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Category: Faith, Religion & Spirituality / Topics: Change Faith History Religion

Ancient Times

by Dan Seagren

Posted: July 2, 2017

Reminders of the roots of modern Christianity…

Beginning as a despised, illicit religious sect, Christianity endured 300 years of hostility to emerge as the dominant force in the Roman Empire. Then things changed. The emperor Decius (249–251) the church experienced what, in retrospect, was its most severe test. His remedy was an explicit return to former Republican virtues (Roman mores) and the association of all inhabitants of the Empire with the emperor’s yearly sacrifice to the gods of Rome on the Capitol.

The new emperor, Valerian (253–60), at first tolerated the Christians but in the summer of 257 suddenly altered his attitude. The emperor’s policy was not to destroy the Christian church but to bring it into conformity with public rites. Bishops were sent to the mines. In addition, Christian places of worship and cemeteries were closed, and anyone entering did so at risk of execution.

With years of relative peace, 260-312 how did this hostility and carnage end? In 312, EmperorConstantine entered on a final bid for supremacy in the West. 312. The Edict of Milan formally ended the persecution. His aim was that Christianity should become the religion of the Empire now united under his sole rule. The church had finally triumphed.

Why had the Christians won? Here are a few edited reasons suggested by Professor Everett Ferguson. "They had become too strong to be defeated Christianity had never lost its martyr spirit. Religion’s 'simplicity' of its direct moral teaching and promise uncomplicated by its rivals’ cumbersome (my addition) )mythology. The pagan people rejected the old gods because of the cruelties perpetrated in their names and moved toward Christianity. Executioners had grown utterly weary. Pagan authorities were powerless. Christians regarded death as liberation. And God permitted persecutions to be carried out against Christians increasing, not diminishing their faith. Christians actually would leap up to the tribunal before the judge and confessed themselves as Christians."

Christians should not be underestimated. Nor should their God.

Now, move ahead a few centuries.

March 3, 1263: French cardinal, Hugh of St. Cher, dies. He reputedly compiled the first Bible concordance and was the first person to divide the Old and New Testaments into chapters.

March 3, 1547: At the Seventh Session of the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic church defines its theology of the sacraments. Arguing that seven sacraments are necessary for salvation: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Orders, and Matrimony. The council rejected the teaching of most Protestants that only two were required: Baptism and the Lord's Supper. 


Dan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community.

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Posted: July 2, 2017   Accessed 289 times

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