Apologia Pro Vita Sua

For those who are inclined to speak at least occasionally in Latin (as I am known to do [1]), the apologia pro vita sua is a defense of one’s own life and behavior, usually in response to serious criticism. Although I am no great fan of the doctrines or historical behavior of the Roman Catholic Church, it would be unjust to forget that the most famous work of that name was a book written by John Henry Newman in 19th Century England in response to what he viewed as an unfair personal attack which also attacked the Catholic Church and the institution of priesthood (and this was before contemporary sex scandals within the priesthood). Being someone who is at least somewhat sensitive and prickly to what I view as unfair personal attacks against me, I feel it necessary from time to time to make a defense of my life and conduct, seeing as such a defense is painfully necessary.

The Apostle Paul is perhaps best remembered for his own defense of his life and behavior, seeing as he too was a man in need of a defense given his immense hostility to God’s way as a young man as well as his nearly lifelong tendency to be somewhat combative with others. Perhaps his most intriguing apology of his life and conduct occurs during his long imprisonment in Caesarea, where he makes the following comments in appealing to Caesar in Acts 25:7-8, 10-11: “When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove, while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”” “So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. for if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying, but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.””

Let us note in this passage that although the Jews were certainly offended at Paul, that he had not offended. The offense of ourselves towards others, or others towards ourselves, is not based on the subjective feelings and overblown fears that others have, but is rather based on the reality of sin or the lack thereof. Since Paul was not actually an antinomian, had not actually attacked the sanctity of the temple or the worthiness of the Sabbath or any of God’s other laws (although, to be clear, he pointed out the law’s proper case is not as a way for us to earn merit badges on the way to salvation, which can only be the result of divine grace to the unworthy), he did not object to dying if he had committed any sin worthy of death, for he knew he was innocent. While some people defend themselves as a matter of bluffing, Paul was a man with a nature not too unlike mine who defended himself largely to defend the larger integrity of the Gospel, and not merely as a personal pique.

Like Paul, I am a man who lays my character and struggles openly before all mankind, for all time, knowing that sometimes I will be viewed in an incorrect light and that my actions and words will be twisted beyond all recognition. Yet I too am willing to suffer whatever death or imprisonment would be due for my actions, if indeed I have sinned against the laws of God or man in my conduct in life towards others. I am willing, should it be necessary, to lay the affairs of my heart that have caused me such grief this past year and a half before the world, if it would ease the safety and security of those who have been offended by my conduct. I am willing to suffer whatever public embarrassment is necessary, if it should prove to increase the security of those young woman whose friendship with me in adverse circumstances has caused such stress to themselves and me. I do not wish to embarrass them, but rather I consider their safety and well-being to be more important than my own personal pleasure, as modest as that may be.

I find it rather awkward and uncomfortable that I must defend myself against the fears of others largely for being a man of integrity and honor in my dealings with others. Surely, had I wished for concealment, I would cause less obvious offense to others, but my offense against the laws of God and man would be all the more serious for disguising my true motives and intentions and behavior. It is not my intent or desire to endanger anyone, or behave in such a way as would be dishonorable or inappropriate, but I am also the sort of person who will admit the truth, however awkward or embarrassing as it may be for me, rather than to hide behind a hypocritical mask of false probity. Of course, there are some who will take such knowledge as would exist about my life and use it for evil, but as a stranger and a person with a very complicated life history, there is no way for me to obtain the friendships and relationships I seek on any base other than a firm knowledge on a part of others that I am a person of integrity who will always struggle mightily to do the right thing, come what may. Perhaps in time, if God is merciful, the example may even win over at least some of those who have behaved dishonorably and in a hostile manner towards me. Stranger things have happened, after all.

Likewise, my openness is also for the benefit of those whom I have befriended over these dramatic and stressful period of my life. For the best security to those, male and female, young and old, whom I have gotten to know is also best served by openness, for the sake of their own safety and well-being and reputation as well as my own. After all, a desire to be open and public in one’s behavior is a sign that one’s behavior is not hostile or aggressive, and that one’s motives are above reproach, even if they are more than a little unusual or unconventional. Still, let us hope that despite all of the fears and concerns of my own towards my situations and the fears of others about me, eventually with time and opportunity, may perfect love cast out fear, rather than perfect fear casting out the love of Christ that we all should exhibit towards others, even those who hate us and spitefully use us, forgiving them because they know not what they do.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/quod-erat-demonstrandum/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/extra-ecclesiam-nulla-salus/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/two-approaches-to-authority/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/mens-cujusque-is-est-quisque/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, Love & Marriage, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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