Church History Lesson 4

 

 

The seeds of change had already been sown by others. Politically, the power of the papacy was being challenged. In Portugal, Spain, France, and England, national states were seeking to rise. Emperors felt the restrictions of religion on their decisions, and they wanted more freedom from the Church. Elsewhere, the followers of Mohammed continued to move against the borders of the Holy Roman Empire. After conquering Constantinople and the Eastern Empire in 1453, Islamic armies marched across Eastern Europe until they arrived at the gates of Vienna in 1529. The world was rapidly changing. Religion was not exempted. When Constantinople was conquered by the Mohammedan Turks, the central power of the Eastern Orthodox Church was lost, and national churches soon emerged. Other important things were happening. Christopher (literal meaning: Christ-like) Columbus made his valiant voyage which led to the discovery of the New World.

Also during this period, advances were being made in knowledge. The scientific legacy of the Middle Ages includes the Hindu numerals, the decimal system, the discovery of gunpowder, and the inventions of the eyeglass, the mariner’s compass, and the pendulum clock. The invention of moveable type at Mayence on the Rhine, in 1456 by Johann

Gutenberg, ensured that learning would be widely encouraged and new ideas would be spread. It is significant that the first book printed by Gutenberg was 200 copies of Jerome’s Vulgate Bible. Later, the printing press would be used to bring the Scriptures to the common person in a clear translation that all could read. Once people were able to read the Bible for themselves, many would realize that the Catholic Church had become far removed from the ideals of the New Testament.

According to the Church in medieval times, entrance into heaven was based upon merit. In order to merit eternal life in the presence of God, there first had to be a cleansing by fire after death in a place called purgatory. In addition, there had to be evidence of having lived a worthy life. In order to help professing Christians live a worthy life of merit, which would reduce time spent in purgatory, the Church developed a system of sacraments.  Continue reading “Church History Lesson 4”

Church History Lesson 3

 

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

 

A MAN NAMED MOHAMMED

With the passing of time, many of the Arabs had forsaken the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to embrace many gods. In this idolatrous country of Arabia, there was born in the city of Mecca a boy named Mahomet, who came to be known as Mohammed.

At the age of 25, Mohammed was employed by Kajijah, a rich widow. He carried on her husband’s business and prospered. He also married Kajijah, who was fourteen years older than himself. Continue reading “Church History Lesson 3”

Church History Lesson 2

Constantine

At the onset of the 4th century, Constantine the Great (or Constantine I) ascended the throne. He recognized that the state could use Christianity as an ally. It was under him that the church and state came to terms. He is said to have seen a cross in the sky with the words “in this sign conquer” in Latin, just before he defeated his enemies in the battle over the Tiber river.

On the evening before the battle, so the story goes, Constantine saw a cross above the sun as it was setting in the west. In letters of light the cross bore the words: Hoc Signo Vinces, which means, “In this sign, conquer.”

The next day, October 28 in the year 312, the battle was joined. It was a furious battle. The Prae­torian Guards fought like lions. They never gave ground, but their ranks were cut down where they stood. The army of Maxentius was completely defeated. Maxentius himself, attempting to escape over the Milvian Bridge across the Tiber River, was drowned.

The Edict of Milan Grants Equality

The battle of the Milvian Bridge was one of the great decisive bat­tles in the history of the world. It made Constantine master of the entire western part of the Roman Empire. But it had another and far more important result. Con­stantine felt that he had won the battle because he had received help from the God of the Christians, and he became a Christian. He who had been a worshipper of the sun-god Mithra now embraced the religion of Him who is the true light of the world.

The Edict of Milan put a stop to the persecutions, and proclaimed absolute freedom of conscience. It placed Christianity upon a footing of equality, before the law, with the other religions in the Empire. They declared that both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires would keep a neutral position on all faiths. Constantine the Great even commissioned the construction of several grand cathedrals. For the first time in ancient Rome, Christians could openly practice their religion without fear.

The World Invades the Church

The Edict of Milan proved to have a very definite disadvantage. It was now no longer a shame, but an honor to be a Christian. The Christian name now secured many and great material advantages. The Christian name had become a passport to political, military, and social promotion. As a result, thou­sands upon thousands of heathen joined the Church.

Unfortunately many of these were Christians in name only. The Christianity of Emperor Constan­tine himself was, if not of a doubt­ful, at least not of a very high character. What the Church gained in quantity it lost in quality.

Continue reading “Church History Lesson 2”

Church History-Lesson 1 Summary

 

BY KATHY HORAN

Church History can be divided into three main time periods.

  • Ancient Church History 5 B.C.-A.D. 590
  • Medieval Church History 590-1517
  • Modern Church History 1517 and after

The Old Testament established the promise of a Messiah, and God’s relationship with man. We saw in the beginning how God’s revelation was to all men, and then with Abraham he limited the scope of the promise to His chosen people. He assured Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him as the father of God’s people. The whole New Testament is grounded in the claim that Jesus is the promised Christ, the Lord’s Anointed and himself the Lord. John’s Gospel should be read with one finger in the Old Testament.

In Acts, we studied about the journeys of the apostles and we saw Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the beginning of the Christian Church. In the Pastoral Letters, we saw Paul’s instruction to Timothy and Titus, as he prepared to “depart” by being executed in Rome.

The fullness of Time

Many things contributed to history to make it possible for Christ to have a maximum impact, which would not have been true before or since. These were not coincidences, but the plan of God.

Continue reading “Church History-Lesson 1 Summary”