The Triumph of Christianity (Church History – Week 9)

May 20, 2009 — Leave a comment
  • 6:10 PM Kevin Rossen – It’s the final week of our church history class. This week’s topic is how Christianity triumphed over Rome.
  • 6:11 PM kevin –
  • 6:13 PM Kevin Rossen – Doctrine is dynamic. Practice is dynamic, too. Example: we use air conditioner in our church buildings but the early church didn’t.
  • 6:14 PM Kevin Rossen – Some people argue against having church practices that change. Some of the examples given on why we shouldn’t include the Catholic church authorizing both infant baptism and pouring or sprinkling as examples of changes that were considered unorthodox.
  • 6:16 PM Kevin Rossen – One of the biggest events that dramatically changed Christianity overnight was the legalization of the religion. Some people think that this started a long, downhill fall of the faith.
  • 6:20 PM Kevin Rossen – Diocletian was one of those geniuses that nobody likes. He suggested dividing Rome into east and west Rome. en.wikipedia.org
  • 6:24 PM Kevin Rossen – The two halves of the Empire were too large for any one man to rule over as emperor, so he setup an emperor of the east and another one of the west. He also established an apprentice type of program for emperors, so that instead of having chaos when the emperor died, his replacement was already known and would be ready to go.
  • 6:28 PM Kevin Rossen – Diocletian also re-instituted the persecution of Christians. The thought was that they were too pacifist to be able to serve in the military.
  • 6:29 PM Kevin Rossen – He gave orders to burn all of the sacred writings of the Christians. He thought that the way of a Christian’s life was directed by the Scriptures, so if you took away their writings you would take away their faith.
  • 6:30 PM Kevin Rossen – The persecution lasted for about eight years (303-311). It was considered the bloodiest period of persecution up to that point.
  • 6:32 PM Kevin Rossen – Diocletian was removed from power through a series of intrigues and assassinations planned by Constantine.
  • 6:34 PM Kevin Rossen – There are conflicting versions of history on how Constantine came to faith in Christ. One version has it that Constantine has all his soldiers paint a labarum en.wikipedia.org on their shields, which may have been an early symbol for Christianity.
  • 6:35 PM Kevin Rossen – The other version is that he had a dream of the symbol of the cross which he had his soldiers paint.
  • 6:38 PM Kevin Rossen – In 311, Galerius, the emperor of the east, was sick and weak. In one of his last acts he declared that Christianity was acceptable as long as the Christians would pray for him and his government.
  • 6:42 PM Kevin Rossen – Constantine didn’t experience full conversion at the battle for Rome. This can be seen in particular when he dedicated the walls of Constantinople (formerly Byzantium) with Christian leaders and pagan priests standing with him.
  • 6:44 PM Kevin Rossen – Even though he may or may not have experienced a true, full conversion to Christ, Constantine was the first emperor of Rome who was not anti-Christian. He also invited Christians to publicly build church buildings which were accepted as locations for worship.
  • 6:46 PM Kevin Rossen – “As T.D. Jakes says, ‘Different levels – different devils.'” (Quote by Chris’ co-worker). The idea is that even though the church experienced a new kind of freedom, they were also facing new temptations.
  • 6:48 PM Kevin Rossen – Another major change during the time of Constantine was that Christians were now appointed to public office, which went against 50 years of history. This would have been shocking to the Christians of the day. Imagine if the Supreme Court issued a ruling tomorrow allowing teachers to profess their faith in the classroom, Christianity to be taught, and it was acceptable to pray in the name of Jesus. We would be wondering if it was some kind of trick.
  • 6:51 PM Kevin Rossen – The Emperor was the person who called together the first ecumenical council of all the church bishops. He promised them safe passage to the council.
  • 6:54 PM Kevin Rossen – Churches were built lavishly. This probably had something to do with the fact that for the first time in history wealthy people were converting to Christianity. They were probably inspired to join the church partially (or primarily) because Constantine was choosing Christians to be servants in public office.
  • 6:56 PM Kevin Rossen – With more and more people coming into the church, more and more changes came. Incense became part of the practice, which was a symbol of imperial authority. Ministers began wearing luxurious clothes instead of everyday clothes. Worship became more processional. The congregation took a less active role in worship.
  • 6:57 PM Kevin Rossen – There were some who didn’t see the Emperor as God’s agent, rather he was a messenger from Satan. This caused some to flee to the deserts to live solitary lives in order to not submit to the Emperor’s authority.
  • 6:58 PM Kevin Rossen – [I’m out to baptize someone, so notes are done]

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