Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Social-Prejudice Against Early Christians

Stephen Mitchell in his important book on Anatolia, describes the pressures faced by the audience of 1 Peter and other Christians residing in Asia Minor. 

One cannot avoid the impression that the obstacle which stood in the way of the progress of Christianity, and the force which would have drawn new adherents back to conformity with the prevailing paganism, was the public worship of the emperors... In the urban setting of Pisidian Antioch where spectacular and enticing public festivals imposed conformity and a rhythm of observance on a compact population, where Christians could not (if they wanted to) conceal their beliefs and activities from their fellows, it was not a change of heart that might win a Christian convert back to paganism, but the overwhelming pressure to conform imposed by the institutions of his city and the activities of his neighbours.[1]
1 Pet. 1:6; 2:19, 20; 3:14,17; 4:19; 5:9, gives evidence of Christians facing severe social prejudice and Mitchell's quote alerts us to some of the historical facets that caused such social-prejudice. 

[1] Mitchell, Anatolia, II.10.

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