The Monastic Reaction

The History of Christianity #95

Our History of Christianity Scripture verse today is Psalm 46:10 which reads: “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Anthony. He said: “Monks who leave their cells, or seek the company of others, lose their peace, like the fish out of water loses its life.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Monastic Reaction” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

The new position of the church after Constantine’s peace was not equally received by all. Over against those who, like Eusebius of Caesarea, saw the more recent events as the fulfillment of God’s purposes, there were those who bemoaned what they saw as the low level to which Christian life had descended. The narrow gate of which Jesus had spoken had become so wide that countless multitudes were hurrying through it – many seeming to do so only in pursuit of privilege and position, without caring to delve too deeply into the meaning of Christian baptism and life under the cross. Bishops competed with one another over prestigious positions. The rich and powerful seemed to dominate the life of the church. The tares were growing so rapidly that they threatened to choke out the wheat.

For almost three hundred years, the church had lived under the constant threat of persecution. All Christians were aware of the possibility that some day they might be taken before Roman authorities, and there placed before the awesome choice between death and apostasy. During the prolonged periods of quiet in the second and third centuries, there were those who forgot this; and when persecution did arrive, they proved too weak to withstand the trial. This in turn convinced others that security and comfortable living were the greatest enemies of faithfulness, and that these enemies proved stronger during periods of relative peace. Now, when the peace of the church seemed assured, many of these people saw that very assurance as a snare of Satan.


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