If your want to know the future, study the past.
The Allurement of Wolves
Flavius Salerus Constantinus has been touted in some historical accounts as the first Roman Emperor who was converted to Christianity. Was Flavius the King and Emperor really a man propagating the Gospel of Jesus? He alleged that an apparition of Christ told him to put XP (khi, hro) on his shield, on the eve of the battle against Maxentius, his empirical rival in Italy. Did Jesus alter his position on exercising authority?
“And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.” Luke 22:25, 27. [Mt 20:25. Mr 10:42.]
Did Constantine obey this command of Christ?
Constantine was truly a man of visions. He had also claimed a vision of the sun god in 310 while in a grove of Apollo in Gaul. In 313 AD, Constantine and Licinius as co-emperors had joined together in “issuing the Edict of Milan, which granted toleration” for his version of Christianity under their binding authority. “As guardian of Constantine’s favored religion”, certain churches and bishops were “given legal rights and large financial donations.”
These “financial donations”, funded by the spoils of war and compelled taxation, subjected the Churches who accepted them to the benefactors who exercise authority. Christians had been guaranteed their lawful rights by emperors before. Constantine did not free the church, but seduced a small portion of it into a “legal status” with the offering of “deceitful meats” and the dainties of his royal table.
A struggle for power soon began between the two commanders, from which Constantine emerged victorious. Constantine betrayed Licinius and had him and all his family put to death. He had thousands of people put to death in mass exterminations of any who opposed him.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Matthew 7:15, 16
The more I study the detailed thorns of Constantine’s life and those ministers he and his successors appointed over men, the less I am convinced of any fruits of the Holy Spirit in their questionable conversion. There were thousands upon thousands that suffered and toiled under their “exercising authority”, with tens of thousands who died at their murderous, bloody hands. The testimony of their lives bears witness to the purity or impurity of their souls.
“Constantine intervened in ecclesiastical affairs to achieve unity; he presided over the first ecumenical council of the church at Nicaea in 325.” He claimed the office of Pontifex Maximus or High Priest, till he died. As the ruling High Priest, he had demanded that the bishops of the Church come to his council. There were over 1800 known bishops at that time and barely 300 came. He sat on a golden throne, claiming to be the “Bishop of Bishops”, not a servant of servants, but as a dictator.
Of those who came, the historical record showed that, they were financially rewarded with the spoils of his imperial rule. Extravagant gifts of gold, silver, property, and privilege were bestowed on these collaborating bishops who accepted his rule from the top down. Those bishops who sanctioned his benevolence and title of “bishop of bishops” are difficult to justify. His gifts had been taken from fields of corpses and an overtaxed populations. If ever there was a sin of the Nicolaitan branded on the head of men, it was here at this council of hypocrisy. How could men justify this fundamental departure from the teachings of Christ by becoming the state Church of Constantine?
Fortunately, these men were a small minority. True Christian faith continued to thrive in those who remained in the liberty of Christ. Those who did not answer his call or questioned his assumed authority were sent packing or, in the years to follow, were labeled heretics and cast out of the graces of these despotic ‘bishops’, or simply murdered as heretics.
In 381 A.D., the Council of Constantinople was convened by Theodosius I. Only 150 bishops attended condemning various religious groups that did not heed the call of the emperor. Theodosius was as much a tyrant and more a murder of thousands.
Several emperors had earlier guaranteed the protection of the Church. The idea that the Church was “legalized” may not be far from the truth, but what exactly does that mean? There was now an official Church of Rome established by men who found favor with the rulers of Rome, but were they true Christians? Or were they taking the name of the Lord in vain?
The legalizing of the Christian church was more a legalizing of certain collaborative sects of churches who claimed to be Christian and were willing to turn a blind eye, or at least give a grateful wink, to the autocratic oppression by these manipulating chiefs of state in exchange for exemption, if not wealth and protection.
Christ would not appeal to Rome to save his life, but these men petitioned Constantine and his senate, not to save their own life, but to take the lives of others. Abraham would not take a buckle, but these men took lavish gifts of gold and silver. They seemed to be “the lovers of soft things” like Essenes spoken of in the courts of Herod.
These sects and governments have been able to control the writing of history throughout the ages. But, probably even more importantly, they promoted the compilation of the books we know today as the Bible. “The 27 books of the New Testament are only a fraction of the literary production of the Christian communities in the first three centuries.” There is no clear record of how some writings were excluded and how others were chosen to be placed into what some referred as the canon.
There is one thing clear from the historical record. Large numbers of Christian sects fled the judgment and persecution of the legalized church and their allies of force, fear, and violence. This union of church and state was not one sanctioned by God, nor did it bear much resemblance to the ways preached, demonstrated, and taught by Jesus.
Their fornicating relationship was self-serving, proud, violent, and oppressive. From Augustus to Constantine, the emperors still held the title, if not the office of Apo Theos, Originator of gods.
There is little doubt that the men, who exclude so much from the compilation of the New and the Old Testaments, did so with less than noble purposes, if not evil intent. This is not to say that those writings are not now authentic or valid, but their relationship with the Roman state can only lead one to believe that there may have been self-serving exclusions. These were not the Apostles who made the final decision concerning Bible content, but someone quite different. We can only assume that, what some men meant unto evil, the God of Heaven shall turn for good.
It was centuries before these apostates were able to crown rulers who began an aggressive policy of bloody “reform”. With these new institutions, the beast rose again and brought about the inquisition, annihilation, and extinction of millions of people who were seeking God’s Kingdom in spirit and in truth. The persecution of the early Christians by some emperors was nothing compared to the persecution of Christians and others by this unholy alliance of Church and State.