One of the most common charges against the first Christians was that they were atheists! Well, says St. Justin Martyr, we are atheists—if you mean that we refuse to worship the demons who masquerade as gods in the pagan mythology. But we worship the only true God.
Since ancient times evil demons, making apparitions of themselves, both defiled women and corrupted boys, and showed such fearful sights to men, that those who did not use their reason in judging of the actions that were done were struck with terror. Carried away by fear, and not knowing that these were demons, they called them gods, and gave to each the name which each of the demons chose for himself.
When Socrates tried to bring these things to light by true reason and exami- nation, and to deliver humanity from the demons, then the demons themselves, by means of men who rejoiced in iniquity, plotted his death as an atheist and a sacrilegious person, on the charge that he was introducing new gods.
They do the same thing in our case. For not only among the Greeks did the Logos, reason, prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the barbarians they were condemned by the Logos himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ. In obedience to him, we not only deny that they who did such things as these are gods, but assert that they are wicked and impious demons, whose actions will not bear comparison with those even of men desirous of virtue.
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Have I really renounced all the demons masquerading as gods? Or are there some false gods of today who can claim my allegiance?
Guardian Angel, teach me to distinguish the false spirits from the true, and always to renounce whatever is not for my eternal good.
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