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What the Decian Persecution Revealed About the Church

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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

WHAT THE DECIAN PERSUCTION REVEALED ABOUT THE CHURCH

A PAPER SUBMITTED TO …

IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT

OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR

CHHI 520

BY

KIMBERLY SOUTER

LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA

FEBRAURY 19, 2014
CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………………………. 3

THE CLIMATE ON THE EVE OF DECIUS’ EDICT…………………………………… 3

The Church in the Third Century………………………………………………….. 3

The Imperial Crisis of the Third Century (AD 235-284)………………………….. 5
DECIUS’ EDICT AND ITS EFFECT…………………………………………………….. 5 Cyprian…………………………………………………………………………….. 7
EXILES…..………………………………………………………………………………... 8

APOSTATES OR THE “LAPSED”…….………………………………………………… 10

MARTYRS AND CONFESSORS………………………………………………………… 12

CONCLUSION……………………………………………………………………………. 14

BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………………………………. 16

INTRODUCTION

Certain tensions existed with the rise of Christianity within the Roman Empire. Prior to the advent of Christianity and even up to 200 AD, Rome was relatively tolerant of religions. Judaism was accepted into the mix of various pagan religions of the Empire, and in its infancy Christianity was simply considered a sect of Judaism, which seemed to pose no real threat to the Empire because Jews did not seek to proselytize. However, Christians were zealous in their worship of Jesus and their spreading of His message, so that in the third century Rome’s policy toward the Christians changed. Persecution, though it existed from the time of the apostles, was dramatically instituted as a means of eradicating the growing religion during the third century so that it is looked back on as the “age of martyrs.” Specifically, it was edict of Decius that created great upheaval for the church, both because of his edict and because of the fallout from it and the persecution following it under emperor...

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