Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quote of the Day

. . . The warring factions that exist within Christianity have not been liberal vs. conservative, but Constantine Christianity vs. the teachings of Jesus.

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

Image: One of the earliest known depictions of Jesus, from the Roman Catacombs, mid Third Century A.D.


colkoch said...

Brilliantly on target. Constantine Christianity is not Christianity, historically it has been about Roman and Germanic white supremacy.

jamez said...

This is a line of historic criticism that I have been mulling over for several years now. I have often said in commentary posts that the Donation of Constantine is a dead letter. No longer should Christians look to the state to affirm or enforce their world view. Indeed, this never should have been the case. We must, instead, place the Gospel out into the market place of Spiritual ideas ALONG with and ON A PAR with everybody else. If we are to be successful in Evangelization,we must back up our faith proclamations with LIVED EXAMPLE - See how they LOVE one another. All the pretty liturgies, vestments and architecture ring hollow otherwise; remnants of a Church that succumbed to the three temptation that were presented to Jesus in the desert...

Phil said...

Wow, excellent commentary, and very well. Here's an ex-Catholic thanking you for offering some hope that I might be able to rediscover my heritage.

Unknown said...

This is a fantastic and thought-provoking idea.

The implications that internalizing such an idea would hold for Christianity are important.

Of course, Christianity has benefited more than once from a ressourcement - a going back to the sources, and many of the best thinkers of every age have cracked open the writings of the Fathers of the Church.

But somehow, the Constantine elements always survive, don't they?