Apr 242014
 

imagesOn Christmas day 800 Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the west.

The Holy Roman Empire was born.

The holy anointed the profane and established the church again as both a political and spiritual power.

 

When conquering a people the emperor forced baptisms at the end of a sword…and that political marriage of the sacred and secular would continue for hundreds of years.

The ramifications of that marriage would be both the best and worst things that happened to the church.

You can’t understand church history in general, (and the Reformation in particular) without a grasp of those consequences.

Debates

The theological debates in this century began with a debate on a variation of the doctrine of adoptionism.

This centered around the two natures of Christ…and making a distinction between the sonship of his human and divine natures.

They evidently had a lot of time on their hands in those days…

The filioque controversy continued to rage and widen the split between the East and West.

Photios led this challenge to the West and indeed, challenged Rome’s claim to authority over the whole of Christendom.

Transubstantiation

A monk named Radbertus wrote a treatise called “On The Body and Blood of the Lord” that declared when the elements of the Lord’s Supper are properly consecrated they are transformed into the body and blood of the Lord.

While it would take until 1215 for Rome to make this the official doctrine of the church, this was the beginning of that process.

Predestination

Gottschalk, upon studying Augustine,believed he found the doctrine of double predestination in those writings.

Condemned by one church council and affirmed by another, Gottschalk was eventually condemned as a heretic and died in prison.

His work was foundational to later Reformed thought on the matter, though he was superseded by his source, Augustine.

His main contribution today is as proof that the doctrine was not an invention of the 16th century Reformers.

Names you should know…

John Scotus Erigena: Philosopher and theologian.

Nicholas I: Pope and reformer of church morals.

  64 Responses to “Church History: 800-900”

  1. Waiting for Xenia to correct my errors and fill in the blanks. 🙂

  2. When I was in college, one of my papers was on Saints Cyril and Methodius, which was during this time as well, and very important to the Slavs as a people and to the EO. The Cyrillic alphabet gets its name from Cyril.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saints_Cyril_and_Methodius

  3. Thanks, Papias!

  4. That’s all I got brother. 🙂

    I was trying to dig up what other people group had mass conversions between 800-900 and there wasn’t much of now. I guess when you’re too busy fighting Muslims at your doorstep…

    Unless we start wading into the Filioque and or Photius, or when we get to the Great Schism we will be clueless cause we generally not as nuanced as they were.

    The next century is gonna be busy….

  5. Can anyone give a short critique on the filioque controversy? I was just way too confused when trying to understand this one.

  6. Papias,

    The interesting thing is how very nuanced and detailed theologians were…and how much it mattered.
    It would be almost impossible to engage in those sort of discussions today outside of a seminary.

  7. Andrew,

    The root of the matter is a question of where the Holy Spirit comes from.
    Does he proceed from the Father or from the Father and the Son?
    The East says from the Father, the West from the Father and the Son.
    The first Nicene Creed read like this;

    “We believe in one God, the Father, almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten from the Father, only-begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through Whom all things came into being, things in heaven and things on earth, Who because of our salvation came down and became incarnate, becoming man, suffered and rose again on the third day, ascended to the heavens, will come to judge the living and the dead; And in the Holy Spirit. But as for those who say, There was when He was not, and, Before being born He was not, and that He came into existence out of nothing, or who assert that the Son of God is of a different hypostasis or substance, or is subject to alteration or change — these the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes.”

    The words “and the Son” were added :

    “And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;”

    That point of contention split the church in the 11th century and it remains so to this day.

  8. I don’t have too much extra info. The Pope was irked that the Byzantine Empire considered itself the true Roman Empire (which it was) so he connived with Charlemagne to institute what they called the Holy Roman Empire, which the West viewed as the proper continuation of the Roman Empire. As historians always say, the HRE was neither holy, Roman, or much of an empire and it fell to wrack and ruin after the death of Charlemagne. Charlemagne was a big proponent of the filioque clause to the Creed, which as Michael noted, was a big bone of contention between East and West.

    “Transubstantiation” is a Roman Catholic term for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The Orthodox don’t use this term or its accompanying definition because our favorite term for the Eucharist is the Holy Mysteries and you shouldn’t over-define a mystery. We just say the bread and wine really and truly become the Body and Blood of the Lord and that’s about all we say about it, with no speculations that involve microscopes and mass spectrometers.

    One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that Protestants spend a great deal of time discussing and debating the meaning of the Atonement. What exactly did Christ accomplish on the Cross? The Eastern Church spends a relatively small amount of time on this and instead, debated (back in the day) the nature (natures) of Christ. This is reflected in the Nicene Creed, which is all about Who Christ is in relation to the Father and the Holy Spirit and says practically nothing about the Atonement.

    I am not too bothered by Medieval Catholic theology. It’s probably the closest to my own, with some major differences. When I read Medieval literature I see a similar devotion to God that I see in my own Church. But nowadays, Roman Catholicism has gone completely off the rails and most Catholics have no idea what constitutes sound RC theology, much less sound Christian theology.

    On our Meals on Wheels route, all our clients are elderly Roman Catholics. One has a Bible study w/ the JWs on Saturday and was offended when I told her they don’t believe in the Trinity. One believes in reincarnation and every other New Age goofiness you can imagine. One gives money to a Protestant ministry. The one I thought followed Catholicism the closest- well, Tuesday I saw to my dismay that there was a big poster of “the goddess” on her refrigerator. So this is my biggest problem with Roman Catholicism- they don’t have a clue what they are supposed to be believing. They all think Orthodoxy is exotic and probably “right” but impossible to follow.

  9. Xenia,

    I think the reason that Protestants can focus on doctrines like the atonement is because the early and medieval church did all the heavy lifting on the doctrines about Christ.
    That is a debt we neither acknowledge or seem to be grateful for.

  10. Xenia,
    “Transubstantiation” is a Roman Catholic term for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist….We just say the bread and wine really and truly become the Body and Blood of the Lord and that’s about all we say about it,”

    The RC position is that the bread and wine become body and blood – no more bread and wine left when it hits your mouth. Is that the EO position?

    The Lutheran position is that the body and blood become present in the bread and wine. But when you eat it you are eating bread & body and wine & blood.

    We also hold to the mystery and say, the body and blood are present “in, with and under” the bread and wine … we just try to cover all the bases. 🙂

  11. Thanks Michael. Just what I was looking for; something simple. I find it almost incredible that this understanding of the Holy Spirit would split the church though. Ironically, It seems the cessasionalist/continuest debate today is doing something similar to the church.

  12. Michael, that’s a good explanation.

  13. MLD, we say it actually becomes the Body and Blood.

  14. Xenia’s comments about the professing Catholics she encounters presents a good “other side of the coin” argument to counter the cries of “Catholic-bashing” that often arise.

    Yes, there is definitely ungodly, unholy bigoted Catholic bashing on display at some times and in some circles.

    However, the Catholic church is worthy of a whole lot of criticism when it comes to caring about the eternal souls of those who align with her.

    I spoke to someone after our Easter service who was in tears and great grief, after my message. The grief was because she had been with a loved one the night before for the Catholic Saturday night vigil and there was no message of Christ crucified, no salvation, nothing of substance for eternity, just mere religious formality. Christ was literally mentioned by name only one time the entire service, at the mass in connection to the wafer being the body of Christ. That is it.

    And yet, she could not get her loved one to join her for the Easter service at our church. The person felt that by making an appearance, the Easter duty was performed, all was right with God, and they could go on their merry way living as always – and nothing in the Catholic service that night told them otherwise. In contrast of course to what was preached on Easter at our place.

  15. Steve,
    “Christ was literally mentioned by name only one time the entire service, at the mass in connection to the wafer being the body of Christ. ”

    That’s a pretty good message just in itself – just imagine Steve, the priest proclaiming Christ presently and bodily amongst us today.

    You find “nothing of substance for eternity” there? What do you find unworthy in that message?

  16. Steve, good points. Since Vatican II, RC priests can wreak all sorts of havoc on their Mass but to be honest, even the most watered down RC mass probably mentions Christ more than the lady realized? I hope? The EO Liturgy, even in ordinary time, is Christ Christ Christ but sometimes people let all that rich content float over their heads and only count the homily. I wonder if this was the case with this lady? But the RCC is a wreck. The last time I went to one (it was a funeral mass for our neighbor) they played a CD of Frank Sinatra singing “I Did it my Way,” that anthem of rebellious people everywhere, for the Communion hymn. The Communion hymn! And afterwards, the priest told the congregation to remember that he wants that song played at his funeral, too.

    I fill a genuine kinship with Medieval Catholicism but not the modern, post-Vatican version. I could produce some videos of bizarre RC masses but what’s the point. May God set their floundering ship aright.

  17. All I know is there is zero reason for this person to believe their loved one is saved, and there is zero concern for the eternal soul because “I am Catholic”

    And it breaks her heart, and I was the shoulder to cry on last week.

    I don’t know that it needs further elaboration….

  18. Steve, it has been my experience that most Calvary Chapelites doubt the salvation of their Catholic relatives. Frankly, it wouldn’t have mattered how rich and Christ-centered that mass was, if she bought the CC party line she would not have seen anything commendable in an RC service. I probably wouldn’t have liked it either, but for different reasons. I would have disliked it (probably- I wasn’t there) because it wasn’t Catholic enough. She probably disliked it because it was Catholic, period.

    I was a CC attendee for 20 years and I don’t think a Sunday went by that our pastor didn’t have something negative to say about the RCC. He did not believe they were Christians and taught his congregation likewise. This pastor told me after my conversion to Orthodoxy the “Eastern Orthodoxy is not a system that leads to salvation.”

  19. Steve,
    I am no RCC defender, but people get out of church what they put in to it. Do you really think it is any different than the Christmas / Easter attendees that showed up at your church on Easter? Didn’t they show up out of obligation … or as the Catholic would say “he Easter duty was performed, all was right with God”

    The Easter Vigil readings were voluminous – perhaps she needed to pay more attention.

    This guy writes in his blog about this years readings (see link) and concludes with;

    “Thus, all the major covenants of salvation history are referred to in some form in the seven OT readings for the Easter Vigil, and taken together the readings (not to mention the psalms that go with them!) make a beautiful synopsis of the general structure of the divine economy (salvation history). Since the Vigil, like every mass, culminates in the consecration of the bread and wine which become “the New and Everlasting Covenant” in Christ’s blood, it is appropriate that the OT readings recount the older and provisional covenants that anticipated the new one celebrated in the Liturgy. Understanding salvation history through the lens of the covenant is an authentically Catholic approach to biblical theology.”

    http://www.thesacredpage.com/2014/04/the-easter-vigil-readings-celebration.html

  20. In fact, I am going to call BS on the weeping lady. I simply do not believe Christ was only mentioned on time in the entire mass. She heard what she wanted to hear, is my opinion.

  21. I have been to Catholic mass for a funeral….and though it was in Polish, I understood the idea of what was being said and Christ was spoken about often in the message….I went in thinking He would not be mentioned at all. The Gospel is taught/and was taught that day…to those who have ears hear the message….

  22. Dusty, right! Every mass has a Gospel reading and of course that would be entirely about Christ.

  23. Anyways, I have submitted a question on a RCC forum where I have a few friends to see if it’s possible to have an Easter Vigil service where Christ is never mentioned in the liturgy.

  24. Xenia, it was very Spirit filled. I remember that clearly.

  25. Did our sweet Xenia just say, “BS” @ 3:07 pm? I love that Xenia!

  26. covered, I noticed that as well. lol

  27. Xenia,
    “if it’s possible to have an Easter Vigil service where Christ is never mentioned in the liturgy.”

    This seems kind of funny as the only reason you are there is because Christ is laying in the tomb. Those of us who follow a Church calendar were there for Easter Vigil – and the evangelicals who complain that Christ isn’t mentioned enough, where were they for Easter Vigil?

  28. So far, the response I am getting from the Catholic forum is that the lady must be confused because the Vigil lasts nearly 3 hours and is all about the Resurrection of Christ. They are wondering (as I wondered) if the lady is talking about the homily. They are rather dumbfounded at my question.

  29. MLD, my Bible says Christ wasn’t laying in the tomb 🙂

  30. Covered – and where was he – descended into hell?

  31. I want to be clear that I think the RCC is currently in a very bad place BUT even post Vat II they are expected to adhere to their liturgy, which is all about Christ. People who say they went to the RCC as a child and never heard about Christ are either being disingenuous or admitting they weren’t paying attention. This is understandable because I barely paid attention to what was being said at the Baptist church I attended as a child. I spent the every service in the back row doodling on my bulletin and giggling with my girlfriends. Would it be fair for me to say that church never preached Christ?

  32. Now I am curious because I know that from sundown Friday to sundown Sat Jesus was in the tomb (observing the Sabbath). Between Sundown Sat (actually the beginning of Sunday) and his appearance to the women (at sunrise) I think is when he did all of his activity.

    Covered – help, give me some of the verses in your Bible – I think mine is missing them.

  33. MLD, re your #32, I believe that Jesus went up into heaven based on Lu 23:46

  34. Here’s the “script” for the Roman Catholic Easter Vigil, full of references to Christ and His resurrection.

    http://rcdok.org/_documents/Worship/Guidelines/The%20Easter%20Vigil%20Script.pdf

    That is pretty much that, I’d say.

  35. covered, are you saying that if someone had broken into the tomb on Saturday, there would be no body?

  36. MLD, can we really know that? I believe that when Paul says things like “I know a man…” in 2 Cor twelve and when Jesus told the thief on the cross that today you will be with Me in paradise that we can’t know for sure if it was His body or His spirit. What do you think?

  37. MLD, if a part of a day is considered a “whole” day, then wouldn’t that explain why the tomb was empty?

  38. On the day thing, I think we can pretty much say that Jesus was in the tomb for part of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday – Vigil is the whole Sat part.

  39. If Jesus wasn’t dead, then we really weren’t waiting for a resurrection, we were just waiting for him to get back. 😉

  40. He died and went to Hades, where all the other dead people were. That’s pretty dead.

    Did His body go there or just His spirit. Well, the OT characters who were in Hades awaiting the coming of the Lord, where were their bodies? In their graves. If you dug up Abraham, you’d find his bones, even though Abraham was in Sheol presiding over his “bosom.” (Abraham’s Bosom.) So I think the same must be true for Christ. Sunday morning, his dead body came back to life, just as the body of Lazarus had the week prior and various OT Saint who also resurrected and wandered around Jerusalem, as a demonstration of good things to come.

    (Just my opinion.)

  41. As far as the resurrection, I don’t mind the dying as long as there is no suffering 🙂

  42. Regarding the link to the Vigil I posted, one RC forumite did some counting and came up with:

    >>>Jesus’s name appears 13 times. Christ appears 52 times. And God appears 75 times. <<<

    He didn't count all the times the word "Lord" appeared.

    This was a Vatican II mass, by the way, the Novus Ordo Ordinary for Easter Vigil, served at every RC parish on the planet that night.

  43. I think Jesus was in the tomb dead, observing the sabbath and that his body was raised shortly after sundown Sat – at which time he began his exaltation … or as I like to call it, his victory lap, by entering hell, hades, the place of the dead, whichever you want to call it. Doing whatever work and proclamation that needed to be done.

    The high point of his victory lap was allowing the women to find him at sunrise.

  44. MLD, that sounds right to me. We have a service (for Great and Holy Saturday) where we start out with black vestments and gloomy hymns and switch over to white vestments and triumphant hymns half way through. In Greek churches the clergy throw bay leaves and rose petals all over everyone. The Russians, alas, do not.

  45. If you guys knew the greater details, which for sensitivity sake I held back, you both would greatly repent. Fortunately I don’t think she follows me onto this blog to read your replies….

  46. Steve, sorry, no. You said:

    “The grief was because she had been with a loved one the night before for the Catholic Saturday night vigil and there was no message of Christ crucified, no salvation, nothing of substance for eternity, just mere religious formality. Christ was literally mentioned by name only one time the entire service, at the mass in connection to the wafer being the body of Christ. That is it.”

    This is in error, as I have demonstrated. The lady herself may be in the middle of grief and sadness, but the statement as you gave it, as you received from her, is flat out in error, regardless of what is going on in this lady’s private life.

  47. Should I have just let your statement stand and let it go unchallenged so that the hundreds of people who read this blog will think that Christ is not mentioned in the Roman Catholic Church?

  48. No Xenia, you are right to challenge the error that was stated.

  49. what needs to be ‘greatly repented’?

  50. As I said, if the priest had ONLY proclaimed Christ bodily present with us today… as was reported he did – that is one whale of a sermon about Jesus in itself.

  51. And one other thing before I run off to a church board meeting – if this relative is just a rank unbeliever, the pastor is not going to convert her, but God’s word can.

    And if they did the assigned readings, God’s word was proclaimed and the gospel spoken – this is between her and the Holy Spirit – NOT her and the RC.

  52. Don’t you hate it when you spend a lot of time typing out something and you spell check it and all when suddenly it goes blank.

    I just spent quite some time typing here and BAM it’s gone.

    sigh….

    Some days I feel a lot like Charlie Brown.

  53. Michael-

    Okay, bringing back memories now…”homoiousios vs. homoousios”….

    Whew! Those were term papers I could have done without writing….aargh….

    Great stuff here, though. Hopefully, it will shed some light for some that the creeds were a declaration of faith based on scripture, in defense of the faith; rather than an extra-canonical proclamation.

  54. ***If you guys knew the greater details, which for sensitivity sake I held back, you both would greatly repent. Fortunately I don’t think she follows me onto this blog to read your replies…***

    That;s kind of an arrogant and disrespectful statement to make. “You’re wrong, but I’m not going to say why you’re wrong, but if you knew all the secret things I know you’d realize that you’re wrongness is so egregious that it would require major repentance.”

  55. What bothered me is that I shared about a woman in my fellowship “in tears and great grief” over the eternal soul of a loved one. Someone I had to try and comfort on Easter morning of all days. Nobody called me a liar so the assumption seemed to be that said woman exists

    I shared it in the context of Xenia’s criticism of how professing Catholics that SHE has encountered certainly seem to be lost or way off track.

    I would think on THIS blog of all places, the details I shared above would be enough, especially concerning a woman’s grief, that there would at least be an attempt of concern and empathy.

    Instead, people (especially our women posters) are calling BS on my friend, saying she is typical CC hearing what she wants to hear, and to top it all off, the ones from traditions that have actually fought “holy” wars with the Catholics are strongest in their criticism.

    So no, I don’t think the Board is owed all the details about who the loved on is, the years of history and so forth, just so I can refute a charge of arrogance in pointing out the ungodly judgments and criticisms provoked from a simple illustration that was offered in connection with an earlier criticism along the same lines.

    I THOUGHT that when someone was hurting, even to the point of literal tears, that the proper response was not to try and explain to the hurting person why they should not be crying, to not tell them they simply misunderstood, that maybe they are in error for hearing what they want to hear. Liturgies are GREAT after all, and filled with Jesus. Your loved one is fine, and in fact, better off than if he was in a church actually declaring the gospel clearly, directly within a Biblical exposition. He got his time card stamped with the Lord for another year – don’t worry about his eternal soul. God took attendance. Your loved one is “Catholic” and that’s all God cares about.

    It is I that should repent for sharing the story. I truly misunderstood this community after reading for years what I thought was genuine sympathy for stories of women in tears.

    I guess there is a disclaimer. Women with tears related to evangelical churches, hey, no questions asked, no need for details, let’s put a virtual hug around the story. Anything remotely critical of a liturgical church, coming from an evangelical, no sympathy for you.

    Anyway, all I could do was hug her. We didn’t Catholic-bash. I didn’t convince her she was wrong about what (and whom) she alone knows about and has lived with for years. And Sunday I definitely won’t tell her that some blog people I know went to some Catholic blog and that she is just misinformed.

  56. Steve,
    I think you missed what the objection was. Not her perception that he relative was lost in the RCC … many of us think that. But the claim from either her or your that Jesus was mentioned only once in the service.

    Now like I said, if the pastor only proclaimed Christ presently and bodily with us, you should have told her that no more important message could have been preached on that Saturday vigil.

    But let’s reverse the story. The relative goes to her priest and claims, in tears, that her relative (your congregant) tried to get her to go to the cult that she attends that refuses to follow the holy liturgy and makes up stuff as they go it alone. Is that a fair representation of what was happening?

  57. ***I think you missed what the objection was. Not her perception that he relative was lost in the RCC … many of us think that. But the claim from either her or your that Jesus was mentioned only once in the service.***

    Yes. One of the points of having a traditional liturgy is that even if the homily is completely off base, there is still a biblical message in the readings, to say nothing of the focus on Christ during Communion.

  58. The statement was made that a Roman Catholic Easter Vigil service contained only one mention of Jesus Christ. I know this could not possibly be true and provided evidence to back up my claim. I don’t know why this lady said what she said to you, I pass no judgment upon her, I am just explaining to anyone with ears to hear that the RCC Easter Vigil contains many references to Christ and His Resurrection.

    It doesn’t matter that I am a woman, or that I am Orthodox, or any of the other things you brought up. They have no bearing on the facts as I presented them, which is, a RCC Easter Vigil does in fact mention Jesus Christ and His Resurrection numerous times.

    And that is all I will say on this subject. I refuse to be made to feel guilty for presenting the facts.

  59. j2,
    A Lutheran theologian once said that the liturgy is there to protect the congregation from the pastor. 🙂

  60. Im guessing the virtual hug comment was for me?

  61. Steve, thanks for taking the time on a very busy Easter day to show that lady some compassion and a listening ear. It sounds like her main concern was that her loved one didn’t get anything out of the RC service and yet felt it fulfilled his duty toward God and covered his soul. I would agree that such an attitude is dangerous, no matter what type of church is attended.

  62. Hi Xenia,
    I see you are Orthodox. I understand that the Orthodox view of Scripture puts the 4 Gospels apart, alone in a separate book, which is the only book to rest on the altar at church. The Orthodox view the 4 Gospels as of higher authority than the rest of the Bible – so you also agree with that, right?

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