One of the constant pleasures of studying Christian history is being reminded again and again that Qoheleth was right: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."
American Christians have a complicated relationship with celebrities. On the one hand, we have a tendency to blame Hollywood and rock music for corrupting our youth. On the other, there are few things we like more than discovering that one of these entertainment insiders is a Believer. What could be more exciting than finding out we have a "secret agent" on the inside?
Well, it turns out this uneasy relationship with the famous is nothing new. In his Confessions (written around 397 AD), Augustine tells the story of a fellow named Victorinus, a notable Roman philosopher and rhetorician who becomes a Christian (Book 8, chapter 2). Victorinus was famous—so famous, in fact, that the Romans erected a statue of him in the Forum.
After years of educating senators and wooing ...1