"The Blood Of The Martyrs Is The Seed Of The Church"

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Last Updated on February 2, 2016, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 193

Context: Educated in his native Carthage and in Rome in law and in rhetoric, Tertullian was well prepared for the position he holds as ablest of the early defenders of the Christian faith. Among his writings are De Carne Christi, a rebuttal to Marcion and other heretics, and a number of treatises on morality and the discipline of the Church. His Apologeticus points out the guilt of many non-Christians of the very acts of immorality for which Christians are falsely accused and for which they suffer martyrdom. Ironically "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church," contends Tertullian, for Christian believers multiply with each incidence of martyrdom:

. . . Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, avail you; it is rather a temptation to us. The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed. Many of your writers exhort to the courageous bearing of pain and death, as Cicero in the Tusculans, as Seneca in his Chances, as Diogenes, Pyrrhus, Callinicus. And yet their words do not find so many disciples as Christians do, teachers not by words, but by their deeds. . . .

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