"The so-called Christian virtues of humility, love, charity, personal freedom, the strong prohibitions against violence, murder, stealing, lying, cruelty — all these are washed away by war…"
~ John T. Flynn (1882—1964) American Journalist and Author
Far too often the state is viewed through the eyes of Augustine of Hippo, who defined the state as nothing more than “a multitude of rational creatures associated in common agreement as to the things which it loves” (De Civitate Dei 19. 24). As such the state’s existence is neither moral nor immoral; thus the very concept of governance, by a select few, is cradled in the benign idea that the state is just "worldly."
However, if the state is “worldly” then it is relegated to the temporal and systematically divorced from religion in subject matter, form, or use; a mistake of diabolical proportions.
To the ancient world the state was a logical extension of their religion which was rooted in the idea that there was an evil entity that had taken over man and creation and as such was the enemy of man, while being the cause of all of man’s misery.
To Christians this is no mystery and has its roots in the book of Genesis and the evil genius of Lucifer.
The ancient’s solution to the problem was to make this evil power their gods and goddesses, but to do so meant there had to be a means of intercession between the gods and themselves. This was accomplished by the respective priesthoods delivering the adherents to a priestly King who stood as the mediator between the gods and man. Thus the birth of the state!
It then became the duty of the High priest/King, through sacrifice and ritual, to appease the gods, and in so doing preserve the king’s reign, keep the people from harm, keep foreign enemies at bay and assure good crops and harvests. All of which were the responsibility of the gods when properly worshipped. Have you ever questioned why so many "politicians" frequently use the declaration: "God Bless America?"
You see, every evil that befell the state was attributed to the "gods" not having been honored in the proper way, or being neglected by the head of state. When the Medes/Persians conquered Babylon in 570 BCE, the Persian King, Cyrus, proclaimed:
"… I am Cyrus. King of the world. When I entered Babylon… I did not allow anyone to terrorize the land… I kept in view the needs of people and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being… I put an end to their misfortune. The Great God has delivered all the lands into my hand; the lands that I have made to dwell in a peaceful habitation…"
So universal was this thinking that as nation/state conquered nation/state, the ruling class would change but rarely would there be any change in the people’s religion. As a matter of fact the acceptance of other’s religions was universally acknowledged. All that was required of the conquered priesthood was to assure the people’s acquiescence to the demands of the new priest-king.
The best evidence of this is in Cyrus’ conquests which eventually brought the Cilicians, the Syrians, the Paphlagonians, the Cappadocians, the Phygians, the Lydians, the Carians, the Phenicians, the Arabians, the Assyrians, the Bactrians, the Sacae, and the Maryandines under Persian rule.
As with the Persians and Greeks, Roman conquests resulted in plunder and were not prosecuted from any religious fervor. The Romans, like all the empires before them, were not interested in persecuting other religions before the 2nd century AD, or proselytizing the worship of Jupiter.
The reason for this universal tolerance of other’s religion was simple. The names of the gods changed but their rituals, symbols, and attributes remained relatively constant as well as being familiar.
However, by the end of the 2nd century AD all this was to change.
After Marcus Aurelius’s death (A.D. 180) Rome was to be ruled by progressively weak Emperors as illustrated by the stupefying cruelty, bloodlust, vanity and megalomania of Commodus.
To add to Rome’s problems the small farms, that had once been the backbone of Rome, were being taken over by large, wealthy estates, sending former owners, workers and slaves scurrying to the cities in hopes of finding work. Agricultural production was further eroded when the irrigation systems were left in disrepair due to the lack of workers. Soil erosion, the by-product of poor farming techniques, over-use and deforestation further exasperated Rome’s food woes.
The lack of harvest, in turn, brought mobs into the streets demanding bread and entertainment to relieve their hunger and dull their minds against the spiraling economic problems the empire faced.
In an effort to keep the empire together the state tried to appease the anger of the mobs with more public welfare and gladiatorial games, all from an exhausted treasury.
With deepening recession, scarcity of food staples and lack of work the population of the empire began to flee Italy. The state reaction was predictable. In 212 AD Caracalla, in his edict Constitutio Antoniniana, extended Roman citizenship to anyone in the empire, with the exception of slaves, thus increasing his tax base.
Not only did the edict Constitutio Antoniniana increase the tax base, it provided an extended base from which military enlistees could be drawn. The expansion of the military was needed because Persia was moving against the empire through ancient Syria. Adding to the emergency, Rome’s northern borders on the Rhine-Danube frontier saw the barbarians still in rebellion.
It was only natural that the Roman people would begin to ask: Why is this happening? Are the ancient gods of Rome angry? Of course the Roman priesthood and elite leadership would answer: Yes, the gods are angry. The problem was who or what had made the gods angry?
The preceding two centuries had seen the rise of a group of people who the Romans called Christians. These people and their religious beliefs had once been deemed a superstition by Pliny the Younger, during the reign of Trajan (98u2014117 AD), but now they had come out from the shadow of Judaism and were seen as a real threat to the Roman Empire.
What the Romans found most distasteful were the Christian beliefs that:
- They were citizens of Jesus’ Kingdom first and Roman citizens second.
- They were not to personally seek public office but if it was thrust upon them to serve willingly and honestly.
- The decaying Roman Empire, like all governments, was the product of the evil one.
- The state religion was as evil as the Empire.
- The Emperor was not worthy of being called "god," "lord," "savior," or "king" or to be worshipped in any manner.
- That military service would put them in opposition to Jesus’ teaching by killing another human (called state murder) and so was to be refused; even under the penalty of death.
- They didn’t owe Caesar anything including taxes (when they could avoid paying them).
- The state was not to be the source of their daily bread.
- They were to deal honestly with all men at all times but especially in their businesses.
- They were to tell the truth even if meant it cost them their lives.
To these the Romans added:
- The Christian religion was an illegal religion because it undermined the Roman society and the religious mores of all societies in which Christianity was practiced.
- Since Christianity didn’t recognize the pagan gods, including the emperor, as god therefore Christians were atheists.
- Christians were immoral because they meet in secret and were said to practice child cannibalism, incest and obscene sexual rites.
- Christians were “the enemy of mankind” because they taught against and didn’t hold to Rome’s nor the ancient world’s religious standards.
- The Christians held that killing was wrong and therefore they wouldn’t serve in Rome’s military, thus they were unpatriotic, and traitors to the state.
What the Romans hated and feared most was:
The results of adhering to the teaching of Jesus was that by the time Decius became Emperor in 249 AD the Christian community was one the wealthiest groups in the whole of the Roman Empire. In fact it was the dominating force in Roman society.
William Marina explains how this occurred.
"…Christianity came to dominate, before its own unfortunate co-optation by the State, because it developed a superior ethic based upon natural law and a superior voluntary social organization which, in true interstices fashion, simply bypassed the inefficient State. The viability of that institutional structure was a reflection of the legitimacy with which its value system came to be regarded…"
"…Christian intersticism dealt with the affairs of this world. In a period of inflation it invested capital in people. In plagues and rioting it was the only group capable of providing burial for the dead and organizing food supplies for the living. Christian philanthropy was supporting 1500 poor and widows in Rome by the year 250(AD) and large sums were contributed to ransom captives from the barbarians. Several generations earlier the State had already confessed its inability to cope with such problems. u2018Plainly, to be a Christian in 250(AD) brought more protection from one’s fellows than to be a civis romanus.’"
The Christian community was not lost on Emperor Decius who was certain that the Empire’s problems were due to the anger of her gods and that their anger was owing to the Christian influences upon Roman society. Thus began one of the greatest persecutions of Christianity in Roman history.
Decius desperately wanted to unite the Empire again under one religion so in 250 AD he ordered that ALL Roman citizens were to worship the old state gods. Failure to do so would result in the penalty of death. At the point of the sword the Roman military began to force everyone into Roman temples to worship ancient gods. In return for bowing to Baal the adherents were given a certificate called a libellus which proved their loyalty to Rome, Rome’s gods, and the Emperor.
Decius’ persecution only lasted a short two years until his death at the hands of the Goths in the providence of Moesia.
Decius’ successors were first Gallus then Valerian both of whom it may be said made a half-hearted attempt to continue Decius’ policies. However, by 257 AD Rome’s financial problems had the Empire staggering like a drunken sailor. It was during this time that Rome did what Rome had always done best and that was to plunder and steal. Thus, Christian wealth and property became the means to make Rome financially healthy and it evidentially worked.
However, what the Christians had lost to Roman thievery in 257 had been regained by the time Diocletian took the specter of power in 284 AD.
The Christians already had a reputation as subversive because they refused to participate in state sacrifices and prayers. After problems at imperial ceremonies, Diocletian purged Christians from civil service and the military in 298. He went after churches and clergy in 303, and decreed in 304 that all Christians were to offer sacrifice to the emperor and the Roman gods on pain of death. This last great persecution of the church by the Roman was spurred on by Diocletian’s heir, Galienus.
The Christians had recovered from the hardships imposed on them by Diocletian when Constantine took the imperial throne in 307 AD. But Constantine was no fool; he knew that he needed the Christian community and its wealth for Rome and his reign to survive. So for the first time in Church history the state legitimatized Christianity and Christianity voluntarily saved the state: all in direct opposition to Christianity’s founding teachings and beliefs.
In the grand tradition of the pagan priesthoods, the Christian hierarchy had delivered it’s adherents into the hands of the state and the results were immediate.
The persecution of the Christians by Diocletian had produced a split in the Christian ranks. The Donatists of Africa were furious with the Christians of Rome who agreed with the pope that the Church should forgive those who had bowed to Diocletian as a god and who had sacrificed to the ancient Roman gods.
These African Christians elected Donatus, who had endured nine rackings during the persecutions, as a rogue bishop of Carthage. Widespread riots broke out when Constantine summoned two councils in 313 and 314 and backed their decisions against the Donatists. Constantine ordered the Donatists suppressed in 314, but gave up the persecution in 321 in frustration. Nothing was going to stop what occurred; Christians were now killing Christians over matters of doctrine.
The final blow came to the original Christian ideals in 380 AD when co-emperors Theodosius of the Eastern Empire and Gratianus of the West issued a joint edict making Christianity the official mandatory state religion.
The metamorphous of Christianity from a religion of peace into a mob of bloodletting goons was complete while in the tradition of their pagan ancestors the state and its perpetual need for war was not endangered again.
If you look closely you will see that the ideas Congressman Paul talks about in many ways closely mirror those adhered to by those Christians of the 1st through 3rd centuries. Is it any wonder then that statists hate Congressman Ron Paul or those of us who support him?
Maybe it’s time we start judging the justness of our ideals not by how many accept them but by how much the state, and its accompanying priesthood hates us. The time to rejoice is when the elite and their mouthpieces in the press slander us.
The lesson of history is clear. If you want to stop war then starve the state, the military and their accompanying religious priesthoods.
"The devil is the author of all war," wrote Justin Martyr (approx. 138 AD) and if we don’t come to our senses quickly we are going to have hell to pay.
Tim Case [send him mail] is a 30-year student of the ancient histories who agrees with the first-century stoic Epictetus on this one point: u201COnly the educated are free.u201D