Mar 3, 2012
The memory of the martyrs has historically played an important role in the Christian imagination. It is extremely important that the martyrs not be sentimentalized. They are not always especially good, virtuous, or innocent folk. Ironically, to idealize the martyrs, or victims generally, is to rob them of their common humanity. What makes murder so terrible is not that the victims are virtuous, but that it is murder, the taking of human life in contravention of the law of God. By analogy, we might also say that what constitutes a martyr is not necessarily possession of the Christian virtues, although many martyrs have possessed these in abundance, but rather his or her witness to Jesus Christ. Indeed, William Cavanaugh argues that it is not so much a person’s subjective intention that makes him or her a martyr — motives may well be ambiguous — as simply the church’s recognition of a life that shows forth the reality of Jesus. Paradoxically, the death of the martyr serves as a confirmatory sign that the world belongs not the principalities of the present age, but to God.
Joseph Mangina, basically applying the doctrine of iustificatio impii to martyrology
My name is Wesley Hill. I am an assistant professor of New Testament at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

This is my commonplace book and sometime-journal.

I blog at

My book is here: Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.

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