Revisiting Shabir Ally’s Distortion of Justin Martyr Pt. 2

I continue with my reply to Shabir Ally’s misleading claims about early church apologist and saint Justin Martyr’s views of the Godhead (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2020/07/23/revisiting-shabir-allys-distortion-of-justin-martyr-pt-1/).

Since Shabir Ally employed Cyril C. Richardson’s Early Christian Fathers, I am going to do likewise use Richardson’s translation of Justin Martyr’s First Apology. I do so for the express purpose of refuting Ally’s dishonesty about our supposed failure of dealing with Justin Martyr’s alleged confession that Christians worship angels along with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All bold, italicized, and/or underline emphasis will be mine.

WORSHIP GOD ALONE

That God ONLY should be worshiped he showed us when he said: “The greatest commandment is: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve with all thy heart and all thy strength, the Lord who made thee.”90 And: “When one came to him and said, Good Teacher, he answered and said, There is none good, except only God who made all things.”91 (Richardson, Chapter 16, p. 217)

17. More even than others we try to pay the taxes and assessments to those whom you appoint, as we have been taught by him. For once in his time some came to him and asked whether it were right to pay taxes to Caesar. And he answered, “Tell me, whose image is on the coin.” They said, “Caesar’s.” And he answered them again, “Then give what is Caesar’s to Caesar and what is God’s to God.”94 So we worship God ONLY, but in other matters we gladly serve you, recognizing you as emperors and rulers of men, and praying that along with your imperial power you may also be found to have a sound mind. If you pay no attention to our prayers and our frank statements about everything, it will not injure us, since we believe, or rather are firmly convinced, that every man will suffer in eternal fire in accordance with the quality of his actions, and similarly will be required to give account for the abilities which he has received from God, as Christ told us when he said, “To whom God has given more, from him more will be required.”95 (Ibid., p. 218)

“… For this devil, when [Jesus] went up from the river Jordan, at the time when the voice spoke to Him, ‘You are my Son: this day have I begotten You,’ is recorded in the memoirs of the apostles to have come to Him and tempted Him, even so far as to say to Him, ‘Worship me;’ and Christ answered him, ‘Get behind me, Satan: you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’ Matthew 4:9-10…” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Chapter 103. The Pharisees are the bulls: the roaring lion is Herod or the devil Chapters 89-108)

WORSHIPING AND BLESSING THE TRINITY

This is what Richardson states in respect to Justin’s affirmation that Christian worship was clearly Trinitarian:

… It is not too hard to distinguish between what Justin presents as the Christian tradition and his own efforts to interpret or explain. Thus the Sacred Name that Christians venerated was clearly that of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, into which they were baptized. Justin, doubtless not uniquely, is making an effort to interpret this when he says that Christians venerated, after God the Father and Lord of all, his Son, and thirdly the holy prophetic Spirit.36 Similarly in the Dialogue he tries to develop a formal doctrine of the Word as a “second divine entity” (deuteros theos)…” (Richardson, p. 200)

And here is Justin in his own words:

… It is Jesus Christ who has taught us these things, having been born for this purpose and crucified under Pontius Pilate, who was procurator in Judea in the time of Tiberius Caesar. We will show that we honor him in accordance with reason, having learned that he is the Son of the true God himself, and holding him to be in the second place and the prophetic Spirit in the third rank. It is for this that they charge us with madness, saying that we give the second place after the unchanging and ever-existing God and begetter of all things to a crucified man, not knowing the mystery involved in this, to which we ask you to give your attention as we expound it. (Ibid., Chapter 13, pp. 214-215)

Christian Worship

61. How we dedicated ourselves to God when we were made new through Christ I will explain, since it might seem to be unfair if I left this out from my exposition. Those who are persuaded and believe that the things we teach and say are true, and promise that they can live accordingly, are instructed to pray and beseech God with fasting for the remission of their past sins, while we pray and fast along with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are reborn by the same manner of rebirth by which we ourselves were reborn; for they are then washed in the water in the name of God the Father and Master of all, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ said, “Unless you are born again you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”190… So that we should not remain children of necessity and ignorance, but [become sons] of free choice and knowledge, and obtain remission of the sins we have already committed,192 there is named at the water, over him who has chosen to be born again and has repented of his sinful acts, the name of God the Father and Master of all.

Those who lead to the washing the one who is to be washed call on [God by] this term 283 only.193 For no one may give a proper name to the ineffable God, and if anyone should dare to say that there is one, he is hopelessly insane.194 This washing is called illumination, since those who learn these things are illumined within. The illuminand is also washed in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, who through the prophets foretold everything about Jesus. (Ibid., pp. 242-243)

Pay close attention to Justin’s explicit attestation that Christian baptism was carried out in the name of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. And:

67. After these [services] we constantly remind each other of these things. Those who have more come to the aid of those who lack, and we are constantly together. Over all that we receive we bless the Maker of all things through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.211 And on the day called Sunday there is a meeting in one place of those who live in cities or the country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the president in a discourse urges and invites [us] to the imitation of these noble things. Then we all stand up together and offer prayers. And, as said before, when we have finished the prayer, bread is brought, and wine and water, and the president similarly sends up prayers and thanksgivings to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying the Amen; the distribution, and reception of the consecrated [elements] by each one, takes place and they are sent to the absent by the deacons. Those who prosper, and who so wish, contribute, each one as much as he chooses to.212 What is collected is deposited with the president, and he takes care of orphans and widows, and those who are in want on account of sickness or any other cause, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers who are sojourners among [us], and, briefly, he is the protector of all those in need. We all hold this common gathering on Sunday, since it is the first day, on which God transforming darkness and matter made the universe, and Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead on the same day. For they crucified him on the day 288 before Saturday, and on the day after Saturday,213 he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them these things which I have passed on to you also for your serious consideration. (Ibid., pp. 246-247)

JUSTIN AFFIRMS JESUS IS JEHOVAH OF HOSTS, THE ANGEL AND WORD OF GOD WHO APPEARED TO THE PATRIARCHS, MOSES AND THE OTHER PROPHETS

23. In order to make this clear to you I will present the evidence that the things we say, as disciples of Christ and of the prophets who came before him, are the only truths and 257 older than all the writers who have lived, and we ask to be accepted, not because we say the same things as they do, but because we are speaking the truth—[second] that Jesus Christ alone was really begotten as Son of God, being his Word and First-begotten and Power, and becoming man by his will he taught us these things for the reconciliation and restoration of the human race—and [third] that before he came among men as man, there were some who, on account of the already mentioned wicked demons, told through the poets as already having occurred the myths they had invented, just as now they are responsible for the slanders and godless deeds alleged against us, of which there is neither witness nor demonstration.107 (Richardson, p. 221)

Hear how he was to go up to heaven, as it was prophesied. This was spoken: “Lift up the gates of heaven, be opened, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of might and the Lord of power.”167 And that he is to come from heaven with glory, hear what was spoken to this effect through Jeremiah the prophet, as follows: “Behold how the Son of Man comes on the clouds of heaven, and his angels with him.”168 (Ibid., Chapter 51, p. 236)

62… For at the time when Moses was ordered to go down to Egypt and bring out the people of the Israelites who were there, as he was pasturing in the land of Arabia the sheep of his maternal uncle, our Christ addressed him in the form of fire out of a bush, and said, “Unloose your sandals and come near and hear.” When he had taken them and approached, he heard [that he was] to go down into Egypt, and lead out the people of the Israelites there, and received great power from Christ, who spoke to him in the form of fire.196 He went down and led out the people after he had done great miracles—if you want to learn about them, you may learn in detail from his writings.

63. Even now the Jews all teach that the unnamed God himself spoke to Moses. Wherefore the prophetic Spirit said in condemnation of them through Isaiah the above284 mentioned prophet, as was quoted before: “The ox knows his owner and the ass his master’s crib, but Israel does not know me and my people does not understand.”197 Likewise Jesus the Christ, because the Jews did not know what the Father is and what the Son, himself said in condemnation of them: “No one knows the Father except the Son, nor the Son except the Father and those to whom the Son will reveal it.”198 Now the Word of God is his Son, as I said before. He is also called “Angel” and “Apostle,” for [as Angel] he announces what it is necessary to know, and [as Apostle] is sent forth to testify to what is announced,199 as our Lord himself said, “He that hears me hears him that sent me.”200 This can be made clear from the writings of Moses, in which this is to be found: “And the Angel of God spoke to Moses in a flame of fire out of the bush and said, I am he who is, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, the God of your fathers; go down to Egypt and bring out my people.”201 Those who wish to can learn what followed from this; for it is not possible to put down everything in these [pages]. But these words were uttered to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Apostle, who was first the Word, and appeared, now in the form of fire, now in the image of the bodiless creatures. Now, however, having become man by the will of God for the sake of the human race, he has endured whatever sufferings the demons managed to have brought upon him by the senseless Jews. For they have it clearly said in the writings of Moses, “And the Angel of God spoke to Moses in a flame of fire in the bush and said, I am he who is, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,”202 yet they say that he who said these things was the Father and Fashioner of the universe. Jesus again, as we cited, when he was with them said, “No one knows the Father except the Son, nor the Son except the Father and those to whom the Son may reveal it.”203 So the Jews, continuing to think that the Father of the universe had spoken to Moses, when it was the Son of God, who is called both Angel and Apostle, who spoke to him, were rightly censured both by the prophetic Spirit and by Christ himself, since they knew neither the Father nor the Son. For those who identify the Son and the Father are condemned, as neither knowing 285 the Father nor recognizing that the Father of the universe has a Son, who being the Word and First-begotten of God is also divine. Formerly he appeared in the form of fire and the image of a bodiless being to Moses and the other prophets. But now in the time of your dominion he was, as I have said, made man of a virgin according to the will of the Father for the salvation of those who believe in him, and endured contempt and suffering so that by dying and rising again he might conquer death. What was said out of the bush to Moses, “I am he who is, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob and the God of your fathers,” was an indication that they though dead still existed and were Christ own men. For they were the first of all men to devote themselves to seeking after God,204 Abraham being the father of Isaac, and Isaac of Jacob, as Moses also recorded. (Ibid., pp. 243-245)

Chapter 36. HE PROVES THAT CHRIST IS CALLED LORD OF HOSTS

Trypho: Let these things be so as you say—namely, that it was foretold Christ would suffer, and be called a stone; and after His first appearance, in which it had been announced He would suffer, would come in glory, and be Judge finally of all, and eternal King and Priest. Now show if this man be He of whom these prophecies were made.

Justin: As you wish, Trypho, I shall come to these proofs which you seek in the fitting place; but now you will permit me first to recount the prophecies, which I wish to do in order to prove THAT CHRIST IS CALLED BOTH GOD AND LORD OF HOSTS, and Jacob, in parable by the Holy Spirit; and your interpreters, as God says, are foolish, since they say that reference is made to Solomon and not to Christ, when he bore the ark of testimony into the temple which he built. The Psalm of David is this:

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and all that dwell therein. He has rounded it upon the seas, and prepared it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that is clean of hands and pure of heart: who has not received his soul in vain, and has not sworn guilefully to his neighbour: he shall receive blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God his Saviour. This is the generation of them that seek the Lord, that seek the face of the God of Jacob. Lift up your gates, you rulers; and be lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty in battle. Lift up your gates, you rulers; and be lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.

Accordingly, it is shown that Solomon is not the Lord of hosts; but when our Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, the rulers in heaven, under appointment of God, are commanded to open the gates of heaven, THAT HE WHO IS KING OF GLORY may enter in, and having ascended, may sit on the right hand of the Father until He make the enemies His footstool, as has been made manifest by another Psalm. For when the rulers of heaven saw Him of uncomely and dishonoured appearance, and inglorious, not recognising Him, they inquired, ‘Who is this King of glory?’ And the Holy Spirit, either from the person of His Father, or from His own person, answers them, ‘The Lord of hosts, He is this King of glory.’ For every one will confess that not one of those who presided over the gates of the temple at Jerusalem would venture to say concerning Solomon, though he was so glorious a king, or concerning the ark of testimony, ‘Who is this King of glory?’

Chapter 37. The same is proved from other Psalms

Justin: Moreover, in the diapsalm of the forty-sixth Psalm, REFERENCE IS THUS MADE TO CHRIST: ‘GOD WENT UP WITH A SHOUT, THE LORD WITH THE SOUND OF A TRUMPET. Sing to OUR GOD, sing: sing to our King, sing; for God is King of all the earth: sing with understanding. God has ruled over the nations. God sits upon His holy throne. The rulers of the nations were assembled along with THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, for the strong ones of God are greatly exalted on the earth.’ And in the ninety-eighth Psalm, the Holy SpiriT reproaches you, AND PREDICTS HIM WHOM YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE KING TO BE KING AND LORD, both of Samuel, and of Aaron, and of Moses, and, in short, of all the others. And the words of the Psalm are these:

The Lord has reigned, let the nations be angry: [it is] He who sits upon the cherubim, let the earth be shaken. The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the nations. Let them confess Your great name, for it is fearful and holy, and the honour of the King loves judgment. You have prepared equity; judgment and righteousness have You performed in Jacob. Exalt the Lord our God, and worship the footstool of His feet; for He is holy. Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among those who call upon His name. They called (says the Scripture) on the Lord, and He heard them. In the pillar of the cloud He spoke to them; for they kept His testimonies, and the commandment which he gave them. O Lord our God, You heard them: O God, You were propitious to them, and [yet] taking vengeance on all their inventions. Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy. (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew Chapters 31-47)

Chapter 56. GOD WHO APPEARED TO MOSES is distinguished from God the Father

Justin: Moses, then, the blessed and faithful servant of God, declares that He who appeared to Abraham under the oak in Mamre IS GOD, sent with the two angels in His company to judge Sodom BY ANOTHER WHO REMAINS EVER IN SUPERCELESTIAL PLACES, invisible to all men, holding personal intercourse with none, whom we believe to be Maker and Father of all things; for he speaks thus: ‘God appeared to him under the oak in Mamre, as he sat at his tent-door at noontide. And lifting up his eyes, he saw, and behold, three men stood before him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the door of his tent; and he bowed himself toward the ground, and said . . .’ Genesis 18:1-2 ‘Abraham went up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord: and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrha, and toward the adjacent country, and beheld, and, lo, a flame went up from the earth, like the smoke of a furnace.’

And when I had made an end of quoting these words, I asked them if they had understood them. And they said they had understood them, but that the passages adduced brought forward no proof that there is any other God or Lord, or that the Holy Spirit says so, besides the Maker of all things.

Justin: I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, [of the truth] of what I say, that there is, AND THERE IS TO BE, ANOTHER GOD AND LORD subject to the Maker of all things; WHO IS ALSO CALLED AN ANGEL, BECAUSE HE ANNOUNCES TO MEN WHATSOEVER the Maker of all things—above whom there is no other God—WISHES TO ANNOUNCE TO THEM…

Justin: If I could not have proved to you from the Scriptures that one of those three IS GOD, AND IS CALLED ANGEL, BECAUSE, AS I ALREADY SAID, HE BRINGS MESSAGES TO THOSE WHOM God the Maker of all things WISHES [messages to be brought], then in regard to Him who appeared to Abraham on earth in human form in like manner as the two angels who came with Him, AND WHO WAS GOD EVEN BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, it were reasonable for you to entertain the same belief as is entertained by the whole of your nation…

Justin: Reverting to the Scriptures, I shall endeavour to persuade you, that He who is said TO HAVE APPEARED TO ABRAHAM, AND TO JACOB, AND TO MOSES AND WHO IS CALLED GOD, is distinct from Him who made all things—numerically, I mean, not [distinct] in will. For I affirm that He has never at any time done anything which He who made the world—above whom there is no other God—has not wished Him both to do and to engage Himself with…

Justin: The Scripture just quoted by me will make this plain to you. It is thus: ‘The sun was risen on the earth, and Lot entered into Segor (Zoar); and the Lord rained on Sodom sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and overthrew these cities and all the neighbourhood.’ Genesis 19:23…

Justin: (After another pause.) And now have you not perceived, my friends, that one of the three, WHO IS BOTH GOD AND LORD, and ministers to Him who is in the heavens, is Lord of the two angels? For when [the angels] proceeded to Sodom, He remained behind, and communed with Abraham in the words recorded by Moses; and when He departed after the conversation, Abraham went back to his place. And when he came [to Sodom], the two angels no longer conversed with Lot, but Himself, as the Scripture makes evident; AND HE IS THE LORD WHO RECEIVED COMMISSION FROM THE LORD WHO [remains] IN THE HEAVENS, i.e., the Maker of all things, to inflict upon Sodom and Gomorrha the [judgments] which the Scripture describes in these terms: ‘The Lord rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrha sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.’…

Chapter 61. Wisdom is begotten of the Father, as fire from fire

Justin: I shall give you another testimony, my friends, from the Scriptures, that God begot BEFORE ALL CREATURES a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] FROM HIMSELF, WHO IS CALLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW THE GLORY OF THE LORD, NOW THE SON, AGAIN WISDOM, AGAIN AN ANGEL, THEN GOD, AND THEN LORD AND LOGOS; AND ON ANOTHER OCCASION HE CALLS HIMSELF CAPTAIN, WHEN HE APPEARED IN HUMAN FORM TO JOSHUA THE SON OF NAVE (NUN). For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father’s will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will; just as we see happening among ourselves: for when we give out some word, we beget the word; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word [which remains] in us, when we give it out: and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same; and that which has been kindled by it likewise appears to exist by itself, not diminishing that from which it was kindled. The Word of Wisdom, WHO IS HIMSELF THIS GOD BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER OF ALL THINGS, and Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Begetter, will bear evidence to me, when He speaks by Solomon the following: (Trypho Chapters 55-68) 

THE DIVINE SPIRIT

… [It was] until the manifestation of Jesus Christ, our teacher and the expounder of the unrecognized prophecies, as was predicted by the divine and holy prophetic Spirit through Moses, that a ruler would not depart from the Jews until he should come for whom the Kingdom is reserved… After this he was crucified, so as to fulfill the rest of the prophecy. For washing his robe in the blood of the grape was predictive of the Passion which he was to suffer, cleansing by his blood those who believe on him. For the men who believe on him in whom dwells the seed of God, the Word, are what the divine Spirit through the prophet calls a garment. The blood of the grape that was spoken of was a sign that he who was to appear would have blood, though not from human seed but by divine power. The first Power after God the Father and Master of all, even [his] Son, is the Word—how he was made flesh and became man we shall describe below. As the blood of the grape was not made by man, but by God, so it was testified, that [his] blood should not come from human seed, but from divine power, as we said before. Isaiah, another prophet, prophesying the same things in other words, said: “A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a flower will come forth from the root of 263 Jesse, and upon his arm will the nations hope.”122 The shining star has risen and the flower has grown from the root of Jesse—this is Christ. For he was by the power of God conceived by a virgin of the seed of Jacob, who was the father of Judah, the father of the Jews, as has been explained; Jesse was his ancestor, according to the oracle, and he was the son of Jacob and Judah by lineal succession. (Chapter 32, pp. 225-226)

CONCLUSION

To sum up Justin’s teachings, we learned:

  1. God alone is to be worshiped.
  2. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are worshiped, showing that they are the one true God whom all believers worship.
  3. Jesus is the eternal Word of God who existed before all creation and is the only-begotten Son whom the Father employed to bring the entire creation into being.
  4. Jesus is the Jehovah God of hosts and the Angel of Jehovah who appeared to the patriarchs and prophets of the Hebrew Bible.
  5. The Holy Spirit is the divine prophetic Spirit who spoke through the prophets, enabling them to prophesy the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hence, one doesn’t get more Trinitarian than this!

So much for Ally’s shameless distortion of Justin Martyr, who was a Trinitarian apologist and holy martyr of the risen Lord of glory, Jesus Christ.

FURTHER READING

Justin Martyr’s Witness to Christ’s essential and eternal Deity

Were the Early Church Fathers Trinitarians?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Revisiting Shabir Ally’s Distortion of Justin Martyr Pt. 2

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