Empire Baptized

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A 2016 Book of the Year, Reform Magazine (UK)

In “Come Out, My People,” Wes Howard-Brook outlined an ambitious interpretation of the Bible as a struggle between two competing religious visions: a “religion of empire” and a “religion of creation” embraced by the prophets and Jesus. Here, through a study of the early “church fathers,” he shows how Christianity in effect opted for the religion of empire. This was reflected not just in accommodation to the Roman Empire after Constantine, but through the spiritualization of Jesus’ prophetic message. The combined influence of Greek philosophy and Roman imperial social structures shifted the emphasis from fostering egalitarian relationships and transforming the world to the goal of saving one’s “soul.”

Howard-Brook concludes with a reflection on what it might mean to reject imperial Christianity and to rediscover the transformative power of the Good News of Jesus for followers living amidst empire today.

A Q/A with Wes Howard-Brook: https://radicaldiscipleship.net/2016/09/12/empire-baptized/

Wes Howard-Brook teaches at Seattle University. He is the author of several Orbis books, including "Come Out, My People," Unveiling Empire, The Church Before Christianity, Becoming Children of God, and co-editor of The New Testament: Introducing the Way of Discipleship.

Book Details

Empire Baptized
How the Church Embraced What Jesus Rejected (Second--Fifth Centuries)
Wes Howard-Brook
Maps, index
File name Filesize
Empire Baptized Table of Contents 528 Kb
This work assembles a provocative antidote to the reading of early Christian history as the struggle of an original orthodoxy to maintain its singular purity against contamination by multiple forces of heresy. H-B provides a valuable resource for continued study of a more complex reading of the early centuries of Christian history.
"While firmly grounded in historical concerns, perhaps the book is best conceived as a theological argument played against the backdrop of what unfolded in the first few centuries of the Christian faith under the sway of an influential intellectual elite. Treated in that way, it is well worth the reader's consideration, and may provoke a re-evaluation of many assumptions about what the church is and how it should function.
Empire Baptized is making me shake my head and think a great deal about aspects of the faith I took in as a child....I'm looking forward to continued insights!
One of the most important theological thinkers/practitioners alive today. I highly recommend Wes' excellent new book for careful study, contemplation, activism and preaching.
A detailed and well researched study....it is an important book because it takes us to the roots of the authoritarian and hierarchical church institutions of today.
Wes Howard-Brook has performed a great service with Empire Baptized. He explains how the transition in Christianity from Jesus’ way of peace to the coercive ways of Christendom happened. An enormously enlightening account that helps us better understand our present dilemmas.
Wes Howard-Brook has written a provocative book that moves beyond a disembodied study of early Christian dogma and doctrine to discover how engagement with the Roman Empire shaped the religious visions of Jesus and Paul into an imperial religion. I heartily recommend this book for anyone who seeks a relevant reading of early Christianity and who seeks to walk on the difficult but life-giving way of Jesus.
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