Understanding the early theological struggles of the Christian church is vital to understanding history. This series will focus on Rome and the political and religious forces that drove various interpretations of Christ and his teachings - and a push towards orthodoxy.
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Disclaimer: This series is intended for students, to give them a broad overview of a complicated subject that has driven world history for centuries. Our story begins and focuses on Rome.
One of the toughest questions early Christians had to face was Mosaic Law. Did the laws of Moses still apply, or did the teachings of Jesus Christ replace them? The issue of circumcision became a focal point for this conflict. In an era without surgical anaesthetic or procedures, asking grown men to have their foreskins removed was a painful process. Paul the Apostle argued vehemently against the practice because he believed that Christianity needed to be accessible to Romans, the gentiles, and he knew that requirements like circumcision would vastly reduce the number of people willing to convert. Gradually, Judaizing forces were pushed out of mainstream Christianity as the religion began to convert more Romans. But it soon faced another crisis: what was the nature of Christ? This issue would come up time and time again, but one of the earliest conflicts over it came from the Docetists. They believed Christ was a being of pure spirit, and that it would denigrate his godhood to consider him a human man. But in the Epistles, John argued fervently against that idea, saying that Christians must believe in Christ "in the flesh" in order for his sacrifices to be meaningful. A bishop named Ignatius of Antioch embraced that idea when facing a conviction to be thrown to lions in the Colossuem, believing that his martyrdom echoed Christ's and he was proud to give his body to prove his faith. Then the 3rd Century Crisis hit, and the Roman government fell apart. The Church stepped in, and many people believed its prophesies of apocalypse had come to pass in this era. Although the government eventually recovered thanks to men like Aurelian and Diocletian, conversion rates had gone up. But civil war rocked the empire again, and it came down to the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Constantine, one of the claimants for the throne, supposedly had a vision telling him to paint "Chi Rho" (the Greek letters for Christ) on his soldiers' shields. He did so, and won the day. In gratitude he converted to Christianity and eventually brought most of the empire with him, with the population going from about 10% Christian to 50% Christian followers.
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*Music by Demetori: http://bit.ly/1AaJG4H
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Tagged under: history,christian,early,world history,jesus,christianity,paul,extra credits,james portnow,daniel floyd,extra history,documentary,learn,educational,study,teach,students,classroom,student,heresy,christian heresy,schism,christian schism,Paul Apostle,Ignatius,Ignatius Antioch,Jesus Christ,Docetism,Paul,Bishop Ignatius,circumcise,circumcision,convert,conversion,Constantine,Battle Milvian,Milvian Bridge,Judaizing Christianity,Docetist,3rd Century Crisis,Rome
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