Pastorally Yours 11

Posted: December 11, 2018 by Ty in Brunch & Bible, Spirituality
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Ah just Titus remaining on this journey. If you have a suggestion for an Epistle for reflection please leave it in the comments.

(Saint) Titus was the first Bishop of Crete. He was a disciple of Pauline Christianity. If you hold to a Paul authorship then they were written in the mid-60’s CE; but most scholars hold to a Pseudo-Paul authorship like 1 & 2 Timothy and place the writing around the mid-Second century. It is part of the Pastoral Epistles, letters written from the voice of Paul, to young leaders, both Timothy and Titus were mentioned in the journeys of the Acts of the Apostles. Crete is the largest island in Greece, and a hub for religious mosaic and commerce. It is a cosmopolitan centre, where much of what afflicted early followers of the Way had flourished, most notably religious exclusion due to their unknown Monotheism in the divine being of Jesus; and economic persecution via no one doing business with them as they would not swear oaths, and rumours abounded of their gluttony, cannibalism, etc.

Ah the Pseudo-Paul voice within these words is attempting balance, a move away from the character of Elders shown in 1 Timothy. He touches upon two challenges facing the gathering for survival:

5¬†This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and¬†appoint elders in every town as I directed you‚ÄĒ¬†6¬†if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife,[d]¬†and his children are believers[e]¬†and not open to the charge of¬†debauchery or insubordination.¬†7¬†For an overseer,[f]¬†as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not¬†be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent¬†or greedy for gain,¬†8¬†but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy,¬†and disciplined.¬†9¬†He must¬†hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in¬†sound[g]¬†doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

10¬†For there are many who are insubordinate,¬†empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of¬†the circumcision party.[h]¬†11¬†They must be silenced, since¬†they are upsetting whole families by teaching¬†for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.¬†12¬†One of the Cretans,[i]¬†a prophet of their own, said, ‚ÄúCretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.‚ÄĚ[j]¬†13¬†This testimony is true. Therefore¬†rebuke them¬†sharply, that they¬†may be sound in the faith,¬†14¬†not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and¬†the commands of people¬†who turn away from the truth.¬†15¬†To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and¬†unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both¬†their minds and their consciences are defiled.¬†16¬†They profess to know God, but they¬†deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient,¬†unfit for any good work.

-Epistle of Titus 1: 5-16 (English Standard Version)

Did you catch it?

  1. Circumcision Party.
  2. Cretens

Okay first off, Circumcision Party can be as painful as it sounds. It is not a circle and snip though. What it is, is the fundamentalists of the gathering. These are the ones that still want to be part of the origin religion of Judaism, and as such are holding the gathering to the 613 laws, plus commentary, plus ethical add ons by religious authority including and not limited to circumcision to be a member and be within the chosen. Obviously, if you trace original Paul, and back further to Brother Jesus’ teaching in his own journey, it was the fulfillment of the laws, prophets and rituals that made them not necessary. For the essence they were being moved towards as a people to change the world is what as needed. Yet, change is scary. Badly handled change can do harm. In the Reformation it created wars. In organizations today it can create mental and emotional distress and trauma in staff and leadership. The CP was attempting to maintain control, and saw a new-young leader as the way to do it.

The second part was the power and glory front. The no matter the means, just get to the glory, esteem, power and money for yourselves. This stereotype of Crete is where the anglicized term “cretin” came from. It was not only in the marketplace and Empire government, but existed as the other fundamentalist end. Yes, extremism is not just on one end of the spectrum. It exists in any system, and it is what is needed to be avoided, for within the extremes one can easily slip into corruption for it becomes about proving oneself right in their beliefs not about making one better or their community.

These were the cautions being brought to Titus. To know himself, but also not to succumb to populist movements that in the end supplant life giving love with hate. For it no longer is about divinity within. It is about the pursuit of power. Titus being new to a leadership role is being cautioned. It is a caution leaders, and people within any institution can and should here.

What cautions for extremism would you write to yourself that exist in your community?

Write a Pseudo-Paul letter to yourself.

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