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Emperor Constantine


Establishing my new category index has reminded me that there are some categories that have been neglected. I can see two remedial strategies. One is to merge some lesser-used categories into larger ones; the other is to get on and fill some of the gaps.

I can readily do that for theology, with a posting I spotted on Malcolm Chamberlain’s site earlier this week. In turn, he drew a phrase from Alan Hirsch, describing Constantine as “… still the emperor of our imaginations”.

Since learning about him as a history undergraduate, I have always been ambivalent about the role of Constantine in the history of Christianity. I suspect that Hirsh’s phrase may do some dishonour to a man who found a degree of faith and allowed that to influence his actions. However, as a symbol of the preference the church has sometimes shown for being in power rather than living by faith and trust in God’s power, it has an undeniable resonance.

In the 21st Century, the inherited power of the church is definitely on the wane. That can either prompt us Christians to bemoan that everything is “going to hell in a handbasket” or, as I think Malcolm is hinting, rejoice and allow faith in a living, powerful (and loving) God to guide our actions.

Send any comments on this one over to Malcolm.

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