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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Simple Church Minute #6--oration (revised)


6—oration (revision)

NOTE: I originally wrote a segment for each of the 61 points Frank Viola and George Barna make in their book, Pagan Christianity, about traditions in the institutional church not based on scripture. After writing it, I chose to not include this segment merely as I felt that, standing alone, it would come across as overly picky.  Therefore, the end of this commentary lacks the normal references the recorded commentaries have.  



My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute

A few days ago, I mentioned that oratory became an entertainment form in the Roman Empire in the days of the early church. Apollos was an orator before his conversion to Christianity, and Paul grew up in Tarsus, the “city of philosophers.” The early church was taught that all believers were kings and priests of God, per Revelation 1 verse 6. All were important in each other, which is growth in both mind and spirit. Still, over a couple of centuries, mutual ministry faded, being replaced with religious specialists. Over this time, some orators and philosophers became Christians, and some of their skills entered the church. Paid specialists came from paganism; Jewish rabbis of the Pharisaic side, which appear to be the only type that survived the revolt of 130 AD, learned a trade so they did not need to either charge for their teaching or depend on the tithe, in case unbelief swept the Jewish community, as happened at times during the Old Testament days. History shows that converted orators spoke in a style that was similar to before their conversion, which may not be all that surprising, quoting scripture instead of Homer. Eventually, as the church became formalized, the person giving the sermon was required to have studied rhetoric, and those without such training were not allowed to speak. Orators called their speeches homilies; the Catholic church uses that term to this day. The legalization of Christianity by the Romans solidified the Greek style of speaking and professional clergy. By the time of the Reformation, it was taken for granted that the sermon was how “lay people,” another concept foreign to the Bible, learned the Christian faith. Of course, in the Middle Ages, non-professionals did not have access to the Bible to know whether what they were being taught was true. That was what Martin Luther’s 95 Theses was about.

Speeches do not teach well. That’s why, in school, there is a mix of studying texts, hearing lectures, having discussions, and doing presentations.

            The information used in this commentary comes from Frank Viola & George Barna, Pagan Christianity, Chapter 4.  Within that chapter are further copious footnotes on the sources they used.

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