Christendom and Open ChuchesNamelistOfChristianChuches TELL Why.

Christendom -Is The collective body of Christians throughout the world and history;" for a thousand years the Roman Catholic Church was the principal church of Christendom". Date "Christendom" was first used in popular English literature: sometime before 1050.(references) Source: WordNet 1.7.1

True Christians Imitate (Imitate.htm) God’s Penman not Christendom. The Catholics Unscripturally Named the Christian Congregation The Roman Catholic Chuch  References in Open 106 AD Ignatius Of Antioch  Letter and 106AD or C.E. For Basic Doctrines and Beliefs R/in doctrines/a/basicdoctrines.htm

References on Christendom and Constantine

Christendom-The seeds of Christendom were laid in 306 A.D., when Emperor Constantine became co-ruler of the Roman Empire. In 312 he converted to Christianity, and in 325 Christianity became the official religion of the Empire.

Christendom was given a firmer meaning with the creation of Charlemagne's kingdom, the Christian Empire of the West. On Christmas Day, 800 A.D., Charlemagne was crowned by the Pope as ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, a title which would exist up until Napoleon's defeat of Francis II in 1806.

After the collapse of Charlemagne's empire, Christendom became a collection of states loosely connected to the Holy See. Tensions between the popes and secular rulers ran high, as the pontiffs attempted to retain control over their temporal counterparts. The idea of Christendom was already greatly discredited by the time of the Rennaissance Popes because of the moral laxity of the pontiffs and their willingness to make war, peace, and alliances like secular rulers.

Christendom as a cohesive political unit effectively ended with the Reformation.—

Christendom -The seeds of Christendom were laid in 306 A.D., when Emperor Constantine became co-ruler of the Roman Empire. In 312 he converted to Christianity, and in 325 Christianity became the official religion of the Empire.

From http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/Christendom ,

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia from the article "Christendom."

Constantine1& 2 Established Christianity as the official religion, but he did so by including the Trinity into the official religion. The Trinity is unsupported by the Bible and since Constantine was pagan the concept of Trinity would have sat easily with him. This situation would also go a long way to explain why so many Christians might believe in the Trinity today - due to church tradition.  Note the Trinity concept was formulated as a political solution to Constantine’s problems of stabilizing his empire through compromise on religious issues—This Is-Additional Note Sent in by a Reader-AdditionalNote2.htm

                               Constantine1&2  Established Christianity as the official religion

2.1  The original Nicene Creed of 325

                                                                                   2.2 The Nicene Creed of 381

                                                                 2.3 Comparison between Creed of 325 and Creed of 381                                        

 

More References

What Christians taught & practiced prior to Constantine

EarliestChristianValues.htm and PatriotismPlus.htm

 

  

[edit] 326-death

The Baptism of Constantine, as imagined by students of Raphael.

The Baptism of Constantine, as imagined by students of Raphael.

In 326, Constantine had his eldest son Crispus tried and executed, as he believed accusations that Crispus had been having an affair with Fausta, Constantine's second wife. A few months later he also had Fausta killed as the apparent source of these false accusations.

Eusebius reports that Constantine was baptized only shortly before his death in 337. With this, he followed one custom at the time which postponed baptism till old age or death[6]. According to Jerome, Constantine's choice fell upon the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, who happened, despite his being an ally of Arius, still to be the bishop of the region.

Notwithstanding his conversion to Christianity, Constantine was deified, like several other Christian emperors after him. By this late stage of the Empire, deification had lost much of its original religious meaning, and had simply become little more than a posthumous honour.[citations needed] His body was transferred to Constantinople and buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles there.

[edit] Succession

He was succeeded by his three sons by Fausta, Constantine II, Constantius II and Constans. A number of relatives were taken out of the picture by followers of Constantius. He also had two daughters, Constantina and Helena, wife of Emperor Julian.

[edit] Constantine and Christianity

Main article: Constantine I and Christianity

Constantine is best known for being the first Roman Emperor to embrace Christianity, although he may have continued in his pre-Christian beliefs, and along with his co-Emperor Licinius was the first to bestow imperial favor on Christianity through the 313 Edict of Milan. Christianity had previously been legalized by Galerius, who was the first emperor to issue an edict of toleration for all religious creeds including Christianity in April of 311.[7]

Popular legend holds that Constantine I was Christian; however, he never publicly recanted his position as Pontifex Maximus, and the only alleged occurrence of Constantine I converting was on his deathbed (as reported by later Church Fathers), which is impossible to verify. Constantinian legislation has been interpreted as sympathetic towards traditional Roman polytheism. For example, Constantine issued laws confirming the rights of flamens, priests and duumvirs.[8] Although Constantine passed legislation against magic and private divination, this was driven out of a fear that others might gain power through those means, as he himself had achieved power through the sound advice of soothsayers and this convinced him of the perspicacity of prophecy.[9] His belief in divination is confirmed by legislation calling for the consultation of augurs after an amphitheater had been struck by lightning in the year 320.[10] Constantine explicitly allowed public divination as well as traditional religious practices to continue.[11]

Constantine and the Jews

Constantine instituted several legislative measures regarding the Jews: they were forbidden to own Christian slaves or to circumcise their slaves. Conversion of Christians to Judaism was outlawed. Congregations for religious services were restricted, but Jews were allowed to enter Jerusalem on Tisha B'Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple. Constantine also supported the separation of the date of Easter from the Jewish Passover (see also Quartodecimanism), stating in his letter after the First Council of Nicaea: "... it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. ... Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way." [12]. Theodoret's Ecclesiastical History 1.9 records the Epistle of the Emperor Constantine addressed to those Bishops who were not present at the Council: "It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded.... Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. ... avoiding all contact with that evil way. ... who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them. ... a people so utterly depraved. ... Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord. ... no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews." [13]

Constantine's iconography and ideology

Coins struck for emperors often reveal details of their personal iconography. During the early part of Constantine's rule, representations first of Mars and then (from 310) of Apollo as Sun god consistently appear on the reverse of the coinage. Mars had been associated with the Tetrarchy, and Constantine's use of this symbolism served to emphasize the legitimacy of his rule. After his breach with his father's old colleague Maximian in 309–310, Constantine began to claim legitimate descent from the 3rd century emperor Marcus Aurelius Claudius Gothicus, the hero of the Battle of Naissus (September, 268). The Augustan History of the 4th century reports Constantine's paternal grandmother Claudia to be a daughter of Crispus, Crispus being a reported brother of both Claudius II and Quintillus. Historians however suspect this account to be a genealogical fabrication to flatter Constantine.

Coin of Constantine, with depiction of the sun god Sol Invictus, holding a globe and right hand raised. The legend on the reverse reads SOLI INVICTO COMITI, to (Constantine's) "companion, the unconquered Sol".

Coin of Constantine, with depiction of the sun god Sol Invictus, holding a globe and right hand raised. The legend on the reverse reads SOLI INVICTO COMITI, to (Constantine's) "companion, the unconquered Sol".

[[Image:As-Constantine-XR RIC vII 019.jpg|thumb|left|300px|Follis by Constantine. On the reverse, a labarum.

Gothicus had claimed the divine protection of Apollo-Sol Invictus. Constantine also promoted an association of himself with Sol Invictus, which was the last deity to appear on his coinage.[14] The reverses of his coinage were dominated for several years by his "companion, the unconquered Sol" — the inscriptions read SOLI INVICTO COMITI. The depiction represents Apollo with a solar halo, Helios-like, and the globe in his hands. In the 320s Constantine has a halo of his own. There are also coins depicting Apollo driving the chariot of the Sun on a shield Constantine is holding. Elements of this association remained even after Constantine's famous conversion to Christianity before the Milvian Bridge in 312. There, Eusebius tells us Constantine saw God in a vision. Thereafter, Christian symbolism, albeit ambiguous in some instances, began to appear in Imperial iconography.[15] A coin of ca 312, for example, shows the chi-rho, the first two letters of the name of Christ in Greek, on a helmet Constantine is wearing.

An example of "staring eyes" on later Constantine coinage.

An example of "staring eyes" on later Constantine coinage.

Further continuation of iconographic precedent can be seen in the larger eye of the coin portrait. This suggests a more fundamental shift in official images. Beginning in the late third century, portraits began away to become less realistic and more idealistic. The Emperor as Emperor, not merely as any particular individual, is of primary importance. The most common characteristics of this style are the broad jaw and cleft chin. The large staring eyes will loom larger as the 4th century progresses: compare the early 5th century silver coinage of Theodosius I

Constantine's Courts and Appointees

Constantine respected cultivation and Christianity, and his court was composed of older, respected, and honored men. Leading Roman families that refused Christianity were denied positions of power, yet two-thirds of his top government was non-Christian. [16]

"From Pagan temples Constantine had his statue removed. The repair of Pagan temples that had decayed was forbidden. These funds were given to the favored Christian clergy. Offensive forms of worship, either Christian or Pagan, were suppressed. At the dedication of Constantinople in 330 a ceremony half Pagan and half Christian was performed, in the market place, the Cross of Christ was placed over the head of the Sun-God's chariot. There was a singing of hymns." [17]

[edit] Constantine's legal standards

Constantine passed laws making the occupations of butcher and baker hereditary, and more importantly, supported converting the coloni (tenant farmers) into serfs — laying the foundation for European society during the Middle Ages.

Constantine's laws in many ways improved those of his predecessors, though they also reflect his more violent age. Some examples:

·      For the first time, girls could not be abducted (this may actually refer to elopements, which were considered kidnapping because girls could not legally consent to the elopement).

·      A punishment of death was mandated to anyone collecting taxes over the authorized amount.

·      A prisoner was no longer to be kept in total darkness, but must be given the outdoors and daylight.

·      A condemned man was allowed to die in the arena, but he could not be branded on his "heavenly beautified" face, just on the feet (because God made man in His image).

·      Slave "nurses" or chaperones caught allowing the girls they were responsible for to be seduced were to have molten lead poured down their throats.

·      Gladiatorial games were ordered to be eliminated in 325, although this had little real effect.

·      A slave master's rights were limited, but a slave could still be beaten to death.

·      Crucifixion was abolished for reasons of Christian piety, but was replaced with hanging, to show there was Roman law and justice.

·      Easter could be publicly celebrated.

·      Sunday was declared a day of rest, on which markets were banned and public offices were closed (except for the purpose of freeing slaves). However, there were no restrictions on farming work (which was the work of the great majority of the population).[5][18]

Constantine's legacy

Contemporary bronze head of Constantine.

Contemporary bronze head of Constantine.

Although he earned his honorific of "The Great" from Christian historians long after he had died, he could have claimed the title on his military achievements and victories alone. In addition to reuniting the empire under one emperor, Constantine won major victories over the Franks and Alamanni (306–308), the Franks again (313–314), the Visigoths in 332 and the Sarmatians in 334. In fact, by 336, Constantine had actually reoccupied most of the long-lost province of Dacia, which Aurelian had been forced to abandon in 271. At the time of his death, he was planning a great expedition to put an end to raids on the eastern provinces from the Persian Empire.

The Byzantine Empire considered Constantine its founder and also the Holy Roman Empire reckoned him among the venerable figures of its tradition. In both East and West, Emperors were sometimes hailed as a "new Constantine". Most Eastern Christian churches consider Constantine a saint. In the East he is sometimes called "isapostolos" or the "13th apostle"[2].

[edit] Legend and Donation of Constantine

Main article: Donation of Constantine

In later years, historical facts were clouded by legend. It was considered inappropriate that Constantine was baptized only on his death-bed and by a bishop of questionable orthodoxy, and hence a legend emerged that Pope Silvester I (314-335) had cured the pagan Emperor from leprosy. According to this legend, Constantine was baptized after that and donated buildings to the Pope. In the 8th century, a document called the "Donation of Constantine" first appeared, in which the freshly converted Constantine hands the temporal rule over Rome, Italy and the Occident to the Pope. In the High Middle Ages, this document was used and accepted as the basis for the Pope's temporal power, though it was denounced as a forgery by Emperor Otto III and lamented as the root of papal worldliness by the poet Dante Alighieri. The 15th century philologist Lorenzo Valla proved the document was indeed a forgery.

[edit] Constantine in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia

Because of his fame and his being proclaimed Emperor on Great Britain, Constantine was later also considered a British King. In the 11th century, the English writer Geoffrey of Monmouth published a fictional work called Historia Regum Britanniae, in which he narrates the supposed history of the Britons and their kings from the Trojan War, King Arthur and the Anglo-Saxon conquest. In this work, Geoffrey claimed that Constantine's mother Helena was actually the daughter of "King Cole", the mythical King of the Britons and eponymous founder of Colchester. A daughter for King Cole had not previously figured in the lore, at least not as it has survived in writing, and this pedigree is likely to reflect Geoffrey's desire to create a continuous line of regal descent. It was indecorous, Geoffrey considered, that a king might have less-than-noble ancestors. Monmouth also said that Constantine was proclaimed "King of the Britons" at York, rather than Roman Emperor.

[edit] Notes

1.  ^ In (Latin Constantine's official imperial title was IMPERATOR CAESAR FLAVIVS CONSTANTINVS PIVS FELIX INVICTVS AVGVSTVS, Imperator Caesar Flavius Constantine Augustus, the pious, the fortunate, the undefeated. After 312, he added MAXIMVS ("the greatest"), and after 325 replaced invictus ("undefeated") with VICTOR, as invictus reminded of Sol Invictus, the Sun God.

2.  ^ The Byzantine liturgical calendar, observed not only by the Eastern Orthodox Church but also by Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine rite, lists Constantine, with his mother Saint Helena on 21 May as a saint. He is not included in the Latin Church's Roman Martyrology, which does recognize several other Constantines as saints, and celebrates Saint Helena on 18 August.

3.  ^ De Mortibus Persecutorum ("On the Deaths of the Persecutors", chapters 34, 35)

4.  ^ See article on the Constantinian shift.

5.  ^ a b c MacMullen, 1969

6.  ^ In this period infant baptism had not yet become a matter of routine in the west (although many were, it was initially only done in times of emergency, and it was seen more as a promise of future submission to Christianity than a deliberate choice to be Christian). Adults who voluntarily submitted to baptism made a clear statement of their beliefs placing them safely among the redeemed. Some waited to old age or death for various reasons, creating tensions between Churchmen who encouraged their audience to submit and those who waivered. See Thomas M. Finn (1992), Early Christian Baptism and the Catechumenate: East and West Syria. See also Philip Rousseau (1999). "Baptism", in Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Post Classical World, ed. Peter Brown.

7.  ^ De Mortibus Persecutorum ("On the Deaths of the Persecutors", chapters 34, 35)

8.  ^ Theodosian Code 12.1.21, 12.5.2

9.  ^ Zosimus 2.29.1-2.29.4, Theodosian Code 16.10.1. Laws against the private practice of divination had been enacted ever since the time of the emperor Tiberius. The fear of a rival had led many emperors to be severe against those who attempted to divine their successor.

10.   ^ Theodosian Code 16.10.1

11.   ^ Theodosian Code 9.16.1-9.16.3.

12.   ^ Life of Constantine Vol. III Ch. XVIII by Eusebius

13.   ^ The Epistle of the Emperor Constantine, concerning the matters transacted at the Council, addressed to those Bishops who were not present

14.   ^ N. Hannestad Roman Art and Imperial Policy (Aarhus: 1988)

15.   ^ P. Bruun Studies in Constantinian numismatics : papers from 1954 to 1988

16.   ^ MacMullen 1969,1984, New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 Constantine

17.   ^ New Catholic Encyclopedia 1908

18.   ^ New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908; Theodosian Code.

[edit] References and further reading

·      Ancient History.

·      The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (Cambridge Companions to the Ancient World), edited by Noel Lenski. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005 (hardcover, ISBN 0-521-81838-9; paperback, ISBN 0-521-52157-2).

·      Chuvin, Pierre; Archer, B. A. (translator). A Chronicle of the Last Pagans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990 (ISBN 0-674-12970-9).

·      Chapman, John. "Donatists", The Catholic Encyclopedia (1909).

·      "Constantine", Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911).

·      Dodds, Eric Robertson. The Greeks and the Irrational. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964.

·      Dodds, Eric Robertson. Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety: Some Aspects of the Religious Experience from Marcus Aurelius to Constantine. Cambridge University Press, 1965.

·      Eusebius of Caesarea. The Life of the blessed Emperor Constantine in four books from 306 to 337.

·      Fowden, Garth. "The Last Days of Constantine: Oppositional Versions and Their Influence", The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 84. (1994), pp. 146–170.

·      Herbermann, Charles G.; Grupp, Georg. "Constantine the Great", The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908).

·      Holloway, R. Ross. Constantine and Rome. New Heaven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2004 (hardcover, ISBN 0-300-10043-4).

·      Jones, A.H.M. Constantine and the Conversion of Europe. London: English University Press, 1948; London: Macmillan, 1949.

·      Kousoulas, D.G. The Life and Times of Constantine the Great: The First Christian Emperor. Bethesda, MD: Provost Books, 2003 (paperback, ISBN 1-887750-61-4).

·      Lactantius, (240–320). Of the Manner the in Which the Persecutors Died.

·      MacMullen, Ramsay. Constantine. Dial Press, 1969.

·      MacMullen, Ramsay. Christianizing the Roman Empire A.D. 100–400. New Heaven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 1984.

·      MacMullen, Ramsay. Changes in the Roman Empire: Essays in the Ordinary. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.

·      MacMullen, Ramsay. Enemies of the Roman Order: Treason, Unrest, and Alienation, Harvard, 1966.

·      Odahl, Charles Matson. Constantine and the Christian Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

·      Rassias, Vlassis R. Es Edafos Ferein, 2nd edition. Athens, 2000 (ISBN 960-7748-20-4).

·      Wilken, Robert L., Christians As the Romans Saw Them. New Heaven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 1984.

·      Sources on the Antonine Plague:

o     Galen. On the Natural Faculties.

o     Marcus Cornelius Fronto. Letters of Marcus Cornelius Fronto.

[edit] See also

·      Ammianus Marcellinus

·      Arch of Constantine, triumphal arch to the victory at Milvian Bridge.

·      Christianity

·      Colossus of Constantine

·      Constantine I And Christianity

·      Constantinian shift

·      Donation of Constantine

·      Donatist

[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Constantine I (emperor)

·      The Edict of Milan AD 313

·      Letters of Constantine: Book 1, Book 2, & Book 3

·      Encyclopaedia Britannica, Constantine I

·      RomanEmperors.org Vita of Constantine; with bibliography

·      Ammianus Marcellinus on-line project

·      12 Byzantine Rulers by Lars Brownworth of Stony Brook School (grades 7-12). 40 minute audio lecture on Constantine.

·      Constantine I in the 1911 Encyclopćdia Britannica

·      Constantine the Great A site about Constantine the Great and his bronze coins emphasizing history using coins, with many resources including reverse types issued and reverse translations.

·      House of Constantine bronze coins Illustrations and descriptions of coins of Constantine the Great and his relatives.

·      BBC North Yorkshire's site on Roman York, Yorkshire and Constantine the Great

Preceded by
Constantius Chlorus

Roman Emperor
306–337
with Galerius, Licinius and Maximinus Daia

Succeeded by
Constantius II,
Constantine II
and Constans

 

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_I"

 Constantine I and Christianity

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Saint Constantine the Great

mosaic in Hagia Sophia, Constantinople, c. 1000

Isapostolos, 13th Apostle

Born

Feb 27, 272 in Niš

Died

May 22, 337 in Nicomedia

Venerated in

Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Lutheran Church

Major shrine

Church of the Holy Apostles

Feast

May 21

Attributes

In hoc signo vinces, Labarum

Troparion From the Byzantine Menaion

Your servant Constantine, O Lord and only Lover of Man, beheld the figure of the Cross in the Heavens; and like Paul (not having received his call from men, but as an Apostle among rulers set by Your hand over the royal city) he preserved lasting peace through the prayers of the Theotokos.

Kontakion From the Byzantine Menaion

With his mother Helen, Constantine today brings to light the precious Cross: the shame of unbelievers, the weapon of orthodox Christians against their enemies; for it is manifest for us as a great and fearful sign in struggle!

Disputed

"When certain oriental writers call Constantine equal to the Apostles, they do not know what they are saying; and to speak of him as a saint is a profanation of the word." -Barthold Georg Niebuhr[1]

This article covers the events of, reaction to, and historical legacy of Roman Emperor Constantine I's promotion, legitimization, and conversion to Christianity.

Contents

[hide]

Christianity's status in the empire before the Galerius' Edict of Toleration

Contrary to popular imagery, hunting Christians was not the first priority of the Roman Empire. Only under the specific direction of reigning emperors and at times of particular crisis (which were put down to the Christians not worshipping the state gods) were persecutions enforced:

·      Nero.

·      Trajan (98-117) wrote the famous response to Pliny the Younger's letter regarding how Christians should be treated. Also, Ignatius of Antioch was martyred in his reign.

·      Septimius Severus (193-211) ordered provincial governors to round up Christians and punish them according to the local governor's preference.

·      Decius launched the first Empire-wide persecution against Christians in 250, but military concerns soon led to a loss of interest and the persecution was stopped.

·      Valerian had led Decius' persecution and in 257 he re-enacted the original edict and in 258 added more stringent measures that targeted clergy with summary execution.

·      The Great Persecution 303-311 of Diocletian (284-305) was the most extreme; he ordered Christian buildings (and the homes of Christians) torn down, their sacred books collected and burned, and Christians themselves were denied the protection offered other citizens by Roman law. Christians were arrested, tortured, mutilated, burned, starved, and forced to gladiatorial contests to amuse spectators. His successor Galerius (305-311) was responsible for the more draconian aspects of this persecution, and some argue that it was he who persuaded Diocletian to launch the persecution after the success of the persecution against the Manichees, members of a religion based in Persia which was at that time a resurgent threat on the Empire's Eastern border.

Most of the time Christianity was tolerated, though not officially allowed. Alexander Severus was even friendly to the Christian movement and built a shrine to Jesus in his own home next to his shrines to the Roman gods. [citation needed] After emperor Valerian was captured by the Persians in 260, his son and successor Gallienus abandoned the persecution of Christians. Until the start of the Great Persecution, Christianity enjoyed over 40 years of relative peace without major persecutions.

The Great Persecution officially ended in April of 311, when Galerius, then senior emperor of the Tetrarchy, issued an edict of toleration, which granted Christians the right to practice their religion, though it did not restore any property to them.[1]

Constantine's conversion

Constantine's conversion, by Rubens.

Constantine's conversion, by Rubens.

[edit] Sincerity

Constantine is best known for being the first Roman Emperor to embrace Christianity, although he may have continued in his pre-Christian beliefs as well. Fifth Century historian Salminius Hermias Sozomen wrote that Constantine was converted to Christianity in Gaul and Britain saying:

... that it was then no easy matter to dwell in Gaul, in Britain, or in the neighboring countries, in which it is universally admitted Constantine embraced the religion of the Christians,...[2]

Some modern scholars, however, question the historicity of his conversion. [citation needed] This includes those who refer to the Church tradition that he was not baptised until his deathbed, and it was only witnessed by the same Christian leaders that made the subsequent claims of his baptism. That delay is likely to be linked to a then widely held belief that only pre-baptismal sins could be forgiven, so many postponed baptism as long as they could. [citation needed]

Constantine even turned to preaching in later life, giving his own sermons in the palace before his court and invited crowds, preaching harmony at first, but gradually turning more confrontational with the old pagan ways. The reason for this later "change of heart" remains conjectural.

Many historians, including philospher Bertrand Russell, believe Constantine favored Christianity due to its organization and contagious zeal:

“In the modern world, we are accustomed to political organization; every politician has to reckon with the Catholic vote, but it is balanced by the vote of other organized groups. A Catholic candidate for the Presidency is at a disadvantage, because of Protestant prejudice. But, if there were no such thing as Protestant prejudice, a Catholic candidate would stand a better chance than any other. This seems to have been Constantine's calculation. The support of the Christians, as a single organized bloc, was to be obtained by favouring them. Whatever dislike of the Christians existed was unorganized and politically ineffective. Probably Rostovtseff is right in holding that a large part of the army was Christian, and that this was what most influenced Constantine. However that may be, the Christians, while still a minority, had a kind of organization which was then new, though now common, and which gave them all the political influence of a pressure group to which no other pressure groups are opposed. This was the natural consequence of their virtual monopoly of zeal, and their zeal was an inheritance from the Jews." Bertrand Russell, a History of Western Philosophy

Peter Novak also alludes in his book Original Christianity that Constantine utilized Christianity to strike fear and condemn souls to eternal damnation:

"With a renewed alignment of church and state, the people would no longer merely fear the ability of the state to take their lives, but would then also fear its ability to condemn their souls to eternal damnation in the afterlife. A government that could get the population to believe it had such power would possess the most successful populace control system imaginable." Peter Novak, Original Christianity

[edit] Constantine's vision

The traditional story of Constantine's conversion is presented as Constantine seeing an omen in the sky whilst marching along with his troops — in front of the sun, the shape of an ambigram cross with two Greek letters, chi (Χ) and rho (Ρ) (the first two letters of the Greek ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, Christos, or Christ) along with a Greek inscription reading "Εν τούτω Νίκα", En Touto Nika (meaning "with(in) this win"), which is often translated into the more familiar Latin: In hoc signo vinces (meaning "in this sign thou shalt conquer") before his victory in the Battle of Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312.

Either upon seeing this vision or upon being instructed to use the emblem he had just seen as a standard in a dream afterwards [citation needed], Constantine is said to have instituted a new standard to be carried into battle, the labarum. Another major religion of the time, Sol Invictus, also used a similar symbol. [citation needed]

There are at least three different surviving ancient versions of this battle in greater detail, not all of them are by prominent Christian apologists:

·      Panegyric of Constantine, sees the vision as from Apollo as Constantine's patron (Panegyrici Latini VI (7), 21 from 310);

·      Lactantius, Of the manner in which the persecutors died, 44;

·      Eusebius of Caesarea, The life of Constantine, 24-31;

·      Zosimus, New History, 2 (43,44) (this version seems to have numerous owls as an omen of victory, and is by a hostile pagan).

It should be noted that historical sources of the 4th century Roman Empire seem to be unusually rich in omens, magic, hexes and spells, while lacking in critical inquiry.[3] A suspicion of literacy and higher learning which began at least a century before had grown. These may have been the results of the fear and high mortality rates caused by the first and second outbreak of the Antonine Plague (165 - 180 and 251 - 266 respectively).

[edit] Other influences

Family influence is also thought to account for Constantine's alleged later, death-bed adoption of Christianity: Helena is said to be "probably born a Christian" though virtually nothing is known of her background, save that her mother was the daughter of an innkeeper and her father a successful soldier, a career that excluded overt Christians. Helena became known later in life for numerous pilgrimages.

The sign in the sky was not in Latin but Greek: En touto Nika (in this, conquer). Also, Constantine was responsible for declaring Sunday to be a day of rest for the empire, though early Christians had already been celebrating on Sunday (as opposed to on Saturday, the day of the Jewish Sabbath) since the first century because it was the day of the Resurrection. Sunday was the day which the Roman state had dedicated to Sol Invictus (following the Egyptian tradition of associating that day with the worship of the sun), the main rival religion to Christianity at the time, and of which Constantine was chief priest (pontifex maximus) until his death.

[edit] Constantine's edicts and actions

Coin of Constantine I, making a benediction gesture, with his sons, enthroned.

Coin of Constantine I, making a benediction gesture, with his sons, enthroned.

Galerius was the first emperor to issue an edict of toleration for all religious creeds including Christianity in April of 311.[4] Constantine confirmed this with his co-Emperor Licinius with the so-called Edict of Milan of 313. This edict removed penalties for professing Christianity , under which many had been martyred in previous persecutions of Christians (ie legalized it), and returned confiscated Church property. However, it neither made paganism illegal nor made Christianity a state-sponsored religion, but instead granted religious freedom.

There is no historical evidence that an Edict of Milan was ever issued as a formal legal document[5]. Licinius after returning to his Eastern portion of the Empire, issued a decree from Constantine and himself, but we have no surviving writing from Constantine on this topic. What is claimed as the text of the edict [2] is not a joint "Edict of Milan," but something issued by Licinius in the East.

[edit] Public office

Once imperial favor was granted to Christianity by the Edict, new avenues were opened to Christians, including the right to compete with pagan Romans in the traditional cursus honorum for high government positions, and greater acceptance into general civil society.

Constantine respected cultivation, and his court was composed of older, respected, and honored men. Leading Roman families that refused Christianity were denied positions of power, yet pagans still received appointments, even up to the end of his life, and two-thirds of his top government was non-Christian.[6]

[edit] Army

Considered a critical component of Roman society, the army was a prime target for conversion. Exerting his absolute power, Constantine had the army recite his composed Latin prayer in an attempt to convert them to Christianity, which failed. It was unpopular in the army both because it accepted women, and because the soldiers generally were members of other religions such as those of Mithras and Isis. [citation needed]

[edit] Church building

He began a large building program of churches in the Holy Land, which while it greatly expanding the faith also allowed considerable increase in the power and wealth of the clergy. New churches were allowed to be built, often under Constantine's (or his mother Helena's) patronage, under which the church prospered. He gave the Lateran Palace to the Pope, ordered the building of:

·      in the Holy Land:

o     the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

o     Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

·      in Rome:

o     Saint Peter's Basilica

o     an oratory now the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura

o     Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

·      in Constantinople

o     Hagia Sophia

o     the Church of the Holy Apostles where he was entombed.

[edit] Clergy

The clergy were patronised by Constantine, and received legal perks. Christian leadership became increasingly bold — Christian bishops became prominent and took aggressive public stances that were unheard of among other religions, drawing a hostile pagan reaction and the outlawing of public proselytism. [citation needed]

[edit] Internal church controversy

Christianity's new status meant that church controversies, lively within the Christian communities since the mid-2nd century, now flared (often with violent acts) into public schisms — see, for example, the Donatist schism in Africa. Constantine, believing himself divinely appointed, saw quelling religious disorder as the divinely-appointed emperor's duty. [citation needed] He therefore called the 314 Council of Arles against the Donatists and, after becoming Emperor of the East, the first Ecumenical Council: the First Council of Nicaea (May 20 - July 25, 325), to settle some of the doctrinal problems plaguing early Christianity, notably Arianism and Quartodecimanism. In the Council of Nicaea he played an active role, even though he had not even been baptized.

[edit] Legal reforms

Constantine's laws enforced and reflected his Christian reforms:

·      Crucifixion was abolished for reasons of Christian piety, but was replaced with hanging, to show there was Roman law and justice.

·      Easter could be publicly celebrated.

·      On March 7, 321, Sunday was declared the official day of rest, on which markets were banned and public offices were closed (CJ 3.12.2) (except for the purpose of freeing slaves). However, there were no restrictions on farming work (which was the work of the great majority of the population).[7]

Some were even humane in the modern sense, possibly originating in his Christianity:

·      A prisoner was no longer to be kept in total darkness, but must be given the outdoors and daylight.

·      A condemned man was allowed to die in the arena, but he could not be branded on his "heavenly beautified" face, just on the feet (because God made man in His image).

·      Gladiatorial games were ordered to be eliminated in 325, although this had little real effect.

·      A slave master's rights were limited, but a slave could still be beaten to death.

[edit] Opposing paganism?

Neither the Edict nor later Constantinian legislation outlawed paganism. However, "From Pagan temples Constantine had his statue removed. The repair of pagan temples that had decayed was forbidden. These funds were given to the favored Christian clergy. Offensive forms of worship, either Christian or pagan, were suppressed. At the dedication of Constantinople in 330 a ceremony half pagan and half Christian was performed, in the market place, the Cross of Christ was placed over the head of the Sun-God's chariot [with]... a singing of hymns."[8]

Pagans were also still wary of Christians for their public refusal to "sacrifice and build idols" (which some modern writers see as an oath of allegiance). Consistent with the Roman idea that they ruled by the favor of the gods, refusal to build idols was seen as something that might easily bring upon all the Roman people the loss of the divine favor and protection. "In hoc signo vinco" was an attempt to show that this new god also gave Rome divine protection.

Also, as Christianity began to move from a position of toleration to one of preference after Constantine, followers of the old religion turned to appeals to the state to protect their own traditions. For example, in 340, when the Altar of Victory was desecrated and removed from its place of honor in the Senate, the Senate deputized Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, prefect of Rome, to appeal to the Emperor for its return. In his plea for freedom of religion, Symmachus publicly characterized the late Emperor Constantine's policy thus:

"[Constantine] diminished none of the privileges of the sacred virgins, he filled the priestly offices with nobles, he did not refuse the cost of the Roman ceremonies, and following the rejoicing Senate through all the streets of the eternal city, he contentedly beheld the shrines with unmoved countenance, he read the names of the gods inscribed on the pediments, he enquired about the origin of the temples, and expressed admiration for their builders. Although he himself followed another religion, he maintained its own for the empire, for everyone has his own customs, everyone his own rites. The divine mind has distributed different guardians and different cults to different cities. As souls are separately given to infants as they are born, so to peoples the genius of their destiny." (Possible Christian insertion in italics.)

Medieval sourcebook: "The Memorial of Symmachus, prefect of the City". (The Memorial has been emended to address three emperors, Valentinian II (died 392), Theodosius I, and Arcadius. Arcadius was named co-ruler with his father and "Augustus" in January, 383. So the address to the three Augusti could have been written anywhere between 383 and 392. There may be Christian adulterations of the text. The reply of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, is appended, which is highly revealing in the character of his argument in rebuttal.)[9]

[edit] Constantine and the Jews

See also: Christianity and anti-Semitism#The Emperor Constantine the Great

Constantine instituted several legislative measures regarding the Jews: they were forbidden to own Christian slaves or to circumcise their slaves. Conversion of Christians to Judaism was outlawed. Congregations for religious services were restricted, but Jews were allowed to enter Jerusalem on Tisha B'Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple. Constantine also supported the separation of the date of Easter from the Jewish Passover (see also Quartodecimanism), stating in his letter after the First Council of Nicaea: "... it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. ... Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way." [10]. Theodoret's Ecclesiastical History 1.9 records the Epistle of the Emperor Constantine addressed to those bishops who were not present at the Council: "It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded. ... Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. ... avoiding all contact with that evil way. ... who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them. ... a people so utterly depraved. ... Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord. ... no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews." [11]

[edit] Reactions and reflection

[edit] Persian reaction

Beyond the limes, east of the Euphrates, the Sassanid rulers of the Persian Empire had usually tolerated their Christians. A letter supposedly from Constantine to Shapur II (who was proclaimed king in 309 before he was born, and reigned till his death in 379), written in c. 324 urged him to protect the Christians in his realm. With the edicts of toleration in the Roman Empire, Christians in Persia would now be regarded as allies of Persia's ancient enemy, and were thus persecuted. Shapur II wrote to his generals:

You will arrest Simon, chief of the Christians. You will keep him until he signs this document and consents to collect for us a double tax and double tribute from the Christians … for we Gods have all the trials of war and they have nothing but repose and pleasure. They inhabit our territory and agree with Caesar, our enemy. (Quoted in Freya Stark, Rome on the Euphrates 1967, p. 375.)

The Sassanids were perennially at war with Rome (which incidentally raises further doubt on the authenticity of this letter). Christians were now suspected for potential treachery. The "Great Persecution" of the Persian Christian churches occurred in a later period, 340 to 363, after the Persian Wars that reopened upon Constantine's death. In 344 came the martyrdom of Catholicos Shimun bar Sabbae, with five bishops and 100 priests.

[edit] Historical reflections on Constantine's actions

Christian historians ever since Lactantius have adhered to the view that Constantine "adopted" Christianity as a kind of replacement for the official Roman paganism. Though the document called the "Donation of Constantine" was proved a forgery (though not until the 15th century, when the stories of Constantine's conversion were long-established "facts") it was attributed as documenting the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity for centuries. Even Christian skeptics have accepted this formulation, though seeing Constantine's policy as a political one, unifying and strengthening the Empire, rather than a spiritual move. Still the Edict of Milan indicated that reverence to the divine, as shown by past events, was for the good of the Roman Empire.

Despite the questions surrounding Constantine, he is celebrated as a major saint of Eastern Orthodoxy, together with his mother Helena (both feasted on 21 May). The emperor is not only considered an example of a "Christian monarch" (isapostolos - "equal to the Apostles"), he is associated, albeit in retrospect, with the idea of a "Second Rome" - the Byzantine one.

[edit] References

1. ^ De Mortibus Persecutorum ("On the Deaths of the Persecutors", chapters 34, 35)

2. ^ Sozomen, Salminius Hermias. Historia Ecclesiastica. Bk I, Ch. V.

3. ^ MacMullen, Ramsay, Changes in the Roman Empire:Essays in the Ordinary, Chapter Eleven: Distrust of the Mind in the Fourth Century,Princeton, 1990

4. ^ De Mortibus Persecutorum ("On the Deaths of the Persecutors", chapters 34, 35)

5. ^ see Stuart Hall, Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church, 1991

6. ^ MacMullen 1969,1984; New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908.

7. ^ MacMullen 1969; New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908; Theodosian Code.

8. ^ New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908

9. ^ See: Diocletian's Edicts against the Christians, Galerius Maximianus, and Lactantius' Of the Manner in which the Persecutors Died, Chapters 21-24). (MacMullen, 1990 & 1966, Wilken, 1984)

10.  ^ Life of Constantine Vol. III Ch. XVIII by Eusebius

11.  ^ The Epistle of the Emperor Constantine, concerning the matters transacted at the Council, addressed to those Bishops who were not present

[edit] See also

·      Christian anarchism

·      Constantinian shift

[edit] External links

·      The Full Text of the "Edict of Milan"

·      OrthodoxWiki:Constantine the Great

·      The First Missionary War - a non-Christian perspective aftermath of Constantinian's actions

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_I_and_Christianity"

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Their heart has become hypocritical; now they will be found guilty. There is one who will break their altars; he will despoil their pillars.—Hos. 10:2.

Jehovah expects us to render sacred service to him in a clean, unhypocritical manner. However, Israel had ‘multiplied altars’ and even put up pillars—perhaps obelisks designed for use in unclean worship. Jehovah was going to break down these altars and destroy such pillars. (Hos. 10:1) Although the Israelites had once entered a covenant with Jehovah as a people dedicated to him, he found them guilty of hypocrisy. What can we learn from this? If we have dedicated ourselves to God, we must not be hypocrites. Proverbs 3:32 warns: “The devious person is a detestable thing to Jehovah, but His intimacy is with the upright ones.” We must display love “out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.

WHOSLyingJesusAndTheHolySpiritOrTheNiceneCreeds.htm