More or Less Christian

A friend recently gave me a book of essays that he had edited on various early Church historical topics. One essay noted that in a homily, the church father Origen “distinguishes within Christ’s army the front-line troops who fight Satan hand to hand and the many camp followers who support the combat forces but do little or no fighting themselves.”

This is a useful distinction. Many “camp followers” simply don’t have the time to attend church every Sunday, serve on committees, observe feast and fast days, offer private prayers, and so on. They might be able to do some of these things, but they are more than willing to support the “front-line troops.” (We might call the latter, “the pillars of the church.”)

If all the camp followers went to church every Sunday, most of our churches would be packed! As it is, we should be grateful for whatever support we get, including support from those who have neither the time nor the inspiration to fight on the front lines. —J. Douglas Ousley

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