March 11, 2007

Paul Burns - “Christian Lives in the 4th Century”

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Paul Burns, an academic focussing on the lives of 4 th cent. Christians, noted that from the mid-300s to the end of that century, there are 6 primary texts, including one by Augustine. The most accessible, of the life of Martin of Tours, a former Roman soldier, shows simple but of profound faith. The story best known of him is memorialized in Church windows in Europe showing him cutting his warm military clock in half to give to a freezing beggar. Later, as Bishop of Tours, his ascetic mission was to poor simple folk in the rural districts, which, with his rough speech and simple dress often put him at odds with his fellow bishops at Trier who found more noble callings as aesthetes. However, a contemporary of Martin’s, Hilary, retained Martin’s respect for his preaching and lifestyle, despite his wealth and position as Bishop of Poitiers. Hilary’s autobiography of 16 paragraphs demonstrated the staunch equality of the Son with the Father to demonstrate the hope of Christian faith, in contrast to other heresies of the time. Hilary does not repudiate his past, as Augustine did, but embraces it as a necessary lesson towards the fullness of Christian faith. Hilary noted cultured people of the time desired lives of leisure, to provide opportunity for reading, writing, and discussion to live fuller lives. Hilary said that this was not sufficient, but the personal examination of ethics and morality, and the natural openness for God within was required as well. This God of Hilary’s was both immanent and provident against the traditional Roman philosophy of the disinterest of the gods in human affairs, or the Stoic providential but impersonal God. To Hilary, the opening lines from John’s gospel were among three key texts to understanding the Word as God and becoming flesh. Hilary’s further works expanded on this theme through an account of a unique visitor, a smelly fisherman covered in mud who deepened his engagement with God by pointing out that this Word was eternally present. This visitor was named by Hilary as the one who sat beside Jesus at the last supper and laid his head upon his breast, and completed the circle of Scripture, from common folk to elite, and back to common folk again. [AP]


Communion: No
Ecumenical or Event: Lent III
Potluck Lunch: No
Congregational Meeting: No


Speaker: Paul Burns
Worship Leader: Evan Kreider
Song Leader: Eric Hannan
Pianist: Ruth Enns
Usher: Erika Hannan
Zoom Coordinator:
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Bring Flowers: EDWIN & HEDIE HINTZ
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