Constantine and Constantinianism: A Revisit of Its Historical Arguments
Nathan K. NG

The fourth-century Roman Emperor Constantine had long been regarded as a hero who liberated the church from severe persecutions. However, this traditional view has recently been challenged by some Christian scholars, especially John Howard Yoder and the Yoderians. They even criticize what they called Constantinianism or Constantinian Shift as the root of the disavowal and apostasy of the church. However, did the Yoderian Constantinianism correctly reflect the historical church and state relationship during the reign of Constantine? Today, the Yoderian view has been condemned in Peter J. Leithart's 2010 publication named Defending Constantine as historically questionable, oversimplified, misleading, one-sided and even wrong.

This article evaluates the views and arguments of both sides. As a result, both the Yoderians' so-called New Ecclesiology and New Eschatology are found to be historically unsustainable. The assertion that the church began to fall in the rule of Constantine does not accurately convey the historical reality. If the emperor Constantine was not responsible for the Yoderian critique of the nowadays so-called Erastianism or Caesaropapism, is it still appropriate to call it "Constantinianism"? All modern Christian ethicists, especially the Yoderians, should rethink the issue.