Early Christianity and the Punishment of Back-sliders

by fulltimestudent 8 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • fulltimestudent

    From the writings of Tertullian comes this picture of repentant sinners around the year 200 CE in North Africa.

    Locate yourselves in the stream of time. Accepting for the moment the conventional dating for Christianity, this is a little more than 150 years after Christian communities were first established. No one from the first century is still alive, but possibly there were grandsons and daughters of some of the original Christians.


    Tertullian writes (and allow for a dash of hyperbole-smile):

    “Christian sinners spend the day sorrowing, and the night in vigils and tears, lying on the ground among clinging ashes, tossing in rough sackcloth and dirt, fasting and praying’

    The access of sinners to church meetings was controlled. Sometimes a penitent adulterer would be led,

    “into the midst of the brethren and prostrated, all in sackcloth and ashes … a compound of disgrace and horror, before the widows, the elders,suing for everyone’s tears, licking their footprints, clasping their knees … “

    The above quotations from Tertullian's De puditicia

    So if you ever thought of seeking reinstatement to the Christian congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you may have thought you had it hard as the elders exercised their prerogatives over you … but think of being a second/third century Christian and licking their bloody feet. Haha !!!

  • fulltimestudent

    All of which reminds us - its not just the witnesses that are a pain in the nether regions, but it is Christianity as a whole that offends.

  • steve2

    Paul did all the necessary paper work for instituting shunning. Everything else is detail.

    You'll note (possibly to your chagrin) that almost every time the organization wants to justify its "Keep the Congregation Clean" policy, they quote Paul, and Paul, and Paul and Paul. All of them - all the time.

    Paul is a cultist's dream come true. Whatever cooing and lovey-dovey Christians say in defense of Paul, he was hard-headed regarding the need for unity - his unity.

  • WTWizard

    And what was Paul? A Jew, a prominent Pharisee at that. In addtion, that thing was one of the most hateful beings on the planet, who had harsh ideas about sex. It is this scumbag that is responsible for the strict rules about marriage, and even laid the groundwork for having it totally abolished. The same thing that said that marriage was only for those who could not control their sex drive also said elsewhere that self control was essential and that one must deaden our desires. And that was regular marriage.

    That scumbag also relegated women to second class status (creating the groundwork for keeping the sexes apart). Women are relegated to being submissive by Paul the Terrible. Gay marriage was out of the question. Polygamy is also outlawed thanks to this idiot Paul. Second only to Tyrant David, Paul is one of the most blatant Gentile (and human)-hating tyrants around. While Paul did not slaughter any people itself, it did lay the groundwork for slavery and sexual repression which was used as the foundation to ruin a lot of lives (and slaughter plenty through the cat lick inquisition).

    And the washtowel venerates this example of hatred, along with the other blatant example of hatred in Tyrant David?

  • JWdaughter

    wtwiz-dont hold back!how do you really feel?

  • talesin

    Paul. The Bible's pre-eminent misogynist. (I agree WTW, that David is right up there with him.)


  • steve2

    I have long argued that the blueprint for the cult mentality is the motley collection of "Bible" books pompously referred to as "The Pauline Epistles".

    In a perverse way, to accuse the organization of being a cult is to compliment it on closely following the judgementalistic Pharisaical views of that opinionated "new" convert to the then young "Christian" faith.

    Paul stamped his peculiar legalistic views on the resulting "Christianity" with far greater potency than its forlorn founder ever did.

  • fulltimestudent

    Another text that illustrates how early Christianity dealt with dissenters (apostates? grin) are the letters of Ignatius.

    If you've heard little about this early Christian, here's a brief bio:

    His life dates are not quite clear, and could be in a range of CE  35 to 50 for a birthdate and a death date between CE 98 to 117, which puts him in a position to have been a young man as the Apostolic age came to a close. Church tradition claims that John ( the Apostle) personally studied with him and that he (Ignatius) became the third bishop of Antioch. It's reasonably certain that he died a martyr's death in Rome.

    as illustrated by a church artist around 1000CE.

    So now you know a little about the man, what did he say that reflects on the treatment of backsliders?

    Two things:

    First, believers must stick close to the congregation. In his letter to the Ephesians (Ch5 vs 2), he argues:

    "Make no mistake about it. If anyone is not inside the sanctuary, he lacks God's bread (i.e. spiritual food)".

    Vs 3 continues:

    "He who fails to join in your worship shows his arrogance by the very fact of becoming a schismatic ( apostate, grin) ... Let us, then, heartily avoid resisting the bishop so that we may be subject to god."

    and in 6:1:

    "It is clear, then, that we should regard the bishop as the Lord himself."

    The second point is made in his letter to the Smyrneans, part of the same series of letters that he wrote while on the journer to Rome, where he was looking forward to being eaten by wild beasts.

    In ch.6, vs 1 Ignatius discusses a current apostacy, and then advises (vs.2)

    "The right thing to do then is to avoid such people and to talk about them neither in private nor in public."

    That's not very different to the actions of our ever-loving, former brothers and sisters, is it?

    Which is why I keep saying that its not just the JWs that are the problem, its the whole deal of Christianity, which is riddled with exclusivity.

    What the world needs is inclusivity, not exclusivity.

  • Quarterback

    Tertullion? Wasn't he the guy that beleived in Greek philosophies, and the Trinity? Polycarpe didn't beleive in the Trinity, and he is the guy that approved the Greek scriptures into the Bible Canon. Paul was right when he stated that the congregation was about to be influenced by Oppresive wolves.

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