Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal

Friday, October 7, 2016

What Today’s Christians Can Learn From Antiquity About Living In A Pagan World

Greg Scandlen hits the bullseye here with his treatise entitled "What Today’s Christians Can Learn From Antiquity About Living In A Pagan World". His analysis is spot-on and must-reading in entirety.

Mollie Hemingway had a very nice article in The Federalist the other day in which she suggests that our society’s sexual obsession is a new religion. She writes,

This new religion has fervent adherents and strict dogma, but it’s also true that the doctrines are still being formed. Now that marriage has been redefined away from sexual complementarity, the project to redefine the sexes themselves is moving forward. The doctrines governing biological reality, monogamy, polygamy, beastiality, pedophilia, and other issues will continue to be debated in councils and forums.

She overlooks the holy sacrament of abortion in her list of dogmas: it is the one practice that is beyond debate in this new paganism. Despite the political rhetoric of “pro-choice,” this religion’s expectation is that pregnant women should get abortions and celebrate doing so on Twitter and YouTube. It doesn’t matter much if the expectant mother has been coerced by boyfriends or family members as long as the Temple of Planned Parenthood is fed new sacrifices.

... Stark examines the early Christian movement strictly on the basis of social practices, and considers how the values of the Jesus movement provided cohesion in a pagan empire that was already falling apart in the first century.

... There were “serious population shortages” by the second century.

The reasons for this are many, and Stark studies them all. Rome was extremely male-dominated. Roman men didn’t have much use for women, due in part to widespread homosexuality and prostitution. Stark quotes Baryl Rawson (author of “The Family in Ancient Rome”) as writing, “one theme that recurs in Latin literature is that wives are difficult and therefore men did not care much for marriage.”

Even when Roman men did marry, it was often to prepubescent girls of age 12 or less.  Abortion and infanticide (especially of female babies) were commonplace, “justified by law and advocated by philosophers”—including Seneca, Plato, and Aristotle. Plato advocated that abortion be mandatory for women over age 40. Of course, abortion was dangerous and often resulted in the death or infertility of the woman.

As a result of these practices, there was an extreme shortage of women in the Roman Empire. 

... But when Christians came on the scene, they changed all of this. They absolutely prohibited abortion and infanticide within their own ranks. They also prohibited homosexuality, applied the same standards of chastity and fidelity within marriage to both men and women, and gave women much higher social status than the Romans allowed.

... but another phenomenon also helped boost Christian growth: the sudden onset of two epidemics, one in 165 A.D. and the other in 251 A.D. The first was likely smallpox and the second measles. In each case, they produced devastating mortality, killing as much as 30 percent of the population each time.

The pagan response was to flee as far from infected people as possible.

... the Christian explanation was radically different. They believed God was testing and judging humans. Even though some of the faithful might die, they would also be rewarded in the afterlife for their response to the crisis. And what did God expect their response should be? He wrote it all down in Scripture: love your neighbor as yourself, care for the sick and the lame, act as the Good Samaritan acted. That is exactly what Christians did: they cared for one another even in the face of death.

... Rome did not decline because of invasion by “barbarian hordes” (as many of us were taught in school), but through depopulation. The barbarians were invited in to take over abandoned farms and serve in Roman armies, while Christianity grew to become a majority religion in just a few generations.

... Christians must get used to being a minority in a pagan world.

... In today’s climate, Christians have to restore Christ’s message of love and joy—not just talking about it, but living it every day. That does not mean accommodating ourselves to the pagan world, but witnessing for Jesus within that world. We don’t win over pagans by diluting our faith, but by living it out.

To do that, we have to identify our world for what it is: pagan, not some wishy-washy term like “secular.” Today’s pagans have their own gods just as surely as the Romans and Babylonians had theirs. These include the gods of sex, political power, and celebrity, and they are every bit as futile as the Roman and Babylonian gods were. They fail to bring meaning or contentment to their devotees—instead, they bring emptiness and dissatisfaction. Worshiping such gods is sad and pathetic, and we should feel compassion for those lost in paganism, welcoming them when they arrive at our door looking for meaning.

... it is also true that women disproportionately suffer the consequences of New Paganism. Women, far more than men, suffer from STDs. Women, far more than men, are left to rear children born out of wedlock. It is women who have to get abortions and suffer the emotional and physical results. It is women who suffer from sexual predators unrestrained by moral codes. It is women who are sold into the global sex trafficking market. Indeed, pagan “liberation” seems to have mostly liberated men from taking responsibility for the consequences of their own actions.

These are big prices to pay for pagan liberation. 

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