The following material is some rough ideas we will be incorporating into this book.
Thirty Years War -- Bloody History of Religion
The Thirty Years' War was a series of wars in Europe. It was a ferocious fight basically between Catholic and Protestants and sometimes between Protestants. Rulers tried to use force to impose their religious views on their own subjects and then on other kingdoms. Hundreds of thousands of men in armies plundered as they marched over Europe, leaving cities, villages and farms ravaged. This incredible bloodshed came to an end in 1648 in the German province of Westphalia after everyone was exhausted.
The early Christians often exhibited such strange behavior that
they caused the general population to fear them. Patriotism was
almost a religion of Rome and many Christians seemed not to care
about the empire and longed to be in heaven with Jesus.
Today, they would be called a cult who have glassy eyes and
seem holier than thou and not of this evil world, but caring only for
the future world. The Romans, like Americans, were a practical people
and couldnt understand the Christians obsession with some
carpenter who had been jailed and received capital punishment for
being a threat to law and order. And law-and-order was just about
everything to a Roman.
America is so practical that even when they witness a lot like
the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses they do it with the organizational
skills of IBM or some corporation that is rational and
These Christians just didnt seem to fit in. What really
amazed the Romans was that Christians so often seemed to want the
Romans to persecute them. They wanted martyrs and to leave this earth
the same way their leader did - a gruesome torture. They would like
the Heavens gate cult in which they blissfully killed
themselves seeing a brighter future away from this sordid
The Christians fearlessness and zombie like attitude toward
torture moved some people to be converted and some to help them as
some gentiles helped to hide Jews in Europe who were criminals just
because they were Jews. Christians were seen a evil just because they
were Christians. They were considered guilty and were not given a
fair trial as other citizens were. But mostly Christians scared the
majority. In the book Martyrs and Rome we read of an instance of a
Roman governor who actually got so exasperated at a bunch of
Christians and tried to stop them from being so anxious to commit
"Towards the end of the reign of the Roman emperor Commodus, in
the last years of the decade of the 180s AD, a Roman governor in the
province of Asia was conducting his normal judicial activities when a
throng of excited people pushed forward to stand before his tribunal.
Without provocation or prior accusation they all voluntarily declared
themselves to be Christians, and by this declaration they presumably
showed themselves unwilling to sacrifice to the Roman emperor
a test to which governors regularly put professing Christians. The
pious mob encouraged the governor to do his duty and consign them all
promptly to death. He obligingly had a few of them led away to
execution; but, as the remainder clamored ever more loudly to be
granted the same reward, he cried out to the petitioners in
exasperation, You wretches, if you want to die, you have cliffs
to leap from and ropes to hang by."
Christians have not always been just crazy for God, but simply crazy and slowed down Gods effort to use them to convert the world.
We read, "Voluntary martyrdom astonished the pagans, as well it
might. Marcus Aurelius was not the only thoughtful person of the age
who contemplated with incredulity what he saw going on around him.
Celsus, the author of a highly sophisticated and detailed tract on
the Christians, came to the conclusion that the Christians were
simply out of their minds insane because they
deliberately rushed forward to arouse the anger of an
emperor or a governor in order to bring upon themselves blows,
torture, and even death. Half a century later the Christian apologist
Origen attempted to answer this criticism of Celsus, but he found
very little to say because such conduct was widespread and, in many
"Although Origen claimed that the Christians were doing nothing
contrary to the law and word of God, the spread of
voluntary martyrdoms had become so alarming to many thoughtful
churchmen that they gradually developed a sharp distinction between
solicited martyrdom and the more traditional kind that came as a
result of persecution. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Cyprian, and
Lactanius, all great spokesmen of the early Church, attempted to stop
this enthusiasm and reserve the ranks of the martyrs for those who
endured suffering and death in the face of persecution. But the
efforts of leading intellectuals and dignitaries did little to stop
the enthusiasm. By the end of the fourth century the Christian writer
Sulpicius Severus observed wryly that the martyrs of the early Church
desired death even more eagerly than clergymen desired a
It seems evident that the earliest authentic martyrs suffered
torture and death at the hands of Roman officials who were determined
to enforce the traditional worship of the Roman emperors and to root
out what seemed a seditious new cult. Those martyrs had received much
recognition and were believed to have found so great a reward in
death that others clearly wanted to emulate them. As Gibbon remarked
with characteristically pungent turn of phrase, The assurance
of a lasting reputation upon earth, a motive so congenial to the
vanity of human nature, often served to animate the courage of the
martyrs. For true martyrs were forgiven their sins and did
indeed acquire a lasting reputation upon earth."
"There can be no doubt that among the Christians an intense and
seemingly irrational desire to die at the hands of persecutors
antedated the creation of the terminology that transformed the common
word for witness. Consider, for example, Ignatius of
Antioch in the early second century. He would undoubtedly qualify as
a voluntary martyr in terms of his actions. When he was taken from
Antioch on the Syrian coast to Rome for execution, he was allowed to
stop in Smyrna in Asia Minor. There he communicated with the
principal churches of the region, and he wrote a letter to the
Christians at Rome begging them not to do anything that would prevent
his being given to the wild beasts when he arrived there. He
displayed in his writing what has been described as a
pathological yearning for martyrdom. But his language
nowhere includes the word. He says that he is in love with death, and
he anticipates with joy the tortures that lie ahead: Come, fire
and cross, and encounters with beasts, incisions and dissections,
wrenching of bones, hacking of limbs, crushing of the whole
body. In one of his most famous metaphors he expressed his hope
of being ground by the teeth of wild beasts into
the pure bread of Christ. Yet with all this, Ignatius
betrays no knowledge of the language or concept of martyrdom. But he
certainly longed for death."
Christians often were impatient to die when being held in
prisons: "enthusiasm for martyrdom was no less apparent among some
who, when condemned to die, betrayed impatience in waiting for their
ultimate dissolution. In the narrative of the Martyrdom of Polycarp,
we hear of the most noble Germanicus, who, when condemned to fight
with wild beasts, rebuked the emperor who tried to dissuade him from
self-destruction by dragging an animal directly on top of himself. In
this way, says the writer, the noble Germanicus chose to be liberated
all the more quickly from an unjust and lawless life. In an early
version of the Martyrdom of Agathonike, the martyr takes off her
clothes and throws herself voluntarily upon the pyre."
"Such enthusiasm for martyrdom is mirrored in the frequent reports of radiant joy, smiles, and even laughter among the Christians on their way to a martyrs death. During the interrogation of Pionios, his companion Sabina smiled when Pionios said that it was far worse to burn after death than to be burned alive. The temple warden was astonished by his reaction and asked incredulously, You are laughing? Whereupon she replied confidently, If God so wills, yes. We are Christians, and those who believe in Christ will laugh unhesitatingly in everlasting joy. Pionios himself, who was normally of a conspicuously pale complexion, turned positively ruddy with joy as he approached his own martyrdom. When Pamphylus was nailed to a stake, he was seen to look happy and smiling, and in response to a question he answered, I saw the glory of my God, and I rejoiced that I was free. The Carthanginian martyr Perpetua declared, in her account of her condemnation, that, when she and her companions were sentenced to death, they returned to the prison in high spirits. Her good cheer continued as she went to her death: Perpetua went with a shining countenance and calm step."
"Eagerness for martyrdom not only maintained the martyrs in
good spirits. It could make them laugh, to the great discomfort of
governors. The martyrs could even be moved to make jokes. Prudentius,
in his lyric verses on the crowns of martyrdom, tells the famous
story of Lawrence, who addressed his judge from the grill on which he
was being roasted: This part of my body has been burned long
enough, he announced. Turn it round, and try what your
hot god of fire has done. When the prefect then has the martyr
turned over, he is reported to have said, It is done. Eat it up
and try whether it is better raw or roasted. Prudentius
acknowledges that these words were spoken in jest. But after they
were uttered Lawrence looked up to heaven and reverently
"The desire for death on the part of martyrs and would-be
martyrs was attentively observed by the pagans and must have been a
constant source of wonder to them. Even the Christians at Rome might
have been surprised in the time of Trajan to receive Ignatiuss
impassioned plea to them not to block his death among the wild
animals. (He obviously thought that his co-religionists could
and would have interceded on his behalf.) The second-century
satirist Lucian well reflects the situation in his account of the
Christian phase of the flamboyant charlatan Peregrinus. Lucian tells
us that as a Christian Peregrinus felt a great longing to die; and,
in what is almost a parody of a scene from a Martyr Act, the satirist
describes the imprisonment of Peregrinus, the visitations to the
would-be martyr from the faithful, and the eagerness with which many
volunteered to go to their death along with him. On the other hand,
the governor of Syria, who was presiding over this case, realized
that the most effective penalty he could impose on such a person was
simply to release him. And so, cannily, he set Peregrinus free
precisely because he wanted to die. This is Lucians pungent and
possibly historical version of the old joke that has the masochist
say to the sadist, Hit me, and the sadist replying,
"All these scenes suggest that for many, if not most, martyrs
and would-be martyrs, their enthusiasm for death comes very close to
a desire to commit suicide a suicide to be arranged by an
external agent but with the clear complicity of the victim. The last
moments of Perpetua in the amphitheater at Carthage, as described by
the Latin narrator, illustrate this well: "She took the trembling
hand of the gladiator and guided it to her throat. Perhaps so great a
woman could not have been killed ... if she herself had not wanted
"However much some leaders of the Church attempted to dissuade
volunteers for death in the Christian cause, the example of Arrius
Antoninuss tribunal and many references in the Martyr Acts to
eager postulants for martyrdom show that the message simply did not
One book says, "The most pressing need of all cannot be legislated for how does one pass laws compelling a human being to be compassionate and have a sense of justice? The nightmare of Ulster has come about with Christian fighting Christian in one of the most advanced of Western societies. Continuation of this travesty with God can lead to the eclipse of civilization in that part of the world." This shows that Christianity is bankrupt as an ideology that can solve the problems of society. It has some magnificent truths and it is lacking and even wrong in other areas of life.
For many people Christianity is not only a ridiculous science
fiction ideology but it teaches that God is horrible. IT is seen as
grotesque religion. To illustrate this view a professor who wrote a
book analyzing Miltons Paradise Lost denounces Christianity
saying, "Young people often join a Church because they think it is
the only way to avoid becoming a Communist, without realizing that a
Renaissance Christian State was itself usually a thorough-going
police terror.... I think the traditional God of Christianity very
He says that when he spent ten years in Japan and China
teaching Milton at government universities he "gathered that those of
my students who became interested in Paradise Lost, though too polite
to express their opinion to me quite directly, thought Well, if
they worship such a monstrously wicked God as all that, no wonder
that they themselves are so monstrously wicked as we have
traditionally found them. Most Christians are so imprisoned by
their own propaganda that they can scarcely imagine this reaction."
He writes, "brainwashing is not a new scientific
invention, and Hitler had no opportunity to use the technique
of the biggest lie as grandly as the Christians since
they worship as the source of all goodness a God who, as soon as you
are told the basic story about him, is evidently the Devil."
He goes to write, "Survivors of the Nazi concentration camps
agree that the most powerful technique used there for the destruction
of human conscience and personality was a more subtle one than might
be expected in so brutal a setting; each of the starving and
tormented prisoners was tempted, by the offer of very small
alleviations, to take a share in torturing his fellows." Then he
compares Christians who are same because they have the vicious belief
that only they will survive because they are with God and all the
rest will be tortured forever: "this is what Christians ... regard as
heaven; if they take the vaunted logic of their system
seriously. They must sit beside God for all eternity and watch almost
all the people they have loved on earth being tortured by God and
they must incessantly praise God for his mercy."
"The Christian God the Father, the God of Tertullian, Augustine and Aquinas, is the wickedest thing yet invented by the black heart of man."
The speed with which Christianity developed, especially during its first thirty to fifty years, is unprecedented and indeed remains something of a sociohistorical enigma.
Government persecution of Christians. Practically everyone has heard about the terrible persecutions of the Christians at the hands of Roman officials. The Roman government tolerated any religion which did not threaten the safety or tranquillity of the state or interfere with the worship of the emperor. Roman officials had no quarrel with a persons religious preference as long as he was willing to take part in the ceremonies of state cults. The worship of the emperor was a patriotic rite uniting all Roman subjects in common loyalty to the Roman government. The Christians, however, would have nothing to do with state religious ceremonies. To them there was only one God; no other could share their loyalty to Him. In the eyes of the Roman officials this attitude branded the Christians as unpatriotic.
In addition, the Christians would not engage in military service and refused to accept political office. They also were criticized because of their fierce intolerance of other religious sects, which often led to religious riots. They would not associate with their pagan relatives and refused to participate in social functions, which they thought sinful or degrading.
In the face of these facts the emperors inaugurated persecution against the Christians, not because of intolerance of belief but because they seemed to threaten the very existence of the state. Marcus Aurelius was one of the most determined foes of the new religion. In the third century a series of severe persecutions was carried out. The first wide spread campaign against the Christians was carried out by the emperor Decius in 249, and the last by Diocletian in 303.
Official recognition and acceptance. It soon became apparent that there was to be no stamping out of the new religion by force. In fact, the Christians seemed to welcome martyrdom, and the "blood of the martyrs became the seed of the church." In 311 the emperor Galerius issued an edict of toleration, and two years later, by the Edict of Milan, Constantine raised Christianity to the status of legalized religion, on a par with all pagan cults. In his struggle for imperial
Early church organization. For a half century after the
death of Christ there was little organization in the Christian
movement. The earliest converts saw no necessity for organization,
for they regarded their present world as only a temporary thing which
would speedily end with the Second Coming of their Lord. But Christ
did not appear, and the Christians gradually had to adjust themselves
to the practical fact that since hundreds of years might elapse
before the Second Coming it was essential to develop a definite
religious quarrels, resulting in some of the bloodiest and most prolonged warfare in human history. The founder of the Christian religion had given as a primary command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." But there was no brotherhood between Catholic and Protestant.
Thomas More, the writer of Utopia, "For a long time he wore a horsehair shirt next to his skin; now and then it drew enough blood to visibly stain his clothing."
No saying in American political literature has been more hotly
debated than "that all men are equal." Jefferson did not mean that
all men are created equal in ability, physique or talent. He meant
the are equal in the eyes of God and law.
He said his purpose in writing the Declaration of Independence
was "to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in
terms so plain and firm as to command their assent." America respects
common sense. He said he drew upon books by such authors as
"Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, etc."
Trinity is the greatest mystery of Christian thought.
God wanted republics, not the Divine right of kings.
do I need any of this material?
Think about it. Maybe later: I'm storing it
God introduced democracy in the Greek city states in the 6th
Romans were a practical people. They introduced Roman
In 44 B.C. Julius Caesar became dictator. A group of senators
murdered him hoping to restore the republic. Cicero was not part of
the conspiracy but he was a spokesman for the republic. Rome had
law-and-order. Slavery grew, like in America, and this was a bad
condition for Rome.
Rome was governed by the Senate, originally a group of 100 men
from the upper class. At other times there were more. Each year
citizens voted in an election, known as an Assembly, to select
senators to be government officials.
In an emergency they picked a dictator who could rule for a
maximum of six months.
Octavius in 27 B.C. offered to return control of the state to
the Senate and the people. But he was given a new name, Augustus
which means "revered one." He was the first Roman emperor. The period
of Roman history from his rule onwards is known as the Empire, to
distinguish it from the Republic before it.
He formed a system of government in which the Senate and the emperor worked together.
Some bad emperors came such as Caligula who married his sister
and then murdered her. He was cruel. Nero was a tyrant who killed
members of his own family and blamed Christians for a fire that
devastated the city of Rome.
The Senate became weak. Rome divided into areas called
provinces. Laws were a mixture of Roman and local customs were taken
into account. The respected some of the customs and laws of each
province they conquered. They set local levels of
taxation. The Provinces were mostly left to govern
Spartacus led slaves in revolt in 72 B.C. but was defeated. God
wanted the Romans to end slavery.
Under Diocletian the Senate lost all authority. He declared
himself a God. It was darkest before the dawn. He prevented freedom
Rome had rulers who were interested in personal power and
wealth after Theodocius.
The people stopped caring about Rome and didn't want to fight
the barbarians because they no longer had any faith in a Roman
government that kept taxing them and restricting their
Dictator Caesar tried to replace the Republic with a monarchy.
The Roman Empire was born under Octavius and so was Jesus.
Rome was constantly at war. In its early days the Romans took
great care not to oppress the tribes and cities they controlled. They
knew that harsh rule might lead to dangerous rebellions.
The Senate gave Rome leadership. In law, the people ruled
In its early history, Senators made huge fortunes taxing
inhabitants. Before, men had served Rome without any thought of gain.
But suddenly, a career in politics became the pathway to vast
Cicero was unable to prevent the overthrow of the Republican
system of government.
Augustus preferred to be known as the "First Citizen." He laid
aside the special powers he had held during the civil war and
re-started the yearly elections. The Romans were so grateful to him
for bringing peace they gave him the title Augustus meaning
"Revered One." He could have been a dictator but he brought back the
ways of government of the Republic. This made him even more popular.
He reformed the government by getting rid of unworthy, lazy senators.
He made it easier for provinces to appeal to Rome if they suffered
from bad government.
"In Rome, he lived simply and treated his fellow-citizens as
equals. Despite his great power he listened respectfully to the
advice of the Senate and was careful to follow the laws. He worked
hard to bring back the old-fashioned Roman virtues respect for
the gods, hard work, and duty." He spent even his own money to build
public buildings. He was into learning and "gathered around him a
group of artists, writers, and poets including Virgil, whose
long poem, the Aeneid, glorified the history of Rome."