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The Unholy Alliance of Church and State
Empire began to disintegrate, a
significant change took place.
The pagan faiths of the Empire
were being thrown into basic
disarray and something was
needed to fill the resulting spiri–
tual vacuum. Fortunately for
Rome, a Hellenized, paganized
religion known as Christianity
was just coming into its own.
The need for assimilation was
imperative. According to
Toynbee: "A godless Empire
would be as savourless and
sapless as an Athens without
her Athena. The secession of
the Gods must be retrieved; the
divine powers must be enticed
back again into the shrines
which they had so alarmingly
deserted; and since, meanwhile
they had insisted upon assum–
ing a Christian guise, the only
recourse for the Empire now, in
face of the accomplished fact of
this metamorphosis, was to re–
verse its outward policy [non–
recognition of the church]
... the broken unity must be re–
stored in another way by the
bold diplomatic counterstroke
of taking the Christian Church
bodily to the Empire's bosom"
(A Study of History,
vol. IV,
A counterfeited Christianity
had no trouble accomplishing
this type of imperial transfor–
mation. The Pantheon at Rome
became a Christian church, ba-
silicas were redone as Christian
houses of worship, and the Im–
perial title of Pontifex Maximus
was later assumed by the head
of the Church in Rome.
As one leading historian ap–
tly stated: "The chief functions
of the Church were now to pro–
mote the security and prosper–
ity of the secular state by
assuring it of divine favor and
protection, and to guide its
members to heaven in the after–
life. The carpenter of Galilee
had replaced Romulus and
Mars as the guardian of the
Empire, and the revolutionary
implications of his teaching had
been rendered innocuous"
(Henry Bamford Parkes,
Divine Order,
p. 46).
Tightening the Screws of
Church Power
As the Empire in the West
grew weaker, the church began
to pick up political momentum.
Its internal hierarchical struc–
ture came to be closely pat–
terned after that of the
decaying Roman Empire. Ca–
non law was often derived from
imperial jurisprudence.
According to Mumford: ··It
[the church] tended to take
over the tyrannical powers of
the empire itself." Under the ec–
clesiastical urn brella of the
church, society took on a very
structured, stratified configura-