The previous summary of Theophilus may be found here.
Having responded to the accusations of Christians by first noting what the pagans actually espouse, Theophilus turns to what Christians actually believe and espouse. He begins with the law:
Now we also confess that God exists, but that He is one, the creator, and maker, and fashioner of this universe; and we know that all things are arranged by His providence, but by Him alone. And we have learned a holy law; but we have as lawgiver Him who is really God, who teaches us to act righteously, and to be pious, and to do good.
Theophilus of Antioch, “Theophilus to Autolycus,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 113–114. In the following words, he lays out a summary of the Ten Commandments together with a brief summary of the giving of the law.
Next he notes that Christians have an obligation to care for the stranger, “Ye shall not afflict a stranger; for ye know the heart of a stranger: for yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Christians have the need to repent — which is a grace given by God. Christians must live lives of chastity. In these ways, Christians are very counter-cultural; for even those who seem to espouse such tremendous concerns of immigrants don’t really have a record of living among those people. I suspect that for many immigrants are merely a pawn or a weapon in a political calculation.
His summary of the Christian life includes a discussion of righteousness. This section is interesting at the present time as Christians debate the matter of “social justice”. It is interesting to note the ways in which his summary draws on some of the concerns of our time and yet does not follow our current concerns. Since it is timely, I will quote it at length:
Moreover, concerning the righteousness which the law enjoined, confirmatory utterances are found both with the prophets and in the Gospels, because they all spoke inspired by one Spirit of God. Isaiah accordingly spoke thus: “Put away the evil of your doings from your souls; learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” And again the same prophet said: “Loose every band of wickedness, dissolve every oppressive contract, let the oppressed go free, and tear up every unrighteous bond. Deal out thy bread to the hungry, and bring the houseless poor to thy home. When thou seest the naked, cover him, and hide not thyself from thine own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before thee.”1 In like manner also Jeremiah says: “Stand in the ways, and see, and ask which is the good way of the LORD your God, and walk in it and ye shall find rest for your souls. Judge just judgment, for in this is the will of the LORD your God.” So also says Hosea: “Keep judgment, and draw near to your God, who established the heavens and created the earth.” And another, Joel, spoke in agreement with these: “Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children that are in arms; let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet, and pray to the LORD thy God urgently that he may have mercy upon you, and blot out your sins.” In like manner also another, Zachariah: “Thus saith the LORD Almighty, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassion every man to his brother; and oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, nor the stranger; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart, saith the LORD Almighty.”
What I find most interesting in Theophilus’s defense of Christianity on this point is that it does not draw on anything from his culture. While he is engaging his world, he is not using the then-current culture to support his position. It is simply, this is what we are.
And so he summarizes his defense as to what Christians supposedly do and say:
But far be it from Christians to conceive any such deeds; for with them temperance dwells, self-restraint is practised, monogamy is observed, chastity is guarded, iniquity exterminated, sin extirpated, righteousness exercised, law administered, worship performed, God acknowledged: truth governs, grace guards, peace screens them; the holy word guides, wisdom teaches, life directs, God reigns. Therefore, though we have much to say regarding our manner of life, and the ordinances of God, the maker of all creation, we yet consider that we have for the present reminded you of enough to induce you to study these things, especially since you can now read [our writings] for yourself, that as you have been fond of acquiring information, you may still be studious in this direction also.
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