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Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

STUDY GUIDE

Early Church & Middle Ages


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Click on the study title youd like to see:

Study 1: INTRODUCTION: WHY STUDY CHURCH HISTORY Study 2: PERSECUTION IN THE EARLY CHURCH Study 3: HERESY AND DOCTRINE IN THE EARLY CHURCH Study 4: CHRISTIANITY AS STATE RELIGION

Study 5: MONKS AND MISSIONARIES Study 6: RISE OF THE PAPACY Study 7: THE CRUSADES Study 8: EASTERN CHRISTIANITY

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OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES


Introduction: Why Study Church History?
NOTE TO TEACHER: This introductory material can be used for your own background or presented as a lesson (or part of a lesson), either as a talk or as preparation for a class discussion.
PREPARATION:

In a Peanuts cartoon strip, Sally is writing a paper for school entitled Church History. Charlie looks over her shoulder to read her introduction, which says, When writing about church history, we have to go back to the very beginning. Our pastor was born in 1930 . . . The last frame shows Charlie rolling his eyes toward the ceiling. Many of us today suffer from historical amnesia. The time between the apostles and our own is one giant blank. Thats hardly what God had in mind. The Bible is full of reminders of Gods interest in time: After describing the rituals of Passover, God tells Moses, In the days to come, when your son asks you, What does this mean? say to him, With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt . . . and he goes on to describe those events. The Psalms are full of reminders about Israels history. Psalms 105 and 106, for example, are essentially ballads of Israels history. In the New Testament, things are no different. The four Gospels and Acts record the major events of the life of Jesus and the early apostles. And the most important ritual Jesus instituted, Communion, is in part a history lesson: Do this in remembrance of me. In spite of the importance of history to our faith, many Christians remain unaware of the great events of the church. Unfortunately, a lack of historical grounding can lead Christians into several common errors. Or to put it positively, by knowing the churchs history, Christians can be strengthened in a number of ways: 1. The appeals of cults lose their power. Most of the skewed doctrines and practices of cults are not new. For example, todays Jehovah Witnesses are a modem version of Arianism, a heresy the church fought and defeated in the fourth century. As we study earlier controversies, we gain wisdom on how to handle similar controversies today.

2. Spiritual faddishness is kept in check. We are often shackled by what G. K. Chesterton called the tyranny of the nowwhatever is current, new, and fresh is better. C. S. Lewis called it chronological snobbery. A study of church history can give us perspective with which to judge the latest teaching or technique or seminar that promises to make our lives better. 3. The churchs life is renewed. The churchs history can sometimes act as a mirror, showing us how some modern beliefs and practices have become distorted. The sixteenth-century Reformers, for example, used the churchs past, both in the New Testament and in the early church fathers, to evaluate and reform the medieval churchwith great effect.

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4. We gain hope. It is easy to despair when problems look insurmountableas they do today. But studying church history shows us that Christians of many times have felt overwhelmedand yet the church has survived. Surely the Christians who faced the severe, empire-wide persecution by Emperor Diocletian despaired of the churchs future. And yet within a few years, the next emperor, Constantine, had become a Christian! Jesus promised that not even the gates of Hell would prevail against the church, and church history has demonstrated the point time and again. 5. We gain purpose. By studying the churchs past, we are reminded that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselvesa movement through which God has, century by century, transformed individual lives and entire nations. Today we have our own roles to play in that movement, and as we participate fully in the churchs life today, we can anticipate that future generations will look back to our times to gain wisdom and courage for the living of their days.

The Churchs First Great Controversy The challenges and benefits of studying church history become more evident when we examine a section of the first history of the church, the Acts of the Apostles, written by the physician Luke. Sometimes people say, I want to be part of a New Testament church or Lets get back to what the early church did. Yet the early church was anything but a time of pristine harmony. It fought and struggled as it tried to understand what God required of it. Many early Christians made mistakes; others had keen insights. By looking at the early church, warts and all, we can learn a great deal that applies to our own day. Read, for example. Acts 15:1-35, where the church faced its first major dispute should Gentiles be included in the church? It had become such an issue that nothing less than a church council was required to decide it. As with most church controversies, the dispute had both cultural and theological dimensions. Culturally, there was a gap between Palestinian Christians and Hellenistic Christians. The Palestinians spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, the language of their forebears, and read the Hebrew Scriptures (the King James Version, as it were). They worshiped in the Temple, observed the Sabbath, and followed the 613 laws found in the Old Testament. They also prided themselves for not being contaminated by the pagan Greek culture around them. They also practiced circumcision; they believed it was an outward sign of their spiritual identity as members of Gods household. Hellenistic Christians not only spoke Greek, they enjoyed Greek culture. They saw nothing wrong with attending wrestling and racing contests, for instance, even though contestants participated in the nude or in loin cloths. For their version of the Scriptures, they used the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Living Bible, so to speak). Furthermore, they saw no need to submit to circumcision, which had no spiritual significance to them. Theologically, the issue in a nutshell was this: To what extent do Christians have to obey the Old Testament law? Palestinian Christians, especially those who continued as Pharisees (a lay-renewal movement that emphasized spiritual discipline and accountability to Gods scriptural law) said the entire law was applicable. After all, it was the revealed will of God, and it was a law that Jesus lived by. Even Jesus had said that not one dot, not one iota of the law would pass away. Therefore, any believer from any culture was bound to obey all of it. And the starting point was to submit to circumcisionthe great sign of Gods covenant with his people. If Gentiles wouldnt submit to this, the most fundamental of all commandments, they could not be considered a part of Gods family.

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Hellenistic Christians, like Paul and Barnabas, argued otherwise: the gospel of grace transcended the law, even the command about circumcision. It is not outward observance but inward faith thats key to becoming a part of Gods family. Furthermore, uncircumcised Gentiles had experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit, just as the Scriptures foretold. Therefore, they were as much part of Gods family as Jewish Christians. The Council of Jerusalem, led by Peter and James, debated the issue and finally came to a compromise: Gentile Christians were indeed part of the church, with or without circumcision. Still, obedience to at least three other Old Testament laws was necessary: (1) Christians should abstain from meat that had been sacrificed to idols; (2) Christians should not consume animal blood (i.e., juices from any meat); and (3) Christians should abstain from sexual immorality. Although the prohibition on sexual immorality has stuck, even Paul began modifying the business about eating meat sacrificed to idols (see Rom. 14), and presumably drinking the juices from the meat. This council is church history in miniature: two sides divided over cultural and theological issues as they each tried to determine how God would have them live faithfully in their times. The solution usually requires some sort of compromise and part of the solution is soon dropped and part becomes a permanent fixture in the church. Such dynamics are evident in controversies over Arianism (Is Christ divine?), the relation of church and state after Constantines conversion (How closely should the church work with the state?), and the Reformation (What is the basis of the churchs authority?). As we study the churchs history, then, well look not only at personalities and events and dates, but also at the issues that were debated, issues were still wrestling with today. And by examining carefully our past, we will gain wisdom and hope as we seek to live faithfully for Christ in our own day.
CLASS SESSION:

A B

Option A: Mini-lecture Present the main ideas of the preparation material above in lecture format. Option B: Discussion If you want to present these ideas through a discussion (rather than lecture), have the class read Acts 15:1-35, and discuss the following:

What were the theological differences between the two parties? What cultural differences might have separated Jewish and Greek Christians? Was this controversy, in your view, mostly cultural or theological? Can you give an example, historical or contemporary, when a church controversy was mostly cultural but sounded theological? Vice-versa? What was right about the Jewish Christians views about the law? What was right about the view of the Hellenists, especially the arguments of Peter and James?

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Why did the council insist on adherence to those three laws? Werent the laws about consuming blood and meat sacrificed to idols merely cultural leftovers from Judaism? In the name of the gospel of grace, Paul later repudiated the need to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols (Rom. 14). In your view, did the council compromise the gospel at that point in the interest of political harmony? Why or why not? Where today does the church continue to debate who belongs in the church and who doesnt? (The divorced? Homosexuals? Those whove had abortions? Those who consume alcohol? Those who smoke? Those who are politically liberal? etc.) How does the experience of the Council of Jerusalem help us think about that issue today?

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OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES


Persecution in the Early Church
Beginning as a despised, illegal sect, Christianity endured 300 years of persecution to emerge as the dominant force in the Roman Empire.
PREPARATION:

For your own background, read articles from the CHRISTIAN HISTORY issue Persecution in the Early Church: Perpetua and Polycarp, provided with this study on page 6. The Gallery: The Persecuting Emperors, provided with this study on page 11. Martyrs and Confessors, provided with this study on page 17.

Read the following Bible passages: Acts 7:558:3; Luke 12:8-10; Matthew 5:11-12; Colossians 1:24; James 1:1-18; 1 Peter 4:12-19; John 15:18-21; John 16:33.

KEY QUESTION:

How should the church treat believers who compromise their faith? Is the church a people obedient to Jesus, or a fellowship of forgiven sinners?

Suppose you are a member at First Community Church when it is discovered your pastor, who is married, has had an affair for the past four years. The pastor admits he has sinned grievously, and he sincerely repents. Aside from the obvious moral lapse, this now presents First Community with some key questions:

Should he be allowed to remain in the church? Should he be allowed to be a leader in the church? Should he be allowed to be the pastor?

In the first three centuries after Christ, believers faced a similar dilemma when people facing persecution denied their faith. After the persecutions ended, many of those who had denied the faith sought forgiveness and readmittance to the church. Some church members opposed and some favored their readmittance. At stake was the nature of the church. Was the church a society of people who obeyed Christs teachings, or a home for forgiven sinners? In this weeks lesson, well examine the persecution early Christians faced. Well also look at how the church dealt with the aftermath.

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CLASS SESSION:

Opening:
(5 to 10 minutes) Read, summarize, or read together excerpts from the account of Perpetuas or Polycarps martyrdom (pages 6-10 of this study). Transition: In the first three centuries after Christ, the church faced periods of severe persecution. Christians were ordered to sacrifice to the Roman gods; Scriptures were confiscated; some believers were beheaded or sent to work and die in the mines. During persecution, not everyone was as faithful as Perpetua and Polycarp. Some denied their faith. After a persecution ended, many of those who had denied the faith sought forgiveness and readmittance in the church. Some church members opposed and some favored their readmittance. At stake was the nature of the church. Was the church a society of people who obeyed Christs teachings, or a home for forgiven sinners? In this weeks lesson, well examine the persecution early Christians faced. Well also look at how the church dealt with the aftermath.

Historical Setting:
(15 to 20 minutes)

Option A: Mini-lecture Present what youve read to prepare for this lesson; be sure to cover these points: Persecution in the Early Centuries

The first major outbreak of Christian persecution began with Stephens martyrdom around A.D. 35 (see Acts 7:55-8:3). Christians were accused of being atheists because, unlike their neighbors, they were irreligiousthey refused to worship Roman deities or emperors. Persecution was instigated by (1) Roman officials, (2) Jewish leaders of the first century who saw Christians as heretics, and (3) sometimes by angry locals who thought Christians were odd or dangerous. Much of the time, official persecution was regional and sporadic. Under certain emperors there were long periods of tolerance. Some emperors, however, led systematic and at times empire-wide persecution of Christians, trying to exterminate this illicit sect. (Have the class turn to pages 20-22 of the CHRISTIAN HISTORY Persecution issue or pages 11-17 of this study as you review these emperors.) Nero, who reigned from 54-68: Peter and Paul were martyred under him. Domitian, 81-96: the description of the hideous beast in Revelation may refer to him. Trajan, 98-117: he established policy on how Christians were to be treated. Marcus Aurelius, 161-180: great Stoic philosopher. Septimius Severus, 193-211: Perpetua was martyred during his reign. Decius, 249: led the first empire-wide persecution. Valerian, 254-260: he blamed Christians for the Empires woes. Diocletian, 284-305: he sought to wipe Christianity from the Empire. Government persecution of Christians essentially ceased when Constantine,

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the first Christian emperor, granted official toleration in the Edict of Milan in 313, though persecution continued sporadically in places until 324.

The responses of Christians to the persecution earned them the following designations: a. Martyrs: those who died for their faith. They were honored and eventually venerated by the church. (The Greek word martyr means witness.) b. Confessors: those who stood firm under torture and imprisonment but were not killed. c. Avoiders: those who went into hiding. d. Lapsed: those who renounced Christ while under persecution and sacrificed to Roman gods.

The Problem of the Lapsed

During the persecution under Decius in 249-251, Christians were ordered to sacrifice to Roman gods. Many refused and died as martyrs, but the majority of Christians either made the sacrifices or bought certificates saying they had sacrificed. After the persecution, the question facing the church was What should be done with this majority who had sacrificed (or bought false certificates) and now wanted to rejoin the church? Some believed the lapsed could rejoin the church. Within this camp, there were two positions. a. Forgiveness should be granted freely, without requiring a period of penance. (In fact, some confessors granted just such absolution to the lapsed who came to them.) b. Penance was necessary for readmittance: those who had bought certificates could rejoin only after serving a penance proportional to the amount of pressure they had endured; those who had actually sacrificed to Roman gods could rejoin the church only on their deathbeds. This view, which was espoused by Cyprian, third-century bishop of Carthage in North Africa, eventually prevailed.

Against this more forgiving posture, Novatian, a leading priest in Rome and a contemporary of Cyprian, argued for a more purist response: there could be no forgiveness for the lapsed. He and his followers cited passages like Luke 12:810: Whosoever shall deny me, him will I deny, and He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit shall not have forgiveness, but is guilty of eternal sin. These two viewsone emphasizing the church as Christs pure bride, and the other seeing it as a communion of repentant sinnersresulted in a schism in the Christian movement. The Novatians remained a powerful force within the church for more than 150 years. Ironically, they were persecuted under Constantine, the first Christian emperor.

Option B: Group Participation Have four groups (or individuals) study the emperors Nero, Trajan, Decius, and Diocletian in the The Gallery: The Persecuting Emperors, pages 11-17, and answer these questions: 1. When did he reign, and how did he die? 2. On what basis did he persecute the Christians? 3. How did Christians respond, and who were notable Christians killed under

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his reign? Have a second set of four groups (or individuals) study the Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne, Crispina of Numidia, the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, and the confessor Paphnutius, found on pages 17-20, in the article Martyrs and Confessors, and answer these questions: 1. Who were they, and when were they martyred or tortured? 2. How did they die? 3. What is an interesting quote from or anecdote about the person? Have groups report back to the class.

Application
(20 to 35 minutes)

Option A: Questions for Discussion On Persecution

Have you ever been misjudged, disliked, or mistreated because of your faith? How did you respond? In what ways are Christians today pressured to compromise their faith? Some Christians (for example, Clement of Alexandria) fled persecution, while others (such as Ignatius of Antioch) seemed to look forward to martyrdom. What reasons might people give for avoiding or embracing martyrdom? What does it mean to rejoice in persecution? (See Matthew 5:11-12; Colossians 1:24; James 1:1-18; and 1 Peter 4:12-19.) Which beliefs of the early Christians, such as those of Perpetua, helped them withstand persecution and accept martyrdom? To what degree do Christians today hold those beliefs? Why? What reasons did Roman authorities use to justify persecuting the Christians? What reasons does our culture give for the mistreatment of religious or ethnic minorities? Do you think that Western society will see increased persecution of Christians, subtle or explicit? Why or why not? Is it possible to be a faithful Christian and not experience persecution?

On Lapsed Christians

Which of the early churchs responses to the lapsed do you feel most comfortable with? Why? Over what issues does todays church struggle with the question of purity versus forgiveness? Is there a sin or lapse that would, in your opinion, make it impossible for a person to regain admittance to the church? Is this the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the eternal sin (Luke 12:8-10)? Jesus Parable of the Weeds (Mt. 13:24-30, 36-43) seems to imply that the church will never be pure until the Second Coming. If thats true, why should the church concern itself with maintaining purity?

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5:1-11, suggests that some sins deserve expulsion from Christian fellowship. What sins today would demand immediate expulsion? Why?

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Option B: Handling the Modern Lapsed Which of the following, in your opinion, should exclude someone from your church? The person in question is orthodox and moral in every other respect except in one of these areas:

Has had a recent abortion and believes abortion in the early stages is an appropriate form of birth control. Is a homosexual but is faithful to one partner. Doesnt see any reason to conform to traditional standards. Loses his temper and hits his wife periodically, perhaps once a year, though hes always repentant afterwards. Gets drunk about twice a year, though is always repentant afterwards. Gossips regularly, sometimes meanly, though justifies it as legitimate concern. Swears and doesnt seem to be particularly troubled by it.

What criteria should the church use in deciding if a sin is worthy of public discipline, like exclusion? How do Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-11 guide our thinking on this matter?

Closing
(5 minutes) Summarize the discussion and any agreements the class came to. Pray for Christians facing mistreatment or persecution today. As a benediction, read John 15:18-21 and John 16:33.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Persecution in the Early Church Article: Perpetua and Polycarp
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ARTICLE Perpetua and Polycarp: Two Heroic Martyrs A 22-year-old nursing mother and an octogenarian bishop demonstrated unflinching courage in the face of death. Here are their stories.

Perpetua
In A.D. 202, Emperor Septimius Severus disallowed conversions to Christianity. In the wake of that act, severe persecution broke out against Christians, particularly in North Africa. Living in Carthage at the time was Perpetua, a young noblewoman and new Christian who was preparing for baptism. Though Perpetua was only about 22 years old, and was still nursing her infant son, she (with four other catechumens) was arrested and thrown into prison. While we were still under arrest, my father, out of love for me, was trying to persuade me and shake my resolution. Father, I said, do you see this vase here, for example, or water pot or whatever? Yes, I do, said he. And I told him: Could it be called by any other name than what it is? And he said: No. Well, so too I cannot be called anything other than what I am, a Christian. At this my father was so angered by the word Christian that he moved toward me as though he would pluck my eyes out. But he left it at that and departed, vanquished along with his diabolical arguments. Then Tertius and Pomponius, those blessed deacons who tried to take care of us, bribed the soldiers to allow us to go to a better part of the prison to refresh ourselves for a few hours. Everyone then left that dungeon and shifted for himself. I nursed my baby, who was faint from hunger. In my anxiety I spoke to my mother about the child, I tried to comfort my brother, and I gave the child into their charge. I was in pain because I saw them suffering out of pity for me. These were the trials I had to endure for many days. Then I got permission for my baby to stay with me in prison. At once I recovered my health, relieved as I was of my worry and anxiety over the child. My prison had suddenly become a palace, so that I wanted to be there rather than anywhere else. Perpetuas vision Then my brother said to me: Dear sister, you are greatly privileged; surely you might ask for a vision to discover whether you are to be condemned or freed. Faithfully I promised that I would, for I knew that I could speak with the Lord, whose great blessings I had come to experience. . . .Then I made my request, and this was the vision I had. I saw a ladder of tremendous height made of bronze, reaching all the way to the heavens, but it was so narrow that only one person could climb up it at a time. To the sides of the ladder were attached all sorts of metal weapons: there were swords, spears, hooks, daggers, and spikes; so that if anyone tried to climb up carelessly or without paying attention, he would be mangled, and his flesh would adhere to the weapons. At the foot of the ladder lay a dragon of enormous size, and it would attack those who tried to climb up and try to terrify them from doing so. And Saturus [Perpetuas instructor in the Christian faith] was the first to go up, he who was later

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Persecution in the Early Church Article: Perpetua and Polycarp
Page 12 to give himself up of his own accord. He had been the builder of our strength, although he was not present when we were arrested. And he arrived at the top of the staircase, and he looked back and said to me: Perpetua, I am waiting for you. But take care; do not let the dragon bite you. He will not harm me, I said, in the name of Christ Jesus. Slowly, as though he were afraid of me, the dragon stuck his head out from underneath the ladder. Then, using it as my first step, I trod on his head and went up. Then I saw an immense garden, and in it a grey-haired man sat in shepherds garb; he was tall, and milking sheep. And standing around him were many thousands of people clad in white garments. He raised his head, looked at me, and said: I am glad you have come, my child. He called me over to him and gave me, as it were, a mouthful of the milk he was drawing; and I took it in my cupped hands and consumed it. And all those who stood around said, Amen! At the sound of this word I came to, with the taste of something sweet still in my mouth. I at once told my brother, and we realized that we would have to suffer, and that from now on we would no longer have any hope in this life. A few days later there was a rumor that we were going to be given a hearing. My father also arrived from the city, worn with worry, and he came to see me with the idea of persuading me. Daughter, he said, have pity on my grey headhave pity on me your father, if I deserve to be called your father, if I have favored you above all your brothers, if I have raised you to reach this prime of your life. Do not abandon me to be the reproach of men. Think of your brothers; think of your mother and your aunt; think of your child, who will not be able to live once you are gone. Give up your pride! You will destroy all of us! None of us will ever be able to speak freely again if anything happens to you. This was the way my father spoke out of love for me, kissing my hands and throwing himself down before me. . . . I tried to comfort him, saying, It will all happen in the prisoners dock as God wills, for you may be sure that we are not left to ourselves but are all in his power. And he left me in great sorrow. One day while we were eating breakfast we were suddenly hurried off for a hearing [before Hilarianus the governor]. . . . All the others when questioned admitted their guilt. Then, when it came my turn, my father appeared with my son, dragged me from the step, and said: Perform the sacrificehave pity on your baby! Hilarianus the governor . . . said to me, Have pity on your fathers grey head; have pity on your infant son. Offer the sacrifice for the welfare of the emperors. I will not, I retorted. Are you a Christian? said Hilarianus. And I said: Yes, I am. When my father persisted in trying to dissuade me, Hilarianus ordered him to be thrown to the ground and beaten with a rod. I felt sorry for Father, just as if I myself had been beaten. Then Hilarianus passed sentence on all of us: We were

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Persecution in the Early Church Article: Perpetua and Polycarp
Page 13 condemned to the beasts, and we returned to prison in high spirits. . . .

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Persecution in the Early Church Article: Perpetua and Polycarp
Page 14 Into the amphitheater [An observer picks up the story and describes the events of March 7, 203.] The day of their victory dawned, and they marched from the prison to the amphitheater joyfully, as though they were going to heaven, with calm faces, trembling, if at all, with joy rather than fear. Perpetua went along with shining countenance and calm step, as the beloved of God, as a wife of Christ, putting down everyones stare by her own intense gaze. . . . They were then led up to the gates, and the men were forced to put on the robes of priests of Saturn, the women the dress of the priestesses of Ceres. But the noble Perpetua strenuously resisted this to the end. We came to this of our own free will, that our freedom should not be violated. We agreed to pledge our lives provided that we would do no such thing. You agreed with us to do this. Even injustice recognized justice. The military tribune agreed. They were to be brought into the arena just as they were. Perpetua then began to sing a psalm; she was already treading on the head of the Egyptian [dragon?]. Revocatus, Saturninus, and Saturus began to warn the onlooking mob. Then, when they came within sight of Hilarianus, they suggested by their motions and gestures: You have condemned us, but God will condemn you was what they were saying. At this time the crowds became enraged and demanded that they be scourged before a line of gladiators. And they rejoiced at this, that they had obtained a share of the Lords sufferings. . . . For the young women, however, the Devil had prepared a mad heifer. This was an unusual animal, but it was chosen that their sex might be matched with that of the beast. So they were stripped naked, placed in nets and thus brought out into the arena. Even the crowd was horrified when they saw that one was a delicate young girl and the other was a woman fresh from childbirth with the milk still dripping from her breasts. And so they were brought back again and dressed in unbelted tunics. First the heifer tossed Perpetua, and she fell on her back. Then sitting up, she pulled down the tunic that was ripped along the side so that it covered her thighs, thinking more of her modesty than of her pain. Next she asked for a pin to fasten her untidy hair; for it was not right that a martyr should die with her hair in disorder, lest she might seem to be in mourning in her hour of triumph. Then she got up. And seeing that Felicitas [Perpetuas Christian slave] had been crushed to the ground, she went over to her, gave her her hand, and lifted her up. Then the two stood side by side. But the cruelty of the mob was now appeased, and so they were called back through the Gate of Life. . . . Perpetua then called for her brother and spoke to him together with the catechumens and said: You must all stand fast in the faith and love one another, and do not be weakened by what we have gone through. . . . Immediately as the contest was coming to a close, a leopard was let loose, and [as Saturus predicted,] after one bite Saturus was . . . drenched in blood. . . . Shortly afterward, he was thrown unconscious with the rest in the usual spot to have his throat cut. But the mob asked that their bodies be brought out into the open. And so the martyrs got up and went to the spot of their own accord, and kissing one another they sealed their martyrdom with the ritual kiss of peace. The others took the sword in silence and without moving, especially Saturus, who being the first to

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Persecution in the Early Church Article: Perpetua and Polycarp
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CITATION

Persecution in the Early Church: CHRISTIAN HISTORY, Issue 27 (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, Inc., 1997).
The Passion of the Holy Martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas is taken from The Acts of the Christian Martyrs, translated by Herbert Musurillo (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972). Used with Permission The Martyrdom of Polycarp is from Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., Henry Bettenson, ed. (New York: Oxford UniversityPress, 1963). Used with Permission

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Persecution in the Early Church Article: The Gallery The Persecuting Emperors
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ARTICLE The GalleryThe Persecuting Emperors by MARK GALLI

From A.D. 30 to A.D. 311, a period in which 54 emperors ruled the Empire, only about a dozen took the trouble to harass Christians. Furthermore, not until Decius (249251) did any deliberately attempt an Empire-wide persecution. Until then, persecution came mainly at the instigation of local rulers, albeit with Romes approval. Nonetheless, a few emperors did have direct and, for Christians, unpleasant dealings with this faith. Here are the most significant of those rulers.

Claudius (4154)
Perhaps the first to persecute Christiansinadvertently Sickly, ill-mannered, and reclusive, Claudius devoted his early days to the quiet study of Etruscan and Carthaginian history, among other subjects. Understandably, he was an embarrassment to the activist imperial family. But the murder of his nephew, the emperor Gaius, in 41 propelled him to the throne nonetheless. During his reign, he wisely avoided potentially costly foreign wars, extended Roman citizenship at home, and showed tolerance toward a variety of religions. However, since the Jews were continually making disturbances at the instigations of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome. . . . So writes the Roman historian Suetonius about events in Rome around 52. Chrestus may have been a thorn in the side of Roman politicos anxious to be rid of him and his cohorts. Or Chrestus may be the way uninformed bureaucrats pronounced the name about which Jews argued: Christus. Such arguments between Jews and Christians were not unknown (e.g., in Ephesus; Acts 19). Claudius likely and inadvertently was the first emperor, then, to persecute Christians (who were perceived as a Jewish sect) for, it seems, disturbing the peace.

Nero (5468)
Savage madman in whose reign Peter and Paul were martyred Nero, a man with light blue eyes, thick neck, protruding stomach, and spindly legs, was a crazed and cruel emperor, a pleasure-driven man who ruled the world by whim and fear. It just goes to show the difference an upbringing makes. His mother, the plotting Agrippina, managed to convince her husband, Claudius, to adopt her son Nero and put him, ahead of Claudius own son, first in line for the throne. Maternal concern not satisfied, she then murdered Claudius, and Nero ruled the world at age 17. The young Nero, having been tutored by the servile philosopher and pedophile Seneca, was actually repulsed by the death penalty. But he resourcefully turned this weakness into strength: he eventually had his mother stabbed to death for treason and his wife Octavia beheaded for adultery. (He then had Octavias head displayed for his mistress, Poppaea, whom years later he kicked to death when she was pregnant ) The Senate made thank offerings to the gods for this restoration of public morality. Unfortunately, that is but the tip of the bloody and treacherous iceberg of Neros reign. Yet such activities overshadow the few constructive things he attempted, albeit without success: the abolition of indirect taxes (to help farmers), the building of a Corinthian canal, and the resettlement of people who had lost their homes in the Great Fire of Rome in 64.

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Nero tried to pin the blame for that fire on the citys small Christian community (regarded as a distinct, dissident group of Jews), and so, appropriately, he burned many of them alive. Peter and Paul were said to have been martyred as a result. But the rumors persisted that Nero had sung his own poem The Sack of Troy (he did not fiddle) while enjoying the bright spectacle he had ignited. That business about singing was not unreasonable, for Nero had for years made a fool of himself by publicly playing the lyre and singing before, literally, command performances. Political turmoil finally forced the troubled emperor to commit suicide. His last words were, What a showman the world is losing in me!

Domitian (8196)
Does Revelation depict him as a hideous beast? The historian Pliny called Domitian the beast from hell who sat in its den, licking blood. In the Book of Revelation, John of the Apocalypse may have referred to Domitian when he described a beast from the abyss who blasphemes heaven and drinks the blood of the saints. Domitian repelled invasions from Dacia (modern-day Rumania)something later emperors would have increasing difficulty doing. He also was a master builder and adroit administrator, one of the best who ever governed the Empire. Suetonius, who hated Domitian, had to admit that he took such care to exercise restraint over the city officials and provincial governors that at no time were these more honest or just. But there was something wrong with Domitian. He enjoyed catching flies and stabbing them with a pen. He liked to watch gladiatorial fights between women and dwarfs. And during his reign he was so suspicious of plots against his life, the number of imperial spies and informers proliferated, as did the number of casualties among suspect Roman officials. Domitian was the first emperor to have himself officially titled in Rome as God the Lord. He insisted that other people hail his greatness with acclamations like Lord of the earth, Invincible, Glory, Holy, and Thou Alone. When he ordered people to give him divine honors, Jews, and no doubt Christians, balked. The resulting persecution of Jews is well-documented; that of Christians is not. However, the beast that the author of Revelation describes, as well as the events in the book, are perhaps best interpreted as hidden allusions to the rule of Domitian. In addition, Flavius Clemens, consul in 95, and his wife, Flavia Domitilla, were executed and exiled, respectively, by Domitians orders; many historians suspect this was because they were Christians. But what goes around, comes around. An ex-slave of Clemens, Stephanus, was mobilized by some of Domitians enemies and murdered him.

Trajan (98117)
Skilled ruler who established policies for treating Christians So well did Trajan rule that senators and emperors of the later Empire wished that new emperors should be more fortunate than Augustus, better than Trajan. Trajan began his rule intent on conquests that would excel those of his hero Julius Caesar. Although he did not succeed, his conquest of Dacia turned out to be the last major conquest of ancient Rome.

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Page 18 Between military campaigns, Trajan found time to be an effective, albeit conservative, civilian administrator, protecting the privileges of the senate. He is also known for the impressive public works he undertook, especially his Aqua Trajana, the last of the aqueducts to serve Rome; Trajans Baths, which included soaring concrete arches, apses, and vaults; and the complex and magnificent Forum of Trajan. A series of letters with Bithynian governor Pliny display Trajans concern for the welfare of the provinces. Unfortunately for Christians, this concern was combined with suspicious preoccupation with state security and a tendency to interfere in internal affairs of ostensibly self-governing cities. In one letter he tells Pliny how to deal with Christians They are not to be hunted out. [Although] any who are accused and convicted should be punished, with the proviso that if a man says he is not a Christian and makes it obvious by his actual conductnamely, by worshiping our godsthen, however suspect he may have been with regard to the past, he should gain pardon from his repentance. Even though relatively temperate, the great Trajan became the first emperor known to persecute Christians as fully distinct from the Jews. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, was perhaps the best known to have suffered death during his reign.

Marcus Aurelius (161180)


Great Stoic philosopher whose reign fueled anti-Christian hostilities Marcus Aurelius actively pursued military campaigns nearly his entire reign. From 161 to 167, Rome battled the invading Parthians in Syria. To repel Germanic tribes who were marauding Italy and then retreating across the Danube, Marcus personally conducted a punitive expedition from 167173. On an expedition to extend Romes northern borders, he suddenly died in 180 at his military headquarters. This is not, of course, the Marcus Aurelius weve come to know and love. That Marcus ruminated eloquently in his philosophical Meditations. Having converted to Stoicism early in life, these personal reflections display lofty and bracing austerity: we must show patient long-suffering; our existence on this earth is fleeting and transitory. Yet, there is also this humane strain in Marcus: all men and women share the divine spark, so they are brothers and sisters. Men exist for each other, he wrote. Then either improve them, or put up with them. As for himself, he tried to improve them. It was during his reign that the Institutes of Gaius, an elementary handbook about which our modern knowledge of classical Roman law is based, was written. Also, numerous measures were taken to soften the harshness of the law against the weak and helpless. Except those Christians. Officially, Marcus took the position of his predecessor Trajan, also followed by Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. But his philosophical mentors convinced him that Christianity was a dangerous revolutionary force, preaching gross immoralities. So under Marcus, anti-Christian literature flourished for the first time, most notably Celsuss The True Doctrine. More regrettably, Marcus allowed antiChristian informers to proceed more easily than in the past, with the result that fierce persecutions broke out in various regions. In Lyons in 177, the local bishop was martyred, bringing Irenaeus to the office. In addition, Justin, the first Christian philosopher, was martyred during Marcuss reign. During the reign of the magnanimous, philosopher-king Marcus Aurelius, then, Christian blood flowed more profusely than ever before.

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Septimius Severus (193211)


Consummate soldier in whose reign Perpetua was killed Severus was a soldier, first and last. He militarily dispensed with Pescennius Niger, rival emperor in the east, in 195, and then with Clodius Albinus in 197, rival emperor in the West. In 208 he set out for Britain to shore up its defenses, and on that trip succumbed to illness in 211. At death, he is said to have summoned his two sons, Caracalla and Geta, and said, Keep on good terms with each other, be generous to the soldiers, and take no heed of anyone else. That generosity to soldiers was one of Severuss trademarks. During his reign he raised their pay 67 percent and ennobled the military so that it became a promising path for many different careers. In addition, the deity most popular with soldiers, the sun-god Mithras, began to edge out the competition in the Roman pantheon. During the first part of his reign, Severus was not unfriendly toward Christians. Some members of his household, in fact, professed the faith, and he entrusted the rearing of his son, Caracalla, to a Christian nurse. However, in 202 Severus issued an edict that forbade further conversions to Judaism and Christianity. A persecution followed, especially in North Africa and Egypt. The North African theologian Tertullian penned his famous apologetic works during this period, but to no avail. Among others, the dramatic martyrdom of Perpetua and her servant Felicitas occurred under Severus. Clement of Alexandria also perished, as did the father of Origen. (Tradition holds that Origen, in his youthful ardor, wished to share his fathers fate, but his resourceful mother prevented his leaving the house by hiding his clothes. ) But the persecution ended at Severuss death, and except for a brief bout under Maximinus (235238), Christians were free from persecution for some 50 years.

Decius (249251)
Leader of the first Empire-wide persecution For decades, Roman emperors had become increasingly concerned with the ragged edges of the Empire and the invading barbarian tribes that harassed them. Decius, from a village near the Danube, at the northern frontier of the Empire, recognized the military dimensions of the problem but perceived some spiritual ones as well. He was concerned that traditional polytheism was weakening, and thought a resurrection of devotion to the deified Roman rulers of the past would help restore Roman strength. Naturally, monotheistic Christians stood in the way. Although they still constituted a small minority, their efficient and self-contained organization, with no need of the state, irritated him. Consequently, Decius became the first emperor to initiate an Empire-wide persecution of Christians, apparently one with intensity. After executing Pope Fabian he is said to have remarked, I would far rather receive news of a rival to the throne than of another bishop of Rome. Although he did not actually order Christians to give up their faith, he did expect them to perform one pagan religious observance. When undertaken, Christians would receive a Certificate of Sacrifice (libellus) from the local Sacrificial Commission and so be cleared of suspicion of undermining the religious unity of the Empire.

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Page 20 As expected, many Christians succumbed to this pressure; others paid bribes to receive the certificate. But many refused to compromise and died as a result. Origen was arrested and tortured during this time. Though released, he died within a few years. Decius, a not-incompetent general, died in Scythia Minor (in modern-day Bulgaria and Rumania) while engaging in battle, the other tactic he thought necessary to shore up the troubled Empire.

Valerian (253260)

He blamed Christians for the Empires woes Valerian seems to have been honest and well intentioned, but he inherited an empire nearly out of control. Plague and civil strife raged within the provinces. At the eastern borders, Germanic tribesmen invaded with greater efficiency and more numbers. Meanwhile, attacks from the north were underway. Valerian, recognizing that one emperor could not simultaneously defend north and east, extended in 256257 the principle of collegiate rule to his son and colleague Gallienus, who was already fully occupied to the north. To divert attention from the troubles that beset the Empire, Valerian blamed the Christians. In August 257 he intensified Deciuss policies by ordering clergy to sacrifice to the gods of the state (although, with usual Roman pragmatism, they were not prohibited from worshiping Jesus Christ in private.) A year later clergy became liable to capital punishment. Pope Sixtus II and St. Lawrence were subsequently burned to death in Rome, and Cyprian was executed at Carthage. In addition, the property of Christian laity, especially that of senators and equites (a class immediately below senators) was confiscated, and Christian tenants of imperial estates were condemned to the mines. In 259, the Persians, under Shapur I, launched a second series of attacks in Mesopotamia. (In the first, 254256, they had captured and plundered 37 cities.) Valerian took an army into Mesopotamia to drive Shapur back from the beseiged city of Edessa. However, in May 260, Valerian was taken prisoner. In Michael Grants words, The capture of a Roman emperor by a foreign foe was an unparalleled catastrophe, the nadir of Roman disgrace. Fortunately, soon after Valerians capture, in an attempt to win the favor of eastern Christians against the Persians, Gallienus lifted the edicts against Christians.

Diocletian (284305)
Gifted organizer who led the Great Persecution to extinguish Christianity Diocletian was the most remarkable imperial organizer since Augustus, and that talent, unfortunately, was not lost on Christians. He is most famous for his reconstruction of the Empire into a Tetrarchy. The Empire was divided between four men, two Augusti and, under them, two Caesars. However, the multiplying of ruling authorizes did not ease the transition of rulers, as Diocletian had hoped, but only made for more strife. Diocletian also presided over a complete reconstruction of the Empires military system, which included the garnering of enormous taxes to pay for its half-million soldiers, a huge increase from the previous century. He tried to insure that tax burdens were equitably distributed, but for all its fairness, the new system tended to freeze people in their professions and social positions, and led, on paper, to a thoroughgoing totalitarian state (in practice, however, there was no way to fully implement the new rules).

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Page 21 Diocletians gift for mass organization, unfortunately, extended to things religious and patriotic. In 303, encouraged by his Caesar Galerius, and attempting to rouse patriotic feeling, Diocletian returned to hounding Christians, even though his wife, Prisca, belonged to the faith. It was the first time in almost 50 years that an emperor had taken the trouble. Yet, as never before, the motive of this Great Persecution was the total extinction of Christianity. It was, it seems, the final struggle between the old and new orders, and therefore the fiercest. The first of Diocletions edicts prohibited all Christian worship and commanded that churches and Christian books be destroyed. Two further edicts, required in the eastern provinces, ordered clergy to be arrested unless they sacrificed to pagan deities. By 304 this edict was extended to all Christians and was particularly vicious in Africa, under Diocletians co-Augustus Maximian. After a serious illness in 304, Diocletian took the unprecedented step of abdicating the throne. Although called back for a brief period, he retired to farming in Salonae in Dalmatia (in modern-day Yugoslavia). The persecutions continued under Galerius, now promoted to Augustus. But falling seriously ill in 311, Galerius and his fellow emperors issued an edict canceling the persecution of Christians. The following year, Constantine emerged triumphant in the West after the battle at the Milvian Bridge. In 313 he and Licinius, soon to control the Eastern Empire, issued the Edict of Milan, which decreed full legal toleration of Christianity. For all intents and purposes, no Roman emperor harassed Christians again.
CITATION

Persecution in the Early Church: CHRISTIAN HISTORY, Issue 27 (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, Inc., 1997).
Used with Permission

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Persecution in the Early Church Article: The Gallery Martyrs and Confessors
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ARTICLE

The GalleryMartyrs and Confessors by JOHN O. GOOCH

Ignatius of Antioch (d. c. 107-117)


Escorted to his death by ten Roman soldiers I am the wheat of God and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of God. So wrote Bishop Ignatius of Antioch (in Syria) as he was being taken to Rome under close military guard. It is unsure why Ignatius had been arrested, but his journey was more like a triumphal procession than a journey to death. At nearly every stop, he met leaders of the local church, and he wrote letters to a series of churches and one to Bishop Polycarp in Smyrna. Yet there is no indication that anyone else was ever in danger of arrest. We know almost nothing about Ignatiuss life except his journey to Rome and his death. In his letters we see a man with a passion for Christ, for martyrdom, and for the right faith. He warns against a heresy with Docetic elements (the belief that Gods Son only appeared to be human). Ignatius was so concerned for sound doctrine that he wrote that anyone who said Christ only seemed to suffer could not really be a martyr. Further, Ignatius taught that the bishop is the proper safeguard for sound teaching and, in fact, there can be no church without the bishop. Ignatiuss letters give us rare insight into the mind of a martyr. He wanted to die and considered his death an imitation of the passion of Christ and an atoning sacrifice. One reason for his letter to Rome was to be sure they did nothing to secure his release. Ignatius was martyred in Rome during the reign of Emperor Trajan, and tradition holds that he died in the Colosseum.

Justin (and six friends, d. c. 165)


You can kill us, he wrote the emperor, but not hurt us. Justin was born in Samaria around A.D. 100. As an adult, he searched for truth in pagan philosophy but was not satisfied, and around A.D. 130 he converted to Christianity. Justin taught for a while at Ephesus and later moved to Rome, where he gathered disciples into a philosophic school. Justins First Apology, addressed to Emperor Antoninus Pius, was published in 155. Apologies were explanations of the faith, designed to show that Christianity was not a threat to the state and should be treated as a legal religion. Today, the First Apology also is important for what it tells us about second-century baptismal and eucharistic practices. Soon after 155, Justin published his Dialogue with Trypho, an argument with a Jew about the true interpretation of Scripture. The Dialogue with Trypho teaches three main points: The Old Covenant is passing away to make place for the New; the Logos is the God of the Old Testament; the Gentiles are the new Israel. Justins Second Apology was written soon after Marcus Aurelius became emperor in 161. In these writings Justin tried to show that the Christian faith alone was truly rational. He taught that the Logos (Word) became incarnate to teach humanity truth and to redeem people from the power of the demons.

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Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne (d. 177)


Victims of a bloody pogrom Lyons was the Roman capital of Gaul and one of the most important cities in the Empire. The persecution there (and in nearby Vienne) in 177 was local, inspired perhaps by a celebration in honor of the goddess Roma, the genius of Rome. To gain evidence against the Christians, citizens of Lyons (modern Lyon, France) tortured several of the Christians slaves. The slaves quickly said their owners were guilty of incest and cannibalism, two common charges against the Christians. These accusations inflamed the prejudices of the mob, who demanded action. In all, forty-eight Christians died either in prison or in the arena. Blandina, a Christian slave girl, is typical of the incredible suffering endured by this church. As a letter from the church says, Blandina was filled with such power that those who by turns kept torturing her in every way from dawn until evening were worn out and exhausted, and themselves confessed defeat from lack of aught else to do to her; they marveled that the breath still remained in a body all mangled and covered with gaping wounds, and they testified that a single form of torture was sufficient to render life extinct, let alone such and so many. Blandina stood firm in her faith, however, and when she was returned to the prison, she encouraged the other prisoners to stand firm in their faith. Blandinas ordeal was far from over, however. Later she was tied to a cross in the arena and wild beasts were let loose on her. The letter says that others who were being tortured in the arena gained strength by looking at Blandina and hearing her prayers, for they saw in her the image of the Christ who had suffered for them all. Since none of the beasts would touch her, Blandina was cut down and put back in prison. Later, Blandina was brought back into the arena, scourged, put on a red-hot iron grill, and finally gored and tossed by a bull before she died. Like their counterparts in Asia and North Africa, the martyrs at Lyons saw their suffering as part of the battle against the Antichrist and a sign of the end of the age and the final victory of Christ. They believed their faithfulness was a key part of Christs victory. Irenaeus says that soon after this persecution the church began a mission to the rural population of the area. So the faith of the martyrs not only saw the church through a time of terrible suffering, it also helped lay the foundation for mission in the next decade.

The Martyrs of Scilli (d. 180)


I do not recognize the empire of this world, their leader declared. Seven men and five women were brought before the Roman proconsul Saturninus in Carthage, North Africa, on July 17,180. The charge: They were Christians. J. E. Stevenson includes theActs of their martyrdom in his New Eusebius: The proconsul Saturninus read out the sentence from his notebook: Whereas Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Vestia, Secunda, and the rest have confessed that they live in accordance with the religious rites of the Christians, and, when an opportunity was given them of returning to the usage of the Romans, persevered in their obstinacy, it is our pleasure that they should suffer by the sword. Speratus said: Thanks be to God.

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Page 24 Nartzalus said: Today we are martyrs in heaven: thanks be to God! They were beheaded. The account of these martyrs from Scilli, a village near Carthage, is the earliest document demonstrating the existence of Christianity in North Africa. It shows what was at stake between Rome and the church: two opposing ways of life. When these African Christians refused to return to the usage of the Romans, the Roman authorities recognized there was a profound danger to the Empire. The story of these seven men and five women is also important for the development of the canon of Scripture. When the Christians were arrested, they were carrying the sacred books, and the letters of Paul, a just man. The sacred books may mean the Hebrew Scriptures, thus making this an early indication that Pauls letters were treated as Scripture. Or the books may refer to the Gospels, which would likewise give insight into the history of the New Testaments formation.

Crispina of Numidia (d. 304)


St. Augustine praised her. When Emperor Diocletian decreed that all Christians should sacrifice to the Roman gods, many hastened to do exactly that. Crispina did not. Crispina was a wealthy woman, married, with several children, so she had many good reasons to sacrifice. The proconsul begged her to conform to the imperial edict. She replied, according to The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, I do observe the edict: that of my Lord Jesus Christ. The proconsul reasoned with her, even threatened her with death. Finally, he said, We cannot put up with this impious Crispina any longer. She was tortured and finally killed by the sword. Once again we find a North African martyr. Crispina became such a prominent martyr that Augustine called attention to both her birthday and her feast day in his sermons. In a sermon delivered (over one hundred years later) on her birthday, he said, Is there anyone in Africa, my brethren, who knoweth her not? For she was most illustrious, noble in birth, abounding in wealth. In another sermon in his Expositions on the Book of Psalms, Augustine says of Crispina, She rejoiced when she was being seized; when she was being carried before the judge; when she was being put into the prison; when she was being brought forth bound; when she was being condemned.

The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (d. 320)


Soldiers left naked on a frozen lake Never was Rome in more danger from the church than when Christians refused military service. When the Empire was threatened on three borders at once, the pacifism of the church threatened the Roman way of life. Roman officials saw clearly that a vast organization with many conscientious objectors, and opposed to Roman ideals, could not be tolerated in a time of war. Thus, Christians were purged from the army in the early fourth century. In 320, near the end of the Great Persecution, the emperor Licinius ordered all Christians to renounce their faith on pain of death. Forty soldiers of the Twelfth Legion, stationed at Sebaste in Armenia, refused. They were stripped naked, forced out onto a frozen lake, and left to die from exposure. Fires were built on the bank, however, and warm baths were prepared for anyone who would recant.

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Page 25 Only one gave in. Yet when he did, another soldier, moved by the example of the suffering Christians, declared himself a Christian and took the apostates place. Within twenty-four hours, most of the forty were dead. The others were then put to death.

Paphnutius (tortured c. 306-313)


Maimed in the Great Persecution Emperor Constantine entered the Council of Nicaea in 325 in all the splendor of the imperial state. Eusebius, in his Life of Constantine, says the emperor was as resplendent as one of Gods angels in heaven. In spite of the show of power and wealth, Constantine was also conscious of the pain suffered by the church during the Great Persecution. The monk/bishop Paphnutius had been tortured in the persecutions of Maximinus Daia. His left knee had been shattered and his right eye ripped out. In that crippled condition he had been sent to work in the mines, probably in Palestine. It may be one of the minor miracles of the persecutions that Paphnutius survived at all. When Paphnutius and Constantine met at the Council of Nicaea, Constantine, as a sign of respect for the suffering of the old man, kissed his empty eye socket. Paphnutius was a disciple of St. Antony and a solitary monk when he was called to be a bishop in Upper Egypt. At the Council of Nicaea he argued against the proposal that married clergy should separate from their wives. Because of his fame as an ascetic and confessor (one who suffered in the persecution but was not killed) his words carried the day. A historian, Socrates, says in amazement that one who had never known a woman but could argue with such compassion for married clergy, moved the council in a way no one else could. Paphnutius also supported Athanasius and the understanding of Christ as true God that would emerge as orthodox. His was a powerful voice in a period when the orthodox position was actually the minority one. The long persecutions were over. Constantines kissing the empty eye socket of Paphnutius signaled that a new day had begun for the church.
CITATION

Persecution in the Early Church: CHRISTIAN HISTORY, Issue 27 (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, Inc., 1997).
Used with Permission

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

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OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES


Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church
In the first few centuries of Christianity, teachers taught wildly different ideas about who Jesus was.
PREPARATION:

For your background, read articles from the CHRISTIAN HISTORY issue The 100 Most Important Events in Church History:

The First Council of Nicea, provided with this study on page 8. Athanasius Defines the New Testament, provided with this study on page 10. The Council of Chalcedon, provided with this study on page 12.

In the last half of the second century, various teachings began to divide the Christian church. One of these, Gnosticism, claimed that Christ never lived on earth in human formhe only seemed to. These ideas were entirely contrary to Christian truth, and most early church leaders felt such ideas would kill the church if such ideas were allowed to flourish. The early churchs attitude toward false teaching is illustrated in the following story. Marcion, a leading Gnostic teacher, made his fortune in Constantinople but then moved to Rome. He gave generously to charity, but he also propagated his teaching, gaining many followers in Rome. Polycarp, bishop of the church in Smyrna, once visited Rome. One day Polycarp happened to come across Marcion, whom he had known back East; he tried to pass by without speaking to him. But Marcion stopped him and asked, Dont you know me any more, Polycarp? Yes, answered Polycarp, I know who you are. You are the first-born of Satan! Gnosticism was but the first major doctrinal controversy about the person of Christ. Today we believe that Christ is the eternal Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, true God of true God. But in the early centuries of the church, this was not so clear. Church leadersthrough a process of arduous study, theological debate, and, frankly, political intrigueeventually came to a more clear understanding of the person of Christ. Study Handout 2A, Teachings That Troubled the Early Church, to get an overview of the major teachings the church combated in the early period. The church responded to false teachings in four ways: 1. It developed a canon, a list of writings that make up our New Testament, thus excluding other writings. 2. It gave more authority to church leaders, the bishops, to determine and act against heresy. 3. It called councils, where controversial matters of faith and practice were clarified.

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4. It formed creeds, written statements summarizing orthodox doctrine. Canon: The Greek word canon refers to a straight bar or rod; it came to mean ruler or standard. The New Testament canonthat is, the list of the books that are authoritative for Christianswas needed to combat false teachings. Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria played a key role in helping the church form a canon. Read Athanasius Defines the New Testament on pages 10-11. Church leaders: To respond to false teachers, many of whom also claimed support of the Bible, the church had to establish its position as the authoritative interpreter of the Bible. It exercised this authority through bishops. But since heretics also raised up bishops, the church gradually developed the doctrine of apostolic succession: only those bishops who could trace their consecrations back to the original apostles were legitimate. Ignatius, first-century bishop of Antioch, considered the office of bishop to be the great bond of church unity and the great defense against heresy. To one church he wrote, Follow your bishop as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Do nothing without the bishop. Another advocate of a strong church with authoritative bishops was Cyprian, bishop of Carthage in North Africa in the mid-third century. He wrote, There is one God, and Christ is one; and there is one Church and one Chair (referring to the throne of the bishop of Rome, later to be called papa, or pope, meaning father.) He also said, He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the church for his mother. There is no salvation outside the church. The church is based on the unity of the bishops. The bishop is in the church, and the church is in the bishop. If anyone is not with the bishop, he is not in the church. Creeds and Councils: Creeds and councils go hand in hand. There were many councils in the early church, where bishops and other church leaders discussed both administrative and theological matters. The first council was held in Jerusalem, and it was called to consider problems that arose from the missionary efforts of the early church (see Acts 15). There were various kinds of councils: provincial councils dealt with matters of a province, but in an ecumenical council, all churches of all provinces were invited. One of the most important early councils was held at Nicea in 325. Read the article The First Council of Nicea on pages 8-9. Another important council was held in Chalcedon in 451. Read The Council of Chalcedon on pages 12-13. The Council of Constantinople, held in 381, between these two councils, was also key in the history of early doctrine: it was the council that finally condemned Arianism and gave us the final version of the Nicene Creed, the most important creed in the history of the church. The first draft of the Nicene Creed had said nothing about the deity of the Holy Spirit, which the final draft clarified. Belief in the triune GodFather, Son, and Holy Spiritwas now established.
Adapted from B. K. Kuiper, The Church in History (Eerdmans, 1951,1964).

To further prepare for this lesson, read these Bible passages:

John 1:1-14;

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

STUDY GUIDE

Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9; Hebrews 4:14-16.

KEY QUESTION:

How can Christians distinguish truth from error?

It doesnt matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere. This common maxim sounds nice, but Christians know its a dangerous illusion. David Koresh, the Branch Davidian leader killed in Waco, Texas, was nothing if not sincere. But he also led people astray, a number of whom suffered a tragic death with him. Dealing with false teaching is not a new experience for the church. From its beginning, the church has had to figure out how to encourage and sustain true teaching and discourage and eliminate false notions. Many methods that early Christians used are still effective today.
CLASS SESSION:

Opening:
(5 to 10 minutes) Begin your session by introducing this scenario: Imagine youre hosting a backyard party, and the talk turns to religion. Here are some comments you hear in the course of the conversation:

Jennifer says, Ive been reading a new book called Christ: the Highest Angel. Not being religious, I never knew what a wonderful person God made when he gave us Jesus. I guess, says Chris, Ive just always assumed that when the Bible shows Jesus being thirsty or experiencing pain, he was acting human to identify with us. I mean, Jesus was God, right? How could he really be thirsty? Larry says, When I pray, I always ask for the divine part of me to control my sinful, human partjust like the divine Christ had such wonderful control over the human Jesus. You know, like when Jesus did miracles in the Bible. I dont think Jesus had multiple personalities, says Tom. Either he was God or he was not. I for one say he was, otherwise, why pray to him? I wish I could really have the mind of Christ, like the Bible tells us, Kim says. But its hard to have a divine mind, as he did, when youre only human!

How might you respond to each of these statements? Can you suggest passages of Scripture youd like each person to check out when he or she gets home? Transition sentence: A lot of insights people geteven when reading Christian bookscome awfully close to false teaching; sometimes they are false teaching! But how do we determine if a teaching is true or false? The early church struggled with just this question, and it answered the question in four ways: by forming a canon, by following church leaders, by holding councils, and by writing creeds.

Historical Setting:
(15 to 20 minutes)

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

STUDY GUIDE

Option A: Mini-lecture Briefly present what youve read as you prepared this lesson. Here are highlights youll need to cover:

The major false teachings the church faced in the early centuries. Refer the class to Handout A on page 6, Teachings That Troubled the Early Church, but only the Teaching, Advocates/church opponents, and Rationale of each. (If you dont think youll have time to cover all five teachings listed, focus on Gnosticism and Arianism.) Talk about the four ways the church confronted the false teaching: 1. 2. 3. 4. Canon. Church leaders. Councils Creeds.

On the Teachings That Troubled the Early Church handout, briefly go over the Problem, Church action, and Modern adherents for each teaching listed. Conclude by asking the class to name the false teaching espoused in the each of the quotations from the backyard party conversation (listed in the Opening).

Option B: Group Participation Form three small groups and ask each to summarize one of the following articles included from CHRISTIAN HISTORY, The 100 Most Important Events issue:

The First Council of Nicea (pages 8-9 of this study). Athanasius Defines the New Testament (pages 10-11). The Council of Chalcedon (pages 12-13).

Have the groups report back to the class.

Application
(20 to 35 minutes)

Option A: Questions for Discussion

Suppose a friend said to you, Christianity is a manmade religion, like all religions. After all, even your Bible was put together by a few people deciding what they wanted in it. How might you respond? Christians debated the authority of certain booksand whether they should be included in the New Testament canonthrough the fourth century. What makes a book divinely authoritative? What characteristics would indicate that a book is not authoritative? Why should we not allow other Christian writings to be added to the New Testament? How would you describe the difference between Christian devotional literature and New Testament Scriptures? The main question facing the Council of Nicea was Who is Jesus Christ? What kinds of answers do people give today? Which might be serious enough to call heresy? Historian Bruce Shelley writes, The age of Christian emperors was an age of

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

STUDY GUIDE
creeds, and creeds were the instruments of conformity. In your opinion, was the early churchs goal of doctrinal conformity a good thing? Why or why not?

How would you respond to someone who points to Proverbs 8:22-31 (especially verse 24) to prove, a la Arius, that Jesus is a created being? When the Council of Nicea convened, many of the bishops were not settled on the issue of Christs full deity. Is there latitude for differing opinions among Christians on this issue? Explain whereand howyou draw the line with this doctrinal issue. (See Col. 1:15-20; 2:9.) According to the Chalcedon definition, Christ has two natures in one person. How can this doctrine help us understand more fully what Christ accomplished on the cross for us? What false beliefs might arise from believing, instead, that Christ has two personalities? What are some dangers of over-emphasizing either Jesus humanity or deity? What are some reasons for viewing Jesus as more than just a Spirit-filled example for us to follow? (See 1 Pet. 2:21 and 2 Cor. 5:21.) Writer Tony Lane states that one early heretic, Eutyches, was theologically out of his depth rather than willfully heretical. How can you determine the difference between heresy and theological confusion (or naivete)? Can you give a modern example?

Option B: Activity Have your class try the Faith Forgery exercise on Handout B on page 7, The Nicene Creed.

Closing
(5 minutes) Close by asking everyone to stand and say together the Nicene Creed (see Handout B). Make this historical affirmation your benediction.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church Handout A
Page 6
HANDOUT A: Teachings That Troubled the Early Church

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church Handout A
Page 6

Gnosticism/Doceticism (1st and 2nd centuries)


Teaching:

Apollinarianism (4th century)


Teaching: Jesus has human body and human soul, but

1. Jesus only seemed human; the divine can never have contact with the human, which is too tainted for God to interact with. 2. Denies the authority of the Old Testament and many New Testament books. Uses Gospel of Thomas and other non-apostolic writings as authoritative scriptures. Advocates/church opponents: Valentinus, Marcion/Irenaeus, Hippolytus. Rationale: If God is truly perfect, he will have nothing to do with the sinful and finite. Problem: If Jesus only seemed human, he could not truly represent humanity on the Cross; he could not be a true mediator and sacrifice for human sin. It denies the humanity of Christ. Church action: 1. Authoritative Scriptures determined: Athanasiuss 39th Festal Letter (367) and the Synods of Rome (382) and Carthage (397). 2. Doctrine of apostolic succession: only bishops whose consecrations descend from the apostles can teach authoritatively. Modern adherents: similarities to some forms of the New Age movement.

his spirit/mind is divine. Advocates/church opponents: Apollinarius / Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus. Rationale: Wants to refute Arianism and assert the unity of God and the deity of Christ. Problem: If Jesus didnt have a human spirit/mind, he could not be fully human, and thus an effective sacrifice for human sin. This view denies the full humanity of Christ. Church action: Council of Constantinople (381) condemns it. Modern adherents: none formally, but informally and innocently by any who believe Jesus knew everything perfectly while on earth.

Monophysitism (5th century)


Teaching: There is only one nature in Christ, the divine,

which completely absorbed the human at the Incarnation. Advocates/church opponents: Eutyches / Pope Leo I. Rationale: A reaction to Nestorianism and orthodoxy; it wants to maintain Jesus unity. Problem: If Jesus humanity is fully absorbed, he cannot be a true sacrifice for human sin. This view so strongly unites the person of Christ that it tends to deny his full humanity. Church action: Condemned at the Council of Chalcedon (451). Modern adherents; Coptic, Syrian, and Armenian churches of the East.

Arianism (4th century)


Teaching: Jesus is not fully divine or fully human, but

Nestorianism (5th century)


Teaching: Christs human and divine union was moral,

something between. The Son is a created being subordinate to the Father. Advocates/church opponents: Arius / Athanasius. Rationale: Tries to make Jesus nature comprehensible; takes a middle position. Problem: If Jesus is not fully divine, he does not have the power to save us. If Jesus is not fully human, he cannot be mediator and sacrifice for human sin. This view ends up denying both the divinity and humanity of Christ. Church actions: 1. Council of Nicea (325) declared Son homoousios (coequal, co-eternal, of one being with the Father) and formed early draft of the Nicene Creed. 2. Council of Constantinople (381) confirmed the results of the Council of Nicea and finalized the Nicene Creed. Modern adherents: Jehovah Witnesses and others who think of Jesus as less than God but more than human.

not organic. Jesus was not only two natures but two persons joined, not united. Furthermore, the human Jesus was completely controlled by the divine Christ. Advocates/church opponents: Nestorius / Cyril of Alexandria Rationale: A reaction against Monophysitism. Wants to distinguish the human Jesus, who died, from the divine Jesus, who cannot die. Problem: If only the human Jesus died, his death does not have power to save. This view too strongly divides Christ: he becomes two persons rather than one person with two natures. Church action: Condemned at the Synod of Ephesus (431). Modern adherents: Assyrian churches of Iraq, India, and the United States.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church Handout B
Page 7
HANDOUT B: The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Faith Forgery
Many heresies begin as slightly warped versions of true Christian doctrine. To understand how that can happen, create a fake faitha creed that might fool an unsuspecting person. Choose one or more phrases in the Nicene Creed and change them slightlyjust enough to make a tempting heresy out of the truth proclaimed. Make as few wording changes as possible, and make the change sound as innocent as you can. Afterward, discuss:

Why is your change of wording a dangerous teaching? Explain the practical importance of holding to the correct doctrine, as it is found in the Nicene Creed. Would the issue raised by your changes be a test of fellowship for you? Why, or why not? In your opinion, how much latitude in belief should the church allow? Give an example.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church Article: The First Council of Nicea
Page 8
ARTICLE The First Council of Nicea At stake in the churchs first general council was the simplest, yet most profound, question: Who is Jesus Christ? by BRUCE L. SHELLEY

July 4, 325, was a memorable day. About three hundred Christian bishops and deacons from the eastern half of the Roman Empire had come to Nicea, a little town near the Bosporus Straits flowing between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. In the conference hall where they waited was a table. On it lay an open copy of the Gospels. The emperor, Constantine the Great, entered the hall in his imperial, jewelencrusted, multicolored brocades, but out of respect for the Christian leaders, without his customary train of soldiers. Constantine spoke only briefly. He told the churchmen they had to come to some agreement on the crucial questions dividing them. Division in the church, he said, is worse than war.

A new day
The bishops and deacons were deeply impressed. After three centuries of periodic persecutions instigated by some Roman emperor, were they actually gathered before one not as enemies but as allies? Some of them carried scars of the imperial lash. One pastor from Egypt was missing an eye; another was crippled in both hands as a result of red-hot irons. But Constantine had dropped the sword of persecution in order to take up the cross. Just before a decisive battle in 312, he had converted to Christianity. Nicea symbolized a new day for Christianity. The persecuted followers of the Savior dressed in linen had become the respected advisers of emperors robed in purple. The once-despised religion was on its way to becoming the state religion, the spiritual cement of a single society in which public and private life were united under the control of Christian doctrine. If Christianity were to serve as the cement of the Empire, however, it had to hold one faith. So the emperors called for church councils like Nicea, paid the way for bishops to attend, and pressed church leaders for doctrinal unity. The age of Christian emperors was an age of creeds; and creeds were the instruments of conformity.

A troubling question
We can see this imperial pressure at work at Nicea, the first general council of the church. The problem that Constantine expected the bishops to solve was the dispute over Arianism. Arius, pastor of the influential Baucalis Church in Alexandria, Egypt, taught that Christ was more than human but something less than God. He said that God originally lived alone and had no Son. Then he created the Son, who in turn created everything else. The idea persists in some cults today. Arius made faith in Christ understandable, especially when he put his teaching in witty rhymes set to catchy tunes. Even the dockhands on the wharves at Alexandria could hum the ditties while unloading fish. Ariuss teaching held a special appeal for many recent converts to Christianity. It was like the pagan religions of their childhood: the one supreme God, who dwells alone, makes a number of lesser gods who do Gods work, passing back and forth

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church Article: The First Council of Nicea
Page 9 from heaven to earth. These former pagans found it hard to understand the Christian belief that Christ, the Divine Word, existed from all eternity, and that he is equal to the Almighty Father. So Arianism spread, creating Constantines concern. Once the Council of Nicea convened, many of the bishops were ready to compromise. One young deacon from Alexandria, however, was not. Athanasius, with the support of his bishop, Alexander, insisted that Ariuss doctrine left Christianity without a divine Savior. He called for a creed that made clear Jesus Christs full deity. In the course of the debate, the most learned bishop present, the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea (a friend and admirer of the emperor and a half-hearted supporter of Arius), put forward his own creedperhaps as evidence of his questioned orthodoxy. Most of the pastors, however, recognized that something more specific was needed to exclude the possibility of Arian teaching. For this purpose they produced another creed, probably from Palestine. Into it they inserted an extremely important series of phrases: True God of true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father. . . . The expression homo ousion, one substance, was probably introduced by Bishop Hosius of Cordova (in todays Spain). Since he had great influence with Constantine, the imperial weight was thrown to that side of the scales. After extended debate, all but two bishops at the council agreed upon a creed that confessed faith in one Lord Jesus Christ, . . . true God of true God. Constantine was pleased, thinking the issue was settled.

An unsettled issue
As it turned out, however, Nicea alone settled little. For the next century the Nicene and the Arian views of Christ battled for supremacy. First Constantine and then his successors stepped in again and again to banish this churchman or exile that one. Control of church offices too often depended on control of the emperors favor. The lengthy struggle over imperial power and theological language culminated in the mid fifth century at the council at Chalcedon in Asia Minor (todays Turkey). There the church fathers concluded that Jesus was completely and fully God. And finally, the council confessed that this total man and this total God was one completely normal person. In other words, Jesus combined two natures, human and divine, in one person. This classical, orthodox affirmation from Chalcedon made it possible to tell the story of Jesus as good news. Since Jesus was a normal human being, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, he could fulfill every demand of Gods moral law, and he could suffer and die a real death. Since he was truly God, his death was capable of satisfying divine justice. God himself had provided the sacrifice. The Council of Nicea, then, laid the cornerstone for the orthodox understanding of Jesus Christ. That foundation has stood ever since.
CITATION

The 100 Most Important Events in Church History: CHRISTIAN HISTORY, Issue 28 (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, Inc., 1997).
Used with Permission

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church Article: Athanasius Defines the New Testament
Page 10
ARTICLE Athanasius Defines the New Testament His letter is the earliest authoritative statement to fix the New Testament as we know it today. by CARSTEN PETER THIEDE

Since you know my will, grant free admission to all those who wish to enter the church. For if I hear that you have hindered anyone from becoming a member, or have debarred anyone from entrance, I shall immediately send someone to have you deposed at my behest and have you sent into exile. These are the words of Emperor Constantine the Great, written c. 328 to Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria. Athanasius had not followed Constantines growing interest in ecumenism. Instead, he had insisted upon excluding from the church anyone who did not subscribe to the Creed of Nicea. Consequently, Athanasius was deposed in 335 and exiled to Trier (today in West Germany, near the border with Luxembourg). Two years later, after Constantines death, he returned to Alexandria, but he was removed from power again in 339 and fled to Pope Julius I, a supporter, in Rome. He returned in 346, only to be exiled three more times for various reasons. Athanasius finally resumed his bishopric in 366, which he held until his death in 373, at the age of 78. Most of his writings defend the orthodox position against the influence of Arianism (Three Speeches against the Arians, c. 335), but he also ably defended the faith against pagan and Jewish opposition (Speech against the Pagans and Speech on the Incarnation of the Word, both c. 318). Another lasting contribution to church writings is his Life of St. Anthony, c. 357, one of the first lives of a saint that can justifiably claim authenticity. The book, an early best seller, widely disseminated information on monasticism.

Famous festal letter


Perhaps Athanasiuss single most influential writing, however, was his ThirtyNinth Festal Letter of 367. It had been customary after Epiphany each year [the Christian festival held twelve days after Christmas] for the bishops of Alexandria to write a letter in which the dates of Lent and Easter were fixed, and thus, all other festivals of the church in that year. These letters were also used to discuss other matters of general interest. Athanasius wrote forty-five festal letters; thirteen have survived complete in Syriac translation. The Thirty-Ninth has been reconstructed by scholars from Greek, Syriac, and Coptic fragments. It contains a list of the books of the Old and New Testaments, which Athanasius describes as being canonical. The New Testament list is identical with the twenty-seven writings we still accept as canonical, and thus Athanasiuss Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter has been regarded as the first authoritative statement on the canon of the New Testament. Athanasius wrote the list to end disputes about such texts as The Shepherd of Hermas or The Epistle of Barnabas, which long had been regarded as equal to the apostolic letters. He also silenced those who had questioned the apostolic authenticity of Peters letters or the Book of Revelation. Athanasius states that in these [27 writings] alone the teaching of godliness is proclaimed. No one may add to them, and nothing may be taken away from them.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church Article: Athanasius Defines the New Testament
Page 11

Controversial canon
One document supports Athanasiuss position: The famous Codex Vaticanus in the Vatican Library, a Greek codex of the Old and New Testaments. It consists of the same books in the same order as in Athanasiuss festal letterwhich is particularly noteworthy given the peculiar order: Gospels, Acts, Catholic Epistles (James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Jude), Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews between 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy), and Revelation. The Codex Vaticanus probably was written in Rome, in 340, by Alexandrian scribes for Emperor Constans, during Athanasiuss seven-year exile in the city. It would thus predate the festal letter. Even though Athanasius was probably not far away when the Codex Vaticanus was written, one realizes that the establishment of the canon was not a sudden decision made unilaterally by a bishop in Alexandria, but a process of careful investigation and deliberation, documented in a codex of the Greek Bible and, twenty-seven years later, in a festal letter. On the other hand, Athanasiuss view did not meet with unanimous support, not even at Alexandria. Some twenty years after that Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter was written, the Alexandrian scholar Didymus the Blind did not accept 2 and 3 John as canonical, but he fully backed and quoted 2 Peter, which still was occasionally disputed by others. Didymus also apparently regarded the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas, and even Didache and 1 Clement to be equally authoritative. And there were many such examples of divergence of opinion all over the Empire, both in the East and in the West. However, after the end of the fourth century, such occasional divergences of opinion have not altered the received tradition. What might have happened had Athanasius and others not established an accepted closed canon? Gnostic, theologically unsound writings like the Gospel of Thomas might have crept in, diluting the historical message of Christ with what we would now call New Age elements. Or later pressure groups might have excluded writings that did not suit their purposeRevelation, for example, or 2 Peter (a book the Syriac churches attempted to exclude). Later, Martin Luther would dearly have loved to have excluded James, which he regarded as contradicting Paul. Indeed, why not add Martin Luther King, Jr.s Letter from a Birmingham Jail of 1964, as was suggested by some modern writers, or eliminate epistles currently thought to be inauthentic? The closed canon that prevails in all Christian churches forms a consensus that prevents such eccentricities. And that canon can be traced back to Athanasius, and to the year 367, which justly remains an important date in church history.
CITATION

The 100 Most Important Events in Church History: CHRISTIAN HISTORY, Issue 28 (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, Inc., 1997).
Used with Permission

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church Article: The Council of Chalcedon
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ARTICLE The Council of Chalcedon If Jesus was truly God, how could he be truly human as well? Leo the Great helped guide a critical council to a clear answer. by TONY LANE

Perhaps the best-known story about Leo the Great, bishop of Rome from 440 to 461, is his encounter with Attila the Hun in 452. Attila and his army of Huns were marching on Rome. The Roman emperor and senate sought to dissuade him from attacking the city, so they sent an embassy of leading Romans, including Leo, who met Attila and managed to dissuade him from plundering Rome. This story has acquired legendary accretions that magnify the role of Leo and introduce elements of the supernatural into the story. But what it does convey accurately is the formidable personality of Leo, one of the most imposing of the bishops of Rome. Another of Leos exploits was his intervention in the Council of Chalcedon.

Knotty questions
A central theological issue in the first few centuries was the person of Christ: In what sense was he God? At the beginning of the fourth century Arius claimed that only the Father was truly God. In response, the Council of Nicea proclaimed the full deity of Christ. But if Jesus was truly God, how could he be truly human as well? Indeed, was he? If he was, how can one person be both God and man? Was he, in fact, one person? These and other such questions were to dominate Greek theological debate for the next three-and-a-half centuries. The Council of Chalcedon (451) comes in the middlenot at the end of these debates. It marks a significant point at which four crucial issues concerning the person of Christ are clarified:

against Arius, the full deity of Christ is affirmed against Apollinarius, the full humanity of Christ is affirmed against Nestorius, it is affirmed that Christ is one person against Eutyches, it is affirmed that the deity and humanity of Christ remain distinct and are not blurred together.

Chalcedon was occasioned by the teaching of Eutyches, the last of these four heretics. Eutyches was an elderly monk who was theologically out of his depth rather than willfully heretical. He was condemned at Constantinople (now Istanbul) for denying that Christ is fully like us and for blurring together the two natures of Christ, his humanity and divinity.

Leos Tome
Leo wrote a Tome, a theological treatise condemning Eutyches. But the eastern way of settling matters was to convene a general council of bishops. One met in 449, at Ephesus, and took a position different from that of Leo, whose Tome was not read at the council. Eastern leaders of a like mind to Leo were deposed. Leo called this gathering a robber synod and tried to have it reversed, without success. The following year the emperor fell from his horse and died. His successor favored the approach of Leo, and so another council was called, which met at Chalcedon (by Constantinople) in 451. Leo did not attend in person, but he sent delegates. This council reversed the decisions of Ephesus and condemned Eutyches. Leos Tome was read and approved, though not without some misgivings. Some bishops wanted to stop there, but the emperor insisted upon a confession of faith to unify

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church Article: The Council of Chalcedon
Page 13 the empire. Thus was born the Chalcedonian Definition. The Definition affirmed that Christ is truly God, perfect in Godhead, the Son of God who was begotten of the Father before the ages. Yet he is also truly man, perfect in manhood and was born of the Virgin Mary. The deity and humanity are not parted or divided into two persons, but Christ is one person and one being. Nor are his deity and humanity to be blurred together. The difference of the [divine and human] natures is in no wise taken away by reason of the union, but rather the properties of each are preserved. Thus Christ is made known in two natures [which exist] without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.

Dynamite-like effect
The emperor intended the Definition to unify the empire. Its actual effect was more like the explosion of dynamite. Large areas of the East would not accept Chalcedon, such as the Coptic churches in Egypt and Ethiopia. The Eastern church was split into two, and breakaway churches (the Monophysite, or One Nature, churches) formed that exist to this day. Various attempts were made to resolve the conflict, which led to further councils in 553 and 680/1. But the eastern emperor, in Constantinople, faced a fundamental dilemma. He could unite the East by dropping Chalcedon, but at the price of losing communion with the West. Alternatively, he could maintain union with the West by holding to Chalcedon, but at the cost of Eastern unity. Ultimately, the conflict ended because the dissenting churches were in areas that came under Muslim control. Today, however, the two sides are moving closer together. The Chalcedonian Definition has been subjected to considerable criticism in the last two hundred years. The way in which it expresses itself is certainly not perfect. But its condemnation of the four basic heresies is an abiding and valuable contribution. The Councils statement remains of considerable relevance since Nestoriuss approach is very much alive in modern liberal christologies that speak of Jesus as a man with a special relationship to God rather than as himself being God incarnate. On the other hand, many who pride themselves on holding a conservative view think of Christ as having a single nature that is either divine (the error of Apollinarius) or a blend of the human and the divine (the error of Eutyches).
CITATION

The 100 Most Important Events in Church History: CHRISTIAN HISTORY, Issue 28 (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, Inc., 1997).
Used with Permission

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

STUDY GUIDE

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES


Christianity as State Religion
In the fourth century, Christianity moved from being a persecuted sect to being the official religion of the Roman Empire.
PREPARATION:

For your background, read articles from the CHRISTIAN HISTORY issue The 100 Most Important Events in Church History:

The Edict of Milan, provided with this study on page 8.

We dont know exactly why, but Diocletian, two years before the end of his highly effective reign (284-305), suddenly ordered the most vicious of all persecutions of the Christians. He ordered his army purged of Christians and church buildings destroyed. He prohibited Christian worship and burned copies of the Scriptures. Bishops were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and many put to death; then the power of the imperial throne was turned against all Christians, many of whom lost their lives. In 305 Diocletian, following a long-established plan, abdicated, as did his fellow Augustus, Maximian. But the Diocletian persecution still raged. In fact, the new Augustus in the east, Galerius, was more intent than ever on the complete extermination of Christianity. The pagans themselves, however, quickly became sickened by so much bloodshed. Eventually, even the throne could no longer take the political risk of continuing the torturing, maiming, and killing. So in his last official act, Galerius reluctantly, grudgingly put a stop to the persecutionthe last and worst persecution of Christians by Rome came to an end. Upon the death of Galerius, a struggle for imperial power broke loose. In the spring of 312, Constantine advanced across the Alps with the aim of dislodging his rival Maxentius from Italy and capturing Rome. It was a daring gamble; and when he came upon his militarily superior enemy at the Milvian Bridge, just outside the walls of Rome, he turned to the God of the Christians for help. In a dream he saw a cross in the sky and the words In this sign conquer. This convinced him to advance. When on 28 October 312 he achieved his brilliant victory over the troops of Maxentius, Constantine believed his success was proof of the power of Christ and the superiority of the Christian religion. Some consider Constantines conversion a purely political maneuver. Plenty of paganism remained in him: he conspired, murdered, and retained his title Pontifex Maximusmeaning he was head of the state religious cult. But his was more than a purely political conversion. From the year 312, he favored Christianity openly. He issued the now famous Edict of Milan, granting permanent toleration to Christians

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

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(see The Edict of Milan, pages 8-9 of this Study Guide). He allowed Christian ministers to enjoy the same exemption from taxes as the pagan priests, he abolished executions by crucifixion, and in 321 he made Sunday a public holiday. Thanks to his generosity, magnificent church buildings arose as evidence of his support of Christianity. But there were also changes in Constantines private life. He had his sons and daughters brought up as Christians. Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia baptized him shortly before he died in 337. After his baptism, Constantine refused to wear again the imperial purple; he left this life dressed in his white baptismal robes. Today, we find it almost impossible to grasp what this change in imperial attitude meant for the church. Before 312, Christianity was outlawed and persecuted. Suddenly it was favored and pampered. The church was in a completely new situation and had before it a totally new mission. The church historian Eusebius likely represented the majority of Christians when he spoke about the emperor as the ideal Christian ruler and, with his conversion, envisioned the dawning of a new age of salvation. The fact that Christians could now preach publicly and develop churches unmolested surely meant that God had a new and greater mission for the church. It was a divinely ordained moment, and it would infuse the Christian spirit into all of Roman public life. Some Christians believed it was no accident that Jesus and his message appeared at the very time when the Roman Empire provided the world with political, economic, and cultural unity. The empire now seemed even better prepared to help Christianity fulfill its world mission. By 380, rewards for Christians turned into penalties for non-Christians. In that year, the emperor Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the Empire: It is our will that all the peoples we rule shall practice that religion which the divine Peter the apostle transmitted to the Romans. We shall believe in the single Deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, under the concept of equal majesty and of the Holy Trinity. We command that those persons who follow this rule shall embrace the name of Catholic Christians. The rest, however, whom we adjudge demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of our own initiative, which we shall assume in accordance with divine judgment. The next two decades saw the passing of a number of laws that restricted nonChristian religions. (See Handout A on page 6.) By the early 400s, the formal conversion of the Roman Empire was to all intents complete. Because of the states official blessing, people poured into the church. By the late 300s, Christians were no longer a persecuted minority but made up a full half of the population of major cities. Christianity was considered a respectable option for the religious, and in some areas, especially after Theodosius, there was even social pressure to become Christian. Not only people, but money now poured into the churches. Beginning with Constantine, church buildings moved from being simple structures to magnificent basilicas richly adorned with marble, lamps, tapestries, and beautiful mosaicsall in an effort to bring glory to God.

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Also in worship, rituals of Roman life were adapted to bring glory to God. Incense, formerly used as a sign of respect for the emperor, now was used in Christian churches to show respect for God. Officiating ministers, who until then had worn everyday clothes, now dressed in elegant garments. Grand processionals became a part of worship, and choirs were developed partly to give body to the processionals. The advantages, then, were manyinfluence, money, new convertsbut there was a price to pay. Constantine ruled Christian bishops as he did his civil servants; he demanded unconditional obedience, even when his pronouncements interfered with purely church matters. In addition, prior to Constantines conversion, the church consisted of convinced believers. Now many came who were politically ambitious, religiously disinterested, and still half-rooted in paganism. This tended to produce a shallow Christianity that was sometimes permeated by pagan superstitions. Often, the church was used for mere social or political purposes. Furthermore, many teachings of the earliest church began to be transformed. For example, the earliest church tended to emphasize that the gospel was good news to the poor and despised of this world; riches were a curse. With the conversion of the empire, riches and power came to be seen as a sign of Gods blessing, especially as exemplified in the Christian emperor. The church had from the beginning tried to convince the Roman Empire to respect its beliefs; it had prayed that more and more people would come into the churchs fold. By 400, its prayer had been answered, but it was a mixed blessing.
Adapted from Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language (Word, 1982). Used with permission.

To further prepare for this lesson, read the following Bible passages: Psalm 72; Revelation 18; Romans 13:1-7; Isaiah 2:2-5; Revelation 21:1-4.
KEY QUESTION: Should the church seek to create a Christian society and culture? If so, how Christian should society be?

Many Christians have become increasingly distressed with our nations secular turn. Schools no longer teach Christian values; Christian symbols (like creches and crosses) are being removed from government buildings and property; the popular media promotes a new paganism and often mocks Christian belief. Some Christians sigh, I wish we lived in a Christian society. Christians in the early church got just this wish. They watched their Roman society move from persecuting Christians to making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. The Christian society that resulted was a mixed blessing. In this lesson, well look at what happened in the fourth century. And well examine our own society to see how much we want our nation to become more Christian.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Christianity as State Religion Study Guide
Page 1
CLASS SESSION:

Opening:
(5 to 10 minutes) Read or paraphrase the following: Many Christians have become increasingly distressed with our nations secular turn. Schools no longer teach Christian values; Christian symbols (like creches and crosses) are being removed from government buildings and property; the popular media promotes a new paganism and often mocks Christian belief. Some Christians sigh, I wish we lived in a Christian society. Is there any law you wish Congress would pass to make it easier for Christians to practice their faith, to make this more of a Christian society? Would you favor this law if it was a detriment to other religions? Why or why not? Transition: Christians in the early church got just this wish. They watched their Roman society move from persecuting Christians to making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. The Christian society that resulted was a mixed blessing. In this lesson, well look at what happened in the fourth century. And well examine our own society to see how much we want our nation to become more Christian.

Historical Setting:
(15 to 20 minutes)

Diocletian began the last great persecution of Christians in 303. People were so shocked by the treatment of Christians that Galerius, one of Diocletians successors, issued an edict of toleration, ruling that Christians were no longer to be persecuted. Constantine was converted in 312 while on military maneuvers. In a dream, he saw a cross in the sky and the words, In this sign conquer. When he was victorious the next day, he believed his success was proof of the power of Christ and the Christian religion. Constantine favored Christianity openly: He allowed Christian ministers to enjoy the same exemption from taxes as the pagan priests. He abolished executions by crucifixion. He called a halt to the battles of gladiators as a punishment for crimes. He made Sunday a public holiday. He built magnificent church buildings. Church historian Eusebius believed the emperor was the ideal Christian ruler whose conversion inaugurated a new age of salvation. The new opportunity to preach publicly and unmolested surely meant that God had a new and greater mission for the church. In the 380s and 390s, Emperor Theodosius enacted laws to make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Because of the states official blessing, the church exploded in growth. By the late 300s, Christians were no longer a persecuted minority but made up a full half of the population of major cities. Church buildings moved from being simple structures to magnificent basilicas

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Christianity as State Religion Study Guide
Page 2 richly adorned with marble, lamps, tapestries and beautiful mosaics; worship services added incense, processions, and other liturgical enhancementsall in an effort to give glory to God.

At the same time, many now came to church who were politically ambitious, religiously disinterested, and still half-devoted to paganism. Emperors ruled Christian bishops as civil servants and demanded unconditional obedience to official pronouncements, even when they interfered with purely church matters. Christians started emphasizing less the simple gospel that appealed to the poor and outcasts and more the divine blessings of power and wealth.

B A

Option B: Group Activity: Read together Handout A and discuss.

Application
(20 to 35 minutes) Option A: Questions for Discussion

Under Constantine and Theodosius, Rome officially became a Christian Empire. What in your view was the greatest good for the church that came out of that? The worst thing for the church? On balance, do you think this was a good turn of events for the church? Why or why not? Psalm 72 speaks of the king as if he were Gods representative, Gods agent on earth. This is how the Christian emperors thought of themselves. Should national rulers think of themselves in this way? Why or why not? Revelation 18 portrays the Roman Empire (which it calls Babylon) as a great evil that only deserves to be destroyed. Paul, in Romans 13:1-7, teaches that the officials of the Roman empire are the agents of God to whom Christians must submit. What is behind the different attitudes toward government? What do these contrasting verses teach about our attitude toward our society? Christianity has been the dominant, if unofficial, religion of our country since its founding. In what ways has the church benefited from this? In what ways has it harmed the church? In what ways is the United States today a Christian society? In what ways not? Many Christians say they want to live in a Christian society. What do you think they mean by that? We live in a society that in theory is tolerant of all religions and favors none more or less the stance of Rome between Galerius and Constantine. What are the advantages and disadvantages this for the church?

Option B: Group Activity Use the debate on Handout B.

Closing
(5 minutes) Close by reading two Bible passages that speak about the perfect Christian society

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Christianity as State Religion Study Guide
Page 3 that we will know when Christ comes again: Isaiah 2:2-5 and Revelation 21:1-4.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Christianity as State Religion Handout A
Page 4
HANDOUT A: Timeline of Official Toleration

303Diocletian begins the Great Persecution: church buildings destroyed, sacred writings burned, clergy imprisoned and forced to make pagan sacrifices. 311Emperor Galerius ends the persecution. 313Emperors Constantine and Licinius issue Edict of Milan: Christianity is officially tolerated. 324Constantine becomes sole emperor and begins favoring Christianity; helps build many magnificent churches. 380Emperor Theodosius makes Catholic Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. 381Heretics, like the Arians, are forbidden to possess churches within cities, and are forbidden to hold public assemblies. Their churches are given to Catholics. Other laws are passed against Manichaeans and Apollinarists, among other sects. 381Emperor Theodosius forbids slaughtering animals in temples for the purpose of predicting the future. 380-388 Christians, often without official approval, destroy many pagan temples. 386Public theatrical and circus performances are forbidden on Sunday. 389Sundays and the Easter season (from Palm Sunday to the Sunday after Easter) are declared state and legal holidays. 392All pagan temples without exception are declared closed, and every kind of pagan sacrifice and religious ceremony is forbidden. For discussion:

In this historical progression, at what point would you draw the line? When did the Christians, if they did, go too far in promoting their faith? Why do you think Christians outlawed and persecuted all heresy and paganism? Theodosiuss harsh laws against heretics kept heresy at a low ebb for fifty years, thus sparing much confusion among Christians and many a church fight. Does that justify his persecution of heretics? Why do you think Theodosius acted so swiftly against heretical Christians and relatively slowly against pagan religions?

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Christianity as State Religion Handout B
Page 5
HANDOUT B: Debate: When Christians Rule

The year is 2022. The country is in deep turmoil. Police dont enforce the few laws Congress can agree to pass, reasoning, Who are we to insist on our morals? Religions and cults proliferate because everyone has found his or her own truth. Pluralism and relativism run rampant; confusion reigns in government and society. No one can achieve a consensus on anything. In response, a number of Christians run for Congress and are electedbecause they seem to stand for somethingand they now constitute a two-thirds majority in both houses. Their first order of business is to begin debating whether to give more favor to Christianity. But they dont know exactly how far to go. They seek advice from three groups of Christians, each of whom takes a different view. Traditionalists: Keep church and state separate. Give preference to no faith, and tolerate all faiths and beliefs equally. Moderates: Make Christianity the official religion; use government power to exalt Christian beliefs and to convert all citizens. But tolerate all other faiths and beliefs. Proselytizers: Make Christianity the official religion; use government power to exalt Christian beliefs and to evangelize all citizens and to suppress dangerous faiths and beliefs (e.g., cultic or racist or militaristic organizations). 1. Have the class divide into three groups, one for each of the above positions. 2. Let each group prepare reasons for its position. 3. Hold a debate in which each group presents its views. 4. Conclude with discussion: What were the best points from each group? What have we learned?

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Christianity as State Religion Article: The Edict of Milan
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ARTICLE The Edict of Milan The agreement shifted Christianity from being an illicit, persecuted sect to being a welcomeand soon dominant religion of the Roman Empire. by DAVID F. WRIGHT

It came out of a two-man summit meeting in the northern Italian city of Milan in January 313. The two men were the Roman emperorsConstantine ruling the West and Licinius the East. They met under happy auspices, as their joint communique put it. After years of power struggles for the imperial purple, the Roman world enjoyed a degree of peace. And after the failure of the Great Persecution (initiated by the emperors Diocletian and Galerius in 303-304), the Christian church had begun to recover its stability. Constantine and Licinius turned their minds to matters affecting the general welfare of the Empire. They determined first of all to attend to the reverence paid to the Divinity. This required a guarantee of full religious freedom to the Christians, setting them on a par with those who followed other religions. The so-called Edict of Milan provided for this. It marks the Roman Empires final abandonment of the policies of persecution of Christians. The age of the martyrs was at an end. The transition to the era of the Christian Empire had begun. Provisions of the Edict The conference at Milan undoubtedly resulted in a concordat. But its terms are known to us only from a rescript issued six months later by Licinius. (This rescript was sent from his capital in Nicomedianow Izmit in Turkey, just east of the Bosporusto the governor of the nearby province of Bithynia. The Christian writer Lactantius has preserved its original Latin, while the church historian Eusebius gives it in Greek.) Here are the rescripts main provisions: Our purpose is to grant both to the Christians and to all others full authority to follow whatever worship each person has desired, whereby whatsoever Divinity dwells in heaven may be benevolent and propitious to us, and to all who are placed under our authority. Therefore we thought it salutary and most proper to establish our purpose that no person whatever should be refused complete toleration, who has given up his mind either to the cult of the Christians or to the religion which he personally feels best suited to himself. It is our pleasure to abolish all conditions whatever which were embodied in former orders directed to your office about the Christians, . . . that every one of those who have a common wish to follow the religion of the Christians may from this moment freely and unconditionally proceed to observe the same without any annoyance or disquiet. The rescript goes out of its way to ensure evenhanded treatment for all: no diminution must be made from the honor of any religion. But the strongly proChristian flavor is tasted in the instructions to restore to the Christians all property that had been appropriated during the persecution. This applied to property belonging to individual Christians as well as to churchesand without regard for the present owners, who could apply to the state for compensation. In implementing these rulings the governor was to give the Christians his most effective intervention, making sure the terms were published to all. These actions, Constantine and Licinius concluded, would ensure that the Divine favor toward us, which we have already experienced in so many affairs, shall continue for all time to give us prosperity and success, together with happiness for the state.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Christianity as State Religion Article: The Edict of Milan
Page 7 Significance of the Edict In reality, the subjects of Constantine in the Western Empire already enjoyed the toleration and property rights spelled out in this rescript. Nevertheless, the Edicts significance stands unchallenged (even though we must recognize the inaccuracy of its traditional title, since it was not an edict). Only a few months earlier Constantine had become the first Roman emperor to throw in his lot with the Christians. Although the Milan summit decreed only strict parity for Christians alongside other religionists, hindsight reads between the lines and discerns the hint of things to come. Before the end of the fourth century, orthodox Christianity had become the sole official religion of the Roman Empire. For Christianity, the changes were momentous. To this day state churches perpetuate the alignment between Christianity and the Empire worked out in the fourth century. Meanwhile, Christians in independent, free churches have long regarded the Constantinian revolution as little short of the fall of Christianity, almost as calamitous as the fall of Adam and Eve. One thing is clear: The unqualified toleration for all decreed at Milan did not last long, nor has it often prevailed in later centuries. The rescripts noble sentiments surely warrant our attention today for that reason alone.
CITATION

The 100 Most Important Events In Church History: CHRISTIAN HISTORY, Issue 28 (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, Inc., 1997).
Used with Permission

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OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES


Monks and Missionaries
As Christianity became culturally assimilated, monks sought to live pure Christian lives by separating themselves from society and taking the gospel to Europe.
PREPARATION:

For your background, read articles from the CHRISTIAN HISTORY issue The 100 Most Important Events in Church History:

Benedict Writes His Monastic Rule, included with this study on page 9.

The moral laxity of the average believer was never more apparent than during the era when the Roman Empire gradually converted to Christianity following the conversion of Constantine in 312. Now that it was safe and expected for every Roman citizen to be Christian, people flocked to the church. But the teachings of Jesus made little apparent difference to some converts. In contrast, social disapproval and government persecution of early Christians enforced a type of spiritual discipline on believers. People didnt become or remain Christians in the first three centuries unless they were serious. The new spiritual laxity of the fourth century bothered many Christians, and a movement arose that tried to help dedicated believers live disciplined Christian lives. This informal movement first produced Christian hermits, who lived by themselves in caves or in the desertthus many are called the Desert Fathers. Hermits practiced severe asceticism, denying themselves fellowship, comfort, food, and sleepto name a few acts of self-denial they thought essential to holiness. The most famous of the Desert Fathers is Antony of Egypt (251-356). Born to wellto-do Christian parents, Antony heeded the call of Jesus to the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:21): If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. Antony did just that and counseled many others to go and do likewise; thus he became the father of hermits. See Handout A on page 7 for the devotion of Antony. Two paths Eventually, Antonys followers went to unnatural and extreme austerities. For example, the pillar saints sought to escape the worlds pleasures by living atop pillars for years at a time. Simeon Stylites did this for 36 years before he died in A.D. 459. Such extremes reflected the theology of the day: flesh/matter was essentially evil and must be disciplined; the spirit, however, was good. It also reflects an increasingly common assumption of the churchthat there were two paths in the Christian life. In the normal Christian life, you lived and worked in the world; you tried to be the

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

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best Christian you could, but since you would be regularly involved with money, possessions, sex, and the distractions of daily life, it was not expected that you could get close to living the perfect Christian life. Then there was the path of perfection, which required withdrawal from the world and rigorous self-discipline. Living as a hermit had limitations and was too demanding for most people. Pachomius (286-346) responded to this problem and founded the first communities of hermits. They lived in walled-in monasteries, working in daily fellowship with one another. As such they would now be called monks. The monastery soon became the ideal Christian society, to which many youthful believers aspired if they meant business with God. The early church believed that three aspects of life most compromised serious spiritual growth. Material possessions require constant care, and the desire for getting more is difficult to keep in check. Sex, even if confined to marriage, is a powerful physical passion that often overshadows concern for the spiritual. Being answerable only to yourself for your spiritual growth leads many to squander their energy or to indulge in activities that do nothing for spiritual growth. Thus three principal vows came to characterize monastic life: 1. Povertyrelinquishing all worldly possessions. 2. Chastitygiving up sexual relations. 3. Obedienceto obey completely the head of the monastery, the abbot. In addition, a fourth vowstability, the vow to live in one monastery for the rest of ones lifewas also taken by early monks. It tried to address the temptation to abandon one community for another when things got tough. Monk missionaries Monasteries quickly became insular, so to combat this tendency, Basil, bishop of Caesarea (330-379), called monks to participate more fully in the life of the church as a wholethus modifying the rule on stability for many. Many monks became bishops in the church: for example Augustine (354-430), the bishop of Hippo and great theologian, and Athanasius (296-373), bishop of Alexandria and the defender of Trinitarian orthodoxy. Basils rule influenced Benedicts rule in the early sixth century (see Benedict Writes His Monastic Rule from The 100 Events issue, page 9), which became the most significant guideline for monasticism in the early Middle Ages. It also encouraged large numbers of men and women to enter the monastic life. In the fifth through the seventh centuries, monks became the churchs most successful missionaries. Martin of Tours (d. 397), the first non-martyr to be venerated as a saint, used his monastery in France to bring the gospel to that region. Patrick (389-461), the great missionary, was the key person to evangelize the Irish. Taken captive by Irish pirates at age 16, Patrick escaped but later returned as a missionary. He may have established 300 churches and baptized 120,000 Irish. There are so many other examples of monk-missionaries that it would not be unfair to say Europe was converted by monks. The history of monasticism is a history of reform, renewal, decay and then new reform, renewal, and decay as generation after generation of Christians became frustrated with lax Christianity and lax monasticism and sought fresh expressions of the life of holiness. As new Christian communities were founded, earlier forms of the monastic life were adapted to fit each new circumstance. But they all had in

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

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common the three central vowspoverty, chastity, and obedience. To further prepare for this lesson, read the following Bible passages:

Matthew 5-7; Matthew 19:10-12, 16-30; Acts 2:42-47; 1 Corinthians 7:1-9; Galatians 5:22-25.

KEY QUESTION:

What does it mean to live a holy life? How do we best attain it?

Talk to a dozen Christians, and youll get twelve ideas about what holiness, or the perfect Christian life, should look like. One would argue that holiness is primarily a life filled with prayer and worship. Another might say its chiefly a life of compassionate service to the poor. Still another might say its mostly a life that avoids temptation and is governed by self-discipline and goodness. And on it goes. But how do we know which of these laudable lifestyles is really the holiness most vital for the Christian? How do we determine which path to holiness we ought to follow? In the early church, Christians didnt simply wonder about the perfect Christian life, many attempted it. Some lived alone as hermits, trying to discipline the desires of the flesh. Later, many gathered in communitymonasteriesand tried to live in perfection together. Today well look at the early history of monasticism. Well talk about the early monks idea of holiness and compare it with some ideas of our own.
CLASS SESSION:

Opening:
(5 to 10 minutes) Break the class into small groups. Present this scenario: You are asked to create a Christian community that will make it possible for Christians to live the most holy life possible. What are the first three rules you would insist on in this community? Why? Have each group share their conclusions with the rest of the class. Transition: Its fun to think about what it would take to create a setting where holiness could flourish, and we each have different ideas about how that might happen. But in the early church, Christians didnt simply fantasize about the perfect Christian life; many attempted it. Some lived alone as hermits, trying to discipline the desires of the flesh. Later many gathered in communities called monasteries and tried to live in perfection together. Today well look at the early monks idea of holiness and compare it with some of our own.

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Monks and Missionaries

Study Guide
Page 1

Historical Setting:
(15 to 20 minutes)

Option A: Mini-lecture Present what youve read as youve prepared this lesson. Here are the highlights youll need to cover:

In 312 Constantine became a Christian, and when he became emperor, he favored Christianity. With political and social acceptance, thousands began attending church, but the level of commitment among some was low. Antony, among others, went out to the desert to live a more rigorous, holy life. Some hermits went to great extremes to discipline themselves for holiness. Simeon Stylites lived on a pillar for 36 years. Pachomius (286-346) gathered hermits into communities called monasteries to live out the life of holiness together. Four principal vows characterized early monastic life: 1. Povertyrelinquishing of all worldly possessions. 2. Chastitygiving up sexual relations. 3. Obedienceobeying completely the head of the monastery, the abbot. 4. Stabilityliving in one monastery for the rest of ones life. Soon the church saw two avenues for the Christian: (a) the normal life in the world, where perfection wasnt possible because of the involvement with possessions, sex, and the daily anxieties of life, and (b) monastic life, where a lifestyle of holiness was pursued wholeheartedly. Many monks later became important bishops in the church, such as the great theologian Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, and Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria and the defender of Trinitarian orthodoxy. Benedict (480-549) wrote his Rule for monastic life to give monks a middle way between extreme asceticism and laxity. It greatly influenced the nature of the monastic life for hundreds of years. In the fifth through seventh centuries, many monks, modifying the vow about stability, became missionaries. For example, Martin of Tours evangelized France, and Patrick brought the gospel to Ireland. Monasticism continued to renew itself through the centuries; as old orders became lax, reforming orders arose insisting on a more disciplined life of holiness.

Option B: Group Participation Group Discussion: Break from the class into three or four groups. Have everyone take five minutes to read Benedict Writes His Monastic Rule from the 100 Events issue of CHRISTIAN HISTORY, on page 9. Then have each group discuss the following questions:

What were the key elements in Benedicts Rule that helped make it a successful model? What part of his Rule most appeals to you? What part makes you most uncomfortable?

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Monks and Missionaries

Study Guide
Page 2

Application
(20 to 35 minutes)

Option A: Questions for Discussion

The early monastic tradition urged chastity, poverty, obedience, and stability upon its monks. How do these contribute to the life of holiness? Why have they lasted as essential vows for monks ever since? To the early monks, the life of holiness began with vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and sometimes stability. What vows do you think are prerequisites for living a holy life today? You shall be perfect, just as your father in heaven is perfect, says Jesus (Matt. 5:48, NKJV). The early monks took this verse seriously. Do we take it as seriously, or just differently? Listen to the following views of holinesswhat it means to be a good Christian. Naturally, all of them are important. But if you were forced to choose, which one should get the highest priority? Why? a. c. e. f. g. A life of prayer and worship, even seven times daily. A life of virtue, which grows only by strict self-discipline. Compassionate service, especially to the poor. Missionary zeal, dedicated to reaching those who do not know Christ. Living in harmony and community with other believers. b. Avoiding all temptations, comforts, pleasures associated with this world. d. Experiencing spiritual empowerment, miracles, and supernatural grace.

h. Studying and sharing the Scripture with others.


Do you think there are different callings in the Christian life, that some are called to greater discipline than others? Why or why not? Bible passages about poverty (e.g., Matt. 19:16-30 and Acts 2:42-47) and chastity (e.g., Matt. 19:10-12 and 1 Cor. 7:1-9) seem to be impossible to live out in normal life. The early church said, therefore, they were passages that applied only to those who sought the way of perfection. What do you think of this explanation? The early monks thought of possessions, sex, and free will as obstructions to spiritual growth. Many Christians today think of these things as God-given blessings to enjoy. What word would you use to describe these things? Why? Do you think the life of Christian holiness can be lived out in day-to-day life? Scan Matt. 5-7 or Gal. 5:22-25. Does this lifestyle require getting away from the world as did the monks? The monks insisted that for true holiness to blossom, Christians must live in community. How true do you think that is? What to you are the key elements in living a life of holiness in the midst of daily life? In many ways, Christianity in modern America is lax. What things can we learn

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES


Monks and Missionaries

Study Guide
Page 3 from the monks to reinvigorate the spiritual life of todays churches?

Option B: The Story of Antony Summarize for the class the influence of Antony (251-356) on the church (see the Preparation notes on Antony). Have the class read the condensed story of Antony on Handout A on page 7, and then discuss the following:

What do you find admirable about Antony? What do you find troublesome? In what ways did Antony get the New Testament message right? In what ways do you think he misunderstood it? How do we know whether the New Testament verses about giving away wealth (e.g., Matt. 19:16-30 and Acts 2:42-47) apply to us personally? Bible passages about poverty (e.g., Matt. 19:10-12 and 1 Cor. 7:1-9) seem to be impossible to live out in normal life. Therefore, the early church said they were passages that applied only to those who sought the way of perfection. What do you think of this explanation? What to you are the key elements in living a life of holiness in the midst of daily life? In many ways, the Christianity in modern America is lax. What things can we learn from the Antony to reinvigorate the spiritual life of todays churches?

Closing
(5 minutes) Read this prayer of Augustine: Grant me, even me, my dearest Lord, to know thee, and love thee, and rejoice in thee. And if I cannot do these perfectly in this life, let me at least advance to higher degrees every day, till I can come to do them in perfection. Let the knowledge of thee increase in me here, that it may be full hereafter. Let the love of thee grow everyday more and more here, that it may be perfect hereafterthat my joy may be great in itself, and full in thee. Amen.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Monks and Missionaries Handout A
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HANDOUT A: The Life of Antony

Going according to custom into the Lords House, [Antony] communed with himself and reflected as he walked how the apostles left all and followed the Saviour, and how they in the Acts sold their possessions and brought them and laid them at the apostles feet for distribution to the needy, and what and how great a hope was laid up for them in heaven. Pondering on these things he entered the church, and it happened the Gospel was being read, and he heard the Lord saying to the rich man, If you would be perfect, go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and come follow me and you shall have treasure in heaven. Antony, as though God had put him in mind of the saints, and the passage had been read on his account, went out immediately from the church and gave the possessions of his forefathers to the villagersthey were three hundred acres, productive and very fairthat they should no longer be a clog upon himself and his sister. And all the rest that was movable he sold, and, having got together much money he gave it to the poor, reserving a little, however, for his sisters sake. . . . Monasteries were not yet so common in Egypt, and no monk knew anything of the great desert. Anyone who wanted to see to his soul practiced the ascetical life alone, not far from his own village. Thus there was in the neighboring village at that time an old man who had lived a solitary life from his youth up. Upon seeing him, Antony sought to equal him in virtue, so he too began to stay in the neighborhood of the village. If he heard talk of a zealous person anywhere else, he would go forth from there like a wise bee and seek him out, and did not return to his own place until he had seen him. After taking from him supplies, as it were, for travelling along the road to virtue, he returned. . . . He directed his whole desire and all his energies to strengthening his spiritual practices. He worked with his hands, for he had heard, If any man will not work, neither let him eat, spending part of his wages on bread and distributing the rest to the needy. He prayed continually, because he had learned that one must pray in secret without ceasing . . . He submitted himself willingly to the zealous men whom he went to see and learned from them the zeal and self-denial which each had acquired: he noticed the courtesy of one, the constancy of another in prayer; he observed ones meekness, anothers kindness; he attentively watched one as he kept vigil and another in his love of study; he admired one for his patience and another for his fasting and sleeping on the bare ground. In all he noted their devotion to Christ and their love one for another. Having thus gathered his fill, he returned to his own place of solitude, afterwards reflecting on the special virtues of each one and striving eagerly to exemplify all of them in himself. . . . Devilish distraction But the devil, who hates and envies what is good, could not endure to see such a resolution in a youth. . . . First of all he tried to lead him away from the discipline, whispering to him the remembrance of his wealth, care for his sister, claims of kindred, love of money, the various pleasures of the table and the other relaxations of life, and at last the difficulty of virtue and the labor of it. . . . The devil, unhappy soul, one night even took upon him the shape of a woman and imitated all her acts simply to beguile Antony. But he, his mind filled with Christ and the nobility inspired by him, and considering the spirituality of the soul,

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Monks and Missionaries Handout A
Page 5 quenched the coal of the others deceit. . . . [He exhorted] all to prefer the love of Christ before all that is in the world. And while he exhorted and advised them to remember the good things to come, and the loving-kindness of God towards us, who spared not his own Son but delivered him up for us all, he persuaded many to embrace the solitary life. . . . Antony was there daily a martyr to his conscience and contending in the conflicts of faith. And his discipline was much severer, for he was ever fasting, and he had a garment of hair on the inside, while the outside was skin, which he kept until his end. And he neither bathed his body with water to free himself from filth nor did he ever wash his feet, nor even endure so much as to put them into water, unless compelled by necessity. Nor did any one even see him unclothed, nor his body naked at all, except after his death, when he was buried.
CITATION From Athanasiuss Life of Antony. Reprinted from Jean Comby, How to Read Church History (Crossroad, 1989) and Adalbert Hamman, How to Read the Church Fathers (Crossroad, 1993). Used with permission.

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ARTICLE Benedict Writes His Monastic Rule His flexible, compassionate guidelines for Christian community forever shaped monastic lifeand influenced Western society. by BENNET D. HILL

We have, therefore, to establish a school of the Lords service, in the institution of which we hope to order nothing that is harsh or rigorous, wrote Benedict in the prologue to his Rule. The Rule of St. Benedict is a short document, perhaps thirteen thousand words, yet it has influenced all forms of organized religious life, Protestant and Catholic, in the West. Reading The Rule Scholars speculate that Benedict (c. 480-549) wrote the Rule in the early sixth century (a) as a constitution for his own monastery of Monte Cassino between Rome and Naples; or (b) at the request of other local monastic communities; or (c) in response to a papal petition for a normative guide for the many groups of monks and nuns throughout Italy and the Christian West. The Rule represents the accumulated spiritual wisdom of earlier centuries of monastic experience. It draws upon the teachings of the desert fathers of Egypt, the practice of monastic life in southern Europe, and (especially) the Rule of the Master, a long, highly detailed, and exhortatory document. By classical standards, Benedict was not well educated: his Rule contains not one reference to an ancient Greek or Latin author. But it displays a deep knowledge of the Scriptures, the writings of the church fathers, and the Egyptian monastic tradition as it came to the West in the Institutes and Conferences of John Cassian. Modern scholars stress the major influence of the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament (and Apocrypha)the Books of Psalms, Sirach, and Wisdom. Living the Rule Benedicts Rule contains both theoretical principles for the monastic life and practical, everyday directives. Benedict legislated for a community of laymen governed benevolently by an abbota community whose purpose was the glorification of God and the salvation of the individual monk. After a years novitiate or probation, a monk professed three vows: stability, the reformation of the monks life, and obedience. Benedictine life meant a routine done in a spirit of silence, dedicated to prayer and work, and characterized by moderation and flexibility in all things. This flexibility, and what St. Gregory the Great called the Rules discretion, both distinguish the Benedictine from earlier, more austere forms of monastic life, and help explain the Rules widespread adoption. For example, discussing food and drink, Benedict wrote (ch. 40): Although we read that wine is not a proper drink for monks, yet, since in our own day they cannot be persuaded of this, let us at least agree not to drink to excess, but sparingly, because wine makes even the wise fall away (Ecclesiasticus 19:2). Benedict intended that the monks day be centered around liturgy, the Opus Dei (Work of God) to which nothing ought to be preferred (ch. 46). The liturgical code consisted of the night office (vigils or matins) and the seven day offices (lauds, prime, tierce, sext, none, vespers, and compline), as advised in Psalm 119:147, 164. At each office the monks recited psalms with refrains, and versicles, punctuated by silent prayer, a hymn, and readings from the Scriptures and from patristic commentaries on those Scriptures. In Benedicts day the practice was to recite the entire 150 psalms within a weeks time. St. Benedict planned the monastery as a self-sufficient socio-economic unit so constructed that within it all the necessities, such as water, mill, and garden are

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Monks and Missionaries Handout B
Page 7 contained and the various crafts are practiced. Then there will be no need for the monks to roam outside, because that is not at all good for their souls (ch. 66). Having stated that Idleness is the enemy of the soul; therefore, the brethren should be occupied at stated times in manual labor, and at other fixed times in sacred writing (ch. 48), the Rule prescribes that all monks in good health should spend part of the day in manual work. Here Benedict made a profound contribution to the concept of the dignity of labor. The ancient world considered manual labor demeaning and idealized the life of leisure. The free man, the gentleman, did not work with his hands. Benedict implied that manual labor, even apart from its economic import, was physically and psychologically healthful, that work was a worthy occupation. Benedict called his monastery a school of the Lords service, and he used the word school in both a spiritual and an intellectual sense. In the monastery the monk learned to serve the Lord, slowly crushing his faults and sins and adoring the Almighty in worship. To praise the Lord in the Opus Dei, however, the monk had to learn to read. From Benedicts entirely spiritual conception, there gradually evolved schools within monasteries whose practical purpose was the education of young monks and the children of the local nobility. Between about 600 and 1000, the period that John Henry Newman called the Benedictine centuries, monastic schools provided much of the training available in Western Europe. Books are a necessity for any school, and the preparation of books and manuscripts became a distinctly monastic craft. Contrary to the popular modern view, however, most medieval monks were not involved in copying manuscripts. Aside from the obvious fact that many kinds of work are required for the operation of a large (or small) establishment, few people in any age have the inclination or discipline for long periods of literary and intellectual work. Understanding the Rule Benedict considered his Rule a guide for ordinary men and women, not saints or mystics or intellectuals. The Rule implies that the newcomer to the monastery has had no previous ascetic experience nor even a particularly strong bent to the religious life. In his advice to the abbotLet him make no distinction of persons in the monastery . . . Let not one of noble birth be put before him who was formerly a slave (ch. 2)Benedict anticipated the entrance of persons of all social classes. His advice to the monksLet them bear with the greatest patience one anothers infirmities, whether of body or of character (ch. 72)clearly anticipated very different (and perhaps difficult) personality types within the community. And, again, in his recommendation to the abbotLet him always exalt mercy above judgment . . .let him keep his own frailty before his eyes and remember that the bruised reed must not be broken (ch. 64)Benedict urged compassionate, not dictatorial, government. What accounts for the Rules profound influence on Western culture? The Rules compassion for weakness and failure while it sets forth high ideals; its flexibility and adaptability; its monarchal government but respect for individual freedom; and its proverbial discretion. The enduring legacy of the Rule of St. Benedict to the modern world is a tradition of ordered and disciplined living, a deep appreciation for the ancient liturgy, the wisdom of a rich literary culture, a respect for the dignity of labor, and a compassionate understanding of the human condition.
CITATION

The 100 Most Important Events in Church History: CHRISTIAN HISTORY, Issue 28 (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, Inc., 1997).
Used with Permission

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OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES


The Rise of the Papacy
In the Middle Ages, the church, especially in the office of the pope, wielded great political power.
PREPARATION:

With the barbarian invasions into western Europe beginning in the late fourth century, the church faced an enormous challengehow to maintain its unity in the midst of the political fragmentation of the Roman Empire. It met the challenge, at least partly, by strengthening the office of bishop, especially the bishop of Rome, who became known as the pope (the word simply means father). When the capital of the empire was moved from Rome to Constantinople in 330, a political vacuum was created in Rome. The civil authorities seemed increasingly incapable of performing their duties, so the Roman bishop had to exercise not only spiritual but political leadership. For example, when the barbarians under Attila the Hun threatened to attack Rome in 452, it was Pope Leo, not a city official, who negotiated with Attila and convinced him not to sack the city. The church also became the greatest provider of help and services to the poor. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the West in A.D. 476, the bishops of Rome increasingly legislated not just for Rome but for all of Christendom. The apostle Peter, upon whom Christ said he would build his church (see Matt. 16:18), was considered the first bishop of Rome; this gave the bishopric of Rome enormous prestige. As society fragmented, the church in the West looked to Rome for direction about both spiritual and secular matters. By contrast, in the more stable East where the Empire continued, the term Pope was used of a number of bishops, none of whom had clear preeminence as did the bishop of Rome. The church and civil power To complicate matters, as Europe moved into the Middle Ages, land in the feudal society became a key source of wealth. Through donations, war, and real estate transactions, bishops became owners of vast tracts of land and thus became entitled to a portion of the revenues the land produced. The church soon joined its political and economic power with military might to protect and extend its holdings. Because of the bishops feudal-based clout, secular rulers believed they had the right to appoint the local bishop. Since the local bishop was so powerful, it was only natural for princes to want a political ally in the position. Furthermore, they believed it was necessary for the bishop to be accountable to the local authorities, which would ensure stability in their regions. Just as naturally, the church balked: choosing the bishop was the right of the church. Some believed a spiritual office should be appointed by a spiritual institution. Then again, some in the church wanted the right to appoint bishops in order to use the power of bishops for the churchs ends; having politically powerful bishops all over Europe was an effective way of extending the church. For centuries, the controversy raged: at times the feudal lord (or king) would take it upon himself to designate new bishops, investing them with the symbols of spiritual authority: the ring, staff, and pallium (a special collar placed over the

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bishops vestments, signifying his authority). This practice was called lay investiture, and was always soundly condemned by the popes. The popes, for their part, raised the stakes: they claimed the right to invest not only the bishop but also the lay ruler, granting him in ceremony sword and scepter, symbols of temporal authority. Furthermore, they would excommunicate rulers who didnt adhere to their wishes and tell the rulers subjects they no longer were required to obey their ruler. The stakes were raised when on Christmas Day, A.D. 800, Pope Leo II crowned Charlemagne as Emperor of the Westsingle ruler over the largest European territory since the fall of the old Roman Empire. For the first time in hundreds of years, a unified temporal kingdom was a real possibility. Charlemagne envisioned the church as the soul and the state as the body of society. The king resided over the physical well being of his subjects, while the pope watched over the salvation of their souls. He believed each part had its own sphere of responsibility, and he added, therefore, that the church should not dispute decisions of the temporal ruler. Though the theory sounded fine, controversy continued, but now on a grander scale: Shall the pope crown the emperor? If so, is the pope merely recognizing the power that God has granted the ruler, or is the pope, as Gods instrument, granting power to the ruler? Shall secular rulers choose bishops, or shall the church? Popes and rulers fought it out through political intrigue, war, and excommunication. Gregory VII: cleric in conflict One of the more famous disputes came to a head in 1077. It was between Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV. The popes had long protested the interference of the German emperors in church affairs. In the last part of the eleventh century, Gregory, a pope bent on reforming the church and establishing it as the ultimate authority on earth, accused Henry IV of lay investiture and simony (selling church offices to the highest bidder). Gregory claimed the right to depose the emperor: he reasoned that if the pope is supreme judge in spiritual ways, why not also in secular ways? Gregory excommunicated Henry (the equivalent of consigning someone to hell), and in his Dictatus Papae, announced papal supremacy in the strongest terms. He declared that the pontiff had full power over all bishops, that a pope alone could depose a bishop, and that the pope could also absolve people from any oaths of loyalty they may have sworn to an evil temporal leader. The twenty-second article of the Dictatus even declared that the Roman church had never erred and that it never would. Henry responded by trying to force Gregorys resignation. However, Henrys political power base was quickly eroded among the people because of Pope Gregorys denunciations. Things got so bad for Henry, he decided to visit Gregory in private and ask for forgiveness. Henry crossed the Alps with his wife and infant son and came to Gregorys palace in Canossa, but Gregory made the repentant king stand out in the cold for three days before granting him a meeting and allowing him back into the church. But the conflict wasnt over. A few years later, Gregory excommunicated Henry again, but this time, Henry came to Rome with troops at his side. He sent Gregory into exile and set in his place a rival pope, Clement III. The controversy continues The struggle between secular and spiritual authority did not end in the eleventh century. It is tempting to shake our heads in disbelief and wonder why the Middle Ages didnt simply separate the powers of church and state as we have. But we must remember two things. First, our current solution to this problem came about

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only after centuries of debate, persecution, and war. This basic tension continued all through the Middle Ages, and it was even a problem in the Reformation. In the Scottish Reformation, for example, reformer John Knox (imitating Calvin and his Geneva) sought to use the power of the state to enforce Christian principles. Second, in the Middle Ages, it was not a matter of whether the church should have political power; it did. In medieval society, to hold land was to hold political power. The question was how should the church and state relate to each other in this situation?
KEY QUESTION: What is the role of the church in the political realm?

What should the church do when the government seems bent on doing things that directly oppose the values we hold dear? The list of such offenses will differ significantly among Christians, but most would agree that the government challenges the churchs values when it funds obscene art exhibitions through the National Endowment for the Arts, or appoints health officials who espouse safe sex for teens, or subsidizes value free curriculums in the public schools. How should the church respond to the state on such matters? Should pastors use the pulpit to advocate political changes? Should Christians form a political party to effect change? Should Christians try to gain control of the legislature and create laws more sympathetic to the Christian faith? Such issues first came to a head for the church in the Middle Ages. For some Christians, it was the golden era for the church, when the church held political power equal to that of the state. But that also created problems for both church and state, problems that led to divisions and even war. In this lesson, well look at how the medieval church thought about the relationship between church and state and see how that might help us today as we wrestle with our own church-state issues.
CLASS SESSION:

Opening:
(5 to 10 minutes)

Option A Begin your session by reading or summarizing the opening paragraphs of this lesson plan. Then discuss this question: Should the state check with the church before it passes laws? Why or why not? Transition: Such issues first came to a head for the church in the Middle Ages. For some Christians, it was the golden era for the church, when the church held political power equal to that of the state. But that also created some problems for both church and state, problems that led to divisions and even war. In this lesson, well look at how the medieval church thought about the relationship between church and state and see how that might help us today as we wrestle with our own church-state issues.

Option B Use Handout A, Christ and Culture, on page 7.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Rise of the Papacy Study Guide
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Historical Setting:
(15 to 20 minutes) Mini-lecture Give a brief talk that summarizes what youve read as you prepared this session. Be sure to cover these points:

During the last years of the Roman Empire, when centralized power was crumbling, a political vacuum was created in many areas of the empire. The church stepped into this vacuum, especially to protect and defend people. This was especially true in Rome, where Bishop Leo I (also called pope) had to act as diplomat and negotiate with Attila the Hun, talking him out of sacking the city in 452. At the same time, the bishop of Rome was seen as the central authority of at least the western church. In the feudal society of the Middle Ages, land became a key source of wealth. Through donations, war, and real estate transactions, bishops became owners of vast tracts of land and thus became entitled to a portion of the revenues the land produced. As the feudal system developed, those who owned land held political power. Princes and kings wanted the right to appoint bishops in their region (called lay investiture); to ensure stability in the region, they believed it was necessary for the bishop to be accountable to the local authorities. The church believed the right to appoint bishops belonged solely to the church. The church believed that, as Gods representative on earth, it had the right to anoint the king, investing him with the symbols of secular authority: the sword and scepter. Furthermore, the church felt the king should be accountable to the church and should be excommunicated when he wasnt. The tension is seen in the coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo II in A.D. 800. Did the church recognize the God-given authority of Charlemagne, or did it anoint him, and as Gods representative, grant him this authority? Charlemagne believed that church and state should work together: the state is the body and the church the soul of society; the state concerns itself with the temporal, the church with the spiritual. He also added that the church should never question the states decisions. The battle of wills between King Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII illustrates the difficulty. At one point, Gregory excommunicated Henry, who finally came and sought forgiveness. It seemed as if the church had the final say. A few years later, though, Henry was excommunicated again, but this time he marched on Rome, sent Gregory into exile, and put another pope into powervictory, state. This basic tension continued through the Middle Ages, and it was even a problem in the Reformation. The Protestant reformers in Germany (Martin Luther), Scotland (John Knox), and Geneva (John Calvin) all used the power of the state to enforce Protestant principles.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Rise of the Papacy Study Guide
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Application
(20 to 35 minutes)

Option A: Questions for Discussion

Roman Catholics take Matthew 16:17-19 literally: Peter and his successor bishops, especially those in Rome, have extraordinary spiritual authority. (Protestants, in contrast, say Peter is merely a figure for all Christians, all of whom share spiritual authority.) What purpose did the Catholic view serve in the early church? What have been the strengths and weaknesses of this view? Most Christians today are troubled by the amount of political power the church exercised in the Middle Ages. Yet the church gained power almost inadvertently. Where do you think it should have drawn the line? Not step into the political vacuum to protect the poor or the cities from barbarian invasion? Not accept gifts of land? Not accept the revenues from that land? Not challenge the king when he tried to appoint bishops? Not excommunicate a king who flaunted Christian teaching?

Read Matthew 22:15-22. In regard to paying taxes, Jesus says, Give to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is Gods. In a similar vein, Charlemagne said the church is the soul and the state the body of society. What church-state issues does this solve? What issues does it leave open? According to Romans 13:1-7, all authority comes from God, and secular rulers are Gods servants (v. 4). Some medieval popes believed that the church, in the name of God, should bestow power on the king. How might Christians who live under oppressive rulers interpret and apply this passage today? Many medieval kings and popes thought of government as a theocracy, in which God ruled society through his chosen human agent. Popes thought this agent was primarily the church; rulers said it was primarily the state. Other theocracies of history include Calvins Geneva, Puritan New England, Mormon Utah, and Muslim Iran. Why does this form of government have such a bad reputation, especially since its modeled in the Old Testament? Suppose lay investiture was instituted today, and state officials conducted ordination services and designated who would be your next pastor. How would you react? What insight does your reaction give you regarding the mindset of popes who so bitterly opposed this practice in their day? At one point, Pope Gregory VII absolved people from their allegiance to King Henry IV. Do you think he acted correctly? In your opinion, could the political situation in our country ever get to the point that you would feel similarly absolved from obedience to the state? Explain. How involved in politics are you personally because of your Christian faith? Why? Do you believe that Christians need to be more involved in politics? Less? Explain. State in one sentence how would you respond to the key question this lesson asks: What is the role of the church in the political realm?

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Rise of the Papacy Study Guide
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Option B: Group Activity Discuss the questions in Handout B, The Churchs Spiritual Authority, on page 8.

Closing
(5 minutes) Summarize the lesson and ask for any final comments or questions. Before a brief closing prayer, share this quote from Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790): He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Rise of the Papacy Handout A
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HANDOUT A: Christ and Culture

In his book Christ and Culture, H. Richard Niebuhr suggested five ways Christians have viewed the relationship between church and culture, between the Kingdom of God (which Niebuhr named Christ for shorthand) and the kingdoms of the world (culture):

Christ AGAINST Culture: Human culture is utterly sinful, and there is no hope for changing it. The Kingdom opposes human culture and calls Christians to come out from among them and be separate. Adherents: Tertullian, Anabaptists. The Christ OF Culture: The highest aspirations of culture and the Kingdom are in fundamental agreement; Jesus life and teachings should be spread because they are the greatest achievement in human history and make possible a more perfect society. Adherents: Abelard, 19th-century liberal Protestantism. Christ IN SYNTHESIS WITH Culture: There is a clear distinction between Christ and culture, but when they work together, a godly society results. Adherents: Charlemagne, Thomas Aquinas, early Anglicanism. Christ and Culture IN PARADOX: We accept and endure the tension that will always be with us: we are called to two loyalties (to culture and to God), living precariously and sinfully between two moralities, until the full revelation of a Kingdom of God beyond human history. Adherents: Luther, Kierkegaard. Christ the TRANSFORMER of Culture: Through the creation of just laws and conversion of human souls, culture can be transformed by Christ. Adherents: Augustine, Calvin.

What are the advantages of each position? Drawbacks? Are there two or three that can be combined? If you had to choose, one approach, which would be closest to your own way of viewing the relationship?

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HANDOUT B: The Churchs Spiritual Authority

In his Dictatus Papae, Pope Gregory VII made sweeping claims for papal authority: 1. The Roman Church owed its foundation to God alone. 2. The pope was alone to be called universal. 3. Only the popes feet were to be kissed by all princes. 4. The pope could depose emperors. 5. The pope could absolve subjects of evil temporal rulers from their allegiance. 6. The Roman Church had never erred, and never would. The theological position of the popes was that spiritual authority transcends secular authority. For example, Gregory himself gave the idea this defense: Every Christian king, when he comes to die, seeks as a pitiful suppliant the aid of a priest, that he may escape hells prison, may pass from the darkness into the light, and at the judgment of God may appear absolved from the bondage of his sins. Who, in his last hour (what layman, not to speak of priests) has ever implored the aid of an earthly king for the salvation of his soul? [From Gregory VIIs letter to the Bishop of Metz, 1081. Quoted in Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1963, p. 107.] Today, most Christians would agree with the fundamental point that spiritual authority is more important than secular authority. But if thats true, why shouldnt the church try to run the state? What would be advantages of the church being in charge of the United States or Canada? Disadvantages? Some Christians say that because spiritual authority transcends political authority, political matters shouldnt concern Christians. They say we should just stay out of politics altogether. What do you think of this view? Over what current issues do you think the churchs spiritual authority and the states political authority intersect? Abortion? School prayer? Teaching of evolution in the schools? Welfare for the poor? Affirmative action? How should the church exercise its spiritual authority on one or more of these issues? Should it merely pray and wait for God to act? Should it encourage its preachers to use the pulpit to advocate political change? Should it form a political party, or band together to support a slate of candidates? Or what?

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

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OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES


The Crusades
During this era, thousands of Christians marched on the Holy Land to conquer it in the name of Christ.
PREPARATION:

Read the following articles from the CHRISTIAN HISTORY issue The Crusades:

Objections to CrusadesAnswered, provided with this study on page 6. Major Crusades to the East timeline provided with this study on page 8.

Also read the following Bible passages:


Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8; Joshua 10:40; Psalm 44:4-5; John 2:15. Isaiah 2:4; Romans 14:19; Matthew 5:39, 44; Matthew 5:9.

Compare them with:


KEY QUESTION:

Can Christians use force to defend or extend their faith?

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, once did this: He made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Fathers house into a market! (John 2:15-16). Jesus was incensed. But he didnt just pray about his attitude; he didnt try to persuade people to leave peaceably; he didnt ask the temple board of directors to do something about the problem. Instead, he literally drove these people from the templeforcefully, even violently. A lot of innocent animals (and maybe a few people) nursed some whip wounds that night. This is not what comes to mind when we encourage each other to imitate Christ. In fact, modern Christians are almost uniformly opposed to using violence to accomplish Christian ends. That has not always been true. Take the Crusades, for example. We commonly condemn the Crusaders use of violence to drive Muslims from the Holy Land. But they looked to Jesus, who had driven sinners from the holy Temple, and to God, who had commanded Israel to exterminate the people occupying the land of milk and honey.

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

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In this weeks lesson, well examine the Crusades era, a time when Christians unashamedly used violence to drive the unrighteous from holy places. Well discuss whether they were justified in doing so, and if and when force is appropriate for Christians to use today on behalf of Christian righteousness.
CLASS SESSION:

Opening:
(5 minutes)

A B

Option A Read or summarize the opening paragraphs of this lesson plan.

Option B Read the class this scenario: A local group of radical atheists believes that Christianity is not just a harmless belief but a system that cripples people emotionally, giving them an excuse for not taking responsibility for their lives. These atheists decide to do more than talk. One Sunday morning during worship, they burst through the sanctuary doors of your church and begin shouting, Christians, give up your myths! Stop using religion as a crutch! From the microphone, the pastor tries to shout them down, but they refuse to be silenced. Some members become angry and stomp out. Others shout back; a couple of Christians use obscenities. After fifteen minutes, the atheists leave, promising, Well be back next week, and every week, until you Christians come to your senses! The church board, of which you are a member, quickly gathers at the back of the church. Ask the class one or more of these questions: What are the various contingencies to deal with the situation? If you plan to call in the police, but the police refuse to get involved in a religious issue, what would you do? In short, you must decide how much violence you would permit to stop this group. How much force would you let the local police engage in to stop them? Transition: In this weeks lesson, well examine the Crusades era, a time when Christians unashamedly used violence to drive the unrighteous from holy places. Well discuss whether they were justified in doing so, and if and when force is appropriate for Christians to use today on behalf of Christian righteousness.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Crusades Study Guide
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Historical Setting:
(15 to 20 minutes)

Option A: Mini-lecture Tell the class about the Crusades, making sure to cover these points:

In 1094 Pope Urban II received a plea for help from Greek (Orthodox) Christians; Muslims had invaded Greek territory in Asia Minor and threatened their capital, Constantinople. Urban II proclaimed a Crusade in 1095, and European Christians enthusiastically enlisted to repel the Muslims from Asia Minor and the Holy Land. In the First Crusade (1095-1099), Jerusalem was captured and then held by Christians for about 90 years. During the early stages of this Crusade, perhaps 45,000 people marched together. There were dozens of Crusades to the Holy Land over the next 200 years, but none would see another clear-cut military victory like this one. Perhaps the most disastrous Crusade was the Fourth, when Crusaders were sidetracked and ended up sacking and pillaging the Christian city of Constantinople. People enlisted in a crusade for a variety of reasons: a. To make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which would bring remittance of sin. b. To seek adventure and wealth (though most became poorer as a result of crusading). c. To defend the honor of Jesus Christ.

Nearly all Christians of the time believed the crusades were just. Famous Christians who preached or defended crusades included Bernard of Clairvaux, author of the famous On Loving God; Thomas Aquinas, the great systematic theologian; and King Louis IX of France (Saint Louis). Though Francis of Assisi never preached on behalf of crusades, neither did he ever condemn them. Three great military orders were established during this era: The Templars, The Hospitallers, and the Teutonic Knights. These were groups of knights who took monastic vows to protect Holy Land sites and the pilgrims traveling to and from them. In 1291, Muslims expelled the last of the Crusaders from the Holy Land. Some crusades were declared against Christian kings, others against heretics whomever the pope believed was a dangerous enemy of the church. Crusades to the Holy Land were organized as late as 1580even Christopher Columbus wanted to finance onebut none was even remotely successful.

Option B: Group Discussion Have eight pairs (or individuals) each study one crusade on the Major Crusades to the East timeline on pages 8-9. Have them report back to the group, answering the following questions: 1. What was the date and purpose of this crusade? 2. What was the most interesting non-crusade event during this period? 3. What was the outcome of your crusade?

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Crusades Study Guide
Page 9 4. What to you was the most interesting/odd/unusual thing about this crusade?

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Crusades Study Guide
Page 10

Application
(20 to 35 minutes)

Option A: Questions for Discussion

The Crusaders felt threatened by Muslim incursions into Christian territory, and for good reason: Islam had proven itself an aggressive religion; it spread itself by means of war. If you were the Pope in 1095, and Greek Christians had pleaded for your help, what could you have done short of starting a Crusade? Since Muslims had been using violence against Christians for centuries, did the Crusaders have a right to protect the church from Muslim aggression? Did they have the right to make a preemptive strike? Most Christians believe it was permissible for Israel to use military might to establish its presence in the Holy Land but not for the Crusaders to use military might to reestablish the churchs presence in the Holy Land. Whats the difference? The Crusaders were clearly inspired by the many Old Testament stories of war, certain psalms (like Psalm 44), verses like, If you dont have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one (Luke 22:36), and the story of Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple. Were they right using such passages to justify their military excursions? Why or why not? Most Christians have concluded that the Crusaders were wrong to wage war in the name of Christ and on behalf of the church. At the same time, most Christians assume it is permissible for Christians to wage war in the name of justice and on behalf of the secular state. Why is the former generally considered abominable, and the latter generally justified? (One possible answer: The higher our loyalty, the higher our ethic. As Christians our loyalty is first to Christ, and the church, second to family, and third to the community (the state). In the cause of Christ and his church, we use only love and persuasion. In our families, we use moderate forcerestricting children to the house or perhaps spanking upon occasion. In the state, we use physical force, even killing.)

Jesus did not resist the evil done to him as he hung on the cross. He didnt even try to defend himself at his trial. To what extent are we to imitate Christ in this? Should we never resist evil? Should we never seek justice in a court of law? Why or why not? Most Christians rule out physical violence as a way to defend or extend our faith. Are other forms of force legitimate to coerce people into obeying Gods will? Boycotting the products of a company that advertises on programs that contain excessive sex and violence? Threatening to withhold your vote from a legislator if he doesnt support a certain pro-life bill? Withholding a pledge until your church commits more of its budget to evangelism?

Read one or more of the following passages: Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8; Joshua 10:40;

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Crusades Study Guide
Page 11 Psalms 44:4-5; John 2:15. Compare them with Isaiah 2:4; Romans 14:19; Matthew 5:39,44; and Matthew 5:9. Based on these Scriptures, which position best describes the approach Christians should take? a. The New Testament call to peace supersedes the Old Testament permission to warChristians can never under any circumstances engage in violence.

b. War is permissible for a nation, like Israel, but not for the church. Thus we can wage war today for our nation, but not for our church. c. The peace passages are promises of a future peace. In the meantime, for the sake of bringing order to a disordered world, Christians may use violence when there is a good cause and no other option.

d. Other?

Option B: Crusader Debate Divide the class into two groups, one for the Crusades and one against. Give them 10 minutes to read Objections to CrusadesAnswered on p. 20 of The Crusades issue of CHRISTIAN HISTORY (also provided on pages 6-7 of this study). Have the pro-Crusades side also read Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8; Joshua 10:40; Psalms 44:4-5; John 2:15. Have the anti-crusade side also read Isaiah 2:4; Romans 14:19; Matthew 5:39,44; and Matthew 5:9. Have the two sides debate for ten to fifteen minutes the idea of crusading. Conclude by asking these questions:

What was the strongest argument for the just use of violence? What was the strongest argument for non-violence? What new insight did you gain about the Crusades or about Christians and violence as a result of this exercise?

Closing
(5 minutes) Summarize the discussion and any agreements the class came to. If you come from a pacifist tradition, you might end by reading the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-10. If you come from a tradition that believes in the just use of force, you might close with Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Crusades


Article: Objections To Crusades Answered
Page 12
ARTICLE Objections To Crusades Answered An experienced crusade preacher defends holy war by HUMBERT OF ROMANS

Did people speak out against the Crusades? Yes, but as historians Louise and Jonathan Riley-Smith explain, Criticism of crusading . . . was much less widespread . . . than is often believed. And when objections did arise, they could be forcefully answered, as shown in the following treatise. Humbert of Romans, a former leader of the Dominican Order, wrote this closely argued tour deforce in about 1272. Here are brief excerpts, translated by the Riley-Smiths: There are some men given over to leisure who avoid all labor for Christ and are in the habit of condemning the measures the church has under- taken against the Saracens, like people, to use Jeromes words, who always pass judgments on everything and can think of nothing to do themselves. These people are like those spies who disparaged the task of gaining the Promised Land, and frightened the people, and therefore were destroyed in the desert. Christ and the saints did not shed blood. Objection: Some of these critics say it is not in accordance with the Christian religion to shed blood in this way, even that of wicked infidels. For Christ did not act thus; rather, When he suffered, he threatened not, but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly, as Peter says. The saints of old did not teach this either. One should conclude, therefore, that the Christian religion, which ought to adhere to the example and teaching of Christ and the saints, ought not to initiate wars of any kind whatsoever. Answer: Who is so stupid as to dare to say that, were infidels or evil men to desire to kill every Christian and to wipe out the worship of Christ from the world, one ought not to resist them? It is clear in the teaching of Christ himself, who says, He that hath no sword, let him sell his coat and buy a sword. What the Lord said to Peter, Put up again thy sword, etc., applied to Peter on that particular occasion. It must be held without doubt that it is not inconsistent with the Christian religion to wage war according to circumstances against Saracens, extremely wicked men and particular enemies of Christendom. We should defend but not attack. There are those who say that, although we have a duty to defend ourselves against the Saracens when they attack us, it does not seem that we ought to attack their lands or their persons when they leave us in peace. I would reply that the Saracens are so hostile to Christians that they do not spare them whenever they have a chance of defeating them. This is why the Christians attack them on their own territory to weaken their power. If the Christians had not done this, the Saracens would already have overwhelmed almost the whole of Christendom. It is not against God and apostolic teaching for Saracens to be killed by Christians, because they have a law which forbids them ever to hear Christ spoken of. They are the fig tree from which there is no hope of bearing fruit. And so, if such a fig tree ought to be cut down, according to the saying, it is obvious that those people ought to be removed from the world. But it must be said in addition that the lands the Saracens now hold were in the hands of Christians before the time of Muhammad; they seized the opportunity of taking them away from the Christians, and they never had a just cause to occupy them. So when Christians invade the lands in which they live, they are not invading other peoples territory but rather intending to regain their own. We dont attack other groups of unbelievers. Others say that if we ought to rid the world of the Saracens, why do we not do the

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Crusades


Article: Objections To Crusades Answered
Page 13 same to the Jews, and why do we not treat the Saracens who are our subjects in the same way? Why do we not proceed with the same zeal against any other idolaters who still exist in the world? As far as the Jews are concerned, it has been prophesied that in the end the remnant of them will be converted; as far as the conversion of the Saracens is concerned, no one has any reason to expect it, according to the judgment of hell, because no man can reach them to preach the gospel to them. They [the Jews] must be tolerated because there is hope that they may be converted, just as one does not immediately cut down a tree from which there is still hope of fruit. The same reasons for forbearance apply to the Saracens who are subject to us. For they, whether they like it or not, can be forced to listen to preaching, by which some are sometimes converted. Attacks do not convert Muslims but anger them. Other people are asking, What is the point of this attack on the Saracens? For they are not roused to conversion by it but rather are stirred up against the Christian faith. When we are victorious and have killed them, moreover, we send them to hell, which seems to be against the law of charity. When we get possession of the lands of the Saracens, the filthy practices of their damnable worship are driven out, and the true veneration of God, the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, and his saints is introduced in them. And this is spiritually fruitful in three ways: it leads to the honor of God, the salvation of Christians, and the extension of the church in so far as God is more worshipped. In reply to the point made about sending them to hell, it should be said that it is not the Christians intention to do this but to deal with them as is just, like a judge dealing with a thief. May they see for themselves where they are going when they leave this world. Nevertheless, divine providence treats them kindly, because it is better for them to die sooner rather than later on account of their sins, which increase as long as they live. If the Crusades were Gods will, he would protect us. Others say that it does not appear to be Gods will that Christians should proceed against Saracens in this way, because of the misfortunes which God has allowed and is still allowing to happen to the Christians engaged in this business. For how could God have allowed Saladin to retake from us, almost at a blow, nearly all the land which had been won with so much Christian blood and toil, if this kind of proceeding had been pleasing to him? People who speak like this do not understand at all well how God acts. Not only do trials befall good and evil men alike; no, sometimes, what is more extraordinary, they befall more frequently the good rather than the evil. For it is written about the wicked, They spend their days in wealth, etc., but about the good it is said, All that have pleased God passed through many tribulations, remaining faithful. Sometimes these misfortunes happen to our men on account of our sins. Sometimes misfortunes occur because we are incautious and rash. And there are other hidden reasons flowing from the vast depths of the judgments of God. But these considerations ought not to give rise to the criticism I mentioned before, but to other good things. For the hammer of this kind of adversity does not usually destroy good men, but instead makes them stand more firmly, as is sung by the psalmist: All these things have come upon us: yet we have not forgotten thee: And our heart hath not turned back.
CITATION

The Crusades: CHRISTIAN HISTORY, Issue 40 (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, Inc., 1997).
From The Crusades: Idea and Reality, 1095-1274 edited by Louise and Jonathan RileySmith (Edward Arnold Publishers, 1981). Used with permission.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Crusades Timeline: Major Crusades to the East
Page 14
TIMELINLE Major Crusades to the East

1071 Seljuk Turks Defeat Byzantine armies at Manzikert 1093-1109 Anselm serves as archbishop of Canterbury 1095-99 The First Crusade 1100 Baldwin I becomes King of Jerusalem 1113 Crusader military order, the Hospitallers of St. John, recognized 1115 Bernard founds Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux 1118 Order of Knights Templar founded to protect pilgrims 1121 Abelard shocks theologians with his Yes and No, seemingly contradictory statements of theology 1144 Turkish chief Zengi takes Edessa from crusaders 1145-48 Second Crusade

First Crusade
(1095-1099) Mission

Defend Eastern Christians from Muslim aggression. Make pilgrimages to Jerusalem safer. Redirect knights agression. Recapture the Holy Sepulcher. Pope Urban II, who called for the crusade in November 1095. Peter the Hermit, preacher who recruited a first wave of crusaders, mostly peasants. Baldwin of Boulogne, Godfrey of Bouillon, and other French princes who led a second wave.

Leaders

Outcome The first wave, an unauthorized peoples crusade, massacred Jews and plundered Eastern Christian territory, before being slaughtered by Muslims near Nicea in 1096. A second wave, led by princes, moved into Asia Minor that summer and won strategic battles at Nicea and Dorylaeum. After a seven-month siege, Antioch was captured in June 1098. With great violence the crusaders captured Jerusalem in the summer of 1099. Four crusader states were established in the Holy Land.

Second Crusade
(1145-1148) Mission To regain crusader capital of Edessa, which had been overrun by Muslims in 1144. Leaders

Bernard of Clairvaux, revered monk, who preached the crusade. King Louis VII of France. Emperor Conrad III of Germany.

Outcome Because of bickering and ineffective leadership, the German crusaders suffered a major defeat at Dorylaeum (1147). Badly weakened, the crusaders abandoned any hope of retaking Edessa. Instead, they besieged Damascus. But following a strategic blunder they failed in their siege and were forced to retreat (1148). Christians were devastated that a crusade preached by a moral exemplar and led by royalty would fail.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES The Crusades Timeline: Major Crusades to the East
Page 15 1155 Carmelite order founded by 11 crusaders who live as hermits on Mt. Carmel 1167-68 Oxford University founded 1169 Saladin becomes vizier in Egypt 1173 Peter Waldo, founder of Waldensians, begins to preach 1174 The tower of Pisa built 1187 Saladins forces crush Christian army at Hattin and take Jerusalem 1187-1191 Third Crusade 1191 Order of Teutonic Knights begins 1198-1204 Fourth Crusade 1199 Innocent III attempts to launch 1st political crusade, against a German opponent

Third Crusade
(1187-1191) Mission To retake Jerusalem, which fell to Muslim general Saladin in 1187. Leaders Frederick Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor. Philip II, King of France. Richard I, later king of England. Pope Gregory VIII. Outcome Barbarossa (Redbeard) set out with an army in 1189 but drowned crossing a river en route. In 1190, Philip II of France and Richard I (Lion-Heart) of England gathered their armies. On the way, Richard captured Cyprus from a rebel Byzantine prince. Meanwhile, Philip II laid siege to Acre, and after Richard arrived, it fell. Richard also took Jaffa and negotiated Christian access to Jerusalem.

Fourth Crusade
(1198-1204) Mission To defeat Egypt, center of Muslim power. Leaders

Pope Innocent III. Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice. Byzantine prince Alexius IV Boniface de Montferrat

Outcome The crusaders contracted with Venice, the shipping power, to sail them to Egypt. When they couldnt pay the bill, the crusaders agreed to conquer for the Venetians a Christian city along the Adriatic Sea. Then Alexius IV, son of the former Byzantine emperor, asked the crusaders to restore his father to power. In return hed pay huge sums of money, reunite the Eastern church with Rome, and supply a crusade to the Holy Land. Most crusaders agreed, and against the popes orders, attacked Constantinople, the capital of Greek Christendom. When the restored Alexius couldnt fulfill his promises, the crusaders attacked the city again. The resulting three-day massacre soured relations between Eastern and Western Christians for centuries. The crusade never reached Egypt.

CITATION

The Crusades: CHRISTIAN HISTORY, Issue 40 (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, Inc., 1997).
Used with Permission

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

STUDY GUIDE

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES


Eastern Christianity
Early on, Christians in the eastern Roman Empire developed unique practices and beliefs that led to a major branch of Christianity.
PREPARATION:

For your own background, read the following articles in the CHRISTIAN HISTORY issue The 100 Most Important Events in Church History:

Vladimir Adopts Christianity, provided with this study on page 7. The East-West Schism, provided with this study on page 9. Exodus 20:4; John 1:14; 2 Peter 1:3-4.

Read the following Bible passages:


In addition, read the following glossary and summary: Glossary of Names and Terms Byzantine Empire: The continuation of the later Eastern (largely Greekspeaking) Roman empire, which lasted for more than one thousand years. Many date the beginning of the Byzantine Empire to A.D. 330, the year Emperor Constantine rebuilt the ancient city of Byzantium, named it Constantinople, and made it the capital of the Empire (instead of Rome). Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Eastern Orthodox Church: A family of 13 self-governing national churches including Russian, Greek, Serbian, Romanian, and Cypriottoday located mostly in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. Each church has its own national head, but they hold a common theology and approach to worship. Icons/iconography: Pictures (eikon, the Greek word for image) painted on wood and other materials depicting Christ, Mary, or saints and used as objects of devotion. They became common from the fifth century onward in the East, and are a prominent feature in the churches of Eastern Orthodoxy to this day. The Orthodox believe the icons are windows to heaven and means by which God and his saints can communicate grace to believers. Iconoclastic controversy: A bitter struggle in the eighth century over the theology and devotional use of icons. The iconoclasts, or image-breakers, sought to do away with icons. Patriarch: Starting in the sixth century, the title of the principal bishop of five major cities: Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. Today used by the Eastern Orthodox Church for the heads of the churches of Russia, Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Georgia. The Patriarch of Constantinople has honorary primacy among the churches.

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

STUDY GUIDE
John Chrysostom (c. 347-407): A monk as a young man, he eventually became bishop of Constantinople, but is best known as one of the greatest preachers of all time (Chrysostom means Golden Mouth). His uncompromising principles resulted in his exile and death at the hands of the emperor and empress. Gregory of Nazianzus (329-89): Bishop of Nazianzus and respected theologian, he wrote and spoke decisively against the Arians, who denied the deity of Christ. Basil the Great: (c. 330-79): Educated in Athens, this theologian eventually became the bishop of Caesarea. He possessed eloquence, statesmanship, and integrity. He devoted himself to defending the orthodox view of the person of Christ against the Arians. Gregory of Nyssa: (330-c. 395): The younger brother of Basil, he also fought against Arian doctrine. At the Council of Constantinople in 381, after his brother had died, he defended the Nicene Creed. The Spirit of Eastern Christianity We can better understand the spirit of Eastern Christianity by examining its emphases on the following six points, especially in contrast to the thought of Western Christianity. 1. Theology and speculation: In the early church, Christians in the Latinspeaking West tended to be more pragmatic and practical. For instance, matters of church order sometimes got as much attention as debates about the Trinity. In the East, however, a bent toward philosophy meant that Christian teachers and leaders and even ordinary Christiansmore readily discussed things such as the nature of Christ or the exact distinctions between the persons of the Trinity. 2. Faith and mysticism: Some Christians put a lot of confidence in reason, believing that faith follows the contours of logic. For them, theology can be systematized, and truth can be defined in propositional statements. Eastern Christianity from the earliest centuries, by contrast, has believed that faith is mostly knowledge of the mystery of God. Often this theology emphasizes not knowing (theologians refer to this as apophatic denialtheology). For example, though it is difficult to describe what God is, its relatively easy to say what he is not: he is not finite; he does not die; he does not have a body. Thus, the Eastern Orthodox liturgy says, You are the ineffable God, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible . . . 3. A sacramental view of life: All branches of Christianity that emphasize the sacraments (such as baptism and Communion) view them as physical events that convey or represent a knowledge and experience of God, who is Spirit. Eastern Christians see sacramental value in many aspects of life in this world, which God created. 4. The use of icons: If many things in our earthly experience can be sacramental, then the use of the physical senses can be the means of heavenly knowledge. Icons of Jesus, Mary, and saints can lead one devotionally closer to God, because in some mysterious way, the icon is a window to heaven, giving us a glimpse into eternity. They are holy objects and a means of revelation. The possibility that people can naively fall into worshiping icons does not thereby negate their proper use. Church architecture, too, should be a kind of revelation of heavenly reality (for instance, the paintings of Christ seated in heaven as Lord of all in the large domes of Eastern basilicas). Candles, incense, and priestly vestments all help the worshiper worship.

Wisdom of the Ages for the Challenges of Today

STUDY GUIDE
5. Salvation and deification: Western Christians tend to emphasize the legal dimensions of salvation (how we are forgiven and made one with God). Eastern Christianity has emphasized how we are transformed and restored into the full image of God. The IncarnationGod becoming humanis where salvation begins. The incarnate life of Christ is not merely a prelude to Calvary. The resurrection of Christ is as important as his crucifixion, for in it we see the power of God to restore and reshape life. Biblical passages that speak of being re-made into the image of God and statements such as 2 Peter 1:4 (you may participate in the divine nature) are important. It is not that we become God, but we become Godlike, as we were intended to be. 6. Church and state: Because things of heaven and earth are vitally connected, there should not be a disconnection between secular and ecclesiastical authority. In the West, the princes and popes, local magistrates and bishops each tried to carve out areas of influence in the political and religious spheres. But Eastern emperors such as Justinian acted as head of both earthly and ecclesiastical matters. The splendor of the Byzantine emperors garments, the church architecture, and the worship rituals worked together to unify church and state.
KEY QUESTION: To what degree does God communicate spiritual reality through physical things?

If you are married, you probably wear a wedding ring as a symbol of your marriage. The ring is not the marriage itself, and neither are the two of youmarriage is a bond between you that is more than the two of you. That intangible bond is what your ring represents. As Christians, we believe we are more than simply creatures of earthwe are spiritual creatures made in the image of God, made to know personally God and his truth. But how do we know and experience those heavenly truths? And what are appropriate ways of representing these truths? Eastern Christianity answered these questions in ways that often strike the westerner as odd, or even wrong. In this lesson, well look at the temperament, thought, and forms of the Eastern Orthodox Church, home to about 10 percent of the worlds Christians. Well consider their use of icons (paintings) as an aid to devotion, their speculative theology as expressed in the early creeds they wrote, and their understanding of church leaders and political leaders (the emperors) as a kind of merging of heaven and earth. In particular, their practice of faith raises a question all Christians need to answer one way or another: To what degree does God communicate spiritual reality through physical things?

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Eastern Christianity Study Guide
Page 1
CLASS SESSION:

Opening:
(5 to 10 minutes) Read to the class the two opening paragraphs of The East-West Schism on page 9, from the CHRISTIAN HISTORY issue The 100 Most Important Events in Church History. Then pose the question: Did you know that the most basic historic distinction in the history of Christianity is not between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, but between the Christian churches of the East and of the West? Then summarize the points made in the opening paragraphs of this study guide.

Historical Setting:
(15 to 20 minutes)

Option A: Mini-lecture Briefly present what youve read as you prepared for this lesson. Be sure to cover these points:

In A.D. 330 Emperor Constantine turned the ancient city of Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul, Turkey) into the capital of the Roman empire, renaming it Constantinople. It established a center of power for the Roman empire in the East, which eventually became known as the Byzantine Empire. The East was the cradle to the monastic movement, which sprang up in the fourth century. Many of Eastern (and Western) Christianitys most revered theologians and teachers, such as Basil the Great (c. 330-79), John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), and Gregory of Nazianzus (329-89), were monks. Monasticism remains an important aspect of the Eastern Orthodox Church to this day. Seven Ecumenical (all-church) Councils were held in cities in the East: Nicaea, 325; Constantinople, 381; Ephesus, 431; Chalcedon, 451; Constantinople II, 553; Constantinople III, 680-1; and Nicaea II, 787. Eastern Orthodox Christians believe these seven councils define the essential matters of faith and doctrine. Roman Catholics also adhere to 14 later councils, and most Protestants respect just the first few councils, and then just a few of their rulings. The first councils answered the question of Christs nature: Nicaea affirmed that Christ is truly divineof one substance with God the Father (the Arians said Jesus was a creature), and Chalcedon clarified how Christ is human and divine at the same time. When Justinian I (483-565) became Roman emperor in 527, he tried to reunite the western and eastern sides of the empire. He also commissioned elaborate building projects, including major churches in Ravenna, Italy, and in Constantinople (such as the Hagia Sophia), and sought to uniformly apply orthodox teaching and practice throughout his empire. His legal policies (the Justinian Code) attempted to create a truly Christian empire, distinguishing secular and ecclesiastical authority, yet connecting them in key ways. The basilica Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople was a marvel of oriental architecture. Its huge dome sits atop a row of windows, making it seem suspended from heavenan apt image for the Eastern church. The conquering Turks made it into a mosque. Today it stands as a museum. In 726 Emperor Leo III declared the use of icons idolatrous and ordered them

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Eastern Christianity Study Guide
Page 2 destroyed. However, a bitter conflict followed. The iconoclastsimagebreakers who opposed the use of iconsincluded Leos two successors. Those against the iconoclasts included the Roman Pope, the patriarchs of the major metropolitan churches, and the monks.

The seventh general council (Nicaea, 787) supported the use of icons, but fighting over icons continued until about 843 when the East settled on the qualified use of icons. John of Damascus (c. 675-c. 749) produced The Fount of Knowledge, a treatise summarizing Eastern Orthodox theology. One section, called The Orthodox Faith, outlines the teachings of the major Greek Fathers on subjects such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, Creation, images, the sacraments, and Mary. This work has remained in more or less constant use to the present day. Distinctive emphases of the Eastern Church include: (review points 1-6 in the preparation section on pages 2-3). In 988 Prince Vladimir of Russia sent emissaries to find true religion. The emissaries were disappointed with what they saw of Islam, Judaism, and western Christianity, but when they observed the Eastern liturgy practiced in the Hagia Sophia they reported they did not know whether they were in heaven or on earth. Vladimir was baptized, as were masses of his subjects. He erected churches and monasteries and adopted Eastern devotional practices. Moscow became the third Rome after the fall of Constantinople and the crushing of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. In 1054 the pope in Rome and the patriarch in Constantinople excommunicated each other. The causes stemmed from long-standing differences between the East and the West over matters of culture, language (Latin and Greek), political alliances, liturgical practice, and theological emphasis. Fueling the division was a deep suspicion in the Eastern Church that the popes of Rome wished to dominate their affairs. To this day the Eastern churches have no formal connection with Roman Catholics or Protestants. One key division was whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father only (as the original Nicene Creed had it), or from the Father and the Son (as Western Christians added in the sixth century). In the 600s, Islam became a major threat to Byzantine (Eastern) Christianity as the church suffered losses of territory and adherents. Constantinople itself was repeatedly under risk of falling to the Muslims for seven hundred years. Finally, in 1453 it was decisively conquered by the Turks, bringing an end to the Byzantine Empirebut not the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Option B: Group Participation: Divide the class into three groups. Have them study the following articles and sections from the 100 Events issue: Group 1: Vladimir Adopts Christianity, on page 7. Group 2: The section Immediate causes of the break in the article The East-West Schism, on page 9. Group 3: The section Underlying causes of the break, on page 10. As they review their sections, they should prepare answers for the following questions, which they will give as a report to the entire class: 1. What were the main events in the story? 2. What changes did these events bring about?

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Eastern Christianity Study Guide
Page 3 3. What have been the long-term effects of these changes?

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Eastern Christianity Study Guide
Page 4

Application
(20 to 35 minutes)

If you had lived during the iconoclastic controversies, would you have been on the side of those who said paintings and icons should be destroyed or on the side of those who said they could be used devotionally, that they are a means by which God supernaturally gives grace? Why? How does the second commandment (Exodus 20:4) relate to icons? How would an Orthodox believer understand the verse? Are stained-glass windows that show the saints or Jesus any different than icons? What about stained glass that doesnt depict people? What about steeples? What purpose do these architectural designs serve? Defenders of icons say the Incarnation connected the earthly with the heavenly. No one can see God and live, they admit, but they also point out that in Jesus we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Do you agree the Incarnation justifies using earthly images to pray and worship? Is there anything physical or aesthetic that helps you in your spiritual walk or helps you feel closer to God? What about art? A waterfalls or a woods? A photo? Music? A cross? A gravestone? What do you think about taking pilgrimages to the Holy Land to see where Jesus walked? How do these compare with the use of icons? What role does the Lords Supper or Communion play in your spiritual experience? How important is it that this physical and spiritual act involves your senses of sight, smell, taste, and touch? Orthodoxy also emphasizes the mystery of God and of faith. What are three biblical truths that you hold that are largely mysterious? What would you say to a nonbeliever who says that our appeal to mystery is just the easy way out of inherent contradictions, or a coverup for lack of knowledge? Does your church tradition encourage theological speculation or is it thought better to accept Christian doctrine without delving into exactly how a doctrine might be true?

Closing
(5 minutes) Summarize the discussion and any agreements the class has come to. End with this prayer from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the main liturgy of Eastern Orthodoxy: It is fitting and right to sing of you, to praise you, to thank you, to adore you in all places of your dominion. For you are the ineffable God, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, existing forever and yet ever the same, you and your onlybegotten Son and your Holy Spirit. You brought us into being out of nothingness, and when we had fallen, you raised us up again. You have not ceased doing everything to lead us to heaven and to bestow upon us your future kingdom. For all this do we thank you and your only-begotten Son and your Holy Spiritfor all the benefits of which we know and those of which we are ignorant, for those that are manifest to us, and those that lie concealed. Amen.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Eastern Christianity Article: Vladimir Adopts Christianity
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ARTICLE Vladimir Adopts Christianity The pagan prince of Kievan Rus embraced a new faith, leading to the Christianization of the Ukrainian, Russia, and Byelorussian peoples.

In 1988 the Christian world celebrated the thousand-year anniversary of Christianity in Russia. Although 988 was indeed a pivotal year for Russian Christians, it isnt quite accurate to describe it as the birth year of Christianity there. Christianity had, in fact, penetrated Russia by the early 900s, when at least one church had been built in the ancient city of Kiev. In the 950s, Olga, the grandmother of Vladimir, was baptized. She asked German king Otto I to send missionaries to her country, but apparently they met little success. Olgas grandson Vladimir practiced the old religion. He built a number of pagan temples and was renowned for his cruelty and treachery. Vladimir had eight hundred concubines and several wives, and he spent his non-warring time in hunting and feasting. He hardly seemed the person to spread Christianity among the Ukrainians. Shopping for a church Vladimir apparently wanted to unite the people under one religion, so around 988 he sent envoys to examine the major religions. The options? Islam, Judaism, the Catholic Christianity of Western Europe, and the Orthodox Christianity of Eastern Europe (though as yet, there was no official break between the Orthodox and Catholic Christians). The story of Vladimirs choosing Orthodox Christianity is part legend, part fact. According to the tradition, Vladimir didnt like the dietary restrictions of Islam and Judaism. Catholic Christianity was all right, but what impressed the grand prince was the dazzling worship his ambassadors described seeing in the great Cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople: We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you. Only we know that God dwells there among men, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. We cannot forget that beauty. So Vladimir opted for Orthodoxy because of its beautiful worship. The name of Vladimirs chosen religion was, in fact, Pravoslavie, a word which meant true worship or right glory. Orthodoxy was also the religion of the most powerful, wealthy, and civilized of Russias border nations, the Byzantine Empire. And if Vladimir was impressed by Orthodoxys beauty, he also was impressed by another beauty: Anna, sister of Byzantine emperors Basil II and Constantine, who offered her to Vladimir as a bride with the condition that he be baptized. In 988 Vladimir was baptized. In 989 he married Anna. Neither act was a sign that he was submitting to the authorityreligious or politicalof the Byzantine Empire. Though it adopted the Byzantine religion, the Russian church has always been independent. Forging a national church Significant for church history, Vladimir then ordered all the inhabitants of Kiev to appear at the Dnieper River for baptism or be considered enemies of the kingdom. This doesnt mean that the Slavic nation became a Christian society overnight. But with the help of monks, always a prime force in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Eastern Christianity Article: Vladimir Adopts Christianity
Page 6 new religion began to make its influence felt. As for Vladimir himself, his lifestyle was clearly affected. When he married Anna, he put away his five former wives. Not only did he build churches, he also destroyed idols, abolished the death penalty, protected the poor, established schools, and managed to live in peace with neighboring nations. On his deathbed he gave all his possessions to the poor. Centuries later, when Moscow, not Kiev, was the capital of Russia, Russian Orthodoxy had become such a force that Moscow considered itself the Third Rome, the new capital of a Christian empire. Vladimir didnt know it, but by embracing Christianity he was paving the way for a Russian republic described by one writer as among the most Christian nations in the worlda land with a rich, age-old history of churches and monasteries, the well-spring of numerous revered saints and martyrs, with a cherished and abundant legacy of sacred music, iconography, and spiritual literature. Yet the Russian Orthodox Church became so closely aligned with the tsarist regimes that it was largely unprepared for the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Since then the church has suffered greatly but it continues to survive. The tale of the church that traces its roots to Prince Vladimir is not yet finished.

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Eastern Christianity Article: The East-West Schism
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ARTICLE The East-West Schism Long-standing differences between Western and Eastern Christians finally caused a definitive break, and Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox still remain separate. by GEORGE T. DENNIS

On Saturday, July 16, 1054, as afternoon prayers were about to begin, Cardinal Humbert, legate of Pope Leo IX, strode into the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, right up to the main altar, and placed on it a parchment that declared the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, to be excommunicated. He then marched out of the church, shook its dust from his feet, and left the city. A week later the patriarch solemnly condemned the cardinal. Centuries later, this dramatic incident was thought to mark the beginning of the schism between the Latin and the Greek churches, a division that still separates Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox (Greek, Russian, and other). Today, however, no serious scholar maintains that the schism began in 1054. The process leading to the definitive break was much more complicated, and no single cause or event can be said to have precipitated it. Immediate causes of the break In 1048 a French bishop was elected as Pope Leo IX. He and the clerics who accompanied him to Rome were intent on reforming the papacy and the entire church. Five years earlier in Constantinople, the rigid and ambitious Michael Cerularius was named patriarch. Problems arose in Southern Italy (then under Byzantine rule) in the 1040s, when Norman warriors conquered the region and replaced Greek [Eastern] bishops with Latin [Western] ones. People were confused, and they argued about the proper form of the liturgy and other external matters. Differences over clerical marriage, the bread used for the Eucharist, days of fasting, and other usages assumed an unprecedented importance. When Cerularius heard that the Normans were forbidding Greek customs in Southern Italy, he retaliated, in 1052, by closing the Latin churches in Constantinople. He then induced bishop Leo of Ochrid to compose an attack on the Latin use of unleavened bread and other practices. In response to this provocative treatise, Pope Leo sent his chief adviser, Humbert, a tactless and narrow-minded man with a strong sense of papal authority, to Constantinople to deal with the problem directly. On arriving in the imperial city in April 1054, Humbert launched into a vicious criticism of Cerularius and his supporters. But the patriarch ignored the papal legate, and an angry Humbert stalked into Hagia Sophia and placed on the altar the bull of excommunication. He returned to Rome convinced he had gained a victory for the Holy See. Dramatic though they were, the events of 1054 were not recorded by the chroniclers of the time and were quickly forgotten. Negotiations between the pope and the Byzantine emperor continued, especially in the last two decades of the century, as the Byzantines sought aid against the invading Turks. In 1095, to provide such help, Pope Urban II proclaimed the Crusades; certainly there was no schism between the churches at that time. Despite episodes of tension and conflict, Eastern and Western Christians lived and worshiped together. In the latter half of the twelfth century, however, friction between the groups increased, caused not so much by religious differences as by political and cultural ones. Violent anti-Latin riots erupted in Constantinople in 1182, and in 1204 Western knights brutally ravaged Constantinople itself. The tension accelerated, and by 1234, when Greek and Latin churchmen met to discuss their differences, it

OVERVIEW: EARLY CHURCH & MIDDLE AGES Eastern Christianity Article: The East-West Schism
Page 8 was obvious they represented different churches. Underlying causes of the break What caused the schism? It was not the excommunications of 1054; not differences in theology, discipline, or liturgy, not political or military conflicts. These may have disposed the churches to draw apart, as did prejudice, misunderstanding, arrogance, and plain stupidity. More fundamental, perhaps, was the way each church came to perceive itself. The eleventh-century reform in the Western Church called for the strengthening of papal authority, which caused the church to become more autocratic and centralized. Basing his claims on his succession from St. Peter, the pope aserted his direct jurisdiction over the entire church. East as well as West. The Byzantines, on the other hand, viewed their church in the context of the imperial system; their sources of law and unity were the ecumenical councils and the emperor, whom God had placed over all things, spiritual and temporal. They believed that the Eastern churches had always enjoyed autonomy of governance, and they rejected papal claims to absolute rule. But neither side was really listening to the other. In addition, since the ninth century, theological controversy had focused on the procession of the Holy Spirit. In the life of the Trinity, does the Spirit proceed from the Father only, or from the Father and from the Son (Filioque in Latin)? The Western church, concerned about resurgent Arianism, had, almost inadvertently, added the word to the Nicene Creed, claiming that it made more precise a teaching already in the creed. The Greeks objected to the unilateral addition to the creed, and they strongly disagreed with the theological proposition involved, which seemed to them to diminish the individual properties of the three Persons in the Trinity. In 1439 Greek and Latin theologians at the Council of Florence, after debating the issue for over a year, arrived at a compromise that, while reasonable, has not proven fully satisfactory. After the Byzantine Empire fell in 1453, the Eastern Church lived on under Turkish rule and then in various nations. Millions of Orthodox Christians in those lands are still separated from the millions of Christians adhering to Rome. Today greater efforts are made to address the issues, but neither side seems willing to make the necessary concessions. As a result, Christians who share a common belief and accept Jesus as head of the church, feel that they cannot share his Eucharist.