Friends and Fellow Travelers,
Alan Jacobs is one of my favorite bloggers (https://blog.ayjay.org) because, among other things, he doesn't think that politics will save us; he acknowledges that we are living in an increasingly post Christian period, (so much so that the church is losing even its capacity to be conversant with post modern world) and that Christ-followers, both Protestant and Catholic, are becoming more peculiar. Jacobs says (get this) that's a very good thing!? Along those lines, he wrote this, recently..
'The Epistle to Diognetus is a second-century letter, a brief work of Christian apologetics. In the fifth section of the letter, the author talks about what sets Christians apart from other peoples in the Roman world. Christians are peculiar, he admits that. To be sure, they live with everyone else, and in many ways they live like everyone else: they work in the same kinds of jobs, they wear the same kinds of clothes.
But they are also different in significant ways: they are sexually chaste, they don’t kill unwanted children, they are generous and committed to sharing both within their churches and with people outside those churches; and, above all, they refuse to worship the Roman gods. For these differences they are hated, and the more hated they are, the more the kinder they are.
And there’s one more thing that sets the Christians apart: when they are attacked, when they are persecuted, they don’t reply in kind. Others say to the Christians, “You are my enemy”; Christians say to the others, “You are my neighbor.”
Were they wrong to live this way?
The best scholarly estimates we have — I’ve seen these numbers in several places but most recently in Larry Hurtado’s book Destroyer of the Gods — suggest the following:
In 40 A.D. there were about a thousand Christians
In 100 A.D. no more than ten thousand
In 200 A.D. around two hundred thousand
In 300 A.D. around six million
Note that the stratospheric growth occurs before Constantine, and in a period of intermittent persecution.
So, go forth.......and be peculiar! (for all the right reasons)
All the best,