We Evangelicals trace our heritage, not to Constantine, but to the very different stance of Jesus of Nazareth. ~An Evangelical Manifesto
Related to the previous post, this is an attitude in the manifesto that strikes me as far more troubling and obnoxious than any perceived defensiveness. No Christians today trace their heritage to Constantine (nor have any Christians at any other time done this). Indeed, the implicit claim is that there are Christians who do trace their heritage to Constantine, and so are actually schismatics who supposedly reject Christ and prefer Constantine. (It is an old polemical move to identify oneself with Christ and others with another individual to demonstrate the sectarian, rather than catholic, nature of the opposition.) Obviously, I’m Orthodox, so I am bound to be unsympathetic to certain myths and conceits that are at the heart of some Reformed arguments, especially when they are based on shoddy history. I don’t find it surprising when Evangelicals (I don’t want to insult them any longer with a lower case e) make absurd claims about Constantine or people tracing their heritage to Constantine, because that is part of their reading of church history, but I don’t quite understand what these (basically unfounded) shots at Constantine are supposed to do except establish the manifesto-writers liberal bona fides as believers in the wall of separation. As opposed to whom? Oh, right, the fundamentalists and Constantinian running dogs.
It’s also true that this manifesto seems to lack what most manifestoes have, namely a plan of action or a set of proposed goals or common purposes. Instead, you get a good deal of teeth-gnashing about past failures (how many times did they begin a sentence with the phrase “all too often”?) and the lame lukewarmness one will often get from mistaking difference-splitting for the broad and royal way.