42: What Diocletian Knew

…the truth of the LORD endureth forever…

Psalm 117:2

By the end of the Third Century the Emperors knew that they were presiding over a sinking state. The Empire had grown too large, too unwieldy and proving impossible to defend against the sheer numbers and fighting strength of the northern tribes in their quest for new land. The world was changing and the Empire was struggling to adapt.

Diocletian from his accession in 280 AD attempted a new form of Government to maintain cohesion in his vast territories. Making Maximian, Gallerius and Constantius Chlorus co-regents he ensured the power and authority of the Emperor was all pervasive. It is for this reason that the historian Gibbon calls Diocletian the founder of a new Empire.

Diocletian also knew, however, that Christianity and Roman Paganism could not co-exist. Since the birth of Rome and through its various stages as a republic and an empire paganism had been at the heart of its philosophy. This religious question was the question for the time.

In Diocletian’s thinking the decline of the empire was matched by the rise of Christianity. To fully restore Roman pride and prestige paganism must be made the only religious force in the empire. Therefore the battle lines were drawn.

In this Twenty-First Century the same battle lines are similarity drawn. Christianity cannot co-exist with Western atheistic secularism, with Middle Eastern Islamism and with Chinese Communism. Each of these philosophic ideals recognise the threat that true Christianity poses to their systems and so they use every weapon to threaten, discredit and even persecute the people of God.

But they too will fail as Diocletian failed.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!
While God is marching on.

Lee Greenwood

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