Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fleeing or Enduring Persecution? (part 2)

This is part two of a three part blog posting on the believer's response to persecution. Read part one.

Voices from Church History
Egypt was once saturated with a Christian presence, home to some of the early church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Anthony of Egypt, and, of course, Athanasius. These and other church fathers were not in total agreement on the question of fleeing persecution and escaping to safety.

Tertullian of Carthage, which, incidentally, is where the current unrest began, believed that the Holy Spirit counseled believers to embrace martyrdom saying,

…if you have to lay down your life for God, as the Comforter counsels, it is not in gentle fevers and on soft beds, but in the sharp pains of martyrdom: you must take up the cross and bear it after your Master, as He has Himself instructed you.[1]


Well, then, if it is evident from whom persecution proceeds [that is, God], we are able at once to satisfy your doubts, and to decide from these introductory remarks alone, that men should not flee in it.[2]

Cyprian of Carthage, on the other hand, fled the city when faced with martyrdom. His opponents considered this an act of cowardice and disagreed with him when he argued against readmitting those who had denied the faith in the face of persecution.[3]

So it appears that the early church fathers were not unanimous in their beliefs and practices concerning fleeing from persecution.

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