Sunday’s study talked about the persecution Christians faced. Here is a fuller excerpt from the letter written to the emperor about what Christians suffered in those early centuries: “… the method I have observed towards those who have been denounced to me as Christians is this:
I interrogated them whether they were Christians; if they confessed it I repeated the question twice again, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed. For whatever the nature of their creed might be, I could at least feel no doubt that contumacy and inflexible obstinacy deserved chastisement.
“Those who denied they were, or had ever been, Christians, who repeated after me an invocation to the Gods, and offered adoration, with wine and frankincense, to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for that purpose, together with those of the Gods, and who finally cursed Christ-none of which acts, it is said, those who are really Christians can be forced into performing-these I thought it proper to discharge. Others who were named by that informer at first confessed themselves Christians, and then denied it; true, they had been of that persuasion but they had quitted it, some three years, other many years, and a few as much as twenty-five years ago. They all worshipped your statue and the images of the Gods, and cursed Christ.”-Pliny Letters (London: William Heinemann, 1915), book 10:96 (vol. 2, pp. 401-403).