Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Reformation. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 1. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Ch. 13, “Constantine” Loc. 2446-2803.
Gonzalez resumes his discussion of Constantine and how he became the sole emperor. He engaged in many activities as emperor, “But what is of paramount importance for the story of Christianity is not so much how sincere Constantine was, or how he understood the Christian faith, as the impact of his conversion and his rule both during his lifetime and thereafter” (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 2451). Constantine’s policies were so influential as to shape a great deal of Christian practice from his time forward. Gonzalez asserts Constantine as a political and military leader with an uncanny ability to skirt troubles (Ibid., Loc. 2463). Through a series of wars Constantine overcame the two-part Eastern empire, including the portion ruled by his brother-in-law (Ibid., Loc. 2496). He viewed Byzantium as an important strategic location (Ibid., Loc. 2527) so sought his own city there as an impregnable fortress.
Constantine’s conversion to Christianity has inspired much commentary (Ibid., Loc. 2563). He never received catechesis and always considered himself the leader over all his subjects, even the Church “The truth is probably that Constantine was a sincere believer in the power of Christ. But this does not mean that he understood that power in the same way in which it had been experienced by those Christians who had died for it” (Ibid., oc. 2593). His moves to favor Christianity may well have been aimed at receiving help from the Christian God as he did from others. There was, in fact, no establishment of Christianity as an official religion (Ibid., Loc. 2641). It was not until the time of Gratian (375-383) that Christianity was clearly favored over paganism (Ibid., Loc. 2653). However, during the time of Constantine there were some changes in worship which could indicate a greater acceptance of Christian liturgy (Ibid., Loc. 2701). The Church grew quickly, often without much opportunity for catechesis (Ibid., Loc. 2724). Larger and more elaborate church buildings were built.
Gonzalez discusses two basic reactions to the new climate. Some viewed the cooperation of church and state as the pinnacle of success while some were disappointed at the apparent loss of the challenges of primitive Christianity (Ibid., Loc. 2779).