Athenagoras wrote the apology “A Plea for the Christians” in order to defend Christianity from all the defamations and calumnies Christians were being accused to do. He directed this apology to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus and asked for a fair judging and the understanding of the unjust Christian persecution.
Athenagoras discussed many topics in “A Plea for the Christians.” However, he argued about the three most important accusations Christians were being judged by the pagans. Christians were being accused of being atheists and of committing incest and cannibalism. Athenagoras did an excellent job in his apology demonstrating that not only all the accusations were false but also that Christians were better people than the pagans.
When he defended Christians against the claims that they were atheists, he compared how other people idolized many gods and deities and how “among every nation and people, men offer whatever sacrifices and celebrate whatever mysteries they please.” Nonetheless, Christians, who were pious people, were being persecuted because they believed in a religion that “acknowledges one God, the Maker of this universe, who is Himself uncreated” and has made heaven and earth. He used the name of many philosophers such as Aristotles and Plato among others, and the name of prophets like Moses and Isaiah to defend his “notion of God to unity.” He defends that Christians worship “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” but that these three Gods were one God in unity that did not need any type of sacrifices because he did “not need blood, nor the odor of burnt-offerings, nor the fragrance of flowers and incense, forasmuch as He is Himself perfect fragrance, needing nothing either within or without.”
When Athenagoras defended Christians of incest, he quoted Matthew 5:28 when Jesus said: “he that looks on a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery already in his heart.” He continued that...
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