The anonymous commenter EBW has taken issue with my portrayal of Ananias, which I derived from Darrell Bock, who, in his Commentary on Acts, refers to him as a "non-apostle." Ananias was the individual who, in Acts 9, laid hands on Saul after his Damascus Road experience, "so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Bock said, "It is significant that here a non-apostle is the mediator of the Spirit. The church's ministry is expanding in ways that mean that non-apostles will do important work."
In retelling the story of his conversion, in Acts 22, Paul describes him as "a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there." That's all the scriptural reference we have to him. It should be noted that Luke does not describe him as "one of the seventy."
Nevertheless, the Orthodox church holds that he is "one of the seventy." EBW wants to say "he was sent" to lay hands on Paul, and therefore, he was an "apostle" (supposedly supporting Bellisario's claim that Paul somehow need to "have hands laid upon him to receive apostolic authority"). There is no "early tradition" on Ananias, only "later tradition." I've provided a link to some of that later "tradition":
Later tradition has much to say regarding Ananias. He is represented as one of the "Seventy," and it is possible he may have been a personal disciple of Jesus. He is also described as bishop of Damascus, and reported to have met a violent death, [either a] slain by the sword of Pol, the general of Aretas, according to one authority, or [b] according to another, stoned to death after undergoing torture at the hand of Lucian, prefect of Damascus. His name stands in the Roman and Armenian Martyrologies, and he is commemorated in the Abyssinian Calendar.It looks like "earlier tradition" was silent, and "later tradition" can't make up its mind. This is a sure recipe for a phony.
There's a reason why I don't want to track down every Orthodox "Saint" who has a feast day.
When Paul preached at Athens, he was not well received. Nevertheless, "a few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus" (Acts 17:34).
In the fifth century, there were some writings that appeared under the name of "Dionysius the Areopagite." These writings were cited as authentic by both Pope Gregory the Great and John of Damascus. Thomas Aquinas quoted large portions of these writings as if they were authentic and passed them along.
Yet he was a fake. He was not the Areopagite from Acts 17, but a 5th or 6th century Neoplatonist. It was only at the time of the Reformation that critical scholarship began to expose this supposed "apostolic father" as a fraud.
Yet the Orthodox Church still reveres him as authentic -- the OCA website says that even though he "piously borrowed an illustrious name, this in no way diminishes the profound theological significance of the works." To be sure, Pseudo-Dionysian characterizations of God [more than Biblical writings about God] still shape Roman Catholic conceptions of God and hierarchy.
We live in a world in which Christianity is locked in a huge number of struggles, and the most important thing it offers is that it is the Truth. Based on this Truth, Christians seek high office. We ask that laws be written, based on Judeo-Christian ethics. We do not need to have non-Christians characterizing Christianity as if it were just one more religion among the cults. It's bad enough that a devout Mormon may be running for President again.
Christianity is "a sure faith." It is based on genuine historical events. Jesus Christ was a real man, who was crucified by Roman authorities who are attested in history. His disciples were eyewitnesses to his life, death, and resurrection. They gave their lives in support of this testimony. Other Christians argue every day that the Biblical account of creation in Genesis coheres with the scientific truth of the creation of the universe. Each day, Christians struggle to bring the Christian account to the world and to the culture in millions of different scenarios.
None of us should be in this struggle for the sake of playing "make-believe." Nothing in Christianity says we need to check our brains at the door. Christianity is "true truth." Nothing about it should come off as false.