Many evangelicals view the fourth-century conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine as an unfortunate chapter in church history, one that sabotaged the purity of the early church and ushered in the corrupt Middle Ages. Peter J. Leithart believes this version of church history is a myth. In Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom (IVP Academic), Leithart shows that the early church was not as united as we think, nor was Constantine the villain many have made him out to be.
Along the way, Leithart teases out contemporary implications regarding the church’s role in the world, implications that distance him from scholars like John Howard Yoder. Defending Constantine could have been called Dismantling Yoder, for although Leithart’s primary purpose is to vindicate Constantine, he devotes significant effort to pointing out the cracks in Yoder’s Anabaptist perspective on Christendom.