Hoc Signo Vinces
(In This Sign, Conquer),
An Historic Tale
Copyright © 2005 Jordan White
Many years ago, there lived an influential, powerful man. This man was the head of a large Empire.
This man had some savvy ideas to get for himself, and for his Empire, more and more power. What he really wanted to do was rule the world.
He decided to proclaim to everyone that he had become a follower of Jesus Christ, a “Christian”. I believe the way he put it was, “Jesus Christ has changed my heart”.
Now, whether or not he really accepted Christ and made Him the Lord of his heart is between the Emperor and God. But, just as an observation, I would say that if this was a change of heart for the better, what was this monster like before?
For the post-conversion Emperor was truly a megalomaniac. He used his so-called “conversion” to make Christianity the fashionable, desirable thing to be.
Once, it had been shameful to declare oneself as a follower of Christ. People had ridiculed and even downright persecuted individuals for declaring themselves to be Christian.
But under this Emperor, there were definite advantages to belonging to his camp. There were material advantages. There was security from suspicion, an unspoken assurance that the “fellow Christian” would be immune from the tactics of repression that were more and more frequently being used against those who did not align themselves with the Emperor’s stance.
The military became a particular tool for the Emperor and the furtherance of his Christian-based Empire. The Emperor was a veritable hero to the fighting troops, who looked up to him as a fine example of the conquering hero, the conquering, Christian hero.
There were social and political rewards for being Christian, also. So, sensing these advantages, thousands of heathens flocked to churches, especially evangelical Christian churches. The fact that these heathen were merely “Christians-of-convenience” meant that the churches lost their true reasons to exist and became social clubs for these opportunists. There was corruption. There were alliances with people and nations and groups when outright condemnation was in order. The church took on more and more the appearance of a body in decline, in its final state of utter apostasy.
Before the Emperor held it in his sway, the church had been relatively peaceful. Now it was eager for war, and, as it was so closely identified in its own mind with the Empire, it actually considered war to be a means of extending itself.
At this point, the emblem of the Empire was no longer what it was, an eagle, but became the cross.
Now the distinction between church and state, always a thorny issue, became totally blurred. Of course, the laws of the Empire said one thing, but the neo-Christians had issues with all sorts of laws, so this was not really a problem. After all, as they were fond of pointing out, wasn’t God’s law more important than the laws of the Empire?
It was a sad state of affairs. The church was in decline, its claims of spiritual guidance, solace, and hope for eternal life all but gravel in the mouths of those it was supposed to reach with its message of the Gospel. Missionaries were being recalled, as their identification with the Empire put their lives in peril. In any case, not many “Christians” were that interested in supporting them. They were mostly interested in furthering their own financial advantages.
It was all over in a few years, anyway.
The vandals were at the gate.