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Survey of Church History. BI 3325-2. Formation of the Canon. The Need for a Canon 6 main developments forced the church to formulate a canon of the NT. 1. Need for a Scripture to spell out the message of the Apostles.

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formation of the canon
Formation of the Canon
  • The Need for a Canon
  • 6 main developments forced the church to formulate a canon of the NT.
  • 1. Need for a Scripture to spell out the message of the Apostles.
    • By the end of the 1st c. most of the contemporary witnesses to the message of Jesus and the apostles were gone.
    • Believers wanted a body of Scripture that would spell out the authoritative message of the apostles.
formation of the canon1
Formation of the Canon
  • The Need for a Canon
  • 2. Need to decide on what should be read in the churches.
    • From the beginning Scripture was read in the worship services for edification.
    • Leaders became increasingly concerned that the readings be truly God’s message.
  • 3. Need for a true canon to answer heretical ones.
    • Heretics like Marcion were forming canons to promote their own special viewpoints.
formation of the canon2
Formation of the Canon
  • The Need for a Canon
    • Ca. 140 M. composed a canon of a mutilated Luke & 10 of Paul’s epistles.
    • He rejected the OT; in self-defense the church had to decide what books belonged in the canon.
  • 4. Need to establish authoritative truth to answer error.
    • At almost the same time the Gnostics & Marcion were making inroads, the Montanists began to claim a continuing revelation.
    • The church in response declared that revelation had ceased.
formation of the canon3
Formation of the Canon
  • The Need for a Canon
  • 5. Need to decide which of many books claiming to be canonical were false.
    • Apocryphal books began to appear in increasing numbers.
    • These gospels, acts, and epistles attempted to fill in gaps in the narrative of the life of Christ and the apostles and to round out the theological message of the Christianity.
    • Some of these books were obviously not on a par with NT books, others were closer.
    • An effort was made to distinguish.
formation of the canon4
Formation of the Canon
  • The Need for a Canon
  • 6. Need to decide which books to die for when possession resulted in martyrdom.
    • The Diocletian persecution in 303 called fro the burning of all sacred books and the punishment of those who possessed them.
    • Preservation of Scripture in the face of such determined imperial opposition required great effort and endangered the lives of those who hid or copied it.
    • Therefore, one wanted to be sure he was risking his life to protect a genuine work.
formation of the canon5
Formation of the Canon
  • The Greek word kanon (rule or standard) designated the laws that governed the behavior society expected or the state demanded of its citizens.
  • Word is used in that sense in Gal. 6:16.
  • By middle of 2nd c., the terms canon of truth or canon of faith were applied to the creed of the church.
  • The connection of the word with the books of the NT seems to have originated with Athanasius ca. the middle of the 4th c.
formation of the canon6
Formation of the Canon
  • Later, in his Festal Epistle, written in 367, he spoke of the Scripture as “canonized” in contrast to the apocrypha.
  • Thus the word came into church vocabulary, although the idea behind it had arisen in the earliest days of the church.
  • Canonical Scripture, then, on the one hand provides a standard of doctrine and holy living and, on the other hand, meets the standard or tests of inspiration.
development of the canon
Development of the Canon
  • Tests of canonicity had to be employed.
  • Secondary tests were required; one of the most important was apostolicity—was it written by an apostle or one close to the apostles?
  • Thus, Luke’s gospel was accepted because of his close relationship with Paul; Mark’s because of his close association with Peter and Paul.
  • Matthew and John were apostles.
development of the canon1
Development of the Canon
  • Then there was the test of internal appeal.
  • Did a book contain moral or doctrinal elements that measured up to the standards set by the apostles in their acknowledged writings?
  • As these and other tests were applied in various ways over the centuries, the canon gradually developed.
  • Archaeological evidence quite effectively confirms the conservative claim that all the NT books were written by about the end of the 1st c.
development of the canon2
Development of the Canon
  • Almost from the time of their writing, the 4 Gospels and Acts were accepted as divinely inspired accounts of the life of Christ and the development of the early church.
  • Various churches to which Paul addressed his epistles accepted his word to them as coming from the mouth of God.
  • Gradually nearby churches came to feel that letters sent to sister churches were of value for them also and made copies.
development of the canon3
Development of the Canon
  • In this way the Pauline epistles began to circulate individually and by the end of the 2nd c. as a collection.
  • Testimony to the existence and value of various NT books is extensive, beginning with Clement of Rome in the 90s.
  • Then there are other pieces of evidence; ca. the middle of the 2nd c. Tatian composed the first harmony of the gospels.
  • This wove together elements of the 4 Gospels in such a way as to present a continuous narrative.
development of the canon4
Development of the Canon
  • Composed about the same time, the Gospel of Truth, one of the Gnostic works from Nag Hammadi, refers to an authoritative group of NT writings, including Matthew, Luke (possibly with Acts), John, the Pauline epistles (except the Pastorals), Hebrews, I John and Revelation.
  • A decade or two later a list was drawn up, now bearing the name Muratori, after the Italian scholar who published it (1740).
development of the canon5
Development of the Canon
  • The document was slightly damaged, but it apparently recognizes the 4 Gospels, Acts, the Pauline epistles, Revelation, two (or 3) epistles of John, and Jude.
  • But it adds the Apocalypse of Peter and omits I & II Peter and Hebrews and possibly one of John’s epistles.
  • From the time of Irenaeus (c. 175), the principal spokesman of the church’s response to Gnosticism, the canon was thought to contain essentially the same books that appear in it today, though there were some disagreements.
development of the canon6
Development of the Canon
  • Clement of Alexandria (c. 200) seemed to recognize all the NT books.
  • Origen (c. 250) divided the books into categories of universally accepted works and disputed works.
  • In the former he put the four Gospels, the 13 epistles of Paul, I Peter, I John, Acts and Revelation.
  • In the latter he put Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, James, Jude, and four works not now part of the NT.
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Development of the Canon
  • He himself seems to have accepted nearly all the books now included in the NT.
  • Hebrews was disputed because its authorship was uncertain; 2 Peter because it differed in style and vocabulary from 1 Peter; James and Jude, because they represented themselves as servants rather than apostles; 2 & 3 John because the author called himself an elder rather than an apostle.
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Development of the Canon
  • Eusebius, the 4th c. historian, also divided the NT books into accepted and disputed categories.
  • In the former he listed the same ones as had Origen.
  • He himself seemed to accept all those now included, and apparently he put them in 50 copies of the NT that Constantine ordered him to have made in 330.
  • Later in the century Jerome also accepted the present 27 books in his Vulgate.
development of the canon9
Development of the Canon
  • At a local council in 393 at Hippo, where Augustine was bishop, the contents of the canon were spelled out as our current 27 books for the first time.
  • A record of the decision has not been preserved, but it was repeated at the Third Council of Carthage in 397 with the proviso that no other books be used as authoritative Scripture.
  • When the Sixth Council of Carthage (419) reaffirmed the decision, it directed that the statement be sent to the bishop of Rome and other bishops.
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Development of the Canon
  • From that time on there was little debate in the West; the e.g. of the West and the influence of several great theologians in the East finally settled the matter there also.
  • Since the 5th c. there has been no serious controversy over the contents of the NT canon.
  • The formation of the canon was a long one, not involving any hasty decision on the part of any ecclesiastical body.
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Development of the Canon
  • Basically, there were 3 steps in the process:
    • 1) Divine inspiration
    • 2) Gradual human recognition and acceptance of the separate works
    • 3) Official ratification or adoption of those books already universally accepted in the church
the early creeds
The Early Creeds
  • Creeds, like the NT canon, developed in response to a need.
  • In the early days when there were few copies of the NT books in circulation, believers needed some standard to keep them in the path of truth.
  • They also needed a standard by which to test heretical opinions.
  • So, possibly near the end of the 1st c. or beginning of the 2nd, a rule of faith came into existence.
the early creeds1
The Early Creeds
  • It generally taught that Christ, the Son of God, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and died, was buried, rose again, and ascended in Heaven—for the remission of sins.
  • This rule, which has come to be called the Apostles’ Creed, reached its present form about 750.
  • Other creeds were formulated too, in an effort to settle controversies that tore the church into opposing factions.
the early creeds2
The Early Creeds
  • Some had to do with the nature of Christ, some with the Holy Spirit, and one with the nature of man.
  • These doctrinal quarrels of the 4th and later centuries were handled very differently from those of the 2nd & 3rd c.
  • When Christianity became a legal religion early in the 4th c., Constantine regarded himself as head of the Christian religion along with the other religions of the state.
the early creeds3
The Early Creeds
  • Thus when difficulties arose he called a church-wide or ecumenical council to deal with the matter and to formulate a statement (creed) of settlement.
  • Other emperors followed the practice.
  • Although the differences over Christ, the Holy Spirit, and man sometimes were going on concurrently, it is easier to deal with them separately.
controversy nature of christ
Controversy: Nature of Christ
  • The Arian Controversy: Nicea
  • C. 318 Arius, a presbyter (elder) in Alexandria, had difficulty in accepting the trinitarian nature of the Godhead.
  • He was torn between monotheism (one God) and the wish to preserve the Logos-Christ as in independent being on the other.
  • He began to teach that Christ was different in essence from the Father—that he was created by the Father and before that did not exist.
controversy nature of christ1
Controversy: Nature of Christ
  • Athanasius, archdeacon of Alexandria, challenged him asserting that Christ and the Father were the same in essence and that the Son was eternal.
  • His primary concern was that if Christ were a mere creature, faith in him could not bring salvation to humanity.
  • A synod in Alexandria deposed Arius in 321 but did not end the struggle; Arius was able to win over some leaders in the East to his view.
controversy nature of christ2
Controversy: Nature of Christ
  • Constantine felt obliged to step in and restore harmony; he called an ecumenical council at Nicea (northwest Asia Minor) in 325.
  • Over 300 bishops and a number of lesser leaders assembled.
  • The Athanasian party won and the emperor supported that decision.
  • The creed drawn up declared that the Son was the same in essence with the Father, the only begotten of the Father, and very God of very God.
controversy nature of christ3
Controversy: Nature of Christ
  • But, in the seesawing fortunes of subsequent years, as emperors and church personnel changed, Athanasius was banished no less than 5 times, with the resulting periodic restoration of the Arian party.
  • Gradually, however, the orthodox party came to enjoy a majority in the empire.
controversy christ s humanity
Controversy: Christ’s Humanity
  • In the process of asserting the full deity of Christ, some theologians had done so at the expense of His humanity.
  • They taught that a complete humanity could not be sinless and that the divine nature, while assuming a human body, took the place of the higher rational principle in man.
  • Several synodical meetings condemned the idea of the defective humanity of Christ, and in 381 the council of Constantinople finally asserted His true and full humanity.
the nestorian controversy
The Nestorian Controversy
  • Another issue arose: if Christ was both fully divine and fully human, how were the two natures related in one person?
  • Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, was one of those who saw the two natures in loose mechanical conjunction.
  • Neither nature shared in the properties of the other; so the divine did not have a part in the sufferings of the human nature of Christ.
  • This was not just an academic question.
the nestorian controversy1
The Nestorian Controversy
  • As Cyril of Alexandria pointed out, if N. were right, a sinner would be redeemed by the sufferings of a mere man.
  • And, though a man might pay a penalty for himself or a limited number of others, it took the linkage of the divine with the human in the God-man to make the payment of the penalty effective for an infinite number of human beings.
  • The Nestorian controversy led to the calling of the 3rd council at Ephesus in 431.
the nestorian controversy2
The Nestorian Controversy
  • The council met and anathematized the teachings of Nestorius before the Nestorian party arrived.
  • When they arrived, they set up a rival council.
  • The emperor finally decided against the Nestorians and Nestorius went into a monastery.
  • The council was a demonstration that the majority of bishops favored the doctrines of Cyril (who argued for a true union of the two natures), but the clarification was left for a later council.
the nestorian controversy3
The Nestorian Controversy
  • Nestorius argued that he himself did not hold such views; was he the object of a smear campaign?
  • The Council of Ephesus was not a true resolution of the issues.
  • Further, Eutyches, abbot of a monastery near Constantinople, in an effort to demonstrate the true unity of the person of Christ, began to teach that after the incarnation of Christ the two natures fused into one so that the one nature partook of the properties of the other.
the nestorian controversy4
The Nestorian Controversy
  • Distinctions between the two natures were obliterated; thus his arguments heightened the controversy considerably.
  • Vos’s illustration of the problem: omniscience and omnipresence are attributes of deity only.
one person two natures
One Person, Two Natures
  • A new council was called at Chalcedon in 451; its decision was that Christ was both truly God and truly man, and that the two natures were united in one Person without confusion, change, division, or separation.
  • It did not bring final settlement; in Palestine, Egypt and Syria, groups arose to perpetuate the teachings of Cyril and Eutyches.
  • They held out strongly for one nature in Christ.
one person two natures1
One Person, Two Natures
  • Finally they were able to force a 5th ecumenical council, the 2nd at Constantinople, in 553, which ratified the Chalcedonian creed but make changes that tended to favor the Eutychians.
  • After that council, another conflict arose over the person of Christ and concerned whether Christ had only one will.
  • The supporters of this view held that if Christ had two wills, He would have sinned, because certainly the human will would have succumbed to temptation.
one person two natures2
One Person, Two Natures
  • Ultimately the 3rd council at Constantinople met in 681 to deal with this issue.
  • The decision was to ratify the Chalcedonian Creed with the addition that Christ had two wills, the human and divine, the human will being subject to the divine.
  • While the great councils did not settle for all time discussion concerning the nature of the person of Christ, they did set for the chief elements that have characterized an orthodox Christology down through the ages.
one person two natures3
One Person, Two Natures
  • The elements were: His true and full deity, His true and full humanity, and the true union of the two natures in one person, without fusion or confusion.
controversies concerning the hs
Controversies Concerning the HS
  • Not only did Arius teach that Christ was different in essence from the Father, the HS was as well.
  • He seems to have believed that the HS was the creature of a creature, that is, of Christ.
  • Given its primary concern, the Council of Nicea merely affirmed, “we believe also in one Holy Spirit.”
  • Later Arian attacks on the deity of the HS brought forth an array of orthodox writings.
controversies concerning the hs1
Controversies Concerning the HS
  • At the 1st C. of Constantinople (381) a creed was formulated asserting that the HS was to be worshiped and glorified as the Father, that He proceeded from the Father, and that He was responsible for revelation.
  • In later decades the doctrine of His deity was further defined; and in 451 the C. of Chalcedon made the declarations of the 1st C. of Constantinople more explicit.
controversies concerning humanity
Controversies Concerning Humanity
  • This is the only controversy which took place in the West.
  • The chief protagonists were Augustine and Pelagius, a British or Irish monk who ultimately found his way to North Africa.
  • They formed their views independently.
  • After coming to Carthage, P. clashed with the prevailing viewpoint and the controversy spread to other provinces.
  • P. taught that Adam’s sin affected only Adam; mankind was still born on the same plane as Adam.
controversies concerning humanity1
Controversies Concerning Humanity
  • There was no such thing as original sin.
  • Sins of individuals in history involved acts of the will and were due to the bad e.g. of Adam and society since his time.
  • God’s grace was especially an enlightenment of mankind’s reason, enabling persons to see and do the will of God.
  • Humans could do right without such aid; in fact, it was possible for them to lead a sinless life.
controversies concerning humanity2
Controversies Concerning Humanity
  • Divine grace sought only to assist man, who chooses and acts in complete independence.
  • Physical death had nothing to do with sin but was a natural feature of the human organism.
  • Augustine held to the unity of the race—that all had sinned in Adam.
  • Men sinned because they were sinners and were so totally corrupt in their natures that they were unable to do good works that could achieve salvation.
controversies concerning humanity3
Controversies Concerning Humanity
  • Faith to believe was a gift from God.
  • God elected some to salvation; He simply passed by the nonelect.
  • But on occasion A. did refer to some as predestined to everlasting damnation.
  • He also spoke of the divine gift of perseverance in faith; so salvation was for him a work of God from start to finish.
  • But, justification was a process rather than a single act.
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Controversies Concerning Humanity
  • P. was condemned by a synod at Carthage in 412, by Innocent I in 416, by a general council of African churches in 418 and finally at the C. of Ephesus in 431.
  • On the other hand A. was out of step with the church of his time.
  • He stressed the inner life much more than the external ceremonies.
  • He denied that the Eucharist had any sin-atoning power apart from the faith of the partaker.
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Controversies Concerning Humanity
  • Although he advocated asceticism, he denied that it had any value apart from the transformation of life into Christlikeness.
  • He opposed the predominant sacramental method of achieving salvation.
early middle ages
Early Middle Ages
  • Ignatius
  • His heavy emphasis on obedience to bishops seems to be an indication that such subordination did not then exist.
  • Also, there is no hint that he intended more than an overseer of a single congregation.
  • He urged obedience to bishops to prevent churches from being doctrinally torn apart, not to facilitate their normal functions.
early middle ages1
Early Middle Ages
  • Irenaeus
  • I. asserted the unity of the church (spiritual unity, not organic) by virtue of the headship of Christ and community of belief handed down through a succession of bishops.
  • He taught that the Roman church had been established by Peter and Paul and that they appointed successors.
early middle ages2
Early Middle Ages
  • Irenaeus
  • Speaking of Rome: “For with this church, because of its position of leadership and authority, must needs agree every church, that is, the faithful everywhere; for in her the apostolic tradition has always been preserved by the faithful from all parts” Against Heresies, III, 1.
  • During decades following the distinction between presbyters and bishops became firmly established.
early middle ages3
Early Middle Ages
  • Irenaeus
  • And, bishops with authority over the several individual churches of a large city became commonly accepted.
  • A community of belief was also developing.
  • Polemicists frequently appealed to a body of true doctrine handed down by apostolic succession in an effort to defeat heretics.
  • Tertullian took this approach in On the Prescription Against Heretics (XX,XXI).
early middle ages4
Early Middle Ages
  • Cyprian
  • By 250 C., bishop of Carthage, taught that the universal church (outside of which there was no salvation) was ruled by bishops who were the successors of the apostles.
  • Apostolic authority, was first given to Peter; so the Roman church became predominant because Peter was believed to have founded it.
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Early Middle Ages
  • Cyprian
  • C. also asserted the priestly function of the clergy.
  • His On the Unity of the Catholic Church incorporates much of his thinking on the nature and government of the church.
the rise of rome
The Rise of Rome
  • By the time of Constantine (c. 325) the concepts of the priestly function of the clergy, apostolic succession, the ruling bishop, and the recognition of the Roman bishop as first among equals were established.
  • In 325 at the C. of Nicea, the bishops of Alexandria, Antioch and Rome were given authority over divisions of the empire in which they were located.
the rise of rome1
The Rise of Rome
  • Constantinople became the new capital of the empire on May 11, 330.
  • To give a place of importance to the bishop of C., the C. of Constantinople (381) declared: “The Bishop of Constantinople shall have the primacy of honor after the Bishop of Rome, because Constantinople is new Rome.”
  • The C. of Chalcedon in 451 decreed that New Rome was to have equal privileges with the older Rome.
the rise of rome2
The Rise of Rome
  • But Leo I of Rome declared that the decrees of Nicea (325) should take precedence.
  • Were several reasons why Rome had an advantage:
    • 1. The claim that Peter was its founder (and Peter was chief among the apostles).
    • 2. The bishop of R. was superior in the West, while bishops of Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria competed for supremacy in the East. (After the Muslim conquest of Antioch and Alexandria, only Constantinople was left in the East.
the rise of rome3
The Rise of Rome
  • 3. After the move of the capital from Rome to Constantinople in 330, political power in the West gradually declined; the bishop of Rome thus became the most powerful figure there.
  • In the East, by contrast, the bishop (patriarch) of Constantinople found himself subservient to the emperor.
  • 4. The church in the West was not constantly torn apart by doctrinal controversy as was the church in the East.
  • And in the midst of controversies that did arise, the church of Rome always proved to be orthodox.
the rise of rome4
The Rise of Rome
  • Prior to Gregory the Great (590-604), the first pope, several people and developments deserve notice.
  • Leo I, 440-461
  • L. is credited with saving Rome by his statesmanship from being sacked by Attila the Hun in 452 and from mass murder of the populace by Genseric (or Gaiseric) the Vandal in 455; in the process he gained prestige.
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The Rise of Rome
  • L. energetically enforced uniformity in church government and doctrine by means of the assertion that as successors to Peter, the bishops of Rome possessed authority over all other bishops.
  • The Tome of Leo was a statement to the bishop of Constantinople (449) on the two natures of Christ that greatly influenced the phraseology of the Council of Chalcedon in 451—a statement that constitutes the orthodox statement on Christology.
the rise of rome6
The Rise of Rome
  • Bishop Gelasius, 492-496
  • G. instituted the claim of moral superintendence over political rules on the part of the bishop of Rome.
  • He recognized two spheres of rule, the spiritual and the temporal, but claimed that the church must give account to God for the deeds of kings, and so the king must submit to the church in spiritual matters.
the rise of rome7
The Rise of Rome
  • Bishop Gelasius, 492-496
  • This claim influenced much of medieval political doctrine.
  • He was the first bishop of Rome to receive the title “Vicar of Christ,” given by the Roman synod of 495.
the rise of rome8
The Rise of Rome
  • The Conversion of Clovis, 496
  • Soon after the conversion of Clovis, a Frankish chieftan, 3,000 of his followers (basically his army) were baptized into the Roman church.
  • The event was momentous politically because it won for Clovis the support of the Roman Catholics in the West, where he was the only orthodox Roman Catholic prince; all the rest were Arian.
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The Rise of Rome
  • The Conversion of Clovis, 496
  • And it gave to him an excuse to attack and defeat adjacent Arian Goths.
  • Ultimately he was able to conquer over half of modern France; out of this beginning the empire of Charlemagne later emerged.
  • C’s conversion was important religiously because it meant that orthodox Christianity would win out in the West.
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The Rise of Rome
  • The Conversion of Clovis, 496
  • Also, Frankish kings would protect or aid popes on various occasions in the future and contribute to the establishment of the institutional church as it would be known in the medieval and modern worlds.
  • It was important culturally because the medieval church was to a great degree the carrier of culture.
  • The services of the church were conducted in Latin.
the rise of rome11
The Rise of Rome
  • The Conversion of Clovis, 496
  • The educators and writers of the Middle Ages were Latin churchmen.
  • The texts in the schools were in Latin and were Greco-Roman in content.
  • The conversion of Clovis was supplemented by the decision of the Visigothic king of Spain, Recared, to abandon Arianism and become Roman Catholic in 586.
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The Rise of Rome
  • The Conversion of Clovis, 496
  • That meant that orthodox Christianity maintained a foothold on the Iberian peninsula even after the Muslim conquest in 711-718.
  • As a direct or indirect result of the conversion of Clovis and Recared, Roman Catholicism ultimately was to become the virtually uncontested faith in most of the West.
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The Rise of Rome
  • The Conversion of Clovis, 496
  • All of Western Europe was to be organized into dioceses and parishes ruled over by the pope and the princes of the church.
  • The populace was born into the RCC, was baptized into the church, etc.
  • Throughout the Middle Ages Europe never knew anything else.
gregory the great
Gregory the Great
  • Gregory I, the Great (540-604) was one of the greatest of Roman Catholic leaders.
  • Coming on the scene at a time of widespread confusion, he became a stablizing political influence and was largely responsible for the creation of the medieval papacy.
  • G. was for a while the highest civil administrator in the city of Rome.
  • G. early turned to the monastic life as a way to glorify God, and spent his inherited fortune to found seven monasteries.
gregory the great1
Gregory the Great
  • Pelagius II called him back to public life and he represented the bishop at Constantinople from 579 to 586.
  • Elected bishop of Rome in 590, he first resisted; he much preferred the monastic life.
  • With the decline of imperial power in Italy, G. found himself raising an army to fight the Lombards, caring for thousands of refugees, and making a peace agreement with the Lombards in 592-3.
gregory the great2
Gregory the Great
  • He did much to meet the needs of the poor both in Rome and elsewhere.
  • He thus became the real ruler of Rome and the virtual civil ruler of Italy in the last years of the 6th c.
  • His administrative work was important in the establishment of the Papal States.
  • For many reasons he was one of the most important popes in RC history.
gregory the great3
Gregory the Great
  • 1. He transformed the bishopric of Rome into a papal system that endured through the Middle Ages.
  • 2. He introduced changes in the liturgy and sought the standardization of it.
    • He was not personally responsible for the chant that bears his name, but he promulgated its use in worship.
    • He also established schools to train singers.
  • 3. He defined dogma and incorporated elements of popular piety into official teaching.
gregory the great4
Gregory the Great
  • He put tradition on an equal basis with Scripture in determining dogma.
  • While he accepted the Augustinian view of original sin, he held that through baptism sin was forgiven and faith implanted so that an individual might work the works of God; penance was required for later sins.
  • He expanded the doctrine of purgatory and changed the Eucharist to a sacrifice for redemption, having value for the living and the dead.
  • He officially approved the invocation of saints and the use of relics and amulets to reduce temporal punishments.
gregory the great5
Gregory the Great
  • 4. He promoted asceticism, especially as he enforced the celibacy of the clergy and restored monastic discipline.
    • (He was the first pope to be a monk, and he was a great propagator of monasticism.)
  • 5. He possessed great missionary zeal.
    • He sent 40 monks to England in 596 under the leadership of Augustine (not the bishop from Hippo).
    • Their success was notable, especially in the area of Canterbury, which became the religious capital of England and the seat of the archbishop.
gregory s successors
Gregory’s Successors
  • G’s successors did not maintain his standards.
  • Rome suffered famine, plague, and natural disasters during their reigns and during most of the rest of the century there was a running battle between the emperors and popes over matters of doctrine and administration.
missions in britain and ireland
Missions in Britain and Ireland
  • For a long time Irish missionary activity had been extensive in Britain and Ireland.
  • Patrick evangelized Ireland during the 5th c., probably the first part of the century.
  • Born in Britain (but not English), he was carried off by pirates to be a slave in Ireland.
  • There he was converted and later escaped to Britain and his family.
  • In a night vision he received a call to evangelize Ireland.
missions in britain and ireland1
Missions in Britain and Ireland
  • He became the greatest single force in the Christianization of Ireland.
  • While Patrick seems to have been orthodox in his preaching and ministry, the churches he founded were independent of Rome.
irish monasticism
Irish Monasticism
  • On Patrick’s foundation, Finnian of Clonard built the superstructure of Irish monasticism early in the 6th c.; soon monasteries were founded all over Ireland.
  • By the end of the 6th c. the Irish church had become a church of monks; the bishop no longer had an administrative function.
  • Irish monks, filled with missionary zeal, ranged across Europe in the 6th & 7th c.
irish monasticism1
Irish Monasticism
  • Columba (c. 597), who received his training at Clonard, established the famous monastery on the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland and became the apostle to Scotland.
  • The monastery at Iona continued for 200 years to send missionaries to all parts of the British Isles and Europe.
irish and roman christianity
Irish and Roman Christianity
  • A contest between free Irish Christianity and RC was inevitable.
  • King Oswy of Northumbria called a synod at Whitby in 663 to determine which group would be official.
  • RC won, but primitive British Christianity held out in the mountains of Wales and the highlands of Scotland and on offshore islands for a long time.
the challenge of islam
The Challenge of Islam
  • In 622 Mohammed made his famous move or flight (Hegira) from Mecca to Medina and began a successful period of preaching.
  • Constructing a system that utilized elements of Judaism, Christianity and Arabian heathenism, and infusing a fanatical zeal that brooked no opposition, he produced a movement that soon conquered the Middle East, North Africa, and part of Europe.
the challenge of islam1
The Challenge of Islam
  • Islam can now claim one-fifth of the world’s population.
  • Islam is so important in world history and culture that at least the 5 pillars that characterize the practice of the faithful must be noted (see the chart on the next slide).
  • In addition, often holy war (jihad) is listed as a sixth pillar.
the challenge of islam2
The Challenge of Islam
  • Several factors contributed to the rapid spread of Islam.
  • 1. A positive, fanatical program that promised booty, positions of leadership, and salvation to those who would engage in world conquest.
  • 2. The Roman Empire was rapidly decaying from within while it exhausted its resources and those of the Persian Empire. Neither the Persians nor the Byzantines were a match for the fanatical Arabs.
the challenge of islam3
The Challenge of Islam
  • 3. The Byzantines alienated many of their provincials by extracting high taxes to finance the Persians wars and excommunicating them for heretical religious views.
  • 4. Many Semitic people of the Byzantine provinces actually had more in common with the Semitic Arab invaders than they did with their Byzantine (Greek) overlords.
the challenge of islam4
The Challenge of Islam
  • 5. The Muslims were not mere despoilers like the Huns.
    • Often they replaced only leaders and the population often remained relatively undisturbed.
    • In the early days only non-Muslims paid taxes.
  • 6. Often Islam had superior generals.
  • 7. Image worship in the Catholic church made the Christianity of the day look polytheistic to many; thus Islam’s strict monotheism seemed to be superior.
the challenge of islam5
The Challenge of Islam
  • Before his death in 632, Mohammed had won much of western Arabia.
  • His successors took Damascus in 635, Jerusalem in 638, Alexandria and most of Egypt in 640 and most of the Persian Empire about the same time.
  • North Africa fell between 685 and 705; in 711 Muslims invaded Spain and in 7 years reached the borders of France.
8 th c papal successes problems
8th C. Papal Successes/Problems
  • Gregory II (715-731) was able to contain the expansion of the Lombards in Italy.
  • During his era Willibrord planted the Roman church among the pagan peoples of Holland and Denmark.
  • At about the same time Boniface “the apostle to Germany” became the great missionary of central Europe; he presided at the coronation of Pepin when he became king of the Franks in 751.
8 th c papal successes problems1
8th C. Papal Successes/Problems
  • Contemporary with Gregory II was England’s Venerable Bede (c. 673-735), a monk from the monasteries in Northumbria.
  • His Ecclesiastical History of the English People gives important detail concerning early English church history and earned him the title “Father of English history.”
  • His historical works did much to establish the practice of dating events from the Incarnation (B.C. & A.D.).
8 th c papal successes problems2
8th C. Papal Successes/Problems
  • At the beginning of the pontificate of Gregory III (731-741) it appeared that the RCC was doomed in Western Europe; the Lombards threatened the church in Italy and the Muslims were advancing north into France.
  • Charles Martel defeated the Muslims near Tours in central France in 732; the victory threw the Muslims back into Spain and made Charles the defender and leader of Western Christendom.
8 th c papal successes problems3
8th C. Papal Successes/Problems
  • Pope Zacharias recognized Pepin, son of Charles Martel, as king of the Franks in 751.
  • When the Lombards threatened Rome and properties of the church, Pope Stephen II appealed to Pepin for aid and safe conduct to the court of Pepin.
  • On July 24, 754 Stephen anointed Pepin and his wife and sons, confirming the legitimacy of their dynasty, and bestowed on them the title “Patricians of the Romans” as a token of their role as protectors of the Holy See.
8 th c papal successes problems4
8th C. Papal Successes/Problems
  • Pepin forced the Lombard King Aistulf to give up territory in Italy which P. presented to the Roman church in perpetuity.
  • Thus the Papal States came into existence; all this foreshadowed the time when the pope would crown Charlemagne and create the Holy Roman Empire.
  • With the inability of the Byzantine government to come to the aid of the pope and with the emperor seeking to interfere in the church, the pope turned West to the Frankish court for support.
the holy roman empire
The Holy Roman Empire
  • 800 is a pivotal date; on Xmas day in Rome, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne “emperor of the Romans.”
  • Though C’s line came into being the concept of a Holy Roman Empire.
  • It was called Roman because it was to succeed the now defunct power of Rome in the West; it was called holy because it was to be supreme over Christendom.
the holy roman empire1
The Holy Roman Empire
  • This new arrangement constituted an alliance between the pope and emperor, according to which each was to have dominion within his own sphere and each was to cooperate with the other and promote the interests of the other.
  • But, in reality, succeeding popes and kings engaged in periodic struggles to dominate the other.
  • For a 1000 years one European ruler or another sought to establish himself as successor of the Caesars.
the holy roman empire2
The Holy Roman Empire
  • The Holy Roman Empire was virtually synonymous with Western Christendom.
  • In the whole area the RCC was supreme; everyone born within the empire became a baptized member of the church.
  • Even beyond the borders in England and Spain the RCC was the recognized religious authority.
  • Society divided into dioceses ruled by bishops; the arrangement continued even after the decline and breakup of the HRE.
the holy roman empire3
The Holy Roman Empire
  • Charlemagne’s empire stretched from the Atlantic east to the Elbe and Danube rivers and from the North Sea to the Mediterranean and included much of Italy and a little of Spain.
  • He maintained rather effective control of the pope and the Roman church.
  • He directed that bishops and abbots should set up schools; this effort along with his famous Palace School, gave rise to what is known as the Carolingian Renaissance.
the breakdown of the empire
The Breakdown of the Empire
  • C’s son Louis was not so capable and his grandsons split the empire 3 ways in the Treaty of Verdun in 843.
  • Carolingian rule came to an end in Germany in 887 and in France in 987.
  • Thereafter the HRE was essentially a German entity with a king elected by and checkmated by a number of powerful nobles.
  • In reality, under feudalism it was divided into a host of small antagonistic principalities.
consequent decline of the papacy
Consequent Decline of the Papacy
  • By the time of Pope John VIII (872-882), the Carolingian emperor was unable to provide help; the pope himself was forced to raise a fleet and do battle with the Muslims to save the Italian coast; to keep them out of Rome, he had to agree to pay annual tribute.
  • During much of the period 880-1000 Italy was in anarchy; wealthy families sometimes bought their way into the papacy.
consequent decline of the papacy1
Consequent Decline of the Papacy
  • The chair of St. Peter was occupied by some very unworthy individuals between 880 and 1060.
  • In 1045-1046 there were 3 popes concurrently.
spread of the church 800 1073
Spread of the Church, 800-1073
  • Surprisingly, the boundaries of Christendom greatly increase between 800 and 1073.
  • During the period, Christendom (including evangelism by the Eastern church) expanded to include Bohemia, Moravia, Poland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria and Russia.
  • During this period Cyril created an alphabet in which Slavonic languages could be written.
spread of the church 800 10731
Spread of the Church, 800-1073
  • During the period the Roman church extended her power.
  • With the political fragmentation, the pope was better able to bring princes, especially weaker ones, to terms.
  • As the idea spread that salvation came only through the church, the threat of excommunication was often enough to force rulers to capitulate.
east west split in christendom
East-West Split in Christendom
  • Several factors were responsible for the split between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.
  • 1. The two differed over the use of images (the iconoclastic controversy).
    • In the East Leo issued the first decree against their use in 726—partly to meet the Muslim charge that Christianity was polytheistic.
    • In Rome, Gregory II denounced the edict because it was not a concern in the West and because Rome resisted the interference of political power.
east west split in christendom1
East-West Split in Christendom
  • 1. The two differed over the use of images (the iconoclastic controversy).
    • In the East Leo issued the first decree against their use in 726—partly to meet the Muslim charge that Christianity was polytheistic.
    • In Rome, Gregory II denounced the edict because it was not a concern in the West and because Rome resisted the interference of political power.
    • Finally in 843 a council in the East approved the use of images (pictures, not statues).
east west split in christendom2
East-West Split in Christendom
  • 2. The conflict over the procession of the Holy Spirit (the Filioque Controversy).
    • East taught that the HS proceeded from the Father alone.
    • West, believing such a view did not give proper recognition to the Son, said that the HS proceeded from the Father and the Son (Filioque means and the son).
  • 3. The Patriarch of Constantinople and the pope at Rome were unwilling to be subservient to each other.
east west split in christendom3
East-West Split in Christendom
  • 4. There was no sharp definition of the boundaries between territories to be ruled by Rome and Constantinople, and frequent disputes arose over administration of border areas.
  • 5. Basic differences in cultural background and influence between East and West hindered understanding and cooperation.
east west split in christendom4
East-West Split in Christendom
  • 6. In the East the church was subservient to the emperor; the church in the West insisted on independence from the state and demanded the church’s right of moral superintendence over rulers of state.
  • 7. There were numerous liturgical differences between the two (e.g., whether leavened or unleavened bread was to be used in the Eucharist), as well as a host of minor variations (e.g., whether clergy were to be bearded or clean shave or married or single).
east west split in christendom5
East-West Split in Christendom
  • Debates continued; finally in 1054 a Roman delegation laid the bull of excommunication on the altar of St. Sophia in Constantinople.
gregory vii hildebrand
Gregory VII (Hildebrand)
  • Hildebrand became pope in 1073 with the name Gregory VII; his program and philosophy were basic to achievement of the power held by the popes of the 13th c.
  • For 20 years prior H. had been the power behind the pope and during that time papal election procedure was reformed.
  • Before a pope was elected by the 7 deacons of Rome, the aristocratic portion of the populace and German emperors.

Gregory VII


gregory vii hildebrand1
Gregory VII (Hildebrand)
  • The reform instituted election by the college of cardinals—the procedure still used.
  • As pope, H. saw 3 particular abuses that needed correction in order to root out moral abuses and free the church from lay control.
    • 1) marriage of the clergy (or clerical concubinage)
    • 2) simony
    • 3) investiture by secular princes
gregory vii hildebrand2
Gregory VII (Hildebrand)
  • He issued a ban on clerical marriage in 1074.
  • He fought simony (the buying or selling of church offices) and was somewhat successful.
  • Lay investiture was another matter.
  • For centuries the political leaders of Europe had been accustomed to appointing and/or investing with spiritual and secular authority the higher clergy of their realms.
gregory vii hildebrand3
Gregory VII (Hildebrand)
  • Such a practice often did not result in appointments of clergy who were spiritually sensitive or loyal to the church.
  • The great test was over the choice of the archbishop of Milan; H’s opponent was Henry IV, HRE; both emperor and pope had a candidate.
  • Henry deposed the pope and the pope excommunicated Henry.
  • Henry was forced to give in as a penitent standing in the snow barefoot at Canossa.


Henry IV


HRE Henry IV (with his wife and young son) spent three days in the snow at

Canossa, in northern Italy

gregory vii hildebrand4
Gregory VII (Hildebrand)
  • But in the ensuing years Henry won the last round; he marched on Rome and set up a pope of his choice, and Gregory died in exile.
  • Nevertheless, the views for which Gregory fought were ultimately to prevail; the papacy ultimately won the investiture struggle.
  • At Worms in 1122 a concordat was drawn up according to which the emperor consented to permit the church to elect bishops and abbots and invest them with spiritual power.
  • Officials of the church were to receive the symbol of temporal authority from the king and to pledge allegiance to the temporal power.
the crusades
The Crusades
  • Although many went on the Crusades for economic reasons, or for adventure, or for other lesser reasons, the primary and official motive of the Crusades was religious.
  • Urban promised remission of sins to those who marched under the banner of the cross.
  • The event that sparked the Crusades was the advance of the Seljuk Turks in the East and the call for help from the Byzantine emperor Alexis I.
the crusades1
The Crusades
  • Tales of the sufferings pilgrims endured at the hands of the Turks in the Holy Land provided emotional appeal for many to engage in holy war; Urban’s professed goal was to deliver the shrines of the Holy Land from Muslim control and return them to Christian supervision.
  • First Crusade, 1095-1099
  • In the midst of a struggle with Henry IV, Urban II proclaimed a Crusade; this was evidently a show of force in his struggle with the emperor.
the crusades2
The Crusades
  • First Crusade, 1095-1099
  • By this means Rome could direct the energies of Europe in a way that would bring her great advantages.
  • A great host responded to Urban’s call, especially from France, the Lowlands, and Italy.
  • They finally took Jerusalem in 1099 and set up the kingdom of Jerusalem and set up a series of Crusader states along the coast of Syria and Palestine.

Urban II calls

for the First

Crusade at




National du


the crusades3
The Crusades
  • Second Crusade, 1147
  • The call for the 2nd came from Bernard of Clairvaux; Europeans were concerned with meeting the Muslim threat to the northern borders of Jerusalem.
  • The king of France and the emperor of the HRE led the campaign, but it was completely unsuccessful, leaving Jerusalem in greater danger than before.
  • Movement came to a standstill until 1187, when Saladin captured Jerusalem and all Christendom was aroused again.

Bernard of Clairvaux

preaches the Second


the crusades4
The Crusades
  • Crusades 3-6, 1189-1229
  • The 3rd is known as the Crusade of the Three Kings: Richard I of England, Philip II of France and Frederick I of Germany.
  • Richard was left to carry on the struggle alone; although he was unsuccessful in taking Jerusalem, he recovered territory along the coast of Palestine and won permission for pilgrims to enter the Holy City for a few years.
the crusades5
The Crusades
  • Crusades 3-6, 1189-1229
  • The 4th began in 1202 under the leadership of Pope Innocent III; he urged the capture of Egypt as a base of operations against Palestine.
  • In exchange for needed finances it supported the depose Byzantine emperor in a bid to regain the throne.
  • The result was a prolonged struggle at Constantinople and the destruction of the power of the Eastern empire and the establishment of a Latin kingdom in its place.
the crusades6
The Crusades
  • Crusades 3-6, 1189-1229
  • The last crusade of significance was the 6th, led by Frederick II of Germany in 1228-1229.
  • By diplomacy he acquired for ten years Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and a corridor connecting Acre and Jerusalem.
the crusades7
The Crusades
  • The End and Effects
  • They ended in failure with Jerusalem falling to the Egyptians in 1244 and remaining in Muslim hands until 1917.
  • While the RCC directed the energies of Europe in fighting an external foe, she provided a safety valve that spared her a great deal of internal stress.
  • The effects were destined to be mainly political, social, and economic rather than religious.
the crusades8
The Crusades
  • The End and Effects
  • They contributed to the commercial revolution and its accompanying rise of the middle class, the demise of feudalism, and the decline of provincialism in Western Europe.
  • They discovered new foods, new modes of dress and new ways of doing things.
  • All of this helped to pave the way for the coming of the Renaissance.
the crusades9
The Crusades
  • The End and Effects
  • Since profits do not usually flow in just one direction, rising commercial activity also stimulated a new prosperity in Muslim lands, notably Egypt.
  • The 4th C. helped to bring about the fall of the Byzantine Empire.
pope innocent iii
Pope Innocent III
  • The pope at the very height of the medieval papacy’s power was Innocent III (1198-1216).
  • He had some indirect influence over the Eastern church and empire during the 4th Crusade.
  • In the West, he forced his will on France, England and the HRE.
  • He forced Philip II of France to take back his divorced wife by laying an interdict on the whole nation.
pope innocent iii1
Pope Innocent III
  • Shortly after he humbled King John of England in a struggle over the appointment of a new archbishop of Canterbury—again using the interdict as well as a threat to have Philip of France invade England.
  • He dictated the imperial succession in Germany again with the threat of Philip’s invasion.
  • Last, he called the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) to settle certain doctrinal matters.
pope innocent iii2
Pope Innocent III
  • Decisions:
  • Annual confession to a priest was mandatory.
  • Transubstantiation (the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ upon pronouncement of the priest) was proclaimed; the priest could then perform an actual sacrifice of Christ every time the mass was said.
  • The council also give official sanction to the 7 sacraments and gave some definition of them.
pope innocent iii3
Pope Innocent III
  • Decisions:
  • Jews were ordered to always wear distinctive dress and to stay in their ghettos.
  • 6,000 of Innocent’s letters exist, demonstrating his control over many aspects of church and society in Western Europe.
the inquisition
The Inquisition
  • One of the ways the medieval papacy maintained power over the populace of Western Europe was the Inquisition.
  • The I. came to definitive formulation under Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241).
  • The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 had spelled out aspects of the I. and the church was about ready to implement it.
  • But in addition, HRE Frederick II assigned the apprehension of heretics to state officials; G. was willing to give up the church’s role in the matter.
the inquisition1
The Inquisition
  • The program was launched to keep Roman Catholics in line, not to obtain the conversion of Jews and Muslims.
  • The great purges against those peoples in Spain were inventions of the Spanish throne after 1479.
  • The I. was deemed necessary because of the spread of groups such as the Waldenses and the Cathari or Albigensians.

St. Dominic conducting a book

burning in 1207 in Albi, France.

Catholic books fly up from the

fire undamaged while heretical

books are consumed.

St. Dominic and the Albigenses

Pedro Berruguete 1480

the inquisition2
The Inquisition
  • Generally the Dominicans or Franciscans were in charge of Inquisitorial activities.
  • Trials were held in secret; there was no way of obtaining useful legal defense—any lawyer representing would himself become a target.
  • Confessions might be extracted by torture and testimony against accused persons might be obtained by the same means.
  • Those who confessed were subjected to various punishments, scourges, fines, etc.
the inquisition3
The Inquisition
  • Those who refused to recant had property confiscated, were imprisoned or were handed over to secular authorities to be executed, usually by burning.
  • The whole system remains a blot on the history of the RCC.
  • Other doctrines (besides annual confession Transubstantiation) were being formulated at the time, largely through the efforts of the Scholastics.
  • S. was the sum of the teachings and methods of the prominent Western philosophers most widely accepted during the Middle Ages.
  • It constituted a harmonization of philosophy and theology in one system for the purpose of rational demonstration of theological truth.
  • The Ss sought certainty and better understanding of the truth and salvation by way of knowledge and reason.
  • The 9th-12th c. constitute the formative period; the 13th c. the height, and the 14th-15th centuries a period of decline.
  • Anselm and Abelard=cofounders; Hugh of St. Victor and Peter Lombard=important representatives along the way; Thomas Aquinas=the movement at its height; Duns Scotus and William of Ockham=the period of decline.







  • The Sc and especially Aquinas, are responsible for helping to formulate the sacramental system of the Roman church—a system through which one was to obtain salvation.
  • They placed the number at 7 and then spelled out in greater detail the significance of baptism, the Eucharist, confirmation, penance, extreme unction, holy orders and marriage.
  • They also set forth theories of that atonement still common today, defined the way of salvation, and in general produced many of the ideas that the Council of Trent (1545-63) would draw together in a tight, coherent system and would officially establish as orthodox RC teaching for centuries to come.
  • Aquinas’ arguments for the existence of God have been widely used in modern times.
  • M. aimed at a certainty of salvation and the truth through spiritual experience and surfaces especially in a time like the Middle Ages when religion has become too institutionalized and seeks a more individualistic and personal relationship with God.
  • Sometimes M. led to heresy as adherents ignored biblical norms in favor of experience, or to social passivity, as they concentrated on personal salvation to the exclusion of service to God.
  • Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the best known mystics, is known for several famous hymns. For e.g., “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee,” and “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts.”
  • M. and Scholasticism were a good counterbalance to each other; M. kept S. from being too academic, and S. helped the mystics keep their feet on the ground.

Christ-mysticism of

Bernard of Clairvaux

…the reason for loving God is God

Himself; and the measure of love due

to Him is immeasurable…

Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God

  • The monastic movement was the backbone of the medieval papacy; the list of leaders of the Middle Ages who came from the monastery or were associated with it was lengthy.
  • The monasteries were conservatories of learning and the centers of missionary and philanthropic work.
  • The monks were the writers, preachers, philosophers and theologians of the time.
  • The monasteries provided something of a safety valve for the RCC—in them earnest Christians had a great deal more freedom from ecclesiastical machinery than they would have had outside the cloister.
  • Benedict (c. 500) developed the Western European form of monastic life, and other orders were, in general, offshoots of the Benedictine order.
  • The Cluniac order was instituted in 910 and the Cistercian in 1098.
the cluniacs
The Cluniacs
  • An offshoot of the Benedictine order, they derived their name from the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy where they originated.
  • The order was distinguished by its emphasis on the most elaborate church ceremony—formal prayer and liturgy.
  • Their buildings, services and vestments (religious clothing) were much grander than that of the Benedictines.
  • With so much time spent in worship there was little time for manual work or study.
the cluniacs1
The Cluniacs
  • An offshoot of the Benedictine order, they derived their name from the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy where they originated.
  • The order was distinguished by its emphasis on the most elaborate church ceremony—formal prayer and liturgy.
  • Their buildings, services and vestments (religious clothing) were much grander than that of the Benedictines.
  • With so much time spent in worship there was little time for manual work or study.
the cistercians
The Cistercians
  • A Benedictine order founded at Citeaux in France in 1098; it emphasized poverty, simplicity and eremitical solitude.
  • Rejecting all feudal incomes, they based their economy on the monks’ labor assisted by lay brothers.
  • Liturgy was simplified together with vestments and furnishings; their habit was white or gray under a black scapular.
the cistercians1
The Cistercians
  • Expansion was early and rapid largely due to Bernard, founder and abbot at Clairvaux (1115), who was responsible for founding 65 new houses in France and abroad.
  • By 1200 there were over 500 houses throughout Europe.
  • Later, Strict Observance Cistercianism manifested itself as Trappists.
  • Bernard of Clairvaux was a Cistercian.
  • Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscan order in 1209, Dominic the Dominicans in 1216.
  • The Augustinian Hermits were founded in 1256; Martin Luther later come from this order.
  • The 13th c. was the heyday of monasticism; it declined at the end of that c. and throughout the 14th c.; there was some reform in the 15th.
  • The Reformation destroyed most of the monasteries of northern Europe and seriously curtailed the activities of those in central Europe.
  • Though monasticism continued to prosper in RC countries, the French Rev. and Napoleonic conquests dealt it a very severe blow.
  • The mid-19th c. saw a resurgence in most countries of Western Europe (except Scandinavia) and North America.
  • Monasticism continued to prosper in the Orthodox East until the onslaughts of Islam and more recently Marxism.
decline of medieval church
Decline of Medieval Church
  • Decline may be dated 1305-1517—from the Babylonian Captivity of the papacy to the posting of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.
  • 1. The rise of national monarchs and the decline of feudalism.
    • Was a corresponding developing sense of nationality; the church claimed a supranational loyalty; strong monarchs became jealous of the wealth and power of the RCC.
decline of medieval church1
Decline of Medieval Church
  • 1. The rise of national monarchs and the decline of feudalism.
    • In 1296 Boniface VIII issued the bull Clericislaicos, which prohibited taxation of the clergy by secular princes.
    • Aimed especially at Philip IV of France and Edward I of England, it immediately drew opposition from them.
    • Edward placed the clergy outside the protection of the law until they paid the taxes.
    • Philip merely confiscated all moneys being sent from France to Rome.
decline of medieval church2
Decline of Medieval Church
  • 2. The rigid enforcement of doctrine and practice, especially by means of the Inquisition, stirred up opposition and dissent.
  • 3. The increasing cost of maintaining the hierarchy and the employment of oppressive means of securing money alienated many.
  • 4. There was an increasing moral laxity among churchmen, especially during the 15th c.
decline of medieval church3
Decline of Medieval Church
  • 5. Moral relaxation was accompanied by a general secularization of the church during the 14th and especially 15th centuries.
    • Secularization of all of life was in process, a feature of the Renaissance.
    • R. was not just a rebirth of knowledge, but a rebirth of a rationalistic outlook on life.
    • R. marked the rise of the middle class with new wealth spent on art, literature, etc., rather than on the church.
    • With the R. man instead of God increasingly became the measure of things.
decline of medieval church4
Decline of Medieval Church
  • 5. Moral relaxation was accompanied by a general secularization of the church during the 14th and especially 15th centuries.
    • The individualistic spirit of the R. also weakened the corporate orientation and demands of the RCC.
    • The invention of printing not only facilitated the distribution of Scripture and a return to New Testament Christianity, but also spread satirical and critical literature that often ridiculed the church.
decline of medieval church5
Decline of Medieval Church
  • 6. The Crusades contributed in many ways to the decline of the church.
    • Many Europeans who had lived on their lord’s manor without education and bred on the superstitions of the time, learned that life elsewhere was different.
    • The new ideas and ways of life they found in the East weakened the ties of many to the church.
decline of medieval church6
Decline of Medieval Church
  • 7. The Babylonian Captivity of the church and the Papal Schism did much to weaken the power of Rome in Western Europe.
  • The Babylonian Captivity
  • BC was a period of approximately 70 years (1305-1377) when the pope ruled from Avignon on the southern border of France.
  • Italian patriots like Dante and Petrarch likened this period when the pope was a virtual prisoner of the French king to the 70 years when the Jews were captive in Babylonia.
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Decline of Medieval Church
  • The BC came about partly because of rising nationalism and partly because Pope Boniface VIII overreached himself.
  • In his famous bull Unam Sanctum (1302), he insisted that all rulers were subject to him and it was “necessary for salvation” for every human being to be subject to the pope.
  • Philip IV of France (1285-1314) sent officials to Italy to arrest Boniface; though rescued by townspeople, B. died a month later.

Portrait of

Boniface VIII

unam sanctum
Unam Sanctum
  • “…There is one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins…”
  • “…Indeed we declare, say, pronounce, and define that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
unam sanctum1
Unam Sanctum
  • A bull is a solemn papal letter. The form was given this name because it was sealed with a bulla, a round lead seal. This particular bull was written as the latest round in an ongoing war of words between the pope and King Philip IV “the Fair” of France.

Boniface VIII



Pilgrimage to Rome

Boniface VIII declared

a Jubilee Year in 1300.

Crowds of pilgrims came

to Rome to pray over the

tombs of Peter and Paul

to receive indulgences.

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Decline of Medieval Church
  • His successor, Benedict XI (1303-4), lasted for only 8 stormy months and the papal chair was empty thereafter for 11 months.
  • Finally it was filled by Clement V, a Frenchman who was under constant pressure from Philip.
  • Threatened by unsafe conditions in Italy, Clement settled at Avignon in 1309.
  • Whether or not later popes were under French control, Clement was, and all popes of the period were Frenchmen.
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Decline of Medieval Church
  • The perception by rulers and many of their subjects was that papal interests were closely tied to those of France.
  • During the Captivity, the Hundred Years War broke out between England and France, greatly weakening the power of the papacy in England; for e.g., during the war the pope demanded the surrender of Wycliffe the reformer, but a powerful party at the English court protected him.
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Decline of Medieval Church
  • Further, the papacy gained a reputation for extravagance in expenditure and offensiveness in taxation during the period.
  • The 7 Avignon popes often allowed their nationalistic feelings to influence their policies and thus alienated England and Germany.
  • They gained a reputation for being luxurious, bureaucratic and rapacious, as wolves rather than shepherds of the flock.
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Decline of Medieval Church
  • The Avignon popes, however, were not necessarily out of step with the clergy of the time; they were generally more interested in their economic well being than in the spiritual well being of the people; even in the monasteries the rules tended to be relaxed.
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Decline of Medieval Church
  • The Papal Schism (1378-1417) hurt the church even more than the BC; the schism resulted from the total incompetence of Pope Urban VI, who within a few months of his election in Rome (1378) had alienated the entire college of cardinals.
  • All the French cardinals slipped out of Rome, declared Urban’s election void, and elected Robert of Geneva as Clement VII.
  • When Urban refused to be deposed, the French cardinals and Clement moved to Avignon.
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Decline of Medieval Church
  • The princes of Europe lined up behind the pope of their choice and Western Christendom was split.
  • When the Council of Pisa (1409) tried to settle the problem by deposing the two popes and electing a new one in their place, the result was the election of a 3rd pope.
  • For several years there were 3 popes anathematizing and excommunicating one another.
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Decline of Medieval Church
  • Reforming parties grew during the period; Hus preached with success in Bohemia and the Lollards (followers of Wycliffe) grew in England.
  • Finally the Council of Constance managed to depose all three popes in 1417 and elect a new one, who then would permanently reside in Rome.
  • Some call the last part of the 15th c. the paganized stage of the papacy.
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Decline of Medieval Church
  • The Renaissance was taking its toll in the secularization of some of the top clergy.
  • Pope Nicholas V (1447-1455), a lover of classical literature and founder of the Vatican library, spent large sums on his pet project and on the repair of several classical structures in Rome.
  • Julius II (1503-1513) is known as the patron of artists, especially Michelangelo, who painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling from 1508-1512.

Julius II

(by Raphael)

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Decline of Medieval Church
  • Pope Leo X (1513-1521), pope when the Reformation began, was very extravagant; his court was a constant round of banquets, theatrical shows and balls.
  • As builder of St. Peter’s in Rome, he used the revenues of the papacy on art, architecture and the like.
  • The conflict with Luther came over the sale of indulgences, a project designed to raise money for the building of St. Peter’s.
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Decline of Medieval Church
  • At the beginning of the 16th c. the medieval papacy was sick.
  • Some within the church began to propose remedies; these, coupled with the disruptions caused by the Reformers, stirred the church to make some changes that would allow for a resurgence later.