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. 10, “Persecution in the Third Century.” Loc. 1886-2043.
Gonzalez introduces the reader to waves of persecution in the third century under Septimius Severus and Decius. Septimius saw threats from outside cultures so wished to consolidate Rome under a unified religious practice (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 1897). He proclaimed that the “Unconquered Sun” would rule over all gods, therefore receive worship. Jews and Christians were not accepting of this move. In the years 202 and following many notable martyrdoms took place (Ibid., Loc. 1909). Gonzalez refers the reader to the story of Perpetua and Felicitas, about this time. After Septimius, in 211, persecutions abated a good deal until 249. In 249, Decius assumed the throne (Ibid., Loc. 1947) and sought to consolidate his people under the traditional gods (Ibid, Loc. 1958). Worship of the traditional gods could be documented with a certificate. Decius did not pursue Christians. He merely required worship of the traditional gods. This resulted in a large number of arrests but relatively few deaths (Ibid., Loc. 1982). Those Christians who did not recant under pressure were referred to as “confessors.” After Decius, in 251, the wave of persecution lessened again. The problem which now faced the Church was the reinstatement of those who had denied Christ (Ibid., Loc. 1994). There were also questions about those who had fled persecution. Generally people in these conditions were restored, though slowly and with many safeguards (Ibid., Loc. 2018).