Well, not quite.  But pretty close.

Andrew Walker has a review of Leithart’s phenomenal treatment of Constantine’s life in the latest edition of The City, a journal to which you all should subscribe.  Not only is it free, it’s awesome.  And free and awesome rarely meet these days.

The latest edition looks to be something of a home run.  And Andrew’s review definitely is.  Tolle lege, as those who welcomed Constantine’s ending of the sacrifices might have said.

Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

  • Defending Constantine is getting a lot of (deserved) attention: Stanley Hauerwas in Christian Century, Trevin Wax in Christianity Today, Robert Louis Wilken in First Things, and now Andrew in The City. I haven’t read this book. Nevertheless, I’d like to ask Andrew some questions.

    1. How much of Leithart’s criticism of Yoder is just Reformed polemics against the Anabaptist tribe?

    2. Do you think the biographical treatment (as opposed to the theological argument) in Defending Constantine will be regarded, down the road, as a helpful corrective or a pendulum swing in the opposite direction, “overly sympathetic, a portrayal challenged by the emperor’s hatred for the Jews and his murder of his wife and son” (Wax)?

    3. Is there enough historical evidence to determine how much of the early church was committed to non-violence (or pacifism)? Was it 50% 75%

    4. You write: “[Leithart] purports to uphold Constantine as a model of Christian political practice due to the sweeping legal reforms he enacted and the resulting benefits evident during and after his reign.” (A) Does Constantine’s model of political practice collapse the two kingdoms into one, so that the vocation of the church and state are nearly the same if not identical? Put differently, does this model involve a redemptive and eschatological grounding of culture, in which Christian participation redeems culture and advances it toward the new heaven and new earth? (B) Practically speaking, how would Constantine’s model of Christian practice look in 21st century America?

  • Matthew Lee Anderson

    1) Have you read it?
    2) Yes.
    3) Does a precise percentage matter?
    4) No I didn’t. Andrew did. You should ask him. : )

    matt

  • @Matt: My original comment says “I haven’t read this book. Nevertheless, I’d like to ask Andrew some questions.” To answer your question, a precise percentage doesn’t matter. I was just wondering if there’s enough historical evidence to determine how much of the early church was committed to non-violence. According to Wilkens’ review in First Things, the answer is no: “In truth, there was no united and consistent pacifism, however defined, in the early Church. And the deeper one probes into the matter, the more it becomes evident the question cannot be adjudicated on historical grounds alone.”

  • @Matt: My original comment says “I haven’t read this book. Nevertheless, I’d like to ask Andrew some questions.” To answer your question, a precise percentage doesn’t matter. I was just wondering if there’s enough historical evidence to determine how much of the early church was committed to non-violence. According to Wilken’s review in First Things, the answer is no: “In truth, there was no united and consistent pacifism, however defined, in the early Church. And the deeper one probes into the matter, the more it becomes evident the question cannot be adjudicated on historical grounds alone.”

    • Matthew Lee Anderson

      @Christopher,

      Oops. Nasty habit of skipping prefatory stuff and going straight to lists of questions. Apologies!

      And thanks for the clarification re: percentages. I agree with Wilkins’ conclusion–the record seems as mixed on the question as it is today.