Worldliness

Worldliness

Selected

The following extract from Neander’s Church History may be of help to those who find that pleasures of the world are robbing them of their joy in Christ.

“A condemnation was passed on all the public exhibitions of that period — on the pantomines, the dramas, the chariot and foot races and the various amusements of the circus and theatre. Such was the prevailing and passionate fondness of the Romans at that time for theatrical entertainments, that a man was at once looked upon as a Christian simply if he absented himself wholly from the theatre. Theatrical spectacles were considered as an appendage of idolatry, by virtue of their origin from heathen rites, and of their connection with many of the pagan festivals. Among the pomps of idolatry or devil worship which the Christians, when enrolled in the ranks of Christian soldiers, were obliged to renounce by their baptismal vow, these spectacles were particularly included. Moreover, much occurred in them which was revolting to the moral feelings and decency of Christians; and, even if this were not the case, still the spending of whole hours on mere nonsense, the unholy spirit which reigned in these assemblies, the wild uproar of the congregated multitude, seemed unsuited to the holy seriousness of the Christian’s priestly character. The Christians did, in truth, consider themselves as priests, consecrated for their whole life to God, as temples of the Holy Spirit; whatever, therefore, was alien to that Spirit, for whose indwelling they were to keep their hearts always ready, must be avoided. ‘God has commanded,’ says Tertullian, ‘that the Holy Spirit, as a Spirit essentially tender and gentle, should be tended with tranquility and gentleness, with quiet and peace; that it should not be disturbed by passion, fury, anger, and emotions of violent grief.’ How can such a Spirit consist with the spectacles? For no spectacle passes off without some violent agitation of the passions. No one who goes to the play thinks of anything else than to see and be seen. Is it possible, while listening to the declamation of the actor, to think on the sentence of a prophet, or in the midst of the song of an eunuch mediate of a psalm? If every kind of immodesty is abominable, how can we allow ourselves to listen to that which, inasmuch as we know that every idle and unprofitable word is condemned by our Lord, we dare not speak?”

The above is quoted from Neander’s Church History, Volume 1, pages 365-366, and Is submitted by Donald B. Moffatt.