Did Christianity keep the Western Roman Empire stable longer, or hasten the decline and fall ?

Did Christianity keep WRE together longer, or speed up its eventual collapse?

  • Christianity helped the Empire stay together longer than it would have otherwise.

    Votes: 37 25.7%
  • Christianity undermined the Empire and was a contributing factor in the decline.

    Votes: 24 16.7%
  • Christianity's presence was ultimately a neutral influence at best.

    Votes: 78 54.2%
  • Other (please reply to thread with position)

    Votes: 5 3.5%

  • Total voters
    144
My personal belief is that whether or no Christianity had a presence in the Empire, it was doomed to fail anyway. I have 4 chief reasons for this view.
1. Rome was already a house of cards due to being unable to figure out the issue of imperial succession. This was a carry over from the transition between Republic and Empire that was ultimately unable to be over come. If a general was sufficiently powerful, he could have the Senate name him Augustus. This would wind up leading to 26 men being declared emperor by the Senate in the span of 50 years during the Crisis of the Third Century.
2. The tension between the Latin dominated West and Greek dominated East increased as time went on. The Tetrarchy of Diocletian codified the East -West split, and the move of the capital to Constantinople solidified the divide (which arguably climaxed with the Fourth Crusade in 1204).
3. The economy of Rome was ultimately unstable because the Roman's were unable to handle inflation, and relied heavily on slave labor that was obtained through conquest. When the conquests stopped after the second century, the labor pool of slaves dried up. Diocletian attempted to control the inflation through price controls that were ultimately unsuccessful.
4. The Volkswanderung of the Germanic tribes and the Huns was arguably an event independent of the presence of Christianity. The migrations/invasions undermined the authority of the Empire, culminating both in 476 when Odacer dethroned Romulus Augustus and declared himself King of Italy, and in the Gothic War of 535 to 554.
 
I think Christianity had little effect on the downfall of the empire and was more important in the states that succeeded it than on the empire itself on the matter of stability and unity
 
Q: Did Christianity keep the Western Roman Empire stable for longer, or hasten its fall?
A: Yes.
The instability brought on by the religious problems hasten the downfall of the western empire, it didn’t help that a whole lot of the senators and aristocrats collaborated with various tribal leaders to keep their estates safe, the corruption endemic in the empire basically meant that the empire barely had enough money to spend and various incompetent emperors used as puppets basically double fucked the empire and it ended dying in a whimper rather than a bang, killing their best generals like Stilicho and Aetius meant that all they had left were self interested generals that didn’t really care, with the last Western roman rump states being Roman Britain and Soissons
 
clearly it hastened its downfall! why? because for hundreds of years Rome had avoided being sack. But then in 408 after years of struggle, the altar victory was permently removed from the senate house. then two years later rome got sacked! coincidence? I think not. Clearly the gods were upset with rome! :p /Sarcasm.
 
Wasn't there a Pope and 2 other diplomats who asked Attila to not sack Rome?
Overall Christianity was that influential in helping or harming the WRE. Religious revolts and persecution weren't really a new thing in Rome after all.

The Church's influence on keeping the legacy of the Empire alive in West was probably a lot more consequential.
 
Ending the persecution is the big factor. If they didnt, that's an ever rising demographic (in the urban centers vital to the economy) that you're oppressing- when they can, have, and will, fight back.

So ultimately christianity wouldn't have been a big factor itself, but Rome's response
 
Ending the persecution is the big factor. If they didnt, that's an ever rising demographic (in the urban centers vital to the economy) that you're oppressing- when they can, have, and will, fight back.

So ultimately christianity wouldn't have been a big factor itself, but Rome's response
The idea that Christian was an ever rising demographic is just unproven and a made up point that for some reason was readily accepted, in any case Rome could have very well wiped it out from urban centers if any of the empire wide persecution lasted more than a couple years.
 
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clearly it hastened its downfall! why? because for hundreds of years Rome had avoided being sack. But then in 408 after years of struggle, the altar victory was permently removed from the senate house. then two years later rome got sacked! coincidence? I think not. Clearly the gods were upset with rome! :p /Sarcasm.
By the first Christian army to attempt such a thing. And also the second. :p
 
I answered "Other".
Christianity played no significant role in the fall of the WRE, but helped keeping the Roman world together and was an important factor in the restoration of the Empire in the West (Charlemagne).
 
I can't really say that Christianity helped or hindered the Roman Empire. What it did do, was provide some organization for the nations which emerged after the Western Empire collapsed. By the way, how does Constantinople figure into this question?
 
Other. If it had a negative influence - and I don't think we can answer that with certainty - it's because it was divisive, not between Christians and the Roman religion, but between different groups of Christians, moreso than Greco-Roman polytheism.

Question: if the Nicene/Arian divide did not exist, and both the Romans and the Goths kept their pre-Christian beliefts, would it be easier for Rome to integrate the migrating Germanic tribes?
 
The idea of doctrinal disputes leading to instability is overblown, I think -- yes you had persecutions, division, and so on, but I don't think this ever escalated into civil war.

As for the OP's question, I guess Christianity probably had a neutral-to-positive impact on the Empire's longevity, since the Church hierarchy was able to maintain some semblance of bureaucracy and administration even as the official government was collapsing. Its main impact, however, was doubtless the preservation of Roman culture after the Empire's fall.
 
It didn't cause a civil war but Western Rome didn't end because of civil wars, not directly. It ended because the migrating Germanic tribes established their own kingdoms within its borders, and doctrinal division was a factor in keeping Germans separate and distinct from the Romans.
 
Question: if the Nicene/Arian divide did not exist, and both the Romans and the Goths kept their pre-Christian beliefts, would it be easier for Rome to integrate the migrating Germanic tribes?
Both groups being Christian bridge the gap, not create one. Despite common indo-European origin and influence from one another paganism was not united doctrinally or, more importantly, unified by identity.

It didn't cause a civil war but Western Rome didn't end because of civil wars, not directly. It ended because the migrating Germanic tribes established their own kingdoms within its borders, and doctrinal division was a factor in keeping Germans separate and distinct from the Romans.
There were already religious divisions, it's not like paganism was unified, without Christianity more of the former Roman lands would be Germanized.
 
The Empire barely survived the 200’s, which predate Constantine. Christianity came along relatively late and the problems at the time were unrelated.
 
I put hastened ita decline for 2 simple reasons. Because of the religious differences it may have been harder for the germanic tribes to be brought into the empire and assimilate, which would have saved the romans some wars, however that arguement is imo not rhe most sound.

The bigger issue was that the church at the time tried to prevent people from joining the army, and openly spoke against fighting some of the invading tribes, i read this somewhere cant remember the source. So in essence this could have given general who needed men, more men. The romans could have auctually secured theyre borders as well! Of course the roman army was still large at the ending centurys. However how many of those were fedorati and mercenaries instead of Romans, which really cost Rome more in the end as the fedoratii or mercenarys would often switch sides, a simple example oadoacer!
 
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