Stephen’s speech to the religious leaders seems to focus on the way the people have traditionally responded to God’s chosen ones, like Joseph and Moses … disrespectfully, sometimes violently … as they did also with Jesus. He brings up, too, the idea tha the man-made temple can’t really house God. It’s as if Stephen is telling them that they never really got the God thing right, despite helpful hints from the prophets along the way … ouch!
It’s not so surprising that things go downhill from here. No one likes to hear they’ve been wrong, whether they’re wrong or not. This reminds me of someone Meredith mentioned here once – Matthew Fox, a priest dismissed from the Dominican Order for his break with official teachings. About a year ago, he nailed some criticisms of the catholic church on the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church, like Luther. How can a religious institution determine whether it should listen to dissent and accept change, or should get rid of the dissenter and preserve its status quo?