The Worship Quote of the Week for (11/06/2001):

Some Money Matters
Todayís WORSHIP QUOTE is another from the quill of Tertullian of Carthage
(North Africa). Writing as an apologist for the Christian faith around the
year 200, he was answering criticisms that Christians were dangerous to
society because of their secret meetings. In this selection, he describes how
the 2nd-century Christian church congregation collected offerings, and how
the money was used.


SOME MONEY MATTERS
The tried men of our elders preside over us, obtaining that honor not by
purchase, but by established character. There is no buying and selling of any
sort in the things of God. Though we have our treasure-chest, it is not made
up of purchase-money, as of a religion that has its price.

On the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a donation; but only if it be
his pleasure, and only if he be able; for there is no compulsion; all is
voluntary. These gifts are, as it were, pietyís deposit fund. For they are
not taken thence and spent on feasts, drinking-bouts, and eating-houses, but
to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls
destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to the house;
such, too, as have suffered shipwreck; and if there happen to be any in the
mines or banished to the islands, or shut up in prisons, for nothing but
their fidelity to the cause of Godís Church, they become the nurslings of
their confession.

But it is mainly for the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a
brand upon us . . . . [Christians were criticized for the agape meal, some
even accusing it of being an orgy.] Our feast explains itself by its name.
The Greeks call it agape, i.e., affection. Whatever it costs, our outlay in
the name of piety is gain, since with the good things of the feast we benefit
the needy; not as it is with you [the critics], do parasites aspire to the
glory of satisfying their licentious propensities, selling themselves for a
belly-feast to all disgraceful treatment, óbut as it is with God himself, a
peculiar respect is shown to the lowly. [It goes on.]

Tertullian of Carthage (160-212), from "Chapter Thirty-Nine" of APOLOGY, as
excerpted in LIFE AND PRACTICE IN THE EARLY CHURCH: A DOCUMENTARY READER,
edited by Steven A. McKinion. New York: New York University Press, 2001, p.
50. ISBN: 0-8147-5649-2.


[Remember that Tertullian was writing before a New Testament canon had been
fully acknowledged by the church. That would not happen until the end of the
fourth century. To read full documents by Tertullian, go to
www.ccel.org/fathers2 and choose volumes III & IV. Very interesting reading!]


Have a great week.


Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky
carlstam@aol.com
www.carlstam.org
www.sbts.edu