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Author Topic: Is Martyrdom Always the Right Option?  (Read 436 times) Average Rating: 0
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JamesR
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« on: August 15, 2012, 04:29:57 PM »

This is something I have been pondering for a while now. Most Orthodox Christians portray martyrdom as being like the highest honor or responsibility ever that some Christians are faced with. And that if we or anyone for that matter were ever in a position like that, martyrdom is always the route that we must take.

But this does not make sense to me entirely. What if it would be more beneficial for people in the long run if that person in question remained alive opposed to being martyred at that moment? Like, for example, what if that person was a really intelligent, gifted theologian or something who would benefit the Church more by continuing to live so that he could devote himself to writing and theology, or if the person in question was a really important Bishop or Priest whose flock really depended on him and needed him to shephard them. How is it that martyrdom is really the correct path for them? Wouldn't it be better for them to deny Christ in words only, that way they could be freed and continue to serve Him rather than just end it all right there and never reach their true potential for the Church?

Anyone can be martyred and I do not understand why people who have been gifted in other ways should throw their godly gifts and potential away just to make a statement with their death. I mean, take St. Athanasius or St. Gregory of Nyssa for example. Both were some of the most intelligent, theologically gifted and influencial figures in the Church of all time. But if they had been martyred early on in their lives, then we never would have understood the Incarnation or distinction between God's essence and energies in the way that we do now because of them. Our whole Christology could have been a mess and millions of people could have been led astray with false teachings about Christ if these people (At least Athanasius) had been martyred early on. Is it really worth sacrificing all of this just to make a statement with your death and maybe convert a couple people who happened to be present opposed to the millions of people who would have been aided and saved from false teachings if they had denied martyrdom?

Martyrdom does not always seem like the best solution in my eyes. I think that we should always go with whatever will benefit the Church and save/convert more souls in the long run opposed to always choosing martyrdom. Indeed, there are probably many times when martyrdom will do precisely that, but I think that there may also be times when it would be better for a person not to be martyred so they could benefit the world more through living.

Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 04:48:00 PM »

You can be a martyr,

And you can murder your friends,

But you cannot martyr your friends.  Wink
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 04:49:43 PM »

This is something I have been pondering for a while now. Most Orthodox Christians portray martyrdom as being like the highest honor or responsibility ever that some Christians are faced with. And that if we or anyone for that matter were ever in a position like that, martyrdom is always the route that we must take.

But this does not make sense to me entirely. What if it would be more beneficial for people in the long run if that person in question remained alive opposed to being martyred at that moment? Like, for example, what if that person was a really intelligent, gifted theologian or something who would benefit the Church more by continuing to live so that he could devote himself to writing and theology, or if the person in question was a really important Bishop or Priest whose flock really depended on him and needed him to shephard them. How is it that martyrdom is really the correct path for them? Wouldn't it be better for them to deny Christ in words only, that way they could be freed and continue to serve Him rather than just end it all right there and never reach their true potential for the Church?

"But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." (Matt. 5:37)

What you say with your mouth should be what your mind and soul believes.  Period.  From the mouth of Christ Himself.

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Anyone can be martyred and I do not understand why people who have been gifted in other ways should throw their godly gifts and potential away just to make a statement with their death. I mean, take St. Athanasius or St. Gregory of Nyssa for example. Both were some of the most intelligent, theologically gifted and influencial figures in the Church of all time. But if they had been martyred early on in their lives, then we never would have understood the Incarnation or distinction between God's essence and energies in the way that we do now because of them. Our whole Christology could have been a mess and millions of people could have been led astray with false teachings about Christ if these people (At least Athanasius) had been martyred early on. Is it really worth sacrificing all of this just to make a statement with your death and maybe convert a couple people who happened to be present opposed to the millions of people who would have been aided and saved from false teachings if they had denied martyrdom?

Spoken like someone who has never had the threat of violence or pain hung over them based on something they'd say.  I pray that I'm never forced to give an account for my faith on pain of death because as much as I'd like to say I'd not deny Christ, I know myself all to well.  It takes far greater character to not say, "Uncle," so to speak, than to give in and say it.  God will provide for His flock should an untimely death come to one of His servants.
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 04:56:53 PM »


Thoughts?

I think you need to take God's Economia into account here. We believe He wouldn't have let the teaching die. He knows how this goes. So it is proper to seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness (which may result in martyrdom) and trust that the necessary things will be added.

And on the other hand, don't get all pumped up about martyrdom like Origen did in his youth, according to legend.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 04:57:39 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2012, 05:21:44 PM »

And on the other hand, don't get all pumped up about martyrdom like Origen did in his youth, according to legend.

Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it!
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 05:23:52 PM by orthonorm » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2012, 05:55:43 PM »

St. Athanasius fled for his life, but he didn't deny Christ. If you can't face martyrdom then flee, but don't give in and deny your Lord and Savior.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 05:56:10 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 06:28:07 PM »

St. Athanasius fled for his life, but he didn't deny Christ. If you can't face martyrdom then flee, but don't give in and deny your Lord and Savior.

First you have to flee, but if there is no other alternative...
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2012, 07:29:02 PM »

FWIW, I've also heard arguments for fleeing from martyrdom in the form of, "I don't mind dying for Christ, but I will flee, that the one who wishes to martyr me will be prevented from committing that horrific sin."
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2012, 10:41:43 PM »

Without even touching the "types" of martyrdom, I will say a few things. Martyrdom requires a certain level of devotion to choose death over renunciation of faith. Those should be the only two choices faced by a martyr. Christians fleeing persecution In the first three centuries played a part in how quickly the faith spread during that time period.

Just a few quick thoughts.
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« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2012, 05:20:16 PM »

No there is no excuse to ever deny Christ for any reason at all.   I don't care if it's all the patriarchs put together in a room with a madman.  They should never for any reason deny God.

The question is around what Schultz was talking about, would you deny Christ under threat of pain or death?

I don't know if I would or not.  I tend to think I would not deny God if it meant a quick death.
Put a few Nazi thumb screws and a blow torch on me, wow.... I am not sure.  I hope my faith & manliness would hold out.

Put a gun to my wife or children knowing that people would really shoot.... I'm pretty sure I'd cave in. 

I pray God does not test me on this.
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« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2012, 05:31:13 PM »

St. Athanasius fled for his life, but he didn't deny Christ. If you can't face martyrdom then flee, but don't give in and deny your Lord and Savior.

First you have to flee, but if there is no other alternative...

I could not judge someone who denied Christ if, after trying to flee, they were prevented from doing so and were tortured. Maybe I am looking for an excuse for my own weakness in that.
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