We come now to a great turning point in the history of Christianity — namely, Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 306 AD and his ultimate adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 321 AD.
As we have seen, by the beginning of the 4th Century, Replacement Theology and its virulent anti-Semitism had become entrenched in Christian thought. And when Christianity was given the approval of the Empire overnight, the emperors began to enact into law the concepts and claims of the Christian theologians against the Jews and Judaism.21
In the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, favor was granted to Christianity while synagogues were outlawed. Another edict, issued in 315 AD, authorized the burning of Jews if they were convicted of breaking the laws.22
As the Church became increasingly dominant, further laws were passed that severely curtailed rabbinical jurisdiction, prohibited conversion to Judaism, and excluded Jews from holding high office or serving in the military.23 As Clarence Wagner has summed it up, “Instead of the Church taking this opportunity to spread its Gospel message in love, it truly became the Church Triumphant, ready to vanquish its foes.”24
The Council of Nicea (325 AD) — The first ecumenical council of the Church. It was held in what is modern day Turkey, and it was convened and presided over by Emperor Constantine. This is the historic Council that settled the Christological issue of the nature of the Son of God and his relationship to God the Father. Regarding the Jews, the Council changed the celebration of the Resurrection from the Jewish Feast of First Fruits to Easter in an attempt to disassociate it from Jewish feasts. The Council stated:25
For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people…
In addition to calling them “odious people,” the Council also referred to the Jews as “polluted wretches,” “a most hostile rabble,” and “parricides.”26
Eusebuis of Caesarea (c. 265-339) — He taught that the promises of Scripture were meant for the Gentiles and the curses were for the Jews. He asserted that the Church was the “true Israel.”27
Hilary of Poitiers (c. 300-c. 368) — This French bishop was granted sainthood by the Church. He wrote, “Jews are a perverse people accursed by God forever.”28
John Chrysostom (349-407) — He was the Archbishop of Constantinople. He was nicknamed “The Golden Tongue” for his powerful preaching. He presented eight sermons against the Jews. Here is some of what he had to say:29
The synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater, it is also a den of robbers and a lodging place for wild beasts…Jews are inveterate murderers possessed by the Devil. Their debauchery and drunkenness gives them the manners of a pig… This is why I hate the Jews.
He proceeded to deny that Jews could ever receive forgiveness. He claimed it was a Christian duty to hate Jews. And he claimed that Jews worshiped Satan.
And this man was canonized as a Saint!
Saint Jerome (347-420) — The renowned translator of the Bible into Latin. He described the Jews as “…serpents, wearing the image of Judas. Their psalms and prayers are the braying of donkeys…They are incapable of understanding Scripture.”30
Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (c. 340-397) — He is the one who converted Saint Augustine. Regarding the Jews, he wrote:31
The Jews are the most worthless of all men. They are lecherous, greedy, rapacious. They are perfidious murderers of Christ. They worship the Devil. Their religion is a sickness. The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ, and for killing God there is no expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. Christians may never cease vengeance, and the Jew must live in servitude forever. God always hated the Jews. It is essential that all Christians hate them.
Saint Augustine (354-430) — He is considered the greatest of all the Church Fathers in terms of the overall impact of his theology on the Church. With regard to the Jews, he simply endorsed what had been written before him.
His only new contribution was his answer to a the frequently asked question, “Why has God allowed the Jews to continue to exist?” His answer was that although the Jews deserve death, they are destined to wander the earth to witness the victory of the Church over the Synagogue.32
But in terms of Replacement Theology, he provided another cornerstone with his development of Amillennialism and his contention that the millennial kingdom had begun with the coming of Jesus and that the Roman Church was the fulfillment of the kingdom promises that were made to Israel.
In the fifth part of this study on how Replacement Theology has resulted in the historical abuse of the Jews by the Church, we’ll look at examples from the millennia of the Middle Ages.
21) Clarence H. Wagner, Jr., “The Error of Replacement Theology,” http://ldolphin.org/replacement, p. 4.
25) New Advent, “Easter Controversy,” www.newadvent.org/cathen/05228a.htm.
26) Ray Bentley with Genevieve Gillespie, The Holy Land Key (Colorado Sprints, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2014), p. 84.
27) Wagner, Jr., p. 4.
28) Gene Shaparenko, “The Resurgence of ‘Christian’ Anti-Semitism,” www.aquatechnology.net/RESURGENCE.html.
29) Centre for the Study of Historical Christian Antisemitism, “John Chrysostom,” www.hcacentre.org/JohnChrysostom.html.
30) Centre for the Study of Historical Christian Antisemitism, “St. Jerome,” www.hcacentre.org/Jerome.html.
31) Gabriel Wilensky, Six Million Crucifixions: How Christian Teachings About Jews Paved the Road to the Holocaust, (San Diego,CA: QWERTY Publishers, 2010), p. 98.
32) Vlach, p. 41.