Western Civilization lesson 65

Based on what you learned in Lesson 62, what was Christian life like between the famous letter of Pliny until the reign of Constantine?

From 122 AD when Pliny wrote his famous letter to the reign of Constantine, times were not favorable for followers of Christ. Innuendo and secrecy were the words of the day for a Christian wanting to keep his head. Some sections in Rome were more tolerant than others purely due to happenstance, but all boded ill. Trajan, one of the “Good Emperors”, was tolerant of Christians; he refused to execute the accused without sufficient proof.  However if they blatantly exclaimed their faith they would be promptly carted off to the chopping block. Over the years of his reign there were some periodic splurges of persecution but no big planned ones. Then Emperor Decius saucily sauntered into the spotlight in 250 AD. He heavily persecuted for one year. Then from 257 AD to 258 AD Valerian happily murdered countless Christians. In front of roaring seas of people, he forced Christian bishops to light the flame under the Roman sacrifices to force Christianity out of them. Then Diocletian rode his high horse on the scene in 303 AD, crushing Christian assemblages underfoot. His secret Roman Bald Squad (have you ever SEEN statues of roman emperors? They almost never had hair on top of their heads) ferreted out sacred Christian objects and holy places and torched them. One of the Emperor’s favorite tools was propaganda so when fire blazed through the charred remains of the city gate everyone blamed the weirdoes of course. Diocletian stamped on the Christians’ backs until they bowed in submission to statues of himself (305 AD). In 313 AD Constantine finally took over. Although originally not Christian, he was the one to deliver them from their persecution. The tale of his conversion to Christianity is well known. The general received a vision before a battle that said ‘if you win it’s me from up here dude’. So he put Christian symbols on his warriors’ armor and won so he converted faith. Then he issued the Edict of Milan that said Christians are awesome now so no persecution, saving them.

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