The only reason we know about these women is because of some letters by Chrysostom which have been preserved…But there are certainly many other women who have made invaluable contributions to the church, although they may never be remembered in this life.
Some time ago, I wrote about Olympias, a widow of noble birth who became one of John Chrysostom’s greatest supporters. But she was not alone. She lived in a community of women near the Great Church in Constantinople – in fact, only a wall separated their home from the bishop’s residence. Each of these women is worth of our attention.
We know some of them by name. Three sisters, Palladia, Elisanthia, and Martyria, were related to Olympias and, like her, were appointed deaconesses. When, after Chrysostom’s exile and death, Olympias was exiled, she left Marina in charge of the community. Later, Elisanthia took her place.
A noblewoman from Bithinia, Nicarete, joined the community after her husband died and after suffering an unjust confiscation of many of her goods. She devoted the rest of her property to help the poor. She is also remembered for healing many who would not be healed by conventional medicine. Apparently, she refused Chrysostom’s offer to appoint her as a deaconess.
When Chrysostom received the verdict that condemned him to exile, he called three of the deaconesses – Olympias, Pentadia, and Procla – as well as another woman, Salvina, to the baptistery, asked for their prayers, and instructed them to respect his successor, as long as he was properly elected and not seeking power. The women’s weeping at the news was so loud that Chrysostom asked a presbyter to escort them to their home, to avoid attacting the attention of the people outside.
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By Jeffrey A. Tucker — 5 months ago
Written by Jeffrey A. Tucker |
Friday, September 16, 2022
Today we live amidst new creations that we know from experience turned very different from how they are envisioned: lockdowns, closures, masks, distancing, capacity limits, vaccines, vaccine mandates, and a host of other preposterous things and practices (plexiglass anyone?) that came to mark our time, all promoted as the approved science by major media.
Two years before lockdowns, the world celebrated the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, about which a wonderful movie was released on the author’s life and thought. At the same time, there was a book and an exhibit at the Morgan Library, and growing controversies about the personal and political ethos that a generation of radicals meant to their times and bequeathed to ours.
This is the book that never stops giving, but there is more going on. The anniversary two years ago seems now like a foreshadowing of what happens when science goes wrong. She knew it back then: the grave dangers of intellectual pretense (thus anticipating F.A. Hayek) and the unanticipated social consequences of what Thomas Sowell would later call the unconstrained vision.
The monster created in the fictional laboratory — readers are always surprised that he is a sympathetic character, only lacking in all moral sense, like perhaps many we know too well now — anticipates the unfolding of politico-technological history as it developed from the late 19th century through the 20th. This came to be perfected in 2020 when the innovations we rely on – social media, Big Data, personal tracking, wide availability of medical services, even vaccines – came back to destroy other features of life we value, like liberty, privacy, property, and even faith.
The long fascination with Shelley’s work is related to her intellectual pedigree. She was, after all, the daughter of one of two of the mightiest minds of the 18th century, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, thinkers who took the Enlightenment project into new frontiers of human liberation. Mary herself ran off with and eventually married the troubled but erudite Percy Shelley, found herself embroiled in an awkward relationship with Lord Byron, and experienced the terrible tragedy of losing three children while experiencing both cruel shunning and great acclaim.
Her thinking and her life were the product of late Enlightenment thought, infused by both its best (Humean) aspects and its worst (Rousseauian) excesses. Her lasting contribution was as a corrective, affirming the freedom to create as the driving force of progress, while warning against the wrong means and the wrong motivations that could turn that freedom to despotism. Indeed, some scholars observe that her politics late in life were more Burkean than Godwinian.
Her enduring contribution is her 1818 book, which created two enduring archetypes, the mad scientist and the monster he creates, and still taps into cultural anxiety concerning the intentions vs. the reality of scientific creation. There is a good reason for this anxiety, as our times show us.
She wrote during a period — it was a glorious one — when the intellectual class had a justified expectation that dramatic changes were coming to civilization. Medical science was improving. Disease would be controlled. Populations were on the move from the country to the city. The steamship was vastly increasing the pace of travel and making international trade more resource-efficient.
She was surrounded by the early evidence of invention. The beautiful movie about her life recreates the ethos, the confidence in the future of freedom, the sense that something marvelous was coming. She attends a kind of magic show with Percy at which a showman and scientist uses electricity to cause a dead frog to move its legs, which suggests to her the possibility of giving life to the dead.
By William Boekestein — 1 year ago
One of the most basic truths controlling Christian apologetics is this: argument alone cannot produce belief. None of the “many solid arguments for the authority of Scripture … are of much use if someone doesn’t want to be convinced.”Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still. So the Bible is not a book to be judged, but the gift of divine truth to be gladly received. We learn from its teaching, agree with its reproofs, obey its correction, and submit to its training. Being supernatural we expect it to make us “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17) in Christ. And we should introduce it to others in that same way.
One of Billy Graham’s early crises of faith was over whether he could totally trust the Bible. After much struggle he prayed to God, “I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.” Graham’s conclusion sets a good example for us.
While the Bible is fully defensible, like God himself it need not answer all our questions and doubts. And we have no right to judge Scripture. “In controversies of religion or matters of faith, we can not admit any other judge than God Himself, pronouncing by the Holy Scriptures what is true, what is false, what is to be followed, or what is to be avoided.” Like the aural words of the prophets the Bible is simply and truly the Gods word written. The prophets didn’t invite hearers to deliberate over whether their words were true. They were proclaimers, declarers of what God had spoken to them. This is how we should receive every Word of God.
Why does this matter? Too often in apologetics Scripture is set aside until it is proven to be reliable. But the reliability of Scripture is not the goal of our argument; it is the foundation. Christian apologetics “is to be more than a meaningless discussion about the that of God’s existence and is to consider what kind of God exists”— and to do that, we need to listen to the Bible. Even the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus must be interpreted by Scripture “before they can avail as redemptive facts to us.” Scripture “stands before us as that light in terms of which all the facts of the created universe must be interpreted.”
Still, “The Bible is both the foundation upon which our defense must be built and one of our beliefs which must be defended.” Let’s think about how this is so.
How Can We Trust the Bible?
There are at least four categories of evidence by which Scripture reveals itself to be God’s word.
First, consider the internal evidence. The Bible reads like no other book. “The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity, by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God.” It shouldn’t surprise us that the Bible’s longest chapter by far is a poem praising God’s word, as the delight of all who know it (Ps. 119:24).
Second, consider the historical evidence. True prophets were known by their words coming true (Deut. 18:21–22). When John the Baptist asked if Jesus was “the one” he responded by describing how in him the works promised by God were being done. The Bible is filled with amazingly specific prophecies that have come true. As promised, Cyrus sent God’s people back to Jerusalem to build the temple (Is. 44:28; 45:1), Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and those who executed Messiah cast lots for his clothes (Ps. 22:18). “Even the blind themselves are able to see that the things predicted in [the Scriptures] do happen.”
Third, consider the experiential evidence. “The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God … by their light and power to convince and convert sinners” and “to comfort and build up believers unto salvation.”
By John Stonestreet and Kasey Leander — 2 months ago
James calls followers of Christ to be, “gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” Silence might be easier…however, we must take the posture of engaging the issues—not avoiding them—and especially of engaging people with truth and love as Christ did.
The questions we receive more than all others have to do with how best to respond to friends, family members, and neighbors who struggle with gender dysphoria. The rational case for humans as either male or female is strong, as are arguments from history, biology, law, and theology. However, arguments that would’ve been considered obvious not that long ago often seem to go nowhere with someone desperately reaching for answers or affirmation.
The number of Americans who report personally knowing someone who struggles with gender dysphoria now approaches 50%. Thus, Christians should be prepared, as best as we can, for these scenarios which we are now more likely to encounter than not. When unprepared, too many Christians simply go quiet, and in the process, go along with transgender ideology—not because they believe it but because rocking the boat seems too risky. Rather than truly loving our neighbors, something admittedly difficult, we instead choose the easier path of not offending and only affirming. We then name that path “love,” but it’s neither loving nor true.
The story of Holy Scripture, in each of its four chapters, contextualizes what is true about every person, including the created reality of sexual distinction. First, that God created and values our bodies, which are made male and female for His purposes. Second, the Fall, while validating the pain and discomfort that many people feel within their own bodies, dispels the idea that what we feel should be accepted as true. In fact, it may be false, confused, and harmful. Third, that Christ is making all things new through His life, obedience, death, and resurrection, all of which came by God Himself taking on a human body. Fourth, one day the pain of dysphoria will be fully healed when our faith becomes sight.
The topic of transgenderism requires, first and foremost, theological clarity. Children must hear, over and over, God’s design for sexuality and the body articulated. If they haven’t heard it, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn how many struggle in silence.