Monday, April 14, 2008

One Wonders…

I’m a bit of a sci fi person. Heroes, all the Star Treks but Deep Space Nine, Star Wars and, as of late, Battlestar Galactica. On episode five of the third season, the humans have to deal with people that collaborated with the enemy Cylons. So, they come up with a system to do so. It made me think of the early church’s difficulty with the Roman Empire. There were times when we were less persecuted and times when we were more persecuted and during those time of more persecution, there were those that abandoned the faith. One of the first great controversies came when these people that abandoned the faith and burned incense to false gods. Tertullian, a brilliant church scholar, and others in North Africa didn’t want to forgive them. Baptism was your singular act of forgiveness and, if you forfeited that, you forfeited salvation.

It never occurred to me that the church may have really been dealing with more complex issues than people that burned incense to false gods. These could be people that collaborated with the Romans to turn over names of Christian martyrs. The real issue of forgiveness may have been forgiving people who contributed to the death of your wife or husband or child. And, quite remarkably, the majority of Christians felt it was necessary to show leniency and forgiveness.

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