Saturday, February 26, 2011

In Hoc Signo Vinces

I saw this ad on the sidebar of my Facebook page today:

It made me think of the video I posted a few days ago, where one Christian pastor was explaining his reasoning in welcoming his Muslim neighbors to use their church building; whereas another Christian was completely opposed to this gesture.

In the one view, Christianity is in competition with anyone not in our religion. The goal is to dominate. It follows the vision of Constantine - in hoc signo vinces "In this sign conquer!" Under this view, the notion of "loving your enemies" is either ignored as an impossible idealism, or its meaning is transformed into a justification for aggression - the most loving thing I can do for my enemy is conquer them. In the end, this view does not believe that "Love Never Fails", but rather God will need to gain victory the same way man always has - destroy your enemies.

The pastor who welcomed his Muslim neighbors, on the contrary, believes in the path of love. He believes that victory does not come through shedding the blood of your enemies, but through shedding your own - sacrificing one's self, rather than sacrificing the "other". He recognizes that the way of the Divine will often run counter to our more protective instincts. Rather than defending against the "other", he chose to welcome a neighbor.

I think Christianity did a significant paradigm shift under Constantine. In many ways, we are still trying to use Christ to conquer.

1 comment:

Sammy said...

Personally, I believe Constantine was one of the worst things to happen to Christianity. Constantine changed Christianity from a religion focused on love and spiritual transformation to one focused on converting the pagan masses, by force if necessary, in order increase the political power of the Church and, therefore, the Roman Emperor.

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