Suffering of the Early Church & Christians today

29 04 2009

In my New Testament class forum I read one of the clearest expositions of the persecution of the early church & being a Christian today. I thought this post was excellent!

What did they do that caused them suffering? They proclaimed another King- Jesus – and that got right up the nose of the Roman Empire as it put them out of a job and also hurt their pride, not because the believers were bad citizens or refused to pay taxes but because they were great citizens. What annoyed the Romans was that Christians weren’t intimidated by them. They tried it and it didn’t work.

The Jewish religious establishment also persecuted the Christians for a similar reason – they wouldn’t play the religious power games any more. They didn’t oppose Judaism or Rome, they just got on and did what Christians are supposed to do – love and serve others and march to the beat of a different drum.

I don’t actually see the early church doing street protests. Their statement was their lifestyle and the way they did power – from a Kingdom not of this world. I don’t want to be persecuted because I’m arrogant and annoying, but I don’t mind if it’s because they can’t stand that my love that speaks so strongly of Jesus they have to cover their ears and throw stones.

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5 responses

6 05 2009
John

Perhaps you should also take an honest look at the darker side of the coin of Christian history, and of the murder and mayhem committed by the institutional church and its various agents.
Such being the inevitable consequence when the church was coopted by the Imperial Roman state, and thus became an integral player in the Western drive to total power and control.

1. http://www.jesusneverexisted.com

2. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~spanmod/mural/panel13.html

6 05 2009
aworthydiscussion

While the early church was far from perfect, it’s a huge leap to go from their mistakes to claim that Jesus never existed. If he didn’t exist neither did Caesar, Napoleon, or hitler. The holocaust must also have been a sham by your academic and epistemological standards. While the church has a terrible history and has made some really bad mistakes in the past, why don’t you take issue with people like Stalin and Pol Pot who murdered more people as atheists than any crusade, holy war or witchhunt put together over 2,000 years?

6 05 2009
Mason

Sorry it has taken me a bit to comment, glad to see a couple new posts from you, hope all is well in NZ.

“What did they do that caused them suffering? They proclaimed another King- Jesus”

The post you reference is quite well done. I think there might be some issue with saying the Christians were ‘great citizens’ but I suppose that is true depending on what you’re getting at there.

They were not forming a political revolt, they were obedient to the laws that were in accord with the faith, they were ‘moral’ as it were and loving towards their fellow citizens, so in all those ways yes they were good citizens.

However, they also refused to worship the gods, to pay homage to Caesar, to take part in the pagan celebrations of the community, all of which made them ‘bad citizens’ by the standards the Roman people would have judged them by.

I wonder what that looks like today? How do we refuse to be co-opted by the ‘gods and Caesars’ of our day without at the same time setting ourselves against the people we are trying to reach?
Off the top of my head I would say that in the US one aspect ought to be the Church reconsidering how attached it has become to nationalism and military power.

6 05 2009
aworthydiscussion

I like what Wright says in his book Millenium Myth talking about the PC culture that is so pervasive today – “Caesar is no less prevalent today but a lot harder to nail down”

I saw Thomas Nelson brought out a new study bible called “The Patriotic American Study Bible.” I thought that is a contradiction in terms putting that stuff with a bible. While I affirm anyone’s allegience to a nation – Paul is emphatic that nationality is not something that defines us. I think the Church in America should rethink how attached it has become to nationalism and military power. But it is a tricky debate at times.

7 05 2009
Mason

“The Patriotic American Study Bible.”

Wow… that could not be much more upsetting for me, what is the Church over here coming to?
And yes I agree we need to rethink our stance on nationalism for sure.

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