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Author Topic: Schism & Evolution of Dogma: Political and Cultural Considerations...  (Read 2581 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 05, 2008, 08:00:11 PM »

Split from:  http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12957.0.html

-- Friul


I think, Νεκτάριος, that you're getting a bit too off-topic.

Au contraire, I'm the only one on topic.  To exclude political and cultural considerations from any discussion about ecclesiastical schisms is absurd.  They are certainly far more relevant than the writings of someone from long before the modern Papacy ever existed.   
« Last Edit: January 07, 2008, 01:22:42 AM by Friul » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2008, 09:57:03 PM »

Au contraire, I'm the only one on topic.  

Well ... maybe so. In any case, could you please explain further your statement "Funny how the borders of heresy and orthodoxy happened to coincide so neatly with the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire." (More precisely, how does that statement relate to papal primacy.) That struck me as a little ... odd.

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Peter.
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2008, 12:30:48 AM »

Well ... maybe so. In any case, could you please explain further your statement "Funny how the borders of heresy and orthodoxy happened to coincide so neatly with the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire." (More precisely, how does that statement relate to papal primacy.) That struck me as a little ... odd.

It relates to Papal primacy in that the importance of St. Leo's Tome in theological disputes of the East is emphasized too heavily in these debates.  In fact, theology in general is too heavily emphasized.  In the case of Chalcedon, the "theological" split went along political lines.  And once the dust settled with the early theological disputes of Christendom, the established theological groups (Latin, Greek and non-Chalcedonian) were divided along their political frontiers.  And the only major changes in affiliation occurred when the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Hapsburgs encroached on formerly Orthodox lands.  To look at all of these theological disputes in a vacuum, like is often done in settings such as these, is unrealistic. 

More directly related to the Papacy, the power vacuum created by the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West had a tremendous influence on the consolidation of power in the Papal Cathedra.  Whereas the relative strong state that existed in the East certainly influenced the development of Orthodox ecclesiology in the opposite direction.  Any discussion that ignores this is doomed to going in circles and anachronisms. 
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2008, 01:16:38 AM »

It relates to Papal primacy in that the importance of St. Leo's Tome in theological disputes of the East is emphasized too heavily in these debates.  In fact, theology in general is too heavily emphasized.  In the case of Chalcedon, the "theological" split went along political lines.  And once the dust settled with the early theological disputes of Christendom, the established theological groups (Latin, Greek and non-Chalcedonian) were divided along their political frontiers.  And the only major changes in affiliation occurred when the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Hapsburgs encroached on formerly Orthodox lands.  To look at all of these theological disputes in a vacuum, like is often done in settings such as these, is unrealistic. 

More directly related to the Papacy, the power vacuum created by the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West had a tremendous influence on the consolidation of power in the Papal Cathedra.  Whereas the relative strong state that existed in the East certainly influenced the development of Orthodox ecclesiology in the opposite direction.  Any discussion that ignores this is doomed to going in circles and anachronisms. 
Could you flesh this out a little more? How do you apply the insights gained from these questions to our situation today?

Yours in Christ
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2008, 04:51:07 AM »

Could you flesh this out a little more? How do you apply the insights gained from these questions to our situation today?

I think that the application of this approach is the realization that a united Church need not have a great deal of conformity in practices, rituals or even theological methodology.  The Orthodox have to leave room for Rome to gracefully disavow her excesses but not the majority of her post-schism heritage.  Yet when you talk to many Orthodox people they are foaming at the mouth with very real anger over political events that happened 800 years ago.  To sum up my feelings on this, I'll quote from Cry the Beloved Country, "I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find that we are turned to hating."  I think the best antidote for this is a comprehensive study of history and not seeing theological developments on either side in a vacuum.  And this is entirely on a personal level.  The onus is on those of us who have close personal dealings with those on both sides of the schism to start acting like we live in a post-schism church - even if present realities don't allow this to be fully so. 
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2008, 06:14:37 AM »

I think that the application of this approach is the realization that a united Church need not have a great deal of conformity in practices, rituals or even theological methodology.  The Orthodox have to leave room for Rome to gracefully disavow her excesses but not the majority of her post-schism heritage.  Yet when you talk to many Orthodox people they are foaming at the mouth with very real anger over political events that happened 800 years ago.  To sum up my feelings on this, I'll quote from Cry the Beloved Country, "I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find that we are turned to hating."  I think the best antidote for this is a comprehensive study of history and not seeing theological developments on either side in a vacuum.  And this is entirely on a personal level.  The onus is on those of us who have close personal dealings with those on both sides of the schism to start acting like we live in a post-schism church - even if present realities don't allow this to be fully so. 

The political divisions which caused schism are very real issues and cannot be dismissed, but they must be confronted. I think that this is the problem with most ecumenical dialogues, we talk about theology ad nauseum and we reach many agreements but don't actually get anywhere. This is because, ultimately, no one really cares about the filioque or whether some light caused by the random misfiring of neurons in ones brain is created or not, the people discussing these things in dialogue are thinking subconsciously, 'this whole discussion is absurd, let's just get it overwith,' so agreements are reached. However, everyone is afraid to address the real issues, the political and cultural divides that truly led to the schism. The sack of Constantinople, however, quite probably lead to the decline and fall of the Empire which relegated the Orthodox states to second-class powers and hence the Orthodox Church to a second-class church in the grand scheme of things; this is something worth being concerned and upset about, it's something that is present and a real issue in everyone's mind, though only a few are willing to admit (or even consciously realize) as much.

I don't think the realization that our divide is political is enough to heal the schisms. But until we realize that these political issues are the real issues we can't even take the necessary steps to heal the true wounds that are at the basis of our division.
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2008, 02:15:11 PM »

The political divisions which caused schism are very real issues and cannot be dismissed, but they must be confronted.

We are hundreds of years past any relevant political events.  The fact that so many Orthodox cling to them as if they actually mattered today shows how seriously they take the very core ideas of Christianity such as love and forgiveness. 

Quote
The sack of Constantinople, however, quite probably lead to the decline and fall of the Empire which relegated the Orthodox states to second-class powers and hence the Orthodox Church to a second-class church in the grand scheme of things; this is something worth being concerned and upset about, it's something that is present and a real issue in everyone's mind, though only a few are willing to admit (or even consciously realize) as much.

The political decline of the Empire was a long time in the making and the sack of Constantinople hastened the inevitable. 

Actually no.  Chalcedon had plenty of supporters throughout the empire, and so did its detractors.

One of the grievances of the opponents of Chalcedon was the failure to condemn the Three Chapters, which the Fifth Council solved.  The West was particularly tardy on this.

That's nice and cute in your little theological dream world, but it doesn't address the fact that when all was said and done in the East, support or opposition to Chalcedon fell largely along ethnic and political lines. 
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2008, 03:52:14 PM »

We are hundreds of years past any relevant political events.  The fact that so many Orthodox cling to them as if they actually mattered today shows how seriously they take the very core ideas of Christianity such as love and forgiveness. 

Me thinks you've been reading to many propaganda pamphlets (like the Gospel perhaps). Wink

Christianity, beyond the limited success it enjoyed in the first few hundred years as a popular cult in the context of the growing practical atheism of the ancient world (an unsustainable atheism due to the lack of scientific progress at the time), has been spread by the power of the state often by the sword. Without the political and military backing the religion gained starting with St. Constantine (there's good reason we call him 'equal-to-the-apostles') Christianity would have remained a minor cult significant in the eastern mediterranean but of little consequence elsewhere in the world. Like it or not, from an objective historical perspective, the core values of mainstream Christianity are political power and military expansion. I think these people you mock are better Christians than you give them credit for, you can't expect much more than their history plays out.

Quote
The political decline of the Empire was a long time in the making and the sack of Constantinople hastened the inevitable.

Yes, the decline was long in the making; however, the only real threat to the Empire was the Turks, had the Empire been able to maintain her political and military integrity long enough she could have potentially overcome that threat and at least maintained control of Asia Minor and Greece. Once the Turks took the city, they soon became a bloated and second-rate Empire, especially when their attempt to take Vienna failed merely a century later; they sat there basically castrated from a military perspective, but also effectively unchallenged. Had that final defeat been at the gates of Constantinople rather than at the gates of Vienna it's likely that the empire could have continued as at least a second-rate Empire into the modern world (depending, in large part, on their actions and alliances in WWI). And looking at it in this day and age, wouldn't we all be better off (and the Orthodox moreso than most) if the furthest expansion of Islam had been the eastern frontiers of Anatolia rather than into Europe itself?

Quote
That's nice and cute in your little theological dream world, but it doesn't address the fact that when all was said and done in the East, support or opposition to Chalcedon fell largely along ethnic and political lines. 

Heresy! How dare you state the obvious.  Tongue Grin
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2008, 03:58:50 PM »

Funny how the borders of heresy and orthodoxy happened to coincide so neatly with the borders of the Eastern Roman Empire. 
It does tend to make one (such as myself) a bit cynical when it comes to theological debates between the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church.  An outside observer might be tempted to remark that the Catholic and Orthodox positions on all these issues (such as for or against the papacy, to refer to the OP) are the result of political development and not the result of some God-given infallibility.
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2008, 05:19:43 PM »

It does tend to make one (such as myself) a bit cynical when it comes to theological debates between the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church.  An outside observer might be tempted to remark that the Catholic and Orthodox positions on all these issues (such as for or against the papacy, to refer to the OP) are the result of political development and not the result of some God-given infallibility.

The sorts of debates you'll see on message boards will usually be conducted at a low level of scholarship because few scholars participate in these kinds of debate. For non-scholars the politics and partisanship between one church and another tends to dominate more than it should.

Phil
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2008, 05:31:35 PM »

The sorts of debates you'll see on message boards will usually be conducted at a low level of scholarship because few scholars participate in these kinds of debate. For non-scholars the politics and partisanship between one church and another tends to dominate more than it should.

Phil

I strongly disagree with this assessment; in fact, it seems that the faliure to realize the political realities and idealize theological arguments is a greater problem amongst the uneducated than against those well versed in these events; for one thing non-scholars generally don't even have a grasp of the historical context surrounding these various events, they are far more likely to be able to play around with certain catch-phrases like 'homousios' or 'monophysite', though they generally don't fully understand the arguments, but that's a big part of it, neither did the pesants of the fifth century or of the eleventh century, their reactions were entirely political they simply didn't have the education to have an honest philosophical objection. The divide is generally between theologians on one hand, who want to secure their field by giving it some pretense of historical significance, and historians, sociologists, psychologists, etc. on the other.
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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2008, 05:35:18 PM »

Me thinks you've been reading to many propaganda pamphlets (like the Gospel perhaps). Wink

Even beyond religious propaganda, there is a very practical reality to moving on and not living in the past.  And relations between West and East are certainly more multifaceted than the sack of the City.  Without Western support the Greek revolution would have been easily crushed.  And for that matter, when territories removed from the yoke of the Porte they found little actual respite under the Tsarist yoke.  And again from a practical matter, stronger relations with Western Christendom will do more to protect Orthodox populations that are still in imminent danger because of Turkish and Azerbayjani aggression than any amount of crying over 800 year-old spilt milk.  Religious propaganda aside, I truly believe that there are some very great benefits to the Christian concept of forgiveness.   

Quote
Yes, the decline was long in the making; however, the only real threat to the Empire was the Turks, had the Empire been able to maintain her political and military integrity long enough she could have potentially overcome that threat and at least maintained control of Asia Minor and Greece. Once the Turks took the city, they soon became a bloated and second-rate Empire, especially when their attempt to take Vienna failed merely a century later; they sat there basically castrated from a military perspective, but also effectively unchallenged.  Had that final defeat been at the gates of Constantinople rather than at the gates of Vienna it's likely that the empire could have continued as at least a second-rate Empire into the modern world (depending, in large part, on their actions and alliances in WWI). And looking at it in this day and age, wouldn't we all be better off (and the Orthodox moreso than most) if the furthest expansion of Islam had been the eastern frontiers of Anatolia rather than into Europe itself?

I think that is ignoring several important factors.  The idea of a last stand at Constantinople is dubious at best, as the Ottomans had already secured a great deal of their European territory and effectively controlled  Asia Minor before they marched on Constantinople.  The Byzantines were an antiquated, stagnant and ossified force against a highly mobile and nomadic force.  Even without the sack of the City, I find it hard to believe that the crumbling Empire could have mustered the appropriate response to such a threat. You are also ignoring the damage that Bulgarian and Serbian empires did to the Empire's European territories.  Even if some castrated form of the Empire did survive, it wouldn't have taken the other European Empires long to lay claim to it - particularly as making the Black Sea a Russian lake was central to Tsarist strategic objectives. 

What is being done is simply scapegoating.  It would be like blaming 9/11 solely on Israel, rather than decades of failed US intelligence and foreign policy. 
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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2008, 06:10:51 PM »


That's nice and cute in your little theological dream world, but it doesn't address the fact that when all was said and done in the East, support or opposition to Chalcedon fell largely along ethnic and political lines. 

Care to put some facts on that bone?

Case in point: Nubia (then a Christian kingdom) wavered between Chalcedon (shown by links to the imperial Church) and its opponents (its links to the Copts).

Another point: in much of the issue, it wasn't that the position on Chalcedon fell on ethnic/political lines, but that the ethnic/political lines fell on the position on Chalcedon.  During the muslim conquests, many supporters of Chalcedon (of whatever ethnicity, and the facts show they were mixed) fled to the Roman empire, whereas opponents of Chalcedon stayed put.

Egypt had a substantial Greek population, but not a great number of backers of Chalcedon.  We know that the Greeks stayed, because for the first century of Islam (2 cent.s after Chalcedon) their presence is recorded.  Eventually they were absorbed into the Coptic masses, as was a large part of more modern Greek populations in Egypt.

And then there's the fact that in the imperial family (where there was no ethnic nor political lines) there was the division between Justinian and Theodora over it.

Me thinks you've been reading to many propaganda pamphlets (like the Gospel perhaps). Wink

Christianity, beyond the limited success it enjoyed in the first few hundred years as a popular cult in the context of the growing practical atheism of the ancient world (an unsustainable atheism due to the lack of scientific progress at the time), has been spread by the power of the state often by the sword. Without the political and military backing the religion gained starting with St. Constantine (there's good reason we call him 'equal-to-the-apostles') Christianity would have remained a minor cult significant in the eastern mediterranean but of little consequence elsewhere in the world. Like it or not, from an objective historical perspective, the core values of mainstream Christianity are political power and military expansion. I think these people you mock are better Christians than you give them credit for, you can't expect much more than their history plays out

Then Julian should have succeeded.

Some facts of history:

Constantine just made Christianity legal, and favored it himself personally, but not exclusively (New Rome was founded with Pagan rites, and he kept the title pontifex maximus).  Theodosius made it the state Creed.  But before Constantine, Armenia (outside the empire) had been converted, paving the way for the conversion of Georgia (even further out of the empire), and the (substantial) inroads into Iran.  Ethiopia was converted and had rebuffed New Rome's attempt to control its hierarchy.  Arian Christianity, obviously without imperial help, was a success among the Germanic tribes outside the empire.  Outside the empire, from Syria/Iraq and Ethiopia, India was Chrisitanized, as was Arabia.

You sell the philosphers short on their disposal of God. Alas, atheism is by its nature unsustainable.
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« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2008, 07:03:42 PM »

Care to put some facts on that bone?

Case in point: Nubia (then a Christian kingdom) wavered between Chalcedon (shown by links to the imperial Church) and its opponents (its links to the Copts).

Another point: in much of the issue, it wasn't that the position on Chalcedon fell on ethnic/political lines, but that the ethnic/political lines fell on the position on Chalcedon.  During the muslim conquests, many supporters of Chalcedon (of whatever ethnicity, and the facts show they were mixed) fled to the Roman empire, whereas opponents of Chalcedon stayed put.

Egypt had a substantial Greek population, but not a great number of backers of Chalcedon.  We know that the Greeks stayed, because for the first century of Islam (2 cent.s after Chalcedon) their presence is recorded.  Eventually they were absorbed into the Coptic masses, as was a large part of more modern Greek populations in Egypt.

And then there's the fact that in the imperial family (where there was no ethnic nor political lines) there was the division between Justinian and Theodora over it.

I'm not claiming that there was no debate at all over theological matters, but that the ultimate triumph of what is deemed to be orthodoxy over heterodoxy fell along political lines. 
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2008, 09:12:09 PM »

I'm not claiming that there was no debate at all over theological matters, but that the ultimate triumph of what is deemed to be orthodoxy over heterodoxy fell along political lines. 

You're oversimplifying again, looking where the dust settled, not how.

As a parrallel, look at South Italy.  One of the causes of the Schism of 1054 was the forced Latinization of the Eastern parishes there, which had been part of the Roman Empire (run, btw, by an Armenian dynasty in New Rome).  The area had been Greek from before, but had been heavily Latinized (speaking a Romance language).  Over the centuries many who would not accept Rome (whether speaking Greek or a Romance dialect) ended up in the East.  Those who accepted Rome stayed. The situation obtained at least until the 14th cent., when Barlaam of Calabria florished.  Thereafter at some point the area ceased to be Greek in any sense of the word (pockets remained).  The Latin mass was adopted and Greek gave way to Italian dialects.


The opposite obtained in the Danube Basin, where the Romanians kept their Romance language but sided with New Rome against the pope of Old Rome, although they were outside the empire in anycase (they were part of the Bulgarian empire, but then Bulgaria had wavered, and had fallen by the time of the schism).  Even the takeover by Rome's proxies, Hungary and Austria, didn't change that: most of the Latins and Protestants were imported Hungarians and Germans.

Another, totally unrelated, oddity of history.  The pope of Rome was the one who gave the king of England the title "King of Ireland," and sent him on a Crusade to subdue it (Celtic Church).  How many Irish in the Republic take cognissaince of that fact?
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« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2008, 09:14:16 PM »

I strongly disagree with this assessment; in fact, it seems that the faliure to realize the political realities and idealize theological arguments is a greater problem amongst the uneducated than against those well versed in these events; for one thing non-scholars generally don't even have a grasp of the historical context surrounding these various events, they are far more likely to be able to play around with certain catch-phrases like 'homousios' or 'monophysite', though they generally don't fully understand the arguments, but that's a big part of it, neither did the pesants of the fifth century or of the eleventh century, their reactions were entirely political they simply didn't have the education to have an honest philosophical objection. The divide is generally between theologians on one hand, who want to secure their field by giving it some pretense of historical significance, and historians, sociologists, psychologists, etc. on the other.

Alas, the great unwashed masses just don't get it, right? ... I wonder how that plays into the notion of the orthodoxy that the whole people keep
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2008, 09:43:26 PM »

Alas, the great unwashed masses just don't get it, right? ... I wonder how that plays into the notion of the orthodoxy the the whole people keep

I remember visiting the local Unitarian Church once.  They physically recoiled when I said I was Orthodox.

Their literature proclaimed loudly that "the average seminarian today has more training and education in theology than most of the bishops at the Council of Nicea."

Yes, I replied, that's why Nicea got it right. laugh
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2008, 09:53:55 PM »

Constantine just made Christianity legal, and favored it himself personally, but not exclusively (New Rome was founded with Pagan rites, and he kept the title pontifex maximus).  Theodosius made it the state Creed.  But before Constantine, Armenia (outside the empire) had been converted, paving the way for the conversion of Georgia (even further out of the empire), and the (substantial) inroads into Iran.  Ethiopia was converted and had rebuffed New Rome's attempt to control its hierarchy.  Arian Christianity, obviously without imperial help, was a success among the Germanic tribes outside the empire.  Outside the empire, from Syria/Iraq and Ethiopia, India was Chrisitanized, as was Arabia.

Well, thank you very much, but I've taken Roman History 101. Constantine did a bit more than legalize Christianity, he ended up giving preference to Christians to positions of power and influence in the Empire. As a .001% change in fertility will guide the future of evolution, so also would a .001% change in Imperial favour guide the future of the Empire. To the ambitious aristocracy, Constantion might just as well have required conversion to Christianity under pain of torture and death as give a slight preference towards Christians in Imperial appointments...the effect on society would have been the same.

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You sell the philosphers short on their disposal of God. Alas, atheism is by its nature unsustainable.

Yeah, right...you're alive at an intersting time, watch and learn over the next 50 years.
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« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2008, 10:02:49 PM »

You're oversimplifying again, looking where the dust settled, not how.

You are about outright anachronistic here. 

Quote
As a parrallel, look at South Italy.  One of the causes of the Schism of 1054 was the forced Latinization of the Eastern parishes there, which had been part of the Roman Empire (run, btw, by an Armenian dynasty in New Rome).  The area had been Greek from before, but had been heavily Latinized (speaking a Romance language).  Over the centuries many who would not accept Rome (whether speaking Greek or a Romance dialect) ended up in the East.  Those who accepted Rome stayed. The situation obtained at least until the 14th cent., when Barlaam of Calabria florished.  Thereafter at some point the area ceased to be Greek in any sense of the word (pockets remained).  The Latin mass was adopted and Greek gave way to Italian dialects.

Until recent centuries southern Italy has been a border region, and that is reflected in the above.  That in way contradicts what I have previously said. 

Quote
The opposite obtained in the Danube Basin, where the Romanians kept their Romance language but sided with New Rome against the pope of Old Rome, although they were outside the empire in anycase (they were part of the Bulgarian empire, but then Bulgaria had wavered, and had fallen by the time of the schism).  Even the takeover by Rome's proxies, Hungary and Austria, didn't change that: most of the Latins and Protestants were imported Hungarians and Germans.

There was no such critter as a "Romanian" at the time of the schism.  I don't think there is any evidence to suggest they were anything but Greek Rite until the relatively recent times.

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ialmisry
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« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2008, 10:13:04 PM »

Well, thank you very much, but I've taken Roman History 101.

Did you pass?

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Constantine did a bit more than legalize Christianity, he ended up giving preference to Christians to positions of power and influence in the Empire.

Again, enough pagans were left, and in important enough positions, that Julian thought he could make a go of it.  Only Theodosius' edicts almost a century later after the Edict of Milan quashed it.

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As a .001% change in fertility will guide the future of evolution, so also would a .001% change in Imperial favour guide the future of the Empire.

that's why there's so many Arians Tongue

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To the ambitious aristocracy, Constantion might just as well have required conversion to Christianity under pain of torture and death as give a slight preference towards Christians in Imperial appointments...the effect on society would have been the same.

Only shows how dependent the pagan rites were on imperial favor for their survival.

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Yeah, right...you're alive at an intersting time, watch and learn over the next 50 years.

We have a prophet among us.
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« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2008, 12:58:40 AM »

Did you pass?

With flying colours, it was quite easy like all classes in the humanities, kinda shocked they gave me college credits for it.

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Again, enough pagans were left, and in important enough positions, that Julian thought he could make a go of it.  Only Theodosius' edicts almost a century later after the Edict of Milan quashed it.

Evolution takes a bit of time, give it at least 50 years or so in the context of Imperial Rome. In a few short years there went from being virtually no Christians in substantial posititons to them being dominated by Christians. But this must have been pure chance, absolutly nothing to do with Constantine...arn't historical coincidences like this fun?

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that's why there's so many Arians Tongue

At the time there were, then Imperial favour shifted again and, lo and behold, just like the Pagans their numbers were diminished and eventually disappeared...another coincidence I guess.

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Only shows how dependent the pagan rites were on imperial favor for their survival.

You don't honestly think Christianity was much different, do you?

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We have a prophet among us.

I'm glad someone finally realized it.
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« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2008, 03:37:18 PM »


I think that is ignoring several important factors.  The idea of a last stand at Constantinople is dubious at best, as the Ottomans had already secured a great deal of their European territory and effectively controlled  Asia Minor before they marched on Constantinople.  The Byzantines were an antiquated, stagnant and ossified force against a highly mobile and nomadic force.  Even without the sack of the City, I find it hard to believe that the crumbling Empire could have mustered the appropriate response to such a threat. You are also ignoring the damage that Bulgarian and Serbian empires did to the Empire's European territories.  Even if some castrated form of the Empire did survive, it wouldn't have taken the other European Empires long to lay claim to it - particularly as making the Black Sea a Russian lake was central to Tsarist strategic objectives. 

What is being done is simply scapegoating.  It would be like blaming 9/11 solely on Israel, rather than decades of failed US intelligence and foreign policy. 

Good points. Manzikert, after all, was before the Crusades (in fact, it was largely the catalyst for them).
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ialmisry
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« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2008, 10:32:11 PM »

Evolution takes a bit of time, give it at least 50 years or so in the context of Imperial Rome. In a few short years there went from being virtually no Christians in substantial posititons to them being dominated by Christians. But this must have been pure chance, absolutly nothing to do with Constantine...arn't historical coincidences like this fun?

How many came out of the closet when it was safe, whereas earlier they would have gotten axed  (like the emperor Domitian's cousin the Consul Flavian Clemens.)? Constantine was not the first Christian emperor, just the first public one: Philip the Arab was a crypto-Christian decades before

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At the time there were, then Imperial favour shifted again and, lo and behold, just like the Pagans their numbers were diminished and eventually disappeared...another coincidence I guess.

then the empire should have been more successful in exterminating the Christians.  The pagans had three centuries of Imperial favor to finish the job.

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You don't honestly think Christianity was much different, do you?

Over a millenium under the Muslims, and we are still around.

Not many pagans.

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I'm glad someone finally realized it.

Deuteronomy 18:20-22
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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