My Arguments against the ‘Good Constantine’

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So, yesterday evening, during class, the professor (whim I enjoy) asked whether or not the ‘conversion’ of Constantine was a good thing for the Church. My response was ‘Bad for the Church, Good for the World.’

Why? Because there was a certain amount of transference to State of Christian morality, although for the longest, you might be hard pressed to find. Further, Western Civilization was virtually built with Christianity. However, it institutionalized the Church and connected it to the State. As I wrote earlier, I felt that the Church lost its position as the loyal opposition, in which we maintained the Kingdom of God against the kingdoms of this world, the dominions, the powers, etc… When Constantine ‘converted’ he brought the two together and we lost our voice as the moral authority, the prophetic mantle. We gained a sword to enforce the ‘gospel’ message and we did. With blood. And to what extent did that tarnish the Church? We gained power, but look what we’ve done with that power?

And today – where is the Church growing? Under what circumstances did the Church grow then and now grows?

I do not think that Constantine’s conversion was anything but political, and that because of that, the Church lost. Yes, the persecutions stopped, but look at what was lost…

Post By Joel Watts (9,925 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, working on the use of Deuteronomy in the Fourth Gospel. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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4 thoughts on My Arguments against the ‘Good Constantine’

  1. I remember doing an essay on this during my BA module on Early Church. I think my answer was it was good news for Constantine, but bad for the Church. An amateur theologian dominated the decisions of the professionals at Nicea, tried to force his will on the Donatists in N Africa, which only confirmed their suspicions that the Roman leopard hadn’t changed its spots, and was still Babylon. He made bishops into imperial civil servants, which is why they wear purple (well, Anglicans do). The Church of England insists that if the British Methodist Church is to progress with them in our Covenant we have to accept bishops in the historic episcopate. The Methodist people disagree, and have responded that they don’t want bishops in any form. Actually, speaking as a circuit superintendent, I tell them we already have bishops – we’re called superintendents, which is the Latin equivalent of the Greek episkopos, so we actually have a form of episcopacy which is nearer to that which may have existed found in the later 1st C (if the Pastorals are anything to go by). No, I haven’t bought a purple shirt…

    • Wait… I have to get a purple shirt? :) I agree with you here, but not everyone in class does… I can imagine who they would vote for in politics, though

  2. You know Joel, imagine if a generous man ended the death penalty for thousands of people here in the US on death row. Imagine the gratitude and loyalty they would have towards that man. Now, name that man Constantine. Always something positive, its not as black and white as your subjective opinion makes the situation out to be.

    • Really… so it was just the death penalty that he ended? Uh, he didn’t even do that. Further, he colonized the church and made it a weapon. You agree with that?

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