Why Constantine the great converted to Christianity ?
Emperor Constantines conversion to Christianity was a watershed in the Roman history. It happened in or about 312 AD. The Emperors were known to have a history of hostility and indifference to Christianity. It was a marveling idea for an Emperor to subscribe to the Christian faith. The faith was followed by the slaves and soldiers who were least respected orders in the Roman society.
Constantines conversion to Christianity had a great impact to both social and political areas. The rise of Christianity to dominate other religions was inevitable, because of the above stated factors . His support and conversion to Christianity to advance its cause was used for political gains. He realized the potential political power of the Christianity faith and chose to prescribe to its faith. It is argued that conversion and baptism were political tools to aid his accession to power. Constantines conversion gave the momentum to the growth of Christianity . During his conversion, Christianity was a minority faith followed by a small population. Constantine adopted Christianity not as a state religion, but he used his power and authority to ensure its safe cause.
Constantine used Christianity for potential political and social advantages through his conversion. He used political and social effects in his leadership, which worked to his advantage. The ancient world believed in support of the divine deities for the generals. The leaders often called upon the deities for guidance, protection and support in their leadership. In the time of Constantine, there was a slim line of separation between the church and state. The Romans believed that military and political victories were an endorsement of powerful gods. The divine support was believed to give psychological advantage to triumph over the opponents in the combat. The divine support was also used to legitimize the reign of the said Emperor. The Emperors claiming the guidance and the decision were a manifestation of the will of the guiding gods. Constantine claimed to have received a divine support from a vision he received on the eve of a civil war to control the Western Roman Empire. Constantine conquered and attributed the victory to the Christian God who led his troops to winning battle .
His proclamation to support the new faith was aimed at consolidating his control of the Western Empire. This would also help him to assume his control over the East Empire. Constantine was using the Christian faith to his advantage. It is debatable whether he converted to a true and devout Christian, or was a manipulative politician who used Christian faith for his favors.
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Arguing from a political perspective, Constantines usage of Christianity gave him the victory he needed in the East. He also used it as an explanation to invade the East. The Emperor of the East Licinius had begun persecuting Christian and Constantine invaded him to stop the persecutions that undermined his new religion. Constantine used the opportunity to show his solidarity and defense for Christianity by launching the civil war in 324 C.E. This was a political advantage, because by defeating Licinius, he united the entire Empire under his control . Constantine used his new religion as a tool to legitimize his rule over the Roman Empire and use it to increase his political powers. His strong impact was derived from the efforts he took to promote the Christian faith in the society. Through religion, he would form a consensus with the elites of Roman, Christian and pagan societies .
Although Constantine did not declare Rome as a Christian state, he enforced policies that accepted official neutrality in matters relating to Christian faith. He changed the state of Christianity from the persecuted religion to state supported religion. This was unlike the previous regimes because his regime allowed Christians to speak freely in public without fear of reprisal or torture. The Christians were also allowed to worship freely as they wished, something that was never heard or witnessed before. His aim of using Christianity was to eliminate his rivals and gain a political mileage . His conversion to Christian faith changed the fate of the Christian faith. He secured the religious tolerance towards Christians in his Empire. After he had approved Christianity in his Empire, Constantine became an important figure in the church and had a large following. He made himself an important figure in the Church and was elected as an influential member. He often gave advice on matters of consequence in the Christian religion by having to render judgment on complex theological issues. His influential role in the church gave Constantine power to use religion to form a consensus between Christianity and Paganism.
Constantine used the Christian religion for political and social unity throughout the Roman Empire that had been torn and separated by civil wars over the decade. The Christian religion gave Constantine a noble reason to create a unified and harmonized Roman state. This was a political and social move that would create a stable empire that was necessary to continue his reign. He used the religious teachings of Christianity to explain the need to end the divisions in the Roman political structure. His ultimate goal was to unite the Roman Empire, and he used Christianity as the tool to achieve his quest. The Christian faith ensured a continued longevity of his reign and to control the whole of Roman Empire.
Constantine use of Christianity boosted Christianity to serve as the unifying factor. Although his efforts of using Christianity seemed to divide the empire through civil wars it unified the empire, and made it strong. This made it possible for Constantine to keep the Roman Empire under the leadership of one man. In addition, the Romans were willing to accept the religion and spread Christianity . The Romans believed in their leaders hence Christianity was tolerated, because Constantine supported it. The Romans looked beyond the indifferent relationship with Christianity and tolerated it like the other religions. Christianity survived and won the respect from the Romans and was an important factor in the unity of the Roman Empire.
Constantine used the social power of Christianity to play a political role in the Roman Empire. His actions as the Emperor served as a powerful determinant of the functionality of Christianity in Rome. In his case, Constantine used the religious justification of the Civil War to bring the Roman Empire under his control. He used his social policies to help expand Christianity and his political power over the Roman Empire. Constantine focused on integrating the Christian religion into the Roman society to unite them and gain their support. Constantine used the Christianity profile and his strong political power to help Christianity to a strong and powerful factor to unite the Roman Empire. However, the Roman society has a high toleration for new religions, and this had a great influence on how Christianity was received and integrated in the Roman society . Christianity was thus able to permeate and unite the empire and gave Constantine ease to lead the united Roman Empire.
The discussion outlined above shows how Constantine used his conversion to Christian for social and political advantage. Constantines use of religion as a tool provided him with powerful potential to unite the empire and gain the political advantage over his rivals.