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A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

In an earlier post, I provided some of the raw data from early post-NT Christian writers proving their belief in the divinity of Jesus well before the Council of Nicea. I included one reference by the Roman governor Pliny the Younger who noted that Christians gave worship to Jesus as "to a God." I was remiss in that I left out two other pagan witnesses to this belief.

Lucian of Samosata

Lucian was a Greek satirist who turned his sharp wit on Christians around 165-75 AD. Mocking them for their belief, he stated:

The Christians . . . worship a man to this day--the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.

Lucian, The Passing of Peregrinus, trans. A.M. Harmon, at 11.

By noting the Christian worship of the man Jesus, Lucian adds further evidence that the early Christians viewed Jesus as divine, both God and man. This is especially true when one considers the Jewish roots of Christianity and Christianity's continuing insistance that it was monotheistic. One does not worship what is not divine. In Christianity as well as Judaism, God alone was worthy of worship.

Celsus, Roman Philosopher

Celsus was a pagan philosopher active about the same time as Lucian. He wrote a book called True Reason as an assault against Christianity in 178 AD. The work is unfortunately lost to us, but a few decades later a Christian apologist wrote a response to it, thankfully preserving much of Celsus' argument. One of his arguments is that Christians were not true monotheists.

Now, if the Christians worshiped only one God, they might have reason on their side. But as a matter of fact they worship a man who appeared only recently. They do not consider what they are doing a breach of monontheism; rather, they think it perfectly consistent to worship the great God and to worship his servant as God.

Celsus, On the True Doctrine: A Discource Against the Christians, trns. R. Joseph Hoffman, at 116.

So, there are two more non-Christian early witnesses to the early Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus.

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