Justin: philosopher and martyr

Today is the memorial of Saint Justin Martyr, According to Universalis:

Justin treats the Greek philosophy that he studied as mostly true, but incomplete. […] When we dispute with people who disagree with us, we would do well to assume that they too are seeking wisdom and have found truth of a kind. Since there is only one God and one Truth, it is our task not to contradict or belittle their achievement, but to show them how their strivings and searches are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. 

Sounds like my kind of saint. I’m not sure Justin would have had much time for the shrill culture warriors of today, with their debate-closing cries of ‘militant atheist!’ and ‘aggressive secularist!’  We need new Justins for the 21st century: Christian apologists who (like Saint Paul on the Areopagus) will treat their opponents’ opinions with respect and (if I dare quote the Italian Marxist Gramsci in this context) will seek to identify the ‘good sense’ in their ‘common sense’.


Saint Justin Martyr

Justin was martyred in 165. The description of the Eucharist in his ‘First Apology’ is a useful riposte to those who persist in viewing Catholic sacramentalism as a corrupt departure from early Christian practice:

And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. 


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