Monday, June 29, 2020

Mark Twain understood the meaning of church

At one point on their journey, Mark Twain wrote, “I wish to see all the places that's mentioned in the Bible.”

Mark Twain visited “the site of that one of the Seven Apocalyptic Churches of Asia which was located here in the first century of the Christian era; and the grave and the place of martyrdom of the venerable Polycarp, who suffered in Smyrna for his religion some eighteen hundred years ago.”
Several of us argued as well as we could that the “church” mentioned in the Bible meant a party of Christians, and not a building; that the Bible spoke of them as being very poor—so poor, I thought, and so subject to persecution (as per Polycarp's martyrdom) that

in the first place they probably could not have afforded a church edifice, and

in the second would not have dared to build it in the open light of day if they could; and

finally, that if they had had the privilege of building it, common judgment would have suggested that they build it somewhere near the town.
Source: The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

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