Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Da Vinci Code (Part III)
10/26/2005 - James WhiteAfter mentioning Constantine, Teabing goes on to insist he remained a pagan his entire life. While that could be argued, at least at this point you do have disagreements amongst historians as to the exact state of Constantine's religion. He then continues, insisting that “Christians and pagans began warring, and the conflict grew to such proportions that it threatened to rend Rome in two.” I don't believe the Christians can be blamed for warring with pagans as much as the infighting within the church itself was at issue. Be that as it may, Constantine clearly saw the conflict arising out of the Arian controversy as a threat to the peace he so desperately needed to keep the Empire united. But Brown can't give us the truth about the real reasons for the Council of Nicea. Why? Because he is going to tell us that Constantine made up the deity of Christ at this point in time. Yet, the disagreement was over that very issue! If Constantine made up the concept, and no one prior to Nicea believed in the deity of Christ, there couldn't have been a controversy over the idea! So Brown is forced to ignore the actual historical reasons for the calling of the Council of Nicea so as to “fit” the event with his theories.
Teabing goes on to naively assert that in AD 325 Constantine just up and decided to bet on Christianity as the future religion of the Empire. He forgets to mention that in reality Constantine showed himself to be the consumate politician indeed: but in a fashion that completely contradicts his thesis. Specifically, the Council of Nicea did not end the controversy that had been brewing for years beforehand due to the conflict between Arius and Alexander of Alexandria over the deity of Christ: in fact, even after Constantine's death, Arianism reigned supreme in the external, visible church. If it had been Constantine's purpose to use the deity of Christ as his anti-feminine trump card, he failed, miserably, to follow through on his plans. He only cared about keeping the peace: if that was through enforcing Nicea, or a later council, it didn't matter much to him.
Beyond this, Brown seems ignorant of the fact that Nicea took place a scant dozen years after the “peace of the church,” the official ending of imperial persecution of Christianity itself. I have always found it amazing that people would think that the very men who had suffered so much for so long under the heel of Rome, refusing to deny their faith, would, a scant decade later, collapse in disarray in allowing the Emperor to determine the heart of their own faith. Brown's theory is simply laughable at this point: he will, as we will see, actually assert that up until this point in time no one actually believed in the deity of Christ. Constantine foisted it upon the church out of whole cloth, and we are actually supposed to believe that they went along, though Brown again causes the historically aware to laugh hysterically at his assertion that the vote on the matter at Nicea was “close.”
Don't be fooled: the Constantinian era is, in fact, a turning point in Christian history, but not for the reasons Brown alleges. He can mix in just a small amount of truth with a huge dose of utter foolishness to create his story. He notes that various pagan symbols entered into the faith during the same time period, and you can certainly make a case that the period during which the church went from persecuted minority to “religion of the Empire” was one during which many unbelievers entered into the formal membership of the church and they brought their baggage with them. But to assume this was purposeful on Constantine's part once again begs both the question and the historical sources. The fact of the matter is, Constantine simply did not have the kind of power that would have been required to do even 1/10th of everything Brown, via his characters, alleges.