The Early Christian Church in the Roman Empire
HIST 191 Wester Civilization
Dr. Eric Graff
November 14, 2014
From 313 C.E 500 C.E, the Christian church was very important to the Romans. In fact, the political and cultural experience of the third and fourth centuries was substantially affected by the rise of Christianity. However, the church not always held this political position after Christ. The fidelity of the Christians to the church's teachings led them to face several disputes against the commands of the Roman emperors. At the end of the first century, “the name alone” that is a simple Christian membership to the community was a crime. It must also be noted that Christians faced an internal division. In the second century, these extreme circumstances compelled them to combat the heretics, and created a need to formulate their views more clearly and firmly. It is clear that vitally important decisions had to take place. Two important voices for the eventual success of the church, and for the great contribution to the Christian Doctrine were the brilliant visionary Origin, and one of the early Christian Fathers Saint Augustine. Christianity emerges with Jesus of Nazareth. The evidence most reliable and important about his life is the Gospel, all of them written well after his death. His disciples were the authors of the Gospels. These records present Jesus as the son of God; in them, Jesus teaches the faithful to abandon sinful ways, and worldly concerns, to take one’s cross and to follow him. The Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate was convinced by the high priest that Jesus and his followers might be dangerous revolutionaries. Around 30 A.D, Jesus was sentenced to death by the cruel method of crucifixion. To the disciples, Jesus resurrection was striking proof if his teachings. This belief became a critical element for the propagation of Christianity.
The first century brought the first confrontations of the church. Christians found themselves stuck in a civic affair in regard of their denial to the pagan gods. As a consequence, they were accused of Atheism. Their refusal to worship the emperor was judged as a violation of allegiance to the empire. The aforementioned reasons and a few misunderstandingsfor example, the Christian love feasts were reported to be a sexual scandal, and the doctrine of the Eucharist was accused to be an act of cannibalism. were the cause of prohibitions and punishments towards the church. In AD 64, part of Rome was burned down. The Emperor Nero blamed the Christians and the people turned on them. Arrests, executions, and martyrdoms followed. “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths” the historian Tacitus comments. Pliny the younger, a governor of the roman province of Bithynia, and Trajan, the emperor, followed the same cruel. The cruelty of the punishment could be reflected in the life of St. Mamai. “He was thrown to the lions by the Romans for refusing to recant his beliefs. A gilded silver medallion, made in Georgia in the eleventh century, depicts the saint astride a lion while he bears a cross in one hand, symbolizing the triumphant victory over death and ignorance.” Fortunately, after two centuries, in AD 31, the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity and they were allowed to openly worship. The expansion of the Christian communities started by building new churches throughout the empire. “In A.D 391, the worship of other gods was made illegal.” Rome became the center of the early church. An important component during the second century in defining the Christian Doctrine, was the strugle against the heretics, those holding contrary beliefs. The church soon took the name of Catholic, which means universal, by the body of majority of opinión. An ...
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