By Anthony de Jasay
Early Christianity was essentially a church of and for the poor and the oppressed. However, it did not seek to rouse them against the rich and the oppressor. Instead, it offered solace by the promise of a life after death, a life of infinitely greater worth, greater reward for the righteous, and greater punishment for the unrepentant sinner than anything the brief passage of earthly existence might bring. In life after death, the first will become the last and the last the first. The rich will find it harder to enter Paradise than the camel to pass through the eye of the needle. Thus will divine justice be done. In this vale of sorrow, charity was due to the suffering poor and the sick, but revolution was not the message of religion. St Peter’s Church was ultimately concerned only with the spiritual and not, or hardly at all, with the temporal.