So the early believers were misunderstood by both pagans and Jews. Wild rumors flew about the Christians’ secret ceremonies. Both pagans and Jews charged them with cannibalism, infanticide, and (of course) disloyalty to the emperor. We’ve just seen how Nero found the Christians a convenient target when someone had to be blamed for the fire in Rome. If people believed that the Christians were cannibals, it was easy to believe that they were arsonists, too.
But at the beginning of the second century, a movement of Christian teachers spoke up to set the record straight. These teachers are known as the “apologists.” Perhaps the greatest of their first generation was St. Justin, who was born about the year 100.
The apologists set out to give reasoned explanations of Christian doctrines. (An “apology” in this sense is not the admission of a fault, but a speech or writing that defends some idea.) They were not so much preachers as debaters. Amid a hostile and confused culture, they methodically explained and defended all that Christians really believed.
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