Early Christian theologian: “I believe because it is absurd.”

“I believe because it is absurd” is a paraphrase of a statement in Tertullian’s work De Carne Christi (written between AD 203-206) “prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est”, which can be translated: “it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd”. The context is a defence of the tenets of orthodox Christianity against docetism:

Crucifixus est Dei Filius, non pudet, quia pudendum est;
et mortuus est Dei Filius, prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est;
et sepultus resurrexit, certum est, quia impossibile.
— (De Carne Christi V, 4)

“The Son of God was crucified: there is no shame, because it is shameful.
And the Son of God died: it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.
And, buried, He rose again: it is certain, because impossible.”


Tertullian has been called ‘the father of Latin Christianity’ and ‘the founder of Western theology’. He is the first to use the word “Trinity” in reference to God.

‘the Son of God died: it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.’

Muslims been saying it is absurd for years too.

Categories: Christianity, Theodicy

8 replies

  1. Clearly an ironic definition of what an ‘argumentum ad absurdum’ is.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Whelp. Can’t argue with that reasoning.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So basically, Tertullian would have had no problem believing that a blue guy named Krishna came down to earth to set things right and then died after being accidentally shot by an arrow. [smacks head]

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Read the fuller context. (see link below at ccel) Tertullian was speaking against Marcion and his theology. The roots of Marcionism and Gnosticism are the Docetism of the letter of 1 John and the denial that Jesus was a real human being, a contradiction to Islam. To embrace Marcion as Muslims is a contradiction and inconsistent way of thinking. Marcion was rejecting that the Creator God was the same as in the OT and that Yahweh of the OT was the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son, the eternal Word, who was incarnated into a human being and had a real body of flesh and bones, blood, human emotions, human mind, etc. – Marcion rejected the incarnation, the virgin birth (Marcion cut out Luke chapters 1-2 completely from his version of the gospel according to Luke), the atonement, the suffering on the cross, the resurrection of Christ in a real body.

    He was saying all of these teachings are so amazing and wonderful and impossible that it has to be God who did it, so in that sense, it is “absurd”, because the human mind cannot fully grasp or comprehend it; but God who does miracles is able, therefore, it must be believed because “with men this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible”, which is what Jesus said many times in the gospels.

    Luke agrees, “touch Me and see that I have flesh and bone; a ghost does not have flesh and bone” – Luke 24:39

    The wisdom of God and the “weakness of God” (humility, condescension, becoming human, 2 natures, voluntary laying aside of use of powers and full knowledge, suffering, dying on the cross, etc.) is more powerful than the wisdom and power of man. 1 Corinthians chapters 1-2 – The God of the Bible is more powerful than the man-made “god” of Islam, for the God of the Bible can do the miraculous like the incarnation of God into humanity, the atonement (the theology of the sufferings and death of Christ for sinners from all nations – Revelation 5:9), the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the first fruits that point to the future judgment day and resurrection of believers bodies to be glorified in the eternal state with God in eternal life.



  5. Islam is the ultimate human man-made religion because it requires no miraculous or amazing or awe inspiring thinking to believe it. It is human power in harsh laws and military power and force in conquering the world and using it’s power to subjugate all others.

    Islam has an OT Monotheism (One Creator God, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, etc. ) and basic right vs. wrong family morality similar to the ten commandments, and that there is a judgment day, which takes no miracle of the supernatural to believe.

    Deism or Theism and the moral argument for God and the Cosmological / Kalaam argument and argument from design are true intuitively and Christianity has all of that AND much more.

    Islam takes no miracle to believe. Some things are goofy in the Hadith and the Qur’an, but that is because Muhammad got stuff from legends, apocryphal gospels, Midrash Jewish stories; Muhammad is just hearing things, is illiterate / uneducated, and does not know the Scriptures – he did exactly what he accused some Jews of doing in Surah 2:75 and 2:78-79.


    • @ Everyone

      I guess we can see the type of people Tertullian was able to get this bs off on.

      “Hey God makes sense, isn’t contradictory and is easily explainable so it must be false!”

      Lol as I said can’t argue with that reasoning.


      • @ Ken

        1. Christians use philosophical mumbo jumbo ALL the time to explain God so this laughable. Pretty much EVERY religion except for Islam is a bunch of bs that has its followers blindly accept.
        2. There are plenty of things we don’t understand about God in Islam hence the saying “God knows best”
        3. With that said the Message is for EVERYONE from the scholar to the simpleton and they ALL must understand who God is and what He wants.
        4. You can just see the truth and falsehood right here:

        Christianity does as the poet said:

        “God gave us brains, and God gave us logic, but I guess He wanted us to use them for everything except this topic.”

        While in Islam God says:

        Most people will go to Hell because they didn’t use their intelligence. (Surah Mulk)


  6. Yes it is absurd to the max, even Tertullian contemporary, another christian theologian Origen, for example, had an absurd conversation with a bishop named Heraclides to define the relationship of Christ to God the Father. Heraclides admitted to believing in two Gods.

    Origen: … Is the Father God?

    Heracleides: Indeed.

    O: Is the Son distinct from the Father?

    H: Of course, How could one be at once Father and Son?

    O: While being distinct from the Father, is the Son, too God?

    H: He too is God.

    O: And the unity that is being established is that of two Gods?

    H: Yes.

    O: Do we profess two Gods?.

    H: Yes. The power is one.

    The Making of the Abrahamic Religions in Late Antiquity (by Guy G. Stroumsa)

    Liked by 2 people

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