Religious monopoly and the loss of religious freedom in Christendom


  • Maximilian J. Hölzl


Religious freedom and persecution, Christendom era, Constantinian Shift, ecclesiastical institution, imperial church, compulsory church, forced uniformity, abuse of power, from martyrs to inquisitors, concept of discipleship, non-conformist movements


The aim of this article is to analyse how the developments in the post-apostolic church, and particularly after the Constantinian shift, soon resulted in the loss of religious freedom. In recent years, there has been a great deal of interest in mission in the changing contexts of post-Christian societies in the West. Yet most of this research has neglected to examine the relationship between the post-Christendom shift and the previous shift from the persecuted primitive church to the religiouspolitical construct of Christendom. What is more, an examination of the Christendom era contributes to the study of the conditions of religious freedom and persecution. The compulsion to religious uniformity and monopoly resulted inevitably in the loss of religious freedom over many centuries. In the final analysis, the differing assessments of Constantinianism depend on the respective eschatological and ecclesiological view.