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Was the apostolic life ever feasible or desirable?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Vouthon, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    For society at large?

    I address this primarily to Christians but people of other beliefs and none are more than welcome to join in:


    "...When one truly ventures into the world of the first Christians, one enters a company of “radicals” (for want of a better word), an association of men and women guided by faith in a world-altering revelation, and hence in values almost absolutely inverse to the recognized social, political, economic, and religious truths not only of their own age, but of almost every age of human culture. The first Christians certainly bore very little resemblance to the faithful of our day...

    Most of us would find Christians truly cast in the New Testament mold fairly obnoxious: civically reprobate, ideologically unsound, economically destructive, politically irresponsible, socially discreditable, and really just a bit indecent.

    On the matter of wealth, for instance, we take it as given that, while the New Testament enjoins generosity to the poor, it otherwise allows the wealthy to enjoy the fruits of their industry or fair fortune with a clean conscience...[However] the New Testament, alarmingly enough, condemns personal wealth not merely as a moral danger, but as an intrinsic evil. Actually, the biblical texts are so unambiguous on this matter that it requires an almost heroic defiance of the obvious to fail to grasp their import...The early Christians were (in the strictly technical sense) communists, as the book of Acts quite explicitly states...

    Thus we are told the first converts in Jerusalem after the resurrection, as the price of becoming Christians, sold all their property and possessions and distributed the proceeds to those in need, and then fed themselves by sharing their resources in common meals (Acts 2:43–46). Barnabas, on becoming a Christian, sold his field and handed over all the money to the Apostles (Acts 4:35)—though Ananias and Sapphira did not follow suit, with somewhat unfortunate consequences. To be a follower of “The Way” was to renounce every claim to private property and to consent to communal ownership of everything (Acts 4:32)
    ..."

    - David Bentley Hart (Eastern Orthodox theologian), The New Testament: A Translation (Yale, 2017) p.20


    Outside of monastic communities, very few of the faithful have ever strove to directly emulate the way of life commended by the New Testament and exemplified by Christ.

    Is this a necessary concession to human weakness, the pragmatic realities of life or a betrayal of the gospel?
     
    #1 Vouthon, Apr 22, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
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  2. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    Suppose we are looking at Christ as a nation of kings who are priests (peacemakers). What does that mean? I don't think it means each Christian should be in charge of a kingdom of non-Christians, do you? Some European nobles may have thought so though. Its an expression of what the prophets are hoping to see, someday. They envision it for a future people. They suffer, but they endure in the hope that someday things will be better for other people. Rather than throwing in the towel and giving up on humanity they try to make a difference.

    We could look at Christ through Zechariah 14:20-21 "On that day holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty." Does this mean that all Christians should be in Jerusalem? I don't think that it does. We have various treatments of this by NT authors. Paul has it that people are the vessels and the cooking pots of the passage, and he has it that the church is Jerusalem coming down from heaven.

    What the prophets are hoping for is a long term siege like Joshua's siege or like Davids siege bringing an end to the way things are. It is a siege to obtain the end goal of Christ, symbolized by the siege of David until finally Jeru Shalom is obtained. If the siege is not yet ended, then better things are to come. It is like Joshua's siege around Jericho that goes on and on until finally it is done, but Joshua doesn't know how long that will take. He doesn't know if he will be going around for seven days or seven million days.

    The apostolic life in the OP is that life of a besieger. What we see today is some improvement, but we see some of the same problems from 3 or 4 thousand years ago; and it is like we are going round & round. How long will we keep going around? Don't chop down the orchards to make your siege weapons. Eat their fruit instead, and you may be doing the same thing next year, too. The siege is incomplete, so either you choose to continue that siege or you give up on it.
     
  3. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    Thanks for another thought provoking OP.

    The community life of the early followers of Moses, Muhammad and the Twin Prophets of the Baha’i Faith were similar to the early Christians in that all material means were sacrificed for the greater good. The Hebrew people fled Egypt to become homeless amidst their abode in the desert. Early Muslims abandoned their possessions to flee to Abyssinia and later Medina. Thousands of the early Babis sacrificed their very lives. Some of the apostles of Bahá’u’lláh accompanied Him as He was imprisoned and exiled for the last 40 years of His life. Within each of these movements was revealed a longer term and less radical approach for the redistribution of wealth and giving to the poor. The specific books that made such provisions were the Torah, Quran and Kitab-I-Aqdas.
     
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