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Issues in the Early Church

A discussion on Pax Romana, Persecution under Nero & Arianism

 

Introduction

Pax Romana or Roman Peace was the policy of occupation and civilization of territories to end up rest to a region. The greatest contribution to the Roman occupation was that to travel. Nero was the first Emperor to persecute Christian for their religious beliefs, although his primary motive was more of a political one than for religious reasons. Arianism is the belief that Jesus Christ Is not of the same substance of God, of lesser power and created sometime after creation. Three Councils were held in the fourth Century to determine the nature of God and relation of Christ and the legitimacy of the claims of Arius or whether or not such claims were heretic ideals.

RomanRoad
Pax Romana

The most significant contribution to the Christianity under Pax Romana was the safety and speed of travel available by the vast network of the Roman Roads. This network would allow a person to travel 20 miles a day walking or 50 miles by horse (Fanning 2009). For longer distances sea travel was used. Pax Romana made the ship lanes much safer as the treats of pirate attacks were diminished. These safe travel routes afforded missionaries, merchants and other Christians the ability to spread the gospel to far reaches of the known empire.

Pax Romana also contributed to the spread of Christianity in that Rome encouraged religious tolerance as long as it did not interfere with the daily or political life of society or the populous in general. When religion did interfere or when civil laws were broken the citizen would be tried in the courts. All citizens and those of occupied territories however were expected to worship the emperor in addition to their chosen God or Gods. The Pantheon of Rome would integrate the deities of the nations it occupies to help bring stability to the region under Pax Romana. Many of these deities from other cultures were integrated into the pantheon of Roman religion itself creating the so called mystery cult at the time of the early church.

Nero

Persecution under Nero

In 64 A.D. a fire erupted in Rome and leaving thousands homeless and destroying 3/5 of the city. Many accused the Emperor Nero of starting the fire claiming he wished to rebuild the city for his own glory. As the fire did not severely damage the portion of the city were Christians dwelled as a political move Nero responded by accusing the Christians of arson. He issued a proclamation to persecute and sentence to death Christians for the crimes against the state and the acts of atheism committed against the Emperor and God’s of Rome. These Christians were killed in cruel and vicious ways and as entertainment for the public. Many were dressed in animal furs and fed to dogs, others were burned alive or suffered horrible fates for the enjoyment of the people (Ekeke 2012). Although the persecution was mostly centered to Rome itself many Christians in the other providence feared for their lives. The result of the persecution was now Rome no longer held a tolerant eye towards Christians. Many were considered as cannibals, haters of all things Roman and a threat to the very lifestyle of Rome itself. Some even held Christians as possible rebels do to the promise of the return of the Messiah and the preaching’s of an apocalyptic age. However, most Emperors after Nero allowed Christians to practice their faith as long as long as no crimes were committed against the state. When charged most were persecuted not for being Christian but for not worshiping the Emperor as required by law.

 

Arrius

Arianism

Arianism is the belief that Jesus Christ Is not of the same substance of God, of lesser power and created sometime after creation. To the Arians Jesus was born sometime after the initial creation of the world and Jesus was born to humankind not of the Word becoming Flesh as state by John. Jesus is less equal in power than God and this debate sparked great controversy and division in theological circles in the 4th century. Two Councils were held to settle the debate and Final council was convey in Constantinople in 381 in which it was finally determined God, Christ and the Holy Spirit are all of the same substance (Body), Present from the beginning but each one as a slightly lesser order of significance in the hierarchy of power yet can all perform the same duties. This is the view still held by most churches today (Hansen 2001).

 

Word Count# 771

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Ekeke, Emeka C. Persecution and Martyrdom Of Christians In The Roman Empire From AD 54 to 100: A Lesson For The 21ST Century Church. Essay, Calabar: Department of Religious and Cultural Studies University of Calabar, 2012.

Fanning, Don. “Apostolic History of The Early Church.” History Of Global Missions, 2009: 1-15.

Hansen, Gary Neal. “Theological conflict: A Perspective from the Early Church.” Theology Matters:  A Publication of Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry (Theology Matters) 7, no. 5 (Sep/Oct 2001): 1-16.

 

 

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