Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
ATHENAGORAS: Chapter IV.—The Christians are Not Atheists, But Acknowledge One Only God.
Chapter IV.—The Christians are Not Atheists, But Acknowledge One Only God.
As regards, first of all, the allegation that we are atheists—for I will meet the charges one p. 131 by one, that we may not be ridiculed for having no answer to give to those who make them—with reason did the Athenians adjudge Diagoras guilty of atheism, in that he not only divulged the Orphic doctrine, and published the mysteries of Eleusis and of the Cabiri, and chopped up the wooden statue of Hercules to boil his turnips, but openly declared that there was no God at all. But to us, who distinguish God from matter, 708 and teach that matter is one thing and God another, and that they are separated by a wide interval (for that the Deity is uncreated and eternal, to be beheld by the understanding and reason alone, while matter is created and perishable), is it not absurd to apply the name of atheism? If our sentiments were like those of Diagoras, while we have such incentives to piety—in the established order, the universal harmony, the magnitude, the colour, the form, the arrangement of the world—with reason might our reputation for impiety, as well as the cause of our being thus harassed, be charged on ourselves. But, since our doctrine acknowledges one God, the Maker of this universe, who is Himself uncreated (for that which is does not come to be, but that which is not) but has made all things by the Logos which is from Him, we are treated unreasonably in both respects, in that we are both defamed and persecuted.
[Kaye, p. 7.]
Next: Chapter V.—Testimony of the Poets to the Unity of God.
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