Ancient Christian ideas on Martyrdom/Early Mormon “Blood Atonement” Ideas

While riding the bus today, something struck me I had never thought of before (yes, I think about this stuff even while riding the bus).
Ignatius of Antioch was practically excited, anxious to be thrown to the lions and achieve some sort of reward by doing so.
Chapter V

QUOTE
May I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me; and I pray they may be found eager to rush upon me, which also I will entice to devour me speedily, and not deal with me as with some, whom, out of fear, they have not touched. But if they be unwilling to assail me, I will compel them to do so. Pardon me [in this]: I know what is for my benefit. Now I begin to be a disciple. And let no one, of things visible or invisible, envy35 me that I should attain to Jesus Christ. Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let tearings,36 breakings, and dislocations of bones; let cutting off of members; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the dreadful37 torments of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ.


Ignatius apparently believed that somehow his coming violent death would help him “attain to Jesus Christ”. He even implied that this willingness to die was just the beginning of what it means to be a disciple, and that his death would be for his benefit.

I find that this belief parallels the early mormon belief of ‘blood atonement’.

Now, I am not trying to rip this event out of context and say that it thoroughly parallels with the once popular ‘blood atonement’ philosophies of early mormonism. But, there are some interesting things to be said. These Christians considered this death to be something that helped them to somehow “attain to Jesus”. It was so important to them, that Bart Ehrman writes:

QUOTE
“Proto-orthodox authors considered this willingness to die for the faith one of the hallmarks of their religion, and in fact used it as a boundary marker, separating true believers (i.e., those who agreeed with their theological perspectives) from the false “heretics” they were so concerned about.” (Lost Christianities, pg 138)

Some of the most ancient Christians, especially those usually considered heirs of orthodoxy, held to this strange belief. Should anti-mormons be less critical of ‘blood atonement’ ideas in light of this?

Advertisements
This entry was posted in ..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s