Constantinian shift

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Missing image
Constantinebythissignconquer.jpg
Sculpture of Constantine I in York, England. The words at the base of the sculpture read, By this Sign Conquer

Constantinian shift is a term used by Anabaptist and Post-Christendom theologians, to describe the gradual shift towards Christendom. This shift began in 312 when Constantine I adopted Christianity as his imperial cult after the Battle of Milvian Bridge. His legions, who were victorious, fought under the Labarum, the first two Greek letters of Christ's name.

In 313 the Edict of Milan legitimized Christianity alongside other religions practiced in the Roman Empire. In 325, the First Council of Nicaea signalled consolidation of Christianity under an orthodoxy endorsed by Constantine. However, despite Constantine's favoritism towards Christianity, it did not become the Empire's sole official religion until 381 under Emperor Theodosius I.

Critics of the merger of church and state point to this shift of the beginning of the era of Constantinianism when Christianity and the will of God gradually came to be identified with the will of the ruling elite. This phenomenom is known as Caesaropapism. In its extreme form, Christianity became little more than a religious justification for the exercise of power and a tool in the expansion and maintenance of empire.

Augustine of Hippo was an apologist for the Constantinian shift and many of his writings attempt to justify the association of Christianity with empire. In addition, several bishops and patriarchs during the 4th century were sent into exile by the reigning emperor when they lost favor with the emperor, including Athanasius of Alexandria and John Chrysostom. As bishop of Constantinople, Chrysostom was notorious for criticizing the excesses of the royal court, and ultimately died while traveling to his place of exile.

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pt:Reviravolta de Constantino

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