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Failing and Flourishing (III): The City of God

One of the advantages of being a historian in times of crisis is that you know we’ve been here - or in places equally tough - before. One story along these lines bears mentioning.

In the fourth century, the Emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity, and the Church rejoiced. However we view this now, remember that after centuries of persecution, this wasn’t such a bad idea. But as we know, there were strings, institutional and theological. One of the theological consequences was the temptation to an early form of prosperity theology. Constantine’s accession was hailed as divine provision, not just for the Church but for Rome which would surely be blessed - Romam iterum magnam fac! Make Rome Great Again. It was the end of history.

Just a few decades later, in the year 410, Rome was sacked by the Goths. The bright Constantinian day had experienced a devastating form of climate change. Divine favor seemed to have been withdrawn from Rome, despite its newly Christian character; and…

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