(Note: A Hotbed of Heresies Part One can be accessed here.)
The government’s role in “church affairs” was monumental also. Though sometimes good, its role could be very detrimental to the Church. During one council, some old bishops, who had recanted of an evil deed in which they tried to condemn an orthodox bishop, years later tried again to condemn Athanasius. Those present at the council, though, stated that since these bishops had before recanted and now brought no new charges against Athanasius, the council would not condemn him. The emperor, Constantine, then stepped in and exclaimed that he accused Athanasius so the council must except the charges made against the orthodox bishop. In reply, Constantine was told that it was against cannon law. To which with the emperor roared,
Whatever I will, be that esteemed a canon; the bishops of Syria let me thus speak. Either then obey, or go into banishment (Warren 28).
It is easy to see that sometimes the emperors, using their power, created more problems for the Church in its role as the shepherd of the flock of Christ.
Unfortunately, all heresies hurt the Church in many ways, but the heresies in the first couple of hundred years did more damage since they couldn’t be addressed immediately. Because of a mixture of many things, it is easy to see why the East was very susceptible to these new teachings; and why the doctrines were propagated with success. Even with these trials, though, Jesus did and does not abandon his Church—the Catholic Church. Instead, he strengthens it by sending saints to be champions of faith.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. St. Paul Books & Media, 1994. Print.
Warren, H. Carroll. The Building of Christendom. Front Royal: Christendom Press, 1987. Print.