Friday, August 27, 2010

Ancient Rome & Today

Alfred Edersheim a Jewish convert to Christianity was a Biblical Scholar especially known for his work "The life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883)".  Edersheim's scholarship is little know among contemporary Christians but it towers over modern day skeptics and their idle bantering of how the existence of a true God is a fancy idea. Edersheim's scholarly works are gold mine of information on the religious and cultural conditions of Christ's ministry in the Roman times. The description of Rome given by Edersheim is not much different from today's America, here's an excerpt for you to follow about the state of Rome before its complete fall.

Religion, philosophy and society  had passed through every stage to that of despair. Without tracing the various forms of ancient thought it may be generally said that in Rome at least the issue lay between stoicism and Epicurean-ism.  The one flattered its pride and other gratified its sensuality. One was in accordance with its national character and the other with decay & corruption. Both ultimately led to atheism and despair. The one by turning all higher aspirations self-ward and the other by quenching them for satisfying  the desires of the moment. The one by extinction of all feeling and deification, the other by indulgence of every passion & the worship of matter as it ideal. It would be unsavory to describe how far the worship of indecency was practiced and carried in Rome. How public morals were corrupted by mimic representations of everything that was vile and even by the pandering of corrupt art. The impersonation of gods, oracles, divinations, dreams, astrology, all contributed to general decay. It has been rightly said, that the idea of conscience, as we understand it, was unknown to heathenism. Absolute right did not exist. Might was right. The social relations exhibited, if possible displayed even deeper corruption. The sanctity of marriage had ceased. Female dissipation and the general dissoluteness led at last to an almost entire cessation of marriage. Abortion, and the exposure of murder of newly-born children were common and tolerated; unnatural vices, which even the greatest philosophers practiced, if not advocated, attained proportions which defy description. .

Edersheim wrote this almost a hundred years ago, and unfortunately its no different from the world view that we we stand and stare into (or I should say live in). The english journalist Steve Turner wrote a satirical sarcasm in poetic form called "Creed" on today's social norms which I have taken from Ravi Zacariah's Book "Can man live without God?" a answer to which Steve Turner says "No, but we try all the time...

We believe in Marx, Freud and Darwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don't hurt anyone
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and
after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything's getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there's something in horoscopes
UFO's and bent spoons.
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher though we think
His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its
compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What's selected is average.
What's average is normal.
What's normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
Americans should beat their guns into tractors .
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It's only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.

If chance be
the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!
It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.

Isn't that an amazing parallel to ancient Rome. We know the reasons of the decline and demise of Rome. I will quote Huxley here who said - "If we don't learn from the mistakes of the past we are bound to repeat them". We are in interesting times challenged by the clash of world views that takes place in everything you do or even just merely being a part of. But at the same the deeper truth is what we are called to reflect, which is as Christians we know we are a people redeemed, saved by grace alone, and called to look upon the face of God to surrender our hearts, so that it will go well with our souls.

Blessings & Shalom,

Sam Kurien

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