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During the reigns of Nero, Galerius, Domitian, and Diocletian there were specific empire-wide persecutions of the Christian Church. Rome was the capitol of the Empire, but it lacked the grandeur of a world-dominating capitol with its narrow streets and wooden buildings. Legend has it that Nero a€?played his fiddle while Rome burned.a€? History does confirm that during the fire Nero appeared on stage and lamented the fire as another major drama, much like the defeat of the ancient Troy. Nero attempted to deflect the focus from himself through acts of civil charity, opening his palace to house the homeless, and supervising food lines for the hungry.
To deflect attention from himself he placed the blame on the Christians in Rome, announcing that the fire was part of a greater plot to overthrow the empire. He instigated a persecution of Christians and systematically, under torture, gained the names of Christians and their leaders from those initially interrogated.
Some of the Christians were fed to wild beasts in the colosseum, with Nero, himself presiding as the grand master of the games.
The people realized that Christians were being put to death not for starting the fire but to cover Nero's crimes and to sate his appetite for cruelty. They were accused of being atheists, because the God they worshipped could not be seen, there were no statues erected to him by the Christians, and, hence, he probably did not exist.
Addressing each other as a€?brothera€? and a€?sistera€? and a€?mothera€? and a€?fathera€? when there were no apparent natural blood ties, and referring to themselves as a€?a familya€? started rumors of incest and crazy relationships. An example of how a civil magistrate responded to Christians is found in a letter by Pliny the Younger (c.
Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, Syria was eighty years old when he was put to death in December 107 A.D.
As he made his way from Antioch to Smyrna in present-day northern Turkey, Ignatius was greeted by Christians at each stopping point. At the festival of Caesar in Smyrna (near Ephesus in present-day western Turkey) a number of Christians were forced to fight against wild beasts at the local games. Hearing this, Polycarp decided to remain in the city, but the other Christians urged him to leave and hide at a series of local farms.
As he entered the stadium, a voice from heaven said to Polycarp, a€?Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.a€? The voice was heard by other Christians who were present.
The Julian line and their successors attempted at every turn to eliminate the new, radical religion erupting from Jerusalem, with this self-styled a€?King of the Jewsa€? as their fabled leader.
Now with the ascension to the throne of Constantine, the Christian faith had become through the Edict of Milan in AD 313 a legal religion in the empire and by AD 380 was THE religion of Rome. The Christian Faith spread rapidly throughout the Empire after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Setting the example for the missionary enterprise were the Apostles themselves, each having traveled widely for the remainder of their lives.
Although the Arian doctrine was rejected at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, it was the version of the Christian Faith that was carried to the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths and to which they were originally converted from heathenism. Constantine struggled with the issue of how the State and Church would relate and interact. At the early death of Constantine II, the Empire was speedily divided between Constantius and Constans, who rigorously attacked the remnants of pagan worship in the empire and in 346 AD issued a joint edict ordering all pagan temples to be closed, and forbade sacrifices on the pain of death. Valens and Valentius became emperors of the East and West respectively, Theodocius succeeded them.
Leading Christian centers of power and scholarship in the empire were Alexandria, Jerusalem, Damascus, Constantinople, and Rome. Theodocius, to assure orthodoxy, urged all Christians, to especially revere the leadership of the bishops in Alexandria and Constantinople. Describe and identify where each of the original Apostles went in their missionary travels and what impact they made. List at least five reasons for the strength and growth of the Christian faith enabling it not only to survive, but also to dominate the empire. Analyze how the Council of Nicaea stabilized and unified Christianity in the 4th century A.D. Explain the contributions of Constantine and Theodocius on the emerging growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Analyze the rejection by the four other Patriarchies of the Church of the claims of superiority issued by the patriarchy of Rome.
Born to a Christian mother, Constantine continued the tolerant approach of his father to the Christians in the West. Constantine had previously gained an alliance with Licinius by offering his half-sister Constantia as his wife.
The night before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine and his troops reported to have seen signs in the sky of Christ and the cross. Because Licinius was the husband of Constantia, his half-sister, Constantine allowed Licinius to live. Now the sole ruler in the empire, Constantine was sickened by the filth and corruption in Rome. Constantine built several large churches in the city to signify that the new capitol was capitol of a new Christian Roman Empire. Should Christians have preference and priority or not in appointments to government offices and leadership positions in the military? Should the old system that released pagan temples and priests from taxation be continued, and if so, should it be extended to church property and to Christian bishops and priests?
Critics of Constantine have coined the term a€?Constantinisma€? for what they interpret to be undue influence by Constantine in the affairs of the Church. Constantine soon discovered that there were as many disputes, controversies, and even assassinations in the Church as there had been in the pagan empire.
The first major problem to be faced was the dispute that had erupted in Alexandria, Egypt between two bishops, Athanasius and Arius.
The Council at Ephesus dealt with the question about the relationship between the two natures of Jesus.
All three councils affirmed the deity of Jesus and his two natures, and thereby also the doctrine of the Trinity. The image to the left is a symbol devised to explain the decision of Chalcedon concerning the relationship of the three persons who make up the triune Godhead. The Father is not (non est) the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father, but all three are (est) God.
Constantine has been given the title by historians, a€?Constantine the Greata€? for his many important contributions made, not only for the empire, or the Christian Church, but also for western civilization as a whole. He further strengthened the observance of Sunday by conducting Christian worship services every Sunday in his palace.
Freedom of religion was granted, including the legalization of Christianity, through the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. Churches and clergy were exempted from taxation, as were priests and sacred buildings of other religions in the empire, thus strengthening the separation of Church and State. He produced a new concept of a€?Romantitasa€? -- a new Roman society devoid of its basis built upon blood, gore, sacrifice, military prowess. Slavery, although not abolished (it was too tightly wound into the economy and culture to be abolished completely all at once) was limited, the treatment of slaves was improved, and the process for freeing slaves was greatly modified and facilitated. Crispus was Constantinea€™s oldest son, whose mother, Minervina, was never married to Constantine. Both the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches have named Constantine a saint, and therefore they likely have accepted the theory that the report of the illicit affair was true and that Constantine was bound by law to enact the death penalty for both his son and his wife.
Upon the death of his wife, Fausta, Constantine designated his mother, Helen, as Empress Imperatix. Diocletian (293 AD) was the first emperor to divide the Empire into Western and Eastern halves, while at the same time maintaining ultimate authority over both. Constantine (324 AD) reunited the empire at Constantinople, but prior to his death divided the empire into three sections, giving his three sons authority over each. In 337 AD his sons Constantine II (Orthodox, West), Constans I (Orthodox, Middle), and Constantius II (Arian, East) fought for control and fought over Christian doctrine. On one occasion while in Egypt, Theodocius ordered the destruction of the famed bronze statute of the Greek goddess Serapis, who had been worshipped for generations.


Born in Spain, Theodosius, son of a famous general, distinguished himself in the military and then retired from public service. The strength of the Christian Church in the empire by this time can be seen in a sad story that took place during the reign of Theodosius. Several days prior Theodosius awakened to his error and ordered the reversal of his previous dictum.
In horror at his own actions, and with the rapid response of Christian leaders condemning his actions, Theodosius shut himself up in his palace and wept for days.
Because of his personal godly virtue and strong administrative leadership, Theodosius, as with Constantine before him, is known to history as Theodosius the Great. Earlier invasions of Italy and of Rome occurred on several occasions in the early part of the 5th century. In Europe, meanwhile, successive waves of Germanic invasions swept through virtually every area. The wars fought by Emperor Justinian from Constantinople in the 6th century in an attempt to gain control of Italy back from the Goths, did further damage to Europe. Christians were accused of being traitors to the empire because they refused to worship the emperor. 3.A A  Setting the example for the missionary enterprise were the Apostles themselves, each having traveled widely for the remainder of their lives. 6.A A A  Constantine struggled with the issue of how the State and Church would relate and interact. 8.A A A  At the early death of Constantine II, the Empire was speedily divided between Constantius and Constans, who rigorously attacked the remnants of pagan worship in the empire and in 346 AD issued a joint edict ordering all pagan temples to be closed, and forbade sacrifices on the pain of death.
10.A A  Valens and Valentius became emperors of the East and West respectively, Theodocius succeeded them. 11.A A  Leading Christian centers of power and scholarship in the empire were Alexandria, Jerusalem, Damascus, Constantinople, and Rome.
12.A A  Theodocius, to assure orthodoxy, urged all Christians, to especially revere the leadership of the bishops in Alexandria and Constantinople. Mission Statement & Pastoral VisionWinning souls to the kingdom of God and then disciple them through the Word of God which will result in stronger families and communities.
Vision: 1) win 150 souls to Christ yearly 2) create an evangelism team 3) all church ministries will become more active 4) establish Youth Pastor position 5) 50% of membership to become tithers within two years. Available Jobs & ScholarshipsClick the link below to view available jobs and scholarships. And the Christian faith spread rapidly throughout the empire, displacing local and empire-supported paganism.
True to his visions of immense self-worth, he envisioned himself as the worlda€™s greatest architect -- in addition to being the self-proclaimed best charioteer, artist, musician, and dramatist. Perhaps the clearest example of the madness of Nero and the evil that consumed him was his evening garden parties which he lit by tying Christians to poles, soaking them with oil, and using them as human torches. Compassion for the meek followers of Jesus, whose blameless conduct was apparent to many, led to a new wave of conversions.
Stories about how the Christians a€?ate and drank the body and blood of Jesusa€? were usually the basis for this misunderstanding.
Further, they refused to join in the worship of the gods that could be easily seen in the local temples.
He hated everything Constantine and his sons stood for and did much to restore paganism in the empire.
He was committed to the faith of the West, the anti-Arian postion of Nicea, and with co-emperor Gratian, in 380 A.D. He was not yet a Christian but perhaps in addition to following his fathera€™s lead also wanted to set himself apart from Galerius and his persecution of Christians in the East. Constantine was told, it was reported, that if he trusted in Christ and became a Christian, as well as his troops, they would win the battle, although greatly outnumbered. However, after a second occurrence of Liciniusa€™ plotting to overthrow and kill Constantine, Constantine sent men to hunt Licinius down and they killed him in northern Greece. Others, however, look more favorably on his involvement by citing the need for major reforms in the judicial and legal systems of the empire and the difficulty of learning how best and to what degree to maintain a separation between the State and the Church.
These centered around four matters: (1) local and regional rivalries among Christian, (2) disputes concerning leadership in the churches, (3) doctrinal disputes concerning the deity of Christ and the Trinity, and (4) disputes about how to handle Christians who had caved in under Diocletian and local persecutions.
Arius taught that Jesus was a created being and was not divine in the sense that God the Father was divine. Chalcedon affirmed that in Jesus two natures were united in one manhood, condemned Nestorius and his teachings, condemned another teaching that was circulating affirming that Jesus had only one nature, and affirmed the Nicene Creed. Sexual crimes and sex outside of marriage became crimes against the State because they were viewed as corrupting influences to society and culture. Crispus was raised in Gaul by his father, given an excellent education by a noted Christian teacher, and when reaching maturity proved himself to be an excellent military leader. Was this factual or was Fausta jealous of Crispus, since she bore three younger sons to Constantine: Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans, in addition to two daughters? Or, on the other hand, was he duty bound to carry out justice that was prescribed in Roman law, the very law that he helped to write requiring death for adultery and fornication? The Eastern Empire revived under the Byzantine emperors, especially Justinian I, until the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453 A.D. From that point forward he used his authority to combat the Churcha€™s long-standing second foe, Arianism. The bishop of Milan, Ambrose, denied Theodosius participation in the Lorda€™s Supper until acts of repentance were carried out. In the West Latin prevailed and the bishop in Rome became the most powerful of Christian spiritual leaders. Goths had made their way to Rome after the defeat of the emperor Valens at Adrianople in 378 A.D. Under the military leadership of Odoacer the Germanic troops revolted, captured Ravenna, the functional capitol of the Western empire at the time, quickly conquered all of Italy, and captured Rome itself. Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:…and pray for one another, that you may be healed. So intense was the persecution that soon public sentiment swung behind the Christians and the city realized that Nero was merely attempting to cover up his own guilt.
At one point Nero disappeared from Rome for a full year, having traveled to Greece to participate as a€?the worlda€™s greatest athletea€? in the Olympic games. There were empire-wide periods of persecution, however, under the emperors Nero, Domitian in the late first century, and Diocletian in the late second century. Because in some areas they had become so numerous that no one shopped at the local meat market where meat was sold for sacrifice to the pagan idols. Because of the Christiansa€™ refusal to worship the local gods and the emperor, the gods poured out their wrath on the community. Even the Roman legions refused to go into battle without first having participated in traditional rituals.
Male and female prostitutes were everywhere, extra-marital affairs were the norm, unwanted pregnancies ended in either abortion or infant exposure easily presumed incestual relationships were being practiced by the Christians.
If they admit it I repeat the question a second and a third time, threatening capital punishment; if they persist I sentence them to death. He was a bishop or leader in the Christian Church and one way to attack to whole group is to eliminate their leaders. Suffer me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. When the men sent by the the local sheriff, named Herod, arrived at his hiding place, he talked with them and asked for them to be served food and drink, because it was late in the day.
He that granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the pyre unmoved, without being secured with nails.a€? After he prayed, the fire was then lit.
Cited in Documents of the Christian Church, Henry Bettenson, Oxford University Press, 1963, pp.
That night Constantine embraced the faith of this mother and all the troops entered the battle the next day with Christian crosses painted on their shields.
While there Constantine and Licinius together issued the Edict of Milan, granting freedom of religion throughout the empire and especially making Christianity one of the legal religions in the empire.


He wanted to start with a fresh approach and moved the capitol of the empire from Rome to Byzantium located at the Hellespont. It was a revolutionary leap from the pagan emperors Nero and Diocletian to the Christian emperor Constantine. While much of his decisions and actions related to these matters were built on solid principles, much had to be learned through trial and error. Arianism became the dominant view of Christianity that was embraced, for instance, by the Goths and Visigoths, and found adherents in Syria, Persia, and Egypt. It is not one God showing up in three different costumes, as Chalcedon rejected, but three persons, each distinct, yet each sharing in one essence of Godhead.
Her loyalty to her husband was proven when she informed Constantine of a plot by her father to kill him. At his death his cousin, Julian the Apostate (last pagan emperor in the empire) became sole emperor. Theodosius, ruling from Constantinople, issued an edict proclaiming Christianity as the only legal religion in the East. But when the statue fell, rather than the gods responding, a pack of rats ran out from under the base of the statue.
He also opposed Arianism in the West and assisted the famed Bishop Ambrose of Milan in crushing Arianism. In response, Theodosius, instead of hunting down those responsible, took the path of impulsive anger and ordered the death of all people living in the city. After he was restored by the Churcha€™s leaders, Theodosius entered the church in Constantinople and showed his repentance by falling to the floor and crying out to God and to the people for forgiveness. With the demise of the Roman government in the West the people increasingly fell into a primitive feudalism and military strongmen became the civil leaders.
This was the greatest single military loss in Roman history and the Roman legions were left in shambles. Roman culture survived, chiefly through the presence of the churches and priests in the cities and towns, but the political system and the a€?Pax Romanaa€? was finished. The common complaint was that the Christians were not loyal citizens of the empire because they refused to participate in emperor worship, signified by sacrifices made in the pagan temples.
Groups of street thugs were caught spreading the fire, who claimed that they were operating under orders from a civil authority. He also organized chariot races in Rome and required the public and the Senate to attend, while he raced as a€?the worlda€™s greatest charioteer.a€? There were command performances also featuring Nero as a singer, a harpist, and actor. The civil authorities did not care what particular religion a person practiced, so long as it included emperor worship. For I do not doubt that, whatever kind of crime it may be to which they have confessed, their pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy should certainly go punished.
I am the wheat of God, and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of God. Maxentius drowned in the Tiber River during the battle and Constantine won the battle of the Milvian Bridge. Licinius had the support of pagan Goth warriors and represented the old ways of the pagan empire. Arianism is the basic doctrinal basis in the 21st century among Unitarians, Jehovaha€™s Witnesses, and Mormons.
Nestorius taught that (1) Mary should not be referred to as a€?god-bearera€? (theotokos) for this emphasized the deity of Jesus at the expense of his humanity; and, (2) Jesus had two distinct natures that were never united -- divine and human.
However, her relationship was probably put to the test when Constantine defeated her brother, Maxentius, at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, and then paraded his head around the streets of Rome on a spike in 312 A.D.
With imperial funds Helen erected churches at various sacred sites, including the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, at the cave where Jesus was reportedly born (Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem), and the place of his capture (Church at the Mount of Olives). This was done in part, perhaps, because it was his uncle, Valens, who had been defeated by the Arian Goths at Adrianople in 378 A.D.
Theodosius set out to crush all doctrine that did not a€?conform to the ancient doctrines delivered by the Apostle Peter to Rome.a€? All known Arians were expelled from Constantinople and all Arian churches were closed in the East. Thessaloniki was home to one of the early churches in Greece and to whom the Apostle Paul had written two New Testament letters.
He officially ordered before his death that the empire would be permanently divided into East and West under the leadership of his two sons.
In the East Greek prevailed, the culture was more prosperous, and the patriarchs in Constantinople, Damascus, Jerusalem, and Alexandria provided the spiritual leadership.
Making their way to Rome, the Goths exacted a cruel and thorough sacking of the city in 410 A.D. Within a short time, however, the Ostrogoths invaded Italy and their leader, Theodoric the Great, was recognized by Zeno. Locally there was anger against the Christians because they refused to participate in the local pagan religions and rituals, thus bringing, it was feared, the wrath of the gods on the local community.
Peter request was granted to be crucified upside-down, because he was not worth, he said, to die in the same manner as Jesus. There was always room for one more god in the local temple, so long as it took its place among the other gods worshipped locally. Anything contrary simply rocked the boat and disrupted business as usual and threatened peace and security.
There were others who displayed a like madness and whom I reserved to be sent to Rome, since they were Roman citizens.a€? (Plin.
Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my tomb, and may have nothing of my body.
Constantine and his legions marched on Rome and defeated Maxentius and the famed Praetorian Guard at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D.
The God nature expressed itself through the human nature as an artist would his painting, but remained distinct from it.
The Council affirmed that this was a divine mystery, unfathomable by the human mind, but taught in Scripture.
In the same year, however, Constantine had Fausta also put to death for an undetermined reason. This was a courageous move, because the vast Gothic armies were primarily Arians in their faith.
Seven thousand people were lured into the citya€™s stadium under the pretense of viewing a chariot race. He left behind an empire that had officially declared for the Christian faith and condemned both paganism and heresy. But if one refused to participate at all, and further claimed that his or her god was the only true god, that was grounds for execution as a traitor. Some sources speculate that Constantine found Faustaa€™s original story to be a lie and that Fausta was a willing participant in the illicit affair. The deity of Jesus Christ and the reality of the existence of three persons in the Trinity were affirmed as being those doctrine taught in Scripture as well as embraced by the Church generally since the first century. They further affirmed that Mary, as the one who bore Jesus, could properly be referred to as Theotokos a€?the bearer or mother of God.a€? By this they did not confer any sense of deity to Mary, but if Jesus was both God and man, and if it is correct to refer to Jesus as God, then she would have been a€?the bearer of God. Others speculate that Constantine had Crispus put to death believing the word of his wife, Fausta. Cited in Documents of the Christian Church, Henry Bettenson, Oxford University Press, 1963, p.
Later, when finding out that either she had lied or else was a willing participant in an affair, he had her also put to death. Then shall I be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, when the world shall not see so much as my body. Entrust the Lord for me, that by these instruments I may be found a sacrifice to God.a€? (Ep.



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