Thursday, December 6, 2007

Constantine

So was Constantine a true Christian? Who really knows, and does the question even matter?

One of the most important things to remember throughout this unit is the concept of historical understanding-evaluating times and people based not upon some unrealistic standard, but upon how they related to people in their times. Sure, Constantine did some horrible things, but do those things disqualify him from being considered a Christian at all? Not really. This is also a guy who (as brought up in D Period) produced the Edict of Milan, a document declaring religious toleration throughout the Roman Empire. There are positives and negatives to everyone. You can disqualify Constantine from Christianity for reasons relating to his time period, but if you disqualified every person throughout history who did not follow the Ten Commandments perfectly, you would have no Christians in history (well, maybe one, I guess).

Remember the theme of the unit-"How one constructs reality." For Constantine, his reality was a mix of Christian ideals and pragmatic necessities, spiced with polytheistic traditions here and there. In his mind, satisfying all these needs would make him the best emperor, while gaining him favor with his God. Understanding him in that context helps us better understand not only him, but the history of this particular religion as a whole. And the more we understand how people construct their reality, the more likely we are to solve conflicts between competing realities in the future.

10 comments:

Nick D. said...

All I know is that a true Christian would not commit murder,especially his son and wife!

klaudia bednar said...

Everyone went around killing each other in those years (especially Roman emperors, even Christians, Muslims,etc). If we were to compare him to other people, he wouldn't be much different. Killing had a different meaning hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Some believed it was even part of being a follower of their religion (ex. Muslim Jihads). The killing of family members was like a Roman tradition (I know that sounds REEALLY weird) but perhaps he did not understand the whole meaning of Christianity. His ancestors and people were all pagans, making him the first Christian emperor in Rome. In my opinion, he seemed to sometimes get confused and not be able to tell pagan tradition from Roman pagan tradition from plain Roman tradition.

Cydney H. said...

However, he did not get baptised right up until hours before he died, he still celebrated some pagan holidays and used their traditions, and he continued to let paganism carry on because he did not shut down all the temples. This could go either way, but these are just some of the facts against him. I dont know what side I am on right now.

Alex Rachlin said...

For this, i am going to be short and sweeet. The question of Constantine being a true Christian is something we cannot grasp today. Though he might have killed his son and wife, Nick, and done some other bad things, referring back to what Klaudia said, the time period he lived in was full of murder and deciding what was wrong or right, what should not be done as a wrong-doing, and what could have been done to improve. I have read that the reason why Constantine was not able to be a true Christian and be baptized earlier was because the bishops would not let him. though this may or may not be true, he still was able to communicate with the Christian world as much as possible. He even called himself the bishop of those outside the church. I am also pretty sure he based his decisions on the religion of Christianity itself.

klaudia bednar said...

He was the FIRST emperor to choose his people's ENEMY. And to do that successfully is amazing. Christians were slaughtered by the Romans. Nero (emperor) set Rome on fire and blamed it on the Christians to have his people turn against them even more. For him to be able to get rid of such hatred among his people that lasted for such a long time, must really take great courage and persuation. For all of that to turn out rather successful could even possibly be called a miracle. When we look at Akenhaten, he changed his people's religion. Constantine however changed the religion THAT was the ENEMY's religion. And he managed to keep it alive, unlike Akenhaten's which was only practiced during his reign. Like it was stated before, Christians long time ago had different views of the Sacraments. Some Christians DID get baptized near death so no more sins could be committed. And who said you HAVE to be baptized to be recognized as a Christian? As long as you believe in that religion and do a lot to help that religion, is (for me) enough evidence that he was a Christian. Even looking now at a lot of Christians, some were not baptized but they recognize themselves as part of that religion and believe in it. In addition, it is IMPOSSIBLE to change EVERYONE's beliefs. So of course there were pagans still left in the Roman Empire.

METAL FARMER said...

People of Moran,

I think all of you raise important points. Nick, yes a true Christian would not murder his kin, but Klaudia is right in the fact that before judging historical figures with modern standards, they must be judged with historic standards. Killing might have been the norm back then.
Now, we can evaluate him as a true Christian. We can deffinately say that he is a Christian because he was infact baptized whether or not out of desperation or religious feeling is irrelevant at this point to being christian.
However, being Christian does not necesarilly mean you are a true Christian. Because Christianity is so diverse, there will never be a common decision, so he must be evaluated my our own beliefs.
Constantine saved many Christians by conversion, whether it was political our moral is up to you to decide. He killed his children, its up to you to decide if it was the status quo of the time or if it was evil. Ultimately, whether or not Constantine was a true Christian is only debatable by ones own moral standards, and whatever those are, are valid, even if the majority believes otherwise. There is no way to prove this point, even if we were to resurrect Constantine and ask him.

Your Friendly Neighbor
METAL FARMER

lalalalalalallala said...

I agree with metal farmer cuzzzz as Mr. Moran said, "being a Christian back then, is very different than being a Christian today"

this is Andres ramirez, and im just sayin

ahasna21 said...

I agree with Klaudia here when she stated that it was cuh more common to kill people hundreds of years ago. In some religions that were taken seriously back then, it states that you should kill one that disobeys the laws, even if it means killing your own son or daughter. Maybe that could be what Constantine thought. He probably thought that his wife and kids were a danger or threat to Christianity for god know what reason. It is a debatable question because yes he did disobey a couple rules stated in the 10 commandments, but maybe he killed them all for a purpose. ANd also with the baptism part. Now it is very common to get baptized at a young age, but back then, i am pretty sure that it was common to get baptized when you are old because is would give you a better chance of heaven than eternal suffering. thats what im trying to say

ahasna21 said...

and this is aon hasnain, just to let all of you know

mackenzie jones said...

I think that Constantine was only spreading Christianity for politics. Also if he did not spread this religion than Christianity maybe wouldn't exist. Agreeing with what Nick said, if he was a true Christian he would not murder people.