Gyms and Temples

Hellenism is a historical term that refers to the conquest of Greek culture over foreign peoples. It was the reason the Romans had a pantheon of gods that were little more than Grecian transplants. Jupiter was Zeus without a toga. The world appeared to be diverse. Ethnically it was Jewish, Persian, Egyptian, Assyrian, and Roman, but mentally the world was quickly becoming Greek.

Antiochus Epiphanes was a Seleucid ruler who controlled Palestine from 187 to 175 BC. While he initially allowed the Jews to observe Torah his agenda was to conquer them religiously and culturally through Hellenism. He replaced the Jewish High Priest with someone who looked like them, but thought like him. The replacement of the priest was not popular, but it was critical for cultural shift. Re-imagine God, make Him a voice of the emerging culture, then replace Him under the cover of night.

In his Old Testament Introduction, Temper Longman refers to another aspect of Antiochus' agenda of culture shift, "The gymnasium not the temple was to be the social and even religious heart of the city." Antiochus sought to loosen the convictions traditional Jews by turning their mind away from God and on to sports.

This week I would like to begin a conversation about the role of sports and its replacement of religion as the epicenter of cultural formation in America. I would enjoy a broad conversation, but I would especially like to engage Christian parents, more specifically the Christian parents of our church and community. How far will we go with the increasing demands of sports on family life and its growing intrusion on religious life? What do you think? Do you see any correlation between our infatuation with sports, professional athletes, the secularization of our society, and our diminishing heartbeat for holiness and God? What has been your experience? What is your struggle?

I have written on the relationship between sports and faith in the past. Also read my post "Sports on Sunday." Share your thoughts.


Unknown said…
It's so true that sports is becoming the main part of life. I struggle with it myself. I sometimes let sports just take up an entire day. I have been trying to get better about that because in the end, it does not matter what Bama does on Saturdays!

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