The canon of the New Testament is determined

From the very beginning the Christians had revered the Jewish scriptures, had seen in them the preparation for Christ, and had read them in their services. Gradually, by common usage and consent, books of Christian authorship were also brought together. From a very early date several of the letters of Paul were read in the assemblies of Christians, The Four Gospels won acceptance, so that Irensus, writing in the second half of the second century, while recognizing that some questioned the...

Popular movements which remained within the Church

Movements of laymen outside monasteries which in one way or another sought a more earnest practice of the Christian faith multiplied during these centuries. Prominent among them were the third orders of the various bodies of friars, to which we have already referred. Confraternities, associations of lay folk, bound together by rules and vows under the authorization of a bishop, were a growing feature of the life of the Church. One is said to have been founded not far from the beginning of the...

Arnold of Brescia

Roughly contemporary with Peter of Bruys and Henry of Lausanne was Arnold of Brescia. Born in the city in the north of Italy by which he is known, he studied theology at Paris. Returning to Brescia, he was ordained priest and became the head of a community of canons regular. From his youth he had been noted for his purity of life and his espousal of poverty. He was earnestly eager to see the Church conform fully to the Christian ideal. Believing that this could not be so long as its leaders...

The coming of the spirit

The disciples, not only the eleven but also the larger circle who had been won by Jesus in the days of his flesh, were further strengthened and empowered by the fulfilment of a promise which had been given them by their risen Lord. On Pentecost, the Jewish feast which came fifty days after the second day of, the Passover, there came upon the group in Jerusalem a group which may have numbered slightly above a hundred what they called the Holy Spirit. It was that occasion to which a large...

Post Origenist developments in Christian thought and the rise of Arianism

Origen was so outstanding a mind, so radiant a spirit, and so stimulating a teacher and author, that for more than a century after his death he profoundly moulded the minds of Christian thinkers, especially in the eastern portions of the Roman Empire. From those who came after him and who were deeply indebted to him, two main streams of thought issued which came into conflict with each other and which late in the third and through much of the fourth and fifth centuries led to the most serious...

The coming of the Arabs and Islam

The disintegration of the Roman Empire which had been seemingly halted by Justinian was hastened, as we have more than once suggested, by the spectacular irruption of peoples from the south-east, the Arabs, the bearers of a new religion, Islam. Moslems reckon their era as beginning with the Hegira, A.D. 622, the traditional (but erroneous) date of Mohammed's flight from Mecca to Medina. Within a century of that year the Arabs had overrun about half of what had once been the Roman Empire and...

The Papacy goes into captivity at Avignon

The decline of the Papacy became vivid in what is often called the Babylonian Captivity. From 1309 to 1377 the Popes resided at Avignon, and although that city was not in France, it was overshadowed by that realm. All the Popes of the period were Frenchmen and were subject to French influence which at times became domination by the King of France. The Papacy was almost a French institution. This weakened its prestige in nations and regions at enmity with France and after 1350 issued in the...

Climax of storm

Now, in the year 303, began the most severe persecution which Christianity had yet experienced. On the imperial throne was Diocletian, one of the strongest of the Emperors. He was from the vigorous peasant stock of Illyria, east of the Adriatic, from which had sprung his three immediate predecessors. In the interests of greater effectiveness he had reorganized the administration of the Empire. Why Diocletian became a persecutor must be a matter of conjecture. He was then in his late fifties, at...

Apocalypse eschatology and messiah

Prominent in the Jewish faith were apocalypses and a belief in the Messiah. The two were often associated but were by no means inseparable. The apocalypses were a kind of literature which nourished in Jewish circles in the centuries immediately preceding and following the time of Christ. The word meant to uncover or to reveal. An apocalypse claimed to be a divine revelation of the future. It arose from the Jewish conception of history. The Jews believed God to be at work in the affairs of men....

The Scribe

A class which had developed by the time of Christ and which had great influence upon the Judaism of that period was the Scribes. The Scribes were professional teachers and scholars who concerned themselves with the Scriptures and particularly with the Jewish law, both in its written form and in its oral tradition. They might also be priests but most of them were laymen. They were by no means an hereditary caste, as were the priests, but any one through personal competence might enter their...

The reform movement spreads in various countries

As we have again and again said or hinted, it was not only through the Papacy that efforts were made to bring the rank and file of Western Christendom to a closer approximation to the standards set forth by the Christ and the apostles. We have seen how in the early years of the reform movement, before it had captured the Papacy, it was being carried forward by bishops, usually bishops who were monks or who had been profoundly influenced by monastic revivals. Similarly, as the reform gathered...

Our fragmentary knowledge

The complete story of the spread of Christianity in its first five centuries cannot be told, for we do not possess sufficient data to write it. Especially is our information for the early part of the period provokingly fragmentary. That need not surprise us. What should amaze us is that so much information has come down to us. Christianity began as one of the numerically smallest of the religions which, stemming from the Orient, were being carried across the Empire. Our knowledge of many...

The Waldensees

More numerous than the followers of Arnold of Brescia and more lasting as a fellowship were those who were known as the Waldensees or the Vaudois. The origin of the name is in debate. It is said to have been from the vaux or valleys or vallis densa, shaded valley, in which the Waldensees long persisted. It is also conjectured to have come from Peter Waldo, or Valdez. Peter Waldo, a rich merchant of Lyons, became impressed with the brevity and insecurity of life and went to a theologian to ask...

The Dominicans

The Dominicans, officially the Order of Preachers (Ordo praedicatorum) or the Preaching Brothers (Fratres Praedicatores), like the Franciscans, arose early in the thirteenth century. The two had many similarities. They also displayed marked differences. At times they were unfriendly rivals. In contrast with the Franciscans, whose founder was deeply distressed by the drift towards the universities, from the outset the Dominicans were dedicated to teaching, and scholarship as well as to...

The rise of Judaism

Judaism arose out of the religion of Israel. It came through lawgivers, priests, and prophets and was the outgrowth of centuries of development. For many generations, as we have suggested, the faith of which it was the fruitage obtained the undivided allegiance of only a minority of the folk who bore the name of Israel, but eventually it was held tenaciously by the majority of those who were called Jews. The disasters of the eighth and sixth centuries B.C. which erased the two small states that...

The friars multiply and clash with the secular clergy

As we have suggested, the movements represented by the friars quickly attracted large numbers of members and spread rapidly through Western Europe. Why this was so is not entirely clear. It may have been because they combined the sort of complete devotion to the Christian ideal that was seen in the traditional monasticism with service to others in the form of missions to nominal Christians and to non-Christians. Whatever the reason, they became one of the most familiar features of the Europe of...

The limited area of early Christianity

The cultural area in which Christianity arose, that of the Mediterranean Basin, was merely one of the centres of contemporary civilization and embraced only a minority of mankind. It is important that this fact be recognized if we are to see the history of the faith in its true perspective. Since during the past four and a half centuries the Occident and its culture have been progressively dominant throughout the globe, and since in connection with it Christianity has had its world-wide spread,...

Jesus and man

Closely allied with his attitude towards the individual was the view which Jesus held of man. He was vividly aware of the strange mixture which is man. He fully recognized the depravity in man and declared that human fathers had to face the fact that they are evil. He saw and stated emphatically the tragic disaster that is the climax of the way of life which many, presumably most men pursue. Some of his sayings seem to disclose him as a hopeless pessimist. There would be many, he said, who...

God is central and supreme

Whatever Jesus may have believed about the future course of history, he had never a doubt of the power and the centrality of God. His belief in God underlay and shaped all his other convictions and his teachings. For him God's will was sovereign. But to Jesus God was no arbitrary despot. He was Father. Father was Jesus' characteristic name for God. God was, to Jesus, the ruler of all nature. He might be and, indeed, was often defied by hostile powers and beings, but He would prevail. Jesus was...

Jesus and the Gospel the foundation of Christianity

Christianity had what looked like a most unpromising beginning. The contemporary observer outside the little inner group of the disciples of Jesus would have thought it impossible that within five centuries of its inception it would outstrip its competitors for the religious allegiance of the Roman Empire and become the professed faith of the rulers and of the overwhelming majority of the population of the realm. Still less would he have dreamed that within less than two thousand years it would...

A generation of peace and prosperity

Approximately a generation of relative peace and prosperity followed. Now and again we hear of martyrdoms, some of them in Rome and Italy, several in Gaul, others in Asia Minor, and still others in the Orient. There were efforts to purge the army of Christians, although, as we shall see, many, perhaps most of the early Christians had conscientious scruples against military service and presumably not many were in the legions. In the main, however, the Christians were less molested by the state...

Developing liturgies for the Eucharist

Well before the end of the fifth century, the Eucharistic rite and the liturgy connected with it had been greatly enlarged. The clergy had become quite distinct from the laity and the presbyters and bishops had become priests patterned consciously after the Jewish priesthood of pre-Christian times and offering a bloodless sacrifice at an altar. The stately, huge church buildings which were erected, especially after Constantine espoused the faith, probably made for an elaboration of a ritual...

Minority movements branded as heretical by the Orthodox

Not all the religious life of the Byzantine Empire inspired by the Christian faith was contained within the official church. Before the decline in vigour which marked these centuries had reached a nadir, there emerged awakenings which from the beginning were quite outside the Catholic Church. At least one of them flourished for centuries. Since they were often persecuted and eventually died out, only fragmentary information about them has survived and about some we know very little. The most...

The conversion of Poland

To the north of Bohemia lay Poland, that region whose absence of clearly defined geographic boundaries has rendered it the tragic victim of its strong neighbours. Here, as in Bohemia, Christianity entered partly under pressure from the Germans. Also, as in several of the lands which we have noted, its progress was associated with the growth of centralized political control by a king and was opposed by those local magnates who wished to preserve their independence and who associated it with the...

The reticence of Jesus on organization and creed

Jesus used twice the word church is his sayings of his which were remembered. The one of these two sayings on which greatest stress has since been placed is that in which after Peter's declaration that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus is reported as saying Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be...

The Cluny movement

The revival was given conspicuous leadership by the monastery of Cluny and its abbots. Cluny was north of Lyons, not far from Macon and the Rhone River. Its first abbot and real founder was Berno. A Burgundian, Berno had already made a record as abbot of another monastery where he had held to the strict observance of the Benedictine rule. So many youths were attracted by his zeal that he deemed it necessary to begin an additional house. This he did in 910 at Cluny on land given by William the...

Roman world

If Christianity was radically different from Judaism, the religion which in some degree was its parent, the gulf which separated it from the Graco-Roman world into which it was born was still wider. It was an alien environment into which Christianity came. Yet much in that environment favoured the spread of Christianity. Moreover, the environment placed its stamp on Christianity. We must, therefore, seek to understand something of the main outline of the life and thought of the portion of the...

The conflict over the relation to Judaism

It was natural that the first major conflict within the Church should be over the issue of whether Christianity should remain within Judaism as one of the many sects of that faith, or whether its genius demanded that it become an independent and distinct religion. If Christianity were simply a variant of Judaism, Gentile converts to it should submit themselves to circumcision as an accepted initiatory step for admission to the Jewish community and as essential to sharing in the special covenant...

The western and eastern sections of the Catholic Church continue to drift apart

Although for them agreement had been reached over the nature of Christ and the relation of the divine and human in him, the Western and Eastern sections of the Catholic Church were drifting apart, the one looking to Rome and the other to Constantinople. A stage in the separation was a council held in Constantinople in 692. It was summoned by the Emperor, but, while the East regarded it as supplementary to the Sixth Ecumenical Council and really a continuation of that body, its membership was...

The beginning of monasticism

These trends in Christianity prepared a fertile seed bed for monasticism. On the one hand, the level of the morality of the average Christian appeared to be sinking and the ardent, their consciences quickened by the high standards of the New Testament, were not content. On the other hand, Christians had long honoured and many of them had practised voluntary poverty, fasting, and celibacy. But why should it have been monasticism rather than other forms of asceticism which arose and flourished on...

Christianity and language

A phase of the influence of Christianity, although only in part in contrast with the culture in which the faith was set, was its effects on language. This was seen in a variety of ways. One which was little short of revolutionary was the new meaning which Christianity gave to certain words, some of them in familiar use. In attempts to express their deepest convictions and central beliefs, Christians sometimes coined new terms. Often, however, they took over existing words, such as deus in Latin...

The first Crusade

What is called the First Crusade began in 1096, the immediate outgrowth of an appeal by Pope Urban II in a stirring sermon at a synod at Clermont, in France, in November of the preceding year. The congregation, deeply moved, is said to have boomed out Dens vult (God wills it) and this was made the slogan of the enterprise. The Pope had been asked by the Eastern Emperor for aid against the Seljuk Turks. He was nor the first Byzantine Emperor to seek such help. A predecessor had made a similar...

Military monastic orders

Military orders arose from the Crusades. Their members took the standard monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but were warriors who had dedicated their lives and their arms to the service of Christ. We have already noted the Knights of the Sword and the Teutonic Knights. More famous were the Templars and Hospitallers. The former were founded in 1119 with headquarters near the temple site in Jerusalem. Their purpose was to protect pilgrims and fight in defense of the Holy Land....

Christians and public amusements

On amusements Christians also set themselves against the prevailing mores of Grsco-Roman life. The theatre, gladiatorial combats, and contests between men and beasts were almost universal. Every city of consequence had prominent structures for them. The pagan Emperors, even such noble spirits among them as Marcus Aurelius, considered it part of their public duty to give gladiatorial shows and to attend them, and the crowd demanded them. Yet leading Christians unhesitatingly condemned the...

The decline of the Carolingians

With the death of Charlemagne (814) the Carolingian power entered upon a decline. It was not sudden, but none of his line who followed Charlemagne had his ability and the Carolingian structure depended so largely upon the quality of the monarch that as the latter deteriorated the fabric fell apart. Charlemagne's immediate successor, Louis the Pious, who reigned from 814 to 840, was deeply religious in a monastic rather than his father's lay fashion but he did not possess the force and...

The continuation of conflict within the Church

The methods to which resort was had against Gnostics, Marcionites, and Montan-ists to preserve the integrity of the Gospel and the efforts to further the unity of Christians in one fellowship were by no means entirely successful. To be sure, as organized bodies these three dissident groups eventually died out, although not until several centuries had elapsed. However, other causes of contention arose and, indeed, have continued to arise across the centuries. Some of them were healed without a...

Tertullian and the Trinity

One who gave much thought to the problem presented by the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and who contributed substantially to the conception which became dominant, was Tertullian. With his legal mind, Tertullian had the gift of precise and clear statement. He also employed terms with which he was familiar in the law courts to give expression to Christian conceptions. He was polemical and, like an advocate, not always fair to his opponents. Often emphatic and startling, he was at...

The Christian attitude towards property

Could a man of wealth become and remain a Christian Did the Christian ethic make for a revolution in the attitude towards property and the industrial and commercial structure of life Some passages in the New Testament brought disquiet to tender consciences. Notable was the statement of Jesus to the rich young ruler that if he would be perfect he must sell all that he had and give to the poor, and his further comment that it was extremely difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven....

The course in Western Europe

As we move into the West we find a story which in some significant ways differs from that in the East. Here the disintegration of the Roman Empire began earlier than it did in the East and was much more marked than in the areas which remained under the Eastern continuation of that realm, the Byzantine Empire. Yet in the West Christianity eventually most strikingly proved its vitality. From the West it had its broadest geographic expansion, in the West arose the large majority of the vigorous...

The general course of Christianity in Western Europe

For a time the quality of Christian living declined and the very existence of Christianity was threatened. The danger was not the immediate disappearance of a formal profession of that religion. Indeed, as we are to see, the majority of the pagan invaders were fairly quickly brought to an outward adoption of Christianity and the faith was even carried beyond what, in the year 500, had been its northern borders. The peril, rather, was the progressive denaturing of what bore the Christian name by...

Other contemporary theological activity

Contemporary with Gregory was Isidore, Archbishop of Seville and head of the Church in Spain from about 600 to 636. His brief summary of Christian doctrine incorporated in his Book of Sentences was to be studied for centuries in the West as a text-book in theology. His Origins or Etymologies, a kind of compact collection of the secular and ecclesiastical knowledge of his age, was also widely used in the Middle Ages as a vade mecum to theology and the wisdom of Grsco-Roman antiquity. Isidore,...

The dress of the clergy

How early the members of the clergy were distinguished from the laity by special garb is not clear. At the outset there seems to have been no difference in dress. Indeed, so long as persecutions lasted, such a distinction would have made the clergy conspicuous and would have singled them out for arrest. Even after persecutions ceased, in the fifth century one of the Popes expressly forbade any special ecclesiastical dress, but the fact that he found it necessary to issue this prohibition may be...

Premonastic Christian asceticism

Although it has been prominent in the churches in which the majority of Christians have been enrolled, monasticism was unknown in the first two centuries of Christianity. Later generations believed that they found commands and precedent for the ascetic life in the teachings and example of Jesus and in other writings in the New Testament, but the accuracy of their interpretation is at least open to question. To be sure, Jesus declared that he who would become his disciple must surrender all that...

The Justinian era

The decline of the Roman Empire which had been so marked in the fifth century seemed to be halted in the sixth century and for a brief time that realm flowered again. The central figure in the revival was the Emperor Justinian I, who reigned from 527 to 565, dying in his eighties. A nephew of his predecessor, Justin I, an Illyrian peasant who had come to Constantinople in his youth to seek his fortune and had risen to the throne in 518 at the age of sixty-six, Justinian had been the real power...

The effect of Christianity on the West

What effect did Christianity have upon Western Europe Here were the descendants of the Roman provincials, religiously the products of the mass conversions of the fourth and fifth centuries. Here, too, were the scions of the barbarian invaders who also had come into the Church by community movements. Could Christianity raise the life of this population so that it would approximate to the standards set forth by Christ The odds seemed overwhelmingly against success. Not only did Christianity face...

The main features and the world setting of Christianity

Not far from the year 950 a fresh surge of life was seen in Christianity which was to continue until about the year 1350. No precise dates can be set for either its beginning or its end. As we have seen, it commenced earlier in Byzantine or Greek Christianity than it did in Western or Latin Christianity. It was most marked in Western Europe but in some of its aspects, notably in the geographic extension of the faith, it had striking manifestations in the East, in Byzantine and Nestorian...

Christ and the Logos

In the second and third centuries widely divergent views of the relation of Jesus to God were put forward, even by those who regarded themselves as being within the Catholic Church. A group of these convictions centred on the identification of Christ with the Logos. Not all those who made that identification agreed as to precisely what it implied. Some, including the convert, Justin Martyr, whom we have earlier mentioned, whose spiritual pilgrimage had led him through Greek philosophy to...

Dionysius the Areopagite

By the end of the fifth century Christian mysticism was beginning to be profoundly moulded by Neoplatonism, an influence which has persisted into our own day. Very potent were the writings ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite, mentioned in The Acts of the Apostles as a convert of Paul at Athens. Dionysius was not their author, for they seem to have been composed either in the last quarter of the fifth century or the first half of the sixth century, perhaps by a monk or a bishop. Some of the...

Apostolic succession

In the fourth quarter of the second century, we have the case for the apostolic succession stated forcefully and clearly by Irensus. A native of either Syria or Asia Minor, Irensus had in his youth seen Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp, he informs us, had been instructed by the apostles and had talked with many who had seen Christ. Coming to Gaul, Irensus in time became Bishop of Lyons. Distressed by what he regarded as the errors and corruptions of the Gospel which he knew in Gaul and by...

The man Jesus

What manner of man was Jesus No one can fully enter into the consciousness of another or completely understand him. No two human beings are exactly alike. The differences are often subtle and yet the very qualities which elude observation and precise description may be the most important. How impossible it must be, therefore, adequately to understand and to describe one who stood out so markedly from his contemporaries and from all men, both before and since. In the first century and through...

Risen ascended expected and yet still present

The answer came on what Christians hail as the first Easter and in events which shortly followed that Easter. By it the judgement of man by the cross was not lightened or revoked, but Christians have been convinced that in it faith in God was vindicated, and God was seen not to have been defeated but to have triumphed and to have revealed the fashion in which His sovereignty is exercised. The records, which have reached us, do not make dear the precise sequence of events on that first Easter....

Innocent III

The climax of the Papacy is usually regarded as having been reached under Lo-tario de' Conti di Segni who under the title Innocent III reigned 1198 to 1216. Of aristocratic Lombard lineage on his father's side and of the Roman nobility on his mother's side, he was born not far from Rome in 1160 or 1161. Educated in Paris, the main centre for the study of philosophy and theology, and at Bologna, noted for its emphasis on law. Innocent III was one of the most learned men of his day and was...

Constantine espouses Christianity

In what must have seemed an unequal contest between naked, ruthless force and unarmed, passive resistance, it was not the imperial government but Christianity which emerged victor. Presumably this would have been the eventual outcome, for Christianity was clearly proving itself the stronger. As it was, the individual who was preeminent in the surrender of the state was Constantine. Constantius Chlorus, the father of Constantine, was governing Britain, Gaul, and Spain as C sar when the...

Hildebrand exalts the papacy

Hildebrand was born about the year 1025, possibly not far from Rome, and was reared in Rome. His ancestry is not clearly established, but he seems to have had aristocratic blood from both sides of his house. His mother was related to a family of bankers and had him educated in a monastery in Rome of which her brother was abbot and where the rule of Cluny was partly in force. In late youth he continued his education in the Lateran Palace, closely associated with the Papacy. He therefore knew...

Great Popes of the twelfth century

Here is not the place for a complete list of the Pontiffs under whom the Papacy attained its greatest power. We must, however, pause to mention those who were outstanding. Some of them reigned in the twelfth century. Innocent II (1130-1143), supported by Bernard of Clairvaux, was dominant as against the Holy Roman Emperors of his reign and triumphed over two rivals who claimed the Papacy. He told the bishops that they held their sees of him as vassals held their fiefs of their sovereigns and...

Hildebrands successors continue the battle for reform

Hildebrand's seeming defeat did not halt the work of reform. His immediate successors continued in the path which he had followed. This was not without opposition. Henry IV insisted on controlling the bishops until his forced abdication, in 1105, Some of the bishops came out for the imperial position. From time to time rival Popes were set up. The son of Henry IV continued his father's struggle until what proved to be a working compromise was reached, in 1122, a generation after the death of...

The suppression of the heresies

One of the striking features of the movements of these centuries which the Catholic Church branded as heresies was that they either completely died out or, in the case of the Waldensees, dwindled to small groups. This disappearance appears to have been due in part to inherent weakness and the lack of an effective organization and in part to measures adopted by the Catholics. It is of the actions taken by Catholics of which we hear most. In spite of the corruption within its ranks, the Catholic...

Beginning from Jerusalem

The documents which have been preserved make much of the spread of the faith from the church in Jerusalem and especially of the missionary labours of Paul. It was natural that the initial centre of Christianity should be in Jerusalem. Here was the geographic focus of Judaism. Here Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead, and here, at his express command, the main nucleus of his followers had waited until the Pentecost experience brought them a compelling dynamic. Peter was their...

The Carmelites

The Franciscans and the Dominicans were by far the largest of the mendicant orders. So popular did they become and so mightily did they stir the imagination of earnest Christians in Western Europe that they stimulated the development of similar bodies. Of these the most prominent were the Carmelites and the Augustinian Hermits or Friars. The Carmelites ascribed their origin to Elijah who, it was said, founded a community of hermits on Mt. Carmel which continued to the time of Christ. Some of...

The unpromising rootage of Christianity

When we come to the area in which Christianity began, we must remind ourselves that even there, in that geographically circumscribed region, the roots from which it sprang appeared to promise no very great future for the faith. It is one of the commonplaces of our story that Christianity was an outgrowth of the religion of Israel. Israel was never important politically. Only for a brief time, under David and Solomon, between nine hundred and a thousand years before Christ, did it achieve a...

Other mendicant orders

The popularity of the great mendicant orders contributed to the creation of still other bodies which resembled them. Most of them were ephemeral, partly because the Council of Lyons (1274) sought to discourage them. However, some persisted. Prominent were the Servants of Mary, usually known as the Servites. They were founded in 1233 by seven youths from aristocratic families of Florence who, giving up their wealth, established themselves on a mountain near that city. The community grew and in...

The consummation of the Kingdom

Did Jesus expect the kingdom fully to come within history Did he look for the transformation of society, either gradually or by progressive stages, until it would entirely conform to the will of God Or did he expect history to be consummated abruptly in judgement to be followed by a display of the power of God in condemnation of the wicked and their separation from those who had conformed to God's will The answer is not clear and appears to be a paradox. Jesus obviously believed the kingdom to...

Later developments in worship

As from the second century we gain further glimpses of the worship of the churches, we find that it was built about the Lord's Supper. This was coming to be called the Eucharist, from a Greek word meaning the giving of thanks. The Eucharist was being clearly separated from the agape. The emphasis upon the Lord's Supper was to be expected, for it perpetually focussed attention upon the source of the Church's origin and vigour Christ, his death, his resurrection, his continuing life, and the new...

The conversion of Bohemia

Simultaneously with the rapid progress of conversion among the Scandinavians some of the largest groups of Slavs were being incorporated into Christendom. We have noted the labours of Constantine and Methodius in the second half of the ninth century, the winning of Bulgaria with its predominantly Slavic population, also in that fifty years, and have hinted at the activities of German missionaries among the Slavs of Central Europe. By the year 900 Christianity was strong in Moravia. The hundred...

The sudden storms under Decius and Valerian

In the year 250 the triumphant course of Christianity was brought to what appeared to be an abrupt and disastrous halt. The most severe general persecution which the faith had yet met broke out and, at imperial command, swept across the Empire. This was the act of the Emperor Decius. Decius came to the purple in the year 249. He was a native of Pannonia, north-west of Thrace, and may have represented a reaction in that region against the influences which had entered the Empire from the East. It...

The Montanist movement

A movement quite distinct from both the Gnostics and the Marcionites, but which had wide vogue in the latter part of the second century and persisted for more than two centuries and which brought division in the Church, took its name from Montanus, of Phrygia, in Asia Minor, who flourished in the second half of the second century. Because of the region of their origin, the Montanists were often referred to as Phrygians. They represented a revival of the prophets who were prominent in the first...

The continued monasticism of the Byzantine Church

We have had occasion more than once to note the prominence and something of the place which monasticism held in the Byzantine branch of the Catholic Church. That monasticism had been partly shaped by Basil. Theodore the Studite had added to it. Monks were prominent in the life of the Church and the community and were much less susceptible to control by the c saropapist state than was the ecclesiastical hierarchy, even though technically the bishops were drawn from the monasteries. The contrast...

Marcion and the Marcionites

A movement sometimes classified, probably mistakenly, with Gnosticism, and even in starker contrast than the latter with Judaism, was that begun by Marcion. Marcion is said to have been a native of Sinope, a seaport in Pontus, on the south coast of the Black Sea, the country of the famous Cynic, Diogenes. He is reported to have been the son of a bishop and thus to have been reared a Christian. He came to Rome, a man of considerable wealth, about the year 138 or 139. He joined himself to the...

The Greek menace

Scarcely had the course of events made it clear that Christianity was not to lose its distinctive message by absorption into the parent Judaism when the faith was confronted with an even greater menace. As it moved out into the non-Jewish world it was in danger of so far conforming to that environment that it would sacrifice the essential features of the Gospel. The threat was especially acute from Hellenism and the atmosphere of the Hellenistic world, for, as we have seen, it was in the...

Renewed theological activity under the Carolingians

The intellectual and religious revival made possible by the Carolingians was accompanied by fresh theological activity and controversies over doctrine. Indeed, as at so many other periods in the history of the faith, innovations in Christian belief and the consequent debates were evidences of vitality. One of the controversies centred in Spain. For a time after the Arab conquest the churches which survived south of the Pyrenees, and they were many and strong, were in part cut off from Rome. In...

Christians and pagan literature

Should Christians study and teach the non-Christian literature the Greek and Roman philosophers, poets, and dramatists held in such high regard by the pagans about them, or were these writings so in contrast with the Gospel that to read them would contaminate the faith of Christians Here Christians did not fully agree. We have noted that such outstanding moulders of Christian thought as Clement of Alexandria and Origen were students of the Greek philosophers and, while not uncritical of them,...

Christians and war

One of the issues on which the early Christians were at variance with the Grsco-Roman world was participation in war. For the first three centuries no Christian writing which has survived to our time condoned Christian participation in war. Some Christians held that for them all bloodshed, whether as soldiers or as executioners, was unlawful. At one stage in its history the influential Church of Alexandria seems to have looked askance upon receiving soldiers into its membership and to have...

The Carolingian revival

Christian living and the inner life and unity of the Church were furthered by the great Carolingians. For about two centuries the Carolingians brought under their sway much of Western Europe including at the widest extent of their realms the larger portions of what are now France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Western and Southern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, perhaps half of Italy, slight footholds south of the Pyrenees, and much of the east coast of the Adriatic. Their rule stretched from...

The later Crusades

The fall of Edessa in 1144 stimulated what was known as the Second Crusade, for Edessa was a key city in the defenses of the Crusaders' kingdom. That Crusade was preached by Bernard of Clairvaux, esteemed a model Christian by his own and later generations. It was, however, a failure, for many of its contingents perished before reaching Syria and it broke down in its attempt to take Damascus. Moslem divisions had been one cause for the success of the First Crusade. Now the Kurdish Saladin built...

The effort to define the Trinity

A problem which long vexed the Church, and which even now has not been solved to the satisfaction of all who bear the Christian name, is that of the Trinity. As we hinted in an earlier chapter, through their deepest experiences the first Christians were confronted with the fact of Christ and of the Holy Spirit. How were Christ and the Holy Spirit related to God The Christians were sure that God is one. Most of them were also convinced that in some unique way in Christ were both man and God and...

The Great Alexandrians Clement

While Tertullian was writing in Carthage there was beginning to flower in Alexandria a school of Christian thought which was to contribute even more than did he to the intellectual formulation of the Christian faith. Alexandria was one of the chief cities of the Roman Empire. Founded by Alexander the Great in the fourth century before Christ, it had become a cosmopolitan centre of commerce and of Hellenistic culture. Here was one of the great libraries of the world. Here Greek and Oriental...

Earthen vessels The exceeding greatness of the power

In one of his most famous passages, Paul declares that we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency or exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not of us. In another letter he speaks of the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that...

The rise of monasticism

What is the perfect Christian life Can it be lived If so, how Does it entail the transformation of all human society Can individuals be immersed in a prevailingly or partially un-Christian society without compromising their principles and be fully Christian To be fully Christian, is it necessary to withdraw from society If so, must one live alone, or must those intent on the complete Christian life seek it in community with others If life in community is necessary, can there be a community, a...

Retrospect and prospect

The four and a half centuries covered in the preceding four chapters may seem disheartening for any who would share the dream of Jesus for the coming of the kingdom of God. What had happened to that vision with its confident assertion that the reign of God was at hand Any student who seeks to understand the nature and the course of human history and especially any Christian who is concerned with the fashion in which the God in Whom he believes deals with men and with what can be expected in...

Early Christian views of Christ

The early Christians, including those who had been his most intimate companions, came to cherish very exalted views of Jesus. They named him Messiah, Christ, the anointed one. They called him Kyrios (Kupto ), Lord. Indeed, the only creedal affirmation which seems to have been asked of the first converts was subscription to the declaration, Jesus is Lord. While to those reared in a Greek or a non-Jewish Oriental background this term would bring to mind the many lords of the mystery religions...

The development of catholic organization and doctrine

The popularity of Gnosticism, the teaching of Marcion, and the Montanist movement forced others who regarded themselves as Christians to develop a tighter organization and to give added attention to the clarification and formulation of their beliefs. At the outset, in the middle of the first century or earlier, all that was required for admission to the Christian fellowship represented by the Church was repentance, the affirmation that Jesus is Lord, baptism, and the reception of the Holy...

The unique relation to

One of the most difficult and mooted questions about Jesus is what he conceived himself to be. Did he regard himself as the Messiah If so, what did that mean to him Why did he so often call himself the Son of Man Much ink has been spilled in the prolonged discussions of these issues. Across the centuries the relation of Jesus to God has engaged some of the best minds among his followers and is still a subject of debate. That is partly because of the paucity of our records, partly because of the...

Crucified dead and buried

Under these circumstances it is not surprising that Jesus was arrested and executed. He himself had been expecting that outcome, for he was too clear-headed not to see that if carried through the course, which he was pursuing could have no other climax. Indeed, he had declared that it was of the very essence of his mission, that apart from it his unique relationship to God could not be understood. What is difficult and perhaps impossible fully to ascertain is the course of thought by which...

Judaism summarized

This brief description of Judaism may seem to be a dry summary of bare facts. If it is no more than that it has failed to give a true picture of that religion. Perhaps no words can do Judaism justice or fully disclose the inwardness of the faith. The Jewish scriptures themselves do not attempt to compress all into a simple or brief formula. Indeed, words fail adequately to convey what a high religion, or perhaps any religion, means to those who have been really caught by it. Yet certain...

The slow decline of the Papacy

Never again, as we have suggested, was the Papacy to be so potent in so many phases of the life of Europe. After Innocent III a decline set in which slightly less than two centuries later was to bring the See of Peter to a nadir that, while not as low as that of the tenth century, was in sad contrast with the purposes cherished for it by the great Popes of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The decline was not sudden. The thirteenth century saw several strong and high-minded Pontiffs, and some...

The Papacy attains its height as a legislative and administrative structure

In the last half of the twelfth and the fore part of the thirteenth century the Papacy reached the high point of its power in Western Europe. Never before had its influence been so strong in so many aspects of the life of that region. Never again did it make its weight felt so potently in so many phases of the culture of that area. This apex of Papal might came as a climax to the religious revival which had captured the Holy See. It also paralleled the crest of the urge to attain the perfect...

The continuation of the Christological controversy

So long as Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch lived, the peace which had been effected between the theologies which they represented was fairly well preserved. However, that peace proved to be only a truce. After death had removed them from the scene the struggle broke out with renewed fury. Here were two tendencies which could scarcely be reconciled. The one, represented by the scholarship which had been strong at Antioch, stressed the historical study of the Gospel records of the life of...

The increasing importance of the Church of Rome

As the centuries passed, the Church of Rome and its bishop, or the Pope as we must now begin to call him, became increasingly prominent in the Catholic Church. We have already noted the importance of the Church of Rome and the reasons why its bishops occupied a leading place. As time went on that position was accentuated. The removal of the main centre of the administration of the Empire to Constantinople, begun by Constantine, gave added importance to the Church of Rome and its head in the...

The effort to purify the Church through the papacy

Could all Western Christendom be really Christian More than once we have called attention to the problem. Western Europe had adopted the Christian name by mass action, usually tribe by tribe. Baptism had become a social convention. A vast distance separated the living of the ordinary Christian from the high demands of Jesus for discipleship. Could that distance be narrowed In the preceding two chapters we have noted efforts which deepened the living of minorities. Some were monastic. Others...

The Augustinian Hermits

Augustine or the Augustinian Order sprang from several communities in Italy which early in the thirteenth century sent colonies into Germany, Spain, and the south of France. They were among those movements towards the semi-hermit life which abounded in Italy late in the twelfth and in the fore part of the thirteenth century and were expressions of the religious awakening of those decades. In general they followed the rule ascribed to Augustine of Hippo, for, as we have...

The reforming spirit captures the Papacy

It was largely through the initiative of the German monarchs of the tenth and eleventh centuries that the Papacy was rescued from the low state into which it had fallen in the latter part of the ninth and the fore part of the tenth century. Like the Carolingians before him, Otto the Great succumbed to the lure of restoring the glories of the Roman Empire. Three times he led an expedition across the mountains. He assumed the throne of Italy and, as we have more than once reminded ourselves, in...

The conversion of Augustine

The appeal of Neoplatonism and Manich ism as rivals of Christianity is vividly demonstrated in the spiritual pilgrimage of Augustine of Hippo (354-430). Born in North Africa of Latin stock, of a devoutly Christian mother, Monica, and a pagan father who became a Christian only late in life, as a youth Augustine was given Christian instruction. His mother did not have him baptized because, accepting the belief that baptism washed away sins committed before it was administered, she wished him to...

The tension between the early Christians and the world

From the beginning, Christians felt themselves in opposition to what they called the world. They recognized the antagonism between Jesus on the one hand and, on the other hand, the state in which they were set and which had brought about the crucifixion of Jesus and the chronic persecution of his followers. This contrast found dramatic expression in Augustine's City of God with its sharply drawn distinction between the city of the world and the city of God, but that famous book was the more...

Yet no attempt was made to reshape civilization

In addition to the effects which we have already noted, there were others which must be taken into account if anything like satisfactory answers are to be given to the questions which we have propounded. It is significant that no thoroughgoing remaking of Graco-Roman society was achieved. Indeed, none was attempted. For the first two centuries Christians constituted a small minority. At the outset many of them expected the early visible return of their Lord, bringing with him the abrupt end of...

The conversion of the Scandinavians

We have noted the fashion in which the Scandinavians, the Northmen, had ravaged much of Europe in the ninth and. tenth centuries. We have also seen that their conversion had begun before the year 950. At the instance of Louis the Pious the Archbishopric of Hamburg had been created as a missionary outpost for that purpose and Anskar had been appointed to it, had travelled widely in the northlands, and had made some converts. After the death of Anskar (865) the prospect seemed so unfavourable for...

Reaction under Julian and the competition of old and new faiths

The numerical triumph of Christianity in the Roman Empire was not yet fully accomplished. First came a brief attempt to restore paganism by Julian, one of the family of Constantine. There was also the continued competition of historic paganism, reinforced by the mounting disasters to the Empire. To this were added new religious faiths and the inroads of barbarians with their cults. As, from the vantage of the accomplished fact, we may think that the victory of Christianity in the Mediterranean...

Further first century spread of the faith

In those first early vigorous years Paul was by no means the only one who spread the faith through the Empire. We hear more about him than of any other, but in various ways we obtain glimpses of many. Peter traveled, for we hear of him in Antioch, and what seems to be reliable tradition speaks of him as being in Rome and dying there as a martyr. Not all its representatives agreed on the essence of the faith. We read of Apollos, who, as a missionary, differed in his message from that of Paul but...

The geographic extension of the faith continues

In spite of the old and the new resistance, the spread of Christianity continued. By the close of its first five centuries Christianity had become the professed faith of the overwhelming majority of the population of the Roman Empire. The Jewish communities held to their ancestral religion, and here and there, usually in remote rural districts or mountain valleys, the ancient pagan cults lingered. In some groups and areas Christians were a smaller element than in others. Many of the nominal...

Early reform efforts by Bishops

Here is not the place even to name all the bishops who were active in trying to lift the level of Christian living in their dioceses. To enumerate them would extend these pages far beyond any reasonable length. As fairly typical of many we must pause to speak briefly of a few who were active early in this period. We must especially name two who, although in different countries, were contemporaries. In England in the tenth century that recovery continued from the destruction from the Viking...

The spread of Christianity in Scandinavian outposts in the Atlantic

The Viking explosion of the ninth and tenth centuries planted Scandinavian colonies, largely Norwegian, on westward-lying islands as far away as Greenland. In the latter part of the tenth and the fore part of the eleventh century Christianity was carried to them and their populations accepted it, but in some instances not without hesitation and with divided counsels. The Orkney, the Faroe, and the Shetland Islands had something of a Christian population before the coming of the Vikings. The...