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Update: Myth of Black Athanasius
See ancient maps of "Africa". Was Athanasius an "African" bishop? We must be careful to read history AS IS rather than making history fit our modern world.

CH101 - The Fourth Century

The Church Established, 303 - 400 A.D.

Outline:
Politics of the Roman Empire
The Church Continues to Grow
Persecution under Diocletian
Constantine comes to Power
Donatism and Arianism
The Conflict with the Donatists
Constantine and Faith
Council of Nicea - 325 AD
The Nicean Creed
Beginnings of Monasticism

-- Coming --
Anthanasius and Anthony
The Cappadocian Fathers
Council of Constantinople - 381 AD
Key People:
Emperor Diocletian
Eusebius
Lactantius
Emperor Constantine
Donatus
Arius
Athanasius of Alexandria
Saint Anthony
Basil the Great
Greggory of Nyssa

Key Documents:
How Persecutors Died
The Divine Institutes
Ecclesiastical History
Life of Antony
Life of Moses

The Church Continues to Grow

Throughout the second half of the third century Christianity grew in almost all sectors of the Roman Empire. We have records (letters and notes from regional councils) of increasing numbers of regional bishops which speak of numerical growth; there are also a few non-antagonistic references to Christians in Roman governmental letters which speak to growing Christian influence (Christians were serving in the military and in local governmental positions).

While it is true that Christianity was growing, it was not spreading as rapidly as some Church leaders (or Roman critics) wanted to think. It is true that Christianity had some presence in Britany and in Gaul, but there was very little gospel penetration into what is now central and northern Europe.

We also know very few details of the Church in the last 30 years of the third century - we have few writings of substance which seems to indicate that there were few great leaders as have been seen during other previous periods.

We know from Lactantius that Diocletian had Christians in his service just before he began his worst persecution. These attendants made the sign of the cross while fortune tellers were trying to divine the future for the emperor, thus causing the soothsayers difficulty. Diocletian demanded that these Christians be whipped. He also sent orders to his commanders that all Christians serving in the military be made to offer sacrifices or be dismissed from service. (Lactantius - Of The Manner in Which the Persecutors Died 10.6)

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Fourth Century Church History
4th Century Church History
Diocles and the persecution of Diocletian
Lactantius and persecution of Christians
Christians in the Roman Army - Military
Persecution of the Roman Empire
Constantine Ruler of the Roman Empire
Constantine Comes to Power
Constantius and Constantine
Constantine and Christian Faith
Constantine and the Sun God
4th Century Church Donatus and Arius
Donatus and Donatism - Baptism of the Lapsed
Arius - Arianism the Trinity
Origenist Controversy and the Trinity
Nicea - A Council or a Treaty
The Nicean Council 325 AD
How many Bishops at the Council of Nicea
Nicean Council and Homoousias
Council of Nicea and the Trinity
Nicean Creed and the Trinity