Early Christianity was a rebellious underground movement until Roman Emperor Constantine made it his religious practice in A.D. 312. Constantine's conversion was based on what he viewed as a victorious sign from God prior to going into battle. His successor, Theodosius I, made it the official religion of Rome in A.D. 380. These events did more for the spread of Christianity than any proselytizing efforts conducted by the Apostle Paul.
But it was a religion that was subservient to the Roman Empire, bearing little resemblance to the radical teachings of Jesus. It has been this brand of Christianity, which has its roots in the Roman Empire, that has historically sided with some of the worst atrocities in human history. It is Constantine Christianity that stands as the self-appointed citadel in opposition to marriage equality.
It is the remnants of Constantine Christianity that serves as the most pervasive and influential strand of the church today be it mainline or otherwise. Constantine Christianity is void of self-reflective impulses, a prerequisite for humility.
Churches committed to the teachings of Jesus are rooted in what I define as inconvenient love. Inconvenient love represents the church at its best. It is the shared Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian belief about ultimate reality where these differing religious traditions coalesce into a harmonic symphony.
Inconvenient love is understood as a creative, redemptive good will for all. It is a love that is not dependent on liking the individual or agreeing with the position taken, but possesses an overriding commitment to affirm the humanity of others. It is much easier and less time consuming to offer a theological rule than to see value in others, especially those who are different.
Inconvenient love is reflected in the parables of the Good Samaritan and prodigal child, and it is the ultimate lesson offered in the gospel narratives that chronicle Jesus' death on the cross. . . .
– Byron Williams
"Constantine Christianity or the Teachings of Jesus?"
July 24, 2012
July 24, 2012
Image: One of the earliest known depictions of Jesus, from the Roman Catacombs, mid Third Century A.D.