Constantine: God's Gift to Christianity

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Christians have been persecuted around the world for their faith during varying periods of time since the birth of the religion. Even today there are stories of Christians being killed or beaten severely at the hands of Hindu extremists in India or in places like China and North Korea. Yet Christianity thrives as the world’s largest religion. Persecution of Christians was especially brutal and widespread during the fourth century in the Roman Empire. Christians were tortured until they denied Christ or killed if they refused, their possessions, houses and buildings were confiscated and they were forced to observe pagan sacrificial traditions. Constantine the Great’s rise to power brought about tremendous change in Roman attitudes and laws from absolutely destroying Christians to accepting, protecting and even supporting the furthering of Christianity. Before Constantine became the sole ruler of the entire Rome Emperor “by the defeat of Licinius [in] 324”, he was the “sole Emperor of the West” (Ayers 277). Constantine’s predecessors, Diocletian in the West and Maximinus and in the East, were known for their brutality towards Christians. Under Maximinus, Christians were “burned at the stake, maimed, crucified, subjected to eye-gouging… [and their] corpses were left lying in the streets for the dogs and vultures” (Johnson 163). Besides bring threatened with the loss of their own lives, Christians were also forced to watch as their possessions were confiscated. Eusebius shares

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