Outspoken Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 301 pages of information about Outspoken Essays.
Just as the Jewish Christians took with them the whole framework of apocalyptic Messianism, and set the figure of Jesus within it, so the Greeks took with them the whole scheme of the mysteries, with their sacraments, their purifications and fasts, their idea of a mystical brotherhood, and their doctrine of ‘salvation’ (soterhia is essentially a mystery word) through membership in a divine society, worshipping Christ as the patronal deity of their mysteries.

Historically, this type of Christianity was the origin of Catholicism, both Western and Eastern; though it is only recently that this character of the Pauline churches has been recognised.  And students of the New Testament have not yet realised the importance of the fact that St. Paul, who was ready to fight to the death against the Judaising of Christianity, was willing to take the first step, and a long one, towards the Paganising of it.  It does not appear that his personal religion was of this type.  He speaks with contempt of some doctrines and practices of the Pagan mysteries, and will allow no rapprochement with what he regards as devil-worship.  In this he remains a pure Hebrew.  But he does not appear to see any danger in allowing his Hellenistic churches to assimilate the worship of Christ to the honours paid to the gods of the mysteries, and to set their whole religion in this framework, provided only that they have no part nor lot with those who sit at ’the table of demons’—­the sacramental love-feasts of the heathen mysteries.  The dangers which he does see, and against which he issues warnings, are, besides Judaism, antinomianism and disorder on the one hand, and dualistic asceticism on the other.  He dislikes or mistrusts ‘the speaking with tongues’ (glossolalhia), which was the favourite exhibition of religious enthusiasm at Corinth. (On this subject Prof.  Lake’s excursus is the most instructive discussion that has yet appeared.  The ‘Testament of Job’ and the magical papyri show that gibberish uttered in a state of spiritual excitement was supposed to be the language of angels and spirits, understood by them and acting upon them as a charm.) He urges his converts to do all things ’decently and in order.’  He is alarmed at signs of moral laxity on the part of self-styled ’spiritual persons’—­a great danger in all times of ecstatic enthusiasm.  He is also alive to the dangers connected with that kind of asceticism which is based on theories of the impurity of the body—­the typical Oriental form of world-renunciation.  But he does not appear to have foreseen the unethical and polytheistic developments of sacramental institutionalism.  In this particular his Judaising opponents had a little more justification than he is willing to allow them.

ST. PAUL

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Outspoken Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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