False Dichotomy

Under Constantine, Christianity was both recognized and honored by the state. This blurred the line between the church and the world.

Such exemptions had been granted to such professions as physicians and professors. David Andrews, Christi-Anarchy (Oxford: Lion Publications, 1999), 26. ** Collins and Price, Story of Christianity 74.

Johnson, History of Christianity, 77.A century later, Julian the Apostate was using these same terms (clerical, clerics) in a negative sense.

Fox, Pagans and Christians, 667.

Hatch, Organization of the Early Christian Churches, 153-155,163. In the first three centuries of Christianity, priests were not required to be celibate. (n the West, the Spanish Council of Elvira held in AD 306 was the first to require clergy to be celibate. This was reasserted by Pope Siricius in AD 386. Any priest who married or continued to live with his wife was defrocked. (n the East, priests and deacons could marry before ordination, but not after. Bishops had to be celibate. Gregory the Great did a great deal to promote clerical celibacy, which many were not following. Clerical celibacy only widened the gulf between clergy and the so-called "ordinary" people of God (Cross and Livingstone, Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 310; Schaff. History of the Christian Church, 1:441-446; Durant, Age of Faiih, 45).

The bishop's dress was the ancient robe of a Roman magistrate. Clergy were not to let their hair grow long like the pagan philosophers (Hatch, Organization of the Early Christian Churches, 164-165).

Collins and Price, Story of Christianity, 74.

Hanson, Christian Priesthood Examined, 62

Niebuhr and Williams, Min/stry in Historical Perspectives, 29.

The Christian faith was no longer a minority religion. Instead, it was protected by emperors. As a consequence, church membership grew rapidly—as large numbers of people with questionable conversions began to join. Such people brought into the church a wide variety of pagan ideas. In the words of Will Durant: "While Christianity converted the world; the world converted Christianity, and displayed the natural paganism of mankind."''

As we have seen in chapter 3, the practices of the mystery religions began to be employed in the church's worship. And the pagan notion of the dichotomy between the sacred and profane found its way into the Christian mind-set.'" It can be rightfully said that the clergy/laity class distinction grew out of this very dichotomy. The Christian life was now being divided into two parts: secular and spiritual—profane and sacred.

By the third century, the clergy/laity gap widened to the point of no return.l0' Clergymen were the trained leaders of the church—the guardians of orthodoxy—the rulers and teachers of the people. They possessed gifts and graces not available to lesser mortals.

The laity were the second-class, untrained Christians. The great theologian Karl Barth rightly said, "The term 'laity' is one of the worst in the vocabulary of religion and ought to be banished from the Christian conversation."'"

This false dichotomy led to the profoundly mistaken idea that there are sacred professions (a call to "the ministry") and ordinary professions (a call to a worldly vocation).' Historian Philip Schaff rightly describes these factors as creating "the secularization of the church" where the "pure stream of Christianity" had become polluted."' Take note that this mistaken dichotomy still lives in the minds of many believers today.

LW Durant, Caesar and Christ, 657.

Senn, Christian Worship and Its Cultural Setting, 40-41. Norrington, To Preach or Not, 25.

111 Karl Barth, Theologische Fragen and Antworten (1957), 183-184, quoted in R.J. Erler and R. Marquard, eds., A Kart Barth Reader, trans. G. W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 8-9.

Everything ought to be done for God's glory, for Flu has sanctified the mundane (1 Corinthians 10:31). The false dichotomy between the sacred and profane has been forever abolished in Christ. Such thinking belongs to both paganism and ancient Judaism. For the Christian, "nothing is unclean in itself," and "what God has made clean, do not call common" (Romans 14:14, Nose; Acts 10:15, ESV). For an in-depth discussion on the fallacy of the sacred/profane disjunction, see Davies, Secular Use of Church Buildings, 222-237. Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 3:125-126.

But the concept is pagan, not Christian. It ruptures the New Testament reality that everyday life is sanctified by God.'"

Along with these mind-set changes came a new vocabulary. Christians began to adopt the vocabulary of the pagan cults. The title pontifex (pontiff, a pagan title) became a common term for Christian clergy in the fourth century. So did "Master of Ceremonies," and "Grand Master of the Lodge."'" All of this reinforced the mystique of the clergy as the custodians of the mysteries of God.'"

In short, by the end of the fourth century on into the fifth, the clergy had become a sacerdotal caste—a spiritually elite group of "holy men."'" This leads us to the thorny subject of ordination.

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