Dubbing himself "God's man," Constantine raised Christian churches, freed clergy from civic duties, made Sunday a holiday, put the chi-rho in standards of the empire. Byzantium blossomed as Constantinople, his new capital; soon its bishops ranked with patriarchs of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. But if Constantine expected the church to cement the empire, he was disappointed. As no other major faith, Christianity had been splintered by dissent since its birth. Paul chided preachers of "another gospel" as he taught of the Son of God. And was Jesus fully divine, fully human, both-- or neither? (317:1)
Second-century Docetists called him divine, his body and agony only an illusion. To third-century Adoptionsists he was man; God had "adopted" him at baptism. Fifth-century Nestorians echoed that belief and railed at the cult of Mary as 'Theotokos', bearer of God; visions of God in diapers appalled them. Christianity honors among its fathers the great theologians who wrestled with the welter of beliefs, for in attacking what the faith was not, they helped define what it was. (317:2)
Early in the fourth century the Alexandrian priest Arius launched a doctrine that would sunder the church. God's son cannot be God, he reasoned, but only a sublime creation. From the same city rose Athanasius in reply: Christ had two natures, one human, one divine, else how could he intercede between eternal God and temporal man?