In part I-III, we looked at the huge influence of the Roman State on Jesus's life and ministry. Here we look at Jesus's influence on the Roman Empire as it fell and following the Judeo-Christian legacy on the West.

In part I-III, we looked at the huge influence of the Roman State on Jesus’s life and ministry. Here we look at Jesus’s influence on the Roman Empire as it fell and following the Judeo-Christian legacy on the West.

Fall of Roman Empire

It took longer for the Roman Empire to die than most empires existed. In 3__? Emperor Constantine moved his capitol and retinue East into the new capital city of Constantinople. This effectively divided the empire with the Western capitol in Rome. Space doesn’t permit me to detail the fall. More following.

Constantine involved himself in the early Christian Church, enacting a strong role in forming the doctrine of the Trinity and the structure of the Roman Catholic Church closely following that of the State. The Church in the East lasted a thousand years more leaving an enduring legacy on Russia and its historical dependencies. There the State is over the church and both are highly hierarchical and given to dictatorship.

The situation in the West was quite different. With the State abandoning Rome, the only effective governing authority became the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, in the West, the church was superordinate to the State with rulers crowned by popes under the doctrine of the divine right to rule. When Pope Leo III crowned Frankish King Charlemagne Christmas day in 800 the Holy Roman Empire was established in Western Europe. It lasted 1006 years.

Western Civilization

In Abrahamic covenant A God says the Jewish people will become a “great nation….and through [Jews] all people on earth will be blessed.” Conversely, “whoever curses [Jews] I will curse.” [Gen.12:2-3] Western nations and their colonies whose culture was heavily influenced by Christian nations are the most advanced on earth. [Google “The Role of Christianity in Civilization.”] Nations not so influenced like the Middle East, India, and China still struggle to create institutions Israel enjoyed 3,000 years ago, e.g., private property, rule of law, etc.

But, that covenant was conditional, contingent upon the Jewish people and their physical descendants living righteously. [Gen.17:19] They didn’t, Rome destroyed them, and they dispersed [diaspora] around the Mediterranean world. Throughout history they were persecuted. Having to flee persecution in haste, they tended to adopt occupations that concentrated their wealth in their head or in small things they could take with them in their clothing like precious metals and stones like diamonds. Hence, they pioneered diamond cutting 500 years ago and Orthodox Jewish families account for 10% of the world diamond market today. It requires an exceptionally great amount of trust which they maintain through family ties and networks.[1]

Though only six million Jews live in the U.S. [1.8% of the population] they are a strong influence in knowledge industries such as academe, Wall Street, investment banking, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, TV networks, and the press. More than 100 of Forbes’ 400 billionaires are Jews. This is the result of education; a penchant for entrepreneurship; entry into new knowledge fields and occupations requiring people with initiative; and a worldwide ‘community’ that helps individuals get an education, and begin and operate a business. [This Jewish network in cities around the Mediterranean was used by Christian missionaries in the first century.] Today this network helps Jews lead in the globalization movement. Nations that discriminated against Jews [Germany Russia] missed out on their blessing. [2]

History

Many events now are the result of historical events. Muslims typically refer to Westerners as ‘crusaders.’ “The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history, then have somebody write new books manufacturing a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will forget what it is and what it was.” [3]

Our youth and a whole segment of our citizens are ignorant of history and colleges are partially to blame. Only 23 of our top 76 colleges require even one American history course of History MAJORS! Some require a course but allow such options as “Mad Men and Mad Women [Middlebury College, the most expensive college in the U.S.]. [4]

Youth today do most of their reading on the tiny screen of an electronic device and little few read newspapers or serious books. They are being socialized less by traditional sources and more by the entertainment industry. As a result, moral standards now originate with man e.g., results of the latest public opinion poll.

Christian [Western ] Civilization swept westward carrying the heritage of ancient Greece, Rome, Israel, and Christianity improving pagan civilizations as it went. [Not all Christian activities in pagan countries were benign e.g., Crusades. [Christians do sin.] It would take a book to begin to describe the influence of Jesus and Christianity on Western and world civilization. To get a summary, Google “Role of Christianity in civilization.] This ends the series on Jesus and Rome. To learn the determinative influence of Christians in our history and governments read about Puritans and Pilgrims in early New England.[5]

Jesus was the principal political actor in history. He works from the inside out with individuals who have experienced the “new birth” and primarily depends on us to be the political actors. In the first 75% of our Bible God acted politically, from the outside-in and using non-believers. He still does when needed.

An example of God working through non-Christians is the extraordinary work of the Aravind Foundation in India which in 40 years has relieved blindness and eye diseases of 40 million people. Similarly, U.N. agencies and thousands of private [NGO] agencies like the Carter Foundation have carried out the ministries Jesus did and asked us to do.

[1] Israel Diamond Industry Newsletter, Nov.11, 2011

[2] Goldstein, Tani, YNetNews, Oct.26, 2011.

[3] Schlesinger, Arthur M., The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society, NY: W.W. Norton, 1991, p52.

[4] The American Council of Trustees and Alumni [ACTA] [June 2016].

[5] Innes, Stephen, Creating the Commonwealth, NY: W.W. Norton, 1995.