Unifying An Empire
Unifying an Empire around religious ideas and practices was something every ruler did during ancient
times. There were no exceptions. So, when Constantine became Emperor, after attributing his victory at the Milvian Bridge to the Christian God, he decided to unify his empire with Christianity as his anchor.
One thing this meant is that Christians could finally come out of hiding. How strange it must have been for Christians to have the Roman Empire that had been a Christian persecutor off and on for two hundred fifty years, and particularly aggressive for the previous ten to eleven years, to suddenly become its chief promoter and benefactor.
The video below shows some of the ways in which Constantine moved Christianity into public prominence.
So, Constantine, wanting to unify the Empire, was somewhat shocked to discover that there were some strong disputes among the Christians themselves. The one that earned his attention first was what is now known as the Donatus Controversy. This involved a serious dispute about who the legitimate bishop of Carthage was, and concerned what made a sacrament valid or not valid. This is the topic for the next post.