Theologian Thursday: Ignatius

Added on by Keegan Osinski.
This is week 3 of 5 in my Month of Martyrs series. Yes, I finally decided how long this series will go--and lucky for me August includes 5 Thursdays! Still open for suggestions in the comments, through email, or on Twitter.


As you might guess from the icon above, Ignatius died by being "thrown to the wild beasts," AKA eaten by lions.

He was pretty stoked about it too--in his letter to the Romans he says, "May I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me." He also hoped that they would be extra hungry. To be a martyr was the most noble and enviable of deaths.

Ignatius was BFFs with Polycarp, and also an disciple of the Apostle John. Furthermore, tradition and legend hold that he was the child whom Jesus held in Mark chapter 9 when he told his disciples "Whosoever shall receive one such child as this in my name receives me. And whosoever shall receive me receives not me but him that sent me" (though this is admittedly probably not really true).

Ignatius was the Bishop of Antioch and wrote many letters of encouragement to those to whom he ministered. The things he was most concerned about were church unity and guarding against heresies (which troublingly included Judaism). He is considered the first person to use the term "catholic" (καθολικός) to describe the universal Church.

Ratings:
(To read more about my Theologian Rating System, click HERE)
Gender Equality:
I tend to believe that even though historically patriarchy has always been pretty bad and thoroughly engrained in ancient societies, the early Christian church valued women's participation in the formation of this faith community, and that you can see glimpses of it despite things like solely male literacy and androcentrism. For example, in Ignatius's letter to Polycarp he actually mentions women (albeit in relation to husbands), and not unfavorably: "Speak to my sisters, that they love the Lord, and be satisfied with their husbands both in the flesh and spirit."
Environmental Sensibility:
I feel like I say this every week lately, but care for the environment just was not an issue at the time. He really didn't say anything about it. Unless you count offering his body as food for the wild beasts.
Heretical Tendencies:
Being so early in the Christian tradition, and such an integral part of building up and maintaining the burgeoning community, he cared to much about getting things right to have any part in questionable doctrine. He was quite clear about what was right and what wasn't, and encouraged Christians to always trust their bishops (he was one, after all).
General Badassery:
Dude got eaten by lions. He was an early church triple threat: apostle, bishop, and martyr.


"Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, both in heaven and earth, is brought to an end."