Emperor Constantine Created/changed Catholicism? (Merged Threads)

Hello all,

I’m currently in a discussion revolved around supposable changes that came from Constantine’s signing of the Edict-

Basically, it goes like this-
Before Emperor Constantine’s Dream-

[LIST]
*]The church did not support the state
*]Christians were generally persecuted and excluded from public affairs
*]Though some Christians were in the Roman army, the church advocated pacifism and was force for peace
*]The church was heavily taxed and received no state funds
[/LIST]

After Emperor Constantine’s Dream and his victory it went like this-

[LIST]
]Persecution and taxation of the church stopped. With fellow emperor Licinius he issued the Edict of Milan which legalized Christianity, without making it the official state religion
*** I know this one is true-not sure how that it’s bad thing though-it allowed Christianity to flourish.
**
]He promoted Christianity and used it to solidify his power, using state funds to establish and control the clergy.
Since the Church was still very minority and not ALL Bishops lived in Rome, this one seems impractical. Also, from what I can tell, a lot of this belief comes from he forged document "Donation to Constantine"
]The church became a major force in everyone’s daily life
*** Since the Church was sill very minority, I don’t see how this would have played out.
*
*]The church now supported the state and its wars. God now sanctioned killing! God took sides to help one band of killers triumph over an other, as the church prayed for victory
I doubt this one-but would like some clarification.
*]Conscientious objectors were excommunicated
*]The prayer day of Mithras (sunday) was declared the official day of prayer and rest for the whole empire.
From what I can tell-this one is bogus-Mithras never had a day of worship on Sunday.
*]He built the church’s 3 greatest centres of pilgrimage which still stand to this day: St Peter’s in Rome, Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
[/LIST]

God bless everyone! I hope that you can shed some light on this highly controversial subject.

PS-the link that “he” got this information/theory from is here-click here

Which sites several books at the bottom-
(i) Kurlansky, Mark “Non-violence. The history of a dangerous idea” Vintage (2006)
(ii) Murray Stuart “The naked Anabaptist. The bare essentials of a radical faith” Paternoster (2011)
(iii) Stephenson, P. “Constantine. Unconquered emperor. Christian Victor” Quercus (2009)
(iv) Vidales, Raúl “How should we speak of Christ today?” in “Faces of Jesus. Latin American christologies” ed J. Bonino Orbis (1977)
(v) Garaudy, Roger ‘Le Monde’ (Paris) 25/12/1969 p.7

Standard anti-Catholic nonsense. Some are obviously incorrect, as you note. Christians worshiped on Sunday from Apostolic times, as the Bible indicates.

Hello ChristRocket,

Please check out the following webpages (they are not long):

catholicbridge.com/catholic/did_constantine_invent_catholicism.php
catholicbridge.com/catholic/timeline_of_catholic_church.php
catholicbridge.com/catholic/orthodox/timeline_history_of_catholic_orthodox_relations.php

Hope this helps.

Constantine was a pagan up towards his death, receiving baptism only days beforehand.

He was Emperor and he defeated the Romans. Tough man and in a most difficult world. The last Roman emperors just about wiped out Christianity, destroying many church meeting places and killed many bishops.

The Church now able to practice freely witnessed over a million pagan converts enter the Church. With them brought the practice of genuflecting when entering the church and using statues as representatives of Christ, the Apostles and saints.

During the times of persecutions, the first 300 years people met in private homes for the Breaking of the Bread. Constantine assisted in the building of basilicas, 8 sided churches. As he was an incredibly gifted leader, he assisted the Christian community in deciding who would make good bishops. He built churches through the bishops and priests the high altar and pulpit where the Good News could be preached and the Liturgy seen from the pews.

The Latin Church was poor and dealing with barbarian invasions for several hundred years. When they began to build churches, their format was more like a cross, a long entrance with another going cross where the laity resided, and the ambient was more administrative vs the community oriented Eastern churches.

Constantine’s mother was a devout Christian, St. Helen who we suppose was most instrumental in assisting in his final conversion.

If you get a Catholic Catechism and go to the back, it gives a history of all the great gatherings of popes and bishops and patriarchs and their years, starting with the Council of Jerusalem. These times are more of the Early Church Fathers and theologians developing Church deposit of faith.

I see a lot of non-Catholics assume that Constantine changed the Church. It is a popular idea, but there is no evidence for it. Name anything about the Church after Constantine and you can find evidence of it before Constantine.

Basically, it goes like this-
Before Emperor Constantine’s Dream-

[LIST]
*]The church did not support the state
[/list]

Here are some quotes showing that the Church supported the State before Constantine became emperor:

~56 A.D. - St. Paul - “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. … Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.” (Romans 13:1-6)

95 A.D. - Pope St. Clement of Rome - “To our rulers and governors on the earth—to them You, Lord, gavest the power of the kingdom by Your glorious and ineffable might, to the end that we may know the glory and honour given to them by You and be subject to them, in nought resisting Your will; to them, Lord, give health, peace, concord, stability, that they may exercise the authority given to them without offense.”

155 A.D. - St. Justin Martyr - “[Jesus said,] ‘Render therefore to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ Whence to God alone we render worship, but in other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging you as kings and rulers of men, and praying that with your kingly power you be found to possess also sound judgment.”

~200 A.D. - Tertullian - “[The emperor] gets his sceptre where he first got his humanity; his power where he got the breath of life. Thither we lift our eyes, with hands outstretched…for all our emperors… We pray for life prolonged; for security to the empire; for protection to the imperial house; for brave armies, a faithful senate, a virtuous people, the world at rest, whatever, as man or Cæsar, an emperor would wish.” (Apology Chapter 30)

~260 A.D. - St. Gregory Thaumaturgus - “Moreover, another branch of learning occupies my mind completely… I refer to those admirable laws of our sages by which the affairs of all the subjects of the Roman Empire are now directed, and which are neither composed nor learned without difficulty. And these are wise and exact in themselves, and manifold and admirable…and they are expressed and committed to us in the Roman tongue, which is a wonderful and magnificent sort of language, and one very aptly conformable to royal authority, but still difficult to me.” (Oration on Origen Argument 1)

[list]
*]Christians were generally persecuted and excluded from public affairs
[/list]

That is mostly true, but there were exceptions. Emperor Hadrian, Emperor Antoninus Pius, Emperor Philip the Arab, Emperor Gallienus, and Empress Julia Mamae were all friendly toward Catholics and stopped persecutions before Constantine became emperor. Julia Mamae was instructed in Catholic doctrine and Philip the Arab may have been a Catholic. Antoninus Pius and Gallienus both decreed religious toleration for Catholicism before Constantine became emperor, but their decrees were undone by their successors. During the times when Catholicism was not persecuted, it became an important social influence, and there were Catholics in government positions, including St. Apollonius the Senator.

[list]
*]Though some Christians were in the Roman army, the church advocated pacifism and was force for peace
[/list]

The Church still does support peace, but both then and now it recognized (and recognizes) that there can be just reasons to go to war. An example would be to defend your country.

For this reason, there were Catholic battalions in the Roman armies, and we have non-pacifist quotes like these from the early Catholics:

~56 A.D. - St. Paul - “[The government] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:4)

~200 A.D. - Tertullian - “We pray for…security to the empire; for protection to the imperial house; for brave armies, a faithful senate, a virtuous people, the world at rest, whatever, as man or Cæsar, an emperor would wish.” (Apology Chapter 30)

248 A.D. - Origen - “[W]hile others are engaged in battle, [Christians] engage as the priests and ministers of God, keeping their hands pure, and wrestling in prayers to God on behalf of those who are fighting in a righteous cause, and for the king who reigns righteously, that whatever is opposed to those who act righteously may be destroyed!” (Contra Celsus Book 8 Chapter 73)

[list]
*]The church was heavily taxed and received no state funds
[/LIST]

That’s probably true, when the Church was tolerated, and somewhat false when the Church was persecuted. I don’t think the persecutions consisted in exacting high taxes.

Cont’d next post

Cont’d from last post

That’s not the whole truth. Constantine’s religious advisors believed in Arianism and semi-Arianism later in his reign, and it is my understanding that, with his okay, they banished some Catholic bishops and installed Arian ones in their place. This was a persecution. St. Athanasius, in his History of the Arians, counts the first Arian persecution of the Church as beginning during the reign of Constantine. See here: newadvent.org/fathers/2815.htm

In case you are wondering, I don’t think St. Athanasius blamed Constantine very much, though I could be wrong. Constantine listened to Athanasius when he appealed to him at least once, but I think Constantine was somewhat duped by his advisors in many matters. He ended up being baptized by an Arian instead of by a Catholic bishop.

[list]*]He promoted Christianity and used it to solidify his power, using state funds to establish and control the clergy.
[/list]

It is my understanding that he did promote the Catholic Church for much of his reign, such as by building major Catholic churches and freeing the Church from taxation. Later in his reign, he did try to control the clergy by banishing ones whom his religious advisors didn’t like, but he failed because, among other reasons, the Church had a lot of power as well, and the pope wouldn’t accept the Arian-influenced appointments.

[list]
*]The church became a major force in everyone’s daily life
[/list]

This one was already true before Constantine became emperor. Tertullian wrote about it in one of his books:

“Day after day, indeed, you groan over the increasing number of the Christians. Your constant cry is, that the state is beset [by us]; that Christians are in your fields, in your camps, in your islands. You grieve over it as a calamity, that each sex, every age—in short, every rank—is passing over from you to us; yet you do not even after this set your minds upon reflecting whether there be not here some latent good.” (Ad Nationes Chapter 1)

Catholicism didn’t have to be the majority religion in order to influence everybody’s life.

[list]
*]The church now supported the state and its wars. God now sanctioned killing! God took sides to help one band of killers triumph over an other, as the church prayed for victory
[/list]

As shown above, the Church already had the principle of just war before Constantine became emperor, and part of the doctrine of just warfare is that it is legitimate to defend your nation. When the nation was defending its legitimate rights by proportional means, yes, the Church supported the wars by its prayers and by its members in the army. St. Paul says that the State does not bear the sword in vain, but it was given that power by God. But that does not mean God sanctioned killing, or that the Church supported warfare no matter what. The war had to be just.

[list]
*]Conscientious objectors were excommunicated
[/list]

I am not aware of anything like that happening. It is my understanding that those in religious orders, for example, were often required by their vows to be conscientious objectors, and the Church supported their rights.

[list]
*]The prayer day of Mithras (sunday) was declared the official day of prayer and rest for the whole empire.
[/list]

Catholics were already worshiping on Sunday long before Constantine was emperor.

~62 A.D. - St. Luke - “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” (Acts 20:7)

~107 A.D. - St. Ignatius of Antioch - “…no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death.” (Epistle to the Magnesians Chapter 9)

155 A.D. - St. Justin Martyr - “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.” (First Apology Chapter 67)

225 A.D. - The Didascalia - “The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the holy scriptures, and the oblation, because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the place of the dead.” (Didascalia Chapter 2)

300 A.D. - St. Victorinus - “On the seventh day [God] rested from all his works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the [day before it] we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord’s day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks. And let [Friday] become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews…which Sabbath [Jesus Christ] in his body abolished.” (The Creation of the World)

I do believe Constantine made Sunday a national holiday, but Catholics were worshiping on that day long before he did so.

[list]
*]He built the church’s 3 greatest centres of pilgrimage which still stand to this day: St Peter’s in Rome, Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
[/list]

He did not build the Hagia Sophia. That was built two centuries later by one of his successors named Emperor Justinian the Great. I think he built the other two, though St. Peter’s has been rebuilt once or twice since then.

God bless everyone! I hope that you can shed some light on this highly controversial subject.

I hope I helped. God bless!

Good post.

On the side, Emperor also built St. Mary Major in Jerusalem. It was standing and in full use…at the same time it was stated Mohammed rose to heaven on a horse. It was reinterpreted, not between the 2 mosques in Saudi Arabia…but in militant Islamic time, Mohammed rose to heaven next to St. Mary Major.

It is good to get context of events from historical facts rather than those groups who oppose Catholicism.

Yes, I also was reading in past several years they are putting out the spin that Constantine started the Catholic Church, the same people who are unable to study early Church history and/or closed to learning about it.

I would also add that there were a number of bishops who likewise believed in Arianism. Likewise there were a number of lay people who did not believe in Arianism, and my pastor told me this was a time when the laity held true to the faith.

St. Athanasius who worked to stop this heresy was taken out and exiled up to 4 times for standing up to this error; even the present pope had mulled it, somewhat accepting it. The Nicene Creed is testimony to St. Athanasius’ work in correcting this grave error that would have led us back into eventual polytheism and paganism, serving the flesh.

A bunch of silliness. There are documents placing Sunday as the day of worship as early as the mid first century. As to the supposed pilgrimage locations if that was his intention he failed miserably. St Peter’s and the Hagia Sophia didn’t become pilgrimage destinations until at least the modern structures were constructed. In the case of St Peter’s it’s still not even the seat of the Pope.

Just War Tradition in the Doctrine of the Pre-Nicene Church

.

St. Peter’s Basilica was originally “Constantine’s Basilica” according to the tour guide (the Scavi tour that goes to St Peter’s tomb through the necropolis) at the Vatican when we visited. Constantine took great pains to preserve and center the basilica around the tomb of St. Peter. He built the Lateran Basilica for the Church; pope’s resided there for ten centuries before moving to St. Peter’s.

I probably misunderstood what you are trying to say here. It looks like you just said our current pope has accepted the Arian heresy. Can you clear up what you meant to say?

No, I wasn’t clear. The pope at the time, Pope Liberius, 'signed one vague formularies in the dispute between the Arians vs the Niceans…and Emperor Constantine also took part in debates…but he coming from the point of having a united empire…Pope Liberius vacillating in the disputes.

Arianism was drawn from current rationalist philosophies whereas St. Athanasius drew from Christ’s redemption - Christ had to be divine to divinize us through the sacraments. A new word had to be created to explain this reality of Christ, ‘homoousios’ - identical in substance.

Actually, St. Athanasius was removed 5 times as bishop.

The Church Council at Constantinople finally defined Christ as one with the Father, and restored unity within.

Thanks! I knew I misunderstood.

It was my lack of clarity.

As noted, he did not build Hagia Sophia, which was built under the Emperor Justinian who was from the sixth century, about two hundred years after Constantine.

As for building the great churches–before Constantine, Christianity was proscribed, so of course churches were rare, and then rather small. Constantine gave freedom of worship, which allowed much larger churches to be built, and yes, he did subsidize their building from state funds. In fact, in Rome he helped build four large basilicas: St. John’s on the Lateran Hill (the Pope’s actual cathedral), St. Mary Major, St. Paul outside the Walls, and St. Peter’s. But they were not built like any other group’s temples–the closest comparison is to Jewish Synagogues. There is no evidence from the buildings that Constantine changed the way Christians worshiped, apart from giving them freedom to do so openly.

Similarly, Constantine did not fully espouse the Orthodox/Catholic faith–he preferred the Arian version, or something like it. And his version did not survive in the long run.

Furthermore, given the turmoil over the Arian controversy–whether Jesus was like, of like substance, or of the same substance as the Father–which lasted for 50 years, and had consequences that lasted several hundred years, what is the likelihood that Constantine could make other wholesale changes to the faith? It is simply not possible.

This is incorrect. Here’s a link to a blog article of mine that deals with this kind of assertion. THE PAGANIZATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH UNDER CONSTANTINE

Also keep in mind that many in the early church delayed baptism til near death because they wanted to insure that they did not fall into sin again before judgement because confession was not yet understood and practiced as we have it today.

Thanks…I am wondering how long non denominationals have actually heard this spin about Constantine starting the Catholic Church.

I have the impression this just started within so many years.

I wish we could find the source and confront it for spreading such falsehoods. I really think such ‘sources’ are under the influence of the Evil One to spread division among Christians…and most seem to come out of America.

Well, it common among some groups like the SDA and JWs, but it pops up with others as well because they all tend to cross sources and guys like jack Chick are still cranking out their propaganda though its popularity has greatly declined over the years after CA and Christianity Today have addressed his stuff in particular. :slight_smile:

CA actually has a good and very inexpensive resource that can be handy for this and covers a boatload of these kinds of assertions.
shop.catholic.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/small_image/135x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/j/a/jack-chick.jpg The Nightmare World Of Jack T. Chick

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