Amen to this! From Mark Davies:
“By giving Christianity legitimacy and imperial protection and support, the empire was able to co-opt Christianity more effectively for its own purposes and create an image of Jesus and form an institutional church that would be empire friendly. Once the empire co-opted the Jesus movement, it focused on the otherworldly aspects of Christianity in order to keep power and control over people in this world. The empire or state maintained control of the affairs of this world, while religion prepared the soul for the next. Obedience to the Empire’s authority in this life became one of the prerequisites to enjoying the rewards and avoiding the punishments in the next. The Empire made central the peripheral strands of eternal punishment and eternal reward in Christianity as a means to maintain and consolidate power and keep order among its subjects.
Empire-friendly Jesus and the empire-friendly church were supportive of the empire handling the affairs of this world. Empire friendly Jesus was king of another world after this life, while the empire continued its role as king of this world. The empire-friendly Jesus and empire-friendly church were fine with the empire waging war. Empire-friendly Jesus and empire-friendly church were fine with the empire using violence and its powers of capital punishment to suppress heresy and maintain order to keep the church safe from hostile powers.
Empire-friendly Jesus did not turn over tables. When it came to the affairs of this world, empire-friendly Jesus encouraged people to be meek and mild rather than angry and wild, to be satisfied with the temporal crumbs from the empire’s table in exchange for the promise of a seat at the table of the heavenly banquet. Finally, the empire had Jesus and the followers of Jesus right where it wanted them. The empire had finally accomplished what the cross and nearly three centuries of persecution had failed to do. The empire had finally tamed Jesus.”
My comment: The empire loved gnosticism. It still does. They love dualism, because they abhor being held accountable by the likes of Jesus followers who have any sort of wholistic notion of salvation.
This post by Mark Davies is probably destined to go up on https://oneworldhouse.net soon.