…[T]hen in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign (the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, Conquer by This) which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies.
So wrote Eusebius in the Life of Constantine (Book I) circa 337.
The Catholic Encyclopedia explains how this vision assured Constantine that he should conquer in the sign of the Christ, and his warriors carried Christ’s monogram on their shields (though the majority of them were pagans). The opposing forces met near the bridge over the Tiber called the Milvian Bridge, and here Maxentius’ troops suffered a complete defeat, the tyrant himself losing his life in the Tiber.
Of his gratitude to the God of the Christians, Constantine immediately tolerated the Christian worship throughout the Roman empire.
Whether or not Constantine’s vision occurred, is subject to debate. However, there is much speculation that his motives where much more political than theological.
Well, the world was ripe for monotheism. So, Constantine — the politician — believed that he could unite all in the adoration of one god. This god would be combination of the Father-God of the Christians and the much-worshipped sun god Mithras. As we know today, the chimerical deity never took hold.
Was it because Constantine’s mind was changed by his vision or was it the influence of his saintly mother, Helena? The world may never know. Regardless, the Edict of Milan was born in 313 and the Christian faith was given the freedom to flourish and the nourishment to grow into the world’s largest faith.
Now, fast-forward to 2015 America and the political entrance of Donald J. Trump.
For many, the embrace of Trump’s candidacy by practicing, conservative Christians seemed to defy conventional logic. He’s been pro-SSM for over a decade. For the most part, he was (and still is) Pro-Choice. He believes that Planned Parenthood does some “good” things. And unlike many of his predecessors (and anyone who calls themselves a Christian), the Mr. Trump has never asked the Almighty for the good graces of His forgiveness. He is also a divorcee!
But wait, so was Reagan. However, unlike the Gipper, the Donald was married not twice, but trice. Trump, however, had one attribute that helped him rise above the rest of the 2016 political field.
Like Constantine, so many years before, Trump promised to protect the faithful.
“It’s going to be politically incorrect not to say Merry Christmas,” he said to a cheering Wisconsin audience. Watch this video below.
Did you watch it? The transcript reads much like Constantine’s Letter to the Bishops.
Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to Eusebius.
Forasmuch as the unholy and willful rule of tyranny has persecuted the servants of our Saviour until this present time, I believe and have fully satisfied myself, best beloved brother, that the buildings belonging to all the churches have either become ruinous through actual neglect, or have received inadequate attention from the dread of the violent spirit of the times.
But now, that liberty is restored, and that serpent driven from the administration of public affairs by the providence of the Supreme God, and our instrumentality, we trust that all can see the efficacy of the Divine power, and that they who through fear of persecution or through unbelief have fallen into any errors, will now acknowledge the true God, and adopt in future that course of life which is according to truth and rectitude. With respect, therefore, to the churches over which you yourself preside, as well as the bishops, presbyters, and deacons of other churches with whom you are acquainted, do you admonish all to be zealous in their attention to the buildings of the churches, and either to repair or enlarge those which at present exist, or, in cases of necessity, to erect new ones.
We also empower you, and the others through you, to demand what is needful for the work, both from the provincial governors and from the Prætorian Præfect. For they have received instructions to be most diligent in obedience to your Holiness’s orders.
God preserve you, beloved brother.
According to Eusebius, a copy of this charge was transmitted throughout all the provinces to the bishops of the several churches: the provincial governors received directions accordingly, and the imperial statute was speedily carried into effect.
The Bishops were the social media network of the ancient world — and we all know how Mr. Trump successfully used facebook, twitter and YouTube.
Like Mr. Trump, Constantine successfully networked using “Bishop-book” to spread his Condemnation of Idolatry. He Eusebius-tubed a message concerning the Error of Polytheism; and Twe-edicted on Vices and Virtue.
In 300 A.D., practicing Christians weren’t looking for a savior; they already had one. What they wanted — and most likely prayed for, was a religious protector. Constantine fit the bill – much like Donald J. Trump did in November 2016.
It appears, historically, the Christian community had an incredible influence on Constantine. Eventually, the Roman Emperor fully converted. Before his death, Constantine was received into the Church through the sacrament of baptism. Today, Constantine stands among the Saints, Equal-To-The-Apostles, to orthodox Christians with roots in the early church.
Maybe American Christians have the same hope for Mr. Trump?
James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, ‘Twas, and the new book series Hail Mary. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.