Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Posts Tagged ‘Tacitus’

Christianity And The World: The Early Church And Now

Posted by Job on November 12, 2007

Why was the early church so hated and persecuted? According Roman historian Tacitus, they were accused of hating humanity. Why? Because Christians abstained from virtually all secular social activities: the theatre, the military, the universities, sporting events, and civil ceremonies. Why? Because all of those things were – to various degrees of overtness and explicitness – associated with idolatry and paganism. For instance, the mithraism cult was very strong in the military (which many Christians also rejected because they felt the message of Jesus Christ mandated pacifism). Sacrifices and vows were made to the gods in civil ceremonies and government proceedings. Christians also rejected the study of classical literature because it glorified the Greco – Roman gods and pervasive immorality, and so did the theatre and the arts.

Not only did participating in some of these activities require explicitly worshiping other gods, but even those that did not require direct participation in idol ceremony were still events and gatherings dedicated to other gods, so Christians felt that by their very presence and participation they were still glorifying idolatry and sin even if only indirectly.

Let us consider an example. It is not sufficient to consider that Christians of the time only objected to going to a theatre performance because it DEPICTED Zeus, Jupiter, Neptune, etc. or those worshiping them. Instead, realize that the Greco – Roman culture of the time had “a goddess of the arts and theatre” (i.e. Minerva/Athena). As such, in that culture, the very act of putting on a public theatre and arts performance was done in worship of Athena. So, going to the theatre was seen as a way of worshiping Athena and supporting those that worshiped this false goddess. The same was true for virtually every other social activity, because, well, in a pagan/pantheistic culture, every activity is going to have a god or goddess associated with it.

As such, attitude of most – but not all – of the early church was that being a Christian required a sole worship of God, and that any deviation from that commitment would be a public denial of Jesus Christ, who in turn on judgment day would deny the apostate. Again, practical effect of this doctrine in their place and time was to abstain from virtually all activities that they knew was associated with paganism, which basically was all public activities.

Keep in mind, this was not merely the apostolic church that may not have had access to Paul’s writings i.e. 1 Corinthians, but this continued into the fourth century and was a major reason why 3 million Christians died as a result of persecution! So was the early church wrong? If so, why? Whether they were wrong or not, what meaning does this have for the modern church? I do not know about you, but after encountering this bit of information, I cannot help but ponder the fact that my favorite sports team JUST HAPPENS to be named the Tennessee TITANS. The titans, lest we forget, take their name from Greek false gods.


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