Monday, June 12, 2023

Bullies and Saints Part 4: What the Western Church Did Well in the Middle Ages

I really enjoyed John Dickson's Bullies And Saints: An Honest Look At The Good And Evil Of Christian History. There is much to learn from the record of bullies and saints in church history lest we repeat their failures or fail to replicate their successes. 

I am doing a series of posts where I cut and paste from his book. Where I fill in words, you will see [brackets]. I use ellipses for all the places where I know there is a gap, but (because of how Kindle highlighting works) I am sure there are many places where I fail to note what's written between two sentences I put next to each other. If what I post feels disconnected or clunky as you read it, that's my editing, not his writing :) 

The first installment was the most positive. The church's reputation prior to Constantine was pretty solid. But following Constantine's influence, leaders like Ambrose and then Augustine changed the tune the church had been singing. The changes may not strike you as jarring yet, but they are laying a foundation infused with a love of money and power on which others will build terrible things. The second installment covered the time from Julian to Augustine's City of God, a time with remarkably different - sometimes jarringly different - visions for how Christians should live in society. This leads us to part three.Much of the old work of the church was still going on. And there were plenty of genuine prophets popping up and accusing the church of being a pack of hypocrites. The third installment ended this way: "If, by the 500s, being Christian was indistinguishable from being Roman, by the 1000s being Christian was indistinguishable from being Frankish or Saxon. Europe and the church found themselves converted to each other’s ways."