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Quoting the Sabbath School, Lesson 11, September 3 :

"In A.D. 362 Roman emperor Julian launched a campaign to revive paganism. Christianity was taking over the Roman Empire, and he and the pagan leaders were worried. Julian’s advice to a prominent pagan priest expresses his concern, and gives a clue as to why Christianity was growing so rapidly..."

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The "clue", suggested by the lesson for the rapid growth of Christianity, is the generous spirit of the Christians. But in my opinion there was another reason why "Christianity" was growing so rapidly at that time. The Emperor Constantine had died only 25 years prior to the 362 A.D. date referred to above. Constantine had introduced a radical change, making "Christianity" not only popular, but advantageous - granting legal and financial privileges to those that professed to be Christians. But the "Christianity" that was rapidly taking hold of the Empire, was not the Christianity of Christ.

(When Constantine died, his son, Constantius became Emperor. But the "Christianity" of Constantius was even more violent than his father's. And indeed, it was the false and violent "Christianity of Constantius [that] produced the heathen anti-Christianity [backlash] of Julian". (Schaff vol.3 p.19.) Again, the general "Christianity" of the day was far from good.)

Julian the Apostate [as he was called,] tried to reverse the trend, and to turn the people back to the old gods (these would actually have been safer than what was then developing,) but he failed to achieve his goal. His efforts were also short lived, as he died in a war with the Persians in June of 363 A.D.

Yes, there was a lot of philanthropy (i.e. generous giving) in the growing Imperial Church, but I think we need to be very careful, even with that. Because even though "I bestow ALL my goods to feed the poor... and have not charity, it profits me nothing." (1Cor 13:3.) It is possible to be hugely generous, but to miss Christ completely. And I suggest that that is precisely how it was with Constantine, and with the fashion he set.

The Bishop Eusebius, writing about his beloved Emperor, declares that "he likewise distributed money largely to those who were in need. And not only so, but his kindness and beneficence extended even to the heathen who had no claim on him; and he provided not money only, or necessary food, but also decent clothing for the poor outcasts who begged alms in the forum...".

The generosity looked good, and in a sense it was good, but there was a big problem with it.

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The lesson for me from this is that it is better to be one of the weirdo SDA (my own daughter calls me this)  than to be an acceptable part of society.   By God's providence he made me an outsider from the beginning so it was easy to say no to things that make it hard for a person to keep such things such as Sabbath and leave behind certain foods, sports, and social drinking. 

It is better to be right with Jesus and obey than to be accepted by fair weather society and outside of Gods will.  We should question everything about our modern society rather than to long for being a part of it. 

 

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