Posted by: chuckbumgardner | February 18, 2015

Chrysostom on Professional Sports

John[ Chrysostom]’s social and religious world was formed by the continuing and pervasive presence of paganism in the life of [Antioch]. In his sermons he thunders against popular pagan amusements, the theater, horseraces, and the revelry surrounding holidays. Reminiscent of the modern mania for football, John says in one sermon, “If you ask [Christians] who is Amos or Obadiah, how many apostles there were or prophets, they stand mute; but if you ask them about the horses or drivers, they answer with more solemnity than sophists or rhetors” (Hom. 58 in Joannem 9:17; 59.320).

Robert L. Wilken, John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late 4th Century (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2004).

Query: Given that John Chrysostom’s Antiochian context is not our context, and that John Chrysostom is not to be viewed as if he were writing Scripture, if he were alive today, would he observe the (unofficial) American national holiday Super Bowl Sunday in any way, shape, or form? Would he encourage his church members to do so as a means of outreach? Would he be scrupulously careful to note on his church website the particular sports teams which he avidly follows, in order to connect with potential attendees? Would he be right?

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