Archive for November 13th, 2010

Knowing history is important.  Especially in the discussion of the role of faith in public policy, justice, social entertainment and culture.  A good case study of the intersection between all four can be seen in the situation of Roman’s cruel gladiatorial games:

“Human life was regarded as cheap, and murder was justified on the assumption that such people deserved to die, indeed had already forfeited their place in human society.  But can a society that took pleasure in such degeneracy be called human?  More debased than the gladiatorial combat between two men, one armed with a net and trident spear and the other with a sword and rectangular shield, or the combat between men and beasts, were the pairings of the gladiatores meridiani described with Seneca.  Jerome Carcopino summarizes: ‘The pitiable contingent of the doomed was driven into the arena.  The first pair were brought forth, one man armed and one dressed simply in a tunic.  The business of the first was to kill the second, which he never failed to do.  After this feat he was disarmed and led out to confront a newcomer armed to the teeth, and do the inexorable butchery continued until the last head had rolled in the dust.’

It was the Christian gospel that finally put an end to the horrid games in the amphitheaters.  The butcheries of the arena were stopped by Christian emperors.  In 326 Constantine effectively dried up the main source of supply of gladiators when he issued a decree that forbad the condemnation of criminals to the beast.  By the end of the century, gladiatorial games ceased to exist in the East; and in 404 Honorius issued an edict forbidding gladiatorial combat in the West.” (John McRay, Archaeology & the New Testament, 62-63).

Here one see the practical implication of Biblical anthropology that forms the basis of critiquing a culture’s entertainment and solidifying one’s public policy.

As a general direction, Christians ought to do the same today where our entertainment is so much more “omnipresent” than ever before, in a world of Internet, Netflix, cable and Blueray.

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