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Religion Empire History

It is interesting that Christianity emerged when and where it did. The Roman Empire had expanded to its limits for the most part at that time, and had recently begun the emperor system of dictatorship replacing the republic of the Senate. It was a turning point in the history of the empire, as the fresh young successful republic had begun to sow the fatal seeds of high military spending empire, a time somewhat like our own. The part time volunteer army of the republic expansion phase was being replaced by an increasing costly professional military. It was about half way from the beginning to the collapse.
Jesus eschewed politics when he answered the Pharisees trick question about paying taxes to Rome. He took a coin and said “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” His message was about how to live a full life, and he recognized the trap of power and money as vehicles to keep one away from living that full life. “I come that you may live life more abundantly” is the key phrase. Leading Jesus Seminar scholar Marcus Borg believes his key message was opposed to systems of domination. Empire is all about domination and control. Time and again, Jesus favors the unfortunate individual over various forms of group solidarity, even that of the family, certainly that of religious, financial, and political empires.
Early Church
The early church stayed true to the message of love thy neighbor, love thy enemies, and turn the other cheek. His sermon on the mount expressed the peace economics truth, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the earth.” Personal growth and societal growth involve not wasting key resources on war and destruction. A Unitarian friend of mine calls Christianity “a nice little Jewish reform movement taken over by the marketing department.” Saint Paul is that marketing department. The violence of Saul of Tarsus and the misogyny of many in the military never quite leaves this messenger renamed Paul. Many of the early church catacomb cells, some say half, were run by women, some early bishops were women, and possibly one pope. Then after about three hundred years, Constantine, the Roman Emperor, adopts and co-opts the new religion. Saint Augustine develops the first rationale for Just War at this time.
Middle Church
Then after eight hundred years, priests were required to remain celibate, further removing the male hierarchy from womankind solidifying the patriarchy, a gender form of empire. Then the church becomes the first Protestant Church by setting Rome above the other four seats of the church as the early orthodox church was run by the five leaders of Rome, Antioch, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Alexandria by consensus, a non-violent form of hierarchy. From Wikipedia: “In 1095 Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade with the stated goal of restoring Christian access to holy places in and near Jerusalem.” Clearly the war system had been completely adopted by the religion started by the Prince of Peace by this time. After the Crusades, Thomas Aquinas offers his concept of Just War.
Evolution of the Church
Clearly over time the church made its peace with the Roman Empire and began to rationalize the religion of Jesus in favor of the religion of Saint Paul and justifications for war. The church even launched wars in the period of the Crusades from 1095 to 1291. At the same time the church over time purged women from the leadership in favor of the current patriarchy. The “Chalice and the Blade” argues that war itself largely arose with a transition from matriarchy to patriarchy about 5000 years ago. I myself think the transition from hunter gatherer to agricultural society makes the defense of land something worth fighting for, hence wars. Is the new Pope Francis ready to challenge some of these ancient precepts and more closely align with the “Teachings of Jesus”? That question remains outstanding. Another problematic concern is the conflict between what scripture says about the rich and the need for fundraising to run a modern church. Have the middle class and rich compromised the church away from the gospel devotion to the poor? Many of the attitudes and prejudices of the church going faithful of today are seemingly at odds with the teachings of Jesus. For more on the teachings of Jesus found in the gospels, try the link below:

Four page sermon on “Jesus and Empire”:

Real Economy and/or Peace Economics free pdf on request by members of the press
Dr. Peace, Dr. Bob Reuschlein, Real Economy Institute
best contact to ask Bob to speak to your group:
to leave message: 608-230-6640
for more info:
Real Economy and/or Peace Economics free pdf on request by members of the press


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