I’m sure there has to be some qualification that goes along with saying Constantine was a good thing. Yet, I’m astounded that over half here think he “invited corruption and paganism into the church.” I’d like to know some specifics, because unless Christians are wholly sanctified at conversion, they’re going to bring in such things anyway.
Guess what happens when a pagan Emperor who rules an empire founded on paganism converts? He becomes a Christian emperor who aspires to wean his empire off of its paganism. I would never wish a reversal of conversion for anyone. But apparently, quite a few here would rather the man not have converted at all.
I’ll have to click “follow-up via email” next time I comment, because I didn’t notice Andrew’s comment til just now.
I’m more and more grateful for clarification in such discussions.
I think Constantine corrupted the Faith by what we commonly refer to as “Establishmentarianism,” that is, giving a church institution official state sanction. There are various forms of Establishmentarianism, some supported by my favorite Reformers, but I side with those who saw that this principle, in any form, could not be warranted by Scripture or creation ordinance outside of those particular “theocratic” administrations in redemptive-history, eg. Israel between Sinai and Christ.
We may disagree about whether the “E-principle” is Christian, but if I am wrong about Constantine supporting such a scheme, let me know.
Perhaps, if you are a supporter of “E’ism” (as is my understanding), you will ask me to specify how I think it –under its most ideal application– as such is a corruption of the Faith? In part, I think that is what this blog is about, and is something neocalvinism seeks to address.
Thanks for waiting for this response, Gregory. As you know I’m an advocate of Establishmentarianism. In general it is a good thing, I believe, though abuses inevitably occur because of human sinfulness. As you also know, Establishmentarianism was accepted by nearly all Christians from the age of Constantine to the founding of our Republic. We can agree that Christianity became officially endorsed by the Roman Empire under Constantine, though it did not become the state religion until Theodosius (and Armenia was actually the first nation to adopt Christianity as its state religion in A.D. 301).
The notion of the secular state is a modern invention. Every state before the modern era depended on divine sanction for legitimacy (either the sanction of false gods or the true God). And Unitarian liberalism is the de facto established religion in the United States. Children indoctrinated into this religion actually become the citizens most devoted to perpetuation of the regime’s principles. Only recently has it become apparent that devotion to the American way isn’t entirely consistent with devotion to Christ.
There is in fact no non-religious basis for government. Even W2Kers derive (at best) their theory of the state from special revelation (i.e., Cain’s curse & the Noahic covenant). Yet, in my view this is an eisegetical reading of social contract theory into the text. Government antedated the founding of the first city because it is a creational ordinance promulgated in the original cultural mandate.
Culture flows from cult as works flow from faith. History shows that the greatest art and the most just & humane orders are religiously inspired. Technology is different, but there are spiritual reasons for that. It’s time to acknowledge the historical facts.
Did “Constantinianism” corrupt the faith? Not if orthodoxy is the yardstick. We would still be arguing today over whether Christ was divine or human without the authoritative witness of the ecumenical councils. Besides, the golden age of Protestant orthodoxy was facilitated through the support of princes. Wedgeworth’s latest essay at Basilica covers some important ground on this point.
There is also ample evidence that the faith of the western peoples has declined ever since the advent of modernity. Certainly, we have also seen a decline in the morality of Christians along with public standards in general. I think there is probably a greater ratio of hypcrites to saints now than there ever has been. This is due to the relegation of religion to the private sphere alone. For example, it is commonplace to hear that one follows a Christian ethic in private affairs while following a rational ethic (e.g., utilitarian, egoist, or communist) in public affairs.
So now we have folks running around who claim to be Christian while militantly advocating for abortion and the legitimation of homosexuality. Despite the disastrous consequences of liberal social policy, half the country still tenaciously holds to the liberal delusion. So much for natural law and the testimony of the historical record.
Theocracy is inevitable. It just depends on whose god will be enthroned.
I am interested in further discussion about why you believe theocracy isn’t warranted by Scripture and why I believe theocracy hasn’t been rescinded in the NT dispensation.
Sorry for starting the thread and not popping back in!
My vote is somewhere in between. As a man of the West I can not say that Constantine did wrong in laying the foundation for the Christendom that I love.
However, he also set the precedent for grave difficulties that would seem unsolvable in Christendom. I believe that the wisdom of the American experiment- and hats off to the American Presbyterians, and American Roman Catholics (can you count Lord Baltimore as an American Roman Catholic) for helping to solve the problem by divorcing the institutions of church and state while not divorcing faith from society.
Society and religion will always be close friends… but it is wise to be wary of the bloody hands of the state.
Is theocracy in it’s perfect order possible on this side of eternity? The Israelites under the leadership of Moses to Samuel enjoyed this yet it did not make for a perfect state.
As a naive student of Church History I beleive that Emperor Constantine’s reign had it’s positive side; it legitimatized Christianity and the laws of today both criminal and civil emanated during this era with the basis in Judeo-Christianity. However, the Church seems to thrive and is at her best under persecution; real Christians emerge, the gospel is spread, revival and an awakening recurs.
I look forward to such an era in the West when an awakenining will occur in Europe and the Americas birthed in the throes of persecution and Christianity will emerge from her slumber and her finest hour before the return of the Lord!
Arinola, who here suggested that a *perfect* theocracy is possible at present? The difference between the Old Covenant theocracy and the New is that Christ has come, has poured out the Spirit upon all flesh, & has established his Church.
My question for you would be why theocracy should be abandoned just because a *perfect* theocracy is impossible.
If I expressed my agonies and concerns out loud is not to say theocracy should not exist, however imperfect but I do long for perfection, I do long for the government of Jesus Christ with it’s perfection, justice, righteousness, joy and peace!