Tag Archive | First Century Church

No, I Don’t Want To!

Alan, over at his blog, The Assembling of the Church writes about a recent school project his kids have been working on.  In his post he writes:

“They started by reading The Church History by Eusebius. His primary goal is to prove succession from the apostles to the bishops of his day.

However, he has another goal: listing many of the people who died because they professed Christ.

Interestingly, many of these martyrs did not die because they believed that Jesus Christ was divine or that he was raised from the dead. Instead, some were charged with crimes against the state and humanity.

What kinds of crimes? Well, crimes like cannibalism, incest, and atheism. Now, obviously, those early Christians were not cannibals. But, the people around them thought they were cannibals. Similarly, they were not practicing incest nor were they atheists. But, their neighbors thought they were. Why?

This week, my children have to pick one of the three crimes listed above and indicate how they would defend themselves against the charge.”

Then Alan asked a question of his readers.  He writes:

“What about you? Could you defend yourself from a charge of cannibalism, incest, or atheism in a manner that your friends, neighbors, and co-workers would understand? Wanna try it?”

Now, normally I’m not very stirred up by bloggers asking questions like this.  But this time I was. I had this deep response in my gut that could only be satisfied by shifting from lurker status and posting my response on his blog.  I’ll quote my response below.  Tell me what you think:

“My immediate first reaction to your post is absolutely not (to the question, “Wanna try?”). Here’s why: Knowing only a little context for why the first believers were called cannibals and incestuous, basically what I would have to defend is our meetings, and winning against a charge might mean I’ve missed something very important in my spiritual life.

They were called incestuous because of their “love feasts” which, if I’m not mistaken had everything to do with the Lord’s supper. The close relationships and celebration between people otherwise unrelated lead outsiders to believe these “love feasts” had more than just an “agape” kind of love going on. I could very easily defend why our love feasts are not incestuous to an outsider, and to some degree that is to my shame.  I would win on the charge, but it would mean there is no true love going on in our feasts being mistaken for something else.

The same could be said for the charge of cannibalism. (If I’m thinking correctly) Outsiders would frequently hear of believers eating the body and blood of Jesus. That phrase was both real to believers of the early church (meaning they took it seriously, we treat it as only a metaphor) and it was atrociously real to outsiders. I could defend why we are not cannibals to an outsider, but again, it may be to my shame. Winning against that charge would mean I’ve not taken the command to eat His body and drink His blood seriously.

On the other hand, I think most of us could easily defend ourselves against the charge of atheism. But in our culture you just have to have a mental ascent to a higher power in order to stand against this charge. No big victory there.”

How about you?  What do you think about these charges?  How would you respond?  You can leave your responses here or you can head over to Alan’s blog and join the conversation.

Photo Credit: Martyr’s Death by FaceMePLS.