A while back , I was invited to join a bible study group at my apartment building. I courteously declined the invitation with the comment that I had already read that book.                           …

A while back , I was invited to join a bible study group at my apartment building. I courteously declined the invitation with the comment that I had already read that book.                                      For me to be expected to accept as fact statements made from it is like someone reading to me from a comic book to prove the existence of Superman.  I have read biographies on the founder of Xianity - Emperor Constantine, at Nicaea, 325CE. He convened it, he dominated it & he called for an accord of all the folklore, mythology fables & fairy tales from all over the Middle East & India, spanning over five centuries. His plan was for a new god under which he could unite his sprawling, decaying Empire. He instructed his council : Make it to astonish.  Didn't save his empire, but he did succeed in creating a new religion which is only now beginning to crumble. What a pity they don't teach it's ORIGINS. There is nothing new in xinsanity, it's just a sloppy compilation / mish-mash of mythology. One has to wonder how they got it off the ground, given it's absurdities & contradictiions.

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Comment by Kenneth Montville D.D. on January 11, 2011 at 12:03pm
Constantine didn't create Christianity he only helped to ferment a dominant orthodoxy out of the various forms Christianity had taken up until the 4th century. Either you have misinterpreted what you read about Constantine or what you read was poorly researched.
Comment by Jarrod Payne on January 11, 2011 at 12:36pm
To be fair though without constantines formalisation of christianity as the religion of rome we wouldnt have the mass christian population we have today. So perhaps he created what we consider today to be christianity.
Comment by Kenneth Montville D.D. on January 11, 2011 at 1:07pm
Even that is debatable. He was far from the monolithic figure that united all of Christendom as the OP would have us assume and the dominant form of Christianity (the proto-orthodoxy) he promoted was already fairly common by the time of the Council of Nicaea. While it is true that we can speculate on the butterfly effect of Constantine's actions the OP's assertion is that Christianity did not exist at all before him, which is patently false.
Comment by William C. Walker on January 11, 2011 at 1:52pm
Yes, there WERE a great many sects in the early 4th century. But for Constantine's felt 'need' for a new god under which he hoped to unite his empire, they would have eventually disappeared. I'm an 85 year old bookworm & have read a great many books on Roman history, including bios of Constantine. I'm aware that Xians, especially the Catholic church give credit to Saul / Paul for being the 'father' of Xianity. But it was Constantine who convened the Nicaean council & who dominated it . It was HE who insisted they get agreed on the Wholly Babble, with expulsion for those who WOULD NOT agree. Also, it was HE who directed his council to " Make it to astonish". Whence the absurdities & contradictions that dumb book has promulgated.
Comment by Steve M on January 11, 2011 at 8:56pm
Great one liner there about Superman William. I am going to tuck that one away  for future use.
Comment by Kenneth Montville D.D. on January 12, 2011 at 12:25am

Except it wasn't Constantine who issued the canon, and certainly not at the Council of Nicaea in 325. It is typically credited to Athanasius of Alexandria in his 367. His Easter letter issued what we now have plus a few deuterocanonical books like Tobit and the Shepard of Hermas. His almost exact list was given again my Pope Demasus I in 383 resulting in Jerome's Latin Vulgate Bible.

 

Also, it should say something that Constantine was able to get some 300 bishops together for the Council of Nicaea. Christianity was very far spread. And Constantine threatened expulsion from what? A nonexistent orthodoxy? Christianity had spread from Galilee to Iberia, Ethiopia, Rome, India, Egypt, Carthage, Thrace, and Greece. The writings of Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Ignatius, and Eusebius were all well respected in their setting, long before Constantine. Not to mention the non-Christians like Apion and Celsus who spent great deals of time writing about Christianity. Christianity no doubt did well with help from Constantine but it was already doing quite well without him.

 

The contradictions and absurdities don't come from Constantine's desire to make the canon (which wasn't even formulated until long after his death) it comes from the combining of various texts written by scientifically illiterate pastoralists over more than a millennia in three different languages by various authors, writing for myriad reasons, comprising several literary genres touching on different theological, historical, eschatological, and philosophical points, and meant for different communities coping with different problems.

Comment by Jarrod Payne on January 12, 2011 at 12:35am
That is very interesting. Any idea then why the constantine aspect gets so much more attention?
Comment by Kenneth Montville D.D. on January 12, 2011 at 8:50am

Well he was the emperor of the Roman Empire, and the first one to profess himself Christian. We have a tendency to oversimplify history and give all the credit (or blame) regarding things that happen to specific rulers, regardless of whether or not they played as large a roll as we like to think.

 

Think about it like this, the current economic situation in the US is often labeled as Obama's fault, but it isn't. Nor is it G. W. Bush's fault, though they both play parts in it. It is a combination of corporations taking advantage of tax loopholes created by congress, the economic atmosphere (are people spending or saving?), the boom and bust cycle which is inherent in the monetarist economic theory which has dominated since Nixon. All these things are much bigger parts to the whole, but inevitably the President will take the heat for this, historically speaking.

 

I also want to digress that he did play a big part in the fermentation of a dominant orthodoxy and its spread throughout Europe over the next couple centuries but he was in no way the "founder" and had nothing to do with Christianity's origins. He was also dead for three decades before we see a list of the 27 NT books we have today and it was another two decades before they become orthodox canon. Christianity had spread far and wide in the first 300 years, so asserting that it would have eventually disappeared without Constantine is a fairly baseless assumption.

Comment by William C. Walker on January 12, 2011 at 10:42am
Kenneth, The D.D. after your name 'says it all'. We're well aware that there are a huge number of Bible Colleges & Catholic Seminaries cranking out divinity degrees to those who learn & believe what they are taught at these colleges. However there are also countless secular history books in libraries all over the world. Do the bible colleges tell about how Helena - Constantine's beloved mother, was intent on finding the cross & the nails which crucified the savior ? And then - Lo & behold, they are found in a well for her. ( What the Emperors beloved wants, she gets. ) Kenneth, you are correct in acknowledging the many vastly differing beliefs among the writers of the first few centuries of the current era. All of them drew upon even earlier mythology from a vast area. Much of it predating the birth of a savior by many centuries. We must not 'sell Constantine short'. As Emperor of Rome, his power was awesome, as was his wealth. A recently published book :" The Evolution of God " by by Robert Wright touches on the Jesus mythology as well as the gods of preceding millenia & the god of Mohammad. In the final analysis, it comes down to this : Believe - or disbelieve whatever you like.
Comment by Kenneth Montville D.D. on January 12, 2011 at 11:47am

I make no claim that my D.D. after my name is anything more than a honorary degree (as all Divinity Doctorates are), and in reality holding one is much more of a joke on my part. I explain that to anyone who asks and even posted on here that it was nothing more than a bogus degree "but if YEC ministers can do it why can't I?" The hilarity of which has led me to use it in almost any application in which I am asserting my expertise in religious matters. So please don't mistake me for a believer as it really doesn't "say it all."

 

I am incredibly critical of the history of the church, particularly stories about it which have become overly accepted (Example 1). While I do accept that Constantine was important to the spread of Christianity, I disagree with the degree to which you present that importance--i.e. as the "founder." As in my previous statement about how we gloss over historical aspects, you have glossed over the prolific works of the early Church Fathers and their debates with Pagan authors, the religious syncretism of the Greco-Roman world which led to Christianity's mass acceptance in the first few centuries, and the sheer volume of writings dedicated to this religion. Constantine merely attached himself to this successful religious movement and from there helped it become the dominant religion in Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, but it was not him alone.

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