Early on after the apostles eventually died, the Bishops appointed by the apostles were the authority. But as time passed it seemed many conflicting ideas evolved. The church was powerless (lacking political and military strength) under Roman persecution. However, when we enter the 4 C, Rome has a king that embraces Christianity and decides to settle the disputes among the believers.
Arianism was the primary doctrine of dispute at the time. Arianism was concluded to be wrong and subsequently the doctrine of Trinity was Legalized. Anyone having a difference of opinion would be branded as heretic and expelled. Freedom of religion was lost. Swords and Politics would protect Christian doctrines.
Christianity itself lost its meaning: Christ as the crucified was turned into Christ the Crucifier and the truth of Christianity would be lost in time. Constatine who as Emperor presided over the council on the merit of imperial power (He was not baptized at the time of the council).
According to Lactantius, Constantine was visited by a dream the night before the battle, wherein he was advised “to mark the heavenly sign of God on the shields of his soldiers … by means of a slanted letter X with the top of its head bent round, he marked Christ on their shields”.
Eusebius describes another version, where, while marching at midday, “he saw with his own eyes in the heavens a trophy of the cross arising from the light of the sun, carrying the message, In Hoc Signo Vinces or “with this sign, you will conquer”; in Eusebius’s account, Constantine had a dream the following night, in which Christ appeared with the same heavenly sign, and told him to make a standard, the labarum, for his army in that form.
The Christian Cross that had become a symbol of forgiveness of sins would be turned into a symbol of war and blood shed. While Jesus taught to pray for the enemy these men would use the Cross and the Sword for centuries to come.
Summary of Councils that Legalized Christianity:
- The First Ecumenical Council was convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine at Nicaea in 325 and presided over by the Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria, with over 300 bishops condemning
- The Second Ecumenical Council was held at Constantinople in 381, presided over by the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, with 150 bishops, defining the nature of the Holy Spirit against those asserting His inequality with the other persons of the Trinity
- The Third Ecumenical Council is that of Ephesus in 431, presided over by the Patriarch of Alexandria, with 250 bishops, which affirmed that Mary is truly “Birthgiver” or “Mother” of God
- The Fourth Ecumenical Council is that of Chalcedon in 451, Patriarch of Constantinople presiding, 500 bishops, affirmed that Jesus is truly God and truly man, without mixture of the two natures
- The Fifth Ecumenical Council is the second of Constantinople in 553, interpreting the decrees of Chalcedon and further explaining the relationship of the two natures of Jesus
- The Sixth Ecumenical Council is the third of Constantinople in 681; it declared that Christ has two wills of his two natures, human and divine
It is good to have councils and debate, but, it is not Christian to kill men with different opinions. Jesus did not for instance teach his disciples to kill the High priest or Herod or Barabbas or Pilate or the Pharisees. While he debates and tries to correct them, he was crucified in the process. The new set of Christians adopted high priest tactics to anyone who they saw as threat. They would freely shed blood in the name of Jesus.
“The Constantinian shift turned Christianity from a persecuted into a persecuting religion”
Post the Nicaea Creed true Christianity lost its meaning. The Roman Beast/Iron Legs would itself be the guardian of the supposed true doctrines of Christianity with its Iron teeth and Brass claws:
- First known Christian persecution
Priscillian (died 385) was bishop of Ávila and a theologian from Roman Gallaecia. Priscillian appealed to the Emperor, with the unexpected result that, with six of his companions, he was beheaded at Trier in 385. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priscillian
- Forced conversion – A really sick practice by Christians
Forced conversion was a major way for the Christianization of the Roman Empire. In 392 Emperor Theodosius I decreed that Christianity was the only legal religion of the Roman Empire, and forbidding pagan practices by law:
It is Our will that all the peoples who are ruled by the administration of Our Clemency shall practice that religion which the divine Peter the Apostle transmitted to the Romans….The rest, whom We adjudge demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of Our own initiative” (Codex Theodosianus XVI 1.2.)
- On 27 February 380, together with Gratian and Valentinian II, Theodosius issued the decree “Cunctos populos“, the so-called “Edict of Thessalonica“, recorded in the Codex Theodosianus xvi.1.2. This declared the Nicene Trinitarian Christianity to be the only legitimate Imperial religion and the only one entitled to call itself Catholic. Other Christians he described as “foolish madmen”.
- “Saint Augustine” asserted: In essence, the pursuit of peace must include the option of fighting to preserve it in the long-term. Such a war could not be pre-emptive, but defensive, to restore peace. Thomas Aquinas, centuries later, used the authority of Augustine’s arguments in an attempt to define the conditions under which a war could be just. Thomas Aquinas, centuries later, used the authority of Augustine’s arguments in an attempt to define the conditions under which a war could be just.
- After this Christianity declined and freedom of religion was shut. ‘Just’ wars replaced the teachings of Jesus of turning the other cheek, praying for enemies, Jesus’ rebuke of Peter who cut off the ears of the soldiers etc.
- Before the Roman Beast gave Christianity its power these views were held against the sword: The early church (the first 300 years) was strongly pacifist. Origen said that Christians “do not go forth as soldiers”. Tertullian wrote “only without the sword can the Christian wage war: for the Lord has abolished the sword.” Clement of Alexandria wrote “…he who holds the sword must cast it away and that if one of the faithful becomes a soldier he must be rejected by the Church, for he has scorned God.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/christianethics/war.shtml)
- The Major protestant movement “Anglican” is no different from the beast it protests. Being a horn of the beast it boasts of its faith thus: “It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars.” http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html
- The Anglican protestant church also accepts Nicene Creed: The Nicene Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed
Jesus came to bring us close to the Father, but that has not really happened for the vast majority of Christians. The Catholics further distance themselves further from the Father through Mary and the saints.
At the death of Jesus – Did Jesus die to change you or change God?
Having said the above, the most inspiring thing about Christianity (all denominations) is the practice of love and charity. Churches have contributed enormously to humanity in terms of charity that has left civilizations with a +ve feeling towards Christianity.
So let the doctrine of love be the first to rule. Let religious tolerance be shown to each other. While you argue, debate and even dis-fellowship do not use the sword and power to oppress and supress a fellow human being. Love your neighbour as yourself. While each church has to deal with wolves, do not do this by forming bands of fighting men.
Divisions over doctrine is not new to Christianity. It was very prominent during the time of the apostles. For example to the church at Corinth he tells them not to get drunk on the memorial wine. So early church members though full of the spirit were not all that sensible. They were being taught even after their baptisms. The earliest churches were far from ideal. Paul had to deal with Jews like his former self over the doctrine of circumcision. He never once advised of ‘Just’ wars. His hope was in the coming Kingdom of God and not to teach Christians to establish their own Kingdom by the sword.
This site explores the God of the universe his son and his holy spirit based on what is taught in the bible – searching the truth that has been hidden to millions of Christians.