Saturday, 12 September 2015

MARTYR or not ...?

MARTYR or not ... ?

There is a great gulf in difference between the Greek and English usages and meanings of the word martyr.

A MARTYR is someone who gives witness or testifies about an event.

However for Christians in the early church it came to have another meaning.

ST. Stephen is referred to as the first martyr but we often forget that is partly he give witness in a long speech to the council that condemned him.

While in later centuries there were anti Christian riots the word martyr came to be applied to persecuted members of the early church because they could not be condemned to the arena or other punishments for "atheism" or not sacrificing to the Emperor BEFORE they were processed by a magistrate.

They could give witness in their own defence.

Its a perfect and tragic example of semantic transfer and extension from one limited meaning to another broader one.

To most people it now means someone who suffers for a cause and their suffering is seen as a form of witness. Yet originally the witnessing the giving of testimony in court was more important than the consequent suffering.

There are some people who undoubtedly think a certain Kentuckian county clerk is a martyr. That person however may be and think she's witnessing her faith but she is not at risk of death or torture unless by torture you include some of the social media memes cartoons and other satire appearing on the net.

Martyrs first and foremost should be witnesses presenting evidence not heros or victim. However the only thing Kim Davis' activities seem to be proving is that she doesn't understand she lives in a secular democracy not the first century AD Roman Empire!

She wasn't asked to sacrifice to idols or worship the President as a living god.

IF you want to be a social activist Davis try supporting the local homeless or refusing to issue marriage licenses to church elders who marry girls young enuff to be their daughters or to adulterers maybe?

Or perhaps you could resign your cosy bureaucrat's job and go and help Syrian refugees many of whom genuinely are persecuted ! ... and possibly more Christian than you?

It also appalls me that I see people curiously nearly all white middle aged american males getting on social media "witnessing" that refugees are actually ISI jihadis or economic migrants.

Witnessing is supposedly to be based on things you have seen and experienced FIRST HAND not RECYCLING whatever paranoid or homophobic nonsense you saw on the web!

If you're witnessing about anything be a responsible informed witness!

Next week we presume working through the Gospel of Matthew though the way some people are behaving about refugees I'm tempted to do a word for word translation of the Good Samaritan story especially the part where the Samaritan doesn't ask the person to provide visas passports and other proof of ID.