Monday, March 22, 2010

the proper relationship of a Christian to their culture

This is from Pious Fabrications blog, and it's a quote from a letter from St. Mathetes, a disciple of the Apostles, to Diognetus.  It's about how Christians relate to the world around them. I love this:

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity....But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives.


SyrianCatholic said...

Great Quote.

Anonymous said...

First, what does "they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring" mean?

Second, thoughtful, good quote. Reminds me of Augustine.

In a way it's easier for Mathetes in that Christianity is a tiny (if burgeoning) and persecuted sect in an empire based on raw power and paganism. The truly tricky part will come a few centuries on when Christians are in the majority and have power.

Or, we go from a context where it is simpler for a Christian to navigate "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s" than it is for them to figure out what to do in a world where Christians *are* Caesar.