Archive for martyrdom

Synods: Witness not with your words, but your actions.

At the Eastern Synod the following values are proclaimed:
1. Praising and worshipping God
2. Taking care of other believers within our faith-communities
3. Witness to those outside our faith-communities.
These are common values that most Christians would agree with, but I would like to qualify something about the third value of wittness to those outside our faith-communities.
a. Are we willing to die for this witness?
b. Do we also take care of people outside our faith-communities?
In the first three centuries of the Christian era Christian communities grew from 120 worshippers in Jerusalem to a few million across the Roman Empire. This happened despite the fact ….
 that Christianity were first viewed only as a sect within Judaism,
 that they were later viewed as an illegal religion because Jewish believers made it clear that Christianity was not to be seen as a form of Judaism,
 that Christians were accused of eating human flesh and drinking blood (Baptism and Communion/Eucharist/Nagmaal).
a. This happened despite the fact that from time to time Christians were persecuted and killed for their faith.  It is generally accepted that one of the major reasons Christianity grew was the way in which Christians accepted death by martyrdom. It was Tertullian (one of the big early Latin Church Fathers) that made the statement that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”. It is interesting that the word martyr (μάρτυς) that we use so often for referring to somebody who died/suffered for a cause originally meant witness. This shows how willing many early Christians were to die for their witness, and did not just witness with words.
b. It is also generally accepted that if we look at the first three centuries of growth in Christians despite the persecutions was due to the willingness of Christians to reach out to the destitute, the cast-aways, the sick of ancient society. This was probably because of Jesus’ own willingness to reach out to these people despite cultural rules prohibiting this. Christians cared for widows, the poor, thrown away babies, ill people like lepers. Christians started ancient hospitals to care for poor even after it became the religion of the empire. When Julian, son of Emperor Constantine, became emperor he wanted to bring back the old Roman religions. The problem he had was that these religions did not care for these destitute people. He knew that the Roman religions would not be able to reassert themselves if they were not willing to act like the Christians of the first three centuries. Christians took care of people outside their faith-communities through their love and care for non-Christians, not only by witnessing through words.
Ancient Christians did not do this so that there numbers would grow, but simply because this was part of their human DNA (in flesh and spirit). Similarly Future Christians should re-sequence their DNA. Christians are not to witness only in words, but by their actions.
In fact I would propose to restate the first mentioned three values as follows.
1. Praising and worshipping God
2. Taking care of other believers within our faith-communities
3. Witness by Words, Suffering and Taking care of those outside our faith-communities.
What do you think?
At the Eastern Synod the following values are proclaimed:
1. Praising and worshipping God
2. Taking care of other believers within our faith-communities
3. Witness to those outside our faith-communities.
These are common values that most Christians would agree with, but I would like to qualify something about the third value of wittness to those outside our faith-communities.
a. Are we willing to die for this witness?
b. Do we also take care of people outside our faith-communities?
In the first three centuries of the Christian era Christian communities grew from 120 worshippers in Jerusalem to a few million across the Roman Empire. This happened despite the fact ….
 that Christianity were first viewed only as a sect within Judaism,
 that they were later viewed as an illegal religion because Jewish believers made it clear that Christianity was not to be seen as a form of Judaism,
 that Christians were accused of eating human flesh and drinking blood (Baptism and Communion/Eucharist/Nagmaal).
a. This happened despite the fact that from time to time Christians were persecuted and killed for their faith.  It is generally accepted that one of the major reasons Christianity grew was the way in which Christians accepted death by martyrdom. It was Tertullian (one of the big early Latin Church Fathers) that made the statement that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”. It is interesting that the word martyr (μάρτυς) that we use so often for referring to somebody who died/suffered for a cause originally meant witness. This shows how willing many early Christians were to die for their witness, and did not just witness with words.
b. It is also generally accepted that if we look at the first three centuries of growth in Christians despite the persecutions was due to the willingness of Christians to reach out to the destitute, the cast-aways, the sick of ancient society. This was probably because of Jesus’ own willingness to reach out to these people despite cultural rules prohibiting this. Christians cared for widows, the poor, thrown away babies, ill people like lepers. Christians started ancient hospitals to care for poor even after it became the religion of the empire. When Julian, son of Emperor Constantine, became emperor he wanted to bring back the old Roman religions. The problem he had was that these religions did not care for these destitute people. He knew that the Roman religions would not be able to reassert themselves if they were not willing to act like the Christians of the first three centuries. Christians took care of people outside their faith-communities through their love and care for non-Christians, not only by witnessing through words.
Ancient Christians did not do this so that there numbers would grow, but simply because this was part of their human DNA (in flesh and spirit). Similarly Future Christians should re-sequence their DNA. Christians are not to witness only in words, but by their actions.
In fact I would propose to restate the first mentioned three values as follows.
1. Praising and worshipping God
2. Taking care of other believers within our faith-communities
3. Witness by Words, Suffering and Taking care of those outside our faith-communities.
What do you think?
Advertisements