Rest in Peace, Men of the Cross

mmUQAbYI’m having a difficult time getting the images out of my head.

The Libyan seashore looks beautiful, with waves coming into the pale sands. The line of orange jumpsuit clad men on their knees is striking in contrast. The horrible men wearing black standing behind them adds a menacing tone to the scene.

The death of 21 Coptic Christians at the hands of ISIS is horrific and painful, and yet for me there is a small but important ray of hope in the midst of the pain. For these men died as martyrs, thus joining the long line of men and women who have given their earthly lives for the sake of the Gospel.

In this profound piece, Ramez Attalah, General Director of the Bible Society of Egypt, quotes a young worker in his office responding to the news with hope:

“I am encouraged” she said, “because now I know that what we have been taught in history books about Egyptian Christians being martyred for their faith is not just history but that there are Christians today who are brave enough to face death rather than deny their Lord! When I saw these young men praying as they were being prepared for execution and then many of them shouting “O Lord Jesus” as their throats were being slit, I realized that the Gospel message can still help us to hold on to the promises of God even when facing death!”

This young woman’s words remind me of this famous quote:

“We (Christians) are not a new philosophy but a divine revelation. That’s why you can’t just exterminate us; the more you kill the more we are. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Who penned these words?

You guessed it. It’s Tertullian. The quote is from perhaps his most famous work, Apologeticum, written in or about 197AD.

I spend my time on this blog sparring with Tertullian, and rightly so, given his teaching on women. But, today, I’m not challenging Tertullian…

I’m agreeing with Tertullian.

Rest in peace, men of the cross.

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