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January 29: “Gospel and Empire: How Christianity Challenged the Cult of Caesar”

The fastest-growing religion in the first-century Roman world wasn't Christianity – it was a state-sponsored imperial cult giving divine honors to the Emperor. In this forum, parishioner Bill Tompson shows how understanding this imperial cult enriches our reading of the Bible; he shows Jesus and Paul challenged and even parodied the cult of Caesar. The early Christians didn’t find themselves in prison so often – and occasionally get eaten by lions – for simply talking about turning the other cheek or preaching the golden rule. They were there because their message represented a challenge to Caesar. It still does. We will also discuss what the clash between Gospel and Empire might mean for Christians today.