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While Decius himself may have intended the edict as a way to reaffirm his conservative vision of the Pax Romana and to reassure Rome's citizens that the empire was still secure, it nevertheless sparked a "terrible crisis of authority as various Christian bishops and their flocks reacted to it in different ways." Measures were first taken demanding that the bishops and officers of the church make a sacrifice for the Emperor.The sacrifice was "on behalf of" (Latin pro) the Emperor, not to the Emperor, since a living Emperor was not considered divine.

Decius' political program was focused on the restoration of the strength of the State, both militarily opposing the external threats, and restoring the public piety with a program of renovation of the State religion.Either as a concession to the Senate, or perhaps with the idea of improving public morality, Decius endeavoured to revive the separate office and authority of the censor.With a commitment to connecting Christian singles worldwide, we bring to you a safe and easy environment designed to help you meet your Christian love match.Whether you’re looking for love locally or internationally, we are committed to helping you find the perfect match, no matter where in the world they may be.When they sacrificed they would obtain a certificate (libellus) recording the fact that they had complied with the order. Potter, Decius did not try to impose the superiority of the Roman pantheon over any other gods.

That is, the certificate would testify the sacrificant's loyalty to the ancestral gods and to the consumption of sacrificial food and drink as well as the names of the officials who were overseeing the sacrifice. It is very probable that the edict was an attempt to legitimize his position and to respond to a general unease provoked by the passing of the Roman millennium.

A number of prominent Christians did, in fact, refuse to make a sacrifice and were killed in the process, including Pope Fabian himself in 250, and "anti-Christian feeling[s] led to pogroms at Carthage and Alexandria." In reality, however, towards the end of the second year of Decius' reign, "the ferocity of the [anti-Christian] persecution had eased off, and the earlier tradition of tolerance had begun to reassert itself." At this time, there was a second outbreak of the Antonine Plague, which at its height from 251 to 266, took the lives of 5,000 daily in Rome.

This outbreak is referred to as the "Plague of Cyprian" (the bishop of Carthage, where both the plague and the persecution of Christians were especially severe).

Cyprian's biographer Pontius gave a vivid picture of the demoralizing effects of the plague and Cyprian moralized the event in his essay De mortalitate.

In Carthage, the "Decian persecution", unleashed at the onset of the plague, sought out Christian scapegoats.

In January 250, Decius is said to have issued one of the most remarkable Roman imperial edicts.