Do any of the pagan professors of rhetoric or grammar really make their students happy? No, says Athenagoras. But look at the Christians: they may not know a subject from a predicate, but you can tell by their works that Christian teaching is true.
Look at the teachers who reduce syllogisms, and clear up ambiguities, and explain etymologies, or teach homonyms and synonyms, and which is the subject and which is the predicate—promising to make their students happy by instructions like these. Which of them have purged their souls so completely that, instead of hating their enemies, they love them? Which, instead of speaking ill of those who revile them (and abstaining from speaking ill would itself be evidence of considerable forbearance), will bless them? Which will pray for those who plot against their lives?
No, on the contrary, they’re always probing the secrets of their art with evil intent, always up to no good. They make the art of words, not showing us deeds, their business and profession.
But among us you’ll find uneducated people, workmen and old women. They can’t prove the benefits of our teaching by words. But they show the benefit by their deeds, which come from being persuaded of its truth. They don’t rehearse speeches, but show good works. When they’re struck, they don’t strike back. When they’re robbed, they don’t go to court. They give to those who ask of them, and love their neighbors as themselves.
–Athenagoras, Plea for the Christians, 11
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Is the truth of my faith obvious from the way I live it?
Lord, fill me with the spirit of Christ, and help me build up your eternal Kingdom by the work I do on earth.
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