Sunday, May 5, 2013

Secular Conformation of Early Christianity

History stands in rebuke of the Atheists and Secular Humanists, who try to deny the historical veracity of Jesus Christ, his Apostles, and the quickly expanding Christian Church. 

The Roman historian Tacitus live around the years A.D. (C.E.) 60-120.  Referring to the burning of Rome, which happened when he was a child, A.D. 64, he wrote:

All the endeavors of men, all the emperor's largesse and the propitiations of the gods, did not suffice to allay the scandal or banish the belief that the fire had been ordered. (He was writing of Nero's intentional burning of Rome for sport.)  And so, to get rid of this rumor, Nero set up as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians.  Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.  Checked for the moment, this pernicious superstition broke out, not only in Judaea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome, that receptacle for everything tht is sordid and degrading from every quarter of the globe, which there finds a following. 

Accordingly arrest was first made of those who confessed (to being Christian); then, on their evidence, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much on the charge of arson as because of hatred of the human race. (Note the recent attack upon Christians in the U.S. military as 'haters of the human race, where the mere mention of God from the lips of a Christian is viewed as an assault on decency. It is the same spirit at work today.) Besides being put to death, they were made to serve as objects of amusement;  they were clad in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed.  Nero had thrown open his grounds for the display and was putting on a show in the circus, where he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or drove about in his chariot.  All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, even towards men whose guilt merited the most exemplary punishment; for ti was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual (Annals XV, 24)

Those of you foolish enough to believe the Atheist's and the Secular Humanists belief that Christianity was "paganized" and created by the Roman state, as a means of control are ignorant of the history indeed.  At this very early date, we have witness of large numbers of Christians living in Rome who suffered horrible tortures for BEING Christian.  64 A.D. was a mere 30 years, give or take from the Cross if Christ. 

Another Roman historian Suetonius who lived, A.D. 75 -160  also gives report of the very early proliferation of Christian Faith, saying, "Since the Jews were continually making disturbances at the instigation of Christus, he (Claudius) expelled them from Rome. " (Vita Claudii (XXV,4) 

Another place he makes clear that under the Roman emperor Claudius, Jesus Christ already had a multitude of disciples in Rome.  He is the second non-christian witness to the great persecution under Nero. 

In his (Nero's reign many abuses were severely punished and repressed, and as many new laws instituted; . . punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a sect of men adhering to a novel and mischievous superstition. (Vita Neronis XVI) 

And as if this witness weren't enough we have Pliny the Younger who lived from A.D. 62-113 who wrote the Emperor Trajan saying:

It is my rule, Sire, to refer to you in matters where I am uncertain.  For who can better direct my hesitation or instruct my ignorance?  I was never present at any trial of Christians; therefore I do not know what are the customary penalties or investigations, and what limits are observed.  I have hesitated a great deal on the question whether there should be any distinction of ages; whether the weak should have the same treatment as the most robust; whether those who recant should be pardoned, or whether a man who has ever been a Christian should gain nothing by ceasing to be such; wether the name itself, even if innocent of crime, should be published, or only the crimes attaching to that name.

Meanwhile, this is the course that I have adopted in the case of those brought before me as Christians.  I ask them if they are Christians.  If they admit it, I repeat the question a second and a third time, threatening capital punishment; if they persist, I sentence them to death.

This witness is confirmed by the pages of the New Testament, and of St. Clement, Bishop of Rome writing in the first century just following the Neronian or Domitian persecutions. He tells of Saint Peter's death as a martyr, and that Saint Paul not yet dead had been in prison seven times. And he gives us the names of other martyrs, The Danaids and Darcai. And of course Christian Tradition supplies many more witnesses to the state of the Early Church, among these the lengthy letter written by the Christian philosopher Aristides to emperor Hadrian (we have this letter in its entirety) written in the year 125 A.D.  explaining the state of Christian life.  

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