Council of Nicea of 325 AD
Prior to 325 AD, and the decision at the Council of Nicea, the church taught what Jesus taught about Himself: Jesus was a man indwelled by the Father. (John 14:10-11.) Jesus transformed into the Son of God at His baptism, as the gospels of Matthew and Luke originally read. (See our link "Hebrew Matthew Baptismal Account.")
Jesus' Divinity derived from the full presence of God-the-Father which in Hebrew translates as "Divinity." Jesus repeatedly said the Father dwells in Him. (John 14:10-11.) The Word (LOGOS) was God and became flesh. This meant the word (logos) dwelling in Jesus became flesh when the Word came upon Jesus and beget him as the Son of God. (John 1:14.) Jesus said specifically the "logos is not mine, but the Father's who sent me." (John 14:24.) Nor was Jesus ever said to be the "eternal" Son of God. This ran afoul of the original baptismal accounts in the gospels which were quoted repeatedly by the early patristic writers of the church [100-325 AD] that God told Jesus in a voice from heaven that "this day I have begotten thee." (See our article, "The Correct Christology.") (No wonder these "this day I have begotten thee" baptismal accounts disappeared after Nicea in 325 A.D.)
But in 325 AD. when a monarch named Constantine saw Jesus as a means to sell his favorite pagan deity of Sol Invictus (see below), Constantine seized the opportunity at Nicea to change the original beliefs of the church about Jesus. Constantine proclaimed Jesus God by virtue of sharing "substance" with God-the-Father, and thus being "very God" Himself.
Now in Constantine's conception, Jesus was being exalted further so as to be identical to the god Sol Invictus. Constantine clearly believed in this deity Sol Invictus who was not only a god himself but also the son of the god Horus -- a father god of paganism. Constantine could now worship Sol Invictus under the name of Jesus. By exalting Jesus to the same nature as Sol Invictus, Constantine knew no one would find fault with his paganism being wrapped in Christianity. (See below.) Indeed, there is no doubt this is precisely what Jesus meant to Constantine: Sol Invictus. To complete this pagan connection, Jesus's nature -- the Christology of Jesus -- had to be altered by exalting it to fit Sol Invictus in every way. Thereby, Constantine portrayed Jesus in an idolatrous way which Tertullian warned about in 200 AD. (See our link "An Exaltation That Went Too Far.")
Prior Conception of Jesus
Tertullian in the 200s, the major voice of early Christianity, wrote what was the true rule of faith and proper Christology:
The rule of faith, indeed, is altogether one, alone immoveable and irreformable; the rule, to wit, of believing in one only God omnipotent, the Creator of the universe, and His Son Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, raised again the third day from the dead, received in the heavens, sitting now at the right [hand] of the Father, destined to come to judge quick and dead through the resurrection of the flesh as well [as of the spirit]. (Tertullian, On The Veiling of the Virgins Ch. 1, in Tertullian, The writings of Quintus Sept. Flor. Tertullianus (1870) Volume 3 at 154.)
There is nothing in this about Jesus being himself God, the creator, or of the very substance of God. Rather, God is disjoined from Jesus, and kept distinct. God is God, and Jesus is the Son of God. Tertullian battled vigorously the Marcionites who claimed Jesus was not truly a man, but God Himself. Tertullian said this was docetism -- the heresy identified by Apostle John in his epistle as the message of the Anti-Christ himself. See our article "The Correct Christology."
Cause of Conflict That Gave Constantine The Opportunity To Deify Jesus The Man
In 306 AD., Bishop Arius in the Antioch region insisted Jesus was not co-eternal with God, relying upon Paul's statement in Col. 1:15 that Jesus was the "first-born of creation." (For discussion on the Arian controversy, see "Paul's Flawed Christology.")
Based upon this, Arius insisted Jesus could not be God.
Arius could also cite many other proofs from Paul. Paul repeatedly denied Jesus was God although everyone today ignores these verses. For example, Paul says in 1 Cor. 8:6 "yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ..." In 1 Cor. 11:3, Paul says "the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." Just as Paul did not mean I become Christ by Jesus being my head, nor could Paul have meant Jesus becomes God by God being His head. Paul obviously means Christ is our Lord just as Paul means the Lord over Christ is God.
And most clearly, Paul says in one passage that Jesus is NOT God. This begins with 1 Corinthians 15:28: "And when all things shall be subdued unto him [i.e., Jesus], then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him [i.e., God the Father] that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." This is in accord with 1 Cor. 15:24: "Then the end will come, when he [i.e., Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power." And verse 28 is led into by this clarifying verse: "Now when it says that 'everything' has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ." (1 Cor. 15:27.) Hence, Paul just said Jesus is not God, for when "everything" is put under Christ, Paul clarifies that he does not mean "God" is put under Jesus, but it is the other way around.
Hence, Arius was on firm ground that Paul in Col. 1:15 meant Jesus was a created being who was Himself not God.
However, Alexander in Egypt insisted Jesus was an eternal being, and thus Jesus was God.
Emperor Constantine at first thought this was an insignificant dispute, and asked the disputants to cease the debate. He wrote the following letter to each:
Constantine the Victor, Supreme Augustus, to Alexander and Arius...How deep a wound has not only my ears but also my heart received from a report that divisions exist among yourselves...Having inquired carefully into the origin and foundation of these differences, I find their cause to be of a truly insignificant nature, quite unworthy of such bitter contention. (John Julius Norwich, Byzantium: The Early Centuries (Knopf: 1989) at 53.)
Constantine was thus oblivious to the profound difference between Paul's view in Col. 1:15 (repeated by Arius) that Jesus was the "first begotten" of creation and hence not conceivably God, and those who instead made Jesus into an eternal God distinct from the Father but One in purpose and function.
Unfortunately forgotten at that time was Christ's own explanation of his Divinity -- that He was simplyindwelled by God-the-Father. Hence, these two theologians -- Arius and Alexander --- presented a false set of only two choices. The debate now became whether Paul was correct that Jesus was not eternal, as stated in Col. 1:15-16, and hence not God, or whether Jesus Himself was an eternal being because He was God. To repeat, the correct Christology from Christ's own lips, not Paul's, was being ignored. See our webpage on The Correct Christology.
When the dispute would not die, Constantine called a meeting at Nicea in Turkey. Schaff, the Christian historian, quotes Eusebius of Caesarea describing the scene which depicts Constantine as the clear decision-maker at the Council of Nicea of 325 AD:
The moment the approach of the emperor was announced by a given signal, they all rose from their seats, and the emperor appeared like a heavenly messenger of God, covered with gold and gems, a glorious presence, very tall and slender, full of beauty, strength, and majesty. With this external adornment he united the spiritual ornament of the fear of God, modesty, and humility, which could be seen in his downcast eyes, his blushing face, the motion of his body, and his walk. When he reached the golden throne prepared for him, he stopped, and sat not down till the bishops gave him the sign. And after him they all resumed their seats.” (Schaff, History of the Christian Church Vol. III, section 120.)
All we have to go on are the later decrees -- there were no other records kept of the Nicene Council. As Schaff recounts:
[There are supposed numerous accounts of the events of Nicea:] [t]he twenty Canones, the doctrinal Symbol, and a Decree of the Council of Nicaea, and several Letters of bishop Alexander of Alexandria and the emperor Constantine (all collected in Greek and Latin in Mansi: Collect. sacrorum Conciliorum, tom. ii. fol. 635–704). Official minutes of the transactions themselves were not at that time made; only the decrees as adopted were set down in writing and subscribed by all (comp. Euseb. Vita Const. iii. 14). All later accounts of voluminous acts of the council are sheer fabrications. (Schaff, id., at section 120.)
Thus, when Constantine sat down on his throne, it was evidently he who decided the dispute. Hence, it was at this point in Christian history that a decision was made by Constantine on the nature of Christ that influenced all subsequent views of Jesus Christ.
The final decision was Bi-Deity: Jesus was co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father -- "very God very God" -- "being of the same substance as the Father." Jesus thus became God-the-Son, and no longer was the Son-of-God simply indwelled by the Father/Logos, as Jesus Himself had claimed.
What was Constantine's view of Christ going into this Nicene Conference of 325 AD?
Because many know Constantine influenced the Nicene decision, they try to portray Constantine as a true Christian. But this is a myth built on Constantine's claim that he saw a vision of Christ in a battle, and claimed Christ gave him the victory -- as if Christ would side with a secular ruler whose military victory entailed bringing the head of his decapitated rival (his brother-in-law) with dripping blood on a lance back to Rome.
Constantine in fact was a sun-worshipper of the Sun-god "Baal" whose religion at Rome was founded by a prior emperor who had been born in Syria. This emperor -- Varius Bassianus — had previously brought the Sun-god Baal to Rome during the period 217-222 A.D. This Baal was then also known at Rome as El-Gabal aka Elagabalus. The mythology of this Sun-God was that his mother was Isis (Ishtar) / Eostre (Celtic name) who mated on March 25th with Horus and produced each year the birth of the Sun-God nine months later on December 25th. In other words, every year, the Sun-God was reborn on December 25th -- which date coincides with the winter solstice whence every day thereafter the Sun gets closer to earth. (Hence, this was the mythological birthday of the Sun-God.) Later, Elagabalus was typically simply known as Sol Invictus, i.e., the Unconquered Sun.
However, Constantine was willing to allow his favored pagan deity to be called Jesus -- giving a Christian veneer to his idol-worship, as we shall see below. To further cement this, as Constantine clearly wanted his Sun-God worshipped under the name of Jesus, Constantine at Nicea exalted Jesus's nature from Son of Man with Divinity abiding into an independent-mind who is God the son of a Father who was also God just as Sol Invictus was portrayed. Constantine also transformed the sabbath rest of Christians from Sabbath to Sun-day -- the day of worship of Sol Invictus - the day of the Invincible Sun. It was not to honor the Lord's Day, but to honor Sol Invictus on his day of Sun-day because in Constantine's pagan beliefs Jesus was the Sun-god Baal aka Sol Invictus. This is detailed below.
To uncover this is the true origin of the Bi-Deity solution at Nicea in 325 AD, let's look at the cult of Sol Invictus at Rome prior to and during Constantine's reign.
An Emperor Brings Sol Invictus (Baal of Syria/Phoenecia) To Rome
Since 273 A.D., Rome worshipped a special god on December 25th. It was chosen as the birthday of a god that a Roman emperor born in Syria — Varius Bassianus — had previously brought to Rome in 217-222 A.D. This god was Baal also known as El-Gabal aka Elagabalus. (The celebration of Jesus's birthday on Dec. 25th would first take place in 354 AD, as discussed below.)
The Baal-Sun-god cult languished after Varius’ death. This changed in 270 AD due to Aurelian. He was a Roman Emperor whose mother was a priestess of the Sun-God (Baal) at Tyre in Phoenicia. “As to his mother, Callicrates of Tyre, by far the most learned writer of the Greeks, says that she was a priestess of the temple ofhis own Sun-god in the village in which his parents lived.” Aurelian (quote attributed to him by Flavius Vopiscus - 305-337AD). See http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/sol_invictus.htm
In 270 A.D., Aurelian became emperor of Rome.
In about 273 A.D., Emperor Aurelian (214-275 A.D.), “an ardent worshipper of the Syrian sun-god Baal,” inaugurated celebrations of the Sun-god’s birthday on December 25th. (Clement A. Miles, Christmas in Ritual and Tradition (1912) at 24.) This god Baal was then packaged to Romans with an appropriate Latin name -- Sol Invictus. The Unconquered Sun.
The Roman coin on the left from 276 AD helps us associate the Baal brought back from Phoenicia to Rome as the same Baal Sun worship that emerged at Jerusalem which is mentioned in the Bible. The coin itself is inscribed Sol Invictus with an image of the Sun-God with a ray-like crown who guides his chariot of horses. This "Baal" of Phoenicia which the Emperor brought to Rome was depicted in a manner that has an uncanny similarity to a reference found in the Bible about sun-worshippers at the Temple of Jerusalem. In 2 Ki 23:11 we read: "And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathanmelech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire."
Thus, the Baal of Rome known as Sol Invictus is the same Baal-sun-god found to be an idolatrous practice at the footsteps of the Temple of Jerusalem centuries earlier.
Next, the celebration of the Sun-God's birthday on December 25th took on the official name of Birthday of the Unconquered Sun (Lat. “Dies Natalis Solis Invicti.”) (“Sol Invictus,”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus (accessed 12/16/08).)
To revive the moribund worship of Baal as “sun-God” that had been languishing, in 273 the Emperor Aurelian built a new Temple at Rome “probably erected where St. Peter’s now stands” to the Invincible Sun (Sol Invictus). (R.M. Johnston, The Holy Christian Church From Its Remotest Origins To The Present Day (Boston & N.Y.: Houghton Mifflin, 1912) at 121.)
He enlisted a special order of priests of the Sun. Aurelian also restored “the temple of Malachbel (Baal) (the Sun-god) at Palmyra [in central Syria], and interpreted its deity [i.e., Baal] as a form of the Sol Invictus.” (Michael Grant, The Collapse and Recovery of the Roman Empire (London: Routledge, 1999) at 51.)
Aurelian vigorously spread this Eastern religion at Rome. While other gods were not specifically abolished, Aurelian believed the sun-God (Baal) should be the god “at the head of the Pantheon” of gods. (Michael Grant, The Collapse and Recovery of the Roman Empire (London: Routledge, 1999) at 51.)
“Emperor Aurelian came to Homs to make offerings to Baal prior to his defeat of Queen Zenobia. Aurelian attributed his success to the sun god’s intervention and went on to build a temple to the Sol Invictus (‘Invincible Sun’) in Rome, raising Baal once again to the status of an official religion.” (Ivan Mannheim, Syria & Lebanon Handbook (2001) at 205-206.)
The Roman citizens came to view the “Sun” god as the “universal deity.” (Dean Milman, History of Christianity Vol. II, bk. II, ch. IX, referenced in Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones, Early Christianity and Paganism (Casell, 1902) at 48.)
The ceremonies attached to the worship of the Sun-god Baal was the sacrifice of children to the deity. “[T]hese public ceremonies included human sacrifices of small children....” (Susan K. Roll, Toward the Origins of Christmas (Netherlands 1995) at 112 fn. 19.)
On December 25th specifically, there was always a great civic festivity with thirty-five chariot races in honor of the Sun-god Baal. (Id., at 113.) (We shall see that Sol Invictus is typically depicted as a charioteer.)
Constantine Equates the god Sol Invictus With Jesus
Subsequent to his so-called conversion to Christianity, Constantine the Great (274-337 A.D.) showed decisive favor for the worship of the Sun-god (who was Baal from Phoenicia, and apparently Baal of the Bible). “Constantine ... revered the Sun, like his forebears before him in their Sun-worshipping Balkans” and “Constantine the Great began” in 309 A.D. “his vast homogenous series of coinages inscribed SOLI INVICTO COMITI....” (Michael Grant,The Collapse and Recovery of the Roman Empire (London: Routledge, 1999) at 51.)
These coins had Constantine's image on one side, and on the reverse Soli Invicto Comiti, meaning "Sol (Sun), Invincible, Comrade (of Constantine)." Sol Invictus is depicted as the sun-god with a rayed solar crown. One hand gives a blessing and the other holds a globe.
Constantine's coinage to honor Sol Invictus was a “huge scale operation unmistakably intended to implant an idea in the minds of the population of the empire.” (Grant, id., at 51.)
Incidentally, compare the scudo from 1698 of Pope Innocent XII which depictsan identical image of Sol Invictus as Christ -- with a rayed solar crown, and one hand giving a blessing and the other holding a globe.
When Constantine later claimed victories due to Jesus, he had Jesus depicted as the Sun God (Baal) in a mosaic still visible in Rome. “Undernearth Saint Peter’s... there is a mosaic in which Jesus is depicted as the Sun-god.” Grant, id., at 52. This is admitted in the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) in its article “Constantine the Great” in which we read: “Besides, theSol Invictus had been adopted by the Christians in a Christian sense, as demonstrated in the Christ as Apollo-Helios [i.e., Apollo-Sun] in a mausoleum (c. 250) discovered beneath St. Peter’s in the Vatican.” (Quoted in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Sol_Invictus.)
Why at St. Peter's? Remember, this was the Temple to Sol Invictus at Rome since 273 AD as mentioned before. Then who was responsible for making Jesus worshipped as Sol Invictus as depicted in the mosaic found under St. Peter's? The answer is obvious: Constantine. We learn from Sacred Sites: "Originally founded by Constantine in 324, St. Peter's Basilica was rebuilt in the 16th century by Renaissance masters...." (link.)
In other words, the Temple to Sol Invictus -- the god whom Constantine worshipped -- was 'converted' in 324 AD by Constantine into a Temple where Christians would be told they are worshipping Christ. However, this was trickery. As the next proof reveals, Sol Invictus was still the deity worshipped in this Temple, but now Jesus was portrayed as Sol Invictus.
Visual Proof The Jesus Of Constantine Was Actually Sol Invictus: The visual proof is worth a 1000 words. On the right is a mosaic found in the Vatican grottoes under St. Peter's Basilica at the Sol Invictus Temple adopted by Constantine in 324 AD. On the vaulted ceiling of the tomb of the Julii (also known as "Mausoleum M"), it depicts Christ as the sun-god Helios / Sol Invictus riding in his chariot. The two left horses were destroyed when the hole was made to enter the tomb. Other mosaics in this Christian tomb depicted Jonah and the whale, the good shepherd carrying a lamb, and fishermen. This 'Jesus depicted as the Sun-God' is the mosaic to which Grant made reference. (Grant, supra, at 52.)
When St. Peter's was built on the place in the 1500s where the Sun-God temple was built, the church apparently allowed certain features of Sun-worship to remain. This proves the Christians of Constantine's time who drew this mosaic above indeed were duped to worship a pagan god -- Baal from the Middle-east -- under the guise Jesus was Sol Invictus. Specifically, in front of the Vatican is an obelisk inside of a sun-wheel that represented the Sun-God image used in Hazor Israel. For further discussion by another website, see Pagan Sun Worship and Catholicism.
Edict of Milan. In 313 AD, in the Edict of Milan, Constantine gave full tolerance to Christianity and pagan religions like Sol Invictus. The decree reads in part:
the reverence paid to the Divinity merited our first and chief attention, and [we two emperors] that it was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best; so that that God who is seated in heaven, might be benign and propitious to us, and to every one under our government. (Berefsford Kidd, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Church (Society for promoting Christian knowledge, 1920) at 234.)
Thus, paganism was not banished by Constantine, but instead all religious beliefs were tolerated.
Constantine’s ‘conversion’ to Christ was therefore in his mind done by equating Jesus with the Sun-god (Baal). Constantine claimed in his so-called conversion that when he was looking up at the Sun he saw the Cross. Later that night he had a dream. He claimed he saw the “Sun-god” or Christ or himself. (Paul Dehn Carleton, Concepts: A Prototheist Quest for Science-Minded Skeptics of Catholic, and other Christian, Jewish and Muslim Backgrounds (Michigan: Carleton House, 2004) at 24.)
Thus, later when he erected the Arch of Constantine, all the old gods were removed but he represented himself as sitting between “the Sun and the moon, and the victory-giving figure is the Sun-god [=Baal='Jesus'], whose statuettes are carried by the army’s standard bearers.” (Grant, supra, at 52-53.)
Hence, again, scholars now recognize, Constantine worshipped the sun-God, and simply gave him the name of Jesus at one point.
In further devotion to the Sun-god, in 321 A.D., Constantine “instituted the weekly Day of the Sun [dies Solis] as a recognized civil holiday.” (Susan K. Roll, The Origins of Christmas (The Netherlands 1995) at115.) This is the origin of our Sun-day.
It was the official Roman “day of rest.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus (accessed 12/16/08).)
The decree ran: “On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus (accessed 12/16/08).
This was also the first use of a seven-day week in the Roman calendar. (Journal of Calendar Reform(September 1953) at 128 fn.) The first day of the week, and most important, was Sun-Day in honor of Sol Invictus/Baal. The six other days were all names of planets. The seventh day of the week - called Saturday (not Sabbath-day) -- represented the planet Saturn which is furthest from the Sun and likewise on the calendar was day seven -- the furthest day from Sun-Day -- day one. (Arthur Weigall, Paganism in our Christianity(Kessinger, 2003) at 231.)
The pagan names of the seven days aimed to erase Sabbath and the Lord's Day by Constantine. They were resisted by most of the Western world. For example, in Western European romance languages, Sabbath is still the name for Saturn's Day which Constantine tried to impose instead as its name. Also, in the same nations, Sun-Day is typically still called "The Lord's Day." A strenuous battle must have been going on by people refusing to use pagan names in place of Sabbath & the Lord's Day. (For the details and citations on this, see "The Sabbath Command.") Only England firmly paganized its language to describe Sabbath now as Satur-Day; it also accepted Sun-Day in place of the Lord's Day.
The one thing that Rome did accomplish with a calendar was explained by the Journal of Calendar Reform.This is a journal dedicated to the study of calendars, and advocates a single world calendar to replace the current system. In 45 B.C., the 12 months, 365 day system was first employed in Rome, at the suggestion of an Egyptian scientist named Sosigenes. Id. This has now become almost universally accepted.
Now Constantine's change had the advantage of promoting a single day of rest and worship for the Sun-worshippers and the Christians.
Under Constantine, Christians were then compelled to stop worshipping/resting on Saturday, and were forced to only rest on the day of the Sun-God. Eusebius in his commentary on Psalms explains what happened (although he speaks well of this syncretic abolition of Sabbath):
"And all things that were duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord's day, as more appropriately belong to it, because it has precedence and is first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish sabbath." (Robert Cox, Sabbath Literature (1865) Vol. I at 361.) See also, Robert Cox, Literature of the Sabbath Question (1865) at 363.)
Hence, Christians conformed to the abolition of Sabbath as the day of rest from an Emperor who overtly chose a special day to honor his Sun-God whom he patronized as being identical to Jesus.
Side-Note on Origin of Christmas
The final coup d'grace is when Christians in the Roman Empire were first told in 354 AD to celebrate a birthday for Christ on the identical day -- December 25th -- that the Romans were celebrating the birthday of Baal aka Sol Invictus. The World Book Encyclopedia explains:
Christmas...In 354 A.D., Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He probably chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it..., celebrating the birthday of the sun [god].
E.H. Sechrist, “Christmas,” World Book Encyclopedia (Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago, 1966) Vol. 3 at 408-417. See also Sechrist, Christmas Everywhere (1936) (link)
Initially the church tried resisting any association with Sol Invictus. In its article "Christmas," the Catholic Encylopedia (1913) notes Tertullian ca. 200 AD several times -- in Apol. 16, Nat I 13 -- "had to assert Sol was not the Christian's God." (Id., Vol. 3 at 727 col. 1, para. 1.) Augustine in the late 300s even "denounced theheretical identification of Christ with Sol." Id.
However, as Christmas was being imposed by the state to infuse paganism into Christianity, weak Christian leaders began to shamelessly equate Sol Invictus with Jesus as well. In the fourth century Chrysostom (De Solst. et AEquin., II, p. 118) says: "But our Lord too is born in the month of December (25).... But they call it the 'Birthday of the Unconquered.' Who is so unconquered as our Lord? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice...." Id., at 727.
More Paganization of Christianity by Rome
The next step in infusing paganism into Christianity is that the Roman Catholic Church in the 4th Century prohibited communion with unleavened bread as was prior Christian practice. Prior to that time, communion conformed to the laws regarding Passover which required the bread be unleavened. Upon this 4th century change, communion now had to be round leavened bread / cakes -- which matched the pagan tradition of round cakes (symbolizing the disk of the Sun) used to celebrate Ishtar / Eostre's day, especially on March 25th - her day. This Roman Catholic practice of leavened bread as communion bread ceased in the 900s, but the roundness (which represented the Sun's shape) persisted. (For discussion, see our article "Eucharist.")
Next, to fully inject paganism into Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church after 354 AD used for Mary the label hitherto used for Ishtar /Isis / Eostre (Celtic name from which "Easter" in English derives) --- "Queen of Heaven," "Mother of God." More important, in pagan mythology, Ishtar / Isis / Eostre's day of celebrations began March 25th -- representing the date her procreation with Horus would produce the birth of the Sun (Sol Invictus) exactly nine months later on December 25th. So it is no coincidence that the Roman Catholic Church adopted March 25th as a day to worship an exalted version of Mary in what is called the Feast of the Annunciation of Mary, using the identical label as Isis / Eostre (Celtic term) enjoyed -- Queen of Heaven and Mother of God. (On the date of this feast as March 25th, see Fournier, Marian Devotion in the Domestic Church (2007) at 42.)
(This worship of Ishtar / Isis / Eostre on March 25th and for the next 30 days is clearly why Christ's resurrection at Passover time was altered by Constantine in the 300s to align more closely with the Ishtar / Isis / Eostre celebrations of March 25th -- nine months before Sol Invictus's annual birthday, as the Sun is "reborn" December 25th each year. The 25th is the winter solstice, i.e., the furthest distance of the Earth from the Sun, and every day thereafter the Sun gets closer to Earth, and hence the myth of its 'rebirth' on December 25th. See our Appendix on the Easter Error for more information.)
Paganism Triumphed Over Christianity at Rome, Not The Reverse
While some claim that paganism was being made Christian, the opposite is true. Professor Lake had contended Christianity adopted pagan ideas to "adapt itself to the pagan mind [to] receive its acquiescence." (William Mansfield Groton, The Christian Eucharist and the Pagan Cults. the Bohlen Lectures 1913 (reprint 2009) at 120.)
But this is naive, unaware how Paganism -- the wolf -- was given sheep's clothing. Lake's view ignores how paganism was being forced upon Christianity, changing our Bible-based beliefs and practices into pagan idolatry and pagan beliefs at direct odds with the Bible but which were made tolerable by using Christian-sounding names for idols and idolatry.
Thus, instead of Rome forcing sun-worshippers to rest on the Christian Sabbath and use Christian naming conventions for the days, Christians were being forced by Rome to rest on the sun-worshippers' day of rest --SUN-day.
Instead of the days of the week conforming to the Christian naming convention, where Saturday was Sabbath and Sunday was the Lord's Day, Constantine deliberately adopted a new calendar where Christians had to use the names of Saturn's Day for Sabbath and Sun-Day (Sol Invictus's Day) for what Christians until then called the Lord's Day.
Instead of the centuries of celebrating Christ's death and resurrection at the time of Passover--unquestionably the Biblical period at issue, Constantine forced this to be celebrated at the time of the worship of Ishtar aka Eostre, which is why this new time is known as Easter to us. It derives from Eostre's worship.
Instead of the centuries-long practice of using unleavened bread for communion, the Roman church in the 300s required the use of round leavened cakes -- matching the round cakes to worship the Mother of Sol Invictus. (This leavened-bread for communion persisted until the 900s.)
Then in 354 AD, Jesus's birthday was for the first time ever celebrated at Rome, and the date chosen --December 25th -- was the traditional birthday celebration of Baal aka Sol Invictus for over a century at Rome. In this way, Rome had Christians worship Sol Invictus -- the god Constantine personally worshipped and equated with Jesus -- under the name of Jesus.
And finally in 381 AD, at the Council of Constantinople, the Roman government and its subservient churchmaterially altered the correct version of the trinity taught by Tertullian (Jesus indwelled fully by God), and changed it into three-beings-in-one-Godhead with the deliberate and express intention to prove the "heresy of monotheism" of the Jews. I kid you not! (See Exalation That Turned Idolatrous.)
Thus, Christianity was not changing paganism to be more Christian, as we are so often told. Instead, Roman Christianity was transformed into a Pagan religion with a veneer that hopefully Christians would accept.
Despite the obvious compromise this represented with idolatrous behavior, some Christians try to defend our acceptance of Pagan ideas in place of Biblical ones:
Just as the Revelation in the Bible absorbed material from external sources [?], so the church in her development could with equal right accept ideas and suggestions from the pagan life around her. (William Mansfield Groton, The Christian Eucharist and the Pagan Cults. the Bohlen Lectures 1913(reprint 2009) at 97.)
With such a compromised view among weak believers, the Christianity of Constantine's stamp overtly promoted idolatry from the Sun-god (Baal) cult. “Although Constantine was one of the greatest influences in promoting the Christian faith, he is also credited with infiltrating it with pagan practices, and bringing idols into the church. While Christianity was growing in popularity, sun worship...remained strong in the empire.” (“Constantine The Great,” accessed at http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/ b2constantine.htm (accessed 12/12/08).)
Incidentally: “The religion of Sol Invictus continued to be part of the state religion until all paganism was abolished by decree of Theodosius I on February 27, 390.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus (accessed 12/16/08).
I would only comment on this quote that once Christianity became pagan in so many ways, this decree meant little. For the divinity-abiding in Jesus was altered to make Jesus a deity equal to Sol Invictus -- a deity apart from God-the-Father just as Sol was a god apart from his god-the-father Horus. Hence, this 390 AD prohibition of paganism which did not outlaw the paganized version of Christianity at Rome meant paganism was alive and well under a covert cover -- a "wolf in sheep's clothing" -- to use Christ's words. Hence, paganism was not truly banned. It was simply merged into prevailing forms of Christianity, and survived under the guise of the Roman Catholic Church.
Constantine obviously made the decision at Nicea that Jesus was a co-eternal yet an independent being who was God distinct from God the Father in reliance upon his pagan religion that he sought to meld with Christianity. Constantine clearly believed in Sol Invictus, and he tried to portray Jesus as Sol Invictus -- Baal, a deity from Syria and Phoenicia who was added a century earlier among the pagan gods of Rome. Thus, while Jesus said He was indwelled by the Father (John 14), Constantine at Nicea made Jesus a deity in and of himself separate from the Father. Two independent beings -- the Father and Son -- both had the right to be called God by us. Constantine thereby turned Christianity into pagan idol worship under the guise of worshipping Christ and giving Him an exalted glory far in excess of what Jesus said about Himself.
The Bible does teach Jesus indeed has a very exalted position of Divinity -- a term of art. Jesus was the Son of Man whom the Shekinah presence of God /Divinity abided in, and thereby in Daniel 7:13 the Son of Man is entitled to worship as a ruler to come. Jesus affirmed this repeatedly about Himself, i.e., He was indwelled by the Father including His Logos, but the "logos is not mine but the Father's who sent me" (John 14). Jesus also affirmed He was the Son of Man who will come on clouds of glory (i.e., the Shekinah-glory of Divinity abiding) to rule the earth, just as Daniel 7 says.
But to say Jesus, the Son, is God separate and apart from God the Father is to turn divinity (i.e., the presence of God within himself) into independent deity of the occupant, and thus adopt Constantine's idolatrous view of Jesus Christ, and poison the faith.