Thursday, March 26, 2015

ANF V: Cyprian? On Public Shows

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 5

Cyprian? On the Public Shows

Beginning the set of treatises that may or may not have been by Cyprian (according to the best historiography of the 19th century, at any rate), this short essay discusses whether Christians can in good conscience attend the public games. These could be anything from races to gladiatorial combats to plays, and often involved an element of worshiping the pagan gods at the beginning or during the course of the performance. We certainly should not justify our attendance at these kind of events using Scripture--that ends up justifying idolatry using God's Word, which is of course wrong.

Moreover, the fact that the shows are not prohibited is not the same as saying that we have liberty or permission to attend. Rather, we must pursue virtue in all things, even where Scripture does not give us specific instruction: "Let every man only take counsel with himself, and let him speak consistently with the character of his profession, and then he will never do any of these things."

The author then goes on to make the claim that all of these shows both involve and are based on idolatry in the first place, and so ought to be avoided anyway. Which at least might give us moderns a bit of wiggle room, now that the specific open idolatry is no longer commonly practiced. Still, these types of entertainment are aimed at our sins--our lusts, our laziness, our gluttony, and so on, and so ought to be avoided by Christians. Which is not to say there is no spectacle for believers! We have the whole theater of the world an the whole drama of the Scriptures which we may look at and rejoice in. We have the anticipation of the coming judgment of the Lord to see and delight in, which should be spectacle enough for us.

This isn't necessarily the best reading in the volume, but it's short enough that there's really no excuse not to read it...

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