Attacking Constantine: Greg Boyd on Paganistic Christianity

Greg Boyd recently posted a segment from a sermon that has been popping up across the Web (often in unlikely places).

Boyd discusses Constantine’s heavy influence on Christianity, arguing that Constantine likely received his vision from the devil, and from it developed a paganistic version of Christianity that led to centuries of bloodshed.

You can watch the video here:

I certainly diverge from Boyd on several points, but I thought I would post the video anyway, particularly because I will soon be reading Peter J. Leithart’s new book from the opposite side, Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom.

Boyd’s views pose a stark contrast to those of Leithart, so I thought this might serve as a good intro to a soon-to-come conversation.

What are your initial thoughts and reactions?

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  • Sarah Flowers

    I don't think this guy has it right, but I do think Constantine conflated his former pagan religion with Christian icons and ending up distorting and corrupting biblical Christianity. You should read The Two Babylons:…

  • Adamhaugeberg

    I agree with Boyd. Christianity is advanced through servanthood, meekness, and martyrdom. Christians cannot and should not try to ever advance their religious convictions through power plays. Once we do, it is not a Christian act, because Christ didn't do anything like this. To put Christ in the garb of Caesar is about the most anti-Christian thing I can think of. The phrase Jesus is Lord was coined by Christians who were killed by Caesar for saying they were followers of Christ. They showed they were followers by being willing to die for their faith, and by (more importantly for this discussion) refusing to kill for it. Peter tried the way of Constantine in Gethsemane and Christ said “those who live by the sword shall die by it.” I really don't think this is a complicated issue. Forcing someone to pledge allegiance to Christ by the sword is the exact opposite of how Christ commanded and modeled his apostles spread the good news.

  • Joseph Sunde

    Pastor Greg Boyd says that Constantine turned Christianity into a paganistic, war-hungry religion. What do you think?

  • Ejonesusl

    I agree with him here. I don't think he saying that Constatine heard from the devil. What he's saying it's a demonic mindset. I heard this message in it's entirety. He is in my opinion telling the truth about Christians attitude concerning culture and how it's been shaped over the years. This message deals with so called Christian culture, politics and authentic Christ followers. Hard to argue against were all shaped by our culture and context.

  • Matt

    John 18:36: Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

    Jesus is saying that unlike the kingdoms of this world his kingdom does not use violence to further its goals. Boyd's book The Myth of a Christian Nation is a great and insightful read. I highly recommend it.

  • Remnant Culture

    I'll keep my comments brief, but here are my initial thoughts (more to come on the blog):

    The bad things about Constantine appear obvious, and are made clear by Boyd. The combination of the redemptive kingdom with a “common-kingdom” institution (politics) — as VanDrunen would say — is obviously not a good thing, particularly when it is in the promotion of blood and violence.

    The good things, however, get a bit clouded by the bad. Some of his policies, for example, ended barbarous practices in a positive way (ending sacrifice, for instance). In his personal life, I also think much of the popular history is wrong. Whatever poor decisions he made politically/theologically, I trust that he is a bit more noble of *person* than was common for his time. This, of course, doesn't say much for Christianity, but I do think it brings a more complicating historical context than is often given by those like Boyd or Yoder.

    On the whole, I think the reactions to Constantine are simply a bit overhyped. His influence in the history of Christendom is certainly significant (duh, he launched it), but it garners blame for far more things than it deserves through the whole of Christian history. There's plenty to critique in Christendom, but I think pinning its problems on some crazy spin started by a Constantinian brainwashing scheme doesn't give Christianity or Constantine the critique they deserve.

    Even still, I have no problem listening to Boyd and reading Yoder. They are persuasive and sincere dudes and constantly challenge me.

  • Remnant Culture

    Comment: The bad things about Constantine appear obvious, and are made clear by…

  • Lora

    if greg boyd doesn't have it right then what does he have wrong?

  • Remnant Culture

    @KurtWilliams @loweryfinds Thx. Posted it a while back: Will be reviewing @pleithart's book on Constantine soon