Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.
The Roman Republic (Roma) dated from 509 BC to 27 BC after which the Roman Empire was established. It had a government headed by emperors and held large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia. Until 285 AD the empire was ruled from Rome when it split into the Western Roman Empire based in Milan and later Ravenna and the Eastern Roman Empire based in Nicodemia and later Constantinople. The West fell to Germanic Herullians in 476 AD, the East fell to Ottoman Turks in 1453.
In 380 AD Emperor Theodosius made Nicene Christianity the state religion of the West. Earlier, in 313, Emperor Constantine convened councils of bishops to define the orthodoxy of the Christian faith. Ecumenical councils were convened at the direction of the ruling emperor to assemble ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice. The 1st seven ecumenical councils of the Church were: 1) First Council of Nicaea in 325, 2) First Council of Constantinople in 381, 3) Council of Ephesus in 431, 4) Council of Chalcedon in 451, 5) Second Council of Constantinople in 553, 6) Third Council of Constantinople from 680-681, and 7) Second Council of Nicaea in 787.
“Did you know that the first seven Councils of the Church, agreed upon by both East and West, were all either convened or formally presided over by emperors? This is no small point. Emperors and governments do not tend to be interested in an ethic of love, service, or nonviolence (God forbid!), and surely not forgiveness unless it somehow helps them stay in power.” cac.org
Fr. Richard Rohr, a follower of the Franciscan order, does not mince words when describing the formative years of Christianity as a time when Roman emperors exerted power and control over the population through religion. Our liturgy in contemporary Christian worship services recites the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds which define what Christians should believe, but leaves the implementation of that belief unexplored.
“The Christ of the creeds is not tethered to earth – to the real , historical, flesh-and-blood Jesus of Nazareth. Instead, this image is mostly mental abstraction with little heart, all spirit, and almost no flesh or soul. Sometimes it seems like Christianity’s only mission is to keep announcing its vision and philosophy. This is what happens when power and empire take over the message.” cac.org (underlined emphasis is mine)
In my mind, the urgency for a renewal of Christianity according to the early writings of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth becomes ever more pressing when religious leaders endorse a government policy which clearly defies the teachings of Scriptures by stating those same teachings of love and compassion, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” do not apply to our interaction with people of a differing creed, nationality, or culture. Furthering the incredulity is when those same church leaders dismiss government leaders from any obligation to moral discernment when dispensing their official duties. This coalition of church and state, both without a moral compass, foretells a broken American Empire. Washington Post – Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Thanks to Fr. Richard Rohr at cac.org for the quotes and inspiration for this post. He ends with the following words:
“Humanity now needs a Jesus who is historical, relevant for real life….a Jesus whose life can save us even more than his death does….a Jesus we can imitate in practical ways….” cac.org