This comes via our friends at Christian History Institute and their great new issue of Christian History about work, calling, and vocation in the history of the church. (You have until August 9 to sign up and get a copy, which you can do here.) One of the articles spotlights all the jobs which early Christians found problematic, and asked that converts stop doing before they were baptized. (Preparation for baptism was a three-year affair in the early church, spent in listening to Christian teaching, in prayer and fasting, and in hearing the Scriptures and sermon at church services but leaving before Communion to undergo training.)
It’s an interesting list. As you read it, think about why early Christians rejected these jobs (though not, of course, the people doing them.) Are there any parallels today? What are the motivations behind saying that these specific occupations did not coincide with the Gospel? How should we deal with “tough cases” today?
(This comes from a much longer document, The Apostolic Tradition, explaining church order in the late third or early fourth century–everything from how to baptize to what to do with wandering prophets.)
They will inquire concerning the works and occupations of those are who are
brought forward for instruction. If someone is a pimp who supports prostitutes, he shall cease or shall be rejected. If someone is a sculptor or a painter, let them be taught not to make idols. Either let them cease or let them be rejected. If someone is an actor or does shows in the theater, either he shall cease or he shall be rejected. If someone teaches children (worldly knowledge), it is good that he cease. But if he has no (other) trade, let him be permitted. A charioteer, likewise, or one who takes part in the games, or one who goes to the games, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. If someone is a gladiator, or one who teaches those among the gladiators how to fight, or a hunter who is in the wild beast shows in the arena, or a public official who is concerned with gladiator shows, either he shall cease, or he shall be rejected. If someone is a priest of idols, or an attendant of idols, he shall cease or he shall be rejected.
A military man in authority must not execute men. If he is ordered, he must not carry it out. Nor must he take military oath. If he refuses, he shall be rejected. f someone is a military governor, or the ruler of a city who wears the purple, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. The catechumen or faithful who wants to become a soldier is to be rejected, for he has despised God. The prostitute, the wanton man, the one who castrates himself, or one who does that which may not be mentioned, are to be rejected, for they are impure. A magus [magician] shall not even be brought forward for consideration. An enchanter, or astrologer, or diviner, or interpreter of dreams, or a charlatan, or one who makes amulets, either they shall cease or they shall be rejected. If someone’s concubine is a slave, as long as she has raised her children and has clung only to him, let her hear. Otherwise, she shall be rejected. The man who has a concubine must cease and take a wife according to the law. If he will not, he shall be rejected.