Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tertullian on Christian Gatherings Around 198CE

We are a united body. We are bound together by a common religious conviction, by one and the same divine discipline and by the bond of common hope. We form a permanent society and come together for communal gatherings as if forming an army around God and besieging Him with our prayers. This is the kind of force in which God rejoices. …

In these meetings of our society there is also encouragement, admonition, and divine correction, for holding judgment is a matter which carries great weight among us, as it should be among people who are sure of God’s presence. … The most proven men preside; the “elders” as we call them. They have attained this honor only through their good name, never through the use of money.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Clement of Rome on What Jesus Looked Like in 95CE

For Christ is of those who are humble-minded, and not of those who exalt themselves over His flock. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sceptre of the majesty of God, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance, although He might have done so, but in a lowly condition, as the Holy Spirit had declared regarding Him. For He says, “Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We have declared [our message] in His presence:

He is, as it were, a child, and like a root in thirsty ground; He has no form nor glory, yes, we saw Him, and He had no form nor attractiveness; but His form was without prominence, yes, deficient in comparison with the [ordinary] form of men. He is a man exposed to stripes and suffering, and acquainted with the endurance of grief: for His countenance was turned away; He was despised, and not esteemed.”

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ignatius on Jesus Being the Savior of the World in 105CE

Some most worthless persons are in the habit of carrying about the name [of Jesus Christ] in wicked deceitfulness. They practice things unworthy of God and hold opinions contrary to the doctrine of Christ, to their own destruction. … For “they are dumb dogs, that cannot bark,” raving mad, and biting secretly, against whom you must be on your guard, since they labor under an incurable disease. But our Physician is the only true God, the unbegotten and unapproachable, the Lord of all, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son. …

Let not then any one deceive you, as indeed you are not deceived; for you are wholly devoted to God. For when there is no evil desire within you, which might defile and torment you, then you live in accordance with the will of God, and are [the servants] of Christ. … They that are carnal cannot do those things which are spiritual, nor they that are spiritual the things which are carnal; even as faith cannot do the works of unbelief, nor unbelief the works of faith. But you, being full of the Holy Spirit, do nothing according to the flesh, but all things according to the Spirit. You are complete in Christ Jesus, “who is the Savior of all men, specially of them that believe.” …

And pray without ceasing in behalf of other men; for there is hope of repentance, that they may attain to God. For “cannot he that falls arise again, and he that goes astray return?” Permit them, then, to be instructed by you. Be therefore the ministers of God, and the mouth of Christ. … Conquer their harsh temper by gentleness, their passion by meekness. For “blessed are the meek;” and Moses was meek above all men; and David was exceeding meek. Wherefore Paul exhorts as follows: “The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle towards all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.”

Do not seek to avenge yourselves on those that injure you. … Let us make them brethren by our kindness. For say to those that hate you, “You are our brethren,” that the name of the Lord may be glorified. And let us imitate the Lord, “who, when He was reviled, reviled not again;” when He was crucified, He answered not; “when He suffered, He threatened not;” but prayed for His enemies, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” If any one, the more he is injured, displays the more patience, blessed is he. If any one is defrauded, if any one is despised for the name of the Lord, he truly is the servant of Christ. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Tertullian on the Problem of Evil in 207CE

These are the bones of contention, which you are perpetually gnawing! If God is good, and knows the future, and able to avert evil, why did He permit man … to be deceived by the devil, and fall from obedience of the law into death? For if He had been good, and so unwilling that such a catastrophe should happen, and knowing of the future, so as not to be ignorant of what was to come to pass, and powerful enough to hinder its occurrence, that issue would never have come about, which should be impossible under these three conditions of the divine greatness. Since however, it has occurred, the contrary proposition is most certainly true, that God must be deemed neither good, nor prescient, nor powerful.

I find, though, that man was constituted free by God, master of his own will and power; indicating the presence of God’s image and likeness in him by nothing so well as by this constitution of his nature. … The goodness of God, then fully considered from the beginning of His works, will be enough to convince us that nothing evil could possibly have come forth from God; and the liberty of man will, after a second thought, shows us that it alone is chargeable with the fault which itself committed. …

Accordingly, God gave him to live when he was formed into a living soul; but He charged him to live virtuously when he was required to obey a law. So also God shows that man was not constituted for death, by now wishing that he should be restored to life, preferring the sinner’s repentance to his death. As, therefore, God designed for man a condition of life, so man brought on himself a state of death; and this too, neither through infirmity nor through ignorance, so that no blame can be imputed to the Creator. No doubt it was an angel who was the seducer; but then the victim of that seduction was free, and master of himself; and as being the image and likeness of God, was stronger than any angel. … And thus it comes to pass, that even now also, the same human being, the same substance of his soul, the same condition as Adam’s, is made conqueror over the same devil by the self-same liberty and power of his will, when it moves in obedience to the laws of God.