Constantine - Hero or Villain?

Discussion in 'Church History' started by Botolph, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I find Constantine a fascinating study. There is little in evidence to suggest that he was close to Sylvester I (the Pope at the time), though he did provide for the building of St Peter's in Rome, which was replaced during the reformation period with the building that now stands there. Moving the seat of Empire to Byzantium clearly did little to advance the cause to Rome, save that perhaps it removed from Rome a number of the secularly ambitious who followed power to Nova Romanum and allowed the Church to consume the power vacuum in the city.

    Those who berate Constantine I believe fail to see that he did a great deal for the Christian faith, and no doubt we owe a great debt of thanks to his mother who seems to have had a great deal to do with his early spiritual formation.

    Two things of note:
    1. The Edict of Milan, which ended the persecution of the church, and provided for a religious pluralism for the republic, and religious freedom for its citizens, a principle we now see enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights, thanks in part to Eleanor Roosevelt, and thanks in part to the Edict of Milan.

    2. The Council of Nicaea which provided the mechanism by which the Church in a wider context could gather and establish that which is essential to the faith, including the Nicene Creed and the Christological Definition of Chalcedon.
    Constantine was not perfect, far from it, and the boiling of his second wife and the decapitation of his dead brother in law seems almost incomprehensible yet they were different times.

    Whilst I rejoice that the Anglican position is both reformed and catholic, I would not exempt the reformed churches from having enough of their own problems, and I find it as hard to wax lyrical about them as I do to wax lyrical about the Church of the time they left, which of course is very different to the Church of the post Vatican II era.

    In many ways I see much of the problem comes about from ideas about the Kingdom of God, often gilded in our imagination of the great and the powerful of this world, rather than to power of the new kingdom we see expressed in the manger and the cross. Hearts and minds, not principalities and princes.
  2. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Active Member Anglican

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    United States
    Reformed High Anglican

    1. Re: Subjection

    You are conflating what I mean. The Word clearly shows we are subject to the early authorities as authority is ordained by God (unless Constantine also used his now famous time machine again to edit the Scriptures). This does not mean we can sin if ordered to, nor does it mean we cannot rebuke ordained authority for sinning (ex. Nathan and David, Ambrose and Theodosius). Nathan rebuked David yet he did not proclaim a revolution or rebellion against him. Paul wrote those words while under the rule of Nero, a truly insane man. Even the most enthusiastic advocate of Christian resistance theory (a la Beza & Co) would never say we are not under the submission of early authority.

    2. Constantine.

    My friend you have said exactly that a number of times on this forum. To whit:

    In response to my argument that Constantine did not institute any changes in the Church, you replied;

    And my personal favorite;

    Yet when asked to produce any evidence of these alleged corruptions, naturally it suddenly seems the evidence for, and confidence of, these claims seems to be in short supply.
    Stalwart likes this.

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