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Archive for June 1st, 2018

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Almighty and everlasting God, You found Your martyr Justin wandering from teacher to teacher, searching for the true God. Grant that all who seek for a deeper knowledge of the sublime wisdom of Your eternal Word may be found by You, who sent Your Son to seek and to save the lost, through Jesus Christ, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

“O Lord, in You have I trusted;  let me never be confounded” (The Te Deum, Matins, LSB page 225)

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In the opening of Justin’s Dialogue, he said that his early studies  left him unsatisfied due to their failure to provide him a belief system that had spiritual inspiration. He says he tried first the school of a Stoic philosopher, who was unable to explain God’s being to him. He then attended a Peripatetic philosopher but was put off because the philosopher was too eager for his fee. Then he went to hear a Pythagorean philosopher who demanded that he first learn music, astronomy, and geometry, which he did not wish to do. Subsequently, he adopted Platonism after encountering a Platonist thinker who had recently settled in his city. Justin wrote:

And the perception of immaterial things quite overpowered me, and the contemplation of ideas furnished my mind with wings, so that in a little while I supposed that I had become wise; and such was my stupidity, I expected forthwith to look upon God, for this is the end of Plato’s philosophy.

Sometime afterwards, he chanced upon an old man, possibly a Syrian Christian, in the vicinity of the seashore.  This Christian engaged him in a dialogue about God and spoke of the testimony of the prophets as being more reliable than the reasoning of philosophers. Justin wrote that this Christian told him about the prophets in the Scriptures who “announced truth to men, neither reverencing nor fearing any man” and who foretold events, and Justin further wrote that this Christian man further taught about the prophets:

“Their writings are still extant, and he who has read them is very much helped in his knowledge of the beginning and end of things, and of those matters which the philosopher ought to know, provided he has believed them. For they did not use demonstration in their treatises, seeing that they were witnesses to the truth above all demonstration, and worthy of belief; and those events which have happened, and those which are happening, compel you to assent to the utterances made by them, although, indeed, they were entitled to credit on account of the miracles which they performed, since they both glorified the Creator, the God and Father of all things, and proclaimed His Son, the Christ [sent] by Him: which, indeed, the false prophets, who are filled with the lying unclean spirit, neither have done nor do, but venture to work certain wonderful deeds for the purpose of astonishing men, and glorify the spirits and demons of error. But pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom God and His Christ have imparted wisdom.*

Justin’s search for truth is aptly summed up in the Collect of the Day that he was, “…wandering from teacher to teacher, searching for the true God.”  This is summed up in Scripture passages describing man’s reason, unaided by revelation and God’s Word, is not stable.  First, the Apostle Paul’s exhortation that we,

“…may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4: 14)

St. Luke’s observation of the philosophers in the Areopagus when the Apostle had his noted visit as recorded in Acts:

“Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17: 21)

Then there is the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to his brother in the Holy Ministry, Timothy:

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”  (2 Timothy 2: 3-4)

The only aspect of this futile search for the Lord by ourselves, wandering from teacher to teacher, preacher to preacher, which has changed since Justin’s days on earth, is that  now this occurs at break-neck speed with information technologies.  Our times are like quicksand.  As the prophet Isaiah preached:

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
    he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
and he will be the stability of your times,
    abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
    the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

The Lord is the stability of our times, man is not, and in Christ, we are stabilized upon the Rock of Salvation.  This Rock is so sturdy that Justin faced martyrdom.  His martyrdom is itself an exhortation to abide in the Lord in His Church where He said He will be and is.  In these helter-skelter days, it is good to  rest in His unchanging grace and hearken to what Moses said to the people of Israel with Pharoah in hot pursuit, and the Red Sea in front of them:

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14: 14)

*This section from the beginning of this article to the asterisk is adapted from the Wikipedia article on Justin Martyr.

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