B4B: Seven Revolutions

9780804138963

Seven Revolutions:how Christianity changed the world and can change it again, by Mike Aquilina and James L. Papandrea, delivers on its promise.  It’s a fantastically well researched book and Aquillina and Papandrea are clearly masters of church history.  But the real value of the book comes from how well they connect the Roman context to current one. At every point, it easy to see how the obstacles of the early church relate to our emerging challenges today.
Often we take for granted how revolutionary the message of Christ was to the world.  Elements that may seem ho-hum to us, like the personhood of women and children, the separation of church and state, or the idea of a positive life after death, were shocking to the Romans.  The book is very helpful in demonstrating how much Western civilization owes Christianity.
Where the book falls short is that it has a tendency to whitewash things a bit.  Seven Revolutions always chooses the very worst examples from Roman history and usually chooses the very best examples from the early church.  The contrasts in the book are real, but perhaps not as black and white as they are made to seem.  And thus it paints a very simplistic picture of the early church, when things are always more complicated.  The authors argue for the monastic movement as an example of how Christianity combined the values of work and worship, but act as if there were no negatives to the development, EVER.  They uphold Constantine as the founder of the separation of church and state.  They make a fantastic case for it, but you can’t call it a revolution that changed the world if none of his successors followed in his footsteps.  The early church councils are lauded as 100% good.  Can’t we uphold the decisions of the councils but reject as evil much of the political methodology they employed?
To summarize, Seven Revolutions does a fantastic job unpacking how Christianity dramatically changed Roman culture and showing how this is relevant today, but my confidence in the facts presented was undermined by how black and white they made things.
This book was provided to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.