I just read this on another website and was wanting some feeback on it. I’m a convert to Catholism and I’m still learning so much.
Thanks and Peace…
The Ignatius Syndrome
by Fred London
“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching…” (I Timothy 4:16a)
From an historical perspective, Ignatius is generally considered to be one of the church fathers worthy of apostolic stature. He was born in Syria and had been educated within the realm of Greek philosophy and related mysticism, influences which arguably played a part in his future doctrinal beliefs. There is even evidence to suggest that he may have been personally discipled by the apostle, John. In the very least, he was discipled by those who were. His significance and profound influence upon the early church and the legacy which he left for future generations is without question. There is every indication to suggest that he was a man full of faith accompanied by an intense love for Christ and a zeal for His church to match. He was a man who, at the end of his life when faced with imminent martyrdom, literally had to beg wealthy and influential friends in Rome not to intercede on his behalf in attempting to have his life spared. The grace and nobility Ignatius exhibited leading up to his being fed to the lions in the arena has served as an example to Christians ever since.
But, within this notable church leader was a flaw which gave way to humanity, a common malady within the best of men, especially those who call upon the Name of the Lord. It is the fleshly, religious drive of wanting to help God coupled with allowing personal bias and prejudice to influence belief, rather than the other way around. We see examples of this time and time again throughout the pages of the Bible and church history, and into our present day. Though its roots may be subtle, the tainted fruits which are produced are not. It is a drive which, left unchecked by the Holy Spirit, compels well-intended men to extrapolate and stretch scriptural meaning beyond the original parameters and impose extra biblical exegesis to support personal bias in both thought and practice. If taking the law into one’s own hands is considered an enemy of social order, then the ecclesiastical application of such is certainly no better.
In Ignatius’ day, he saw the Christian church at large fragmenting over heresy and lack of strong leadership and purposed in his heart to do something about it. With all of the good he may have done during his life and ministry, he also left us with a legacy which the church, as a whole, has yet to recover from. Here is a man who may very well have sat at the feet of the one who laid his head on the very breast of Jesus, and yet, reflected things in his writings which were contrary to what John himself taught and believed, as well as the other apostles, including Paul. From his book, The Torch of the Testimony, John W. Kennedy offers this observation, “There can be no doubt that in Ignatius’ desire to see a clerical system firmly established his motive was pure. He was concerned, above all, to protect the church from the prevalent heresies of the day. But however worthy his aim, the method he employed to assure its success was mistaken, and played right into the hands of the forces he was seeking to counteract.”