(Tim Challies) A Sober Warning from the Earliest Christians

Here is one similarity between ourselves and Rome: Just as every religion in the Roman Empire was meant to add a small homage to the Emperor, today we find that every religion (and every other group, for that) is meant to add an element of tolerance. We display our loyalty to society when we express such tolerance, and display disloyalty if we refuse. If we fail the test of tolerance we fail the test of good citizenship.

Here is a second similarity: People today are perfectly willing to tolerate the Christian faith as long as it doesn’t disrupt the unifying principle of tolerance. Christians in the early church were welcome to continue to worship Jesus, to sing their songs, and to preach their Scriptures, as long as they added just that one tiny nod to the Emperor. Likewise, we are free to continue to worship Jesus, to sing our songs, and to preach our Scriptures, as long as we accept these new definitions of marriage, gender, and so on. We don’t need to abandon our faith, but just modify it slightly to better fit the times.

And a third similarity: Just as the people around the early Christians insisted that there was no inconsistency between worshipping Jesus and offering a pinch of incense to the Emperor, people around us today are insisting there is no inconsistency between these new sexual mores and the Bible. Those first Christians knew better and bore the consequences. We, too, know better, and may be forced to bear consequences.

Writing of the early church, Bruce Shelley said, “To the Roman, the Christian seemed utterly intolerant and insanely stubborn; worse, he was a self-confessed disloyal citizen.” But that Christian, through all his stubbornness, maintained a clear conscience before God.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology: Scripture