DIOCLETIAN (284-305) MORE PERSECUTION LICINIUS (308-324) CONSTANTINE (306-337) 3 Constantine is known by many in the world as

the first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire. He and another emperor composed the Edit of Milan which gave the Christians the right to worship and which restored property taken away from the Christians. 4

5 Constantine had an imposing and winning person, and his flatterers said he was like Apollo. He was tall, broad-shouldered, handsome, remarkably vigorous and healthy, but was given to vanity in dress,

always wearing a crown or helmut studded with jewels and a purple mantle of silk richly embroidered with pearls and flowers worked in gold. 6 At first he reverenced all the gods as mysterious powers,

especially Apollo, the god of the sun, to whom he presented many gifts in 308. He regularly sought the advice of soothsayers in public misfortunes, and he placed his new residence under the protection of the God of the Martyrs and the heathen goddess of Fortune. 7

Down to the end of his life he retained the title of Pontifex Maximus, or high priest of the heathen hierarchy. His coins bore on the one side the letters of the name of Christ, on the other the figure of the sun god and the inscription Sol invictus.

8 9 He summoned the Council of Nicea; he ordered the execution of his rival and brother-in-law, after he had promised mercy. He also caused the death of his nephew

(11 years old) and his eldest son. He is also said to have caused the death of his wife, in addition to the wars he engaged in. 10 Constantine was baptized shortly before he died.

Christianity, however, had not produced in him a thorough moral transformation but was, instead, an efficient power for a political reformation of the empire. 11

Ellen White tells us: Little by little, at first in stealth and silence and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, the mystery of iniquity carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce

persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. 12

The nominal conversion of Constantine in the early part of the fourth century caused great rejoicing; and the world, arrayed in robes of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines,

ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ. 13 This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of the man of sin

foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satans powera monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will. (Story of Redemption, pp. 326, 327)

14 One way the man of sin opposed God was to prohibit the Bible from being available to the people. Satan knew the Bible would expose him and give power to the people to withstand him, so he worked through the Papacy to prevent the people from learning

truth. The people were forbidden to read the Bible or to have it in their houses. Instead, they had to rely on the priests to teach it to them. 15 16

17 18 19

20 Another way the man of sin opposed God was to give the people images to worship, such as the image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the image of Jesus on the cross. What does the second commandment say?

21 22 23

24 Credits: Slide 9: Son of Groucho at flickr Slide 20: Steel Wool at flickr 25

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