Sunday, June 25, 2006

Clement to the Corinthians Part I

During this summer, a group of guys from RCIA & I will be going through Clement's First Epistle to the Corinthians. Clement was the 4th bishop of Rome and thus was pope from Anno Domini 88 - 97 (he began 21 years after Peter). So this epistle was written somewhere in that time period. Many seem to think it was towards the end of his reign as pope but nevertheless it was first century.

Chapter 1

Clement says:

'You enjoined young men to be of a sober and serious mind; you instructed your wives to do all things with a blameless, becoming, and pure conscience, loving their husbands as in duty bound; and you taught them that, living in the rule of obedience, they should manage their household affairs becomingly, and be in every respect marked by discretion.'

In the first chapter, our discussion seemed to focus mostly on this passage. Notice how the flow of this passage seems to directly correspond with Paul's letter to the Ephesians (Chapter 5 Verses 18-24): First an admonission to be of sober mind then a praise for being obedient to Paul's commands (which are apparently already seen as authoritative) by instructing their wives to be obedient. Of course this is just further evidence that the early christians were conservative in regards to family leadership contrary to the modern 'Christian feminist' movement which no closer resembles Christianity than Taoism. Furthermore this is (indirect evidence) that Pauline epistles were seen as authoritative in the Church even before the end of the first century.

Another observation the group made was that he must have been a good teacher/leader since he really intends to say some negative things in this epistle yet he begins (in the first 2 chapters) by praising them for the good things they are doing before getting into the negative.

Finally, on the note of sobriety, one of the guys in the group brought up a good point about how important this issue was to the early Church. Above and beyond the importance however, is the fact that it can also be applied to emotional 'drunkeness' as well. In the same way that alcohol or drugs can impair your judgement, emotions can distort your vision. That is why this 'sentimentalism' that is so unbelievably predominant in Christian culture today (Catholic & Protestant) is so dangerous. The sentimentalism I'm talking about deserves its own blog post and it will get one. But mainly Im talking about the kind of attitude that causes people to say things like "Its not a religion its a relationship" and "heart of hearts" (as if just saying heart once wont do because its not sentimental enough). This is a type of drunkeness and was widely spoken against in the early Church. Clement touches on it here also mentioning "serious mind". Now how common is it in our culture to hear someone say something stupid like "you take life too seriously"? Isnt life serious? Jesus apparently thought it was or else He wouldnt have gone
to such great lengths to save it.

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