Apology of Aristides
For Hadrian (Caesar),
I am Aristides, an Athenian Philosopher. When I considered the existence of the world and considered its beauty, I concluded that there must be a Creator behind creation (one worthy of our worship). This Creator must be eternal, perfect, incomprehensible, formless, indivisible, unequaled, all-good, all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful. He (though He is neither male nor female) requires nothing, but all else depends on Him. Such is God.
Of men, there are 4 types: Barbarians, Greeks, Jews, and Christians. Each has a set of stories and beliefs. Let us compare them objectively…
The Barbarians worship the elements. They have to guard their gods, lest they be stolen! If their gods are too feeble to save themselves, how can they save the Barbarians? They worship the earth (where we bury the dead!), the waters (where we pee!), fire (which we humans quench!), the wind (which strengthens and weakens!), and the sun (which is moved by a greater power!). How foolish they are. Some of them worship ancient men, who are made of these elements (and soul/spirit) and can thus be divided (and, thus, cannot be god) and, in any case, suffer from various defects. It is rather obvious that the Barbarians are in error in what and who they worship.
The Greeks are more subtle, but their beliefs are actually even more ridiculous! They have simply made up their gods! Some of them are male and some are female. Most, if not all, of them are quite immoral (and the Greek people, of course, mimic their gods in these ways). Some of their gods even die! The story of every one of their gods is a sad one! You’d think if you were going to invent gods, you’d make them more impressive!
(As a brief aside, we should mention the Egyptians. They are even more stupid than the Greeks! In addition to having their own fleet of helpless gods, they worship animals and plants too! Praise to garlic and onions!?!? Never worship a god that regularly gets eaten!).
Back to the Greeks, it is curious that cultures that were able to accomplish so much in terms of advancement are not able to perceive the ridiculousness of their religious thoughts. Even their philosophers cannot rescue this foolish network of gods by claiming that it all represents 1 true God (for God cannot be well represented by competing, back-stabbing deities). In the end, the laws of the Greeks judge their gods as guilty. Reality judges them as fake.
Now Jews do believe in 1 God. They believe that God is the all-powerful Creator. They are much closer to the truth and their behavior is commendable (they are kind to the needy). In the end, though, they too have erred from true knowledge. They focus too much on their rules, which is a never-winning-battle (because even they don’t keep all of them).
But the Christians have sought the truth and found it (or at least come nearer than any others). They know and trust God the Creator. They received commandments from the Messiah and keep them. The love even their enemies. They invite all into their family. The care for their widows, orphans, strangers, the poor, the imprisoned, and even the dead. They share their possessions so that none of them goes without basic necessities. They give thanks to God for all things. They pray to God and receive great blessings (to my mind there is no doubt but that the earth abides through the supplication of the Christians). They’re a new kind of people. You can learn all about them from their writings. Read and see for yourself!
People may say bad things about Christians, but this is just a form of persecution. Christians are good. For the most part, they truly are people of great compassion. They pray that those who are against them will repent and come into their faith. The persecution of this people should cease. The light of their truth must continue to spread around the world!