325 - The Reformation Movement
We have already noticed that in the first 250 years of the church were marked with persecution, tremendous growth, and change. The Roman Government inflicted heavy taxes on the Jews or those living like the Jews and even banished the Jews from Jerusalem in 138. In an effort to separate themselves from the Jews the Christians began to modify their practices to look less Jewish.
Since the church lacked a central governing body, it quickly began to fracture and split. While there were some basic tenants of the faith followed by everyone, there was also some teaching that caused the church to draw lines in the sand.
July 4, 325, about three hundred Christian bishops and deacons from the eastern half of the Roman Empire had come to Nicea. This counsel meeting was called by the emperor Constantine I. He told the church leaders they had to come to some agreement on the crucial questions dividing them. “Division in the church,” he said, “is worse than war.” If Christianity were to serve as the cement of the Roman Empire it had to hold one faith. It was the job of this counsel to figure out what that faith would look like.
Salvation was simple in 100, and all churches were equal. But in 325 the Church is beginning to teach that Salvation is dependent upon Sacraments and that the church is made up of Bishops and not all Bishops are equal.
Faith – Has become directed towards an institution, as much as the person of Jesus Christ.
Sacramentalism – The practice of believing somehow salvation and faith comes through an ordinance or a sacrament. Now people are dependent upon something they do instead of someone they believe. If you want to keep someone in line, you remove their ability to partake in a sacrament.
Sacerdotal – (The rise of the priest) if you are going to have sacraments you need a special class of priests to perform the sacraments.
Salvation – is thought to come through Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism became the way that you joined the institution instead of the way that you were added to the body of Christ.
Origin of sprinkling – In the NT there is one understanding of Baptism and that is immersion. But by 325 three different modes of Baptism have become popular: 1) Sprinkling 2) Pouring 3) Immersion
The introduction of Sprinkling was a process. The first step was when people began to believe that salvation came through the church. Those who were not baptized were not a member of the church and therefore lost forever. (They had taken faith and Christ out of the equation) There was a high infant immortality rate so babies were baptized to receive salvation. It was difficult to immerse babies so it became much more convenient for another method to be used, sprinkling or pouring. If it can be used for babies then it can also be used for sick people, Old people, or anyone who cannot easily be immersed. Baptisteries were hard to build, maintain, and fill with water that if it could be done for old and sick people it could be done for everyone.
Agustin, the great theologian of North Africa, began to teach that an infant need to be baptized because the infant carried the taint of the original sin from Adam.
Hierarchy - The importance of the bishop. A Bishop is now over an elder, and the elder is over the deacon. And the deacon is above the laypeople or common man.
In AD 100 churches met in homes, in synagogues, and the temple. As the church grew more churches were added. As more Churches grew there were more elders or priest. The older priest from the older church usually oversaw the priest from the newer church.
Change in the nature of worship – in 100 they worshiped through music, Love Feasts (The Lord’s Supper), Foot washing, preaching, and sharing of property and possessions. But by AD 325 Sacrementalism has made big changes.
The Presbyter (Elder) became the priest: An Elder is someone of maturity while Priest is someone who stands between you and God, someone who ministers the sacraments to you. The priest began to administer the sacrements and hear confession (5th Century).
Mass became essential. The word Mass comes from the Latin Word Missia which means to dismiss. The unchurched or unworthy were allowed to come and hear the Gospel message, and then they were dismissed when it came time for the Communion Sacrament. They were unworthy, so the Mass was the Dismissal of those who were not qualified from the main thing of the worship service.
The Rise of the Papacy
312 – The battle of Milvian Bridge. The battle took place between the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius near Verona to see who would become the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. The night before the battle Constantine had a vision of a Cross (a "Chi" and "Rho") He heard a voice that said by this conquer, which he took it to mean that if he would ally himself to the church instead of alienate it he would continue to reign. The next day his solders went into battle with this symbol on their shields, and on their staffs as a Christian Army. After the victory, Constantine took Christianity as his faith.
As sole ruler of the Roman empire, and Christianity the preferred religion of the empire, he assumed a role of leader over the church. Immediately there were benefits to becoming a Christian. He gave solders 20 silver coins if they would convert, and 20 gold coins for everyone they converted. During Constantine’s reign it is estimated that 1 out of 10 people in the Roman Empire are Christians.
There were other cities contending for the same power to be the leading church (Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandra, Ephesus, Constantinople). But Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire, so it also became the capital of the church.
Move of the capital (330) – Constantine moved the Capital of the Empire to the east, the old city of Constantinople, to elevate the pressures of the Germans and Barbarians encroaching on the Northern borders. He moved it to the east to get in the center of his empire.
Now the Bishop of Rome is looked to as the best of all the Bishops, and now that Constantine has moved from Rome the Bishop of Rome has full authority and is out from under the thumb of the Emperor. So the Bishop is now over the political and religious maters of Rome.
Innocent the I (402–417) – The First Bishop of Rome to make the claim that Peter has a tradition and the he is in that Tradition. (thus the first pope)
Leo the I (440–461) He added to Innocent by coming up with a list of Scriptures that supported the tradition of Peter. (Matthew 16:18-19, John 21:15-17, Luke 2:31-32)
Gregory the I (590–604) Made Political and military alliances with the new political power of the future (the Germans). This really makes him the first Pope since he aligns the church and state.
From 600 to the 12th century the change in the church is relatively slow and non dramatic. (the year 600 is the Middle of Gregory’s reign as the first pope and continuing until 1054, the date in mid summer that the eastern church separated from the western church.)
Since the church was relatively unchanged it provided the opportunity for dramatic growth.
Political and military alliances – The most dramatic feature of this time. The Roman Catholic church emphasized the union of church and state and became the sole military power.
Worship standardized – Rome prevented and variances in worship. The Mass has become the central part of the worship, the Gregorian Chant has been adopted, their theology has been adopted and handed down from the Pope, and they all used the same language Latin, since Jerome translated the Bible into Latin in the 5th century.
The crusades were military endeavors in the name of the cross. A Holy War to deliver Jerusalem from the hands of the Muslims. It became the goal to win the city back for Christianity.
In the 7th Century the Muslims conquered the Mediterranean world. They were totally unsympathetic to the Christian pilgrimager, and they refused to allow the Christians to go to Jerusalem. In the year 1010 Sultan Hakim destroyed every Christian artifact he could find in the Holy Land. The only choice that the Christians felt they had was to take up the sword and win back the right to the Holy Land.
Agustin offered 3 Christian approaches to war.
1) Militaristic view, Kill them all and let God sort it out. They used OT Battle stories to prove that God wanted them to fight.
2) Pacifistic view – Christians are followers of the Prince of Peace. Jesus did not carry a sword, and Paul teaches that we do not fight a physical battle.
3) The just war view – War should not be entered into simply to conquer or gain land, but when it is just (When going to war is better than not going to war. When the results of not going are worse that the results of going.) This required the leaders to explain the reason.
During this time life was tenuous at best. The poor and unchallenged were ready to go to war. The rich were comfortable and were not looking for a reason to get uncomfortable. Both needed the romance of the crusade. So Pope Urban II came up with the concept that if you go to the war and if you die in war then you have a direct line to a home in heaven.
The First Crusade (1095–1099) The Greek Emperor encourages the Western empire to come and help them. “The Turks are at the gates” The Pope Urban II called upon the secular powers to start a crusade and promised forgiveness of sins to anyone and everyone who died in this effort.
They made their way to Jerusalem in sections, Constantinople by 1096, Iconium by 1097, Antioch by 1098, and finally Jerusalem in 1099. Several times the armies were encouraged or discouraged by the words of the monks. For example the armies took the city of Syria but soon realized that while they occupied the city, there was no way for them to get provisions since the Syrians held up a siege of the city outside the walls and tried to starve the Christians out. Peter Bartholomew was a Monk who was providing spiritual leadership on the crusade. He claimed to have a vision that the lance that was used to pierce the side of Jesus was buried under their feet. At once the people began to dig around the city looking for a lance head. When one was found it was brought to Peter, who declared it to be the one that pierced the side of Christ. Believing this is a sign of God they rushed out of the gates of the city and attack the Syrians who were not ready for the attack and were easily defeated.
After that battle they had to decide whether they would attack Jerusalem or take the city of Acre and get much needed supplies. Peter Bartholomew has another vision stating that God wanted them to take Acre first and he will prove his vision by a trial of fire (walking across a bed of coals). During the trial Peter Bartholomew falls into the coals and dies. Believing this was a sign from God the armies continue to Jerusalem. In the year 1099 they overtook the city of Jerusalem, and killed everyone who is not a Christian (Jews, women, Children, etc.).
After the first Crusade the Roman Empire had control of everything from Constantinople to Jerusalem, but they did not control everything all they had was a path. So they built crusade castles and if you wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem once you got to Constantinople you would move under guard of knights from one castle to castle. The following 8 crusades were not to gain more land but to build up the castles and fortresses so that the Christians can continue their pilgrimage.
The Second Crusade (1147–1149) There was a disagreement between the military leaders and the religious leaders and the crusade was a major failure.
The Third Crusade (1190–1193) Known as the crusades of Kings. This is the battle that included Richard I (The Lion Hearted) The Christians lose the battle but they agree to a treaty where the Muslims will own the city and allow the Christians into the city but they will have to pay a tax.
The Fourth Crusade (1200–1204) – Called by Pope Innocent III. The Venetian Ship merchants offered the western crusaders free passage on their boats. But when it was time to return home the Venetian Ship Merchants demanded payment. The crusaders did not have money so they ransacked the city of Constantinople and the church to get the money to return home.
The Children’s Crusade (1212) The last crusade. A 10 year old German boy (Nicholas) and a French boy (Stephen between 9-12 years old) claimed to have a vision. Surely God will help the Little children. The reason that the crusades were not successful is because the Crusaders are not right with God. But the children are right with God and 30,000 preteen French and German children began to walk towards Constantinople. They thought that the waters would part for them but it didn’t. The venation merchants offered to take them to Constantinople and they board the ships. The merchants took the children to Egypt and sold them to the Muslims as slaves.
There were 9 crusades in all. The end result were mass death, a widening of the split between the eastern and western church, and the introduction of new teachings like Greek philosophy that was taught to the Christians by the more educated was reintroduced since the Muslims were more educated than the Christians. The winner in the Crusades was the Papacy. They grew in power, they called for the crusades. And in money, the church gained all of the possessions of those killed in the crusades.
The Setting of the Reformation
At the end of the fifteenth century the church was becoming a shell of itself. The pope, priests, monks, and nuns were no longer looked to as examples of chastity and charity, now they were seen as men and women unworthy of the positions that they held. As the truth of the corruption became more and more public knowledge, the people had a harder time trusting the positions of leadership in the church because of the people who held those positions.
The church reached a low point during the great western schism that lasted from 1389-1417. In 1377, Pope Gregory XI tried to move the headquarters of the church back to Rome from Avignon, France. During the move he died. The 16 cardinals convened to elect a new pope, and the Roman Church demanded that the cardinals elect a Roman. The cardinals chose Urban IV, and for five months they acknowledged Urban VI, but due to his temper and violent outbursts many of the cardinals who had elected him soon regretted their decision and eventually turned against him. On August 2 the Cardinals published a manifesto in which they pronounced his election null and void.
On September 20 they chose Clement VII. The church split between those in Rome and those in France. The two popes promptly excommunicated one another. Unable to drive Urban from Rome, Clement established himself in France in June 1379.
In an effort to bring peace to the church, the cardinals called the Council of Pisa (starting March 25, 1409), where they tried to remove both of the popes, and elected Alexander V as the real pope. But when the other popes refused to leave the throne the church was left with three popes and the distrust of the people magnified. The people were left trying to figure out how could they trust the only church they had ever known while watching its failures pile up.