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Church History

Intellectual and Religious Cultural Influences on Early Christianity

As Christianity continued to spread throughout the ancient world its adherents were both influenced and challenged by religious and philosophical ideas such as astrology, Stoicism, Neo-Platonism and Gnosticism. Sometimes Christian apologists tried to reconcile these various ideas into a unified whole, while at others they challenged their influence, refuting some ideas as heretical.

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Apologetics in the Early Church

As the early Christians interacted with faiths differing from their own they began to develop apologies to explain their religious convictions and to persuade their readers of the validity of their newfound faith. Rather than beginning from a totally alien proposition, the two apologists that we have read, Mathetes, or the “disciple” ("mathetes"), and Justin Martyr, attempted to identify points of contact between their own faith and those of their readers. Among their claims are an assurance that Christians are much like their non-Christian neighbors in matters of culture and custom, appeals to reason, and acknowledgement of the accomplishments of the Greek philosophers and historians.

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