Friday, May 21, 2021

Constantine's Kingdom, Consecrated by Christ


By Fr. Alexander Schmemann
 
In Constantine’s mind the Christian faith, or rather, faith in Christ, had not come to him through the Church, but had been bestowed personally and directly for his victory over the enemy — in other words, as he was fulfilling his imperial duty. Consequently the victory he had won with the help of the Christian God had placed the emperor — and thereby the empire as well — under the protection of the Cross and in direct dependence upon Christ. This also meant, however, that Constantine was converted not as a man, but as an emperor. Christ Himself had sanctioned his power and made him His intended representative, and through Constantine’s person He bound the empire to Himself by special bonds. Here lies the explanation of the striking fact that the conversion of Constantine was not followed by any review or re-evaluation of the theocratic conception of empire, but on the contrary convinced Christians and the Church itself of the emperor’s divine election and obliged them to regard the empire itself as a consecrated kingdom, chosen by God.
 
- From Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1977 p. 65-66.
 
 
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