Roman Empire, 25 December 390
… one of his first actions after he had established himself in power was to call an Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 381 to unite the Church.
The Chronicle of the World reveals the real motives and character of Theodosius in the following report:
Theodosius, born in Spain, the son of an army general, has needed all his military skills to defeat his rivals for the imperial purple and hold the splitting empire together. After killing usurpers and puppets, as he calls them, he has reunited the empires of east and west.
Again it is clear that political motives were more important than what the Bible says.
The book The Medieval Church – a brief history also shows how the political desire for a united church was more important than Bible teaching:
Christianity is very prone to split over disputes concerning belief, organisation and discipline. Constantine and his successors discovered that religious unity was difficult to achieve. They were repeatedly drawn by personal conviction and by political necessity to try to preserve the unity of Catholic Christianity, especially when serious disputes broke out in the fourth and fifth centuries concerning the nature of Christ and the nature of the Trinity.
This quotation shows that “personal conviction” and “political necessity” were more important than Bible teaching.
An interesting article appears on Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. The article is not easy to understand on first reading, so we have summarised below the message of one of the paragraphs:
- Christianity changed from a small group on the fringe of society into an institution that wanted to be accepted by everyone.
- As this change occurred, the belief that Jesus Christ was to return and set up a worldwide kingdom lasting 1000 years embarrassed church leaders.
- Almost every Christian writer in the first century believed in the second coming of Jesus Christ
- When Christianity became the state religion the belief in the literal second coming of Jesus Christ was “pushed to the very margins of acceptable Christian thought”
(The paragraph is reproduced in the appendix so that you may check our summary.)
This indicates that the belief in the second coming of Jesus which is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible was removed from mainstream belief because the church wanted to be an acceptable institution in society. It was difficult wanting to be acceptable to a society which it believed, was to be overthrown at the return of Christ.
This is yet one more occasion where Bible teaching has been ignored because of political considerations.
- Politics influenced church beliefs in the early centuries of Christianity
- Political aims were more important than Bible truth.