Reformed Baptist Fellowship

I AM IRON MAN

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on May 5, 2008 at 9:33 pm

Every age has its mythological heroes.  Beings with extraordinary abilities and powers that enable them to live a life that is larger than the life of us mere mortals who have to struggle simply to have bread on the table at the end of the day.  Their tales, crafted by mostly unknown authors, serve to inspire, encourage, and at times, hold us in suspense wondering what their outcome will be.

The heroes of my youth have been showing up on the big screen in the past few years with larger than life productions and stories. With every new movie, memories of the short days of my childhood return like a bright summer Saturday afternoon that sadly ends too soon.

I still have heroes that strengthen my heart and help me make sense of a world filled with a fierce struggle between good and evil.  Now however, it is not the two dimensional fictional characters in the pages of comic books, but real men and women throughout time.

In the Third century, the darkness of the Gnostics and their perversion of the gospel were gaining ground.  A teenage boy who had the faith and the conviction of the message of Christ crucified, encouraged his beloved father to remain faithful in the face of persecution. So great was this young man’s faith, his mother had to hide his clothes to prevent him from following his father into a premature martyrdom!

As he grew into manhood, his robust faith did not wane but grew strong even as he began his studies of the Greek philosophers.  With his mind honed and disciplined by his studies, he began to write and teach whoever desired to learn the Christian message contained in Holy Writ.  Some think that it was at this time this man of heroic faith made a decision that he would later regret.  In the light of recent scandals involving pastors who are whoremongers and priests who molest children, a thoughtful mind could easily admire this man’s legendary preemptive self-mutilation.

Those familiar with the history of the Christian church know that I am speaking of the Eastern Church father from the Third century: Origen.  He was a man of great character and gift.

Origen’s thought and work would contribute to later Nicene Orthodoxy.  He would give to the Church the first systematic theology.  We also find him developing an idea that is not far from the Reformed hermeneutic principle call the analogia fidei (see 2LBC 1.9).  The most outstanding aspect of Origen’s work however, is that it is saturated with Scripture.

Though all these are admirable traits of a Christian intellectual, it is Origen’s commitment to Christ and His people, even in the face of persecution, that inspires me.  It is reported that as many of his students were led away to face execution for their faith, he would follow along and encourage them to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus.  He himself would be attacked by soldiers and angry mobs and needed to be hidden for his own safety!

One writer reports that when Origen was an old man, “he was arrested, incarcerated and cruelly tortured in an effort to force a recantation.  But a lifetime of ascetic training supported his faith, and neither stretching on the rack nor threats of fire could induce Origen to renounce it.”[1]

In his days, he was called by the nickname Adamantius, translated this means unbreakable or as we would say it, he was an Iron Man!

Even now, there are men and women throughout the world who I esteem as my heroes.  They have no body armor or super powers to protect and give them aid.  They are usually poor and plain people of the earth.  Their bodies are often beaten, bruised, and burned for their convictions. Yet they are unbending and unyielding in their faith in the One who, although He was God incarnate, was broken for us, even Jesus our Savior.

David Charles
Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Toledo, Ohio

[1] The History of Christian thought. Jonathan Hill pg. 48

  1. this remarkable man, Origen, provides yet one tale of a man who was firmly planted in that true vine, Jesus Christ. Since his time, untold millions have given their lives; some taken from them, others living it out to a “natural” conclusion, all knowing that the small, rather imperceptible mark they would leave, was nothing in light of the act of the Master who gave his life on a tree.

    The story of Haney is a modern tale of one who refused to shrink even when faced with death. He affected a family, a people, perhaps some of his torturers because like Origen, he had been saved from the final death himself.

    What will be our mark, our effectuate?

  2. I also have great admiration for Origen, but I feel I should also note that he was also declared a heretic posthumously.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: