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The Rise of Papacy

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THE RISE OF THE PAPACY

Presented to
Professor G. Johnson

For
CHHI 301-D06 LUO

By
Dana Peebles

August 2, 2015 Introduction
During the 6th century, the rise of the Roman Catholic Church increased in power. With the leadership of the papacy, this endured up until the 9th century. While there were both positive and negative ramifications of this reality, the biggest is the influence of papal authority and the effect that it had over Christianity. The collapse of the Roman Empire brought order to not only orthodoxy, but also the government. Throughout this essay, it is my desire to touch on these areas. In addition, I will also discuss some of the contributing factors to the dominion of Western Europe and what happened up until the Reformation. The effect of the barbarian invasion and the continuation of Western Civilization during the Middle Ages, is truly a time within history that impacts the church and its association with supremacy.

The How And Why Of The Papacy And The Power It Had In understanding the significance of the papacy and the power it had, it only makes sense to begin with a good solid definition of it. “The term pappa, from which the word “pope” is derived, originated in ancient colloquial Greek as an endearing term for “father,’ and was then applied, beginning in the third century, to Eastern patriarchs, bishops, abbots, and eventually parish priests.” [1]. Throughout Rome and the Western part of the Empire, this term “became reserved for the bishop of Rome,” and later became “official in the eleventh century with the reign of Pope Gregory VII.” [2]. Walter Elwell, goes on to explain that the papacy was indeed a succession of the government and the Roman Catholic Church. While some argue that the power was biblical, others misused the supremacy of political power based on the cultural atmosphere during the time. However, we must not forget that both played an important role. Roman Catholicism and the factors that contribute to the early beginnings of papacy can be dated back to the apostles. The appointment of Peter by Jesus, is one that was given as “the stature and authority he needed to rule.” [3]. The fact that Jesus specifically stated “I will build my church,” indicated that the church had not been started and he was selecting Peter to be the one who established it. (Matthew 16:18). Since Peter was “the rock,” Jesus knew that he needed to appoint someone on account that the other disciples did not yet understand the doctrine of the New Testament church with its equality of Jews and Gentiles. The government had a similar issue with equality, and so emperors gained political power through the bishop and military forces. “Some of the bishops began to exercise authority over certain geographical areas; and in turn, Rome grew in political power.” [4]. One of the examples of this, was when Constantine was emperor in 312 A.D., and he decided to move the capital of the Roman Empire to “the New Rome,” and name it after himself. [5]. Another, is the influence of the barbarians during the 5th century, and the influence of Leo the Great and his persuasion of Attila the Hun and his cavalry to withhold their original intent to conquer the western half of the empire in A.D. 452. [6]. Despite the fact that both the church and the government was struggling for power, it was the councils and the stewardship throughout Rome who brought the ultimate power to the empire. With the bishop of Rome bringing unity back over the empire after the invasion of the barbarians, the church became the center of attention. It was then, that the church became organized through the help of the bishop, the church fathers (Peter – even though he had died, passed this legacy on), parish priest, and popes. The power of the papacy and the justice it brought with it, was one that brought both the government and the church peace. Roman law and church law was built upon the primacy of one another. [7]. In addition, it held the utmost importance for what Christianity would look like in the years to come, since it had become the official religion of the Roman Empire around A.D. 395. [8].

The Contributing Factors To The Dominance Of Western Europe Until The Reformation
Knowing that man is born into a world that is sinful, the orthodox of Christianity became flawed. As a result, there was the “humiliation of the Great Schism” and the Conciliar Movement. [9]. Because people in power did not want to step down, Christianity became divided. Thanks to the authority of The Council of Chalcedon, the Christological debate in 451 A.D. was broken down into five different dioceses. [10]. These bishops and popes ruled over the empire, and while there was four in the east, the west only had one.
Since Western Europe was being invaded by the barbarians, and they didn’t have the ability to defend due to the lack of military forces, the Empire solely became dependent on the church. In the 5th century, this led to conflict in the empire. As a result, this division and separation amongst the dioceses along with the impact of the vandals led up to the ultimate collapse of the Roman Empire. With Rome under the authority of the barbarians, many civilians converted. In addition, the papal authority was declining and the barbaric kings were becoming more popular due to the fact that the civilians didn’t feel that the popes were behaving like an Apostle of Christ. [11].
Another area that impacted the dominance of Western Europe was the conflict with France, and the period known as the Babylonian Captivity (1309-1377). It was during this time, that the Papal States in Italy were forced to pursue policies that further damaged the papal image. [12]. The argument between Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) and Philip IV (1285-1314) was over the church and the state, and who had the most power.
In the struggle for power, it also brought with it the 14th century heresies and the medieval ideas for a universal church. Radical reformers of the Protestant Reformation began questioning the hierarchy and what the personal relationship was between the teachings of the church and the call for being a servant of God. John Wycliffe (1320-1384) and Jan Hus (1369-1415), rejected the powers of the clergy and advocated for them to embrace poverty rather than luxury and to follow Christ and his humble teachings. [13].

The Positive And Negative Ramifications The positive and negative ramifications of this was that despite the barbarian invasion over the west, the church and the conversion of Christians had a major effect on the barbarian government. The fact that the church basically built the Western Empire and the Vandal Kings were “behaving with noble charity,” speaks volume for the original plan of Christian orthodoxy. [14]. The establishment of Western Civilization and the alliance between the Franks and the papacy came with the reign of Charlemagne. The importance of having a Germanic ruler, along with an emperor who had a spiritual responsibility was a plus for the medieval civilization. In understanding his religious duty to continue education, Charlemagne provided an opportunity for everyone to be able to study the Bible and the teachings of the early church fathers. This was the focus of the Carolingian Renaissance, and it was a time were everything from social issues to rational ideas were communicated because the level of literacy had greatly improved. [15]. However, because of his ability to have so much power in education, the Byzantine Empire began forcing their ideas of Christianity onto the remaining parts of Rome. [16]. This caused the crusades, along with the persecution of Muslims and Jews as King David captured Jerusalem. (2 Kings 25). Another ramification was the Monastic Ideal, and the impact it had over papal authority. Many retired abbots, as well as patriarchs, bishops, and priest would reside in the monasteries as a safe haven from the effect of the Reformation and its reformers. [17]. After the decline of the Carolingian empire, it is was the “obedience to the Rule” that these former popes and monks would continue on in their characteristics of being the “vicar of Christ.” [18]. Regardless of how hard it got or the persecution they endured, they would live a life of love and continue on in the tradition that the Roman Catholic Church and the Apostle Peter once displayed.

Conclusion In conclusion, the fact that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” is something that cannot be disputed. (Hebrews 13:8). It goes to show that the Apostolic Church and the foundation of Christian orthodoxy that started in Rome with Jesus’ charge to Peter to build his church, is one that still applies today. If it weren’t for the papacy and the early church fathers passing on this legacy to us, we as Christians wouldn’t know what it means to share in the sufferings of Christ. Like Peter, this comes with the ability to live unimpeachable and to recognize the victory in unjust suffering or persecution. (1 Peter 2:11-3:22). The ability to live before God, and submit to the government is one that the church has withstood. We as Christians today, can glean from the history of Rome. The factors that bring dominance over our relationship with Christ and those we encounter is one of war. The questions we must ask ourselves is, will we fight the battle of the world, or will we surrender to God and his will for the church and for us individually. Hopefully, it will be the latter of the two.

Bibliography

Beet, W., The Rise of the Papacy: AD 385-461. (1910). Retrieved from https://openlibrary.org/books/OL13508374M/The_rise_of_the_papacy Elwell, W. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: 2001, Baker Book House Company.

Gonzalez, J., The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation,
Volume 1. New York, NY: 2010, HarperCollins Publishers.

Lutzer, E., The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate
Christians. Grand Rapids, MI: 1998, Kregel Publications.

Nelsons NKJV Study Bible, Nashville, TN: 1997, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Perry, Chase, Jacob, and Von Laue (2009). Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society 10th
Ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Robertson, J.C., Fall of the Western Empire (A.D. 451-476): Sketches of Church History, from AD 33 to the Reformation. Retrieved from http://biblehub.com/library/roberston/sketches_of_church_history_from_ad_33_to_the_reformation/chapter_xxiii_fall_of_the.htm [1]. Elwell, 2001, pp. 888.
[2]. Ibid, pp. 888.
[3]. Lutzer, 1998, pp. 68.
[4]. Ibid, pp. 69.
[5]. Ibid, pp. 69.
[6]. Robertson.
[7]. Perry, Chase, Jacob, and Von Laue, pp. 165.
[8]. Beet, 1910.
[9]. Ibid, pp. 280-281.
[10]. Ibid, pp. 218-219.
[11]. Ibid, pp. 279.
[12]. Ibid, pp. 279-280.
[13]. Ibid, pp. 282.
[14]. Robertson.
[15]. Ibid, pp. 217-220.
[16]. Gonzalez, 2010, pp. 315-321.
[17]. Ibid, pp. 327-334.
[18]. Ibid, pp. 328 and 889.

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