THE MONASTIC MOVEMENT: ORIGINS AND PURPOSES:
IN 313 CE, Constantine the Great (272 – 337 CE) ended the sporadic-yet-terrifying Christian persecutions under the Roman Empire with his “Edict of Milan,” and brought the Christian church under imperial protection. Not surprisingly, public social activities and normative culture changed, quite dramatically and favorably, for the early Christians.
Previously, early Christians faced dangers from outside of the faith and often had to “worship underground,” in order to avoid both physical dangers and social oppression from various Pagan and Jewish factions in the first three centuries of the faith. However, after Constantine’s imperial endorsement and favoritism for Christian leaders and the laity, a new cultural permissiveness and secularism arose within the faith; and pious believers began to worry more about inner church immorality, abuse, and vice.
Article by John S. Knox on AHE