Sometimes I hear Christians offering harsh condemnations of the sometimes-extreme ways in which certain predominantly Islamic countries interpret and administer Shar'ia, or Islamic law.
Indeed, such punishment should be condemned as not fitting the crime. But before we Christians get all arrogant about that it helps to remember our own history.
And today is a good day to do that, for it was on this date in 656 that a man now considered a saint, Maximus the Confessor (depicted here), was charged with the crime of pride by a representative of the Byzantine emperor. In harmony with previous ecumenical councils of the church, Maximus maintained that Jesus Christ had two separate natures, human and divine.
But Emperor Constans II, worried about political and religious division, wanted Maximus to quit teaching that doctrine and to compromise.
Maximus said no. And eventually it cost him big time. In 662, Maximus was brought up for trial and, as the Christian History magazine site to which I've linked you above reports, "Church and state cut out his tongue, lopped off his right hand, and sent him to prison in a northern province of the eastern empire, where he died a few months later."
Eventuially, of course, the two-natures position Maximus advocated was the one that won out in traditional Christianity. So let's be more mindful of Christianity's sometimes violent history and let's today give Maximus, well, a hand.
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P.S.: While I'm gone I probably won't have time to post the usual second item here each day. I'll get back to that in a few days.