~ 155 - 240
Theologian and Church Leader
From Carthage, Africa
Served in Carthage, Africa
"But carry on, good officials. You will become much better in the eyes of the people if you will sacrifice the Christians for them. Torture us! Your iniquity is the proof of our innocence. For this reason God permits us to suffer these things... Yet your tortures accomplish nothing, though each is more refined than the last; rather they are an enticement to our religion. We became more every time we are hewn down by you: the blood of Christians is seed."
Tertullian, son of a Roman centurion from North Africa, was born around 160A.D. He received a good education in literature and thetoric and probably practiced law for a while before being converted to Christianity around the year 197A.D. It is the Church Father St. Jerome who tells us that Tertullian became a priest, but there are some indications that he may have remained a layman. What is clear is that eloquent as he was in both Greek and Latin, Tertullian quickly after his conversion set himself to defending the Catholic faith against the pagans as well as heretical Christians.
In so doing coined some of the key theological terms and phrases of the Christian theological tradition. It is in Tertullian's writings that we first find the Latin word "trinity" to describe the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whom he taught were "one God in three persons." This remains a classic trinitarian formula to this day. He also made a great contribution to Christology, the branch of theology which seeks to understand the person of Jesus Christ and how divinity and humanity are related in him. It is Tertullian who gives us the formula later canonized by the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, teaching that Christ is "one person in two natures."
Tertullian is the author of many apologetic and theological works and is one of the most quotable of the Early Church Fathers. His is the famous phrase "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." And criticizing the reliance on pagan philosophy that he detects in many heretics, he coined yet another famous phrase: "what has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"
Though Tertullian made great and lasting contributions to a wide scope of Catholic doctrines (Trinity, Christology, ecclesiology, sacratmental theology, etc), he always had a tendency towards severity and rigorism. This tendency sadly drew him into a rigorist heretical sect called the Monanists around 210 AD. Tragically, Tertullian died around 225 A.D. separated from full communion with the bishops of the Catholic Church whose authority he earlier upheld. Nevertheless, his early writings give powerful witness to the faith that comes to us from the apostles. The writings listed below are far from complete--they are mostly intended to provide a few of the more inspirational passages from his works that can be used to enrich our prayer and give us a taste of the teaching of this influential Early Christian writer.
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Benedict of Nursia480 - July 11, 543
Founder of 12 monasteries in Italy which would become the Rule of St. Benedict
Isidore of Seville560 - Apr. 4 636
Archbishop of Seville and often viewed as the last Scholar of the Ancient World
John Wycliffe1320 - Dec. 31, 1384
Theologian, Preacher, and Translator of the Bible into English
Joan of ArcJan. 6, 1412 - May 30, 1431
Defender of and Warrior for France during the Hundred Year War
Ulrich ZwingliJan. 1, 1484 - Oct. 11, 1531
Pastor, Theologian, and Leader of the Reformation in Switzerland
Thomas CranmerJuly 2, 1489 - Mar. 21, 1556 Leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury
Blaise PascalJune 19, 1623 - Aug. 19, 1662 Mathematician, Physicist, Inventor, Writer, and Philosopher
Jonathan EdwardsOct. 5, 1703 - Mar. 22, 1758
Pastor during the America's First Great Awakening
Isaac BackusJan. 9, 1724 - Nov. 20, 1806
Preacher who campaigned against state-established churches
John NewtonJuly 24, 1725 - Dec. 21, 1807
Slave Ship Captain turned Minister and Writer of "Amazing Grace"
Richard AllenFeb. 14, 1760 - Mar. 26, 1831
Preacher and Founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
William WilberforceAugust 24, 1759 - July 29, 1833
Politician who single-handedly abolished Great Britain's Slave Trade
William CareyAugust 17, 1761 - June 9, 1834
Missionary, founder of first college in India and founding member of Baptist Missionary Society
Charles SimeonSept. 24, 1759 - Nov. 1, 1836
Pastor and a Founder of the Church Missionary Society
John Henry HopkinsJan. 30, 1792 - Jan. 9, 1868
First Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont
George MuellerSept. 27, 1805 - Mar. 10, 1898
Founder of Orphanages and Schools through England
Alexander CrummellMar. 3, 1819 - Sept. 10, 1898
Founding pastor of St Luke's Episcopal Church in Washington D.C.
Annie ArmstrongJuly 11, 1850 - Dec. 20, 1938
Missionary and Founder of the Woman's Missionary Movement
Dietrich BonhoefferFeb. 4, 1906 - Apr. 9, 1945
German Lutheran Pastor, Theologian and Anti-Nazi Dissident
Lillian Hunt TrasherSept. 27, 1887 - Dec. 17, 1961 Missionary and Founder of the first Christian Orphanage in Egypt
Charles E. FullerApr. 25, 1887 - Mar. 18, 1968
Radio Evangelist and Founder of Fuller Seminary
Dorothy DayNov. 8, 1897 - Nov. 29, 1980
Journalist, Social Activist and Co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement
Jean DonovanApr. 10, 1953 - Dec. 2, 1980
Missionary to El Salvador volunteering to feed the poor during the country's civil war
Rich MullinsOct. 21, 1955 - Sept. 19, 1997
Musician, Composer and Music Teacher to Navajo children
Allan SandageJune 18, 1926 - Nov. 13, 2010
Astronomer who determined the first reasonably accurate values for the Hubble constant and the age of the universe
Jack HeaslipFeb. 21, 1944 - Feb. 21, 2015
Parish Pastor and notably influential to the band U2
John ChachaJan. 15, 1955 - Apr. 16, 2015
Missionary and Founder of Teamwork City of Hope in Tanzania