Early Christians

I was reading some ECF's last night, and came across the (aparently widely held) belief that Christians were required to perform ritualistic incest, and eat babies.

Just thought I would share that...

dude halloween is a devil worshipper recruiting night. Thats the night that cults send out thier worshippers and thousands of virgin teenagers dissapear from their homes in order to be used for ritual purposes, never to be heard from again.

The televangelists told me so.

What is "ECF"?

Early Church Father

Some of the stuff that was made up about Christians is rather mind-blowing.Cannibalism was probably the biggest one that probably stuck around the longest as well.Many poor people and slaves were joining the Christ worshippers and this worried the Romans as they were the most likely to revolt.The early church was truly amazing.I can just picture Nero lighting some Christians as torches to light one of his banquets because they refused to call Nero the son of God.I wonder how many "Christians" would refuse while knowing the penalty in the year 2004(looks at self...seriously).

Some of the stuff that was made up about Christians is rather mind-blowing.

Not really. They just took basic facts about the group, and twisted them into lies. That kind of thing has been seen throughout history, with regard to many races and religions.

Christians eat the body of Christ and drink his blood? Cannibals!

Christians call each other brother and sister? Incest! They all marry their brothers and sisters!

From that point you just concoct more lies related to those ones. Eg. Did you know that to become a Christian you have to stab a baby and drink its blood?

Very standard propaganda. The Romans often said this kind of thing about races/groups they looked down on.

I can just picture Nero lighting some Christians as torches to light one of his banquets because they refused to call Nero the son of God.

Whilst Christians were of course persecuted in the ancient world, I think that this persecution tends to be exaggerated and misunderstood by many people who don't have a background in the study of ancient history. On the whole, Roman emperors weren't really interested in slaughtering Christians. Their attitude was best summed up by the following advice Emperor Trajan gave to Pliny:

“These people must not be hunted out; if they are brought before you and the charge against them is proved, they must be punished.”

  • Pliny, Letters 10.97

Tertullian found that to be rather amusing:

“He [Trajan] says they must not be sought out, implying they are innocent; and he orders them to be punished, implying they are guilty.”

  • Tertullian, Apology 2.8

In reality, it simply resents typical Roman reactive ruling. The same thing is evident in the Gospel stories of Jesus' trial and crucifixion. The Romans didn't care about Jesus. They only crucified him to shut the Jewish leaders up. Likewise, most emperors and officials didn't care about the Christians. They generally just dealt with them when it was necessary to appease the masses. When there was an organised persecution, it was often for a secondary reason - not just because they didn't worship the Roman gods. Eg. Nero needed a scapegoat for the fire which ravaged part of Rome:

“[There was the] belief that the fire had taken place by [imperial] order. Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices...”

  • Tacitus, Annals 15.44

"Not really. They just took basic facts about the group, and twisted them into lies. That kind of thing has been seen throughout history, with regard to many races and religions.

Christians eat the body of Christ and drink his blood? Cannibals!"


Although this was not the purpose of my creating this thread, this is too good of an opportunity to pass up.


Isn't it interesting that the earliest Christians believed they were actually consuming the flesh and blood of Christ when receiving communion?


There is ample evidence of this belief...Ignatius, Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement, Tertullian, Hippolytus, etc...the list goes on.  Anyone care to read some of their writings which outline their beliefs?


I wonder why many Christians have abandoned this belief??  hhhmmm....

Come on rooster!  I know you are out there reading this, and I know you love to read ECF's to see what they might or might not say about oneness theology.  Shouldn't you be interested in their beliefs on the Eucharist as well?

Sorry to pick on you on this one...but you're one of the few Protestants I have come across that will admit that ECF beliefs are worth studying. 

To say that because they were accused of cannabalism, because of the sacrament, does not necessarily equate to the idea that they were actually eating flesh and drinking blood.

The early church experience with communion was in the context of a meal, not a liturgy, so according to the church how could it become the host?

My biggest problem with this idea is that it is a mystery, it is a miracle, it is a mystical event. Why, or how do people try to decipher it? I know this: it is more than just a rememberance, something happens, something real, something spiritual, and something powerful, but I can't define it nor would I try to.

the rev

"To say that because they were accused of cannabalism, because of the sacrament, does not necessarily equate to the idea that they were actually eating flesh and drinking blood."

That wasn't my point though.  I wasn't trying to prove the reality of the Real Presence via their beliefs.  I was just demonstrating that the earliest Christians....those who knew Christ, and who knew the apostles truely believed they were consuming Hid body and blood.  This was a belief from the earliest Christians, and this belief has been abandoned by many Christians.

"The early church experience with communion was in the context of a meal, not a liturgy, so according to the church how could it become the host? "

John, this simply isn't true.  I know all the "agape feast" theories are real popular these days, however there really isn't very much historical information to support this.  In fact, there IS historical and archaeological evidence to support the idea that the worship space was help in a completely separate space within one's house, not in any kind of a dining room.

What's more, I don't even need to cite any ECF's to disprove this theory.  I'll just go with St. Paul on this one.

In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, he scolds them for treating the Eucharist as ordinary food, and the liturgy as a mere party or social gathering.  He instructs the Corinthians to do their "feasting" elsewhere (v. 34) - not at the Eucharistic celebration - and to keep at the forefront of their minds the Eucharistic tradition of the real presence that he has "received from the Lord" (v. 23), remembering always that, "for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord." (v. 29).  The "agape feast" may well have been a practice of the Corinthian community and others, but it was not the Eucharistic celebration; and St. Paul makes that fact clear.

"My biggest problem with this idea is that it is a mystery, it is a miracle, it is a mystical event. Why, or how do people try to decipher it?"

It certainly is a mystery.  We are told two things in Scripture.  He started with bread, and ended with His body.  How that takes place is completely a mystery...

Well we are going to have to disagree again, I think that passage makes it clear that it was the common practice and scolds them for turning the Lords supper into an excuse to get drunk and exclude the poorer of the community.

the rev

My biggest problem with this idea is that it is a mystery, it is a miracle, it is a mystical event. Why, or how do people try to decipher it? I know this: it is more than just a rememberance, something happens, something real, something spiritual, and something powerful, but I can't define it nor would I try to.

Agreed, and nicely stated.

No problem rev. I hope I wasn't coming across as an ass, 'cause I wasn't trying to...sometimes it just happens though :-)

yeah me too

I'm right though :)

the rev

IBI, yes early Christians had it easy under Trajan. But Nero really for lack of a better word "went off on them" Tacitus in writing said speaking of Christians- "And their death was aggravated with mockery, insomuch that wrapped in the hides of wild beasts, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or fastened to crosses to be set on fire, that when darkness fell the might be burned to illuminate the night." and he goes on. Marcus Arellius also led pers. of Christians.

yours in Christ

sherm

ttt for rooster.