Friday, January 10, 2014

The seed of the church

Of all the proofs and all the testimonials, nothing approaches the credibility inherent in martyrdom. How could mere mortals remain defiant after being skinned and covered with salt? How could anyone keep the faith while being slowly roasted on a spit? Such performances seemed virtually supernatural in and of themselves. And that was the effect they often had on the observers. Christian viewers could “see” that the hand of God was on the martyrs. Many pagans also were amazed: the distinguished physician Galen wrote of Christians that “their contempt of death…is patent to us every day.” Accounts of martyrdom make frequent mention of pagans having gained respect for the faith from having observed, or even having taken part in, the torture of martyrs. The pagan onlookers knew full well that they would not endure such tribulations for their religion.— The Triumph of Christianity, page 151

<idle musing>
Origen said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. While I think he is overstating it, their testimony (that's what martyr means in Greek) is definitely inspiring and compelling. I pray that I would have sufficient grace not just to endure but to be a conqueror if I were put in such a position.
</idle musing>

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