Questions on Constantine

In an article of an infamous religious magazine (you may guess which one) there is a “portrait” of Emperor Constantine.

Constantine is made responsible for all kinds of things concerning the Church, which is ridiculous, but the mentioned article makes some statements I haven’t heard before. Here are the statements in question:

“Constantine protected Christianity, believing that the religion could unify his empire.”

“Constantine was thus appalled to find that the churches were divided by disputes. Eager for consensus, he sought to establish, and then enforce, “correct” doctrine. To win his favor, bishops had to make religious compromises, and those who did received tax exemptions and generous patronage.”

“The clergy thus became powerful figures in worldly affairs. “The Church had acquired a protector,” says historian A.H.M. Jones, “but it had also acquired a master.”

“[T]he emperor’s goal was religious pluralism, not the pursuit of religious truth.”

Another claim is that Constantine stayed involved in paganism, including sacrificing to pagan gods, the sun god, divination and astrology.

My first question is thus: How much truth is there to these claims, particularly the ones about the involvement of the Bishops in “compromises” and “tax benefits”?

A second question I have is easily put: Why would Constantine delay his Baptism until death?

Last question is the easiest. Constantine was not alone in the “deathbed baptism”. This was not unheard of during that time. The idea was that since baptism cleansed original and actual sin, then it was a surer course of action to be baptized and die, gaining access to heaven without worrying about a life of discipleship.

I don’t know about each of the assertions without trying to track them down, but we need to look at the reality of the actions of the Roman Empire on the whole. Even prior to the incarnation, we see the Roman empire exercising “rules” over the Jews in order for them to maintain some stature within the empire. One example that didn’t set well was that the term for the High-priest was limited to a one-year term. Later, (for the Christians) the emperor got a vote for the Bishop of Rome and was proactive in calling councils, for example.

Today, we look back at these things and have our own judgements, but at that time, there were certain practices that were considered normal. We would never appeal to our president to decide a religious matter, but the Samaritans appealed to Alexander the Great about the rights of their temple, the Pharisees appealed to Pilate during the passion, and the Christians appealed to Constantine about Arius and he told them to convene a council of bishops because he didn’t know what the right answer was.

The story about his allegiance to paganism would be a hard sell, considering he was responsible for leveling Vatican Hill (cemetery at the time), including the pagan mausoleums, and built a basilica centering around the tomb of St. Peter on the site. He then had Lateran Basilica built where the Bishop of Rome took as a residence for 10 centuries.

I’m not an expert by ANY stretch of the imagination, but I think it is possible that ALL of these statements are true. And Constantine was not alone…a whole bunch of emperors tried to manipulate the Church for political reasons. Despite that, the Church has never taught error (infallibility), and she is still here whereas they have all faded into history.

The gates of hell have not and will not prevail.

The danger of articles such as this, is that it leads people into judging people and events by modern standards of ethics and morality. BIG MISTAKE!!! Never forget: Facts can lie, and Liars quote facts.
Didn’t you know that Constantine invented the Catholic Church? (lol, wink!)

No, I cannot. Which one?

Our friends of the Watchtower. :smiley:

Attacks on St. Constantine are not new. He is blamed for all sorts of things. He wasn’t perfect, but none of us are.

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