Tertullian (150-225), classified as one of the early church fathers, was a great Christian apologist. He was born in the city of Carthage in North Africa. Both of his parents were pagan, and his father was a centurion. Tertullian received complete education in the knowledge of the Romans and the Greeks, and he apparently practiced law in Rome before his return to Carthage and conversion. His writings indicate that he did not become a Christian until he was in his thirties or forties.
Once Tertullian converted to Christianity, he held nothing back. He used his vast learning in the cause of Christ. At the risk of his life, he wrote several works to the Romans, defending Christianity and attempting to persuade the authorities to halt their senseless persecution.
Tertullian apparently served as an elder or presbyter in Carthage, completely devoting his life to the ministry of Christ. Not only did he write apologetic works to the Romans, but he also composed a considerable number of writings in which he defended orthodox Christianity against various heretics. Tertullian also wrote exhortations for the Church itself.
Although Tertullian was fluent in Greek, he penned most of his works in Latin in order to benefit the growing number of western Christians who knew only Latin. This effort has often earned him the title of "The Father of Latin Christianity." In this effort Tertullian developed Latin terminology to express ideas of Christian theology that had previously been unique to the Greek language. He is well known for being the first to use the words "substance" and "person" to define God.
With fraternal affection,
Fr. Homero C.