Constantine and the history of the Church


#1

Calling all those who know a little on the history of the Catholic Church. I am in dispute (as I would be!) with a friend of mine who is a Calvinist in relation to Constantines role as the first council of Nicea and other ecumenical councils. My friend is of the opinion that Constantine decided Church dogma and the Nicean Creed. As far as I know, he may have presided but did not decide on the Creed or dogma and as Constantine leaned towards Arianism why would that not have been adopted if Constantine made the decision. My friends arguement was he was Emperor and therefore would have decided but was not dogmatic. My question is, was Constantine ever Pope,who was Pope at the time of Constantine and how much imput did Constantine have in relation to the formation of Church dogma? Lots of information please, my young friend is a history student and studies this stuff.


#2

At the time of Constantine, the idea of Pope had not yet been solidified.

Bishops represented the different Christian sects and communities. At the time, every town had a Bishop, and the Bishop as we define it now did not exist (still responsible for the teachings of their community, but did not “rule” over multiple towns), so every town sent their Bishop.

These Bishops argued over the teachings and ideas. Constantine was there to ensure that a conclusion was reached and that it was taught and implimated in all the towns.

The Arian heresy did not come til later. The Council of Nicea was created to specifically address to Marcian, Gnostic, and Hellenistic ideas and heresies that were infiltrating the Christian sects.


#3

**
The Arian heresy did not come til later. The Council of Nicea was created to specifically address to Marcian, Gnostic, and Hellenistic ideas and heresies that were infiltrating the Christian sects.**

I don’t know where you got your information. The Council of Nicea was called SPECIFICALLY to deal with the Arian controversy.


#4

Huh… then I must have read my textbook wrong, or not be paying attention enough during lecture…


#5

No Pope…
Roman Bishop Sylvester whom BTW was not even in attendance!


#6

Yes 3 issues Arius being the main.


#7

You are absolutely correct. It is important to remember that Constantine gave Christianity and the Papacy the** legal right to exist.** Here is a quick history as I remember it.
As Constantine prepared himself for battle, he saw a sign: the cross of Jesus superimposed over the evening sun. He heard a voice that said, “In this sign you will conquer.” He had that sign painted on shields and horses’ heads. **He then sought out Pope Miltiades **and offered to put Christianity under the protection of the Roman empire.
He abolished crucifixion and made Sunday a public holiday in honor of Jesus resurrection.He built two bascilicas, one for Peter and one for Paul.


#8

As far as I understand it, there where lots of herecies at the time the Council of Nicea was called. Arians where just one group. However they split from the Church and refused to accept the decision at Nicea. (Correct me if I am wrong)
Question: Was Constantine therefore never bishop of Rome? and I have an idea what the Arian view was in relation to the humanity and the divinity of Christ, what did Hellinists, Gnostics and Marcians believe?


#9

Constantine changed the world. Never again would a Pope have to live in hiding, never again would he be tortured or be thrown in prison.


#10

That’s correct. Although Constantine demanded that the Pope attend Niceae, the Pope would not let it look like he was a puppet at the whim of the emperor. He sent legates to represent his opinion but he did not attend.


#11

Huh??!!! See list of Popes here: newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm


#12

Constantine realized that a happy church meant a happy empire. Arianism was threatening to tear the Church apart. The Eastern Bishops were mostly Arian, and the western bishops were mostly non-Arian, although there were exceptions on each side. A split such as this could cause much distress between the two halves of the kingdom. From what I understand, Constantine didn’t care a whit which side won, but he felt the Church needed to resolve the issue and put it to bed.

I understand one of Constantine’s sons, who succeeded him was Arian, and he helped to raise up it’s ugly head, which prompted the Council of Chalcedon. He squelched a lot of the rhetoric against Arianism, but thankfully St. Athanasius overcame the odds to defeat the heresy.


#13

Hey, I am just going with what I am learning in “History of Christianity” and someone asked specifically about the pope’s attendance at Nicea, and we were told that our idea of the pope had not been solidified yet.

At this time, Bishop of Rome did not equal Pope.


#14

Arians were the Main reason for Nicea. They never split from the Church. They tried to use the successive emperors to help them make Arianism the belief of the Church.

Question: Was Constantine therefore never bishop of Rome? and I have an idea what the Arian view was in relation to the humanity and the divinity of Christ, what did Hellinists, Gnostics and Marcians believe?

No. He was simply the emperor. BTW, tradition says that Constantine withheld his baptism til he was on his deathbed.

I think you can call that bending the rules. I’m curious to know how God handled someone trying to play with the rules in order to get into heaven.


#15

Where did you get this idea from? The Bishop of Rome certainly did equal the Pope. I think Pope Victor in the 2nd century could attest to that.

Granted, the Pope has evolved some since then (some may call that a massive understatement), but there was already a primacy reflected on the Bishop of Rome.


#16

Your doing the right thing by studying an unbiased view at history.

Prior to the supremacy of Constantine, the bishop of Rome, even though greatly esteemed, was not measured to possess authority over the bishops of these other early areas of Christianity. When “pope” Sylvester accepted a coalition between church and state, the papacy made huge steps under the shielding guard of Constantine.


#17

There should be no quotation marks around “pope” in the above. Sylvester was surely pope, the papacy surely existed, and the bishop of Rome was both greatly esteemed and was measured to possess authority over the bishops of these other early areas of Christianity.

This is all well-attested to by the Church Fathers and by, especially, the fact that Pope Clement (fourth pope) was sticking his nose in the business of the Corinth community no later than 90 AD (cf. Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians). Clement in Italy writes Corinth in Greece, telling the community what they should/should not be doing.

DJim


#18

This may be a little mis-leading. When the first 30 popes were martyred, admittedly it’s rather hard to raise your head and exert your authority, especially when your are living in the den of the beast - Rome.

Rome had a way of dealing with rogue religions. They’d simply lop off the head of the church, and the rest of the congregation would simply melt away. It was a lot less bloody and just as efficient.

So as expressed by St. Clement in his letter to the Corinthians. He was rather tied up by troubles in Rome or he would have written them sooner. I imagine it was rather difficult to exert your Papal Authority with the Roman Emperor breathing down your back.


#19

Yeah Sylvester was actually the first to coronated to the position…

Dionysius writing to “Pope” Soter
Referring to the letter Clement wrote to Corinth

“Which we will read for its valuable advice”

Advice, not orders.


#20

Martin (but also please note PatienceandLove)

Hopefully you know I always try and speak to you with love and respect, so please do not take my words as harsh…

I am curious by your statements. You are applauding someone who has admitted they may have their facts wrong as an accurate source. I attempted to explain to you in detail the reasons behind the Creed here and you seemed to understand. Now, though I may be misunderstanding you, you seem to be reverting back to how the Creed was such a horrible thing and an ‘invention’ by your implicit agreeing with the Constantine myth. There are records of Lists of Popes by the ECFs prior to Constantine, forgive me for not being able to produce one right now, perhaps one of my cohorts can help me out on this;)

That being said, please review what I mentioned. The purpose behind the creed is not because of an invention of men around 325 AD, I went into detail how such a thing is actually close to impossible.

Again though, If i am misunderstanding you, please forgive me, but it is important that you properly understand the history of the Creed, as well as the reason for the Council of Nicea. I know you are on a journey like the rest of us, so please, take it for what it is worth

May you be blessed in Christ


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