The Conversion of Constantine: ‘Emperor Constantine the Great’ by T. Hardenbrook
Constantine’s victory over the then governor of Italy, Maxentius, at Milvian marked the end of an era of fighting and in-fighting among Caesars and Augustuses; and the beginning of a reunified, more religious Roman Empire. Following the victory, an arch with the encryption ‘Prompting of the Deity’ was erected at the Milvian Bridge. To the Christian community, the ‘Deity’ meant Christ the Son of God; and to the Pagans, it represented the Unconquered Sun. It is widely believed that Constantine converted to Christianity after his victory at Milvian; but then one could ask, ‘what then was he before the battle with Maxentius?’
The postponement of his own baptism and the fact that he did not make Christianity the imperial religion immediately after assuming power are not sufficient proof that he was Pagan. The former can be well explained by the fact that he was looking forward to being baptized at the Jordan. Furthermore, a number of phenomena evidence the fact that Constantine may have embraced Christianity long before the Milvian war, even if he did not promote it publicly; first, his mother was a Christian, and he had therefore been exposed to Christian living since very early in life; and secondly, the dates he enacted in favor of religion before he returned to Italy to take on Maxentius point to a religious inclination. Constantine’s Orthodoxy faith has further been questioned given that he did not receive baptism until he was on his deathbed. However, salvation is not only restricted to those who are baptized. One’s deeds and actions evidence salvation more than the rite of baptism does; and the fact that Constantine openly supported religion financially, morally, and structurally is proof enough.
The Impact of the Fall of the Western Empire on the Church: ‘Persecution and Martyrdom of Christians in the Roman Empire from AD54 to 100: A Lesson for the 21st Century Church’ by E. Ekeke
The Western empire fell in 476 following recurrent periods of instability. Prior to its fall, Emperor Theodosius had merged the state and the church, but had not necessarily made the latter dominant. Following the collapse of the empire, the influence and power of the church increased, thanks to its fluid-like organization. Several years after the collapse, the western government’s remnants were totally paralyzed and could no longer produce and distribute grain; and the eastern government was overwhelmed. The Vatican took on a number of government functions, hiring armies to defend Rome, and even negotiating treaties with barbarians. Eventually, the papacy replaced the traditional emperors, and the Roman world became a Christian world.
The church pushed on with its missionary work, sending missionaries to the far off lands of Britain, France, and Ireland to convert Pagans. St. Patrick, St. Athanius, Eusebius, Alban of Britain, St. Ambrose, Saint Augustine, and Saint Jerome were some of the most outspoken Christian leaders. St. Patrick merged Christian and Pagan beliefs to make religion more palatable for the latter. The church spread, its power and influence increased, and Rome secured its greatest medieval ally with the conversion of Frankish Warlord Clovis.
Monasteries formed, and pushed on with western civilization. Through monks, these monasteries copied bibles, and kept records. The monasteries were later turned into schools and they became the first universities.
The Role of Heretical Christianity on the Advent of Islam: ‘Sigisvult the Patrician, Maximinus the Arian Augustine and Political Stratagems in the Western Roman Empire’ by R. Mathisen
Augustine of Hippo, Cyprian of Carthage, and Tertullian were unable to sustain the influence of Trinitarian Catholicism in North Africa. The people soon got bored with the Byzantine people and their Catholic faith, and they readily embraced Vandal Arianism when Muslims came knocking from the east. They psychologically accepted the idea that although Jesus was a great prophet, he did not surpass Mohammed, an even greater and, in fact, the final prophet. Vandal Arianism developed in Northern Europe’s Teutonic regions, where Christ was perceived as a being higher than the average man, but not some second-degree God as Hellenic Arianism claimed. Although he is a king, commander, and hero, he is not, and cannot be perceived as God. General Geiseric moved to Africa in the 430’s and had by 439 conquered the North of Africa, from Mauritania through to Tripoli. He promoted his religion in all cities under his influence, exiling clerics to Italy, confiscating local churches for Arian use, and making it difficult for anyone to maintain Trinitarian Catholicism. Mohammed’s vision was crafted in 610 AD, and a century after his death, his followers had spread Islam through Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Ekeke, Emeka. “Persecution and Martyrdom of Christians in the Roman Empire from AD54 to 100: A Lesson for the 21st Century Church.” European Scientific Journal 8, no.16 (n.d.): 175-190.
Hardenbrook, Thaddeus. “Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337).” The Journal of the Chicago Pastoral School 3, no. 1 (2008). http://journal.orthodoxtheologicalschool.org/Hardenbrook_Constantine.html (accessed June 30, 2014).
Mathisen, Ralph. “Sigisvult the Patrician, Maximinus the Arian Augustine and Political Stratagems in the Western Roman Empire.” Early Medieval Europe 8, no. 2 (2003): 173-196.
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