Article: Losing the Faith (10/22)

Be Not Conformed to this World

Justin Martyr writes: “We who hated and destroyed one another, now, since the coming of Christ, pray for our enemies, and endeavor to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live conformably to the good precepts of Christ, to the end that they may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope” (First Apology, ch. xiv). Tatian (AD 150) confirms, “I do not want to rule, I do not wish to be rich, I reject military command, I have hated fornication” (Address to the Greeks, ch. xi). And Origen (AD 230) testifies that “Christians decline public offices not in order to escape these duties but in order to keep themselves for a more divine and necessary service in the church of God for the salvation of men” and “We do not fight under him [Caesar], although he require it; but we fight on his behalf … by offering our prayers to God” (Against Celsus, Book VIII, chs. lxxiii, lxxiv).

Despise Foolish Spectacles

There are many witnesses to the fact that believers, as a people apart, avoided “the racecourse and the theatre” and the spectacles of the coliseum, refusing to take part, even as spectators, with the evil practices of their day. “And ease of mind is not to be purchased by zealous pursuit of frivolities, for no one who has his senses will ever prefer what is pleasant to what is good” (Clement of Alexandria: The Instructor, Book III). “We ought to detest these heathen meetings and assemblies, if on no other account than that there God’s name is blasphemed” (Tertullian: De Spectaculis). Athenagoras, late in the second century, comments that “we have renounced such spectacles” (A Plea for Christians, ch. xxxv).

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