I used to be a fan of Leithart’s writing. Even a few years ago when he openly attacked Reformed theology in *The Baptized Body,* his writing was cogent and impressive. Something happened between the writing of that book and the writing of this one. Admittedly, Leithart does accomplish a few useful ends in this book. I will list where he is strong and where is his is either wrong, misleading, of inadequate.
1) Leithart does a good job handling the disciples of Yoder
2) Leithart does a good job dealing with the secular scholarship that downplays the obvious persecution of Christians. I like Gibbon a lot, but Leithart ably rebuts him.
3) There remains the fact of a Christian *polis,* and we see such in Constantine.
1) While I side with Leithart over Yoder, it cannot be denied that there was a seismic shift in the Church’s praxis with the advent of Constantine.
2) Further, there was a seismic shift in the church’s eschatology. While some have challenged the ubiquity of premillennialism in the pre-Nicene church, it was there and its eschatology was forward-looking to the reign of Yahweh-in-Christ upon the earth. With the advent of a Christian Emperor over the known world, an emperor who was known as “Equal-to-the-Apostles” (which can still be heard in Eastern Orthodox litanies today), in whose person Empire and Sacras were united (cf Runciman, *The Byzantine Theocracy*), there is little point for the church to retain its intense eschatological focus. Yoder and Moltmann capably document this. In losing this focus, one must acknowledge it lost a lot of its original ethical thrust.
2a) This is a tangential note: In *Against Christianity* Leithart attacks Eusebius for his postmillennial ethics centered in the Advent of Constantine, saying we should have a more Augustinian eschatology centered in the tension of already-not yet. Now Leithart writes a book where he tacitly endorses Eusebius’ eschatology. One of them has to give.
3) Constantine was a bad Christian, if I may not judge. I am willing to concede the point he was a Christian. I can even buy, for sake of argument, the miracle in the sky. But there are significant problems: 1) He put his family members to death (yes, I know it was realpolitik), 2) he postponed baptism based on very bad theology, and 3) He was not always friendly to Nicene Theology (yes, I realize he didn’t understand it, which further underscores my point). These facts to not negate Leithart’s thesis, but they remain tough pills to swallow.