The Period Of Peace For The Chur

After the Decian-Valerian persecution (250-260) the Church enjoyed a long

peace, rarely interrupted anywhere by hostile measures, until the outbreak

of the second great general persecution, under Diocletian (303-313), a

space of over forty years. In this period the Church cast off the chiliasm

which had lingered as a part of a primitive Jewish conception of

Christianity (§ 47), and adapted itself to the actual condition of this
present world. Under the influence of scientific theology, especially that

of the Alexandrian school, the earlier forms of Monarchianism disappeared

from the Church, and the discussion began to narrow down to the position

which it eventually assumed in the Arian controversy (§ 48). Corresponding

to the development of the theology went that of the cultus of the Church,

and already in the West abiding characteristics appeared (§ 49). The

cultus and the disciplinary work of the bishops advanced in turn the

hierarchical organization of the Church and the place of the bishops (§

50), but the theory of local episcopal autonomy and the universalistic

tendencies of the see of Rome soon came into sharp conflict (§ 51),

especially over the validity of baptism administered by heretics (§ 52).

In this discussion the North African Church assumed a position which

subsequently became the occasion of the most serious schism of the ancient

Church, or Donatism. In this period, also, is to be set the rise of

Christian Monasticism as distinguished from ordinary Christian asceticism

(§ 53). At the same time, a dangerous rival of Christianity appeared in

the East, in the form of Manichaeanism, in which were absorbed nearly all

the remnants of earlier Gnosticism (§ 54).