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Would you ever use this adjective to describe pre-conversion Paul

scamandrius

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At my school, the students have "chapel" every Tuesdays which is lead by an Episcopal priest who generally speaks on our school's points of pride to make good citizens and students of good character.  In the western rite, today is the conversion of St. Paul and the appointed reading was from St. Paul's letter to the Galatians talking about the gospel he had received from Christ as a revelation and that he used to persecute the church, etc., etc.  When elaborating on the passage, the priest used the word "terrorist" to describe St. Paul. He used it several times.  Now, granted St. Paul did many horrible things to the church before he was converted, preached the Gospel and was martyred for it, but is terrorist an apt description?  My opinion is no since terrorism as we know it is a modern phenomenon and trying to impose a modern mindset on the culture of the ancient world is always dangerous.  What do you think?
 

Iconodule

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"Terrorism," in the basic sense of using violence (terror) to intimidate and enforce an ideological end, is ancient. So I guess technically it sticks for Saul. That said in the contemporary context it strikes me as gimmicky and probably needlessly distracting for the audience.
 

mTh

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Well, Saul had the support of the (spiritual/pseudo-political) Jewish power at that time. So, he was a persecutor like himself says.

Also

That said in the contemporary context it strikes me as gimmicky and probably needlessly distracting for the audience.
I agree with this.
 

Mor Ephrem

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scamandrius said:
...the priest used the word "terrorist" to describe St. Paul. He used it several times.  Now, granted St. Paul did many horrible things to the church before he was converted, preached the Gospel and was martyred for it, but is terrorist an apt description?  My opinion is no since terrorism as we know it is a modern phenomenon and trying to impose a modern mindset on the culture of the ancient world is always dangerous.  What do you think?
While I generally agree with Iconodule's point, I can see a usefulness in applying this label to St Paul.  On the one hand, it highlights the greatness of God's mercy, which can take someone like Saul, who was blinded by a "love" for God which led him to commit so much evil, and transform him into a "chosen vessel" whose love for God was purified and illumined and subsequently led him to do so much good.  On the other hand, it leads us to question our own mercy.  For instance, if Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi had a change of heart, repented, was baptised Orthodox (ordained, even), and began to teach and evangelise and claim a sort of divine authority for his ministry, would we accept him the way the first Christians accepted Paul?  Probably not, because we are not a forgiving, loving people who believe in God's ability to transform.  We'd rather remember past sins and deride those who once committed them in order to make them disappear from our sight so we can imagine ourselves a holy and righteous people.

I'm not sure if that's the point the Episcopalian priest was trying to make, but it's one way I might consider applying "terrorist" to Paul.
 
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