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An old clay oil lamp from Nazareth, Israel.  Photo credit: Olivia Armstrong. 

The Framework for a Relational Vision:

Early Church Resources


White American Evangelical Political Attitudes and Behavior: Explanation and Correctives

White American evangelical political attitudes can be characterized by the debate between John Winthrop and Roger Williams, and their respective attitudes towards Native Americans, slavery, fairness, and faith in the civic space.  This is a presentation also explores Scripture and church history to argue that Roger Williams was correct.  Given to the staff of Emmanuel Gospel Center, Apr 18, 2018, as a follow-up to how Christian restorative justice impacts ministry; audio file here


Slavery and Abolition in the Early Church:

How the Early Church Got It Right 

(long ppt presentation)


Slavery and Abolition in the Early Church:

How the Early Church Got It Right 

(short ppt presentation)


Slavery in Christianity, Part 1: 

Slavery in the Bible, Slavery Today (and ppt)


Slavery in Christianity, Part 2: 

Abolitionism from the First to Fifteenth Century 


Women in the Early Church part 1 and part 2


Women in Church Leadership part 1 and part 2


The Rights of Women in the Bible part 1 and part 2


Children in the Early Church


Christian Restorative Justice: Beyond Charity -

God's Restorative Justice for Children and Families

The Christian Undoing of Scapegoating


Atonement in Scripture:

The Scapegoat Series

(NHI blog)


Donald Trump's Scapegoating

and the Myth of Retributive Justice

(Feb 12, 2016)


Donald Trump's Scapegoating

and the Scapegoating of the Black Community

(Feb 15, 2016)


What Lynching, Torture, and Scapegoating

Have in Common: Penal Substitution

(Feb 18, 2016)

on retributive impulses


Why Penal Substitution is a Gateway Drug to Right-Wing Extremism

(Feb 22, 2016)

on God as sorting, not uniting, creation


Why Evangelicals Scapegoat Gays, Muslims, Etc.

(Feb 29, 2016)

on the sacrificial system in the Pentateuch


Why Trump and Cruz Are the Direct, Logical Result of American Evangelical Theology

(Mar 6, 2016)

on Romans and the Sinai covenant


A Neuroscientific Reason for Why Retributive Justice is from the Fall,

and Penal Substitution is Immature

(Apr 28, 2016)

on the Fall and the exile from the Garden 

Helpful Books and Articles on

Christian Restorative Justice in the Early Church


Christian Good in Society (website) an impressive list that discusses health care, education, human rights, literacy and communication, etc.; lists organizations and individuals as well, through modern history


Wikipedia, San Marino, a small democratic republic in Italy, a continuation of a Christian monastic community founded in 301 AD


Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Augustine, What Did the Early Church Say About Economic Justice? (Plough)


(Amazon book, 1986) set the standard for how righteousness (Hebrew tsedeq) in Old Testament ethics involved not just punishing and rewarding bad/good behaviors, but returning to a creation order where the poor and vulnerable were supplied, protected, included, and honored.  The implication is that God's justice is restorative, and neither fundamentally retributive, nor consistently so (Ps.103:10).  The further implication is that Paul, when using the term justification (Greek dikaioo), does not have penal satisfaction as a foundation and pre-condition for justification.  McGrath shows how the Greco-Roman pagan ethic of meritocratic-retributive justice overturned the Hebraic-Christian concept of restorative justice.  N.T. Wright, Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision (Amazon book, 2009) referred to McGrath's book as necessary reading on the topic. 



Timothy S. Miller, The Birth of the Hospital in the Byzantine Empire (Amazon book, Jun 17, 1997) is a masterpiece.  It shows one of the most positive interactions between church and government.  It is impressive how much data we have.  This also makes a good case that our science, medicine, and health system should be publicly supported in some form.  See also The Cosmological Vision of St. Basil and the First Hospital (Servant of Prayer blog, Apr 8, 2014) and Father Johannes Jacobse, St. Basil the Great and Christian Philanthropy (American Orthodox Institute USA, Dec 20, 2014) and Thomas Heyne, Reconstructing the World's First Hospital: The Basiliad (Hektoen International: A Journal of Medical Humanities, Spring 2015)


Frontline, The Great Appeal: What Did Christianity Offer Its Believers That Made It Worth Social Estrangement, Hostility From Neighbors, and Possible Persecution? (WGBH, Apr 1998)


(Amazon book, 1999) and this bibliographic summary by Patristic Evangelism, Readings in Patristic Ethics  (Patristic Evangelism blog, date unknown)


(Amazon book, 1999) deals with the biblical presentation of the church, states, and Israel - not simply 'church and state' - and does an excellent job in biblical exposition and church history


Robert M. Frakes, Contra Potentium Iniuras: The Defensor Civitatis and Late Roman Justice (Google book, 2001)


(Amazon book, 2003) covers leading Christian thinkers, actors, and decisions in pre-modern and modern Western history


Peter Brown, Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire (book, 2001), and Walter Brueggemann's review, How the Early Church Practiced Charity (Religion Online, Jun 14, 2003)


(Amazon book, 2005) an absolutely invaluable study of how Christian faith made an enormous and decisive impact on how children were treated as fully human, overturning Greek and Latin practices of infanticide, etc. which accorded only instrumental value to infants and children.  See

Pascal Emmanuel Gobry, How Christianity Invented Children (The Week, Apr 23, 2015)


Bogdan Popescu, Human Rights in Early Christian Writings (Mozaic, 2005/1), also a pdf file


David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Amazon book, 2010)


Kevin Knight, Influence of the Church on Civil Law (New Advent website, 2012)


Ethan Gannaway, Saint Ambrose and Toleration (The Academy for the Study of Ambrose of Milan, Apr 4, 2013) makes helpful historical remarks concerning Ambrose, given the bishop's engagement with political events


Peter Wehner, The Christmas Revolution (NY Times, Dec 25, 2015)


Ronald Osborn, The Scandalous Origins of Human Rights (Veritas Forum, Jan 15, 2016)


(Amazon book, Mar 29, 2016) an excellent historical treatment of Christian treatises on patience, in the face of persecution or difference, or mission.  The character quality of patience in politics needs to be re-taught, and re-learned.


Jack Davila-Ashcraft, The Early Church on Government (Paleo-Orthodoxy, Oct 3, 2016)


David Bentley Hart, Human Dignity Was a Rarity Before Christianity (Church Life Journal, Oct 26, 2017)


Trevor Saxby, ‘Always Enough’: Early Church Leader Basil of Caesarea and Sustainability (Making History Now blog, Dec 4, 2017)

Jewish Resources


Warren Goldstein, Defending the Human Spirit: Jewish Law's Vision of a Moral Society (Amazon book, 2006) gives helpful examples of how the Jewish laws in the Old Testament compare with other laws, ancient and modern

Applications for a Relational Vision


Part of the series: