Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

Conservatism and Relativism: Celsus' Apology for Roman Traditions

Author: WU Gongqing, Lecturer, School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China



Origen responded to the Roman philosopher Celsus’ criticism of Christianity from positive law through Christian natural law. What is paradoxical, is that while Celsus could predict Origen’s response, he “responds” beforehand to the Chrisitan theory of natural law in his own further elaboration of law. According to Celsus, each nation has the right to enact legislation. Law is founded on custom, whose foundation is tradition while the foundation of custom and tradition is religion. To prove the differences between different nations’ customs, Celsus proposed a mixed theological system of monotheism and polytheism. Celsus’ standpoint on religious custom and law entails strong conservatism and relativism. Historically, although Celsus’ conservatism and relativism responded to some extent to the challenges brought by Christianity, but theoretically it also faced some difficult-to-resolve tensions. Origen utilizes this tension to offer a more robust defence of Christianity.



law, custom, monotheism and polytheism, conservatism, relativism


Full Text (International Version):

WU GongqingSCN JSCC.pdf


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WU GongqingSCN JSCC.pdf