modern christians

youtube.com/watch?v=RCNrfoNlCIU

A short video about modern american christians.

While I understand his sentiment, I don’t think this comparison is very applicable, as “Christian” within this time-frame was so far removed from what that term refers to today theologically (not behaviorally) that I don’t know how a comparison can be drafted, since if the theologies are different, then naturally behavior will be different.

Aside from this; behavior is different through time and culture regardless; I can’t think of two time and culture points where a Christian culture is found to be in like comparison, which makes sense, since two time and culture points are very different from each other.

Now, more on the sentiment point; I get it, he’s more or less wanting Christians to be more humble.

Now, I really don’t mean to be a jerk, but I have a hard time sympathizing with him on this too much when he is calling for this kind of change, but at the same time expresses the following:
“That is the current situation in China. The government in China is perplexed as to why they can’t (stomp) out Christianity in their country. They don’t understand the power of god…go figure.”

The last line expressed in that statement is in direct opposition to everything else he’s referring to.

For anyone who doesn’t want to sit through the 13 minute video; the fellow in the video is reading these segments from The Epistle of mathetes to Diognetus (fyi, mathetes is a word for “disciple”):
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And then he’s comparing these remarks against his familiarity with modern Christian culture in the United States.

He does a fairly poor job at conveying his points, but I get the general gist of what he’s after; to convey that he thinks modern Christian culture in the United States is lacking in humility by a far stretch to its theological charges.

The problem I have with this is for a few reasons (aside from those above).

  1. This is written by an adherent, so the account of Christian conduct is rather bias and heavily leaned toward praise.

  2. This is written by an adherent in the first century (or so), and as such, there’s really no way the individual would have to speak accurately of all Christians in the world.

  3. Christianity was not yet unified into a singular construct at this point, so the idea of stating “Christian” was very vague in identification, and typically meant that a bunch of groups of Christians were being ignored in the remark; most likely the author had a specific sect (or way of following) in mind when he wrote this, and did not think outside of the group he belonged to (point in case; he praises the action of piety. This was not held in such esteem in all groups of Christian followers in such praise as this author notes)

  4. This is a convert, rather clearly, who is not familiar with Hebrew cultural customs quite vividly.
    Chapter 3:
    “The Jews, then, if they abstain from the kind of service above described, and deem it proper to worship one God as being Lord of all, [are right]; but if they offer Him worship in the way which we have described, they greatly err. For while the Gentiles, by offering such things to those that are destitute of sense and hearing, furnish an example of madness; they, on the other hand by thinking to offer these things to God as if He needed them, might justly reckon it rather an act of folly than of divine worship.”
    The sacrifices by the Hebrews are not to their god, but from their person; there is a difference in that perspective.
    Sacrifices in this time period within Judaism were centered around giving up something which caused the adherent loss, so to restore a moral balance in the individual offering the sacrifice, because then the adherent experiencing loss where previous, at the expense of another, they experienced gain.
    It was given “to” their god because everything belongs to their god and therefore their sacrifice, to restore balance, could not then give any other person gain as a consequence of their loss or the scale of morality would be deferred in its unbalance, rather than balanced back.

Further, in Chapter 4:
“But as to their scrupulosity concerning meats, and their superstition as respects the Sabbaths, and their boasting about circumcision, and their fancies about fasting and the new moons, which are utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice,–I do not think that you require to learn anything from me.”
Clearly shows that the individual lacks a cultural understanding of these traditions.
Meats were selected in these manners when they were for health-sake reasons of the times, the Sabbath was a marking point for the cyclical rotation of time and referenced the Hebraic view of actor/character relationship (almost like Karma, but not quite) over time - that man was part of a large mechanism which spun existence. Sabbath was a way of marking time on this viewpoint.
Likewise, circumcision and new moons had their origins in rather sensible needs of early tribal groupings with little in the way of societal infrastructure to conduct health and welfare.

The importance of this is that immediately we can understand that this individual is already at folly for the same things the fellow in the video was conveying modern Christians were victims of: bias, bigoted judgement (“utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice” is not humble), marketing Jesus, etc…the last of this list brings us to number 5.

  1. This adherent was marketing Jesus; that was the entire point of this letter: to make a case for Christianity that would win confidence and sympathy. To say that no one was marketing in this time period is simply a misunderstanding of what marketing was during this era, and what tools were available to less than popular sub-cultures within society.
    They couldn’t very well put up posters and throw parades, as if they did, they would be prosecuted in many places (for varying reasons).

  2. The last point of “things were better when” syndrome here is this expression from CHAPTER XII:
    “it is disobedience that proves destructive.”
    That, to me, sounds like the same restrictive-based theological construct that exists today in some variations, and is hard at the root of the ultra conservative hardline Christian cultures.

I’m going to cut it off there, but I could really keep going on this for quite some time.