What does an Ancient Egyptian city have to do with you?
Sure, as a kid you might have loved lessons about the Pharaohs, the Nile, or perhaps Charleston Heston’s Moses. But fast forward a couple of thousand years to the age when Alexander the great had established a profound work of government: his city name sake.
Still, what does this have to do with you. I am in agreement with a growing number of those who think the pre-Christendom world (85bce-360ce) has much to say to our North-American post-Christendom age. It was Augustine, watching the great fabric of the Roman civilization come apart, who penned the great City of God. It was Justin, who stood in the volatile context of pluralism and magisterially defended the gospel. And it was Athanasius who, when the whole church was walking down a road to heresy, stood up for the apostolic witness. I believe that our post-Christendom Western Church, especially her emerging leaders, need to enter into the early Fathers for guidance and wisdom.
And life in the Alexandria of late Antiquity is just the type of place we should consider. Unlike other cosmopolitan centers, Alexandria retained a sharp cultural distinction between Jew, Christian, and Pagan. Both the Christians and Pagans each held power at 0ne time or anther. At least three times within the span of 300 years, an all-out ethnic and religious strife led to violence against humanity. The variations of Christianity that sprung from Alexandria are too numerous to count. And it is within this context that we have some our great Jewish and Christian thinkers and leaders working: Philo (a Jewish contemporary of Jesus), Clement, Origin, Athanasius, Anthony, Pachiomius, Peter I. Civil turbulence grows in our age, an unrest like these men and women faced. We should listen to their wisdom and learn from their mistakes.
This week, I will highlight three of these leaders: Philo, Origin, and Anthony…stay tuned!