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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Christianity and the force of history

It was said in the recent CNN special “After Jesus” that if not for the conversion of Constantine, Christianity would never have become the force that it is, essentially that Christianity like all religious movements is an historical accident that could have been stopped at any number of points had this or that chance event not occurred—and any number of intellectual Christians will be suspicious of the claim that God helped Constantine win the battle; we simply don’t see good evidence for such a God. But perhaps history does not work this way after all. Christianity was a growing force in the empire at the time of Constantine, though many emperors and others had tried hard to get rid of it. Like a bubble rising or a stream falling this force was looking for a place to emerge. It happened to emerge here. Had Constantine lost, it would have emerged elsewhere. But it was going to happen because it was a swelling force in history—a force which the church, for all we know, prevents like a dam as much as it channels like a dredge.

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