Justin & Justin: First Apology LXI-LXVIII
Justin concludes his letter to the Emperor with some explanations of certain rituals that the church engaged in.
Chapter 67, the last of this section provides a general order of worship for church and the chapters leading up to it fill in the details. There are some strong similarities to our worship and administration of the sacraments to the ways Justin describes. There are, however, some differences.
With regard to baptism, Justin seems to advocate a “Believer’s Baptism” position, similar to the position of modern day Baptist and Non-denominational churches. (Incidentally, this was not the opinion of all of the earliest church fathers. See: Polycarp) Justin goes to great lengths explaining that only the illuminated undergo the rite of baptism. Justin uses the term “illumination” roughly like we would use the term “redemption” or “being saved”. He also seems to imply that only those who have had their sins forgiven can rightly understand the writings of scripture. He also shows how false religions copy or subvert baptism. In this section, he makes a comment that it is false to say that you must be “totally washed” in order for baptism to be effective. This may be a reference to the way baptism was conducted, but it is unclear.
Justin also goes into detail on Communion, which he calls the Eucharist. Here the early church and the modern church are very similar. Communion is only conducted by the Pastor (who he calls the President) and it is only available to those who have been baptized. The one difference is that when they are done, they take the “leftovers” to those who were absent from the meeting.
Justin concludes his letter and attaches a number of other things written about Christians by significant Romans. One of these letters is written by Caesar Marcus Aurelius. The Caesar recounts a story of when he was leading a battle in Germany. His town was besieged by savages and they were running low on water. After a while, the Christians prayed and immediately it began rain on the Romans and hail on the savages. He concludes,
“Founding upon this, then, let us pardon such as are Christians, lest they pray for and obtain such a weapon against us”.