The Constantinian Theorem

The Constantinian Theorem
Robert Wurtz II

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (I Peter 2:11-12)

Sometimes when we read verses such as these, we view them through the lens of the type of Christianity we have come to know in our own personal experience. If this is true, we have no idea of what Peter is talking about. Peter was writing to people who had had a profound New Birth experience. Men like himself, Simon the Zealot, Paul the Apostle and Stephen. Peter, Simon and Paul were either killers or potential killers — turned compassionate men of God. Peter once tried to take off the High Priest’s servants head with a sword; Simon the Zealot was a murderous freedom fighter; and Paul the Apostle had sanctioned the death of countless men and women. However, when they were truly (and I mean absolutely truly) born again, the love of God was poured out into their heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) and they beat their swords into plowshares. Selah. 

There is something very violent in the heart of fallen man. Abel experienced it. In fact, within the first six chapters of Genesis the entire world had become filled with violence. God had to annihilate it. The hateful, murderous spirit of Satan entered the human race — and the earth has drank in an ocean of human blood ever since. Many measures have been taken by God to restrain this violent spirit in man. The time would fail to discuss all of them. In fact, even Sigmund Freud discovered this. He knew man was an aggressive and violent creature deep down inside. Man has also tried his hand at restraining these forces. The whole of our Western economy began as an attempt to “control the dangerous crowd.” Consumptionism served to forestall an eventual total breakdown of society. The world has been drifting towards Genesis 6 once again; threatening to melt-down into a merciless, mindless, violent expression of diabolic chaos.

The Only Hope

However, there has always been a hope. A hope that shames all other attempts to correct the consequences of the fall of man. That hope, is the New Birth. The Saints, having been born from above, made into the likeness of Jesus Christ, traverse this present evil world. It is The Church (emphasis on The) that heralds the message of Hope; that is, The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Fallen man can be transformed by the Holy Spirit into a new race of men — after the image of God. This is God’s will. He created us in His image and He is determined for us to have it. But the choice is ours.

The Church was born in this reality. Their world was filled with violence just like everyone else’s. In fact, the Jews were hoping to crush Rome and exalt Jesus as the Messiah that would rule from Jerusalem with a rod of iron. However, many who followed Him were confused and disillusioned when they found out He was not going to war with Rome after a carnal warfare. Their faith was sifted. They wavered. They denied Him. In fact, I submit that while they were following Him during His earthly ministry, nearly half the teachings He taught them went in one ear and out the other. He said so many things that were contrary to the aims of The Jewish Freedom Movement, that it is impossible that they could have rightly understood Him. They believed He was going to overthrow Rome by violence; and He taught a message of love, compassion and peace. The only way we could comprehend this is to imagine Osama Bin Ladin teaching his armies to put up their guns, stop killing and dismembering folks — and start loving them from a pure heart. Could you imagine the strange looks he would have received from his fanatical Jihadist followers? I’m sure Jesus got some similar ones.

Peter writes his first epistle in around 63 AD. This is seven years before the First Jewish Revolt. The storm was gathering. The Christians could hear the chatter. The Zealots were preaching a message of rebellion — the opposite of what Jesus preached. The Zealots radical arm known as the Sacarii were assassinating people. In fact, Rome was getting fed up. War was about to break out. The drums were beating (as it were). In the midst of this Peter states, Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (I Peter 2:11-12) 

What is he talking about? He is referring to men who lived and died like Stephen in Acts 7. He refused to get in the flesh, even though they were mercilessly stoning him to death. Jesus Christ was set forth evidently among those who stoned him. Paul was one who observed this event. Having beheld such an awesome example of Jesus — he glorified God on the day of his visitation. This was how the Church was founded. This is what turned the world upside down. From Domition in the first century Rome to Diocletion in the late third century Rome, countless Christians loved not their lives unto the death. Their blood was spilled as if it were water. 

The Rise of Constantinianism

It is impossible to express how radically the visible church changed after Constantine came to power, ended the persecutions, and made Christianity the official religion of Rome. Therefore, Constantinianism has been defined as “the shift of ecclesial identity that occurred in the fourth century church when it became an imperial power, instead of a church identified with the martyrdom of Jesus and his followers. The result was to place the locus of the church’s action in the political and military realm rather than in the kingdom of God.” (Wiki) This marked the beginning of what we commonly call “Christendom” and witnessed the joining of church and state. From this time, Christian ethics no longer centered in Church worship or Jesus’ example and teachings. Dissenters and rivals became civil threats (Arians, Donatists, Copts, etc.) and missions were performed by conquest. 

A cursory read of history will show that the visible church failed miserably at representing Jesus Christ once book of Acts style evangelism ended. People were “born a Christian”; as opposed to “born again Christians.” When a person professes Christ and has not been born again, they still have their carnal mind and their sinful nature. I have said it before and I say it again now, this makes the person the most dangerous people on earth. They believe they are saved and are still in the carnal mind. What could be more dangerous? They profess Christ and are devoid of His Spirit, His compassion, love, peace, etc. They believe they are God’s people and that their beliefs are God-pleasing. I suggest this is how multitudes have fought in bloody battles under the banner of Christianity during the Middle Ages. This is also how Christian on Christian violence was perpetrated during the Reformation years. Could a person be full of the Holy Spirit as was Stephen and turn around and drown a fellow believer or behead them? I trow not.  

Violence = Christianity – New Birth (V=C-NB) 

 The basis of my “Constantinian Theorum” is that “violence increases proportionally to a deemphasis on New Birth.” Proving this theorem is not an exercise carried out on a chalk board or laboratory; but by examining a constant in history that where New Birth is not preached, violence became an accepted means of dealing with people who were considered a threat to the accepted definition of Christianity. In fact, it is shocking how many people today, after over 100 years of decisional regeneration (sinners prayer, sawdust trail, pledge card), name the name of Christ and are little different in disposition than was Peter before his change came. 

It’s almost like we are back in Matthew 5 and the Disciples are looking at Jesus all crazy as He says things like:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 

If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 

And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 

Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5)

Jesus was the express image of the person of God and these teachings in Matthew 5 and elsewhere are fundamental to understanding a true Christian’s disposition. Decisional regeneration will not yield a person that walks in the reality of those things written above. They are foolishness to them and they will seek to explain them away. Only a saint or an aspiring saint will agree with what Jesus has said here. Only New Birth can take us there. Otherwise, the world races as fast as the unlocked wheels of time will take her towards Armageddon. 

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