The following arguments were commonly used against Christianity:
- Jesus could not have been divine
with secret teachings,
- Christianity is suspicious (Eucharist, the Holy Spirit, etc.)
- How can God be “eternal” and be known?
It is important to understand that intellectual criticism of the Christian faith and doctrine was not uncommon in the second century. This is important for many reasons, but here are two:
- Christianity has always had critics. What we see and hear leveled against the faith is not new – believers before us had to find answers against critics and so does the contemporary church.
- The answers we find to the objections clearly indicate that the primary doctrines of the faith were well established before the NT took its final form. Those who argue that the faith being taught in the 21st century is somehow different from what the earliest believers held is simply not true. The virgin birth, the physical resurrection, the divinity of Jesus – we find the same cardinal doctrines of faith in early second century Christianity.
This consistent criticism of the faith gave rise to another special group of Christian writers, the Apologists. These writers argued for the faith, and in the process allowed Christians for all ages to know what the second century church believed. The first two men (Justin Martyr and Irenaeus of Lyons) are clearly second century; the influence of the two other men (Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria) was mainly felt in the third century and beyond, but they are both considered apologists.
Early Church Apologists