Today, we celebrate the Feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr. Besides honoring St Stephen, this illustrates the importance of Faith & Reason. Shows how the uneducated shame the enlightened while illustrating the Threshold of Belief. Where Threshold of belief (TOB)is defined as a level, point, or value above which a person is no longer willing to believe something is true or will take place and below which the person willingly accepts as true
Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
By all accounts, Saul of Tarus was a highly educated, enlightened Hebrew: Paul describes himself as a Hebrew, an Israelite, and a descendant of Abraham (2 Corinthians 11:22), a Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). Saul was born to Jewish parents who possessed Roman citizenship, a coveted privilege that their son would also inherit. Not much different from being born an American Citizens today. Saul began his studies of the Hebrew Scriptures and an in-depth study of the Law in the city of Jerusalem under Rabbi Gamaliel. Saul was likely present at the trial of Stephen, with the trial ending in Stephen becoming the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:54–60). Luke tells us that Stephen’s executioners laid their garments at the feet of Saul (Acts 7:58), who was in full approval of the mob’s murderous actions (Acts 8:1). Saul later ravaged the church, entering the homes of believers and committing them to prison. Saul’s anti-Christian zeal motivated him not only to arrest and imprison male Christians (the “ringleaders”) but to lock up female believers as well (Acts 8:3).
While on his way to Damascus to arrest and extradite Christians back to Jerusalem, Saul was confronted by the very One whom he was persecuting (Acts 9:3–9; 22:6–11; 26:12–18). What followed was one of the most dramatic conversions in church history and illustrates the Threshold of Faith: Once presented with a persuasive argument, Saul of Tarsus became the apostle Paul, an ardent missionary to an unbelieving world and a fine example of faithful service in the face of fierce persecution (Acts 14:19; 16:22–24; 2 Corinthians 11:25–26). Saul’s education, his background as a Pharisee, his Roman citizenship, and his unflagging zeal all contributed to his success as a missionary, once those credentials and traits had been subjugated to the lordship of Christ. Consistent with the Four Candles of Advent: The four candles of Advent are lit in the weeks leading up to Christmas, often on an Advent wreath. The first is known as the Prophecy Candle. This candle symbolizes hope, as it looks forward to the Messiah’s birth. The second candle is usually lit on the second Sunday of Advent and is called the Bethlehem Candle. This candle symbolizes peace. The third candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent and is known as the Shepherd’s Candle. This candle symbolizes joy and its color is usually pink or rose. The fourth and last candle is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent and symbolizes love All together, the four candles of Advent represent hope, peace, joy, and love, the four primary sentiments of not only the Advent season, but the Universal Church.
David Turner however, in a gross misapplication of the theory of allocation, writing for the Jerusalem Post posits that Anti-Judaism in Christian scripture directly led to the "Jewish Problem: - From anti-Judaism to anti-Semitism to the Holocaust. He attempts to discredit Saint Paul not only by questioning scriptures attributed to him, but also Church Theologians and quoting scriptures such as when the Devil was trying to tempt Jesus after He spent forty days in the desert: “Whether Paul was responsible for all this anti-Jewish writing is far less important than the use Christian theologians from the late empire to the twentieth century made of this material as an ideological paradigm and an emotional attack of Jews…” (Robert Michael, 2008, A History of Catholic Antisemitism, p.12) “have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me." (Romans 11:3) Throughout “Paul’s epistles, both attributed to him and those considered written by others, “the Jews” are described in negative terms. Asked by one of his converts about the demand that males undergo circumcision according to Jewish tradition Paul explodes, “I wish that the ones who are upsetting you would castrate themselves!” (Galatians 5:12) An inheritance of Western history and culture it would find expression in the twentieth century as the Holocaust, the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. It was Paul who introduced the charge, Augustine who justified eternal punishment for the Christ-killers” who, “killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets...They displease God and are hostile to everyone…The wrath of God has come upon them at last.” Dr. Eisenman emphasizes that nowhere, at least not in Jewish scripture, are Jews accused of having murdered their prophets”
Brings up a question, why is it the Jewish scriptures do not mentioned who killed the Jewish prophets? Did they all die a natural death? Thomas Reid in 1786 on “Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man” wrote: “In every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the weakest link of the chain, whatever may be the strength of the rest.” Or what about Occam's razor (sometimes written as Ockham's razor)? All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; (2 Timothy 3:16) – Turners premise reads more like Hickam's dictum
Turner's premise is diametrical opposed to what the Universal Church Teaches: Jews are not collectively responsible for Jesus' death But All sinners were the authors of Christ's Passion. "Jesus was handed over according to the definite plan of God" God takes the initiative of universal redeeming love