“No thanks,” said I. “The inspirational value of those stories gets swallowed up in the torment of a graphic imagination. I’ll be daily fighting to suppress images of my husband and I being tortured for our faith in front of our children or vice versa. I’m aware that God would give us grace enough even if such things did occur, but perhaps this is not the most healthy way to engage my brain.”
So what did I decide to read instead? Justo Gonzalez’s two-volume history The Story of Christianity. Yeah, that’s better—I’m sure there are no graphic accounts of violence or martyrdom in there.
Oh well, so far I am really enjoying it—even though I’m already through a couple of major persecutions. My imagination seems to be in check. Pray for me. 😉
Through well chosen quotes and paraphrases, Gonzalez opens to the reader a fascinating window into Roman attitudes toward Christianity in the first and second centuries. Of particular interest to me is the nature of opposition early Christian apologists were facing by way of intellectual challenges from their Pagan contemporaries. The following is a quote Gonzalez references from second century aristocrat, Celsus:
What could be the purpose of such a visit to earth by God? To find out what is taking place among humans? Does He not know everything? Or is it perhaps that He knows but is incapable of doing anything about evil unless He does it in person?
That last accusation, though uninformed, might not be entirely incorrect. It seems that to take care of the sin problem in a way that would offer redemption to humanity, God did indeed have to do it in person.