The founders of Christianity knew how they would win
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Jesus (Luke 6:27-31)
The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Paul (Romans 13:9)
Generally, there are two means to use against an enemy — violence and politics — and two strategies — take-over and take-down. To put it in a 2×2 matrix
Many movements try to use several methods, so that the enemy has to protect himself on many fronts. For instance, American conservatives are trying to both neutralize the courts (by limiting the Judiciary’s powers of even allowing Congress to overturn Court rulings) and co-opt them (by making more conservative judges). Similarly, in Iraq the terrorists are trying to destroy the Iraq government (violently take it down) and conquer Iraqi lands (by moving forces into cities like Fallujah, creating mini Islamic Republics that keep existing infrastructure).
Christ and Paul ruled out the destruction, conquest, or neutralization of the Roman Empire.
No Destruction: The State’s military must be supported
If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles [centurians could lawfully force a subject to help carry their gear for one Roman mile — tdaxp]
Jesus (Matthew 5:41)
No Conquest: The State must not face rebellion
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Paul (Romans 13:1-2)
No Neutralization: The State’s finances must be supported
Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
Jesus (Mark 12:13-17)
By ruling out destruction, conquest, or neutralization, The Apostle and The Christ forced the faithful to co-opt the Empire. And indeed by AD 313 the Roman Empire had submitted itself to the Christian Faith. But how did this work?
In 4th Generation War, sometimes called “netwar,” the object is not to destroy your enemy’s ability to resist — it is to destroy his will to resist. This is why some famous 4GW tactics — terrorism, exagerating civilian casualties, hit-and-run-attacks — are the tactics of the weak. Because a lot of enemy will can be destroyed by using little strength.
Jesus and Paul understood that the Roman Empire was a hyperpower. It was undefeatable in any meaningful sense. Even areas “liberated” of the Roman military (like Germania) quickly fell into the Roman economic and cultural orbit. Further, as Jesus lived a day’s walk from a town that had been butchered in a reprisal by Roman troops, and Paul had been a secret policeman for a State Church, both respected the Roman security system.
Friction exists when two entities oppose each other. This can be a block moving along a table
Or two enemies who hate each other.
To co-opt the Empire Jesus and Paul decided to limit friction — to become slippery.
(If the friction nets were complete slippery on each other, they would “embrace” by sharing all attributes — they would be “in bed” with each other)
As long as Christianity could avoid becoming existing, supporting the state was a methodical route to Christian victory. The Empire. To see how this worked, imagine the Roman power structure as a table.
The State rested on many groups, the People, the Senators, the Armies, the Merchants, etc, who gave their power to the state. In this way they supported Rome like legs support a table. (The same, of course, is true of any government.)
However, they demanded that the state protect their interests. So while the state ammased power from these special interests, it had to turn around and spend it on them too!
This situation is stable. But the Christians knew things would change — they only had to wait
“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Jesus (Matthew 24:4-8)
Sure enough, the Romans soon faced new barbarian enemies — further drains on its power
You can think of this like an even heavier load being placed on the Roman Table
The Romans had to look for a cheap new power source. The power source had to be already running (because the barbarians were at the gates now), resiliant (because the barbarians are violent and effective), and inexpensive (it had to support the state even if the state couldn’t export security to it). Christianty was for Roman political power what cold fusion would be to modern-day electric power. Sure Romans now found themselves ‘encouraged’ to convert, but that was a lot cheapter than gold for a new army, an army for a new market, or a new market to enrich the merchants, or more merchants to tax to enrich the Senators.
By loving their enemy, by intermeshing their friction nets, the Christians had only to wait for a Crisis and see the Empire spread their belief over the Realm. This is why Rome became Christian when Rome became weak. Christianity treated Rome as it wanted to be treated — as an object of veneration and protection.
And so the last become first, the poor become rich, the weak became strong, and Christianity co-opted the Empire.
In the modern world, the United States is the only hyper power. Is there a “new Christianity” out there, giving us a co-option attack like the Christians gave Rome?
Early Christianity was, and continued to be, a netfaith, until finally deformed under the heat of the Islamic Invasions. But that is a post for another time….
Jesusism-Paulism, a tdaxp series in six parts
1. Love Your Enemy As You Would Have Him Love You
2. Caiaphas and Diocletian Did Know Better
3. Every Man a Panzer, Every Woman a Soldat
4. The Fall of Rome
5. The People of the Book
6. Embrace and Extend