A Conversation with the Dead….

As I’ve said many times in this blog, dead people speak to me. Not their ghosts, but their words. One of my favorite things to read are the sermons and letters of the earliest church fathers. I’m talking about the guys who wrote while some of the Apostles were still alive and immediately after their passing. This excerpt comes from a sermon delivered 1900 years ago to the church in Corinth. Somewhere between 100 and 140AD.

The Corinthian church was facing problems again. Their big issue? It’s the same one the church in the United States is dealing with: They talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk. The people of the day we’re laughing at them and calling them deluded.

“For the Lord says, “My name is continually blasphemed among all the nations” and again, “Woe to him on whose account my name is blasphemed.”  Why is it blasphemed?  Because you do not do what I desire.  For when the pagans hear from our mouths the oracles of God, they marvel at their beauty and greatness.  But when they discover that our actions are not worthy of the words we speak, they turn from wonder to blasphemy, saying that it is a myth and a delusion. 

For when they hear from us that God says, “It is no credit to you if you love those who love you,” when they hear these things, they marvel at such extraordinary goodness.  But when they see that we not only do not love those who hate us but do not even love those who love us, they scornfully laugh at us, and the Name is blasphemed.”  2 Clement 13:2-4

We’ve become very vocal about what we believe. The problem isn’t what we believe. It’s that we don’t really believe it. Why else do you think we’d proclaim something so boldly and then choose not to live by it?

Have you read the oldest Christian sermon outside the New Testament? Read it here

About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on January 30, 2021, in Christianity and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I never realized we know that sermon was delivered in Corinth. It is a favorite of mine. It is the first sermon ever, and it is almost exclusively on continuing in the faith. It reminds me of Paul and Barnabas’ return trip to the first churches they founded in Acts 14. They must have talked with each of those churches for hours, if not days, but all that is recorded is that they strengthened them in the faith and warned them that it is through many tribulations that they must enter the kingdom of God.

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  2. By the way, I put the sermon in easier to read English at https://www.christian-history.org/2-clement.html. There’s a comment on that page by the translator, who said “It’s chief virtue is its brevity.” I could hardly believe it. I have to suppose the guy was expecting a seminary theological dissertation rather than an early Christian sermon.

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    • I have a modern version by Holmes, but I couldn’t find it online! I’ll have to check your version out. But, this quote is from his version. As far as the sermon being delivered in Corinth, we don’t know that for certain. But it seems likely to me, based on Holmes introduction to it. It’s a powerful sermon. If I was pastoring today, I’d seriously think about doing a public study on it. Of course, I’d be burned alive at the stake once I announced it!

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