Sunday favorites

Sunday favorites March 3, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:7-12

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

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  • Yep, if there is one group I think of when I think of the words “persecuted” and “afflicted,” it’s American Christians.

  • AnonaMiss

    C’mon Ruby, that was unfair. You know that Fred knows the proper context, and the author of the passage obviously knows the proper context. Without anyone in the thread or OP trying to link this passage to Christian Persecution in Modern America!!, the snark is just mean.

  • AnonymousSam

    On a related note, though, I’ve seen this make the FB rounds a few times recently and couldn’t help but wonder at it.

  • Evan

    I haven’t read the book, but I looked over the article (and a few internet reviews which brought my attention to some of these failings).

    No, early Christians weren’t universally persecuted, by which I mean that if you stood up in a random Roman city at a random time between Jesus and Constantine and said “I’m a Christian,” there’s a nonnegligible chance that you would not get put to death.  Also, a number of the tales of martyrs were probably revised to insert “digs at heresies that didn’t even exist when the martyrs were killed” (I’m sure they thought they were merely elucidating what he said).  But, that doesn’t meant they were all lies.

    Moss, by contrast, underestimates persecution – most prominently by only looking at when the empire was candid about it.  Says the article, “Moss distinguishes between those cases in which Christians were prosecuted simply for being Christians and those in which they were condemned… subversive or treasonous activity.”  The problem with this is that not only were those charges often a cover for getting rid of people the emperor or governor didn’t like (look at Nero, who according to secular historians blamed Christians for the Great Fire of Rome – would Moss claim that wasn’t persecution?), but Christianity itself was often considered treason because Christians refused to worship the emperor.

    Moss apparently misses this when he quotes a believer who said “that he cannot be respectful to the emperor, that he can be respectful only to Christ,” comparing this to “modern defendants who say that they will not recognize the authority of the court or of the government, but recognize only the authority of God.”  There’s a difference, though, which is probably missed by the translation:  unlike most modern governments, the Roman Emperor did actually demand worship.  To quote the second-century Martyrdom of Polycarp, they demanded, “saying, Caesar is Lord, and offering incense.”  Moss would say this isn’t persecution but merely a crackdown on treason.  I don’t see the difference.

  • AnonymousSam

    *Nods* I think I’m in the same camp. I can readily imagine an environment where being Christian meant persecution. On the other hand, I think some of the tales of persecution have been exaggerated for effect and over time have taken on such meme status that now being expected to tip a waitress counts on the same scale as being fed to lions.

    (Heck, our Lutheran visitors kept quoting lines about persecution while attacking us for heresy. That’s some serious chutzpah.)

  • flat

    Yes Caesar and the pharao where worshipped as Gods during the bible.

  • Christians were persecuted in ancient Rome (and they weren’t the only ones), but historically, no one persecutes Christians like other Christians. Christians are the very best at persecuting each other, so why would anyone else even bother?

  • flat

    they bother because like christians they are human and they wouldn’t want other humans to undermine their power in any way.

    (this isn’t only about religion but also about politics, bussines, etc)

  • Worthless Beast

    This is where I feel weird:  Though I’m not churchgoing and am probably a bit of a “heretic” in some circles, I still identify as maginally Christian – and even when I was more devout, I always got irked by the people claiming that every little thing like being polite and saying “happy holidays” was OMG! Teh Perscutionz! 

    When I encounter that online, I might say something along the lines “Go read some international stories and be happy you live in America.”

    Whenever I see someone whining about something trivial in regards to this kind of thing, I cannot help but imagine ancient martyrs looking down from the heavens and declairing, “Hoo, boy, those ‘Americans’ are wimps!” – and playing the worlds’ smallest violins for the people who cry persecution because someone made fun of them on television or some such thing.

  • I really do not see how it is unfair or mean.  I am no more being unfair or mean than Fred himself is by criticizing or snarking on the Left Behind series.

    The “persecution” of Christians by “outlawing” prayer in public schools, saying “Happy Holidays,” and criticizing the homophobic, anti-atheist Boy Scouts, is a common theme in Christian media.  Not only is it patently ridiculous, but it takes the focus from people who are actually persecuted for their beliefs.  And it is Bible verses like this one that validate the persecution complex.  If it is one of Fred’s favorites, then great, but I see no unfairness in pointing out other possible readings.

  • AnonymousSam


    Or like the Lutheran trolls quoting that line, “If anyone hates you, remember that they hated me first” as some form of justification for what they were doing.

    “If people don’t like us, clearly we must be JUST LIKE JESUS and therefore right!”

  • AnonaMiss

    Thought it was mean to bring up those things in this particular context. It’s sort of like going to a Jewish blog on a Purim-related post and commenting “Oh yeah, because Jews are SO  persecuted in Israel today.”

    Being a hegemon today doesn’t mean that one can’t legitimately meditate upon former persecution.

    It probably wouldn’t have bothered me if it hadn’t been the first and only reply. Because of that it felt like you were calling Fred out for something he wasn’t doing – though I know you’re a regular and so should have known better than to read that into your post.

  • *shrug*  Can’t help it if I was the first and only commenter.  I don’t know what time the post went up, but it’s not like I was waiting around, just ready to pounce.

    Anyway, Fred has commented numerous times on the faux-persecution phenomenon amongst privileged Christians.  This verse seems to me to be a textbook example of what such Christians use as fuel for that fire.  In any event, anyone else is free to challenge me on my interpretation, just like you did.