Monday, January 26, 2015

Cyprian on Christian Repentance in 250CE

But I wonder that some are so obstinate as to think that repentance is not to be granted to the lapsed, or to suppose that pardon is to be denied to the penitent, when it is written, “Remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works,” which certainly is said to him who evidently has fallen, and whom the Lord exhorts to rise up again by his works, because it is written, “Alms do deliver from death,” and not, assuredly, from that death which once the blood of Christ extinguished, and from which the saving grace of baptism and of our Redeemer has delivered us, but from that which subsequently creeps in through sins.

Moreover, in another place time is granted for repentance; and the Lord threatens him that does not repent: “I have,” He says, “many things against you, because you tolerate your wife Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols; and I gave her a space to repent, and she will not repent of her fornication. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds;” whom certainly the Lord would not exhort to repentance, if it were not that He promises mercy to them that repent.

And in the Gospel He says, “I say to you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety nine just persons that need no repentance.” For since it is written, “God did not make death, neither has He pleasure in the destruction of the living,” surely He who wills that none should perish desires that sinners should repent, and by repentance should return again to life.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Justin Martyr on the Origin of Demons in 160CE

God, when He had made the whole world, and subjected things earthly to man, and arranged the heavenly elements for the increase of fruits and rotation of the seasons, and appointed this divine law—for these things also He evidently made for man—committed the care of men and of all things under heaven to angels whom He appointed over them. But the angels transgressed this appointment, and were captivated by love of women, and begat children who are those that are called demons; and besides, they afterwards subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and the punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they were enslaved by lustful passions; and among men they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness.

Whence also the poets and mythologists, not knowing that it was the angels and those demons who had been begotten by them that did these things to men, and women, and cities, and nations, which they related, ascribed them to god himself, and to those who were accounted to be his very offspring, and to the offspring of those who were called his brothers, Neptune and Pluto, and to the children again of these their offspring. For whatever name each of the angels had given to himself and his children, by that name they called them. …

But “Jesus,” His name as man and Savior, has also significance. For He was made man also, as we before said, having been conceived according to the will of God the Father, for the sake of believing men, and for the destruction of the demons. And now you can learn this from what is under your own observation. For numberless demoniacs throughout the whole world, and in your city, many of our Christian men exorcising them in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, have healed and do heal, rendering helpless and driving the possessing devils out of the men, though they could not be cured by all the other exorcists, and those who used incantations and drugs.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Letter to Diognetus on the Divinity of Jesus in 125-200CE

The Almighty Himself, the Creator of the universe, the God whom no eye can discern has sent down His very own Truth from heaven, His own holy incomprehensible Word, to plant it among men and ground it in their hearts. To this end He has not, as one might imagine, sent to mankind some servant of His, some angel or prince; it is none of the great ones of the earth, nor even one of the vice-gerents of heaven. … Ordainer, Disposer, and Ruler of all things is He; of heaven and all that heaven holds, of earth and all that is in earth, of sea and every creature therein; of fires, ether, and bottomless pit; of things above, and things below, and things in the midst. Such was the Messenger God sent to men.

And was His coming, as a man might suppose, in power, in terror, and in dread? Not so; it was in gentleness and humility. As a king sending his royal son, so sent He Him; as God He sent Him; as Man to men He sent Him; and that because He was pleased to save us by persuasion, and not by compulsion – for there is no compulsion found with God. His mission was no pursuit of hounding of us, it was an invitation to us, it was in love, not in judgment that He sent Him (though one day He will indeed sent Him to judge us, and then who shall abide the day of His coming?). ... 

He bore with us, and in pity He took our sins upon Himself and gave His own Son as a ransom for us – the Holy for the wicked, the Sinless for sinners, the Just for the unjust, the Incorrupt for the corrupt, the Immortal for the mortal. For was there, indeed, anything except His righteousness that could have availed to cover our sins? In whom could we, in our lawlessness and ungodliness, have been made holy, but in the Son of God alone?

O sweet exchange! O unsearchable working! O benefits unhoped for! – that the wickedness of multitudes should thus be hidden in the One holy, and the holiness of One should sanctify the countless wicked! … He reveals to us a Savior who has the power to save even the powerless. The purpose behind both of these acts is that we should believe in His goodness, and should look on Him as our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, Wisdom, Light, Honor, Glory, Power, and Life, and have no anxiety about our clothing or our food. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tatian on Astrology in 160CE

Such are the demons; these are they who laid down the doctrine of Fate. Their fundamental principle was the placing of animals in the heavens. For the creeping things on the earth, and those that swim in the waters, and the quadrupeds on the mountains, with which they lived when expelled from heaven — these they dignified with celestial honor, in order that they might themselves be thought to remain in heaven, and, by placing the constellations there, might make to appear rational the irrational course of life on earth. …

But we are superior to Fate, and instead of wandering demons, we have learned to know one Lord who wanders not; and, as we do not follow the guidance of Fate, we reject its lawgivers. … Let them have their Fate! I am not willing to adore wandering stars. … Why have you robbed God? …

Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it. Live to God, and by apprehending Him lay aside your old nature. We were not created to die, but we die by our own fault. Our free-will has destroyed us; we who were free have become slaves; we have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God; we ourselves have manifested wickedness; but we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it.