Unexamined assumptions are incredibly fascinating. They get at the real reasons why we think and act the way we do. They lay bare our hypocrisies and excuses. They tell us who we really are rather than who we pretend to be.
One of the current trends in thinking--very popular, probably not well thought through--is to make Constantine the boogie man. Da Vinci Code certainly did this. If I remember right, Erwin McManus villified him in the Barbarian Call. Tony Jones' emergent book, Postmodern Youth Ministry does it. It's in for Constantine to be the villian.
Why? Because he used his power to move "Christianity" toward standarization. He did it in the interests of unifying the empire and reducing conflict, as I understand it. He was being practical, not ideological.
It's easy enough to see why Constantine is out. For good old Protestants, I think there is a connection made, consciously or unconsciously, between this movement toward consolidation of power among Christians and the emergence of the Catholic Church as a political entity.
We are also in a Zeitgeist of diversity, pluralism, and freedom. Forcing diverse groups to conform to a standard simply is not going to be a popular movement. Mind you, Constantine only made Christianity legal and pressured Christian leaders to come up with a commonly agreed faith. Constantine died before Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Theodosius. And the Nicene Creed also did not reach its standard form until after his death (AD381--the Council of Nicaea in 325 did issue a creed, but it was not in the form of the Nicene Creed). He thus perhaps gets more blame or credit than he deserves.
But here's my thought this semester. There was no Trinity as we understand it before Constantine. He in fact favored a Eusebian compromise in the debate between Arius and Athanasius, if I remember correctly (Christ of similar substance to the Father rather than Athansius' of the same substance). But for much of the 300's, Christianity was more Arian than Trinitarian, if I remember correctly (Christ the first of God's creations, of a different substance than the Father). There was no New Testament canon yet in its current form. The list of books we now use isn't even attested ever, anywhere until Athanasius' Easter letter of AD367. Only a Western synod then affirmed that canon politically in 397 in Carthage).
Here's my sense. God might have done it some other way, but if it were not for the series of events that Constantine put in motion, we might not have either the same New Testament we do today or believe in the Trinity as we do today. In short, would Christianity as we now consider it to be in its historical essence be conceivable if it weren't for Constantine?
So recognize, ye who hate Constantine, that you are perhaps hating what became essential boundaries between Judaism and Christianity.