Understanding of God in Ancient Rome

999 Words4 Pages
The Roman Empire was unparalleled in the ancient world. With strong a military, technological development, and widespread infrastructure, Rome easily became the undisputed superpower of the Mediterranean. Lurking underneath this greatness was a deadly secret that caused the eventual collapse of the empire. The secret that eroded Rome, as outlined by Francis Schaffer in How Should We Then Live?, was the civilization’s understanding of God. Rome’s initial understanding of God laid the groundwork for the civilization’s fall. For a worldview to shape a person’s actions, a detailed description of God’s existence and his qualities must be outlined. From one’s definition of God, all other basic worldview questions are related and understood; therefore, the actions of Romans individually and collectively are linked to the civilization’s definition of the divine. In noting the development of this definition in Rome and Greece, the author Francis Schaeffer (1976) states the civilizations initially, “tried to build a society upon their gods. But these gods were not big enough because they were finite, limited… All their gods put together could not give them a sufficient base for life, morals, values, and final decisions” (p. 21). Schaeffer’s argument is that Rome’s fall has root in the fact that its gods were the ancient world equivalent of comic book characters; the gods had powers yet were still subject to the passions and errors of humanity. In contrast to a belief in the perfection of the God of the Bible, the Romans believed in gods that were elevated humans. Because of their humanity, Roman gods did not provide any sort of basis for a moral code. The gods were immoral at times, so the Roman people accepted immorality as anot... ... middle of paper ... ... to improve humanity, the Romans looked to each other to find meaning and purpose in life. Because of the poor answers to life’s basic questions that resulted from this act and the harshness of the Caesars, Rome eventually fell from power. In summary, the Roman concept of God in relation to the Caesars contributed to the civilization’s decline. In conclusion, the understanding of God in Roman civilization provided the cause of the society’s decline. The concept of the gods provided no moral template for the Roman people, while the Caesars unsuccessfully tried to establish peace around the worship of their emperorship. While the story of Rome is one of great success and tragic loss, the civilization’s history highlights the importance of God in one’s worldview. With a basis of who God is, a person articulates morality, reality, and humanity’s role in history.
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