The Challenge of the
Church in History
Chapter #6
“The Church, The Sacrament of
God’s Grace”
3 Periods
The period of Jewish Christianity (AD 30130)
2. The period of Greek and European
Christianity (AD 50-1964)
3. The period of global Christianity (1960present)
The Period of Jewish Christianity
(AD 30-130)
We tend to look at the first period of the
Church as a time of great enthusiasm and joy.
Those baptized in the name of Jesus were
eager to put the words and the deeds of Jesus
into practice.
They shared possessions. Some went so far as
to sell everything to help the poor and to create
a community of equals.
The Period of Jewish Christianity
(AD 30-130)
Thanks to Saint Paul and others, the church
spread rapidly beyond the walls of
Jerusalem and out into the gentile world.
The early Christians of Jewish ancestry
were known as “The Way” and as
Christianity spread into the pagan Greek
and Roman parts of the world, it
encountered some “growing pains”
The Period of Jewish Christianity
(AD 30-130)
There was a small but influential group in
Christianity called the “Juadizers” who wanted
to retain the strict Jewish flavour and
expression of this New Covenant Faith.
New “Gentile” converts were often expected to
follow many strict dietary laws or restrictions,
observe laws of ritual purity, and be subject to
circumcision (if male) before their profession
of faith and initiation into the Faith was
recognized by this Jerusalem based group.
The Period of Jewish Christianity
(AD 30-130)
This demand created hardships for Gentile
converts as the Church continued to spread
outside the confines of Jerusalem.
Many Christian missionaries, including Saint
Paul himself, did not agree with these
impositions placed on new converts and
Baptisms continued in the Gentile world.
An Ecumenical Council was soon called in
Jerusalem to settle this dispute.
The Period of Jewish Christianity
(AD 30-130)
The Council of Jerusalem 50-58AD under the
leadership and authority of Saint Peter decided
that Gentile converts need not follow strict
dietary regulations, ritual purification laws,
and male circumcision to become full
members of the Christian Church.
The Church had now definitively established
herself as One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
The Period of Greek and European
Christianity (AD 50-1964)
In 70AD, the Temple and much of Jerusalem had
been destroyed and by the second century there
were few historical traces of the original Church.
The church continued to spread in a world
dominated politically by an intolerant regime in
Rome and in a world culturally dominated by
The early Church was outlawed and persecuted
for 250 years by the Romans. The extreme severity
of these persecutions was sporadic but the attacks
were relentless.
The Period of Greek and European
Christianity (AD 50-1964)
The Roman Emperor,
Constantine, ended
persecutions in 313AD by
proclaiming the Edict of
Shortly afterward,
Christianity was not only
tolerated, but in fact received
imperial favour.
This new reality and
encounter with this
Greek/Roman world
presented all sorts of ethical
and theological questions.
The Period of Greek and European
Christianity (AD 50-1964)
Accepted as the religion of the Holy Roman Empire, it
was not long before Christianity was exposed to Greek
philosophy ( First 2-5 centuries with its many
unfettered ideas) and the core beliefs of the faith were
threatened and the creed challenged.
Threats to the central faith of the Church came from:
Gnosticism is the theory of salvation by
They believed that they alone had the secret
knowledge about God, humanity, and the
The Gnostics were disciples of various
pantheistic sects that existed long before Christ.
For them, matter is hostile to spirit. They
professed a dualism of body and spirit. Spirit is
Divine and good and the body is evil.
The Gnostics professed a conjugation of divine
God was seen as too pure, ultimately
unknowable and too perfect to have anything
to do with the material universe.
For the Gnostics, the God of the “Old
Testament” and the Jews is actually a lessor
god “Demiurges” who is violent, jealous, and
Generally the Gnostics believed in many
created supernatural finite beings which battled
for supremacy and the ear of the human.
Sophia was one such supernatural finite beings
whose task was to plant the seed of light,
knowledge, and truth in some select people
(gnostics). Other lesser supernatural finite
beings (the Archons) kept mortals in bondage
to the material world.
Jesus was seen as a revealer or liberator who
spread knowledge which would free humanity
from Demiurges and allow humanity to return
to their spiritual home.
Gnostics deny the Incarnation.
Gnostics borrowed what suited them from the
authentic Gospels and wrote new gospels of
their own. They denied objective revelation.
(Preferred their secretive pantheistic version).
The gospel of Thomas
is a well known Gnostic
Many a “Hollywood”
movie has been based
on the creative
falsehoods of this and
other Gnostic gospels.
Arianism is a fourth
century heresy that
denied the divinity of
Jesus Christ.
It was authored by
“Arius” (256-336AD), a
priest of Alexandria,
who in 318 AD began to
teach the heresy that
bears his name.
Arius challenged the revealed truth of the
Blessed Trinity and the Redemptive actions of
Arius taught that Jesus is not consubstantial
with the Father nor is He of the same
substance as the Father. Jesus is not co-eternal
and equal in all things with the Father but only
a creature made out of nothing like all other
created beings.
In a word, Jesus was considered the adopted
son of God, a kind of “demiurge”.
Arianism reduces the power and gift of the
“Incarnation” to a just a figure of speech.
Arianism struck at the very foundation of
Both Arius and Arianism were condemned at
the council of Nicaea 325AD.
Arianism and the Council of
The Bishops at the Council of Nicaea signed a
creed that answered the challenges of Arius.
“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of all things visible and invisible. And
in one Lord Jesus Christ, the son of God, the
only-begotten of the Father, God from God,
Light from Light, true God from true God,;
begotten, not created, consubstantial
(homousion) with the Father”.
Since the fifth century, some Arian churches
have remained in existence in many countries,
although many were absorbed by Islam.
A principle tenet of these churches is the
recognition that Jesus is the Messiah but a
denial that he is the natural son of God.
Arianism, in that it denied the divinity of Jesus,
expressed a theology very much like the
“unitarianism” of Muhammad and Islam.
Pelagianism is a 5th
century Heresy that
attacked the need for
supernatural Grace for
It was propagated by an
Irish/English Monk
named Pelagius (355425AD).
Pelagianism puts special emphasis on human
free will.
It argued that when St. Augustine and others
insisted on the necessity of Grace for
Salvation, the perfection of being, and chastity,
that this imperiled man’s use of his free will.
It also teaches that mankind will not die
because of the sin of Adam nor rise on the Last
Day because of Christ’s redemption.
Pelagianism has never really left the church.
This heresy is alive and well in the attitude so
prevalent in the modern world that proclaims
that humans can do what is needed for their
salvation or their well being all by themselves
with no need for Sacraments, no real need for
the Grace of God, and no real need for the
Pelagianism totally denies the supernatural order
and the necessity of Divine Grace for Salvation.
Donatism was a 4th
century heresy which
denied the efficacy of
the Sacraments,
particularly the
Sacrament of
Reconciliation or
It was led by Magnus
The church at this time was
being severely persecuted by
the Emperor Diocletian
between 303 and 310 AD.
Christian Scriptures, Sacred
Vessels, were being burned.
Christians were butchered
and put to death for their
Priests and Bishops were
special targets.
Christians were forced to reject their faith and
Bishops and Priests on pain of death were asked
to burn incense to pagan idols in their churches.
During the persecution, some Bishops and
Priests and laity had publically fallen away
from their faith out of fear for their lives.
They had apostatized (renounced or denied
their faith).
They became known as traitors (Traditores)
In 312, Donatist Bishops refused to accept as
valid the consecration of the Bishop of
Carthage (one of the consecrating bishops was
a traitor: Schism)
Donatist believed that traitors or apostates had
to be re-baptised.
Donatists believed that the efficacy of
Sacraments depends on the moral character of
the minister.
The Donatists claimed that all the Sacraments
administered or offered by apostates (including
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass) were invalid.
Donatists also claimed that the Sacrament of
Reconciliation or Penance would not benefit
them and they could not be forgiven.
St. Augustine dealt effectively with this heresy.
The Church condemned such teaching as false
and as an attack on the efficacy of Christ’s
Redemptive Love.
Grace is necessary and effective and the Credo
of the Church reflected this. (Council of
The lavabo at the
offertory at Mass is a
visible reminder that the
efficacy of any
Sacrament (including
the Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass) is not depend on
the character of the
Priest repeats Psalm 25
Period of Greek and European
Christianity (50- 1964 AD)
Christian thinkers
such as Origen,
Athanasius, Tertullian
and Augustine used
Plato's philosophy, or
neo-Platonism, as a
tool to make the gospel
understandable and to
explain theological
Period of Greek and European
Christianity (50- 1964 AD)
This philosophy introduced into Christianity
ways of thinking, language and images that
were closer to the Greek thinking than to the
Jewish tradition.
Whereas the Jews did not permit pictorial
representations of God, Christians began very
early to create statues, paintings and icons of
Period of Greek and European
Christianity (50- 1964 AD)
Iconoclasm was a
heresy that rejected as
superstition the use of
religious images and
advocated their removal
and destruction.
It was occasioned by the
rise of Islam, which like
Judaism, considers all
sacred images
Period of Greek and European
Christianity (50- 1964 AD)
Islam pressured Emperor Leo the Isaurian in
726 to outlaw religious images and helped
precipitate a crisis in the church over the
veneration of Icons and the presence of Statues.
The Second Council of Nicaea in 787 defended
the lawful display and veneration of these
Sacred Images.
This Council affirmed that respect shown them
really is given to the person they represent.
The Period of Greek and European
Christianity (AD 50-1964)
The encounter with Islam and the rediscovery
of Greek philosophy and civilization (8-13
Until the 13th Century Plato’s philosophy
influenced catholic theology.
Thomas Aquinas rediscovered the writings of
Aristotle. With this rediscovery began a rich
period of expressing the Christian message with
the aid of Aristotle's theories of knowledge and
The Period of Greek and European
Christianity (AD 50-1964)
Christianity divided. There are two
historical divisions in church history:
“Schism” (East verses West) 1054 AD
“Protestant Reformation” 1538-1545 AD
The Great Schism 1054 AD
This Schism was largely
spearheaded by the
supercilious (arrogant
condescending scornful)
and ambitious “Michael
Caerularius”, the
Patriarch of
Constantinople (10431058 AD).
Since 4th century, there were five major cities
that comprised Christianity.
Eastern Cites
Western Cities
Jerusalem (Mother Church)
Antioch (Syria)
Alexandria (Egypt)
Constantinople (Turkey)
Rome (Italy)
Background to the Schism
Because of Global politics, Barbarian
Invasions and natural geography, Rome in the
west became increasingly isolated from the
Eastern Churches.
Cultural and Liturgical differences became
magnified over time.
Differences; A question of
Eastern Churches (Orthodox)
Roman or Latin Churches
Diversity in Faith expression (Ethnic and
regional differences. Multiplicity in
Languages of worship.
Consecrated leavened Bread at Mass.
Uniformity in faith expression. Use of
Latin alone in Liturgy.
Consecration of unleavened Bread at
Focus on worship. (Mystery)
Holy Spirit provided Guidance.
Focus on Doctrine. (Certainty)
Law(s) make things clear.
Married Clergy
Celibate Clergy
Unity in the Eucharist.
Unity in the Pope.
Laity centered.
Clergy centered.
Focus on the mystery of the Trinity and
the Divinity of Jesus.
Focus on the Incarnation and the humanity
of Jesus.
Sacraments are passive experiences, let
God work.
Sacraments are active encounters with the
risen Lord.
The Great Schism 1054 AD
There was a long standing “anti-Latin”
sentiment in the Eastern churches (particularly
in Constantinople) which stemmed from
differences in Liturgical practices and the fact
that Rome had changed the Nicene Creed (The
Filioque Clause) without consultation from the
church leaders in the East.
Patriarch Michael Caerularius exploited this
discontent and instigated the quarrel with
The Great Schism 1054 AD
Caerularius sent provocative letters to the Pope
and Bishops in the West and a letter to his
fellow Patriarchs stating his vehement
opposition to the Latin customs.
Consecrating unleavened Bread
ii) Clerical Celibacy
iii) Fasting on Saturdays
The Great Schism 1054 AD
He called the Latin’s hypocrites, dirty dogs,
liars, and schismatics in his letter to fellow
He then closed all Latin Churches in
Constantinople including the Church of the
Papal Legate.
His Chancellor broke open Latin Tabernacles
and desecrated the Blessed Eucharist. He
stomped them under foot!
The Great Schism 1054 AD
Pope Leo IX wrote back to Caerularius
defending the Latin customs and the rights of
the Holy See reminding the Patriarch that most
of the heresies came from the east.
He sent three papal legates to the East
(including Cardinal Humbert).
The Emperor in the East (Constantine IX)
received the papal delegates with honour and
respect and wanted to amicably heal the
growing rift. (The pope and he were good
The Great Schism 1054 AD
Patriarch Michael Caerularuis was indignant
that the legates broke with protocol and did not
first prostrate themselves before him and
called the legates “insolent, boastful, arrogant,
and stupid”. Ignored them for months.
Cardinal Humbert from the Emperor’s place,
wrote defenses of the Latin customs and the
rights of the Holy See convincing one of the
Patriarchs to accept these customs.
The Great Schism 1054 AD
Patriarch Michael
Caerularius thereafter
declared “open schism”
by provocatively
removing the Pope’s
name from his diptychs.
(A diptych is a sort of
notebook, used for
correspondence and
The Great Schism 1054 AD
Without the Pope’s
knowledge or approval,
Cardinal Humbert
prepared a “Bull of
against Patriarch
Caerularius and his
followers and placed it
on the altar of Sancta
Sophia (Hagia Sophia) on
July 16th 1054 AD.
The Great Schism 1054 AD
Pariarch Michael Caerularius then jointly
“Excommunicated” the papal legates and all
those in communion with Rome. The “schism”
was in full bloom!
Pope Leo IX had died months before making
Humbert’s excommunication invalid.
There was an attempt at the Council of Lyons
1274AD to heal this schism but this remedy
was not accepted nor ratified by the laity in the
The Great Schism 1054 AD
These joint “excommunications” were lifted in
1962 at the Second Vatican Council.
This schism was largely accidental and
amounted to a separation within the church
It is not a fracture or break as would happen if
the dispute was theological, doctrinal, or from a
The Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation centuries later is a
fracture and break in the church because the
dispute is theological and doctrinal.
This fracture between Catholic and Protestant
Christians was so acrimonious that it led to
several bloody religious wars in the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries.
The Protestant Reformation
The Protestant
Reformation was
led by an
Catholic Priest
from Wittenberg in
northern Germany
by the name of
Martin Luther.
Causes of the Protestant
The “Black Death” wiped out large segments
of the European population.
Many clergy were poorly educated, some
Many Dioceses were without Bishops.
Immorality among some clergy
Causes of the Protestant
“Simony” (The buying and selling of Sacred
Christian objects)
The selling of “Indulgences”(remission of
punishment for sin) was one method used by
some Bishops to raise money for themselves
and Rome.
Many people were indifferent to the politics and
by their own volition ignorant of the contents
the Bible.
Causes of the Protestant
Those few who knew the Bible and their faith
suspected that some of these practices seemed
to be wrong.
Loss of focus among many of the faithful.
Some people were more concerned about
seeking out and venerating relics than being a
good Christian.
The three Major Principles of the
Protestant Reformation
was considered to be the
FINAL authority on
Church teaching and
practices. (Paper Pope)
Luther insisted on the
absolute AUTHORITY and
The three Major Principles of the
Protestant Reformation
Salvation is achieved
No need for God’s
Grace and Good Deeds
for one’s salvation.
The three Major Principles of the
Protestant Reformation
For Luther, there was
no need for
Priesthood (Pope,
Bishops and Priests)
Luther attacked the
power of the Pope, the
Mass, the Sacraments,
and the Priesthood.
Differences between Protestant
and Roman Catholic Churches
#1 Apostolic Succession and Authority:
Protestants have no central authority save that
of the Bible. Little or no unity. Churches of
Catholics have unity in Eucharist and Pope and
proclaim four elements of Apostolic Authority.
Differences between Protestant and Roman
Catholic Churches
#2 Unity of the Eucharist;Mass;Sacramental
 Protestantism focuses on Pulpit not the Altar.
 Protestantism focuses on “Royal Priesthood
with no sacramental priesthood (Exception:
 Protestants have a communal meal of the last
supper. Eucharist largely symbolic.
Lutheranism (Consubstantiation) Catholicism
The Vernacular Bible
A prevailing false assumption (still with us
today) is the belief that Luther and
Protestantism gave the Christian world the first
vernacular Bible.
The 1st printed Bible was produced with the
authority of the catholic church by a catholic
named Johann Gutenberg in 1455AD.
There were 626 vernacular editions of the Bible
with the blessing of the Catholic church before
Luther. (8th through 16th century)
The Period of Greek and European
Christianity (AD 50-1964)
European empire
Between 1492 and the end of the Second World War,
Europe colonized virtually every continent in the world.
Colonialism spread its mercantile forms, its laws, its
religion, its civilization everywhere it went.
The Church, directed by Christ’s command to go and
teach all nations (Matthew 28.19), participated in this
expansion and began to evangelize the world by
implanting the Church on every continent.
The Period of Greek and European
Christianity (AD 50-1964)
The “Age of Rationalism” & the modern world
Rationalism was a great counter-movement to the vision
of the Church and began in the seventeenth century.
This period was characterized by a refusal to accept any
authority that could not justify itself using reason.
The age of Rationalism had an enormous impact on the
Church, which bases its vision on Revelation, Faith, and
Faith in God and the revealed truths of and from the
supernatural have been deemed to be outdated and not
We live now in the secular world of the individual
driven by the “dictatorship of relativism” and “atheism”.
The Period of Global Christianity
The church is the Body of Christ and the
Holy Spirit abides in and guides her.
There is a visible and invisible dimension in
Despite its high calling to be an agent of
God’s Love and Presence, the church shows
its human reality in all its historical
The Period of Global Christianity
The world of the third
period is becoming
A true world Church – a
global church is
Local cultures and
practices are embraced.
The Church is no longer
dominated by one
The Period of Global Christianity
During the Second
Vatican Council, Pope
Paul VI asked God’s
pardon for what
members of the church
had done in the past.
He focused on events
that led up to the Schism
between the Eastern and
Western Church.
The Period of Global Christianity
In March 2000, Blessed
Pope John Paul II asked
for healing and
reconciliation for
offenses perpetrated in
the second millennium
of Christianity including
the historical divisions
among Christians,
intolerance, and antiJewish attitudes.
The Period of Global Christianity
Since Vatican II, the
church has been
concerned with restoring
unity among all
Christians (ecumenism)
and healing old wounds
from the sins of history.
Pope John Paul II historic
symbolic entry into 3rd
The Period of Global Christianity
On November 4th 2009, Pope
Benedict XVI proclaimed the
Apostolic Constitution:
“Anglicanorium Coetibus”
(Group of Anglicans) which
establishes the mechanisms for
allowing former Anglicans
(Bishops and Priests) into full
communion with the Roman
Catholic Church.
The Period of Global Christianity
Since this time many
Anglican Bishops and
Priests have entered into
full communion with
the Catholic Church.
Many more are on the
way, the Church is
becoming more
universal as old wounds
are healed.

The Challenge of the Church in History