The Christian Church and the development of Christianity were fundamental to the cultural and political evolution of the empire. For Constantine I the Church had been a valued political ally in his effort to stabilise the empire and to consolidate his own power. For that reason it had been essential that the church remained united: discord and disagreement was politically threatening for an emperor who privileged the Christian Church in terms of landed property and formal recognition in his political plans. But Constantine had to deal with a major split within the church, brought about by the appearance of Arianism, a heresy about the Trinity and the status of Christ. Arius (250–336) was a deacon of the church at Alexandria. Trained in Greek philosophy, he became an ascetic, and in his attempts to clarify the nature of the Trinity, produced a creed that was for many contemporaries heretical. He could not accept the notion that God could become man: he taught that Jesus was not eternal and co-equal with the father, but created by Him. Arius was excommunicated in 320 by the Bishop of Alexandria, and in 325 at the Council of Nicaea he was condemned and exiled.


Fourth Century Sixth Century Roman World Holy Place Orthodox Church 
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© John Haldon 2005

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  • John Haldon

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