PART II: THE DOCTRINE
When the Apostles of the Christ preached the Good News, they gave those who accepted them definite teachings about God, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, together with certain others relevant to them. As the churches grew in size and number, they were bound to meet opposition from the pagan as well as the Jewish teachings. But opposition from without is quite different from that which is within. And because the real spiritual import of Christianity is beyond human reasoning and logic, there arose from the ranks of the believers those who thought they could encage God s Grace within human limitations. Thus, there grew certain sects whom the Church opposed to maintain the integrity of the Faith. These deviating Christians proclaimed diverse contrary teachings, but here we will limit our record to the most glaring ones which were condemned by the Church Universal as heresies. They center mainly on the Incarnation: impalpable and ineffable; and are Arianism, Nestorianism and Eutychianism. One other heresy was against the Holy Spirit and was propagated by Macedonius.
ARIANISM was started by a Libyan priest called Arius who denied the divinity of our Lord. He was under the jurisdiction of Abba Alexandros (19th Pope of Alexandria,' 303 — 326 A. D.). This outstanding Prelate was considered “Perfectly irreproachable” by all the churches. He. tried by patience and Christian Charity to convince Arius to repentance, but all his efforts were in vain. Conceiting with Hosius, Bishop of Cordova and the envoy of Emperor Constantine, Abba Alexandros sought the meeting of an ecumenical council. Consequently, the emperor invited the bishops of Christendom to meet at Nicea in A. D. 325, thus forming the first oecumeircal council. Three hundred and eighteen bishops — from Iran in the East to Spain in the West — accepted the invitation. Thence forward, it became the prerogative of the Constantinople emperors to invite the bishops to convene in the oecumenical councils.
The first aim of this first council of Christendom’s bishops was to put in crystal - clear expression their belief in the Incarnate Word. They deputed for this supreme task Abba Alexandros, his deacon Athanasius (afterwards the Apostolic) , and Leontius, Bishop of Caeserea of Cappadocia — namely two Egyptians and one from Asia Minor, (now Syria). These three worded the needed belief which became known as “the Creed”. It was signed unanimously; it ended with the phrase “we believe in the Holy Spirit” (will be recorded in the end). Having signed the Creed,, and decreed the excommunication of Arius for his heresy, the assembled Fathers discussed the following problems:
ONENESS OF BAPTISM: During the persecutions, some Christians denied the Christ, then repented. The Alexandrian Fathers emphatically declared that they should be examined, and if found sincere, accepted without re - baptism. “For”, said they, “Baptism is a birth, and as the physical birth happens but once, so does the spiritual birth. It is also a 'death — the old man dies and the new is born. Once again, physical death happens once, and likewise the spiritual. Besides. Baptism is a Seal by which the Effigy of the Christ, is stamped upon the spirit of the baptized. This seal, however, effaced It may become, will remain to witness for or against him who is thus sealed” For all these reasons, Baptism is to be administered once in a lifetime. The Nicean Fathers listened to these reasons and accepted them unanimously.
MARRIAGE OF PRIESTS: Some clergymen had suggested the imposition of celibacy on all those desiring the priesthood Abba Paphnuti, Bishop of the Theobald (Luxor region) spoke as follows: “Among the Apostles, there were the married and the celibate. Those called while married continued in their marital state; those celibate maintained their celibacy. Therefore, we follow Apostolic pattern declaring that a man desiring to marry should do so before being ordained. Once ordained while celibate he should thus continue. Let us not, then, impose a yoke which is unbearable to many. ” And because Abba Paphnuti was a monk of impeccable character who had lost his right eye and his left leg in the Diocletian persecutions, the whole council listened to him with reverence and accepted his verdict in unanimity.
DATE OF EASTER: In the first centuries, the difference over the date of Easter was to the fact that it had to be celebrated after the Jewish Passover. There were two main reasons for that: a spiritual and a historical. The spiritual is that the Christ was considered the Paschal - Lamb in the prophecies, and thus declared by John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1: 29). The historical is that the Crucifixion of our Lord happened after He had eaten the Passover Supper with Hi * Apostles. The problem, however, lay in the fact that the Jewish calendar is lunar, and to fix the date of the Passover, the Jews celebrated it with their offering of a sheaf of the first fruit of their harvest. (Lev. 25: 11 — 12). In this way the Passover was celebrated within the period between the first week of April and that of May. To solve this problem for the Egyptians, Abba ^Demetrius the Vinedresser calculated the Epact by which Easter came to be celebrated between the first week of April and that of May, and always after the Passover Feast. This set the Copts at rest, but not their co - religionists elsewhere. At Nicea, the subject was discussed and the assembled Fathers decided to adopt the Epact decreeing that when the Pope of Alexandria wrote his Paschal Epistle, he was not to confine it to his own jurisdiction, but was to send it to al! the' churches including those of Rome and Constantinople. This decree continued until 1582 A. D.
MACEDONIANISM: This was started by Macedonius, Bishop of Constantinople; he denied the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. To refute it, Treodosius I invited the bishops to a second oecumenical council which convened in his Capital in A. D. 381. After discussing the subject, the assembled Bishops added to the Greed the last clause. Having asserted the Con - substantiality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son, the second (ecumenical council excommunicated Macedonius for persisting in his heresy.
NESTORIANISM: This too, was promulgated by the Bishop of Constantinople — Nestorius. With the Creed declaring most lucidly that the Christ is God Incarnate, Nestorius could not deny His Divinity. so he said that the Christ was not God - man but God and man. And since the Divine could not be touched by suffering, the crucified was the man apart from God, Of course, the Church regarded this a heresy totally undermining the Divine Plan of Redemption. For if the man apart agonized on the cross, why should the Only Begotten of the Father descend from heaven, live the life of a poor man who had nowhere to lay His Head? So, emperor Theodosius II decided to invite the bishops to a third oecumenical council which actually convened in Ephesus in A. D. 431. Two hundred bishops assembled. They selected Abba Kyriltos I to preside over them. In his endeavor to expound the unity of “the Word made flesh” (John 1: 14) , he gave the following symbol: “When the smith is shaping the iron into a certain object, he heats it to white heat then strikes it into the desired shape. The unity of our Lord’s Divinity with His * Humanity can be likened to that between the fire and the iron. For though, fire and iron are united, neither of them changes nor mixes nor is fused into the other. When the smith hammers the iron into shape, his hammering falls on it while it is united with the fire. True, the fire does not feel the hammer blows, nonetheless it is united with the iron while it is being beaten. Thus, the Divinity of our Savior is like unto the fire, and His Humanity like unto the iron; the beating and scourging fell on the Human in Him which was incessantly united with the Divine And though the Divine did not, bleed nor sweat, nonetheless. It remained united to that which bled and sweated. Their unity began within His Mother's 'Womb, and continues unto eternity, for the Christ ascended up to heaven with His Body. ” After. This elucidation, Abba Kyrillos I worded an introduction to the Creed (recorded at the end) , which was unanimously accepted. The heresiarch Nestorius was excommunicated.
EUTYCHIANISM: Some fifteen years later, Eutyches an abbot of a monastery in Constantinople was convicted, of the heresy of denying our Lord’s Humanity, pretending that His Body was ethereal. He was condemned and excommunicated by a local council presided over by Flavianus Bishop of Constantinople. During the sessions, a letter came to the assembled bishops from Leo I of Rome known as the "Tomos of Leo” as it was an expression of his belief in the Incarnate Word. The wording of the Tomos savored of - Nestorianism, and so did the wording of the verdict against Eutyches. This roused the anger of the Constantinople populace. Eutyches who was a skiful juggler with words, capitalized this popular anger. He asserted that he was innocent, and pleaded with emperor Theodosius II to invite the bishops of other, churches to come and judge between him and his condemners. The emperor complied, and decided on Ephesus again as the place for the council’s convening in AD. 448. It was to act as a “Court of Appeal”. At this council, Abba Dioscorus Pope of Alexandria, Guvenal Bishop of Jerusalem, and Domnus Bishop of Antioch were appointed by the emperor, to preside. One hundred and thirty bishops assembled. Eutyches presented to them a confession of his faith in his own handwriting and signed with his own signature. This confession, the council found to be wholly in conformity with the Creed set by the Nicean Fathers and confirmed by thore of Constantinople and Ephesus. The assembled bishops acquitted.
Eutyches in their unanimity. And since excommunication is a two edged sword rebounding against him who decrees it unjustly, Flavianus and those who convened with him together with Leo of Rome were excommunicated. Emperor Theodos. us ratified the council’s decrees and banished Flavianus and his Eastern Colleagues. The monk selected in place of Constantinople's Bishop was Anatolius, a former deacon from Alexandria.
Emperor Theodosius died beirless. His eldest sister Pulcheria had the lust for power. So jealous was she over her father’s throne that she imposed the nuns vow on herself and her two younger sisters lest any husband would usurp her brother's rightful throne. When, despite her efforts, her brother had no heir, she renounced her vow and married Mareianus, General of the army whom she raised to co - rule with her. She could not find among all the bishops of Christendom one who will sanctify her marriage except Leo of Rome who thus became a friend to her and to her husband. Meantime, she was insensately jealous of the authority wielded by the Pope of Alexandria. All these elements: psychic, political and personal led emperor Marcianus to invite the bishops to a council at Chalcedon which met in A. D. 451. There is no room here for recording the prevarications and the intrigues which led to the first rupture in the ranks of the Church Universal Sufficient to say that empress Pulcheria and her partisans succeeded in letting emperor Marcianus ratify the decree of exile issued by the Chalcedonians against Abba Dioscorus who was thus banished to the isle of Gangra off the coast of Asia Minor. Unsatisfied with this injustice, the emperor unleashed a fury of persecutions against the Coptic Church. He, and the majority of his successors desired to submit the Gopts to their Principles. Meeting with their adamant will to maintain their religious freedom die emperors not only tortured St. Mark’s flock, the} also imposed their own minions on his August Ghair. What is more, they blackmailed the Papes of Alexandria pretending that they were Eutychians. Yet in the very first session of the nefarious council of Chalcedon, when Abba Dioscorus was asked what his verdict would be on Eutyches if he denied the confession submitted at Ephesus, he immediately and emphatically replied: “If Eutyches has denied the Orthodox Faith registered in his own handwriting, and has strayed from the teaching of, the Church, I do not only judge that he be excommunicated, I would say he should be burnt also. ” Despite this drastic. emphasis, Abba Dioscorus, his successors and' his Church are regarded heretic by many well - meaning Christians who are ignorant of these facts. The plain fact is that they are Orthodox since the foundation of their Church until the present.
It should be noted, that the policy set down by emperor Marcianos finally led to the fall of the Eastern empire by the onslaughts of the invading Arabs.
A sacrament is an invisible Grace given under a visible sign; it should be administered by an ordained priest. Under no condition can a lay person perform it.
The sacraments are seven; they are:
BAPTISM: Is a spiritual birth which is invisible, its visible sign is the water. The Coptic Church decrees infant baptism by complete immersion. Consequently, the baptized must have a Godfather (or Godmother) who pledge * ? to bring him up in the Christian Principles. The Baptism acknowledged by the Coptic Church is that administered by an ordained priest through a specific Ritual. This is true of all the other sacraments. The only baptism other than this acknowledged one is the baptism by blood. This means that a person martyred in the Name of the Christ without having been' baptized is esteemed a member of the Church: his blood as it was shed became his baptism.
THE CHRISM (CONFIRMATION): By which the Holy Spirit indwells the spirit of - the baptized. Its visible sign is the special mixture of sprees and olive oil called “the Chrism”. It differs from any ointment in that its very first ingredients, were put on the dead Body of our Savior. After His glorious Resurrection, these spices were divided among the Apostles. In the beginning, they put their hand on the head of the baptized who thus receded the Holy Spirit. When the number of the believers grew and men were ordained, the Chrism began to replace the laying - on of hands. St. Mark brought to Egypt his share of Chrism. Across the generations, wherever St. Mark’s Successor finds the amount running low, he invites his bishops, and together they get the needed spices and olive oil, then chant the Ritual set for its consecration using the amount remaining as a leaven. This Ritual is called “Cooking the Chrism”. This is the only sacrament over whose Ritual the Pope must preside. And since the Holly Spirit appeared over the Head of the Christ as He was coining out of the Jordan after His Baptism; and since the Apostles invariably laid their hands on the baptized immediately after their baptism, the Coptic Church follows their example administering the Chrism to the baptized as soon as he is lifted out of the baptismal font and dried. Also since the baby as soon as he emerges out of his mother’s womb must breathe else he will die, so the newly born of the Spirit must breathe spiritual air. This is possible only through the Holy Spirit. Therefore the Chrism follows the Baptism immediately. This is the Confirmation in the Coptic Church.
THE EUCHARIST: This is esteemed the sacrament of sacraments, or according to the Coptic Church expression “the mystery of mysteries”. For in this sacrament the very visible sign the bread and wine become transubstantiated in very deed. Each communicant partakes first of the Body then of the Blood separately. The baptized and chrismed infant is given of the Blood only, and will not partake of both Elements until he can chew. He communes even in his infancy because he has become a member of the Body of the Christ, and as such must be given the means wherewith to respire the spiritual air. At the same time,, we are told in the Acts time and again that a man was baptized he and his household which signifies that babies were included. It should be noted that after Communion, a Copt neither genuflects nor bows because he has the Christ within him.
CONFESSION OR REPENTANCE: Since human nature is prone to err, confession is the means by which the baptized can attain forgiveness of those sins committed after baptism. Confession is actually one of the most difficult duties for any human being because by means of it he avows that he is sinful. This necessitates humility, and humility is a virtue from which many shrink. In the Coptic Church, it is called spiritual medicine, and the father confessor a spiritual doctor. Therefore, each person chooses his father confessor just as he chooses his physical doctor. The priest mu - t know the confessor who has to face him squarely. Because no doctor can administer any medicine to his patient without thorough examination in order to give him the medecine most suitable for his constitution. So the father confessor must know his “patient” for the same reason. For confession is not merely a recounting of sins, its goal is that the confessor will receive the direction and the guidance most suitable ’to him. To clarify this point suppose two persons raid a lie, one of them brought up by God fearing parents who educated him and the other is illiterate or un - cared for. The sin is one, but the sinners are different. It is the duty of the father confessor to treat each according to his abilities. This is clearly indicated by our Lord in the parable of the talents, and in His saying to whom much is given much will be asked” (Matt 25: 15 - 28). The priests are the father confessors because, through their ordination, they received that authority given by the Christ to His disciples “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose' on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18: 18). This authority, He Himself, respected as we can see from His order to Saul when He appeared to him on the Damascus road. For when the bewildered Saul asked: “What shall I do Lord?” The answer was: “go into the city and it shall be told thee’‘. At the same time, the Lord appeared to Ananias and told him to go and direct Saul. (Acts 9: 1 — 18). This authority is given them regardless of their worth, for the Christ bestows His Grace freely, and it is in His Name and Worth that all spiritual authority has its effectiveness. Consequently, when a person confesses. The father confessor, after giving the needed counsel, guidance or discipline, absolves the confessor.
A word, in passing, should be noted: when people refused the Principle of confession to a father - confessor, they resorted to psychiatrists who, despite their cleverness and their technical efficiency have not received the God - given power which gives that inward peace sought by the confessors as well as by the psychiatrist consultants.
THE UNCTION: This is a prayer chanted over oil by which the believer is anointed. It is built on the words of St. James: “Is any sick among you? let him call the priests, let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith shall save the sick... and if he have committed sins they shall be forgiven him” (5: 14—15). Thus the oil is neither a simple ointment nor a mere massage for had it been so, why should it be administered by a priest? Or how would it result in the forgiveness of sins? Among the Copts, it is resorted to whenever there is any sick person nr any worrying problem. The priest goes to the home of, those who need it, prays there, anoints them at the end of the Ritual, and leaves to them whatever remains of the oil. Also, the Church chants this Service yearly on the Friday preceding Passion Week, at the end of which, each one present comes forward and is anointed by the officiating priest.
MATRIMONY: Marriage is a law instituted1 by God; in the sight of the Church it is a sacred tie symbolizing the union of the Christ with His Church. God created Eve to be Adam’s “help meet” (Gen. 2: 18) , while in the New Testament the. Christ attended the Wedding at Cana wherein He performed His first miracle. Then He emphasized its sanctity by saying “What God has joined together let no man put asunder. For this reason, Marriage is between one men and one woman throughout their life span. It is indissoluble that it will have the quality of security and' durability”. (Matt, 19: 6). Our Savior willed to make marriage a sacrament that He may bestow thereby, through His Grace, on the married couples, the power that will help them to perform their duties in the best way. The visible sign is the Ritual set specifically for administering it, and it should be celebrated in the church. The prayers comprise this idea: the priest says towards the end of the marriage ceremony, addressing the bride and groom “this holy marriage uniting you before the altar of God”. In addition, the Church was consecrated through the set Ritual, the Chrism, and the prayers continually offered within it, so it is the place most suitable for the fulfilment of this holy sacrament.
HOLY ORDERS: Our Blessed Savior, by choosing His Apostles and disciples instituted the Christian priesthood. His choice meant setting some men apart and consecrating them for the Service of God and man. St. John Chyrysostom (Bishop of Constantinople towards end of 4th century) says: “Look how the author mentions nothing in vain. For he said not how he was ordained, rather was he contented to say that he was ordained by prayer. Here in is all that ordination means the hand is laid on die head of the man, and God does everything; that hand of man touches the head of the ordained, and God is the One Who performs this Grace through this human hand if it is rightly done. See how among the Seven Deacons, one Stephen was given precedence. He had per - formed no miracles before that, but after Iris ordination he did making clear that Grace alone is not enough and that the ordination is necessary too. For the Grace of the Holy Spirit was increased unto them for they were full of the Sprit before, yet that was the Spirit granted at the Baptism. ” (Comment on Acts VI).
The hierarchy of priesthood comprises three degrees because the angelic hosts are divided into three orders: the first, includes the Cherubim (Exodus XXV: 18) , the Seraphim (Isaiah VI: 2) and the Thropes (Colossians I: 16) ; the second comprise: ’. Domimons. Principalities and Powers (Colossian I: 16) , while the third includes Authorities (1 Peter III: 22) , Angels and - Archangels (Romans VIII: 38 and 1 Thessalonians IV: 16). On this wise, the Church arranged three degrees of priesthood: first, the Episcopes comprising the bishops, the archbishops and the patriarch (or pope) ; second, the priesthood including priests and chief priests; third, the deaconship comprising the deacons, the readers, and the cantors.
The visible part of the Holy Orders is the, laying - on of hands and the prayers evident from the Scriptures and the Canons of the Apostles. But the invisible side of the priest - hood is twofold:
it seals the person ordained with an indelible mark which lasts throughout life;
it bestows on him the Grace of God sufficient for the ministry for which he was elected. Again, St. John Chrysost'm said: “Meditate on the great honor of the priesthood: behold men who live on earth and walk therein are charged with the administration of what is in heaven, and are given power denied to archangels. ”.
The first six sacraments are administered by the bishops and the priests; only the seventh is the prerogative of the bishops, for they alone have the right of ordaining. One b: 'hop is sufficient for ordaining the priests, but two, at lea t, are necessary for ordaining a bishop. Thus, by the power of ordination alone, are the bishops distinguished.
The priesthood is, also administered once in a lifetime. In order to gauge the loftiness thereof, it is sufficient to know that the Christ Himself is the Chief - Priest (or the Shepherd of Shepherds) , and that the Christian Priesthood outflows from Him.
Once elected for any degree of Holy Orders, the ordained remains thus for life, this is upheld by the Coptic Church after the pattern of the Apostles and Disciples. Over and above, since it is a Christ - given Grace and stems from the Christ Himself, It should last throughout life.
C. THE BLESSED VIRGIN
She was born like all other human beings, with the original sin. But the Scriptures tell us that God purged the sins of Isaiah, sanctified Jeremiah from the womb, and in selecting the Baptist, He filled him with the Holy Spirit while yet within the womb (Is. VI: 6 - 7, Jer. 1: 5; Luke 1: 15). If God so willed to sanctify His prophets thereby enabling them to carry out the mission entrusted to them, how much more will He sanctify Her Who was to bear the Word Incarnate within Her Womb? And as the Coptic Church expresses it: if He so desired to fit His servants for their task, how much more will He fit the Queen for Her Role? From her life story, we know that she was offered to the Temple when She was three years old, and lived therein until Her betrothal to Joseph. The high priests, through unaware of the Majesty of the Role She was to fulfil, regarded Her with great esteem. So much so, that when the time came for Her to be married they dared not follow to the letter the Law of Moses, but resorted to the method indicated by God to this prophet for the choice of Aaron to the high priesthood, (Numbers XVIII: 1 - 9). Consequently, they laid the rods of the men, decreed by the Mosaic Law eligible for Her, in the Temple; next morning, Joseph’s rod was found budding. So they betrothed Her to him and entrusted Her to his charge (which was legal according to their Law).
St. Luke tells us of the Angel Gabriel appearing to her, hailing her with the words... "Thou art highly Favored, the Lord is with Thee, blessed art Thou among women (1: 28 - 24). The Coptic Fathers assert that had not Mary so readily assented, declaring that She is “the handmaid of the Lord”, the - Christ would not have intimated through her; accordingly, She had an active part in effecting the Salvation of mankind. As for St. Matthew, he tells us of the doubts which assailed Joseph and the appearance of the Angel to him to comfort him (1: 19 - 21).
The Coptic Church believes that she is Perpetual Virgin, according to the Scriptures. To cite but a few passages as an example: King Solomon said of Her, "A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up; a fountain sealed... ” (Song of Songs IV: 12). While Ezekial describes how God took h * m to the gate that looks towards the east and “it was shut, and He said unto me, this gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord the God of Israel hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut” (XLIV: 1 - 2). At the same time, when the Christ hung on the cross, He said to His Mother: “Woman behold thy son! ”, then to His beloved disciple: “behold thy Mother”. And the Evangelist adds: “from that hour, that disciple took her to his own home”'. Now, according to the custom of the East, the widowed mother lives with her son; if she has no son, she lives with her daughter. Under no circumstances does she lives with relatives, still less with strangers, so long as she has sons or, daughters. Our Blessed Savior gave us the example of living according to the social customs which clashed not with His teachings. He certainly knew the prevalent custom on this matter and therefore would not have entrusted His Mother to H: s disciple who was a strainer. As for mentioning the Lord’s “brothers” and “sisters”, that again has a special significance in the East, namely that all cousins are considered brothers and sisters — so much so, that in Egypt, it is common to call an uncle “father’ (adding his name to it) , and an aunt, “mother” with the same addition just to make the hearer realize that it is not the factual parent who is alluded to and just as the Blessed Virgin was born like there of the human race, so did she taste death in like manner. But, because God the Father overshadowed her, and the Holy Spirit came upon Her, and the Incarnate Word dwelt - within Her Womb taking from Her His flesh, Her body was not left in the earth to decay like those of others; it was carried away by the angels. This carrying away of Her body is termed “Her Assumption” and is celebrated by the Coptic Church on the 22nd of August. (16th Messra in the Coptic calendar).
To express their esteem of the Blessed Virgin, the Coptic Fathers were the first to entitle Her “Theotokos” (or Mother - of - God). In addition, they call Her “Mother of the Light”, “Mother of the Mercy”, “Mother of the Grace”, “Ship of Safety” and numerous other epithets. Also, in imploring the saints to intercede for mankind, they mention Her first and last. While during the prayers preceding the Liturgy, there is a chant entreating the celestial beings to intercede for us. The Blessed Virgin takes precedence even over the celestial hosts; and the Coptic word used in petitioning Her is “Presira” which denotes that Her mediation is authoritative.
D. FAITH AND WORKS
Faith is certainly the prime mover in spiritual life, but it must be endorsed by works. Our Lord gave us the commandment to work in accord with our faith on more than one occasion besides, He gave us the parable of the talents, declaring to us that it is by our good works that others will glorify our Father Who is in heaven. The, Disciples did not only teach, they were an example to be followed. We are told that faith without works is dead: “Thou believest that there is One God; thou doest well... shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works... ” (James II: 14 - 26). And the cause for the rapid spread of Christianity during the early centuries lay in the lives of those who believed. Such was their example that it is recorded in the history of the Copts that when the Pagans found a person behaving courteously, talking politely and dressed decently, they would ask him “have you met a Christian today ?” insinuating that the mere meeting with a Christian was sufficient cause for such behavior.