Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Marcions Among Us

Marcion of Sinope (85 AD - 160 AD) was a wealthy shipowner on the Black Sea in what is now Northern Turkey. His father was the Bishop of Sinope (their home town) and Marcion was probably consecrated a bishop too, and most likely became an assistant bishop to his father.

It is said that at one time he made a donation of 200,000 sesterces to the Church of Rome. At the time you could buy 2 loaves of bread for one sesterce so let's estimate equivalent of a sesterce in today's money at $5.00, which means a gift of 200,000 sesterces was worth $1,000,000 in today's money. It is also said that the Church of Rome returned that gift. I will pause for a moment while your brain recovers from that thought-hammer. The Church of Rome RETURNING money? 

Well, yeah - they returned the money. Let's not forget that at one time the Church of Rome was a caring, Jesus loving organization devoted to spreading the true word of the gospel, an organization with morals and deep spiritual values. It took centuries to become a pedophile protecting museum of heresy that will sell their version of salvation for a 'like' on Facebook. So yeah, they returned the money and they excommunicated Marcion, not for the usual reasons (which were almost always political and very rarely over actual theological debates) but this time they excommunicated Marcion (some say that it was his own father excommunicated him and banished him from Rome) for actual heresy

Marcion's heresy was one of dualism. Marcion's study of the Jewish Scriptures led him to conclude that many of the teachings of Jesus were incompatible with the actions of the God of the Old Testament so obviously there are two Gods. The Old Testament God was "too Jewish" for him. Marcion determined that Jesus was our savior sent by God (did he say which God? Not sure...) and that Paul was His chief Apostle but that Christianity was in complete discontinuity with Judaism and entirely opposed to the Old Testament message. Marcion did not claim that the Jewish Scriptures were false but he said that YHWH was not the God spoken of by Jesus.

So what Marcion was saying was Old Book, old & busted god, New Book, new hotness God. According to Marcion there were two bibles and two gods, one for each bible. No wonder why the early (and better) Church of Rome threw him and his heresy out. 

Now listen to Bill O'Reilly, Irish-Catholic, high school teacher now news reader. I've heard him say on many an occasion that the Old Testament is allegory, that the New Testament is real. Nonsense like this (besides being the main reason why I won't watch his show) is the exact same dualism that Marcion was preaching. That's not the only place I've heard such guff, I heard it in parochial school: the New Testament is Christianity, the old testament is Judaism and never the twain shall meet. The old Testament God is full of Wrath and Anger, while the New Testament God is full of love and grace. 

Unfortunately many people do separate the Old Testament from the New Testament and no one is there to tell them the fallacy of this line of thought. Then again, if you're in an evangelical church (other than Calvary Chapel) when was the last time you heard a sermon founded in the Old Testament? I'm not a bible scholar by any means, and truly hope never to be one because I'd miss that "I've never noticed this before" excitement I get every time I pick up the Bible, but try this: Read the bible through Chronologically.

The Bible is a unified work, rooted in History, and reaching out to the future. I didn't realize how unified it is until I read it chronologically. Reading chronologically is a little weird when you reach the Gospels, but it shines a while new light on the Old Testament. When I say a "unified work" I mean that the Bible is one story, 66 'chapters' long written over centuries by dozens of authors in three different languages, and never does it contradict or compromise itself. It starts at the very beginning of everything, follows the history of the world and God's interactions with his people. Woven through this story is the thread of the plan of salvation which reaches a climax at Calvary where Jesus dies, then rises from the dead, then ascends into heaven just as promised. Then the Ultimate Battle - the Bad Guy (Satan) and his minions overrun the world! And when all is darkness and lost and everything looks hopeless the Good Guys return! Jesus routes Satan, restores God's Kingdom!

How can you ignore the Old Testament when Jesus is quoting it constantly?

The overall story makes the Old Testament just as important as the New Testament, ignoring the Old Testament is like walking into Gone With The Wind during the intermission - What happened to Atlanta? and why is that skinny chick in rags and eating roots? It makes no sense if you don't understand exactly why we need a savior when you pick up a book that starts with the birth of the savior: Ok, I've got a savior.... now why exactly do I need him? The answer is all there in the Old Testament. So is Jesus.

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