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The Church, Pagan Rome and "Christian" Rome


Dan
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Hi.  By now I have a reputation on this board as an apologist and I suppose that is accurate.  However, that does not mean that I condone everything that was done in the name of Christianity or even the Church itself at every point in history.  I sense on this board a beef with the established Church, somewhat in this country and particularly with the Church in it's medieval manifestation.  I share that beef.  I make a sharp distinction between the Church under pagan Rome and the Church post Constantine, during which it was transformed into an organ of the State.  I have been in discussions in other threads over the reliability of the accounts of Christ's ministry and that of the early Church contained in the new testament.  The thrust of the skeptics arguments is that the authors of the new testament wildly embellished Jesus' ministry and role because they wanted to justify the continuance of the movement he initiated.  That might be a plausible argument if the early Church enjoyed the same public acceptance and government endorsement in the first three hundred years of it's existence that it did after Constantine co-opted the Church to prop up his government.  It did not.  Christians under pagan Rome were essentially a despised minority that drew largely from slaves and the lower classes.  Espousing the cause of Christ was definitely not a quick path to public approval or security and often meant giving up whatever status one had.  There were no fat Bishops or powerful Popes during this period.  If you were a Church leader you were automatically under suspicion of fomenting sedition against the empire.  There was no material benefit to be gained by artificially preserving this movement if it wasn't true.  In fact it is a testament to the accuracy of the new testament that it predicted persecution of it's adherents if they were truly faithful to a full commitment to the Lordship of Christ.  It wasn't until after Rome threw in the towel and made Christianity the official religion of the empire, ushering in the medieval era and all the abuses by the Church attendant to it, that being a Christian became socially and materially acceptable.  I suspect that it is this Church that the skeptics here find so repulsive.  I am with you on this.  But I suspect you are making the mistake of mapping the lies and abuses of that period back onto the apostles.  Don't do that.  For the most part the leadership of Constantine's Church would have bolted and ran back to the idol worship of old Rome before signing up to the social and spiritual rigors required of the first century Church.  Read some of the extra biblical accounts of the first century Church and what they endured if you want proof of the guts and integrity of these people.  There is no way they could have endured it if they even suspected the apostolic witness of lies or even error.  Continuing in this vein I acknowledge that the modern Church is also guilty of enjoying material benefit from alliance with the State or it's organs.  I am appalled at the degree to which the white evangelical Church has allowed itself to be slipped into the back pocket of the Republican party, and I am equally appalled at the degree to which the black urban church has become a mouthpiece for the Democratic party.  As a potential believer you have every right to reject either of these organizations because they have fallen into the heresy of works based rightousness of their respective political alliances.  If you find this argument in any way convincing then I encourage you to seek out a church that preaches salvation by faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Christ the son of God.  It is there that you will find the same spirit at work that preserved the early Church during the bad old days when we did not enjoy the freedoms and protections that we do now.   

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8 minutes ago, Dan said:

Hi.  By now I have a reputation on this board as an apologist and I suppose that is accurate.  However, that does not mean that I condone everything that was done in the name of Christianity or even the Church itself at every point in history.  I sense on this board a beef with the established Church, somewhat in this country and particularly with the Church in it's medieval manifestation.  I share that beef.  I make a sharp distinction between the Church under pagan Rome and the Church post Constantine, during which it was transformed into an organ of the State.  I have been in discussions in other threads over the reliability of the accounts of Christ's ministry and that of the early Church contained in the new testament.  The thrust of the skeptics arguments is that the authors of the new testament wildly embellished Jesus' ministry and role because they wanted to justify the continuance of the movement he initiated.  That might be a plausible argument if the early Church enjoyed the same public acceptance and government endorsement in the first three hundred years of it's existence that it did after Constantine co-opted the Church to prop up his government.  It did not.  Christians under pagan Rome were essentially a despised minority that drew largely from slaves and the lower classes.  Espousing the cause of Christ was definitely not a quick path to public approval or security and often meant giving up whatever status one had.  There were no fat Bishops or powerful Popes during this period.  If you were a Church leader you were automatically under suspicion of fomenting sedition against the empire.  There was no material benefit to be gained by artificially preserving this movement if it wasn't true.  In fact it is a testament to the accuracy of the new testament that it predicted persecution of it's adherents if they were truly faithful to a full commitment to the Lordship of Christ.  It wasn't until after Rome threw in the towel and made Christianity the official religion of the empire, ushering in the medieval era and all the abuses by the Church attendant to it, that being a Christian became socially and materially acceptable.  I suspect that it is this Church that the skeptics here find so repulsive.  I am with you on this.  But I suspect you are making the mistake of mapping the lies and abuses of that period back onto the apostles.  Don't do that.  For the most part the leadership of Constantine's Church would have bolted and ran back to the idol worship of old Rome before signing up to the social and spiritual rigors required of the first century Church.  Read some of the extra biblical accounts of the first century Church and what they endured if you want proof of the guts and integrity of these people.  There is no way they could have endured it if they even suspected the apostolic witness of lies or even error.  Continuing in this vein I acknowledge that the modern Church is also guilty of enjoying material benefit from alliance with the State or it's organs.  I am appalled at the degree to which the white evangelical Church has allowed itself to be slipped into the back pocket of the Republican party, and I am equally appalled at the degree to which the black urban church has become a mouthpiece for the Democratic party.  As a potential believer you have every right to reject either of these organizations because they have fallen into the heresy of works based rightousness of their respective political alliances.  If you find this argument in any way convincing then I encourage you to seek out a church that preaches salvation by faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Christ the son of God.  It is there that you will find the same spirit at work that preserved the early Church during the bad old days when we did not enjoy the freedoms and protections that we do now.   

Like I said in another thread, there are Islamic suicide bombers who are prepared to blow themselves to bits (and others) because they fervently believe in their understanding of God.  I don't see that sas much different to early Christians that believed what they believed and were prepared to be persecuted for it.  Do you believe Islamic suicide bombers are right in their beliefs?  If not, how do you differ their motives from early Christians who were prepared to be persecuted for their beliefs?

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Posted (edited)

I will repeat here what I posted in one of your earlier threads.  Islamic suicide bombers are recruited from the imbalanced population of that faith (look it up) and those who do the recruiting are deeply resented by the mainstream of that culture.  The early Church had it's mentally challenged I am sure, but it was for the most part made up of and led by people in their right minds who had been convinced by apostolic witness of the truth of Christ's claims.

Edited by Dan
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20 minutes ago, Dan said:

I will repeat here what I posted in one of your earlier threads.  Islamic suicide bombers are recruited from the imbalanced population of that faith (look it up) and those who do the recruiting are deeply resented by the mainstream of that culture.  The early Church had it's mentally challenged I am sure, but it was for the most part made up of and led by people in their right minds who had been convinced by apostolic witness of the truth of Christ's claims.

You have more confidence in the early church than I believe you have the right to.  You seem sure that for the most part they were all in their right minds and convinced by apostolic witness.  These are people who existed like 2000 years ago, who you know next to nothing about, but seem to have every confidence in.  That seems illogical to me and I would say is a matter of faith, not fact.

As for the Islamic suicide bomber, my point remains - people who 'believe' in something will do all manner of things.  It is not a stretch to imagine that well-intentioned people who heard about Jesus decades after the fact, indeed came to believe certain things about Jesus and were even prepared to die for their beliefs (just like the suicide bomber).  Again, faith, not necessarily fact.

Does it matter?  Not particularly to me, unless such people are causing harm to others (physical, mental or emotional)..

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11 hours ago, Dan said:

I will repeat here what I posted in one of your earlier threads.  Islamic suicide bombers are recruited from the imbalanced population of that faith (look it up) and those who do the recruiting are deeply resented by the mainstream of that culture.  The early Church had it's mentally challenged I am sure, but it was for the most part made up of and led by people in their right minds who had been convinced by apostolic witness of the truth of Christ's claims.

I've "looked it up". I've studied Islam and Christianity in detail for decades. 

I firmly disagree with this. 

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I did the research and Kellerman is absolutely right.  Apparently my ideas about imbalanced suicide bombers is old propaganda.  My red faced apologies.  However, the research does indicate that the faith of the bombers has very little to do with their actions.  The consensus opinion is that they are motivated by a desire for revenge and retaliation seated in a sense of humiliation so strong that they are prepared to sacrifice their own lives just to hurt their oppressor.  I maintain that this is a far cry from the early Church's motivation to endure martyrdom at the hands of their oppressors for the sake of maintaining fidelity to Christ.  Their motives did not require lashing out at those hurting them.

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15 minutes ago, Dan said:

I did the research and Kellerman is absolutely right.  Apparently my ideas about imbalanced suicide bombers is old propaganda.  My red faced apologies.  However, the research does indicate that the faith of the bombers has very little to do with their actions.  The consensus opinion is that they are motivated by a desire for revenge and retaliation seated in a sense of humiliation so strong that they are prepared to sacrifice their own lives just to hurt their oppressor.  I maintain that this is a far cry from the early Church's motivation to endure martyrdom at the hands of their oppressors for the sake of maintaining fidelity to Christ.  Their motives did not require lashing out at those hurting them.

What is your motivation to be an apologist? What are the antecedents to your beliefs? What are the properties of your brain that make it necessary for you to be an apologist?

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I believe the claims and promises of Christ and his Church are true.  The fundamentals of the faith came recommended to my by reliable sources and the research I have done into the matter have largely born them out.  I say largely, because I was raised in a dispensationalist church and after a brief period of rebellion have embraced the reformed faith.  I do not have adequate knowledge of my brain to tell you what properties of it motivate me to be an apologist, but I can tell you that I am NOT motivated by any desire to browbeat behavior that I find uncomfortable out of other people.  The fate of the elect is GLORIOUS!  We are not going to be subject to the deficient and malformed in the world that our savior is preparing for us, but we will spend eternity enjoying each others company and God's, who we will see face to face in all his holy awesomeness.  What individual with a shred of compassion for his neighbor would not want him or her to partake in this?  If there were an aspect of myself that was responsible for this attitude that I could isolate and mass produce I would put it into the drinking water.  

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3 hours ago, Dan said:

I did the research and Kellerman is absolutely right.  Apparently my ideas about imbalanced suicide bombers is old propaganda.  My red faced apologies.  However, the research does indicate that the faith of the bombers has very little to do with their actions.  The consensus opinion is that they are motivated by a desire for revenge and retaliation seated in a sense of humiliation so strong that they are prepared to sacrifice their own lives just to hurt their oppressor.  I maintain that this is a far cry from the early Church's motivation to endure martyrdom at the hands of their oppressors for the sake of maintaining fidelity to Christ.  Their motives did not require lashing out at those hurting them.

And the religious organizations who murdered indigenous children has nothing to do with faith either. 

Just because something is religious doesn't mean it's holy.

ETA: there's a HUGE difference between being inspired by the words of Jesus and how that has been wielded by HUMANS throughout history to exert control and power over others. 

The same with Islam. The histories of the two religions are very interesting in terms of comparing and contrasting. 

If you want to speak of your personal perspective, faith, inspiration, etc, by all means. That's personal, and you are the foremost expert on that. 

But if you want to speak to *human history*, which is what religion is, then it's best to be extremely well informed if you want to try and educate others. 

 

Edited by Kellerman
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It is an undeniable fact that once Christianity was granted State sanction it lost much of it's identification with the oppressed and in a manner of a century or so was guilty of collusion with oppressors every bit as pernicious as the oppressing Pagan Romans had been.  I grieve this truth.  It is an albatross that the church must wear around it's neck until the end of time.  But any unbiased reading of the new testament will reveal that Christ and the apostles knew this would happen.  We get our expression "wolf in sheep's clothing" from passages warning against these individuals.  Maybe you find the concept of an eternal Hell a little more easy to swallow when the Bible talks of the fate of these pretenders.  Perhaps you will find some comfort for your anger over these crimes by reading a paper I wrote on the subject of the oppressing church.  See https://www.scribd.com/document/421495943/The-two-beasts-of-Revelation-Identified?

 

 

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6 hours ago, Dan said:

I did the research and Kellerman is absolutely right.  Apparently my ideas about imbalanced suicide bombers is old propaganda.  My red faced apologies.  However, the research does indicate that the faith of the bombers has very little to do with their actions.  The consensus opinion is that they are motivated by a desire for revenge and retaliation seated in a sense of humiliation so strong that they are prepared to sacrifice their own lives just to hurt their oppressor.  I maintain that this is a far cry from the early Church's motivation to endure martyrdom at the hands of their oppressors for the sake of maintaining fidelity to Christ.  Their motives did not require lashing out at those hurting them.

Irrespective of their 'motives', it is inarguable that their 'faith' gave them the strength to see through their convictions.  I disagree with how you determine the 'consensus opinion' that motive alone is sufficient motivation.  Like some Christians, these bombers were prepared to die for what they believe God is and wants.

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1 hour ago, Kellerman said:

I don't believe in hell. 

Neither did "God's people" in Judaism.  It is a Greek construct that was introduced into Jewish society only 100 or so years before Jesus.

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  • 5 months later...
On 6/26/2021 at 9:36 PM, Dan said:

 If you find this argument in any way convincing then I encourage you to seek out a church that preaches salvation by faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Christ the son of God.   

Churchianity even say that Jesus never died and was resurrected!

They believe he's God was CANNOT die!

He merely floated off the cross, still alive, and floated, as an immortal soul, back into the corpse!

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