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Christians in the Empire - Essay Example

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The early Christians were not worshiping the emperor and the gods of the Empire, posing a direct threat to the Empire political and economic stability, and many people had become Christians as we can know when Pliny said: "For the matter seemed to me to warrant consulting you, especially because of the number involved…
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Christians in the Empire
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Download file to see previous pages Hence it is easy to imagine what a multitude of people can be reformed if an opportunity for repentance is afforded." The Roman Empire has also forbidden any secret meetings, and considered them to be political associations against the emperor as Pliny clearly states: "in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations." Christians were treated like treators, like conspirators, to the state and the established pagan religion. Pagans considered Christians to be a threat to their own gods, and they considered that misfortunes or natural disasters came from the Christians' God.
Pliny didn't know how to prosecute the Christians. For him they were superstitious people, just ignorant people. So Pliny states the following as he didn't know what to do: "I have never participated in trials of Christians. I therefore do not know what offenses it is the practice to punish or investigate, and to what event. . ."
Trajan tells him that he has treated the matter in the right way when he said: "You observed proper procedure, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those who had been denounced to you as Christians." There is some uncertainty in Trajan's mind when he said: "For it is not possible to lay down any general rule to serve as a kind of fixed standard." But Trajan is positive about not persecuting the Christians. So he said: "They are not to be sought out". This policy makes it easier for Christians to live in the Empire as they were not going to be chased openly. It is also clear in Trajan's words that the anonymous accusations are not going to be taken into account. He said: "But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with [the spirit of] our age." This policy by the emperor eased matters for Christians as they were not going to be persecuted openly, but it was not a perfect solution as they were not considered to be normal citizens in the empire. They were still forbidden.
3. How does Tertullian justify the Christians refusal to worship the emperor
Tertullian gives powerful reason for not worshipping the Emperor based on the nature of the Christians conviction about the true God. He said very convincingly: "For we invoke the eternal God, the true God, the living God for the safety of the emperors. . . ." Tertullian states also that Christians do pray in favor of all the emperors with the following words: "Looking up to heaven, the Christians - with hands outspread, because innocent, with head bare because we do not blush, yes! And without a prompter because we pray from the heart - are ever praying for all the emperors. We pray for a fortunate life for them, a secure rule, a safe house, brave armies, a faithful senate, a virtuous ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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