Thursday, September 19, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: 2 Chronicles 30 and Augustine's Treatise on Profit of Believing 32

2 Chronicles 30 – Hezekiah sends word to everyone in Israel and Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh to come “to keep the Passover of the Lord” (30:1). But they keep the celebration in the second month, a month later than usual. They could not keep it at the right time because of the paucity of priests and the failure of the people to assemble in Jerusalem.

“At the king’s command, runners were sent throughout Israel and Judah. They appeal to people, “O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. . . . Do not now be stiff-necked as your ancestors were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary. . .For as you return to the Lord, your kindred and your children will find compassion with their captors, and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him” (30:6-9).

The couriers take this message out, but some are met with scorn and mocked (30:10). Only a few people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun come, but many from Judah come. They slaughter the Passover lamb, but many of the people “had not purified themselves. But King Hezehiah prayed for them, and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the requirements of the Law. For Hezekiah said, ‘’May the Lord, who is good, pardon those who decide to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.’ And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people” (30:18-20).

They extend the celebration for an extra seven days (30:23). “There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon son of King David of Israel there has been nothing like this in Jerusalem” (30:26).

Augustine’s Treatise on the Profit of Believing
32 - But if they say that we are not even to believe in Christ, unless undoubted reason shall be given us, they are not Christians. For this is what certain pagans say against us, foolishly indeed, yet not contrary to, or inconsistent with, themselves. But who can endure that these profess to belong to Christ, who contend that they are to believe nothing, unless they shall bring forward to fools most open reason concerning God? But we see that He Himself, so far as that history, which they themselves believe, teaches, willed nothing before, or more strongly than, that He should be believed in: whereas they, with whom He had to do, were not yet qualified to receive the secret things of God. For, for what other purpose are so great and so many miracles, He Himself also saying, that they are done for no other cause, than that He may be believed in?

He used to lead fools by faith, you lead by reason. He used to cry out, that He should be believed in, you cry out against it. He used to praise such as believe in Him, you blame them. But unless either He should change water into wine, to omit other (miracles), if men would follow Him, doing no such, but (only) teaching; either we must make no account of that saying, "Believe ye God, believe also Me;" or we must charge him with rashness, who willed not that He should come into his house, believing that the disease of his servant would depart at His mere command. Therefore He bringing to us a medicine such as should heal our utterly corrupt manners, by miracles procured to Himself authority, by authority obtained Himself belief, by belief drew together a multitude, by a multitude possessed antiquity, by antiquity strengthened religion: so that not only the utterly foolish novelty of heretics dealing deceitfully, but also the inveterate error of the nations opposing with violence, should be unable on any side to rend it asunder.

The idea that when we are talking about Christ and essential Christian doctrines, we are talking about what we "know" or even what his Twelve "knew" about him is NOT essential. And we can see in Augustine - one of the most famous defenders of the faith - that even in the 4th century, Christians did not claim this.

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