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Old November 11th, 2016, 05:48 AM   #11

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So, no need to exterminate the Agnostics too then?
At a time when christianity is waning the agnostics should be among the first to wise up (fully). Once a holy joe, Ehrman recently characterized himself as "an agnostic with atheistic leanings."
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Old November 11th, 2016, 10:38 AM   #12

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I don't think it should. Christianity was seen as suspect, and which ruler wouldn't want to sustain his culture from outside or internal threats? He wasn't the first Emperor to murder Christians, and it's not contrary to his philosophy which was about being hardened to life realities, and not empathy or kindness.
Ordering the "murder" of anyone tends to tarnish your reputation
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Old November 11th, 2016, 01:16 PM   #13

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Ordering the "murder" of anyone tends to tarnish your reputation
In your estimation. It was normal for his time.
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Old November 12th, 2016, 11:06 AM   #14

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Well- it might- if the christians did not have such a long record, themselves, of persecutions just as vile and far more corpses to show for it.


Aurelius was trying to stem a belief system that he saw as antithetical to Roman values and a direct threat to the power and authority of the State.

By placing their duty to christ above their duty to the emperor and to Rome, Aurelius saw christians as essentially eroding the very fabric of civilization. As a Stoic, he believed that Jesus was a figure of external moral condemnation... and the idea that redemption had to be sought from some exterior 'god' or savior as being destructive of the true moral nobility of man, because Stoics believed that your moral compass was internal and that the true path to self improvement and deeper compassion was thru introspection into one's own inner nature and animal weaknesses.

From that perspective, I think he was right. He saw the early church as a Con game that was convincing its followers that only the Church could 'sell' them the precious commodity of forgiveness for sins.
To a Stoic- the concept of SIN was disgusting- it was an abrogation of your own self reliance and self realization and convincing people they were inherently sinful- that they were not 'good', Aurelius saw as being cruel, manipulative and coercive.

So he was all in favor of trying to eradicate this ridiculous belief before it caught on.

It is questionable how much of the actual violence of the persecution Aurelius had any knowledge of. But he certainly let it be known that he would rather christianity went away.

This some areas- most notably areas well away from his direct observation, did get a little zealous in their persecutions... but we don't know that Aurelius endorsed that approach.

I mean- he was the same guy who cut gladiatorial games and dialed back the level of violence in the gladiatorial games he allowed. So we know he was not keen on orchestrated violence per se.


His persecution of what he saw as a destructive and manipulative cult does not tarnish his image in my eyes-... because I judge him by the lights of his own culture and his own beliefs.

We are talking about a culture that made entertainment of violence and killing... that they put christians to death as public spectacle was in keeping with their traditions.


In 1493- what rationale did the christian church have for burning jews at the stake all over Spain? Where does jesus say that's cool?
I'm not sure, but then what Spain did in 1493 is their own issue.
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Old December 18th, 2016, 09:22 PM   #15

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Using this thread as a point, I would like to ask how severely was the Roman persecution of Christians exaggerated?
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Old December 18th, 2016, 10:23 PM   #16
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One of my books on Roman history spoke of Pliny the Younger. Christianity was causing a decline in attendance to temples, festivities, and collections that the temples relied on for support. Pliny was sent to one area with pro-Consul authority to deal with it. At trial a Christian was given three chances to deny his faith and convert back to the Roman gods.
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Old January 6th, 2017, 12:27 AM   #17

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Using this thread as a point, I would like to ask how severely was the Roman persecution of Christians exaggerated?

IMO substantially

Imperial Persecution of Christians: Historical Evidence?
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Old January 7th, 2017, 07:43 AM   #18
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Using this thread as a point, I would like to ask how severely was the Roman persecution of Christians exaggerated?
Greatly. There's almost no evidence of a systematic state-led persecution of Christians by the Roman Imperial government. Most of it was local and sporadic.

Roman polytheism was a ritual-based religion. You could believe whatever you wanted, but you needed to perform the rituals correctly. If you didn't than the Romans believed the Gods would punish them. So if a disaster struck (like an earthquake, volcano eruption, great fire, floods, etc.) the Christians were often blamed by the local population because they refused to practice the correct rituals. The Christians only have themselves to blame for being stubborn. They weren't persecuted for only believing in one God, but for not performing the correct rituals.
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Old January 7th, 2017, 09:00 PM   #19

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It is more likely than not that Marcus Aurelius' only mention of Christians at Meditations, 11:3 is an interpolation or margin gloss. Consequently Marcus most likely doesn't mention, and demonstrates no knowledge of, the Christians at all.

The assertion that Marcus killed Christians seems to be an assertion of the church from a much later century. Moreover documents often tendered as evidence for the assertion are - more likely than not IMHO - pious forgeries of the church.
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Old January 8th, 2017, 06:21 AM   #20
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The Christians only have themselves to blame for being stubborn. They weren't persecuted for only believing in one God, but for not performing the correct rituals.
The Christians only have themselves to blame... for being Christians. The Old Testament is rather strict on performing pagan rituals:

"You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments."

Besides, being executed for their faith was martyrdom, it was an act of worship.
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