In the year 312 CE, in Rome; a period of anarchy was upon civilization. Two generals were in unswerving hostility, fighting for control of the immensely powerful empire. One of the generals, Constantine, was struggling to take his rightful spot as emperor. Almost on cue, a vision of a sun with a cross came to him. The sun was a significant figure to him, for he had a sense of captivation with the god Helios. Though, the knowledge of the cross was an original image to him, it is like the insignia of the upcoming, religion, Christianity. He understood this to mean that he must fight by the cross to arise triumphant. He instantly directed all soldiers of his military to coat crosses on their shields and fight in the name of Christ. Once he grasped his crown and got the title of emperor, he appreciated his vision and it did in fact have divine significance. He attributed Christianity for his victory in combat and became a dedicated devotee. For many reasons, Constantine and his stately backing is unquestionably the cause as to why Christianity became the main faith of the Roman Empire.
The major reasons why Constantine caused Christianity to become the dominant religion of the Roman Empire is because he passed the Edict of Milan, he contributed huge sums of money to the church, and he allowed the transcriptions of sacred scriptures and allowed the construction of religious buildings. The first of these reasons, the Edict of Milan, is a document approved by Constantine that completely accepted Christians in society. “In the next year, A.D. 313, Constantine declared an end to the oppression of Christians. In the Edict of Milan, he declared Christianity to be one of the religions approved by the emperor” (McNally). This document was vital, because it ended the harassment, execution and banishment of numerous Christians and permitted them to worship and express themselves freely. Formerly, Christians were being gradually secluded, disconnected and eradicated. This not only permitted Christians to continue their everyday lives without fear, but it also made the religion free to develop. The second way in which Constantine contributed to Christian dominance is he donated large sums of money to the church. “The bishops are terribly grateful for this kind of imperial attention” (Shaye). The charity that was given enabled the church in Rome to expand and endow certain plans and events that would later help the spread of the religion across the empire. The money provided also allowed large amounts of freedom and flexibility in terms of the further steps that the church leaders should take. This flexibility also upheld peace between the church and the opposing Empire. Finally, Constantine took large efforts to reproduce numerous religious texts and scriptures and support construction of certain religious locations. “They’re able to have bibles copied at public expense. They are finally able to have public Christian architecture and big basilicas.” (Shaye) This ensured that the religion would spread rapidly as a larger number of people gained access to the ideas and beliefs of the religion. In addition, the further construction of monasteries allowed the structure of the church to expand and solidify and allowed implementation of priests, bishops etc. Most importantly, it provided locations that were safe and protected where religious practice was possible. These are the three most important reasons why Constantine’s actions led directly to Christianity becoming the dominant religion at the time.
Without Constantine, the religion would spread limitedly, progress minimally, structure poorly, and deteriorate Christianity until it would eventually be ruined and become inexistent. The first of the issues with Christianity before Constantine was that although there were vast efforts from Jesus and Paul to spread the religion and separate it completely from Judaism, it still lacked support from a truly superior, influential and significant figure. Not only did Constantine help in dispersal and shifting the philosophies to the extreme borders of the empire, but he serves as a hero and as somebody the society look up to. By becoming a supporter of Christianity, he leads countless others with him and the public of Rome to stand by example. Jesus was a persuasive oracle for the religion as was Paul, but these entities were unable to reach a place that seized the necessary influence required to persuade a whole empire. Roman religion and the idea of polytheism was unified into life at home, life in the town and into the government itself. Only somebody who oversees all of civilization might be able to to cause such a radical transformation. The second problem that Constantine removed was that the church lacked assembly and consistency. Jesus and Paul managed to theorize an ill organized package of ideas with central meaning. Although they recognized their views, standardization was a requirement to march onward as the religion moved and became approved globally. As shown, many arguments between the religion occurred and an abundant number of sects were created. Constantine believed in a specific branch that utilized both the Old and New testament and capitalized time and resources to guarantee that his chosen sect would arise to the uppermost part of his society. The religion was standardized rendering to the principles of his sect and disputes were contracted. The ideas supplied by the founders of Christianity would have been enveloped with arguments and would’ve lost influence without standardization.
Finally, the last issue that was occurring at the time was that Christians were being exiled, executed and persecuted. After people saw that being a Christian was considered a crime and the punishments for practicing it were harsh, many were scared out of becoming members. The tool of fear would cause no future members and the current members would be overcome one by one. Eventually the religion would not exist, and no one would be alive today to spread the message of this upcoming religion. The few followers gained would be killed and the martyrs would only be influential until a certain point. Some would realize that the religion was worth dying for, but once they did die, there would be no one left to convey this message. Constantine put an immediate end to all this which allowed the religion to flourish under the power that they already held and increase their influence in society. These are the most significant reasons that explain why those who came before Constantine would have failed in maintaining the religion and would not have allowed Christianity to become the central religion in Rome.
In conclusion, there are numerous motives as to why Constantine’s imposing backing lead to Christianity becoming the dominant religion in all the Roman Empire. The Edict of Milan, the substantial amounts of money donated, the copying of scriptures, the enabling and contribution to building construction, the adding uniformity to the religion and the offering of a superior role to follow all added up to the vast efforts of Constantine. Every solitary action made an enormous impact independently, when the care is summed, the product is massive. Without the divine vision that Constantine had gotten, Christianity would not be here today. By becoming a devotee, he allowed Christians to flourish and displayed the standing in trusting in one sole God. This sustenance is something that the religion could not have received from none other which is why we still recall his memory today. Overall, this is important since it unlocked the gates for the new, forthcoming religion and abundant possibilities emerged which eventually led Christianity to develop into something adored internationally.
Legitimization Under Constantine: (Shaye I.D. Cohen. “The Path to Victory.” From Jesus to
Christ. Frontline. WGBH Educational Foundation. Web. 1998.
(Constantine RD)) Rise of Christianity: (Rand McNally, World History: The Rise of Christianity,
McDougal Littell, Illinois, 2005)