25 March 2011

Defending Constantine

I first read John Howard Yoder's The Politics of Jesus when I was 20 years old, and at the time I simply took it for granted that he was right that the Roman Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity represented the corrupting alliance of the church with the state. Then Peter Leithart wrote Defending Constantine, which my friend and colleague Rob Joustra has reviewed for Comment: The Embarrassment of Power: Does Constantine Need Defending? Take a look and see what you think.

1 comment:

Baus said...

I haven't read Leithart's book, but some thoughts on what Joustra wrote...

while it's true that "What modern states think of as the separation of church and state was an invention of the modern period," this doesn't tell us about whether or not there is an actual (Apostolically taught, New Covenant) biblical doctrine of separation of church and state.

Appreciation of the distinction between an idea of 'religion' & it's inevitable situatedness/expression in all of life vs. 'political establishments of cultus' seems to be lacking all around.

Articulation of biblical doctrine in dogmatics, too, develops historically. But there's still a place for historically-conscious, Reformed theologically-informed, criticism of Constantine's regime, Christendom, Constantinianism/s, etc. There's no reason Constantine should get a pass based on man-of-his-time, limited available "tools-of-the-day," or lack of societal differentiation reasons. (Not to say Joustra was exactly giving Constantine a total pass, of course).


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