CHAPTER 4
The Church Fathers And Heresies
The Popes, the Church Fathers, and the Ecumenical Councils, led by the Holy
Spirit, guided the Church through the treacherous waters of heresy.
CHAPTER 4
The Church Fathers And Heresies
 The persecutions endured by the early Church were followed by a series
of heresies that rocked the Church to its foundations.
 From the beginning, many Christian thinkers used Greek philosophy
and tradition to help explain Christian truths.
 Over the course of the third to fifth centuries, Popes and bishops led
the Church through a number of Ecumenical Councils addressing new
controversies and developing new theological traditions.
CHAPTER 4
The Church Fathers And Heresies
 The Athanasian Creed that emerged expresses the Catholic belief in the
three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation of
God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity. It emphasizes the
equality of each of the three persons of the Trinity.
 The Creed begins and ends with an anathema (a condemnation) on
those who do not accept it.
 Each sentence, word, and phrase of the Creed was carefully selected in
order to adequately express the Catholic Faith. While some of these
terms may seem difficult to understand, members of the early Church
suffered torture, exile, and death in order to preserve and transmit the
unadulterated Deposit of Faith.
PART I
Early Heresies
 St. Thomas Aquinas defines heresy as “a species of unbelief, belonging to those who
profess the Christian Faith but corrupt its dogmas.”
 Orthodox Catholicism derives from the Deposit of Faith (the sum of all truths
revealed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and entrusted to the care of the
Church).
 Heresy derives from the same Deposit of Faith, but denies or alters some part of it.
 A person may enter into heresy in one of two ways:
 Material heresy: entered into through ignorance of the truth, or
misunderstanding or incomprehension of some aspect of the Faith. This species
is merely a mistake that needs correcting.
 Formal heresy: freely choosing, with full understanding of the teachings of the
Church, to hold doctrines that are contradictory to those of the Church.
PART I
Early Heresies
 The first heresies were particularly dangerous because they attacked the
figure of Christ himself.
 Greek philosophy spoke of the logos, a term used by St. Paul referring
to God the Son. Neo-Platonic thought taught that the logos was the
most exalted creation of the Father, rather than God himself.
 They also viewed the material world as inferior to the world of ideas.
 Therefore, these heresies denied the divinity of Jesus, and deemphasized, if not denied, his humanity. They made Jesus inferior to
the Father, and set the stage for Arianism, the worst crisis that the
Church would ever endure.
GNOSTICISM
 “Gnosticism” comes from the Greek word “gnosis” meaning knowledge. It
refers to a heresy in the early Church that taught that salvation came
from knowledge.
 Gnosticism taught that secret knowledge had been given to a few. It
pitted the Demiurge, the creator god of the material world, against the
remote and unknowable Divine Being. Therefore, the material world
was against and inferior to the spiritual world.
GNOSTICISM
 The redeemer was sent by the Divine Being to release the divine sparks,
found among some people, so that they could return to the Divine
Being. This was only possible if the individual understood the secret
knowledge and practiced the Gnostic rituals.
 Gnosticism rejected the Church’s teaching regarding both Christ’s
human and divine nature. It taught that Jesus did not inhabit a human
body, nor did he die on the Cross.
 The principle of finding the light within oneself through pagan
ceremonies is the essence of New Age religions.
MARCIONISM (144-400’S)
 Tradition teaches that Marcion was excommunicated by his father, a
bishop, on grounds of immorality. Going to Rome, he started his own
Christian community AD 140. This heresy grew into one of the
greatest threats to orthodox Christianity and lasted well into the fifth
century.
 Adopting the idea from Gnosticism, he taught that the God of the
Jews was the Demiurge. He believed that Christ was sent from the God
of Love, who has no connection to the law, to bring about the
destruction of the Jewish God.
MARCIONISM (144-400’S)
 The dualism of Law and Love is the main thesis of his system.
 He only recognized the writings of St. Paul because of their teachings
on the Law. He felt the Apostles were blinded by the Jewish Law and so
rejected their writings, accepting only a purified version of St. Luke.
 Unwittingly, this heresy helped the Catholic Church’s development of
the New Testament Canon of Scripture.
MANICHAEISM (250s–1000s)
 Manichaeism was the most developed branch of Gnosticism. Founded by
Mani (AD 216-276) it taught the dualist conflict between darkness and light.
The heresy taught that Satan had stolen light particles and placed them in the
brains of humans. The goal of Manichaeism was to release this light so that
it could return to its original source.
 Manichaeism borrowed heavily from St. Paul, and its followers practiced
strict asceticism. It appealed to many Romans by demanding a “stricter”
moral life than Christianity, and by appealing to philosophy.
 St. Augustine was a fervent follower of Manichaeism for many years.
 Similar heresies, such as the Albigensians (Cathars) appeared in the Middle
Ages.
MONTANISM (156-200s)
 Montanism was an apocalyptic movement founded by Montanus based
on private revelations. He taught that a new, heavenly kingdom was
about to begin in Pepuza, a small town in Phrygia.
 Montanism taught that Christians who had fallen from grace could
never be forgiven or redeemed. It also placed a high emphasis on the
ascetical life.
 Its most famous adherent was Tertullian.
DOCETISM (30s-100s)
 Docetism, believing that matter was corrupt, denied that Christ was truly
human or that he suffered the pain of the crucifixion. Its name comes
from the Greek dokesis meaning appearance. It often taught that
someone else miraculously switched places with Jesus before the
crucifixion.
PART II
The Ecumenical Councils
 In order to meet the challenges posed by various heresies, the Church
convened a number of Ecumenical Councils.
 The word ecumenical comes from the Greek meaning “the whole inhabited
world.”
 The first was in Nicaea AD 325.
 Altogether there have been twenty-one Ecumenical Councils, the last
one being the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
 The first six councils addressed Christological issues providing
theological answers to the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?”
PART II
The Ecumenical Councils
 Types of councils:
 Ecumenical Council: A council for the entire Catholic Church. At present
it must be convened by the Pope who governs the Council and he alone has
the power to accept or reject its decrees. Its teachings on doctrine are
considered infallible.
 Plenary council: A council including all of the bishops of a nation.
 Provincial council: An assembly of the metropolitan archbishop with his
suffragan bishops.
 Diocesan council: A synod, or meeting of a bishop with representatives of
the clergy, religious, and laity in matters of diocesan discipline or procedure.
 The first seven Ecumenical Councils are recognized by both the East and West.
PART III
The Church Fathers
 A number of great and holy leaders arose to lead the Church, explain
the faith, and meet the unique challenges posed by different heresies.
 These Fathers shared orthodoxy in doctrine, holiness, notoriety, and
antiquity.
 While there is no definitive list of Church Fathers, they are typically
divided between the Latin (West) and Greek (East).
 The study of Church Fathers is known as patrology or patristics.
 Their writings offer an opportunity to learn and appreciate the wealth
of the earliest Christian traditions.
 Because of their proximity to the Apostles, their clarification and
interpretation of Scripture is a standard reference point.
 A Doctor of the Church is a specific title granted by the Pope to those
whose development of theology and personal sanctity are exemplary.
ST. AMBROSE OF MILAN
 St. Ambrose, the son of the Praetorian Prefect for Gaul, studied law,
became a lawyer, and eventually became governor.
 Upon the death of Milan’s Arian bishop, the people clamored for St.
Ambrose to succeed him, although he was only a catechumen at the time.
He was soon baptized, ordained, and installed as bishop.
 St. Ambrose defended the Church’s independence from the state. When
Emperor Theodosius slaughtered 700 people AD 390, St. Ambrose
excommunicated him and forced the emperor to make public penance.
The emperor was pardoned after eight months of prayer and penance.
 As bishop he was an ardent opponent of Arianism, he encouraged
monasticism, introduced hymns into the liturgy, and facilitated theological
exchange with the east.
THE APOSTLE’S CREED
 Although the contents are based upon the New Testament, and
it is a profession of faith in the Apostle’s teaching, the author
and exact date of the Apostle’s Creed are unknown. It was first
mentioned by St. Ambrose AD 390.
 It is based on a baptismal creed used in Rome, known as the
Roman Creed, and for this reason it was particularly accepted in
the West where it was always associated with the baptismal rite.
 The creed is divided into three sections: The Father, the Son,
and the Holy Spirit.
ST. JEROME
 St. Jerome spent five years in the Syrian desert leading an ascetical life
with companions. It was there that he learned Hebrew, which would
be vital for his future work.
 Always leading a penitential life, he served as a secretary to Pope St.
Damasus I, and later spent the last years of his life in Bethlehem as
the head of a new monastery.
 Although a learned scholar and writing on many of the important
issues in his day, his most important work was the translation of the
Bible from original sources into Latin known as the Vulgate.
 This version of the Bible is still the normative text in the Church
today.
TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE
 It is widely believed that St. Jerome’s Vulgate translation of the Bible is the
most faithful translation because he had access to manuscripts of the original
languages that no longer exist.
 The Douay-Rheims translation into English was based on the Latin Vulgate.
 The Church teaches that the books of the Bible are divinely inspired.
 After careful study, the Catholic Church will grant its imprimatur (ecclesiastical
approval) to books, including translations of the Bible, in which it finds
nothing that is contrary to Catholic Faith or morals.
 At present there are five English translations of the Bible which have been
given an imprimatur (ecclesiastical approval) : The Douay-Rheims, the New
Jerusalem Bible, the New American Bible (used in liturgies), The Revised
Standard Version (those editions which have the deuterocanonical books),
and the New Revised Standard Version.
THE CANON OF THE SCRIPTURE
 The word “canon” comes from the Greek meaning “reed” or “measuring rod.”
 As applied to Scriptures it means the list of writings that have been included in
the Bible and proclaimed by the Church to be divinely inspired.
 The Synod of Rome (AD 382) found 27 books of the New Testament and 46
books of the Old Testament to be divinely inspired.
 However, the status of seven books of the Old Testament were still disputed.
These books, called deuterocanonical, were written in Greek, rather than Hebrew,
and were included in the Jewish Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew
Scriptures) that was used by the early Christians.
 The Councils at Hippo (AD 393) and Carthage (AD 397 and 419) established
that the deuterocanonical books were divinely inspired and were to be included
in the Old Testament.
 The Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea II (787), Florence (1335), and Trent (1545)
ratified this decision.
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, THE
GOLDEN MOUTHED
 St. John Chrysostom studied law in Antioch and later theology in the
influential Antiochene school.
 First deciding to be a monk he spent eight years following the Pachomian
Rule with the last two spent as an anchorite or hermit.
 Returning to Antioch due to ill health he was ordained a priest AD 386.
 He became a renowned preacher and earned the name Chrysostom, which
means golden mouthed.
 His sermons captured the deep spiritual meaning of Scripture without
excluding their literal sense.
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, THE
GOLDEN MOUTHED
 He combined this biblical meaning with real-world, practical application
to the Christian life.
 He also wrote a book on the importance and duties of a priest.
 Against his wishes, the emperor named him Patriarch of
Constantinople AD 398.
 Preaching against moral laxity, including that in the imperial family,
made him unpopular with the empress who twice had St. John
Chrysostom removed as patriarch and banished.
PART IV Heresies of the Fourth
and Fifth Centuries
 The fourth and fifth centuries AD saw the ending of persecutions and
the rise of great Church leaders.
 The new found freedom led to the rise of great theological and
doctrinal developments, but also to the rise of heresies.
 Ecumenical councils made pronouncements on Trinitarian and
Christological beliefs.
 Some of the causes of these heresies were inaccurate interpretations of
the Bible and imprecise theological explanations.
 The two great centers of theological learning were Alexandria and
Antioch.
PART IV Heresies of the Fourth
and Fifth Centuries
 Both appealed to Apostolic founding and traditions in defining the
theology of the Incarnation and the Trinity.
 The School in Alexandria gave special status to the divinity of Christ
and the unity of his person, along with an allegorical exegesis of the
Scripture.
 The Antiochene School focused more on the literal and historical
meaning of Scripture and tended to isolate Christ’s human and divine
natures.
CHRISTOLOGICAL HERESIES
ARIANISM (Fourth Century)
 Arius (250-336) was a priest in Alexandria who had studied in Antioch.
 He was charismatic and attracted huge crowds of listeners and
devotees.
 Arius claimed that Christ is neither God, nor equal to the Father, but
rather an exceptional creature raised to the level of “Son of God.”
 This heresy was especially dangerous because it denied the divinity of
Christ, therefore effectively denying the most central beliefs of
Christianity, including the Trinity and Redemption.
 This heresy found a wide following, and eventually spread to the entire
Eastern Church, part of the Western Church, and the Germanic tribes.
THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA
 St. Athanasius (296-373) marshaled the necessary orthodox forces to
defeat the Arian heresy.
 Even when almost all of the Eastern Church had become Arian, St.
Athanasius remained firm and would not be silenced.
 The Emperor Constantine pushed for a General Council at Nicaea in
325 to settle the issue of Arianism and to bring unity to the Empire.
 This was the first of several Ecumenical Councils.
 Pope St. Sylvester I, who was too old and infirm to travel, led the
council through his legate Bishop Hosius of Cordova, Spain.
 St. Athanasius proposed a statement using the Greek term homoousios
which means “of the same essence or substance.” This term was
accepted and the result was the Nicene Creed.
THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA
 With the Arian view defeated, all of the bishops, except for two signed
the agreed Creed. These two were exiled by the emperor.
 Unfortunately, the Emperor Constantine reversed his decision,
permitted the return of the exiled bishops, and forced the leaders of
the Nicene party into exile, which included St. Athanasius.
 Before the Emperor Constantine died AD 337, he was baptized on his
deathbed by the Arian Patriarch of Contantinople.
 The East soon succumbed to Arianism and the heresy even spread to
the West.
THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA
 Different forms of Arianism included:
(1) Anomoeans who stressed the difference between the
Father and the Son;
(2) Scriptural purist who rejected the word homoousios
because it does not appear in the Bible.
(3) Several semi-Arian groups who stressed differences and
similarities between the Father and the Son with the Greek
term homoiousios (similar substance).
 Later the Council of Paris affirmed the Nicene Creed and St.
Athanasius returned from exile. This Nicene Creed was reaffirmed by
the council of Constantinople (AD 381).
THE NICENECONSTANTINOPOLITAN CREED
 The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed came out of the Second
Ecumenical Council of Constantinople (AD 381).
 It is longer than the Nicene Creed in three distinct places:
(1) The second section concerning the Son;
(2) The third section concerning the Holy Spirit;
(3) The last section concerning the Church,
Baptism, the forgiveness of sins, and the
Resurrection.
 This Creed is recited on most Sundays as the Profession of Faith
following the homily in the Mass.
ST. HILARY OF POITIERS:
“THE ATHANASIUS OF THE WEST”
 St. Hilary of Poitiers was a leading Latin theologian of his day.
 He ardently defended the orthodox position against the Arians, and so
is called “The Athanasius of the West.”
 Rather than condemning all heretics without exception, he often told
semi-Arians who were moving toward reconciliation that their
arguments were merely semantics and that their ideas were actually the
same.
THE THREE CAPPADOCIANS
 St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and St. Gregory of
Nyssa spent their lives working against the Arian heresy.
 Their work bore fruit in the Council of Constantinople (AD 381) when
Arianism was decisively defeated.
ST. BASIL THE GREAT
 St. Basil was marked by his strong intellect combined with a deep personal
holiness and keen administrative abilities.
 He lived as a hermit and his ascetical life set the example for the structure
and spirit of Eastern Monasticism.
 Unlike the west, Eastern Monasticism never fractured into new orders and
rules, but has remained together as an organic whole under St. Basil’s Rule.
 He worked to see that priests were rigorously and properly trained, and
worked to care for the material and spiritual needs of the laity. He
developed a system of hospitals and social service institutions to serve the
poor.
 He authored the Liturgy of St. Basil which is still used in the East during
Lent, and its influence is seen in the Eucharistic Prayer IV used in the
Roman Missal.
 As bishop St. Basil encountered opposition from the emperors and other
churchmen regarding Arianism.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus,
“The Theologian”
 St. Gregory received a classical education in Athens.
 He has often been given the title “Theologian” because of his writings.
He devoted much writing to the Holy Spirit. Through his preaching in
Constantinople, he helped to bring the Arians back to the orthodox
Faith.
 Like St. Basil, he led a rigorous ascetical life and became a bishop in
Sasima around 372.
ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA
 St. Gregory, the younger brother of St. Basil, was forced into exile
because of his deep opposition to Arian beliefs.
 He utilized neo-Platonic philosophy in his theological work.
 He defended the popular title of Mary, “Theotokos,” which is Greek for
Mother of God, or more literally “the one who gave birth to God.”
APOLLINARIANISM (ca. 360–381)
 Apollinaris ardently supported the orthodox position, especially against
the Arians, but his unguided fervor led him into heresy.
 Though he believed that Christ had a human body, he denied the
existence of a human mind and will in Christ as a defense against
Arianism.
 Therefore, it would appear that Christ did not live a complete life as a
man.
 This is incompatible with the Church’s view that Jesus was true God
and true Man.
 Beginning with councils in Rome from 371–380 Apollinarianism was
declared erroneous.
NESTORIANISM (ca. 351 – ca. 451)
 Nestorius became the Patriarch of Constantinople AD 428.
 In an effort to escape Apollinarianism, Nestorius maintained that
Christ was the unity of a divine person and a human person.
 He attempted to eliminate the term Theotokos, teaching that Mary was
the mother of Christ, but not the Mother of God. According to
Nestorius, Jesus is the result of the union of two separate persons, one
man and one God.
 The orthodox position is that Jesus is one Person with two natures,
human and divine.
 St. Cyril of Alexandria described the relationship of the two natures as
the Hypostatic Union. This doctrine was accepted in the Fourth
Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.
 The Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus (431) declared Mary as the
true Mother of God. Nestorius, who refused to recant, was exiled.
MONOPHYSITISM (400s-600s)
 Monophysitism claimed that there is only one nature in Christ.
 The name is derived from the Greek monos (alone, single) and physis
(nature).
 It was a reaction to Nestorianism, attempting to stress Christ’s divinity,
with Christ’s human nature being assumed into his Divine nature.
 One version, Eutychianism, was initiated by Eutyches who taught that
Christ’s human nature was absorbed into the divine, like a drop of
water is absorbed into the ocean.
 Pope St. Leo spoke through his legates in the Council of Chalcedon
(451) declaring that Jesus Christ is the God-man, one Person with two
natures. It was declared, “Peter has spoken through Leo.”
MONOPHYSITISM (400s-600s)
 The cumulative effect of these heresies was a weakening of the Roman
Empire, and the creation of splinter Christian groups in the East.
 Recent common declarations of faith between the Catholic and Coptic,
Ethiopian, and Syrian Orthodox Churches have concluded that they no
long hold a monophysite position.
GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR:
“APOSTLE OF ARMENIA”
 Bishop Gregory the Illuminator (257–337) began the Christianization
of the Armenian people. He did so by first converting the king,
Tiridates III, and then the people. This model of evangelization would
be followed in the centuries to come.
 Armenia enjoys the distinction of being the first nation to officially
become Christian AD 314.
 Unfortunately, most of the Armenian people broke away from the
Church over the issue of monophysitism, although a segment is still in
communion with Rome and has its own Eastern Catholic rite.
POPE ST. LEO THE GREAT
 Pope St. Leo (d. 461) did much to consolidate papal power.
 The origin of this authority is based on the words of Christ, “You are
Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.”
 With a firm conviction of God’s will, Pope St. Leo secured a rescript
from Emperor Valentinian III acknowledging papal jurisdiction in the
West.
 His strong leadership in dealing with heresies, his dealings with the
barbarian threat, and his administration of the Church earned him the
title “the Great.”
MONOTHELITISM (600s)
 Monothelitism is the doctrine that professes the existence of only one
will in Christ, but still maintains that he has two natures.
 It name comes from the Greek mono (alone, single) and thelos (one who
wills).
 The heresy originated with the emperor as a way to reconcile the
Monophysites with the church and to bring unity to the empire.
 Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople approved the formula and wrote to
Pope Honorius to clarify the matter.
 The Pope approved of Sergius’s handling of the matter and used the
words “one will” in his reply, which the emperor and Patriarch used in
an official document.
MONOTHELITISM (600s)
 Two councils in Constantinople (not ecumenical) accepted this formula.
 The Pope’s use of the term “one will” in this private letter to the
Patriarch is often used as evidence against Papal Infallibility.
 However, it does not meet the conditions for infallibility as the Pope
did not define a matter of doctrine for the entire Church, nor was it his
intention to descend into theological details.
 It does show evidence that the other Churches, including the Patriarch
of Constantinople, would appeal to the papacy to settle theological
issues.
 Later, the Church developed precise language in defining its position
that Jesus had two natures (human and divine) and two wills (human
and divine).
DOGMATIC AND SACRAMENTAL
HERESIES: DONATISM (311-411)
 Donatism rejected the validity of the Sacraments celebrated by priests
and bishops who had betrayed the Faith during persecution or who had
in other ways sinned.
 They identified the true Church only with themselves and even
rebaptized those who joined their sect.
 St. Augustine was their chief opponent.
 He developed the Catholic position that Christ is the true minister of
every Sacrament, even if the person celebrating the Sacrament is in a
state of sin.
 St. Augustine separated the worthiness of the priest from the validity
of the Sacrament.
 The Donatists were suppressed by the state AD 411, but were never
fully defeated until Islam overran the Church in Africa in the seventh
and eighth centuries.
PELAGIANISM (late 300s-431)
 Pelagianism taught that man can be redeemed and sanctified without
grace.
 It denied the existence of Original Sin, as well as its transmission to the
human family.
 The Sacraments were superfluous since salvation could be obtained by
human effort.
 These views were condemned at the councils of Carthage and Milevis
AD 416 and AD 418 the Pope excommunicated its founders.
 These issues surrounding the Fall, Original Sin, and grace reappeared
during the Middle Ages and again at the time of the Reformation.
ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO
 St. Augustine (354–430) was perhaps the greatest Father of the Church.
He was a pastor, penitent, monk, preacher, bishop, teacher, and
theologian. No other theologian rivaled his importance until St. Thomas
Aquinas.
 St. Augustine was born to a pagan father and a Christian mother (St.
Monica). He lived a dissolute life for many years before converting to the
Faith. During this time he cohabited with a woman with whom he had a
child and later became deeply involved with the heresy of Manichaeism.
ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO
 Upon moving to Milan he found great intellectual stimulation in neoPlatonic philosophy and the preaching of St. Ambrose.
 After a conversion experience he resolved to become Catholic and to
abandon his sinful life. He and his son were baptized. However, he
soon suffered tragedy as his mother, who had prayed for her son’s
conversion her entire life, died, and his son died the following year.
 He returned to his birthplace in North Africa where he established a
monastic community and lived a life dedicated to prayer and penance.
Upon a visit to Hippo, he was seized by the people and ordained a priest
by the bishop. Four years later he became a bishop.
ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO
 St. Augustine was a voluminous writer who addressed all of the major
heresies of his day: Manicheans, Donatists, Pelagians, Arians, and the
pagans.
 His theology addresses the Trinity, grace, the Fall, Original Sin, repentance,
Sacraments, predestination, and atonement.
 St. Augustine’s theology and writings came to be adopted as the official
teaching of the Church.
 A number of religious orders adopted his rule in the Middle Ages.
 By the time of his death the temporal, social, and economic order of the
Roman Empire was ending.
 His writings set the theological tone in the West, and his philosophy and
theology dominated Christian thought for some eight hundred years until
the advent of Scholasticism and St. Thomas Aquinas.
PART V Christianity: Official
Religion of the Roman Empire
 For political reasons the state wanted religious unity and uniformity.
The Church in the East, influenced by the growing power of the
Patriarch of Constantinople under the strong influence of the emperor,
tended to accept a role of the Church which was subservient to the
interests of the state.
 The dual role as head of state and leader of the Church on the part of
the emperor was called caesaropapism. The emperor played a major role
in selecting the patriarch who was then beholden to the emperor.
PART V Christianity: Official
Religion of the Roman Empire
 In the West as well, the papacy wanted a good working relationship
with the state. However, the Church in the west did not allow anyone,
even the emperor, to be above the law of Christ.
 When Constantine abandoned Rome, it left the papacy with temporal
power in addition to its spiritual power. When the state collapsed, the
papacy was there to defend and preserve the Faith and culture of the
people.
CONSTANTINE’S
ASCENDANCY
 After the Edict of Milan, Constantine and Licinius ruled the Roman
Empire.
 AD 321 Licinius began a persecution of bishops and clergy, and AD
324 he declared war on Constantine. Licinius was defeated and religious
toleration was enjoyed throughout the Empire.
 Constantine freed the Church and priests from taxation, individual
churches were permitted to receive donations, work on Sunday was
forbidden, and crucifixion as a punishment was ended.
CONSTANTINE’S
ASCENDANCY
 Constantine founded the city of Contantinople on the site of the
Greek city of Byzantium. It was dedicated to the protection of Mary
under the title of Theotokos and survived for over a thousand years until
it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
 In moving the capital to Constantinople, the economic, cultural, and
linguistic power shifted. The east was wealthier and more heavily
populated. It looked upon the West as backward and poor.
 On his deathbed Constantine was baptized by an Arian bishop. The
East declared him a Saint. Although the West did not concur, he was
given the title “the Great.”
JULIAN THE APOSTATE
 Julian (332-363) was the nephew of Constantine. He became Caesar in
355. The title “Apostate” (one who willingly renounces the Faith) has
been given to Julian because, though he was baptized a Christian, as
emperor he tried to de-emphasize Christianity.
 Although he didn’t persecute Christians, he promoted paganism placing
it on an equal footing with Christianity, and attempted to strip the
Church of all of the privileges with which it had been granted by
Constantine.
 The Emperors following Julian moved to reduce paganism to oblivion
and re-established the special status of Christianity.
THEODOSIUS I THE GREAT (379-395)
 Theodosius I cemented the union between Church and state with his
AD 391 decree declaring Christianity to be the official religion of the
Empire.
 Heresy became a legal offence and pagan sacrifice was outlawed.
 This union of throne and altar became the standard relationship
between Church and state until Vatican Council II. This union posed
many challenges and occasioned many crises for the Church over the
centuries.
CONCLUSION
 The Edict of Milan brought about a moment of freedom to the
Church. However, the Church was convulsed by one theological
controversy after another for the next two centuries.
 Only the leadership of the Popes, the Church Fathers, and the
Ecumenical Councils under the influence of the Holy Spirit
guided the Church through the treacherous waters of heresy.
 The proclamation of Christianity as the official religion of the
Roman Empire by Theodosius I in 391 inaugurated a new era in
Christianity.
The End
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