Christian Apologists Then and Now
In Christian parlance the word apology does not mean the expression of sorrow, but rather a defense. Throughout church history apologists have arisen when needed to defend the faith from prejudice or persecution; official and unofficial.
In Acts chapter 5:29 FF we read of one, Gamaliel, a member of the Jewish Council who defended Peter and John's preaching of Christ against that same Council. (Epistle Lesson this coming Sunday - Series A)
St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was put to death for doing the same: for defending the Christian religion before the Jews and seeking tolerance for it, as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
One of the most well-known apolotists of the post-apostolic age was St. Justin Martyr born ca. 100 AD, who gave a reasonable and rational defense of the holy Christian religion against both Jewish and Roman persecutors. He was martyred for his efforts in 165 AD.
St. Augustine did the same in the 5th century in his famous work "The City of God". Though Christianity was by then a tolerated religion in the Roman empire, the diatribes against it were many and varied.
Philipp Melanchthon defended the Lutheran faith before the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the year 1530 at the Diet of Augsburg.
In addition God has always placed pious men and women into positions of power and authority to defend his church. In the year 545 B.C. King Cyrus of Persia, a pagan, is called by the LORD "My Messiah" because he is the one who freed Israel from Babylonian captivity, allowed them to return to their land; and to rebuild the temple with funds from the Persian treasury.
Gallio, the Roman proconsul of Greece (ca. 51 AD) refused to hear a case brought by Jews against Christians, thereby giving the church sanction.
Moving the clock forward let us praise God for Attorney General of the United States, Bill Barr who is taking action against local governments for singling out Christian gatherings during the pandemic: even though said gatherings were taking all current precautions as regards size and social distancing.
All this to say that religious liberty is never a given. Though it is the first of the Bill of Rights in the United States of America it is always assailed by government, and by others who hate the name of Christ. Moreover, it is in the best Christian tradition to defend our faith against all detractors. Sometimes we may win, and sometimes we may lose, but it is the defense that matters.
Let us all engage in the battle for St. Peter writes to the newly baptized, "in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (apology) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect ..."
Some are more able than others, but we can all do something, and we can all pray for, support, and encourage those who are on the frontlines. God grant it! Amen.
P.S. After writing this post I also found this companion article regarding Attorney General Bill Barr.
The theme of the Book of Concord is Psalm 119:46 " I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame ... "