The Journals of Alexander Diocletian (A Curious Human and the Trinity Unites Book 1)

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The fruit he had already garnered, the gifts and proofs of the Spirit in his person and work, had to be recognized by Peter, James and John as the judgment of God. They gave Paul and Barnabas their right hands in sign of union. In return Paul promised to keep the bond of love toward the primitive community alive by gather- ing moneys for the poor of Jerusalem.

Thus union was found in a for- mula of separation Paul was to go to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews. But the sources of tension were not therewith removed. The strong Jewish colony in Antioch was the scene of a far-reaching con- troversy among the followers of Jesus. The Syrian metropolis, so rich in luxury and movement, boasting of a night life illuminated bright as day and affording endless scope to Hephaistos and Aphro- dite, exemplified the decadent energies that arc born of a chaotic in- termingling of ideas and peoples.

Into this city of tender music and dance, of exciting novels, of spiritual poverty in the midst of Syrian prodigality, where the cypresses whispered more wisely than men. Barnabas and others had helped him.

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But his free attitude toward the heathen followers o the new religion roused the strict Judaists to battle. Circumcision, the Sabbath, regulations concerning cleansing and eating matters which meant nothing to the heathen Christian constituted a bar- rier in the shadow of which the love Jesus had established as the first principle of His kingdom could not well thrive. The fact that Paul had come back from Jerusalem with a decision favouring his point of view did not greatly improve the situation. For when Peter himself, in order to emphasize the brotherly union, appeared in Antioch and sat at table with the uncircumcised heathen Christians, the excited rigor- ists threw themselves upon him and compelled him to discontinue his commerce with the heathen Christians.

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  4. Introduction.

Kepha, the chief of the disciples, who was nearest of all the twelve to the Master, no longer ate with those in the community of Paul, Could they be real, whole- hearted Christians if Peter frowned upon their kind? Even Barnabas, long since the friend and companion of Paul, went over to Peter's side. Now Paul saw his work threatened, and the idea of a universal Church betrayed to the narrow spirit of the old Synagogue.

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It would seem that Peter, pliable man of sanguine temperament that he was, had not been able to carry out the policy of unity and peace he so desired in the cross-fire of his sympathies for the brethren of this camp and for the brethren in that. So long as they were all devoted to the Master he was willing to allow to these their heathen associations and to those their Jewish heritage. Plainly he had the will to see the whole, but could not live up to his conviction. His way of hold- ing out a hand to both sides did not create unity but rather confirmed the separation. Paul realized that in this case only a hard appeal to a decision here and now could create union in the future.

Either the law or Christ! He alone stood firm in this hour. Before a public assembly he resisted the Kepha face to face. If you, who are a Jew, live in the manner of the heathen and not according to the manner of the Jews, why do you wish to compel the heathens to live like Jews? We do not know what answer, if any, Peter made.

Certainly in his heart he knew that the frowning Paul was right. Soon after this meeting he received Cornelius, a captain of the Roman garrison of Cacsarca Palaestinensis , into the Church. History shrouds his activities in darkness, only to throw those of Paul into brighter light.

In his Epistles this Apostle immortalized himself, and with his person also the history of the young religion. He tells the story of the struggle of a new world to take form in the space of an old world and out of the materials of the old world. The simple image of the tree which must dig into the depths of earth, nurse of all nature, in order that, leaving this earth again as living life, it may win the heights on which in all truth it is just as dependent as on the dust, doubtless applies in essentials to the growing Church.

We know how much driftwood it took from the stream of time in order to complete its world of ideas, its mysteries, its customs and its learning; but on the other hand everything that was assimilated was transformed according to the norm and character of the formative energies of the Church, The living tree is something else than the elements from which it lives, and the Church also was a giver in the act of receiving, was not merely the statue but the sculp- tor of the stone it took from the wayside.

Paul's conception of the ccclesia was conveyed by the image o body and soul.

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It is a simple picture but unfathomable. Those who surrender themselves to Him are the "holy people," the "communion of God. The boundaries of states are not the borders of God's king- dom. It had a different attitude toward yesterday, today and tomorrow than did other religions, for it already lived close to the reality of God.

It hovered over what had been and what was to be, even as does His spirit which gathers to- gether the running and tumbling waters of time into an everlasting now.


Before God nothing is in motion: all things arc cradled in rest, To lie in Him, to cast the anchor of faith into the eternal waters, means to rise above the perpetual motion of history. But how is this truth to be grasped? How is it to be comprehended? It has taken historical shape in Him who brought the kingdom of God to man. To man, mindful of himself, there has now appeared the Man God had in mind.

As the Risen One, He has annulled the death verdict resting upon all that happens in time. He has tri- umphed over the world in every sense, for crumbled are now the nar- row confines of nature, of the transitory. Herewith fulfilment has come to all the quests of an unjustified, fearfully expectant world for salvation and illumination. Henceforth Christ Jesus is the real meaning of history: He is the purpose of the past, the core of present experience, the container in Himself of the future as the norm and judge of all time.

But whosoever belongs to Him in faith like unto His faith and in deed that rises out of His charity, which loves for love's sake and not because of the object though to be sure that object is necessary in order to make of a man a lover is in communion with Christ, is embodied in His Body. Of those who are so united and who live and act ac- cordingly, the Communion of Saints, the Divine Congregation of the Church, is formed.

From the beginning of time she has been God's image of the true humanity. She has beheld eternally the Giver of her form for that form He Himself is with understanding eyes. This vision she will retain through all vicissitudes. Such trends of thought dominated early Christianity. By their very nature they drew men's gaze from the passing scene to the Church Herself. For how little is the slime of earth when likened to the Spirit which fashions it, and how precious is that slime through which alone the Spirit can manifest its existence and its essence!

There- fore is renunciation of the world a tremendous thing, even as is the act of plunging into the very heart of the world. The gods of Rome were old; and the new divinities which the city welcomed were merely such as rise when men already confront the deities with an incredulous smile. The added fact that the emperor was paid divine honours was not much more than a political gesture in which respect for the might of Rome, for its unity as the empire which transcended all peoples and gods, found expression.

To the attempt to set up a colossal statue of Caligula in the Temple at Jeru-. It was not the largest com- munity of the young Church; perhaps it was not even the fifth in size. But it was of the same spirit as the rest. That its faith, its administration of the charisma, its service to those in need, the forms of its cult, and the sacramental signs of its covenant with the Kyrios Jesus, were in conformity with the practice of the East was guar- anteed by the authority of its leadership.

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Nothing indicates that it went its own way in any important respect. The disturbance at Antioch had no sequel. Paul, always careful to teach others what he himself had been taught, patiently adhered to the conviction which had brought him to Jerusalem and to Peter before starting the work that would require the whole of his energies.

He respected the prior rank of the Apostle who had been nearest to the Master and who after the Crucifixion had gathered the scattered flock of the Shepherd who had been stricken. When now the wave of enthusiasm had been carried westward by him and his companions, they could set the yeast of the gospel into the ferment and chaos of the Eternal City. Those were the days of Nero, After James, the pillar of Jerusalem, had fallen a victim to the Synagogue in the year 62, Jewry and hea- thendom alike proved fatal to the princes of the Apostles. On the igth of July, 64, a fire that lasted six days reduced ten of Rome's fourteen quarters to ashes.

Rumour has it that the Emperor himself kindled the blaze. The people, however, insisted that the guilty ones be named and punished.

The emperor sacrificed them to the mob in droves at the public games in the Vatican gardens. Their living bodies were dragged across the field, maimed, burned and crucified.

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It may be that the reasons advanced for the persecution lay deeper. These people who "hated the human race" and practiced "a new and abominable religion" had already come into conflict with the law. It was during these Christian persecutions that the two Aposdes also kid down their lives. The year is uncertain. According to. Above their graves the deep twilight of the gods set in, and the second Roman Empire dawned.

The three centuries which followed the death of Simon Kepha had no conception of a sovereign in the cathedra Petri. The young Church, one and the same in East and West, believed that the throne of the world is in Heaven. Only quite gradually, in response to the demand that springs from the nature of earthly things, did it con- cern itself with the reflection of that heavenly throne established in the city consecrated by the life blood of the greatest witnesses to Jesus, and long since almost sacrosanct as the centre of the Roman world kingdom.

The old Rome was transformed into a new Rome. But the Christian spring was fed also from the soil it had conquered. During the time between Nero and Constantine, the Church rook on a form which had necessarily to lead to Papal monarchy. Those were centuries of vigorous growth in the midst of deterioration. They may be compared to an irregular landscape lying under swift moving clouds which cast their reflection on a harvest scene but also upon the new seedlings hardly yet visible above the furrows which the harrow has smoothed over.

Such great political questions as authority, polity and the order of die community, ancient peoples pondered deeply because they had ex- perienced the importance of these things in their own personal lives.

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Tasks and ways of performing them come in cycles. This truth Plato had realized and expressed in his myth of the great wheel of cosmic necessity. Nevertheless, history up to the time of Christ does show that although moral ideas fell back again and again into the realm of natural brute force and instinct, there was a continuous strong move- ment toward purified thinking despite the fact that reality seemed so different from the ideal.

At bottom the questions were: shall it be might or right, polis or cosmopolis state or humanity? In answer- ing both the objective was ultimately to free the highest of values, the value of religion, from its entanglement in the mqan purposes o political, military and humanitarian action.

In East and West the mighty struggle between political forms seems like a push onward to the solution which the Church catholic in this respect also found. In order to under- stand how this Church came to be, one must bear in mind what it took over from the polity of antiquity and merged with its own inner form. Titus destroyed Jerusalem, but he could not destroy theocracy, the most powerful idea of the Jewish people. It had no human law giver, not even a human representative of the reigning Divinity. To obey the will of Jahwe and to keep the covenant with Him were deemed sufficient to insure living of right life a life which one received almost as immediately from Him as if He were still walking in Para- dise, Yet the people of the covenant were also a very human people who could want other things than those God had ordained.