The History of Christianity #94
Our History of Christianity Scripture verse today is Matthew 19:24 which reads: “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Our History of Christianity quote today is from Bill Johnson. He said: “Much of today’s church relies more on a book the early church didn’t have, than the Spirit they did.”
Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Official Theology: Eusebius of Caesarea” (Part 4) from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).
Three examples should suffice to illustrate the manner in which theology was being accommodated to fit the new situation. First of all, it is clear that, in the New Testament as well as in the early church, it was affirmed that the gospel was first of all good news to the poor, and that the rich had particular difficulty in hearing it and receiving it. Actually, one of the theological issues that caused some concern for earlier Christians was how it was possible for a rich person to be saved. But now, beginning with Constantine, riches and pomp came to be seen as signs of divine favor. The next chapter will show that the monastic movement was in part a protest against this accommodating understanding of the Christian life. But Eusebius – and the thousands of others for whom he probably spoke – does not seem to have been aware of the radical change that was taking place as the persecuted church became the church of the powerful, nor of the dangers involved in that change.
Likewise, Eusebius described with great joy and pride the ornate churches that were being built. But the net result of those buildings, and of the liturgy that evolved to fit them, was the development of a clerical aristocracy, similar to the imperial aristocracy, and often as far from the common people as were the great officers of the empire. The church imitated the uses of the empire, not only in its liturgy, but also in its social structure.