Eusebius of Caesarea

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“Looking westward or eastward, looking over the whole earth, and even looking at heaven, always and everywhere I see blessed Constantine leading the same Empire.” (Eusebius of Caesarea)

Eusebius of Caesarea was a Christian historian from whom we learn about half of what we know about the life of the early Christians up to the time of Constantine the Great. Although Eusebius has sometimes been depicted as a puppet of Constantine and compromiser of the Christian Faith, he is in fact one of the most learned Christians of his time. In fact, it was only after Constantine’s death in A.D. 337 that Eusebius wrote his lines of highest praise for the ruler who had brought peace to the church, thus belying any claim that Eusebius was merely a kiss-ass to the emperor.

A disciple of Pamphilius of Caesarea, who in turn studied the works of Origen while in Alexandria under Pierius, Eusebius and Pamphilius collaborated on a five volume Defense of Origen, to which Eusebius added a sixth book after his teacher’s martyrdom during the reign of Maximinus Daia.

Eusebius saw in Constantine a fulfillment of the promise of peace by Christ due to the latter’s abatement of hostilities towards the Christian religion. Eusebius met Constantine when the latter visited Palestine with Diocletian’s court. Then also at Nicea, at the time of the Council, he saw the emperor seeking the unity and well-being of the church. Since Eusebius was convinced that Constantine had been raised up by God, he did not hesitate to support the emperor. Eusebius is famous for his seminal work, Church History. This work, which he later revised, is, according to historian Justo Gonzalez, of great importance for later church historians for without it, a great deal of the story that we have been telling would have been lost.

The final draft of his Church History however did not simply seek to retell the various events in the earlier life of the church but was really an apology or defense that sought to show that Christianity was the ultimate goal of human history, particularly as seen within the context of the Roman Empire. In support of that thesis, Constantine’s conversion was the keystone. The new situation was living and convincing proof of the truth of the Gospel, to which all humanity pointed.

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The Defenders of the Faith

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Last week, a news article on “e-cigs” or “vaping” was posted on the GMA News Facebook® page. It warned of the possible dangers of same, even mentioning that there was a certain study conducted on e-cigarettes or personal vaporizers published in a German publication. According to the news article, e-cigs contain formaldehyde among other harmful chemicals; so much so that even inhaling second-hand smoke or better yet, vapor, is dangerous. A similar warning was likewise issued by the Department of Health. However, there was one thing those warnings had in common: they failed to adequately cite any conclusive scientific study regarding their claims. Surely, mere mention that a certain study was conducted is not and will not be enough. As with all cultures and ages, the fear of the unknown haunts us.

A similar predicament was Christianity under during its early centuries. Although, according to Dr. Justo Gonzalez, there was no systematic persecution of Christians, it was nevertheless illegal to be a Christian. It was very easy though to cause any Christian to be arrested and punished; all it took was to present an accusation, no matter how frivolous or fantastic it is. Among those false accusations against Christians were insubordination, anti-patriotism, treason, sexual orgies, incest, human sacrifice, and worst of all, cannibalism. However, these accusations were not totally without reason. Christians services during that time were also called “love feasts”, much like “The Feast” gatherings of Bro. Bo Sanchez of the Light of Jesus Family, and they also called each other “brother” or “sister”. To make things worse, other people thought that Christians were eating infants during their gatherings because the former heard that the latter eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ! Since all of these things were done in private and only Christian initiates were admitted, there was really no way for the pagans to verify the rumors that they have been hearing.

Thus, a new breed of Christians, called “apologists” or “defenders” arose to address and dispel these misunderstandings. Among them were Quadranus, Aristides, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Origen, Mincious Felix, Tertullian and Tatian. But the most famous of the early apologists was Justin, whose martyrdom earned him the moniker “Martyr”, such did he come to be known, St. Justin Martyr. Only two of his works still exist: The Apologies (consisting of two parts) and a Dialogue with Trypho, a Jewish rabbi.

It was during those turbulent times that some of the most remarkable theological works of Christianity were produced. According to Dr. Gonzalez, it is by reading and studying these ancient works that we can know the main objections pagans raised against Christianity, as well as the manner in which the most cultured members of the Church responded to them, and how Christian theology developed in the very act of responding to pagan objections.

Habemus Papam!

Pope Francis

This morning, I woke up with a surprising news from my wife, Fifi. We have a pope! That was the announcement the world was anxiously waiting for; the election of a new pope in the person of 76-year old Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, S.J., now Pope Francis I. It has been reported that Cardinal Bergoglio was actually the man who received the second highest number of votes during the 2005 conclave which elected Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy, who then took on the name Benedict XVI.

Hailing from Argentina, he is the first Latin American and Jesuit pope in history. The Society of Jesus is best known for its work in education and the intellectual prowess of its members. A good example of Jesuit legacy in the Philippines is the Ateneo de Manila University, which is known for its high quality education especially in the areas of philosophy, theology, law, science and the liberal arts. Ironically however, according to Yahoo! News, “The Jesuit order was founded in the 16th century to serve the pope in the Counter-Reformation and some members of the Society of Jesus, as the order is officially called, think no Jesuit should ever become pope.”

Justin Welby

Unbeknownst to many, the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis happened just more or less a month after the installation of the new Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, who succeeded the Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams after the latter retired at the end of December 2012. Archbishop Welby officially became the 105th Archbishop of the See of Canterbury on February 4, 2013 and will be officially enthroned on March 21, 2013 at Canterbury Cathedral.

As an Evangelical Christian, it may seem that the elections of new heads of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church do not matter to me. Nevertheless, the Bishop of Rome, being the leader of around 1.2 Billion Catholics throughout the world, is in a very influential position. The Archbishop of Canterbury, on the other hand, is leader of around 80 Million Anglicans worldwide. These new leaders, especially the Pope, can be important catalysts of change in our time. Hence, it is necessary for us to know where they stand on major issues of the world, both theologically and politically. In fact, after reading some of his books, I became an admirer of the previous pope, Benedict XVI, due to his conservative stance on important moral questions, not to mention his intellectual and theological acuity. Although I recognize our theological differences, it is vital for Christians, regardless of denominational affiliation, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican or Protestant, to take a stand against the growing secular humanism of our society brought about by the minority, albeit noisy, advocates of homosexual “marriages”, freedom from religion, intolerant “tolerance”, abortion, fornication, and other forms of immorality.

Let us pray fervently to God for all our pastors and leaders that they may lead us to a life of righteousness and strengthened faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. To Him be all the glory honor and praise, hallelujah!

The photo above registers this moment. One can distinguish Protestant pastor Carlos Mraida with his hand over Begoglio's head; to Mraida's left in the photo is pastor Norberto Saracco of the Pentecostal Church of Argentina. The bearded monk with his back to the camera is Fr. Cantalamessa wearing the Capuchin habit.This encounter was born from a meeting at the Pontifical Gregorian Universtity in Rome, where the Catholic leader of the Movement of Charismatical Renewal met Protestants, who invited him to preach in their temples. The initiative spread and has generated gatherings like this one in Buenos Aires."
Pastor Carlos Mraida with his hand over Cardinal Bergoglio’s head; to Mraida’s left in the photo is Pastor Norberto Saracco of the Pentecostal Church of Argentina. The bearded monk with his back to the camera is Fr. Cantalamessa wearing the Capuchin habit.
This encounter was born from a meeting at the Pontifical Gregorian Universtity in Rome, where the Catholic leader of the Movement of Charismatical Renewal met Protestants, who invited him to preach in their temples. This initiative spread and has generated gatherings like this one in Buenos Aires.