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Author Topic: How did the Apostles/disciples evangelize in early Christianity?  (Read 1142 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: July 28, 2011, 04:31:08 PM »

I'm curious as to how the apostles/disciples/missonaries etc were able to convert people into Christianity. How exactly did they persuade people to accept that Christ rose from the dead without concrete proof of the event?

Just curious, sorry if this a really dumb question.
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2011, 04:55:39 PM »

So far as I've read, for a Jewish audience it was all about checking Christian claims against what the Old Testament said (and specifically what prophecy said). An example of this would be the Bereans (Acts 17:10-12), but even Jesus told people to "search the Scriptures" (Jn. 5:39) to verify what he was saying. With the non-Jews I suppose it was a bit more difficult. One passage that comes to mind is the story about Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17), where he seemed to try to reach out to where they were, and then draw them towards Christianity based on what they were familiar with. Or put another way, he took the stuff that they had got right, and then show them how that led to Christ and Christianity. Paul seemed willing to do what it took to reach people like that (cf 1 Cor. 9:19-22). I read the lives of the Apostles, but that was quite a few years ago, and I don't recall much about the way they evangelized from those texts... sorry Smiley

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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2011, 04:59:18 PM »

There are several missionary instructions Jesus Himself gave. One of the most striking is "don't insist with those who are not interested".  He said to try a couple of times but leave soon if people did not listen.

St. Matthew 10:14
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

St. Mark 6:11
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

St. Luke 9:5
And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.

People make much of "shake off thee dust from your feet", many interpreting it as cleaning your feet thus just leaving the filth there and other offensive meanings, but what I see, is someone leaving fast.
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2011, 05:02:24 PM »

Thanks for the posts. Fabio I appreciate the scriptural references but that doesn't answer my question as to how they were able to persuade the Gentiles for example to embrace Christianity. Why would anyone believe such a thing without proof, but it brings me back to St James' (IIRC) remark to the guard who was about to execute him: "Be his disciple and you will know" when questioned on why he believed that Christ rose from the dead.
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2011, 08:35:31 PM »

What time frame are you willing to consider? Is it just the apostolic age, or down to the edict of Milan of 313, or something in between, or...?  I assume you're asking about fairly early on, but if you're curious about slightly later times as well I could probably find more...
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2011, 08:41:25 PM »

Both times before and after the Edict work.

Thank you Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2011, 02:51:03 AM »

Here’s what some of the apologists up through the end of the second century argued:

St. Justin Martyr (d. 165) tried to demonstrate that Greek philosophy was inferior to Christianity (Hortatory Address to the Greeks), and that the Christian worship of God was superior to pagan materialism and the pagan gods (First Apology, 9-10, 13, 25). St. Justin admits that on some points Christians and non-Christians agree, but on points where they disagree the Christians have “fuller and more divine” teachings (First Apology, 20). St. Justin says that in becoming Christians people abandon their immoral lifestyles (First Apology, 14-16, 28-30), that there is an afterlife (First Apology, 18-19), and that people should be afraid of going to punishment in hell (First Apology, 19; Second Apology, 9).  Two other evidences that St. Justin gives are that the coming of Christ was foretold by the Hebrew prophets (First Apology, 31-53), and that the witness of the martyrs proves the truthfulness of their claims (Second Apology, 12).

Tatian (d. c. 173) argues that the non-Christian philosophers are unworthy of being followed (Address to the Greeks, 2-3, 21, 25), as are the heathen gods (Address to the Greeks, 10). He says that people are following demons (Address to the Greeks, 8, 12, 16-19) Tatian says that men fell from grace, and that only the Christian God offers a way to overcome death by having faith (Address to the Greeks, 15). Tatian also attacks heathen morality (Address to the Greeks, 22-24). He argues that Christian philosophy is more ancient than that of the Greeks (Address to the Greeks, 31, 36-41), and that it is better suited for all peoples and not just rich males (Address to the Greeks, 32-33).

St. Aristides the Philosopher (d. mid-2nd century) tries to demonstrate that the gods and philosophy of the Greeks is inferior, immoral, and ultimately not a world view that matches reality (Apology).

St. Theophilus of Antioch (d. late-2nd century) says that the Christian view of God is the correct one, though faith is required (To Autolycos, 2-8), and offers evidence for the truth of the resurrection (To Autolycos, 13). The pagan gods, on the other hand, are absurd and immoral (To Autolycos, 9-10). St. Theophilus also offers his own conversion as an encouragement to convert, and says that people who don’t become Christian are in danger of going to hell (To Autolycos, 14)

St. Athenagoras the Apologist (d. late-2nd century) argues that Christian monotheism is superior to pagan polytheism (A Plea For the Christians, 4-8, 17-23, 28-30) and materialism (A Plea For the Christians, 15-16). He mentions the testimony of the prophets briefly (A Plea For the Christians, 9), and also argues that the morality of Christians is far superior (A Plea For the Christians, 11, 32-35).

Once we get into the third century the works generally start getting longer, but all the arguments seem to be roughly the same. Not that I'm discounting later works, of course: surely texts like Against the Heathen by St. Athanasius are brilliant and insightful. It's just that, since this post is just giving an brief overview, I wouldn't be saying much more for St. Athanasius than I've said for the above writers. Anyway, I'm not sure that this is what you wanted, but it at least maybe gives you a sense of the types of arguments they used.
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