The Higher Liberty
Order the book The Higher Liberty
The Higher Liberty
by Gregory HHC, d
Minister of His Holy Church
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The temptations of Jesus are the
temptation of every man who is tempted to rule over others for his
own profit or to bow down to the will of others for his own gain. But
we should also not act arrogantly, slothfully, or foolishly in a way
that will tempt God.
Stoicism had been founded in the
3rd century BC. The Stoics, like the fictional Spock from Vulcan,
considered emotions destructive to logical and good judgment. They
also sought “moral and intellectual perfection.” Stoics
were concerned with human freedom in accord with nature. The conflict
often arose in the debate over what was natural and moral, which led
to the persecution of Christians by stoic emperors like Marcus
Some men have the misconceived
notion that it is natural and moral to rule over other men. They
imagine it moral to impose their theory of moral perfection, their
will, on others. Marcus Aurelius, the stoic president of the Empire,
led what historians have called the Golden Age of Rome.
“The only wealth which you will
keep forever is the wealth you have given away.”
Emperor Antoninus Pius and his
successor Marcus Aurelius were considered the more benevolent
reigning Emperors of Rome. Apologist Justin the Martyr wrote
Antoninus explaining the virtues and polity of Christians as a
self-governing people. Although several Emperors had chosen to leave
the Christians alone, and Marcus had been tutored by Antoninus, he
was never able to trust Christians, and had one of the worst records
of their official persecution.
Celsus, a Platonist, writing
during the term of Marcus Aurelius, “opposed the ‘sectarian’
tendencies at work in the Christian movement because he saw in
Christianity a ‘privatizing’ of religion, the transferal
of religious values from the public sphere to a private
association.” Like the modern Church, Celsus chose to place the responsibility and
obligations of religion on men who call themselves benefactors but
exercise authority one over the other. This is not what the Bible
calls pure religion.
Vigellius Saturninus, proconsul
of Africa in 180 CE, addressed the seeming antisocial behavior of the
Scillitan martyrs with the statement, “We too are religious,
and our religion is simple, and we swear by the Genius of our lord
the emperor, and we apply for his benefits, as you also ought to do.”
The true Christians like Speratus would not apply to that Emperor for
their daily bread and social security, but claimed Christ as “Lord,
the King of kings” and ruler of all nations. As a Christian, he
relied upon the Genius of God the Father working through the freewill
offerings given in congregations of the Church by faith, hope, and
“Augustus [the first
Emperor] was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he
deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit
to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still
enjoyed their ancient freedom.” Claiming to desire freedom, he edged inexorably toward tyranny.
Social welfare reform and duty
were noble ideas, but what was Marcus Aurelius’ error? Why did
he persecute Christians? Religion was part of the conflict, but how?
Was that conflict “governed by names” or by the precepts
of “pure religion”?
Marcus believed that it was
natural for the government to compel the contributions of the people
to provide for the welfare of society. Moses, John the Baptist, and
Jesus did not. Marcus Aurelius knew the natural law required the
consent of the people at one point or another. The Bible tells us to consent not.
Like most governments today he
called himself a benefactor but exercised authority in the collection
of contributions of the people. Unlike Christ he did not believe in
the individual right to choose. Christ preached another form of
“Look back over the past, with its
changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future,
too.” Marcus Aurelius
If you wish to conquer a people,
addict their hearts to the love of benefits and their minds to vain
knowledge, then they will fight to maintain their slavery and crucify
any who might set them free.
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Related Articles and Audio:
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