Scripture: Matthew 5:38-45; Mark 13:9-13
This week in our sermon series, Church and State: The Rise of Early Christianity, we are talking about the church father Tertullian. He was born in Carthage around 160 A.D. and was the recipient of an incredible education. It wasn’t until Tertullian was 40 that he made a decision to convert to Christianity. None of his surviving works provide us with an account of his conversion, but what is clear is that he was impressed by the attitudes and beliefs of Christians.
Over the next 25 years, Tertullian devoted himself to writing passionately on behalf of the Christian faith. Like Origen, who we talked about last week, Tertullian was a prolific writer who had a huge influence on the Christian faith. When government officials started to target Christians, Tertullian wrote various treatises to officials in the government to educate them on who Christians were and what they believed. Whereas many Roman officials thought that Christians were trying to overthrow the government, Tertullian explained how that wasn’t possible because their religion prohibited violence in any form, even to the point of being unwilling to defend themselves when being attacked.
Tertullian was trying to help these officials understand that when you assume the identity of a Christian, it comes with certain consequences. I don’t think many Christians today really appreciate just how important the principles of pacifism and non-violence were to the earliest Christians. By declaring yourself a follower of Jesus, you were essentially making a promise to remove all forms of violence from your life.
This Sunday, we are going to talk about how, thanks to Tertullian’s writings, Christianity would become a legal religion in the Roman Empire. I hope you had a good 4th of July celebration and that you enjoy the coming weekend! Enjoy the weekend. Stay cool and I’ll see you on Sunday!