Constantine's Influence to Christianity

Topics: Christianity, Roman Empire, Constantine I Pages: 7 (2502 words) Published: February 11, 2011
The history of religion continues to play an important role in defining why certain aspects of religion are the way they are today. Understanding religion’s history can also help one appreciate the importance, value, and determination that certain individuals went through in order for that particular religion to gain freedom and acceptance in society. Throughout history, Christianity has shown exactly this. By learning about its history, one can gain an understanding of how it emerged into being one of the most popular religions in the world. Furthermore, better understanding of the religion, both historically and contemporarily, can help dispel any negative preconceived notions about Christianity.

In the first three centuries after Christ, Christianity continued to develop and gain general acceptance in areas outside of Mesopotamia, such as the Roman society. In fact, it’s influence and popularity had become so strong that it was deemed necessary to bring forth a change in the overall religious thought of the Empire. Emperor Constantine the Great had ushered this specific change in. He was solely responsible for uniting the formerly pagan Roman Empire into Christian Empire by emerging Christianity into part of the state. Constantine’s determination to bringing an end to the persecutions of Christians was something that can be greatly appreciated. Furthermore, this is highlighted by his figurative canonization by the followers of Christianity. By emerging the state with Christianity, however, a number of long-term problems had arisen from his hasty actions. Furthermore, many of these specific issues lasted centuries, with a select few still in existence today. Things such as religious wars, the crusades, political feuds, and the separations of Christian denominations to form new ones are examples of these problems. It is certainly impossible to argue against the fact that most cultural tension, or political strife was not caused by religious tension. Although Constantine was very influential in bringing forth Christianity, the ramifications of him championing these religious ideology as part of the State was detrimental to the ongoing feuds involving Christianity. In order to better understand the changes that came during Constantine’s rule, it is very important to provide a brief background on the state of Christianity in the Roman Empire prior to his reign. Throughout Roman history, the persecution of Christians was prevalent. This was because of the Christian’s refusal to worship the Roman emperor or certain Roman Gods. The massive change in Christianity began in 284 AD, when Diocletian took the throne. He was the most widespread of persecutors, as he ordered all buildings, homes, and books of Christians to be destroyed. Christians were arrested and continuously tortured under his rule. By 300 AD, issues arose which caused the Empire to gradually decline. Many wars throughout the east and other troubles in the north caused a division in religious ideologies, which ultimately weakened rule within the empire. In regards to religion, paganism continued to rise in power, while the persecution of Christians continued. From this, paganism was able to generate further interest and momentum in their direction. It was clear that the two conflicting powers could not continue without some sort of change brought to society. In 305 AD, once Diocletian lost power, the opposing religions became so strong that it was difficult for rulers to avoid any issues. When Constantine became Emperor in 306 AD, these religious conflicts during Diocletian’s rule began to change. It was the episode at Milvian Bridge in which marked one of the most important turning points in religious history. Constantine, who believed to be the most rightful emperor, prepared for an invasion of the south under Maxentius’ rule in October 312. As Constantine advanced to the south, he continued to destroy Maxentian armies. Many citizens in that area began to...

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