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Constantine's Changes Damaged Christianity

Introduction

In the year 312 AD, the floodgates opened wide, and a fundamental transformation of the Church took place. It now refashioned itself from top to bottom into a full-blown State religion of the Empire.

And while not a single record exists of Christians being in the Roman army prior to 180 AD, less than a century after Constantine, every Roman soldier was required by law to be a Christian. The Church had indeed undergone a profound and fundamental change.

Constantine’s dream took the Jesus of the New Testament, the One who said “Love your enemies,” and “My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my followers would fight;” the One who refused to be made King by the people; the One who told Peter to put away his sword and warned that “All who take up the sword will die by the sword” and then healed the servant’s ear; the One who rebuked James and John for wanting to call down fire on the Samaritans; the One who commanded non-resistance to evil, turning the other cheek, and a host of other non-violent love-centred admonitions toward enemies and adversaries; the One whose followers understood and obeyed these commands to the letter for almost three centuries — in short, Constantine’s dream took this Jesus of the New Testament and transformed Him into a violent, military god of war, and made Him the official god and supreme king of the Roman Empire.

The Church for its part, tired of being powerless and persecuted, tied its fortunes to the State and happily accepted it. But if this really was the real Jesus who appeared to Constantine as a military god of war, promising victory in battle and offering His Cross as a symbol of conquest and the killing of enemies, then we should have no difficulty picturing Jesus Himself marching at the head of Constantine’s victory parade into Rome holding up Maxentius’ head on a lance! Yet, who can even begin to imagine such a thing?

As Tolstoy wrote in Church and State (1891):

 The source was evil: hate, human pride, hostility towards Arius and others, and another still graver evil, -- the Union of Christianity with power.

Power: Constantine, emperor, according to heathen ideas one who stands at the height of human grandeur ( he was counted among the gods), accepts Christianity, furnishes an example to the whole nation, converts the nation, and extends a helping hand as against heretics, and through the ecumenical council fixes the unitary orthodox Christian faith

The Christian Catholic faith is fixed forever. 

So natural was it to yield to that delusion that even unto this day men believe in the salutariness of that event. While the event was really such that, thanks to it, the majority of Christians have repudiated their faith. That was the point where the overwhelming majority of Christians took the heathen road, which is still followed. 


The Wikipedia article on the "Sabbath" readily explains the pretensions of Constantine to Christianity, which he then used to alter its observances of Sabbath so worship would be now on the day of worship of the Sun-God -- Sun-day. It reads:

The Roman emperor Constantine, a sun-worshiper, professed his conversion to Christianity, although his subsequent actions suggest that the “conversion” was more of a political move than a genuine change of heart. Constantine proclaimed himself Bishop of the Catholic Church and then enacted the first civil law regarding Sunday observance in A.D. 321.

"On the venerable day of the sun let the magistrate and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however, persons engaged in agricultural work may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain growing or for vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost." [1]

Note that Constantine’s law did not mention Sabbath but referred to it as a “the venerable day of the sun.”

[Coin Right: "To the Sun, My Invincible Companion" -minted by Constantine in honor of the god of the Sun,  Sol Invictus.]

Professor Michael Grant formerly of Cambridge University, as well as reading other works on Constantine, concluded that Constantine did have some kind of authentic spiritual dream-like experience, and that he was completely convinced that it was Jesus Christ who had appeared to him in that dream. One author comments:

Like Grant, I do not believe that Constantine was a liar, a charlatan, or simply a political opportunist who exploited the Church solely for his own ends, although there seems to have been some of that going on. Rather, I believe that Constantine was a man who was genuinely and thoroughly deceived by our ancient foe, Satan, who presented him with a false image of Jesus in that dream. As the Scripture says, “Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).” Then, after deceiving Constantine, Satan used him and the prevailing circumstances to deceive the Church, which has largely remained so ever since.

Thus, in a very real sense, when the Church accepted, worshipped and served this false image of Jesus — an idol promising the Church power and authority over nations and peoples through its partnership with Rome — it was actually worshipping and serving Satan without ever even knowing it. And so, through Constantine, Satan presented the Church with a temptation to accept a Jesus found in private visions and dreams -- where Jesus said He would not be found, and thereby she failed the test again whereby Christian Nationalism was born.


Study Notes on Constantine

1. Eusebius Records Constantine Claimed Inspiration

In the Oration of Eusebius, XVIII, Eusebius relates how Constantine made the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to be deemed the place of Jesus' burial.  Apparently, Eusebius is using faint praise or sly coded words (likely the latter) to reveal to the reader not to trust Constantine because he claimed inspiration. Either way, it tells us something of Constantine's mindset:

"THESE words of ours, however, [gracious] Sovereign, may well appear superfluous in your ears, convinced as you are, by frequent and personal experience, of our Saviour's Deity; yourself also, in actions still more than words, a herald of the truth to all mankind. Yourself, it may be, will vouchsafe at a time of leisure to relate to us the abundant manifestations which your Saviour has accorded you of his presence, and the loft-repeated visions of himself which have attended you in the hours of sleep. I speak not of those secret suggestions which to us are unrevealed: but of those principles which he has instilled into your own mind, and which are fraught with general interest and benefit to the human race. You will yourself relate in worthy terms the visible protection which your Divine shield and guardian has extended in the hour of battle ; the ruin of your open and secret foes ; and his ready aid in time of peril. To him you will ascribe relief in the midst of perplexity; defence in solitude; expedients in extremity; foreknowledge of events yet future ; your forethought for the general weal ; your power to investigate uncertain questions ; your conduct of most important enterprises ; your administration of civil affairs;' your military arrangements, and correction of abuses in all departments; your ordinances respecting public right ; and, lastly, your legislation for the common benefit of all. You will, it may be, also detail to us those particulars of his favor which are secret to us, but known to you alone, and treasured in your royal memory as in secret storehouses. Such, doubtless, are the reasons, and such the convincing proofs of your Saviour's power, which caused you to raise that sacred edifice [i.e., the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem] which presents to all, believers and unbelievers alike, a trophy of his victory over death, a holy temple of the holy God : to consecrate those noble and splendid monuments of immortal life and his heavenly kingdom : to offer memorials of our Almighty Saviour's conquest which well become the imperial dignity of him by whom they are bestowed. With such memorials have you adorned that edifice which witnesses of eternal life: thus, as it were in imperial characters, ascribing victory and triumph to the heavenly Word of God : thus proclaiming to all nations, with clear and unmistakable voice, in deed and word, your own devout and pious confession of his name

Oration of Eusebius Pamphilus in praise of  The Emperor Constantine Pronounced on the 30th Anniversary of his reign.  AD 337 Ch. XVII, legible version, or at Schaff, Nicene & Post Fathers (2007) Vol. 1 at 610.

Eusebius actually was bravely writing in veiled sarcasm so his writings would survive, and we would know the truth, as will become more evident as we proceed.

Ernest L. Martin in Secrets of Golgatha (1996) at 215 comments on this passage:

"He [Constantine] claimed to possess divine knowledge, just like the apostles, and those visionary experiences gave him the essential teachings which he thought to have as their source His Savior and which he considered necessary for all the Christian Church (including the bishops) to follow."

Martin goes on to explain that as a result of Constantine's assuming sole emperorship in 324 AD, he transformed the Christian fellowship toward a paganized form of Christianity. Martin at page 217 of Secrets of Golgatha remarks:

"Before the end of the fourth century a new kind of Christianity had emerged that was quite different from that described by Eusebius in the first part of the century. It was a Christianity where visions, dreams and signs took center stage, and where pagan customs and philosophies began to permeate the whole of society. A brand new civilization had come on the scene."

The importance of the subtle mockery of Eusebius, is that Eusebius knew this Sepulchre is in the wrong place. To fulfill prophecy, Jesus had to be executed outside the city. Eusebius had himself recorded the correct place years earlier -- at the Mount of Olives -- which is outside the city.

“Believers in Jesus all congregate from all parts of the world….that they may worship at the MOUNT OF OLIVES opposite the city….TO THE CAVE that is shown there” (Eusebius, Proof of the Gospel, Bk. VI. ch. 18).

But here, in this oration, Eusebius has to appear to approve the holy sepulchre inside Jerusalem. And shockingly, it was placed on the Temple to Venus which the Romans built in 135 AD to desecrate the city. The background on this is as follows:

In the year 326, Constantine sent his mother Helena to Jerusalem to discover the spot that he had foreseen in a vision as the place of Jesus’ Resurrection. This was the site of the temple of Venus on the western side of Jerusalem. He ordered the temple torn down and a church constructed on the site. This is called the church of the “Holy” Sepulchre to this day.

What had been this Temple of Venus? When the Romans finally conquered Jerusalem in 135 A.D., as an insult to the Jews, they built a Temple of Venus over a monument to a Jewish freedom fighter named John Hyrcanus.

2. Danger of Following Signs & Wonders As Confirmation

Speaking of so-called "St John of the Cross" of the 16th Century, Ernest Martin in Secrets of Golgatha (1996) at 218-19 addresses Constantine's choice of Christ's burial place as the Temple of Venus at Jerusalem. We now call this the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre. Martin critiques this event:

"No one in early times has given a better appraisal of how dangerous and foolish it is to trust in visions, dreams and signs than the appraisal of St. John of the Cross. His classic evaluation [Ascent of Mount Carmel ] should be read by all people today who rely upon such manifestations as visions, dreams, and miracles as a means for establishing doctrines or religious principles. Such procedures are some of the most dangerous imaginable in their ability to produce falsehood and deception amongst the unwary. Had there been a 'St John of the Cross' at the time of Constantine (with the warnings he so able presented to the theological world of the 16th century), and had he been believed, then the Christian church would not have been saddled with the supposedly 'divine' teachings of Constantine and his advisors about the need to accept the place of the Temple of Venus as the place of Jesus' passion. It would have been understood that visions, dreams, and miracles are the most unreliable 'proofs' for demonstrating historical, geographical and theological truth."

3. Constantine's Elimination of all Sects of Christianity But The One He Approved

Edward Gibbon in Rise and Fall of Rome wrote:

Constantine easily believed that the heretics, who presumed to dispute his opinions or to oppose his commands, were guilty of the most absurd and criminal obstinancy... Not a moment was lost in excluding the ministers and teachers of the separated congregations from any share of the rewards and immunities which the emperor had so liberally bestowed on the orthodox clergy. But as the sectaries might still exist under the cloud of royal disgrace, the conquest of the East was immediately followed by an edict which announced their total destruction”

4. Constantine As Using Christianity To Subjugate People, Relying Upon Paul's Words

Robert Atwill recently wrote Caesar's Messiah to portray Jesus as the product of the Roman state. In some ways, Rome of the 300s did -- in conjunction with Paul's words -- make Jesus into a Roman Messiah to subjugate peoples. Here is Robert Atwill's observations in a 2012 blog entitled How Christianity Was Used To Enslave Europe:

Christianity may be considered a religion, but it was actually developed and used as a system of mind control to produce slaves that believe God decreed their slavery. From their position as the “Pontiff Maximus” – the official title for Caesar’s position as head of the pagan college of Roman priests – the Pontiffs of the Roman Catholic church oversaw the feudal system wherein Christianized serfs gave their work product to the authorities without complaint. Their docility was caused by the fact that they were Christians and therefore believed the Apostle Paul when he wrote: “slaves should be obedient to their masters in everything”. (Titus, 2)

When Rome was a Republic the coloni had numerous rights including the ability to sell their land, but these freedoms steadily eroded during the imperial era. Around 300 CE the Caesar Diocletian implemented a tax that unified a plot of land with its inhabitants. It thereby became more difficult for coloni to sell their plots.

In 306 CE, upon the death of his father Constantius, Constantine became co-Emperor with his brother-in-law Maxentius. The two were bitter rivals however, and war soon broke out. Before the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 CE, Constantine had his famous but absurd vision in which Christ purportedly instructed him to place a particular sign on the battle standards of his army. This symbol was called the chi-rho (The Chi Rho superimposed the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ in such a way to produce a monogram that invoked the crucifixion of Jesus) and was described by Eusebius as “a long spear, overlaid with gold, which included a bar crossing the spear to form the shape of the Christian cross. On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones, and within this the symbol of the Savior’s name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of the initial letters, the letter X intersection P at the center.” Included with the banner were the words: “In hoc signo vinces” (in this sign thou shalt conquer).

Armed with the “power of Jesus”, Constantine defeated his rival and became dictator. His reign is best remembered for the Edict of Milan in 313, which fully legalized Christianity, and the Council of Nicea, which he chaired in 325, that began the era where the religion enjoyed the power of the Roman state.

Because of his assistance in making Christianity the state religion, Constantine enjoys a positive historical legacy. In fact he was among the most wicked men in history. What has been overlooked by historians is that his efforts on behalf of Christianity were just one half of his legal “reforms” and when when one half is juxtaposed to the other an entirely different picture emerges. Constantine used Christianity to make the enslavement of most of the European population acceptable to the victims because it was an act of God.

Constantine’s other edicts were the true beginning of medieval serfdom. They officially ended the coloni’s ability to sell their land but bound them to it forever. Another set of edicts forbade the lower classes from changing profession. Constantine thereby froze an unfair society into place. And to prevent any intellectual resistance from the newly created slaves, Constantine also began the process that made Christianity the state religion. When viewed in their true historical context, it is self-evident that the sole purpose for the specific combination of Constantine’s edicts was to enslave serfs and make rebellion a sin.

Below is the order of rank that Constantine’s edicts created – the Feudal System :

The Pope
The King
Bishops
Nobles
Knights / Vassals
Priests
Freemen
Yeomen
Servants
Serfs

Eventually the degradation of the coloni’s legal status to serf was formalized with the creation of a ceremony known as “bondage”. During the ceremony a serf placed his head in the lord’s hands – akin to the ceremony where a vassal placed his hands between those of his overlord. The serf would then swear oaths that bound him to his lord in a feudal contract which defined the terms of his slavery. Thus, the Oath of Fealty, which still exists to this day, producing an attitude of servitude in those who willingly submit to the authority structure.


In the same way, C. Winn in his article Questioning Paul (2015) says aptly that the result of doctrines which Constantine created, Christianity became the worship more of a Babylonian religion than the faith Jesus taught. Winn writes:

The religion Paul conceived has more in common with the mythos of Babylon than any other. As was the case with the Babylonians, Christians are fixated on their Trinity...on the celebration of the Winter Solstice and Easter Sunday when their god is born, dies, and is resurrected, a god whom they call “the Lord” [i.e., Baal] using Satan’s title.

Further Study Notes

In article by Shafer Park, in The Christians.com, we read of the divided opinion over Constantine.

For example, Mennonite scholar John Howard Yoder (1927-1997), as summarized by Leithart, “In Yoder’s telling, the Church ‘fell’ in the fourth century (or thereabouts) and has not yet recovered from that fall.” - See more at: http://thechristians.com/?q=node/778#sthash.yDM61SGC.dpuf

Shafer adds:

Going even farther, many Baptists and fundamentalist Christians call what happened a seduction, in which church leaders accepted the imposition of Babylonian paganism and superstition under the guise of Christian symbolism and ceremony, and all for a “pottage” of state support and power. - See more at: http://thechristians.com/?q=node/778#sthash.yDM61SGC.dpuf  

Leithart will have none of that. What happened with Constantine, he counters, amounts to nothing less than the baptism and progressive transformation of society. He set the world toward becoming the City of God. No wonder he was buried as the “thirteenth apostle” in the Church of the Apostles. - See more at: http://thechristians.com/?q=node/778#sthash.yDM61SGC.dpuf


Email 4/25/2015

Alex's Question on Was Early Church so Pro-Paul as it Seems? Was True History Washed Out?

I am puzzled by the fact that the tradition of the early church is almost unanimously, except Papias I think, pro-Paul. Is it possible that Paulinism took over toward the end of the 1st century and, while these figures understood the problems with Paul (i.e. Turtullian) and the tension in the Old Testament accounts of sacrifice, they accepted Paul's understanding over the understanding of the chosen apostles? Or, is it possible that Eusebius washed out the Jewish history of Christianity?

My Reply

Hi Alex

 1.As to whether any others than Ebionites were critical of Paul’s authority, I found an astonishing fact. Tertullian in 207 AD wrote a scathing attack on Paul to prove he was not an apostle, a false prophet, etc., but in the context of disproving Marcion’s claim that Paul was the sole apostle for the current dispensation. Amazing when I found this. No one else talks about it. Here is the link. See point 6 in this article http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/topicindex/74-early-church-views.html

2.I know Papias never quotes Paul. Is there any proof he was anti-Paul? If so I missed that. Please advise

3.As to why the early church appears pro-Paul, other than Tertullian, it is because later Emperor Constantine was able to censor and destroy any work that contradicted how he was transforming Christianity. Constantine believed the true God was Sol Invictus, a Son of a Father God. He thought Jesus was Sol Invictus. The day of the SUN (sol) was declared to be our modern SUNDAY. It arose in the early 300s by Constantine’s decree. So all Christians observed SABBATH the day prior, and Constantine wanted his religion to not be the same as the Jewish-Jesus’ religion. So he banned rest on Sabbath, and forced by statute everyone to rest on SUN-Day. Suddenly Paul was a key voice to support suppressing the original Sabbath. The first commentaries on Paul came up under Constantine’s watch, and all began quoting Paul more than Jesus. Prior to that time, Paul is virtually a rare source in the early church. Here are two short article to help on that:

http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/topicindex/245-contantines-damage-to-christianity.html

http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/topicindex/239-council-of-nicea-of-325-ad.html   - more general.

I would love whatever you have on Papias. 

Blessings,

Doug

3/12/2012


Videos on Constantine 1. How the Christian Church Changed from its Roots  45 minutes. Good mostly, e.g., Sabbath. But brings in the video creator's view that sinners destroyed, not in hell torment, at death.