Michael Avramovich observes that “In the ancient Roman world, Christians were referred to as ‘hostis humani generis’ (enemies of the human race). This was a legal term of art and signified that Christians were undeserving of any legal protection.”
He sees this mindset returning. He then quotes from Wallace Henley, who says that “prophetic voices” tend to be silenced in the following sequence: “marginalization, caricaturization, vilification, criminalization, elimination.” Right now, he says, we are at “vilification,” and that we need to get ready to be the Church of 1st century Rome.
From Wallace Henley, Dear Christians: Prepare to be treated like 1st century Christians in Rome:
Previously, I wrote in The Christian Post about the process by which the prophetic voice is silenced in a culture: Marginalization, caricaturization, vilification, criminalization, elimination.We have reached the stage of vilification – conservative Christians are now regarded by the consensus establishments as the villains in “transformed” America. The Supreme Court may well take us to the criminalization stage.
The biblical church therefore must learn to live as the first century Christians did in Rome.
Their faith would not permit violent resistance to the state. Rather, as Dr. Martin Luther King would demonstrate, the resistance would take the positive form of standing for truth midst the antagonism of individuals and institutions opposing their freedom. The first century Roman Christians knew the greatest they could do in the exclusion of marginalization, ridicule of caricaturization, loathing of vilification, infamy of criminalization, and threat of elimination was to live out their faith in the midst of a society that hated them.
Since they did not have official sanction for an institutional presence in Rome, the Roman Christians operated through organic relational communities. In homes, catacombs, and other secret places, they functioned as the body of Christ. And when they emerged up into the public glare they manifested the face of Christ.