The Pagan And Christian Meaning Of Some Religious Words -- By: Burnett T. Stafford

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 067:267 (Jul 1910)
Article: The Pagan And Christian Meaning Of Some Religious Words
Author: Burnett T. Stafford

The Pagan And Christian Meaning Of Some Religious Words

Rev. Burnett T. Stafford

The Prophet of Nazareth and the Jewish theologians did not get on harmoniously in their discussions. He employed, in the delivery of his message, the religious terms in common use. That these familiar words were used to establish positions new and revolutionary filled them with astonishment. For a while they restrained their emotions, and then plotted to hasten the end of their antagonism as it culminated before Pilate and on the Cross.

All literature is replete with evidence that the same words as used by different peoples do not express the same meaning. Much confusion and injury to things political and social have come from the obscuration of this fact. Under the idealizing charm of Grote, Greek political institutions were made to appear as the embodiment of true democracy and realized freedom. As a matter of fact, the government of the Athenians was the close corporation of a few pure bloods and the entire exclusion of the common man and stranger. Democracy and representative government were realized in the ancient Hebrew commonwealth. There was one law and one court of justice for the home-born and the stranger within the gate. As a matter of historic truth, the vital parts of modern free institutions are first found embedded in the Mosaic code. Because the Greeks made two enduring

contributions to human progress, it has been an easy matter to conclude, as has often been done, that all of the essentials of modern life have come from this source. People can get on fairly well without sculpture, painting, and plays; they cannot get on at all without law; and Hannis Taylor has shown conclusively that “the Greeks left behind no complete or imposing legal monuments; they produced nothing which in any proper sense could be called a philosophy of law.” This sufficiently explains the fact that the Greeks have succeeded better under the government of the outsider than when left to themselves. The instinct of law and its social order has never been in them.

Again, the Hebrew meaning of government is a thing entirely inharmonious with the Roman. In a very literal sense the noble Roman considered himself the lord of the whole world. All rights originated in him and consequently belonged to him; the other man was not the subject of obligation. When compelled by brute force to make concessions, he made them after a manner of the political trickery of to-day. His sense of brotherhood was synonymous with the realization of his selfishness. Accordingly, he conquered the savage tribes of the West to fleece them. These notions of government are not those of Anglo-Saxons. The people of our blood, by force of rac...

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