Ask Your Preacher
“Constantinian Shift Pt. 2”Categories: CATHOLIC, DOCTRINE, RELIGIONS, THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH, WORLD EVENTS
(This question is a follow-up to “Constantinian Shift”)
I am glad you have corrected your statement about Constantine "forcing" all to convert to Christianity. There is a very fine line between statements of historical truth and statements meant to lead a reader to a conclusion by implication and exaggeration. My only issue with your line of reasoning has to do with how you determine what is historically reliable and what is not. You cannot have things both ways. When presented with historical sources and actual named witnesses to a questioner laying a foundation of an organized church before Constantine, you rejected the history outright and claimed it was contradictory and unreliable (see your response to "A History Of Error" in the Catholic archive). Then in response to other topics (canon of New Testament and Constantine's activities), you relied on extra-biblical historical accounts. So on one hand, you are relying on history to make some points, while on the other hand, you are rejecting history to disprove other points. I am hoping you see this contradiction as I really don't want you guys to keep sawing off the very branch you are sitting on in an attempt to influence your readers away from a faith you don't agree with. Why do you accept the testimony of the witnesses to Constantine's subtle ways of influencing conversion? What makes you think those extra-biblical accounts are reliable? How do you know the early church historians (bishops and clergy) that attest to an organized church before the famous edict are unreliable?
Cite Your Sources Please
Dear Cite Your Sources Please,
We appreciate your concern over our use of extra-biblical history. Let's see if we can quickly clarify. We use historical resources as reliable sources in regards to Constantine because that is the ONLY history of Constantine we have. The Bible never directly deals with Constantine; therefore, we are left to use secular history as our only guide. You may have misunderstood our statements about Constantine – we do believe Constantine forced people to obey his state-run religion. As we mentioned in the last post, he forced them by using inducements.
The times that we have stated that the early church historians were being unreliable or contradictory is when we do have a biblical account to compare it to. The Bible is always the first and foremost guide in church history, and the Bible soundly condemns Catholicism's practices. Therefore, people who lived and taught anything in opposition to the Bible are wrong, no matter whom they are. There were early church historians that were beginning to move toward the Catholic way of functioning before the era of Constantine (Constantine simply is the historical demarcation point when things began to quickly move downhill), but the fact that early church writers taught things contradictory to Bible teachings discredit them in doctrinal matters. We can trust early historians in secular history unless they prove otherwise (i.e. contradict the majority of historians); we can trust early historians in religious history unless they prove otherwise (i.e. contradict Scripture). Hopefully, that gives you some clarity as to why it seems like we are "cherry picking" the history that we want. Everything gets compared to Scripture – even early church writers.