Julian the Apostate was the Roman emperor from 361 to 363. He’s called the Apostate because he converted from Christianity to theurgy and is considered the last Pagan emperor (he revived paganism in Rome as a counter to the thriving Christianity).
He was the author of many letters. In particular interest to me, he comments on the popularity of Christianity:
“These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their agapae, they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes.”
“Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. See their love-feasts, and their tables spread for the indigent. Such practice is common among them, and causes a contempt for our gods.”
Variation from here. Originally heard in the sermon Jesus and Politics by Tim Keller
- For the interested, agapae = unconditional love.
It’s interesting to think that agapae towards the poor, both “ours” and “theirs”, was one of the primary identified catalysts behind Christian adoption (it’s no wonder there are over 2000 Biblical passages dealing with those on the margins of society). One can only hope we continue to re-discover that catalyst—over the past few months especially I’ve found it to be at the heart of missional living.
Yes. This was another old post.