Author Topic: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred  (Read 427 times)

Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« on: June 30, 2019, 11:47:04 AM »
As you all should know the Roman Emperor Nero had Christians burned alive as torches lighting the streets because he blamed them for the fire that burned much of the city of Rome.

If you lived in Rome at that time and were a Christian, would you try to convert people to Christianity knowing that their being Christians would place them in grave danger?

If I was a Christian in Rome under the reign of Nero, I would be obligated to try to convert people to Christianity knowing that by doing so they may have become one of Nero's torches.


Offline Baruch

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2019, 12:55:47 PM »
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As you all should know the Roman Emperor Nero had Christians burned alive as torches lighting the streets because he blamed them for the fire that burned much of the city of Rome.

If you lived in Rome at that time and were a Christian, would you try to convert people to Christianity knowing that their being Christians would place them in grave danger?

If I was a Christian in Rome under the reign of Nero, I would be obligated to try to convert people to Christianity knowing that by doing so they may have become one of Nero's torches.



Not only Christians were persecuted, but not the Christians you thought.

1. Description of Nero's victims (post fire) were also matching followers of Isis
2. No clear impression of Gentile Christians at that time, these were Messianic Jewish people (mostly violent fanatics)
3. Some Messianics may have participated in fanning the flames (per apocalypse, this is alluded to in the Gospel of Thomas).  Here is the normal fire fighting procedure.  Originally, in Rome, arsonists working for Crassus (100 years earlier), would start a fire, but he would have private fire fighters on hand, who would put out the fire that he started, for a price.  Roma is the Mafia.
4. Gospel of Thomas 10: Jesus said: I have cast a fire upon the world, and see, I watch over it until it is ablaze.

Best book on this ...

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Good historical video ...

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Rome burned multiple times.  Roman law was violent.  It was a capital crime to engage in unauthorized "association" ... this was meant to suppress political association, but also applied to unauthorized religious cults.  Legal Judaism was usually allowed, centered in Trastevere ... where the Vatican now is.  In that Roman neighborhood, there was a smaller circus (race course) where traditionally St Peter was executed.

The Golden House (new imperial palace) building program bankrupted the Roman Empire.  The denarius was minted with inferior silver.  Taxation was rapacious.  Back then, there was no way a government could execute a project on deficit.  It required physical money.

There had been, from Republican times, periodic oppression of foreign religions and philosophers (sophists).

In the longer run, after 135 CE (71 years after the Great Fire), Pauline Christianity had staying power.  It was pro-Roman, pacifist, non-Jewish.  And for its urban members provided the primary social safety net.

More modern history ...

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Both videos make the mistake of anachronism ... they weren't called Christians until 58 years later.  This first appears in the letters of Pliny the Younger to Emperor Trajan

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Messianic Jews did evangelize and refused to participate in the civic religions.  Rabbinic Jews were excused, because they were licit, and it was difficult to convert to Judaism.  After 135 CE, the majority of dissidents were Gentile Pauline Christians.  Even though pacifist and pro-Roman and Gentile, Christians were periodically persecuted, particularly under Emperor Diocletian and Emperor Galerius circa 300 CE.  To not worship the Emperor as a god, unless you were legally Jewish, was a capital crime ... particularly if you were a Roman legionary (a legionary worshipped the Emperor upon reentering the camp).  And Pauline Christianity was easy to convert to.

Historians have blamed his second wife, Poppea, for much of his crimes.

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« Last Edit: June 30, 2019, 01:55:18 PM by Baruch »
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2019, 02:26:44 PM »
I don't think Nero did that.  Following is a start of much longer article:

Maybe Nero didn’t persecute Christians after all Charles Mercier Dec 18, 2016 SPECIAL TO CRUX
Maybe Nero didn’t persecute Christians after all According to an ancient tradition, Nero targeted Christians for persecution to shift blame for a fire in Rome.

Did Nero persecute Christians? It’s part of our imaginative framework that the monstrous Roman emperor of 54-68 AD held Christians falsely responsible for the widespread fire in Rome in July 64, gruesomely executed them, and so inaugurated the Roman persecution.

A provocative article by Brent D. Shaw, a professor of ancient history at Princeton, late last year in Journal of Roman Studies, β€œThe Myth of the Neronian Persecution,” argues plausibly that we should doubt that that actually happened.

It’s an issue for ancient historians, but also for Catholics who choose to think through the evidence in the spirit of faith’s compatibility with reason, particularly at a time when the notion of Christian martyrdom around the world is a pressing issue demanding clarity of thought.

The evidence is thin, to summarize Shaw, both for Nero’s persecution, and even for the possibility that Romans could so early have recognized Christians judicially or religiously as such. The persecution stands or falls on a single passage in the Annals of Tacitus, the Roman historian and imperial administrator, writing around 115 AD, some 50 years after the event:

β€œTo get rid of the rumour [that he himself was responsible for the fire], Nero found and provided the defendants, and he afflicted with the most refined punishments those persons whom, hated for their shameful acts, the common people were accustomed to call β€˜Chrestiani.’ The originator of this name, Christus, suffered (capital) punishment in the reign of Tiberius through the agency of the procurator Pontius Pilate.”

(That’s Shaw’s translation, leaving aside text critical issues.)

There is no evidence for where Tacitus got this, and no other ancient writer corroborates him.


This is seemingly just another propaganda tool used by early christians. 
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2019, 02:58:25 PM »
Throughout the centuries the gospels and other writings like Paul's letters were often copied by Christian scribes who added materials, deleted or exaggerated certain passages to fit the thinking of the times or even lost in translation. So what you get is a mix of the original writing and later alterations. Anything from these historical records that you read has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2019, 04:46:22 PM »
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I don't think Nero did that.

Mike, thank you for the scholarly historical revision of Nero's alleged persecution of Christians and especially your pointing out that we do not know Tacitus's source for his mention of "Christus." (I have pointed out to many "Chrestiani" who defend the historicity of Jesus and who cite Tacitus as a source of the historical Jesus that we don't know where Tacitus got his information, and therefore he may have been merely repeating what Christians were saying.) However, I started this thread not to discuss history but to debate morality. Is it morally acceptable to convert people to Christianity if it puts those converts in danger? That's the question I would like answered.

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2019, 04:51:17 PM »
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Throughout the centuries the gospels and other writings like Paul's letters were often copied by Christian scribes who added materials, deleted or exaggerated certain passages to fit the thinking of the times or even lost in translation. So what you get is a mix of the original writing and later alterations. Anything from these historical records that you read has to be taken with a grain of salt.

I agree that we need to take the New Testament with a grain of salt, but what I'm asking is if it's moral for Christians to convert anybody, anytime, anywhere. As I pointed out, Christians may face persecution merely for being Christian. If such a threat exists, is it right or wrong to convert people to Christianity knowing they may be persecuted?

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2019, 05:13:41 PM »
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Mike, thank you for the scholarly historical revision of Nero's alleged persecution of Christians and especially your pointing out that we do not know Tacitus's source for his mention of "Christus." (I have pointed out to many "Chrestiani" who defend the historicity of Jesus and who cite Tacitus as a source of the historical Jesus that we don't know where Tacitus got his information, and therefore he may have been merely repeating what Christians were saying.) However, I started this thread not to discuss history but to debate morality. Is it morally acceptable to convert people to Christianity if it puts those converts in danger? That's the question I would like answered.
Okay.  I don't think christians in general are 'moral'.  they call themselves that, but their definition of what is moral and what isn't moral is fuzzy.  It seems that in the eyes of most christians whatever a person who is labeled a christian does is moral.  Witness trump.  He is considered moral and acts in moral ways according to his christian followers.  So, no, it is not moral to convert anybody to the christian religion (no matter what ilk of christianity you refer to).
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2019, 05:30:18 PM »
Ah, but for the persecution and martyrdom, the Christians believe they'll be blessed by their Sky Father. So for them it is very moral to convert people, especially since those they convert will live forever in the glory and love of God. And those they don't convert will spend eternity being tortured in Hell. So they figure a bit of persecution, even martyrdom, is small potatoes next to that.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2019, 05:31:49 PM by Unbeliever »
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"An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer."
Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers (1949)

Offline aitm

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2019, 05:36:30 PM »
A lot of people are quick to use the babble as an authoritative voice of history....science.....not so much. But frankly, when the book starts out telling us the sky is water, how much confidence do you have in the rest of it?
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Offline Baruch

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2019, 07:08:32 PM »
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Mike, thank you for the scholarly historical revision of Nero's alleged persecution of Christians and especially your pointing out that we do not know Tacitus's source for his mention of "Christus." (I have pointed out to many "Chrestiani" who defend the historicity of Jesus and who cite Tacitus as a source of the historical Jesus that we don't know where Tacitus got his information, and therefore he may have been merely repeating what Christians were saying.) However, I started this thread not to discuss history but to debate morality. Is it morally acceptable to convert people to Christianity if it puts those converts in danger? That's the question I would like answered.

Tactitus and Josephus were copied (and modified) by Christian monks.  There is no independent Jewish witness until the Middle Ages, when anti-Christian-evangelism material was produced by the Jewish community (in a now Christian world).
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Baruch

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2019, 07:17:05 PM »
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Ah, but for the persecution and martyrdom, the Christians believe they'll be blessed by their Sky Father. So for them it is very moral to convert people, especially since those they convert will live forever in the glory and love of God. And those they don't convert will spend eternity being tortured in Hell. So they figure a bit of persecution, even martyrdom, is small potatoes next to that.

This arose from the Jewish cult of martyrdom.  Gnostic Christians, not just Orthodox Christians, were periodically martyred.  What was martyrdom in Judaism?  Started during the Maccabee wars with the Greeks, 200 years before Paul.

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Etc

Without the Jewish martyrdom cult ... that continues right down to today (justifying modern Israel) ... Christianity is inconceivable.

« Last Edit: July 01, 2019, 12:59:21 PM by Baruch »
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Baruch

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2019, 07:29:50 PM »
The question of justification for "extreme unction" a Roman Catholic sacrament.  This totally depends on theology and tradition.  Already, Hellenistic Jews believed in the immortality of the soul.  This wasn't clear in the early OT/Tanakh.  The dead went down to Sheol/"the grave".

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By 200 BCE, Jews were basically in the same position as Gentiles, who went to Hades (as Sheol was translated to in the Septuagint (Greek OT).

Only heroes got a better deal ... the common people might get forgetfulness and reincarnation.

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The descriptions of the afterlife are in pagan Greek literature, and pagan Roman literature (particularly the adventures of heroes who went down to Hades).  In the Aeneid ... Aeneas descended to Hades and future great Romans were pointed out to him by his guide.  Of course the great Christian version of this is The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

So, if Zeus/Jupiter is god, why would one want last minute conversion?  If Judaism is correct, why would one risk damnation, by converting out?  It has been a guaranteed free ticket to Heaven, for over 2000 years, for a Jew to gain Heaven by refusing conversion by anyone.

The definitive Gospel version is "Rich Man And Lazarus"

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Why would a Gentile want to spend eternity with Abraham?  In modern Jewish orthodoxy Talmud scholars look forward to spending eternity in Moses' yeshiva (school).

Paul on the other hand, convinced that the end of the world was at hand, and believing like a Jehovah's Witness (and Revelation of John (144,000)), that a certain number of martyrs will be admitted to Heaven (both Jewish and Gentile) has an urgent mission that justified all means (ends justify means).  Like Millenialists today however there is a morbid angle, they want the last martyr, so that the world can then be destroyed.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2019, 07:35:10 PM by Baruch »
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Baruch

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2019, 07:39:09 PM »
Are Christians in danger?  Everyone is, not just Christians.  Is it moral to convert someone to Judaism?  In orthodox Judaism this is discouraged.  Both because there may be penalties from the community they are leaving, but by becoming identified with the Jewish community, one becomes the target of perpetual oppression.  In Jewish law, a rabbi has to discourage a Gentile from converting to Judaism (usually thru marriage to a Jewish woman), three times.  Christians don't do that "truth in advertising" nor do Muslims.
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2019, 09:42:36 AM »
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I don't think christians in general are 'moral'.  they call themselves that, but their definition of what is moral and what isn't moral is fuzzy.  It seems that in the eyes of most christians whatever a person who is labeled a christian does is moral.  Witness trump.  He is considered moral and acts in moral ways according to his christian followers.  So, no, it is not moral to convert anybody to the christian religion (no matter what ilk of christianity you refer to).

From a moral standpoint, Christians are much like most people. Most of them are not murderers, rapists, or robbers. However, moral difficulties do arise among Christians, and those problems are often rooted in their beliefs. Since they believe that they must obey their god regardless of what that god commands or what the consequences of obedience to that god might be, they may end up doing terrible things. I think I'm much better off than most Christians ethically speaking because I see morality as subjective and relative. I can live with other people disagreeing with me on moral issues realizing that we all have a right to think what we want to. I am also free to think of what the best course of action is in a given situation without trying to mindlessly abide by some standard that some other person made up.

We then come full circle to the OP. Yes, I may try to change people if I think they will benefit from that change. Obviously, if that change is dangerous in some way, then I should not try to change them. The early Christian evangelists should have known that while souls suffering in hell was a threat according to their Christian beliefs, being persecuted by the Romans was a threat according to reality! It's wise to make decisions based on what you know rather than what you believe.

Re: Converting People Knowing They Will be Martyred
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2019, 10:36:13 AM »
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I agree that we need to take the New Testament with a grain of salt, but what I'm asking is if it's moral for Christians to convert anybody, anytime, anywhere. As I pointed out, Christians may face persecution merely for being Christian. If such a threat exists, is it right or wrong to convert people to Christianity knowing they may be persecuted?

There's no objective morality. So which morality do you have in mind? 21st century's morality? Morality in the 100 CE? Which culture? Which religion?

 

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