Did Constantine Invent the Christian Doctrine of Jesus’ Divinity?

In the centuries prior to Constantine’s reign over the Roman Empire, Christians had been severely persecuted. But then, while entrenched in warfare, Constantine reported to have seen a bright image of a cross in the sky inscribed with the words “Conquer by this.” He marched into battle under the sign of the cross and took control of the empire.

Constantine’s apparent conversion to Christianity was a watershed in church history. Rome became a Christian empire. For the first time in nearly 300 years it was relatively safe, and even cool, to be a Christian.

No longer were Christians persecuted for their faith. Constantine then sought to unify his Eastern and Western Empires, which had been badly divided by schisms, sects, and cults, centering mostly around the issue of Jesus Christ’s identity.

These are some of the kernels of truth author Dan Brown uses in The Da Vinci Code, and kernels of truth are a prerequisite for any successful conspiracy theory. But the book’s plot turns Constantine into a conspirator. So let’s address a key question raised by Brown’s theory:  did Constantine invent the Christian doctrine of Jesus’ divinity? [Read more...]

Mystery vs. History

Who would you be more likely to believe—someone who says, “Hey, I’ve got some secret facts that were mysteriously revealed to me,” or someone who says, “I’ve searched all the evidence and history and here it is for you to make up your mind on”? Keeping that question in mind, consider these two statements, the first from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (c. 110-150 A.D.) and the second from the New Testament’s Gospel of Luke (c. 55-70 A.D.): [Read more...]

Heretics Confirm the New Testament

The wealthy merchant Marcion (d. c.160 A.D.) didn’t like what he thought was the cranky God of the Old Testament, so he removed this God from his version of the Bible. He amputated the entire Old Testament as well as any New Testament books that to him sounded like the Old Testament. We generally know what was in his Bible, and it contained much of what is in ours. What he amputated is harder to discern. The important point is that Marcion’s partial list of New Testament books in 135 A.D. affirms their acceptance 200 years prior to the Council of Nicaea. [Read more...]