We return to the latter years of Augustus life. His politics has changed Rome. It has changed the Roman Empire. The Republic is gone. A new imperial government takes its place. From now on, Rome and its empire will be ruled by emperors. Another change takes place. People do not notice it like they did the shift of power to Augustus.
Christianity is spread from Judea to Anatolia. Jesus deciples carry the story of his life and his teachings to others. It is a man named Saul, a man who first persecuted Jesus followers, who does the most to spread Christianity.
What Christians believe is a matter that remains difficult to say. That is until the Emperor Constantine holds a church council. The members the council list what Christians must believe. It comes to be called the Nicene Creed. Here is what the council said Christians believe.
It is what many Romans believed Christians believed that caused persecution. Romans officials see the Christians a rebells. They do not worship the Roman gods. They risk the future of Rome by angering the Roman gods. Christians do not respect the emperor. They consider their Jesus their king. And the Christians practice symbolic cannibalism. They are clearly wild and dangerous people.
Roman officials are also unhappy with another Christian teaching. Christians are saying all people are equal in the eyes of their God. You may be a slave for the few years of life on earth. When you die, you will live as the equal of the emperor or anyone else for the rest of eternity.
Equality of all people was never an idea that went over well with Roman rulers.
When things go bad, the emperors find it best to blame the troubles on the Christians. Burn a few of them. Throw a few of them to the lions in the arena. Make a show of it. The people will join in. Everyone will feel that with some Christians killed Rome's luck will change. Their luck will also change. The blame is kept far from the emperor himself.
Whatever happens, Christianity continues. The general Constantine believes he is shown a vision. He sees a cross. He sees the words in the sky "in this conquer" He decides he will win his battle to become emperor if he becomes a Christian. He become a Christian. HE demands all of his soldiers become Christian. As the new Emperor, Constantine issues an edict. It is called the Edict of Milan. It says Christianity is permitted in the empire. No more persecution of Christians. Years later it is this same Constantine who calls the council the defines what Christians must believe.
Years later, one of the emperors following Constantine will made it law that all citizens of the empire must be Christians. For those living in the Western Roman Empire, this is fortunate. When the empire falls, the people will only have their faith and their church left to see them through the dark days ahead.
Yours to use as you choose