I’m doing a good bit of reading in and about the 4th century, and it has really been enlightening. One unexpected tidbit that I stumbled across was a letter from Constantine in which he clearly espouses an orthodox theology. It is one that is quite contrary to Eusebius’ presentation of him. Here’s a portion of it:
Constantine Augustus to the Catholic Church of Nicomedia-
You all, beloved brothers, obviously know very well that the Lord God and Christ the Savior are Father and Son- Father without beginning and without end, parent of the world itself, and Son, that is, the will of the Father, which has not been comprehended by any human conception nor received through any extraneous essence for the completion of his works. He who understands this and keeps it in his mind will have indefatigable endurance of every sort of affliction. But Christ, the Son of God, the creator of all and supplier of immortality itself, was begotten- or rather, he who also is ever in the Father came forth for the ordering of what he had created- Christ was begotten by an indivisible coming forth, for will is both permanently fixed in its dwelling place and acts on and arranges the things which need different attention according to the nature of each one. What then is there between God the Father and God the Son? Obviously nothing…
What dreadful brigandage has been revealed, which denies that the Son of God has come forth from the indivisible essence of the Father? Is God not everywhere, and do we not perceive his presence ever with us? Does not the harmony of the universe exist through his power, without the deprivation of separation?
(from Timothy D. Barnes Constantine and Eusebius pg. 242-243)
Barnes concludes that Eusebius exaggerated, if not wholly forged, most of his records in regards to Constantine. Having probably not conversed directly with Constantine more than four times, he was certainly not an immediate counselor. And though it is true that Constantine desired peace and unity for stability’s sake, it is also the case that he was a true supporter of Athanasius.