The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The Invitable Rise of Christian Culture
For many Christians - esp. Anabaptists and pessemistic two-culture types - Constantine was a low point in church history. The opportunity to shed our "resident alien" identitity and establish a Christian society/culture was a big mistake.

It would seem that these critics fail to see what was accomplished. Sure it wasn't perfect or consistently biblical. But the accomplishments of Ambrose and Augustine and Alcuin and the author of Beowulf, etc. must be seen in a positive light. This is what Andrew Sandlin argues in "Our Post-Constantinian World":

Whatever one may think of the product of Constantine’s Edict of Milan (313), it ushered in an astoundingly extensive era of Christian culture. In fact, in the East, the longest-lived human empire in the history of the world was Christian — I am speaking, of course, of that centered in Byzantium. Constantine’s edict, it is sometimes presumed, explicitly established Christianity as the official religion of the Empire. This is not correct, as Charles Norris Cochrane observes in his great Christianity and Classical Culture. It truly was an act of political toleration, canceling persecution of the church and restoring its confiscated lands and other possessions, despite otherwise despotic elements. The fact that Christianity soon became the dominant cultural force in the ambiance of such relative political toleration lends credence to the idea that what is necessary for such dominance is not official political establishment, but only the absence of official political hostility. If given genuine religious freedom, all other factors being equal, Christianity tends to rise to the top.