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Tuesday, August 29, 2006 

Thinking About Polycarp

The discussion and comments going on concerning the forced conversion to Islam of two Fox News reporters at Gene Edward Veith’s site had me thinking about St. Polycarp yesterday. Polycarp was a disciple of John the evangelist and may been one of the last church fathers to actually have heard eye witness accounts of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Polycarp is known for a number of writings but none are more important than his Letter to the Philippians in which he refutes the Gnostic argument that the Incarnation and Resurrection were real physical events and not simple moral teachings or some kind mythology.

A second importance to his Letter to the Philippians is the fact it is considered to be the first to quote the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, The Acts of the Apostles, and the first letters of both John and Peter.

Last night I looked over my copy of Eusebius’s Church History as translated by Paul L. Maier. Under the section covering the Martyrdom Of Polycarp I counted no less than six times Polycarp could have denied Christ thereby saving himself a martyr’s death. All he had to do is swear by Caesar’s fortune and he could have gone free, at least for a little while. “Just curse Christ and I will let you go” the governor told him. But St. Polycarp replied “For eighty six years I have been his servant, and he has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who has saved me?”

The two Fox News reporters that were released over the weekend were forced to convert to Islam with a gun pointed at the back of their heads. (Peaceful Mohammedans? Nope, but that is a discussion for another post or at least a rehash of previous ones.)

I for one am glad we have the saints, not for their intercession as the Romans would suppose, but rather as examples of faithfulness to the saints still living within a fallen and corrupt world. See Augustana XXI for more on that subject. We should look to and up to the martyrs’ faith that caused them to sing the first hymns of the Church on the way to their deaths. We should look to St. Polycarp’s bold confession after being told he would be burned alive; “you threaten me with fire that burns for a time and is quickly extinguished. Yet a fire that you know nothing about awaits the wicked in the judgment to come and eternal punishment. But what are you waiting for? Do what you will.” and say I hope I would be as bold in my confession.

I hope that I never experience what those two Fox reporters did. That being said, I hope that my faith would be as strong as that of St. Polycarp, and can say “do what you will” if that were to happen to me.

Have the two Fox news reporters maintained their "conversion" now that they've been released? Or have they reverted to Christianity? What they said to their captors and what they felt in their hearts are not necessarily the same thing.

If these two reporters had, prior to their "conversion", been avowed atheists, would you be offended by their conversions?

I was really commenting on a differnt aspect but... if the reporters were atheist before their conversions, I would still be offended that the so called religion of peace is still being called that.

My take on your post was that the reporters had denied Christ, and that you were offended by that. If they had never accepted Christ in the first place, would you have been likewise offended?

Ok, forced conversions are offensive to me, even if they are from that "peacefull" little group of mohammadians. Second, if one converts to Islam from Christianity, then they have no choice but to deny Christ. But it really makes no difference to me whether they were Christian or wiccan. My hope is that my faith is strong enough to not deny Christ if a gun pointed at the back of my head and told to swear allegiance to a false god.

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