Constantine the Great

Topics: Roman Empire, Constantine I, Christianity Pages: 9 (2810 words) Published: February 1, 2014


CONSTANTINE THE GREAT

GEINUINE FAITH

OR

NECESSITY OF STATE

CHHI 520 (SPRING 2013)

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

By

Stephen P. Higgs (ID 25106280)

May 5, 2013

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………………..2 FAMILY HISTORY AND CHRISTIAN BACKDROP……………………………2-3 CONVERSION EXPERIENCE…………………………………………………….3-4 CHRISTIAN AFTERMATH AND RESULT OF CONVERSION………………...5 NEW CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS…………………………………………….5-6 THE CHRISTIANITY OF CONSTANTINE………………………………………7 AUTHENTICITY OF CONSTANTINE’S CONVERSION……………………….7-9 CONCLUSION……………………………………………………………………...9-10 BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………………………...11

INTRODUCTION
While there may be various interpretations of the authentication of Constantine’s conversion and in particular his religious experience in 312 by the Tiber River near Rome, it is at this point arguable that Constantine was conscious of some type of religious experience. Whether he made the interpretations of his visions and dreams to be of a Christian nature on his own accord or with the help of Christian advisors is not certain; it is the victory at the battle of Milvian Bridge that solidified his conversion and consequently made his conversion authentic to him. At any rate, his conversion initiated a shift in ideology and politics at the state level; an intervention of faith and politics was forged. The question is, was Constantine’s conversion sincere or did he use Christianity in order to strengthen the state as well as secure his own political aspirations. Despite the debate of his conversion, the impact that Constantine had on the Roman Empire, Europe and the Church in the fourth century and beyond is undeniable. FAMILY HISTORY AND CHRISTIAN BACKDROP

Constantine was born to a Roman official and an innkeeper in the year A.D. 274. His father, Constantius, in 293, was appointed as one of the four junior emperors established by Diocletian. Reported by most historians, Constantius was a pagan due his destruction of some of the churches. However he did not enforce the harsher edicts of persecution that some of his contemporaries had inflicted upon the Christian population. There are some accounts that Constantius may have actually been a Christian and this was also a belief that Constantine himself had come to believe.1 There are reports that Constantantius believed in only one god and spoke of a single god, which was uncommon for a roman official, particularly an emperor in the polytheistic society of Rome. It is however apparent that Constantine’s father was a Neo-Platonist who was at the least, tolerant of Christianity.2

Constantine’s mother, Helena was an inn-keeper; there are conflicting accounts of his mother, Helena’s Christianity. Helena was known as a sympathizer with the early church. She traveled extensively throughout the empire and administered aid to the churches. Up until her death, Helena had given the churches support and personal service, yet there is no profound evidence that she was a Christian at this time, but assumedly a sympathizer.3 The picture that is presented of Helena is one of compassion and generosity and is eventually referred to as St. Helena. Evidently, her attitude and acts of kindness toward the Christians made an impact on her son, Constantine. So much so, that in 308, he summoned his mother to the imperial court, and conferred on her the title of Augusta, and ordered that all honor should be paid her, and had coins struck bearing her effigy.4 Her son's influence caused her to officially embrace Christianity after his victory over Maxentius. The point can be made that the combination of Constantine’s father’s tolerance of Christianity and his mother’s Christianity do lend some credence to the conversion of Constantine to be authentic, which we will examine. CONVERSION EXPERIENCE

The conversion of Constantine marks a major turning point...

Bibliography: Ferguson, E. . Church History: Volume One From Christ to Pre-Reformation. Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.
Freeman, Charles The Emperor 's State Of Grace. History Today 51, no. 1 (January, 2001): 9-
15.
Gerberding, R and J. H. Moran Cruz, Medieval Worlds (New York: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 2004.
MacMullen, R. Constantine. New York: Croom Helm, 1987.
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