October 28, 312.
This whole week is huge for the Church. Luther's 95 Theses on the 31st, the publishing of the NIV yesterday -- both served as signs of change for the church.
Today's sign is bigger then either of these.
Hoc signo victor eris
. By this sign, you will conquer
. Those words, and a cross in the sky, changed history in an incredible way. At Milvan Bridge, Constantine became the first Roman Emperor to march into battle under the sign of the Cross of Christ.
Many people are skeptical of Constantine's true conversion. His forced baptism of entire armies makes Christians today cringe. His interference in church matters at the Council of Nicea cannot even be imagined in this day of religious liberty and separation of church and state -- imagine President Bush calling the nation's evangelical leaders together to settle the debate about Open Theism once and for all!
Whatever the cause, whether genuine or not, Constantine's conversion marked the beginning of a new era for Christianity. No longer worried about being killed for their faith, the church could settle down and resonlve some differences, make sure everyone knew what was really orthodox belief. Christian thinkers could be more open in their belief, and could turn toward persuading others to become Christians.
Then came the problem -- Christianity as the official religion. But that's for another post.