Pagans Conflicting With Christian Philosophers

There were many pagan writers and philosophers that criticized the Christian religion one of the criticisms that the pagan polemicist leveled at the the mystical christ was the fact that they were not interested in politics. Pagans of the day were politically minded and the affairs of state were of great importance. However the Christians were primarily concerned with devotion to Jesus Christ, His teachings, their beliefs and were overall religiously minded. This was a point of contention brought up by Celsus one of the pagan polemicist.

Celsus wanted the Christians to enter into service of the state and join the army and also work in administrative positions, however Origen answered that the prayers to their God was enough as they would pray for peace, prosperity and success of the Roman Empire.

Another criticism aimed at the Christians was that they did not revere ancient gods of the Roman state and thus Christians damaged the power of the Roman state. Caecilius was a skeptic however he accepted and followed the states religions simply in case they were true and he found a measure of security in them. He writes that it is better to accept the teachings of our elders as the priests of the truth, to maintain the religions handed down to us; to adore the gods, whom from cradle you were taught to fear.

Christians did not participate in rituals and worship of the gods and this was seen as a crime of impiety on part of the Christians. Pagan writers would criticize the Christians because they refused to sacrifice to the state gods and thus were atheists and committing treason to the Roman state, one of the Christians apologists Athenagoras’ response to this was that the Framer and Father of this universe did not need blood or the odour of burnt offerings.

It seems to be a common complaint of the pagan writers that the Christians apostasy of refusing to sacrifice and to partake in the pagan rituals was resulting in problems and the evils within the Roman Empire because the gods’ were angry with this Christian sect. A Christian apologist by the name of Arnobius defends this charge well, when he states that since Jesus had brought much benefit because wars had become fewer in number since Jesus had appeared. Eusebius also said that since Jesus had appeared, Roman rule had been stabilized and the establishment of the Pax Romana. Another rebuttal presented by the Christian apologists in response to Christians causing Rome to end up being over run by barbarians was that many misfortunes had occurred against Rome before Christianity had existed, Orosius wrote Historia contra paganos, which outlined all the misfortunes and disasters Rome had endured before Christianity.

Another criticism brought against Christians was that they were unprofitable for business and Tertullian a Christian apologist answered that Christians sailed ships as well as the pagans did, that they went to war, that Christian’s art was the same and that Christians labour is open to the pagan’s service.

There were two types of apologists, ones that simply made fun of the pagan mythology and mainly attacked the weak spots of pagan myth. Their main response to pagan arguments was counter arguments. Then other apologists categorized as greater apologists would present a positive thesis, arguing fundamental questions and to end up with an independent understanding of them.

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