Constantine Creeds and Traditions
Roman Emperor – Caesar Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus (27 February c. 272 – 22 May 337), commonly known in English as Constantine I, Constantine the Great, or (among Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Christians) Saint Constantine (/’kɒnstɛntaɪn/), was Roman emperor from 306, and the undisputed holder of that office from 324 until his death in 337. Best known for being the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine reversed the persecutions of his predecessor, Diocletian, and issued (with his co-emperor Licinius) the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious toleration throughout the empire.
The Byzantine liturgical calendar, observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine rite, lists both Constantine and his mother Helena as saints. Although he is not included in the Latin Church’s list of saints, which does recognize several other Constantines as saints, he is revered under the title “The Great” for his contributions to Christianity.
Constantine also transformed the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium into a new imperial residence, Constantinople, which would remain the capital of the Byzantine Empire for over one thousand years.
Issued the Edict of Milan which stopped the persecution of Christians
Council of Nicea (chaired the consultation)
Throughout his rule, Constantine supported the Church financially, built various basilicas, granted privileges (e.g. exemption from certain taxes) to clergy, promoted Christians to high ranking offices, and returned property confiscated during the Great Persecution of Diocletian
Also built Old St. Peter’s Basilica and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Used the ‘chi rho’ symbol of Christianity
Closed many pagan temples
Still seemed to worship Apollos the Sun God and commanded everyone to observer the venerable day of the sun (Sunday)
Esoteric Eastern sun worship on coins, (Sol Invictus) Christianity not on coins, only on his personal attire
Did not declare himself a Christian until he was past 40 years old.
Intervened in the Donatist dispute and eventually led a Christian army against the Donatists – the first intra-Christian war
Retained the title of Pontifex Maximus or head of the pagan cult worship of the day.
He made December 25th, the birthday of the pagan Unconquered Sun god, the official holiday it is now–the birthday of Jesus. It is likely that he also instituted celebrating Easter and Lent based on pagan holidays.
His mother, Helen, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and began excavations to recover artifacts in the city, discovering the “holy Cross’. This popularized the tradition of pilgrimages in Christianity.
Mixing Church & State
Constantine believed that Church and State should be as close as possible.
By chairing Nicaea, and enforcing its decisions and intervening in the Donatist dispute and even by elevating Christians and destroying pagan temples Constantine mixed church and State very closely and this inevitably leads to problems.
The Church becomes political and corrupt
The State makes decisions on doctrines and worship practices they do not fully understand.
The Two Natures Dispute Pages 164 to 173 in LaTourette
The divine and human natures of Jesus Christ
One nature(divine) that transforms the human – monophysitism
Two separate natures – Nestorianism
Two full natures (Chalcedon)
Theotokos vs Christotokos
Mary’s relationship to Christ
Theotokos – God-bearer (Mother of God)
Christotokos – Christ-bearer (Mother of Christ)
Evangelicals hold to the second position
Nestorius vs Cyril
A vicious debate that was totally un-Christian
Doctrine decided by political skullduggery and by alliances rather than by examining the Scripture
Whoever convinced the Emperor of the time won the day.
Ecclesiastical politics rather than the Holy Spirit!!
The age of mere human tradition and church politics had begun
Creed of Chalcedon Page 170-172 in LaTourette
Dispute between Bishop of Alexandria (Dioscurus) and Bishop of Rome (Leo) over two nature of Christ
Eventually decided that Christ was fully God and fully man
Apostles Creed – response to Gnosticism
Nicene Creed – response to Arianism
Formula of Chalcedon – response to Nestorianism and to allegorical views of Christ.
Forced Unity Only Brings Disunity
The desire to have a completely unified Christian faith was so strong that good people were being excommunicated over very subtle doctrinal differences
Politicians desired a united empire in ‘harmony’ and would interfere in ecclesiastical matters in to bring ‘order to the Empire’
The result was complete chaos and the development of an extremely carnal and competitive Church