Do You Know God? Prove it….
“To know God is to be molded after his image and likeness. The one who knows God imitates God in every way possible. He is missing none of the things that contribute to his being like God. He practices self-control and endurance. He lives righteously and rules his own emotions.
To the extent possible, he gives what he has to others, and he does good in both word and deed. For it is written, ‘He is the greatest in the kingdom who is both a doer and a teacher.’ Such a person imitates God by blessing others. For God’s gifts are for the common good.”Clement of Alexandria, 190 A.D.
Posted on April 30, 2021, in Christianity, Early Church History, The Christian Life and tagged christianity, Clement of Alexandria, early church history, Matthew 5:19. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.
We do need self control and endurance.
Self control is listed as the last fruit in the Biblical list of spiritual fruits.
Is this because it is the last fruit to develop in believers ?
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Thanks for stopping in Sally! I’m not sure why it’s last. But the early church considered it foundational. The only way to live a righteous life was to learn to control yourself: your thoughts, your words and your actions. Which makes perfect sense. I’m not sure why the western church doesn’t even cover the concept.
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Hi Jim, I fully agree. We need self control to lead lives that are pleasing to God. ⚘
What is this? Do you believe 1 John or something? This just does not apply in the USA. We have a pass on 1 John. Didn’t you get the memo? (I don’t know how to put sarcastic emojis in here.)
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Ha! I’ve been reading through Eusebus, the Shepherd of Hermas, Clement of Alexandria, and other early church writings. Non-stop actually. The difference between their version of Christianity and ours is staggering! BUT…..it’s all right there in our Bibles. This morning I read through the entire Sermon on the Mount and said out loud…it’s all right THERE!
We’ve simply obscured it by our own traditions of men.
I don’t know where that leads us…..
I read those books in the early 90’s. Eusebius plus everything prior to and including Cyprian. As a member of the Patristics for Protestants Facebook group, I can tell you that it leads readers in many different directions. Some lean strongly toward Mennonite and Amish rules; others join the Roman Catholic Church; others join some branch of Orthodox; some go to the Anglicans. Most have trouble making the transition to an obedience-based faith.
Writing on the internet, like you do, I have met and corresponded with some awesome people. In person, though, I have learned to focus on preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I seek the answer to just two questions when I meet Christians nowadays: 1. Do you believe Jesus is King and Son of God; and 2. Do you believe that we can and should obey him by the power of the Holy Spirit.
If I have unity of Spirit with such a person, the testimony of the Holy Spirit that we are one, and they are trying to obey Jesus, I will do my best to add them to the circle of people I “parakaleo” (exhort, encourage, comfort, console, plead with admonish) to love and good works and who do the same for me.
I am very open to divine revelation, even if it comes through the parakaleo of brothers and sisters, about what else I can or should do.
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Hi Jim, I think I’ve probably engaged with you on Paul’s blog before (I’m the one that he often has done whole blog posts in response to single questions of mine – he’s a really good guy and I consider him a virtual friend).
Just a few thoughts here:
I have personally not found the emphasis on obedience to be lacking in Protestantism as much as you have. That could be due to being from different backgrounds and countries, though I think you can see it there in the reformers too. For example, Luther said the following about Galatians 5:21 “This is a hard saying, but very necessary for those false Christians and hypocrites who speak much about the Gospel, about faith, and the Spirit, yet live after the flesh. But this hard sentence is directed chiefly at the heretics who are large with their own self-importance, that they may be frightened into taking up the fight of the Spirit against the flesh.”
I have read some of the Fathers and find them a mixed bag. The quotes from Clement above don’t seem too different from scripture, and Diognetus is very interesting and inspiring. However, the Shepherd of Hermas is rather weird with extreme strictness, low christology and lack of forgiveness for post baptismal sin among other things (in fact the whole thing is pretty stingy on the forgiveness front, implying it must be merited through good works and suffering). It seems to imply that salvation is all on us and that all that Jesus has done is give us a bunch of rules to follow in order to save ourselves.
How would you describe your soteriology? (I know how Paul P would answer that question but what do you say?). Is salvation and indeed, the gospel message simply “Be good, get cracking with good works or go to hell”?
Following on from that, how does this affect your own faith from day to day? Would you say you have grown closer to God, sensing the Spirit as you follow Jesus? I know, speaking personally, that if I took books such as Hermas seriously I would go to bed every night wondering if I’d done enough works, if God had forgiven me, if I’d committed unforgiveable sin and , indeed, if God even loved me at all (I struggle with these questions a little anyway, without needing extra help from the EFCs).
Thanks for stopping in here, Butter!
Just to be upfront…..I’m likely a heretic 🙂
I look at salvation as an “I’ve been saved, I’m being saved and I will be saved” journey. Bypassing hell is not the primary reason to follow Christ, in my opinion. It’s to live life the way God designed humanity to live. Forgiveness is simply the beginning of this incredible invitation to become like Him.
I’ve had a completely different experience with Hermas than you have. I can see why Clement of A. encouraged all new believers to read it. It actually encourages me, even though the things you point out are there.
Reading the ECF has transformed my personal faith and lifestyle. It has drawn me much closer to Christ.
My apologies, but I did share this blog post, or at least the URL, with people who would normally be interested in this topic. You may have a deluge of diverse opinions about where this leads.
I love talking with people about this kind of thing. Especially if they have a different view than I do!
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