- I think that when Christianity has become entwined with the state, it loses much of its focus on the teachings of the historical Jesus. I'm not sure, therefore, that it was "saved" by Constantine. One might argue it was badly corrupted.
Good point. It changed the Church incredibly. The reigning Pope at the time of the conversion of Constantine, St Miltiades, was the last of the old style Popes who governed a church that was under persecution, had little real property, and lived an underground secretive (from the state) existance. He was a relatively simple man, and when Constantine called him before him, Miltiades was probably terrified.
He was given by the Emperor as his residence, an unused fixer upper of a palace belonging to an old Roman Family called the Latarini. Susequent Popes tarted the place up a bit and called it the Lateran Palace. Not living much longer, he was replaced by Sylvester I, an educated and sophisticated Roman who understood the uses of wealth and of the tools of power. The church now had property, wealth, and a standing army at it's disposal. (it kept the army until 1878 I think)
It couldn't have changed more dramatically or suddenly from the church of Jesus, St. Paul, and the other early church fathers.