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

  1. 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?
  2. Who were the leading voices on opposing sides of this debate and what were their essential positions?
  3. How did Philo, a Jewish philosopher, influence Christian theologians?
  4. What were the second century Christian apologists’ responses to Platonism and Stoicism? Specifically, what was Justin’s Martyr’s response to these philosophies?
  5. How did Justin Martyr employ The Logos of God concept in developing his theology?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  8. 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


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