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Talk Like a Theologian

Author // Felicia Caid Smith

Starting conversations that have eternal impact

Talk Like a Theologian

Are you familiar with Justin Martyr, the famous theologian?   While reading about him this week,  I was fascinated by his testimony and inspired by the the way in which he shared the gospel with unbelievers.  Justin was born at the turn of the second century to a pagan family in Flavia Neapolis and given a Greek education.  In pursuit of knowledge, he studied Stoicism, Peripateticism, and Phythagoreanism before settling on Platonism as his Greek philosophy-of-choice; however, Justin’s thinking began to change when he moved to Ephesus and witnessed the deaths of Christian martyrs.  The fearless way in which those faithful believers faced death led Justin to conclude that Christianity must be the true and highest philosophy.  After a conversation with an old man who exposed the limitations of Platonism and introduced him to the Spirit-inspired Scriptures, Justin converted to the Christian faith.1

"Straightway a flame was kindled in my soul.” –Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho


philosophy of Plato, which emphasized a concern for the quality of human life.              

After Justin’s conversion, he wrote numerous works of theology and apologetics, but rather than focusing on what Justin wrote, I want to talk about what he wore.  For the rest of his life, Justin dressed in the gown customarily worn by Greek philosophers.  What a conversation starter that gown must have been!  In Dialogue with Trypho, Justin records an encounter with an educated Jewish man who approached him because of his philosopher’s gown.  The man was expecting a discussion about Greek philosophy, but instead, Justin turned the conversation to Scripture and to the gospel of Jesus Christ.2  By the time the discussion ended, the man was “not far from the kingdom of God.”3 


arguments or writings that defend religious faith and doctrine.

As I think about Justin Martyr’s gown, I consider ways in which you and I might prompt gospel conversations today.  My nephew is a young theologian who loves Jesus and wants to talk about the Bible to every other fifth grader who will listen.  For Christmas this year, the only thing he asked for was “Jesus shirts”—shirts with Bible verses and Christian messages printed across the front.  Those t-shirts have started dozens of conversations about Jesus!  One particular conversation resulted in an unbelieving classmate becoming a believer!  We can all agree that’s amazing, right?  But not all these conversations have ended with heart change and rejoicing.  Some have ended with ugly remarks being made to him.  But even after what seems like an unsuccessful attempt to share the gospel, when the wounds of peer-criticism are fresh, this little theologian asks his mom to wash his shirts so that he can wear them to school again.  He puts on a Jesus shirt every day because at the age of 11, he realizes the importance of starting gospel conversations.               

This week, I am challenging myself to start gospel conversations, and I want to challenge you as well.  You don’t have to wear philosopher robes (though that would certainly start some conversations), but you might slap on that old WWJD bracelet, drink out of your “I Need Jesus & Coffee” mug, throw on the t-shirt with your favorite worship lyrics scrawled across the front, and hope and pray someone asks you about Jesus.  And if they don’t, be bold enough to initiate the conversation.  Right in the middle of your day-to-day, share Jesus with a family member, friend, colleague, neighbor, or even a stranger.  Invite someone to church, or even better, bring church to them—right there in the living room, coffee shop, or break room, at the mailbox or cash register—share the good news of Jesus Christ.  


  • 1 Michael Reeves, Theologians You Should Know (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 37-42.
  • 2 Ibid., 41-45.
  • 3 https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.iv.cxlii.html

About the Author

Felicia Caid Smith

Felicia Caid Smith

Felicia is married with two little theologians who have a lot of BIG questions. She is a former history teacher, Sunday school teacher, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry leader. She has a Master of Theological Studies from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a calling to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. When she is not speaking and blogging, she subs at her sons’ Christian school, leads a women’s discipleship group, and sings on the worship team at her church.

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