Early Christian tensions with Hellenistic philosophy. Questions for Discussion: Lesson 4A – Chapter Three “The Apologists Defend the Faith” from The Story of Christian Theology by Roger Olson
- What caused the conflict early in church history over the extent to which Christian theologians should adapt Hellenistic philosophical concepts to help communicate the gospel message?
- Who were the leading voices on opposing sides of this debate and what were their essential positions?
- How did Philo, a Jewish philosopher, influence Christian theologians?
- What were the second century Christian apologists’ responses to Platonism and Stoicism? Specifically, what was Justin’s Martyr’s response to these philosophies?
- How did Justin Martyr employ The Logos of God concept in developing his theology?
- Christians were often charged with atheism, an accusation that Athenagoras addressed in his Plea for Christians. How did he defend the Christian faith against this charge?
- Creatio ex nihilo: What does this Latin phrase mean and who contributed this to our Christian vocabulary of theological concepts? What function did creatio ex nihilo serve in developing early Christian theology?
- How would you summarize the contribution of the second century apologists?
See Lesson 4B for Correlated Readings
Selections from Justin Martyr’s First Apology, Athenagoras’ A Plea for the Christians, and Theophilus’ Theophilus to Autolycus
Bible Verses for Reflection