Justin Martyr, courtesy of The Christian Classics Ethereal Library.)
Back when my wife and I were looking for a new house, we found a place that seemed rather nice, on a large rural property, for a fairly reasonable price. We were interested enough to have a home inspector come out and take a look at it, and were shocked by the report: while it was obviously older and a little run down, it looked like a pretty good house. Underneath, though, there were termites and dry rot and a whole bunch of nasty stuff. Needless to say, we looked elsewhere.
Justin Martyr seems to be giving us the same sort of insights into the origins of the Christian faith. From his privileged vantage point in the early days of the church, he’s shining the light of history on the foundations of Christian doctrine, and exposing its weaknesses. There’s a pattern to the prophecies the early Christians built their faith on, and the fulfilments they saw for these prophecies. Unfortunately, the pattern is that they’re taking any passage they can find, ripping it completely out of context, and then applying it by sheer free association without regard for accuracy or even common sense. In other words, it’s simply bullshit.
Now, one or two far-fetched and out-of-context “fulfilments” might be an accident, or simple carelessness. Justin, however, is making these bogus “miracles” the whole focus of his argument before Caesar. And it’s not just one or two instances of a misquoted scripture. As we’ll see today, virtually all of the prophetic “proofs” used by Justin and others follow the same pattern of misquotation, misinterpretation, and misapplication.