We do proclaim ourselves atheists as regards those whom you call gods, but not with respect to the Most True God...
... who is alien to all evil and is the Father of justice, temperance, and the other virtues. We revere and worship him and the Son who came forth from him and taught us these things, and also the legion of good angels who attend him and reflect his virtues, and the prophetic Spirit, and we pay homage to them in reason and truth, and pass his doctrine on intact to everyone who wishes to learn it.
You can be sure that we have spoken these things for your benefit, since we, when on trial, can always deny that we are Christians. But we do not desire to live by lying. We are desirous of an eternal and good life; we strive for the abode of God, the Father and Creator of all; we make haste to profess our faith; we believe with firm conviction that they can attain these things who have shown God by their works that they follow him and love to make their home with him where there is no sin to cause disorder. In brief, this is what we look for and what we have learned from Christ and in turn teach to others.
We do not worship with many sacrifices and floral offerings the things men have made, set in temples, and called gods. We know that they are inanimate and lifeless and have not the form of God.
We have learned from tradition that God has no need of the material gifts of men, since we see that he is the Giver of all things. We have been taught, are convinced, and do believe that he approves of only those who imitate his inherent virtues: namely, temperance, justice, love of man, and any other virtue proper to God who is called by no given name. We have also been instructed that God in the beginning created in his goodness everything out of shapeless matter for the sake of men. And if men by their actions prove themselves worthy of his plan, they shall, we are told, be found worthy to make their abode with him and to reign with him, free from all corruption and pain. Just as in the beginning he created us when we were not, so also, we believe, he will consider all those who choose to please him, because of their choice, to be worthy of eternal life in his presence.
Saint Justin the Martyr. "They do not belong to the world." Saint Justin Martyr, The Fathers of the Church. The Catholic University of America Press, 1948.
This work is in the pubic domain.
Saint Justin the Martyr († 165) was a great 2nd-century Church writer and martyr. This text is a defence of the Christian faith against the worship of the Roman gods. [From Saint Justin Martyr, The Fathers of the Church, a new translation, Volume 6. © 1948, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C.Copyright © 1948 The Catholic University of America Press
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