No matter how one looks at the matter, Constantine, by his power and authority across the empire, introduced the seeds of heresy into the young church…
Even worse came the impact of a later successor of his, Theodosius I, who enforced Christianity as the official state religion of Rome. While some believers in the faith may see such as a good thing, what we find instead is that, though pagan identities were abandoned as adherents bowed in submission to the rule of the Emperor, their heathen practices and beliefs were not. These thus found a new home within the early church, pagan notions and exercises which rapidly took root amongst young Christendom. The end result of these efforts was an amalgam of Christianity and many pagan beliefs; a new religion that embraced such heathen concepts as:
- The “Mother-Goddess” practices of various cults, ascribing the “Queen of Heaven” designation to Mary, the mother of Jesus
- A sacrificial meal, representing a corruption of the original “Lord’s Supper” and today identified as the Eucharist, taken from Mithraism, in which a bull was sacrificed and its flesh and blood – possessing the presence of the god Mithras – was eaten, granting salvation
- A belief in many gods, in particular those ruling over particular areas or domains of interest, replaced through “Christianization” by various patron saints
- To top it all off, the Bishop of Rome was made supreme amongst all others, and through the assistance of the Roman Emperor, became central to their version of Christianity, with these bishops later being known as Pontifex Maximus or Pope.
It was – and still is – Christian-flavored paganism. In fact, one need not be a scholar or a theologian to see – even through a cursory reading of the New Testament – that there is no basis for many of that’s denomination’s doctrines in Scripture. You will find no mention of a Pope. You will find no mention of the worship of Mary, or any the supernatural abilities attributed to her by that Roman religion. You will find no mention of prayer to past saints for their assistance in life. You will find no mention of the infant baptism, confession to priests, purgatory, or any other such thing anywhere in the authentic Word of God!
During the fourth century, by order of the Theodosian Code (380 AD), Catholicism – the official name of Constantinian Christianity – became the formal religion of the Roman Empire. By extension, it was recognized by its faithful as the only true Christian church for over a thousand years.
Why does it bear mentioning here?
To be quite blunt, during its years of rule, groups of other Christian believers – many faithful to the church practices established in Scripture – persisted under constant persecution by the official faith of the Empire. Notable early opposition to the Catholic Church included Bishops Donatus, Alexander, and Athanasius, who argued against the obvious heresies of the papacy. Much later, in 1054 AD, amid growing political and ecumenical divisions, the Eastern Orthodox denomination split (during the Great Schism) from Catholicism, remaining separate even to this day.
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