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Constantine, good or bad?

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  • Constantine, good or bad?

    Hello all,

    I was just thinking about how Christianity was changed (or not changed) during the period of Constantine (274-337). This was a time when the church supposedly became corrupted, and all sorts of crazy ideas entered the church. But after reading several articles about it, it became apparent to me that the charges were misleading.

    Is there anyone out ther who can explain how we are to view constantine's role in early christianity? What are some of the views on this guy?

  • #2
    Perhaps the most significant feature of Constantine’s effort to enforce orthodoxy among Christians is the Council of Nicaea, recognized as the First Ecumenical Council in Christianity. Constantine called the council to deal with the heresy of Arianism. Here the Nicene Creed was created and mandated for all Christians. Unity of the church was important.

    Constantine built many beautiful churches which still stand today. Such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by KATA_LOUKAN View Post
      Hello all,

      I was just thinking about how Christianity was changed (or not changed) during the period of Constantine (274-337). This was a time when the church supposedly became corrupted, and all sorts of crazy ideas entered the church. But after reading several articles about it, it became apparent to me that the charges were misleading.

      Is there anyone out ther who can explain how we are to view constantine's role in early christianity? What are some of the views on this guy?
      First of all, we can't change history. What happened has happened.

      I'd have to fall in the camp that says Constantine's influence on Christianity was not good. Any time you wed religion and civic authority, both are corrupted. Constantine's decision to make Christianity the "official religion of Rome" led to incredible corruption, evil and even the Great Crusades.

      Would the Church of Jesus the Christ have survived without Constantine? Yes, absolutely! And it might have even been better off.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jeffreys View Post
        First of all, we can't change history. What happened has happened.

        I'd have to fall in the camp that says Constantine's influence on Christianity was not good. Any time you wed religion and civic authority, both are corrupted. Constantine's decision to make Christianity the "official religion of Rome" led to incredible corruption, evil and even the Great Crusades.

        Would the Church of Jesus the Christ have survived without Constantine? Yes, absolutely! And it might have even been better off.
        Is this to say that political theology is wrong?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Teke View Post
          Is this to say that political theology is wrong?
          Nope.

          But let's be honest. Theocracies do not work.

          When church & state wed, it inevitably leads to all manner of evil. History is replete with examples of this.

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          • #6
            Theocracy in the hands of men, does not bear good things. Only corruption and piousness.
            Jeremy, a bondservant of the Lord.

            Today is a good day to die for Christ.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jeffreys View Post
              Nope.

              But let's be honest. Theocracies do not work.

              When church & state wed, it inevitably leads to all manner of evil. History is replete with examples of this.
              Then what is the Kingdom of Heaven to you? And why does scripture teach you that all government is governed or allowed, by God, and therefore Christians are to be obedient to such authorities as God appoints?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Teke View Post
                Then what is the Kingdom of Heaven to you? And why does scripture teach you that all government is governed or allowed, by God, and therefore Christians are to be obedient to such authorities as God appoints?
                All government is allowed by God, yes. Even evil theocracies are, for whatever reason, allowed by God.

                I think you may be confused as to what I'm referring to when I say theocracy.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Constantine is perhaps best known for being the first Christian Roman Emperor. His reign was a turning point for the Christian Church. In 313 Constantine announced toleration of Christianity in the Edict of Milan, which removed penalties for professing Christianity (under which many had been martyred in previous persecutions of Christians) and returned confiscated Church property. Though a similar edict had been issued in 311 by Galerius, then senior emperor of the Tetrarchy,[20] Constantine's lengthy rule, conversion, and patronage of the Church redefined the status of Christianity in the empire.
                  Scholars debate whether Constantine adopted his mother St. Helena's Christianity in his youth, or whether he adopted it gradually over the course of his life.[21] Constantine was over 40 when he finally declared himself a Christian.[22] Writing to Christians, Constantine made clear that he believed he owed his successes to the protection of the Christian High God alone.[23] Throughout his rule, Constantine supported the Church financially, built various basilicas, granted privileges (e.g. exemption from certain taxes) to clergy, promoted Christians to high ranking offices, and returned property confiscated during the Great Persecution of Diocletian.[24] His most famous building projects include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Old Saint Peter's Basilica.
                  The reign of Constantine established a precedent for the position of the Christian Emperor in the Church; Constantine considered himself responsible to God for the spiritual health of his subjects, and thus he had a duty to maintain orthodoxy.[25] For Constantine, the emperor did not decide doctrine - that was the responsibility of the bishops - rather his role was to enforce doctrine, root out heresy, and uphold ecclesiastical unity.[26] The emperor ensured that God was properly worshipped in his empire; what proper worship consisted of was for the Church to determine.[27]
                  In 316, Constantine acted as a judge in a North African dispute concerning the heresy of Donatism. More significantly, in 325 he summoned the Council of Nicaea, effectively the first Ecumenical Council (unless the Council of Jerusalem is so classified), to deal mostly with the heresy of Arianism.
                  Constantine also enforced the prohibition of the First Council of Nicaea against celebrating Easter on the day before the Jewish Passover (14 Nisan) (see Quartodecimanism and Easter controversy).[28]
                  What parts of this are "evil"?

                  Can you provide any clear, concrete examples of how the church was corrupted?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by KATA_LOUKAN View Post
                    What parts of this are "evil"?

                    Can you provide any clear, concrete examples of how the church was corrupted?
                    It wasn't necessarily Constantine who was corrupt.

                    But what he did - by making Christianity the official religion of Rome - was set the stage for the horrors that followed.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jeffreys View Post
                      But what he did - by making Christianity the official religion of Rome - was set the stage for the horrors that followed.
                      confused

                      The rulers usually did decide the "official religion". Russia's first king decided that Christianity would be their "official religion". The Eastern Orthodox Christians have been firmly established there since then. Many Russians can tell you stories of how Christianity survived through communist rule there. And had it not been for communist rule with it's restrictions, the "official religion" of the US may have been Orthodox as well, as they were the first Christian missions here. Had they not been stifled, the western RC branches (which include Protestants) may not have grown so great in the US.

                      So maybe because of the Russian king, later in history when the country would suffer greatly, it would also survive because of the Christian faith.
                      Something to consider.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Teke View Post
                        confused

                        The rulers usually did decide the "official religion". Russia's first king decided that Christianity would be their "official religion". The Eastern Orthodox Christians have been firmly established there since then. Many Russians can tell you stories of how Christianity survived through communist rule there. And had it not been for communist rule with it's restrictions, the "official religion" of the US may have been Orthodox as well, as they were the first Christian missions here. Had they not been stifled, the western RC branches (which include Protestants) may not have grown so great in the US.

                        So maybe because of the Russian king, later in history when the country would suffer greatly, it would also survive because of the Christian faith.
                        Something to consider.
                        Do you know what a Theocracy is? A theocracy is where church & state are one in the same.

                        It is not possible for there to be a theocracy in, say, the former USSR - where the government is an atheistic entity.

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                        • #13
                          But what he did - by making Christianity the official religion of Rome
                          Constantine didnt make the religion official, he just relaxed the persecution of christians. Theodosius made it offical.

                          What i am looking for is specific problem constantine caused or a doctrine he invented. Relaxing persecution was not a bad thing (although I have heard it argued otherwise).



                          Digression/Side Note

                          If it is wrong to have a theocracy, what is the "correct" form of government? Could it not be argued that your deistic, rationalistic founding fathers who were the product of the enlightenment were responsible for the decay we see in the US today?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jeffreys View Post
                            Do you know what a Theocracy is? A theocracy is where church & state are one in the same.

                            It is not possible for there to be a theocracy in, say, the former USSR - where the government is an atheistic entity.
                            Well here is Websters def. of theocracy.

                            theocracy

                            Pronunciation:
                            \thē-ˈä-krə-sē\
                            Function:
                            noun
                            Inflected Form(s):
                            plural the·oc·ra·cies
                            Etymology:
                            Greek theokratia, from the- + -kratia -cracy
                            Date:
                            1622

                            1 : government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided 2 : a state governed by a theocracy

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Teke View Post
                              1 : government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided 2 : a state governed by a theocracy
                              That's exactly what I've been saying.

                              And I've been saying that no theocracy has ever worked.

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