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Herbert Brook Workman (1862-1951) was born in London and educated at Owens College, Manchester. He entered the Wesleyan ministry in 1885 and served as a circuit minister in England and Scotland until 1903 when he was appointed Principal of Westminster College. He was elected President of the Wesleyan Conference in 1930. A distinguished historian, Workman was Cole Lecturer at Vanderbilt University in 1916 and Visiting Professor of Methodist Church History at the University of Chicago in 1927. He published extensively in the field of medieval church history as well as Methodism. His other publications include 'The Dawn of the Reformation' 'The Evolution of the Monastic Ideal' 'Martyrs of the Early Church' 'Methodism' and 'The Age of Hus'
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Incredible book. Originally published in 1906. Especially interesting were the political and sociological factors leading to persecution. I suspect that our right to free assembly is somewhat of a response to Roman legal opposition to any small social/religious/labor societies.
"A Christianity which had ceased to be aggressive would speedily have ceased to exist. Christ came not to send peace on earth but a sword; against the restless and resistless force of the new religion the gates of hell should not prevail. But polytheism could not be dethroned without a struggle; nor mankind regenerated without a baptism of blood. Persecution, in fact, is the other side of aggression, the inevitable outcome of a truly missionary spirit; the two are linked together as action and reaction." Herbert Workman, Persecution in the Early Church, p. 39. RVC Blog 11/4/14.
"But Julius Caesar, on political grounds, suppressed all sodalities except those of ancient origin, while Augustus placed all religious societies under the strictest control." p. 51.
"Christ could not be one among many; His claims rested upon higher grounds than senatorial allowance." p. 58
"Nor must we forget that the toleration of Rome, such as it was, was nearer akin to contempt and indifference. Now, the toleration which springs from contempt is often intensely intolerant of one thing, namely, of enthusiasm, using the word in a sense better understood and disliked in the eighteenth century than today." p. 59.Read more ›
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I cannot be alone in feeling challenged by a book which shows the tenacity of the faith held by martyrs and wondering whether I would be prepared to go through what they went through, thinking that I probably wouldn't. It does seem, however, as if they were given strength which was not their own when the time of trial came, so I suppose I hope that the same would be true for me if such a time came. At the same time, I cannot help but identify with those who disowned the faith when their time of trial came and then rushed back to holy mother church when it was all over, seeking readmission.
The forward to this book is written by Michael Bourdeax of Keston College. From what I know of that institution, it did not do justice to the positive side of church-state relations behind the iron curtain. It is fiercely opposed to syncretism and its style of Christianity is one which refuses to compromise. Surely a belief in the incarnation demands some compromise - in fact it is not compromise if we have a doctrine of the Spirit working outside the church.
The author suggests that it is persecution that makes Christianity different from all other religions; the martyrs were prepared to die because their faith was more than a philosophy of life, more than a set of hopes and aspirations, a world view - it was a relationship with Christ. In his conclusion he suggests that we should not be courting favour with other world faiths and should avoid syncretism. The martyrs did not offer incense to a statue of the emperor, they would rather die, so we should not get mixed up with other religions.Read more ›
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