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2. Monasticism To Break With Eastern Church (358-1054)

Council of Constantinople (381)

Called to give final defeat to the long Arian controversy. Ratified the work of the Council of Nicea, safeguarding the humanity and divinity of Christ. Condemned Apollinarianism, which held that while Christ was fully deity, he lacked manhood, which had been replaced by the divine Logos.


Had its origin in the desire to lead a life of more perfection and security than is usually possible in the world.

It was the aim of a monk to fulfill the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Antony of Egypt (c.251-336). Is considered the founder. Antony retired to the desert and is said to have fought with demons under the guise of wild beasts.

Simeon Stylites (c.390-459). First of pillar ascetics and most colorful of the E. ascetics. Ran the gamut of self-inflicted torture; wove a tight cord around his body at 20, slept standing instead of lying down, was buried alive two years with only head out, walled himself in a cell, chained himself to a rock five years on a mountain, finally to a pillar 40 cubits high where he stood 30 years in prayer and praise.

Jerome (342-420). Famous monk of the west. Translated Bible from original tongues into Latin (The Vulgate), still used. Built a monastery In Bethlehem. Volumes of writing, including a church history and biographies of illustrious men.

Benedict (480-330). Repelled by Roman immorality, fled to hermit existence in cave. Attracted people who came for instruction. In 529 built a monastery at Monte Cassino between Rome and Naples. Established order and education in monasteries in a time when there were no schools.

Patrick (389-461). Who brought culture and education to a pagan Ireland which did not have an ordered ecclesiastical life.

Augustine of Canterbury (d.604). Sent by the Pope to refound the church in England.

Boniface (680-754). Apostle of Germany, who laid foundations for settled ecclesiastical organization there.

Venerable Bede (673-735). Biblical scholar and “Father of English History,” a life devoted to scripture, teaching, and writing.

Augustine (354-430)

His Confessions are autobiographical, reveal a restless youth seeking God and not knowing it. Later said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” Early he sought fulfillment through the senses, was enamored with the theatre, read Cicero and the classics fervently. Bothered by authority of the church, divine inspiration of the OT, and his own bondage to worldly living. Was converted to new life when he heard a little girl singing, “Tolle, lege,” as he read Romans 13:13. Christianity of the last 1500 years largely shaped by him. His City of God a conception of the RC church. He defended orthodoxy, doctrines of depravity, atonement, grace, predestination. Most famous controversy was with Pelagius, a British monk who settled in Rome in 400. Pelagius held that man is basically good and takes the initial step toward salvation by his own efforts. Augustine held to no ability, apart from divine grace.

Petrine Theory and Rise of Papacy

No indication in NT that authority was given to follow Peter, or historic proof of apostolic succession. Roman Catholics claim authority from Jesus’ statement to Peter, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” Perhaps the martyrdom of Peter and Paul in Rome gave idea for Roman Church. However, this theory and the gradual disintegration of the Empire which left the Pope sole authority in a political vacuum, were the great contributors to RC control. First “pope” is Innocent I (402-417) who is thrust into position of leadership after Alaric’s sack of Rome. First action was to condemn Pelagius.

Leo I (440-461). First genuine Pope, is remembered for three things, (1) as a champion of orthodoxy, (2) as a national hero, and (3) for making the Petrarchial claim.

Gregory the Great (590-604). Introduces the church historian to the Middle Ages. Under him many significant things occured. The papacy took over the administration of civil government, taxes, etc., in the absence of the Emperor. Papal patrimony began — land estates given to the church. He asserted leadership of Rome against Constantinople, thus beginning the rift between the two holy cities. Organized a successful defense of Rome against the invading Lombards. Passed Augustinian theology into the Middle Ages.

Middle Ages Begin

From the Fall of Rome (496) on to the 11th c. has been called the “Dark Ages” in Europe. There was a breakdown of commerical ties, disintegration of roads, and dwindling of commerce and industry. In this vacuum the church becomes a strong stabilizing influence—the “Church militant.”

Charlemagne (c.742-814)

The first Emperor (from 800) of the Holy Roman Empire. Though he extended his kingdom in all directions, his main contribution was the restoration of church discipline, his renaissance of culture, and the stimulation of learning through the Carolingian Schools.

The East-West Schism of 1054

Main features of the Eastern Church: Sanctification of nature. The beauty of the spiritual—manger, rather than cross, emphasized. The Haggaisophia (537) Church of Holy Wisdom—10,000 worked on it for five years, exquisitely beautiful.

Main differences between Eastern and Western Orthodox churches: The East was mystical while the West was practical; a language barrier developed — the West forgot Greek and the East did not speak Latin; the West gained power as the Pope and Charlemagne allied together; there were disagreements on fasting and communion (even beards — W. shaved, E. bearded); the Petrine theory of Rome produced tension; Muslims encroached and West feared loss of power of Church; there was disagreement on icons or statues.

The final East-West breach came with a writ of excommunication in May of 1054, later to be widened by the Crusades.

Class Assignments

  1. Discuss briefly the contribution to culture made by the early monasteries.
  2. How was Augustine significant to the development of orthodox Roman Catholicism?
  3. Discuss the Petrine theory and how it led to the rise of the Papacy.
  4. How was Charlegmagne instrumental in strengthening Christianity?
  5. What brought about the break between the Eastern and Western Church?