Could Christianity have survied?

I hope that this does not being Zelots to my door, nor doom me to eternal damnation. I wonder if Christianity would have survived the Emperor Constantine had not made it the state religion of the Roman Empire & it had not ben the state religion of the succesor state after the fall of Rome?

Unless somebody of Constantine’s stature adopted Christianity as a state religion, my guess would be; no. I can’t think of any country in the world where Christianity has managed to flourish without the convertion of it rulers.

Without state sponsorship somewhere in a religion’s history, it’s doomed to be considered, at best, a small sect. At worst a cult.

Religious leaders like to think that the masses are inspired by the word of God. More often than not that “inspiration” is either delivered on the end of a sword or in some cases political or economic advantage.

Interesting question - though I wonder why it need appear in this particular forum? Or is it just that the nature of such a discussion is controversial enough to expect a fight, so one might as well START it in the boxing ring? :slight_smile:

I’ve not much in the way of a answer to offer, I’m afraid, but I do have a counter question? How would you define “survive?” As I understand it, by the time Constantine had declared it the state religion in 325 AD, it had already “survived” nearly 300 years and at least 10 direct attempts at eradication at the hand of Roman Emperors.

I suppose my question is this: Had it NOT been declared the state religion of the Roman Empire in 325… how many MORE years would need to have elapsed before it could have been considered a force capable of flourishing independent of governmental approval?


Life is a tapestry.
Each new day brings with it the opportunity to sew by
word and deed within the heart of someone around us.
Let us choose our colors with care.

Well, I may have misunderstood Papa Bear’s post, but certainly the U.S. is a country where Christianity has flourished without the conversion of its rulers–certianly without the conversion of its founders, who were mostly Deists.

Actually, a more interesting question would be: Did Christianity survive? Did the state religion of the Roman Empire really preserve the original beliefs and teacings (turn the other cheek, forgive your enemies, judge not, etc), or did state corrupt the original creed into something else?

To clarify: In the case of the USA and all other former colonies, the rulers would have been those of the mother country.

Good question. I’m a Christian and I personally think that Constantine kind of ruined everything, made it fashionable, so to speak. If I recall, mass ‘conversions’ occurred to curry favor with the Emperor. What a joke, man. You’d think that whoever converted him (again, my history here is hazy) would’ve pointed out that forced conversion=no conversion. It’s a matter of heart and soul, not ‘heads will roll’. (that rhyme wasn’t intentional :wink:

Carpe Diem!

I wonder why Jesus’s disciples who were afraid when He was arrested went later and died and were beaten? Some died on crosses and some were stoned.
People who know what is a lie will not die for it, so what made the difference for Peter and John and James and so on? Who were beaten and told not to preach of Jesus any more, yet they said they must tell of Jesus, they had to get out the word that Jesus still lives.Some to the point they would face lions or burning at the stake or hanging.
Something happened but what?

In answer to your question, “What happenened?,” the faithful would respond: the resurrection. (But you already knew that, right? You were just asking so someone would respond.)

To anaswer CFQWEST’s question:

Offcourse the religion has been corrupted. The recent findings of the Dead Sea scrolls confirm this. When a religion becomes State religion you can be certain it’s because the rulers have found a way to control the masses through it better than before. Rulers will always use religion for their own benefits. I mean look what’s happening in muslim countries, they’re manipulating the population by twisting the religion to fit their needs. Don’t think for a second that it hasn’t been done with cristianity.
Now where does this come from: You have to pay me( the priest ) 2 schillings, say 3 hail maries and your sins are forgiven. This is nonsense. Who gave them the power to charge people for releasing them from their sins. The pope! BE GOOD, CONFESS, PAY 2 SCHILLINGS AND YOU WON’T GO TO HELL.
Now why is that? Whell to get controll over the masses. Get money to build churces and gain political influence. All of a sudden a king doesn’t get his rule from god. No, it’s through the pope from God, but not without the popes consent.

I believe in God. But when it’s istitutionilized, it has no meaning.

“A church is where peoble gather in My name” - Jesus Christ.

I must answer in truth, no, not so that someone would respond,
what did cause these people to act so differently?
The answer you gave I would suggest is the correct one.
Walking with God can be a reality if a person believes and accepts God’s word,not that they would understand God, but that they might apprehend God, this is what changes the lives of people that they give up drinking and abusing there spouse, however they tend to lose some of their friends, because they become weird, though the people I have meet would never go back to what they were, I have asked what made the difference in their lives and the answer was, now they know God, to know God,
this is impossible, if God is real then a mear man could not know God, yet some of these people seam to live lives that seem normal yet they trust God with everything, who knows if drunks can have a desire to no longer be drunk but to go and live and tell of how rotten they were and how God changed their lives and their children and spouses testify to this also, then may be someone will also think about God being the same God that walked with David of the bible and believe and trust God with their life and they would have a changed life also. God dose care yet leaves man with free will to choose.
Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Some people serve god’s of money or drugs or alcohol or sex or cars or their houses.
Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Psa 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
Psa 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Psa 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
Psa 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Psa 19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
God gives life and judges our hearts.
Just some thoughts

My answer would be yes. The reason is there are other branches of christianity other than the catholic/protestant branches. Look at the Coptic church of Egypt, the Assyrian Christians who are holding on in Syria. (Who speak and write in Aramaic, Jesus’ tongue), both of whom are in small numbers, yet they still are surviving to this day. I’m not sure if the modern greek orthodox church is related in any way to the Christianity of Rome (if not, consider that). Anyway, so i think it would have survived without constantine. I think the main question is would it have been as powerful now if constantine didn’t come along.

Note that the Constantine of the OP is the person responsible for re-naming the city of Byzantium to Constantinople (now known as Istanbul). Constantinople was a center for the beliefs that later became known as Orthodox when the Eastern and Western (Catholic) churches irrevocably split in the eleventh century.
Hoe, while I agree that many abuses have occured within organized religion (and the Christian tradition and Catholic Church in particular) it is simply not true that the church has charged money for confession. During the abuse of indulgences, money was sought(and often charged), but that is a different concept.

I would be interested in where you got the idea that the Dead Sea Scrolls have proven that religion has been corrupted. I can see plenty of corruption just by reading history, but I have found nothing in the Scrolls that establishes this point more firmly than a general reading of history.


I think it would have survived-but would be in much more chaos and more fractioned than it is today.Since Christ and the apostles died,thousands of people have come along and written "secret lost hidden books"claiming to
take up where the book of revelation left off.Most of these people went nowhere,but a few like Joe Smith and his mormon church have built empires.Thier sucess seems to be from emphasizing brainwashing the children at the earliest age possible and promoting a
“victim” mentality of the adherants rather than a logical answer to the many dichotomys
we face when we try to answer problems like the unfairness of life.The story of Christ is quite a tear-jerker for children and recovering alcoholics but totally illogical
because the Bible says God cursed ALL of mankind with an evil,sinful nature because 2 people ate a piece of fruit in a garden thousands of years ago and Christ paid a penalty for our “sins”-but it was GODS decision to make us all sinful.Not really a thinking mans religion but a clever story to make us feel guilty and fill the collection plate.

Aha, is that so Richard? Seems like you have a bone to pick with Christianity.Notice that a Christian is one who follows the teachings of christ. The teachings of christ are those of compassion, and love for your fellow man.
I would say a thinking man is one who loves his fellow man and has compassion. An unthinking man does not do that. Also you say something about filling the collection plate. Christ never said that at all. Tithing is something created by the followers. Also note that in most catholic churches (i wont speak for protestant churches because i am not protestant), the money goes to help pay for maintenance of the building, not to make some priest rich (and any priest i know will tell you they arent in it for the money). Oh yeah you idiot =), its JOHN smith J O H N JOHN smith, not joe smith. Also, i surely dont feel like a victim, and neither does anyone i know who are christian. (NOTE: Some of this is sarcasm and joking, because this is the BBQ pit)

I think that the answer to the original question would be yes. Constantine was not trying to spread Christianity as much as he was trying to take advantage of its spread. I believe that many,if not most, of his soldiers were already Christians.

Compared to most of the religions of the day in the west, Chrisitianity offered community, value, and compassion to what was a world unfair and brutal. You might respect and obey the gods, but the concept of consistent love and justice was simply not part of the divine plan. You just had to put up with whatever those all-powerful psychopaths on Olympus might do - or you would be in worse trouble. The same held true for the government. The idea was to submit and stay out of sight and/or trouble. Other religions might offer belonging, but were be somewhat restrictive of membership, or expensive (You had to be born into it, no women/men allowed, or sacrifice a bull to become a member, or something like that). What’s the sense of belonging if it isn’t exclusive?

Life was hard and short, most people knew the loss of parents, siblings, and children and the loss of their love and affection. Christianity offered a chance to get some of that love and affection back. The idea that God might love you as an individual,with the personal love and warmth of a father, and that we were all brothers and sisters, that we should treat and love each other as such, and that there would eventually be justice (even if in the afterlife) was simply hard to resist. What was the alternative? Sacrifice a goat or something to Zeus, and hope he didn’t seduce and abandon your virgin daughter and zap you with a thunderbolt? The logic of the Greek world, Stoicism, and other philosophical approaches provided order, but only limited emotional comfort or satisfaction. People were accepting Christianity faster than the government could round them up and kill them. Rome was losing this particular battle big time. I think Constantine recognized this and, perhaps further encouraged by a vision, decided to join the side that had already won.