Skip to comments.A Call to the Faithful: The Didache and Human Life
Posted on 06/16/2006 6:58:18 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback
If I were to tell you about an ancient document that sheds fresh light on Christianity, your first reaction might be to run for the hills. Most of us have had just about all we can handle of the spurious Gospel of Judas and The Da Vinci Code, right?
Well, Im not talking about The Da Vinci Code. Unlike the Gnostic gospels that inspired the novel, the ancient document Im talking about sheds some real light on Christianity. Its called the Didache, and its one of the earliest non-scriptural Christian writings, written toward the end of the first century. As Christianity Today explains in an excellent article last month, While no one believes that any of the twelve apostles wrote it, scholars agree that the work is a faithful transmission of the apostles teaching, intended primarily for the training of Gentile believers.
So this is no mysterious subject of an ancient conspiracy, just a practical guide to discipleship and obediencemaybe not as thrilling to many readers and moviegoers, but a lot more important.
The Didache came to my attention at the last meeting of the group Evangelicals and Catholics Together. As some of you know, I am one of the founders of the group, which is dedicated to finding common ground in our Christian faith and mission, and standing together in the culture war. Specifically, I came across the following passage:
There are two ways, a way of life and a way of death; there is a great difference between them . . . in accordance with the precept of the teaching You shall not kill, you shall not put a child to death by abortion nor kill it once it is born. . . . The way of death is this; they show no compassion for the poor. They do not suffer with the suffering. They do not acknowledge their Creator, they kill their children and by abortion cause Gods creatures to perish; they drive away the needy, oppress the suffering; they are advocates of the rich and unjust judges of the poor; they are filled with every sin. May you be ever guiltless of all these sins!
Thats pretty powerful language, condemning the brutal practices of the Romans and of the pagan societies. But what really caught my attention is that this demonstrates so clearly that the sanctity of all human life is an issue that goes back to the very beginnings of the Church. That ought to be news to those who slam the so-called religious right as if abortion were some issue we just recently latched onto for political power. To the contrary, this struggle against the culture of death is an ancient one, going back two thousand years. The Didache wisely identifies the unborn with the poor, and condemns the rich and unjust judges who oppress them.
Fascinating, isnt it? All the hoopla over the Gospel of Judas, which was discredited in the second century. The world, you see, wants to believe all kinds of deep dark secrets that might shake the foundations of the faith. But here comes a genuine documentno attention paid to itbut what it proves is the validity of the biblical account.
The Didache, the Churchs first written guide for discipleship, may not contain ear-tingling, earth-shattering revelations like all the other recent sensational disclosures, but it contains something much more important: a reminder of the Churchs great heritage and a call to our generation to be as faithful as our ancestors were in protecting life and the weak and the defenseless.
You know, I have tried to be tough but reasonable. Tough because you made big accusations, reasonable because that is what we should be doing, reasoning togewther. But now I go to that link and find out I should have laughed at you from the beginning.
You are lumping Colson in with Shelby Spong? You are lumping one of the foremost defenders of Biblical authority in with the Jesus Seminar?
What are you going to do tomorrow, come by and compare Billy Sunday to Larry Flynnt? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Stop, before you give someone an asthma attack!
Sometimes even orthodox doctrine can't keep some people from deciding they have the authority to throw the first stone. And tragically, sometimes they even believe they get to throw the first stone at people for a sin the victim never committed. And then they decide the thees and thous in their Bible make that mess into righteous behavior.
You're a perfect case study of that syndrome. Class dismissed.
"A more recent illustration of modernism comes from the pen of John Shelby Spong, a bishop in the Episcopal Church in America. Consider an excerpt from this mans writings: Am I suggesting that these stories of the virgin birth are not literally true? The answer is a simple and direct 'Yes.' Of course these narratives are not literally true. Stars do not wander, angels do not sing, virgins do not give birth, magi do not travel to a distant land to present gifts to a baby, and shepherds do not go in search of a newborn savior. ... To talk of a Father God who has a divine-human son by a virgin woman is a mythology that our generation would never have created, and obviously, could not use. To speak of a Father God so enraged by human evil that he requires propitiation for our sins that we cannot pay and thus demands the death of the divine-human son as a guilt offering is a ludicrous idea to our century. The sacrificial concept that focuses on the saving blood of Jesus that somehow washes me clean, so popular in Evangelical and Fundamentalist circles, is by and large repugnant to us today (John Spong, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture, Harper, 1991, pp. 215,234)."
"Martin Luther ignited the Reformation of the 16th century by nailing to the door of the church in Wittenberg in 1517 the 95 Theses that he wished to debate. I will publish this challenge to Christianity in The Voice. I will post my theses on the Internet and send copies with invitations to debate them to the recognized Christian leaders of the world. My theses are far smaller in number than were those of Martin Luther, but they are far more threatening theologically. The issues to which I now call the Christians of the world to debate are these:
1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination."
Thank you. And thanks for the link to a discussion of the Didache
Here is a link that zot provided in his post #28 (If this doesn't work as an active link)
Here is a translation of the Didache with commentary, cross-references, and content-context analysis:
The Didache (The Teaching)
I recommend you use the link in post 28 or 45 and read the Didache and the commentary. It goes well with established Christian scriptures and was long called 'gospel of Barnabas'.
Do you not read any of the other early church fathers? And I'm not talking about the gnostic literature that is much in vogue today, and was written by those who wanted to lead the faithful astray.
Actually, Athenagoras' "Plea for the Christians," apparently addressed to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, is usually dated in the 170's, probably 177 A.D.
Other "Apostolic Fathers" worth checking out (from the first centruy after Christ's death and Resurrection) are Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, the anonymous letter to Diognetus, Barnabas, and the fragments of Papias.
The Didache is especially worthy of note given that the early dating ranges for it would actually put its composition before much of the New Testament canon. Hard to get back much further than that. Someone should send a copy to Dan Brown.
Just by getting one to read the "ancient document that sheds fresh light on Christianity" one's faith has already been weakened. That's what New Evangelicals do, they weaken the faith. They proceed on the assumption that Christ needs a fresh light.
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is the word of God made flesh. To doubt the sufficiency of His word, is to doubt the sufficiency of Him.
Next thing you know, they'll start advocating reading other documents from Patristic Christianity.
(If anybody was interested, there's a marvelous collection at http://www.ccel.org or http:www.newadvent.org/fathers)
Then, I'm sure, you were like, "Oh, NOW you're going to finish it!," weren't you? Kinda like Red Light Green Light 123 isn't it?
That's why they keep those little booklets in the pews, although lately they're getting impossible to follow... and they take all the fun out of making Baptists think there's Satanic mumbo-jumbo going on.
By your own rant, any reading we do outside of the 1611 KJV Bible is sinful.
Shame on you for sinning by reading FR. After all, satan posts here every day in the form of trolling. [knowing wink]
Context is important.
If the Didache, (or the writings of Josephus, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, and others) inspires one to go back and actually read the Bible, are they good things or bad things? IMHO, by reading the teachings of the early Church, I can see clearly how the modern church (intentional lowercase) has fallen short by watering down the Truth.
Yes, The Bible is the Truth. Other writings that look to the Bible and lead one to the Bible are valuable as roadsigns guiding us back to His Word.
I have no Idea what Mr Colson preaches or what you are calling 'new evangelism'. I apologize for not recoginizing that you accept no scripture beyond the translation known as the King James Bible of 1611.
ping & run . . .
Your comparison to me is foolish. It is in the same category as saying: My wife has never cooked anything but fried chicken and fried potatoes for me to eat, to ask me to eat a single meal of boiled chicken and boiled potatoes would offend her.
You see, since I actually pay attention to what people say and write (as opposed to treating everyone outside my little world as if they are Hellspawn), I know that Colson has blasted Spong, the Jesus Seminar, and other apostate attempts to "reform" Christianity on a regular basis. In fact, I'm sure he has publicly disagreed with every single one of the heresies on Spong's list. That's not to say he's written a piece called "My response to Spong's 12 points," but he has written on the reality of the Incarnation and the Virgin Birth, for example. At every turn he has stood for orthodox doctrine.
What you've done here is as silly as pointing at a bunch of PETA protestors and calling them the American Beef Council. Back up your charges or go home.
Spong's list is so out there that I think you'd have trouble finding Unitarians who would endorse the whole thing, but this poor fool thinks that it's the core teaching of America's evangelical churches.