Did Christianity cause the Roman Empire to fall?

Bob Hubbard

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Rome thrived for 1,000 years, yet less than 82 years after Christianity was recognized did it split effectively ending the empire. One can argue that it was Christianity that led to the fall of the Roman Empire.

313: Constantine ends the persecution of the Christians (edict of Milano)
313: Constantine recognizes the Christian church.
380: Theodosius I proclaims Christianity as the sole religion of the Roman Empire
395: Theodosius divides the Roman empire in the Western and Eastern Empires, with Milano and Constantinople as their capitals
410: the Visigots sack Roma

Timeline: http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/romans.html




Toss this one around a bit if y'all like.
 

Blindside

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So Christianity caused the Empire to be parceled out between Constantine's sons, who portions of the empire were variously engaged in fighting the Persians (east) or fighting each other (west & center) over possession of Illyria. And Christianity was responsible for the several hundred year old fairly regular practice of the armies selecting the new Emperors via coup?

I'm going to have to see more than a couple of dates on a timeline to justify this.
 

Sukerkin

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Too tired to do this justice but it is an interesting subject for debate :tup:.

One thing to add to the mix is that the 'poor persecuted Christians' drum has been beaten an awful lot ... by Christians.

One line of historical invesstigation tells that why the Christian religion was taken on board by Rome, after a millenia of comfortable pagan worship, was that the sect, in essence, was socially disruptive and violent. Akin to a terrorist group gaining political legitimacy in todays terms, the Emperor decided it was better to 'bring them in' rather than try to stamp them out.
 

Ken Morgan

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I love history Bob, but honestly? Sorry, I don't care....
 

grydth

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Christianity...... and the destruction of the Roman Democracy..... and nutty Emperors like Nero....... and Goths, Visigoths......and Huns......and......
 

still learning

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Hello, The leaders of Rome did it to them selves....and having Christianity around...could have been one of the many problems leading to there down fall...

Rise and Fall by "Mel Brooks" ....history in the making..

...the United States is heading in that directions too....history repeating itself...with America..H-101, and H-102. (H205,H209,H 506, and H990)..

Aloha, ....history is easy to study ....like martial arts..keeps repeating it self...punch kick and block or is it block punch and kick, or kick than block than punch? ....i thought it was easy?
 

Omar B

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They also drank wine spiked with lead, not the most balanced people to begin with I think. Heck, look at their sports. One thing or another would have brought about their end. I just like that it used to be refereed to as "The cult of christianity" back then.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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I just tossed a topic out for debate. Where it goes, if anywhere, is open.
 

chrispillertkd

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:rolleyes:

You might want to read a couple books by Rodney Stark, viz. The Rise of Christianty and Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquored Rome.

Pax,

Chris
 
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Bob Hubbard

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30 years after Christianity became the official religion, Rome is sacked.

What events occurred in that narrow gap that would allow that?


(Note, I'm merely throwing out a narrow cause-effect hypothesis. Bill is correct in his observation of logical fallacy. This came out of another discussion and is not an attempt by me to blame/lay claim, debase, etc. I just thought it interesting)
 

Bill Mattocks

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30 years after Christianity became the official religion, Rome is sacked.

What events occurred in that narrow gap that would allow that?

I'm not an expert on Roman history, but since Rome was a mighty empire, I sincerely doubt that Christianity is what did it in, although it could well have been a contributing factor. Just from a casual glance, one might think that the underpinnings were weak and decaying and perhaps Christianity happened to provide that shove in the right place at the right time that brought the house down.

I also consider that Christianity brought a fundamental change to character of nations - it was a temporal authority and power that reached across nations and was beyond the grasp of kings and emperors to control; at least not well and not often.

When Christianity was young and weak, it was a threat to empires like Rome, not least of which because it threatened the power of the Emperor, who boasted of divine authority. One had to obey the Emperor, he was himself a god. Christianity taught that there was no God but God. Thus, Rome tried hard to stamp Christianity out.

However, as it was very popular with slaves and the poor, it gained power and following. Constantine was clever enough to see that by allying himself with that power and setting himself up as the protector of Christianity, he could shore up his power base and stop being the enemy of the poor. Constantine's conversion could also have had something to do with his perpetual enmity with Persia, which hosted many Christians within its borders. As protector of the Faith, Constantine instantly subverted a significant portion of the Persian empire.

Empire, however, is not an ideal co-partner with Christianity. The Church of Rome preferred to deal with many less powerful kings than one very powerful emperor.

Just some thoughts.
 

chrispillertkd

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30 years after Christianity became the official religion, Rome is sacked.

What events occurred in that narrow gap that would allow that?

You mean besides, to directly quote you, "395: Theodosius divides the Roman empire in the Western and Eastern Empires, with Milano and Constantinople as their capitals"?

You don't think the dividing of the empire and settng up two differet capitals has anything to do with Rome being politically and socially weakened enough to allow Alaric and the Goths to sack it? The city had manged to withstand Alaric's double seige in 408. But apparently the refortifying of the city which took place in 402 was not enough to withstand the repeated beatings it suffered.

Maybe if the Senate, at the instigation of the pagan minority, had refused to treat with Alaric in 408 things would have been different. Maybe the city would have been prepared when he returned a scant two years later.

(Note, I'm merely throwing out a narrow cause-effect hypothesis. Bill is correct in his observation of logical fallacy. This came out of another discussion and is not an attempt by me to blame/lay claim, debase, etc. I just thought it interesting)

If you say so, but your post reads a little like an implication.

Pax,

Chris
 

Omar B

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Lets start from the top with the bad leadership that seemed epidemic there, then the complete lack of value for human life as evidenced in their sport and the whole slavery thing, their whole gaining wealth by conquest rather than trade ... it all ads up to a bad situation. Saying it was the christians is oversimplifying a whole bunch of issues here. After all, it's not as if all christian cities fell right.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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I've studied some Roman history, however the era of it's fall hasn't been much in there other than a brief overview. Hence my interest. The rise of Christianity is of interest to me though, so there's some overlap. I'll pop in shortly with some of my own thoughts on the topic, but wanted to allow some debate first.
 

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Rome was supported by the influx of value through conquest.
As conquest stopped, so did the money pouring in. The diminishing legions failed to protect the borders against motivated forces. Meanwhile the internal power politics and back stabbing weakened the empire from within.

Rome would have fallen sooner or later, as did all other empires.
It's like inflating a balloon. if the outward pressure stops, the balloon will deflate again.

Additionally, I am fairly certain that other events occurred around the same time without any effect on the outcome. Correlation is not causation. While Christianity might have played some role in the grand scheme of things, you could just as safely argue that Rome fell the day the emperor had grapes for breakfast, thus the grapes caused the empire to fall :)
 

JDenver

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Bruno has alot of it right, IMO.

I'll add that the empire had stretched its own resources to the breaking point, the saturation level for cause of all empires to fall. Disease was rampant, as was poverty. Rome itself was dirty. The lack of enough food and enough funds to keep the empire floating dragged on the military and on morale.

The Roman empire, once mighty, was an egg; a seemingly hard shell on the exterior, which was actually quite thin. In reality was super soft in the middle.
 

CoryKS

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One line of historical invesstigation tells that why the Christian religion was taken on board by Rome, after a millenia of comfortable pagan worship, was that the sect, in essence, was socially disruptive and violent. Akin to a terrorist group gaining political legitimacy in todays terms, the Emperor decided it was better to 'bring them in' rather than try to stamp them out.

Kinda like the Sauds and the Wahhabists.
 

chrispillertkd

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One line of historical invesstigation tells that why the Christian religion was taken on board by Rome, after a millenia of comfortable pagan worship, was that the sect, in essence, was socially disruptive and violent. Akin to a terrorist group gaining political legitimacy in todays terms, the Emperor decided it was better to 'bring them in' rather than try to stamp them out.

Interesting. I have read a bit of history of this time period. What sources indicate that the early Christian movement was violent? Any new movement can be construed as being socially disruptive given enough influence but the violence inherent to the Christian movement is unfamiliar to me. Any information would be appreciated.

Pax,

Chris
 

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