Decline of Roman Empire and the importance of the church

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Decline of Roman Empire and the importance of the church

    Session Six: The Middle Ages (Part 2)

Eastern Orthodoxy

    A. The Shaping of Eastern Orthodoxy

Adapted from “The Eastern Church Becomes Eastern Orthodoxy,” The Story of Christian

    Theology, Olson.

    1. Origen

    Western church has Augustine; Eastern church has Origen. Condemned at fifth ecumenical council at Constantinople in 553, but the Origenistic system not condemned (?). “Origenism stamped the Eastern church and its theology with a strongly synergistic view of salvation that emphasizes human free will cooperating with grace and a ration-mystical doctrine of God that emphasizes divine ineffability and immutability” (291)

    2. Two Great Controversies and Three Great Theologians

    a. John Chrysostom

Olson: “Why tells his story in a book on the history of Christian theology? Simply because it

    illustrates something about EO theology. A great and courageous preacher, reformer of worship and church life, spiritual guide and prophet to the powerful is considered the paradigm of a good theology even though he never wrote a book of systematic theology or speculated about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. According to EO, he who prays and preaches well is the best theologian.

    b. Maximus the Confessor and Monothelitism

    Background: Controversy concerning monphysite Christians (Christ had only one nature). After it is condemned, some begin to argue for monothelitismChrist had two complete but

    inseparable natures but only one divine will.

    Maximus becomes a monk, arrives in Carthage in 632 and hears about monthelitism. Believes that it is a compromise that will destroy Orthodoxy. “In the end it would, he believed and argues, make Apollinarianism or Eutychianism orthodox because if Christ had only one will, it certainly had to be divine, and then the humanity would be mutilated. And as Gregory of Nazianzus had declared, „What the Son of God has not assumed has not been healed.‟”

    Maximus was captured by Byzantine forces while in the West and taken to Contantinople for trial in May 655. Refused to recant dyothelite views and tortured to death. Later given the title “the Confessor.”

    Leading modern EO theologian: “Maximus can be called the real father of Byzantine theology. Only through his system, in which the valid traditions of the past found their legitimate place,


    were the ideas of Origen, Evagrius, the Cappadocians, Cyril, and Pseudo-Dionysius preserved within Eastern Christianity…. It remains impossible…to understand the whole of Byzantine theology without becoming aware of Maximus‟ synthesis” (297).

Theology: 1) Incarnation the ultimate purpose for everythingwould have taken place even

    without the fall. 2) World created by God, expression of himself, was going to be united with God through the Logos. 3)Sin introduced confusion and death, interrupts union with God. 4) Incarnation becomes rescue mission AND part of plan to unite all creation with himself. 5)

    cooperation between God and Man Divinized. 6) Synergistic view of salvation

    If Christ had two wills, could he have chosen to sin? Maximus says no. Problem: How real is the affirmation of two wills if there are not two sets of choices?

    “Non-Eastern Orthodox theologians: will is a function of person and not of nature.

    Therefore, Christ had one will and it was the will of the Son of God who formed his

    unifying personhood. It was a divine will…that was opened to temptation by the

    lowering involved in the Son of God‟s descent into the conditions of creatureliness.”

    This was unacceptable to Eastern tradition. Argue the Logos can undergo no change


    “This is what many Western Christian theologians—especially modern Protestantsfind

    unacceptable and unnecessary. They believe that many of the dilemmas of ancient and

    Byzantine theology could have been cleared up if the theologians had been willing to

    soften their position on divine immutability and impassibility” (301).

    c. John of Damascus and the Iconoclasm

     th century which was resolved in the final ecumenical council Iconoclastic controversy of the 8

    that capped off the process of authoritative tradition for EO in 787 with the declaration that holy imagesiconsmust not be rejected and indeed ought to be used in Christian worship.

    Icons: pictures of Christ and saints used as focal points of meditation and prayer in worship. “windows into heaven” that can be used as points of contacts. Seen as books for the illiterate even. Saints are intercessorspart of the great cloud of witnesses.

    Problem: If one represents humanity of the Savior (in an image) they are doing so apart from divine nature. This leads to a division of the natures (Nestorianism). If they are saying both are represented, this would imply circumscribing his divinity, and it would lead to the confusin of the two natures for which monophysism was condemned” (302).

    John provides the theological rationale and justification for the use of icons in worship. In the incarnation, God had allowed physical objects to reflect his incarnate being: “in former times, God, without body or form, could in no way be represented. But today, since God has appeared in the flesh and lived among men, I can represent what is visible in God…. I do not venerat


    matter, but I venerate the creator of matter, who became matter for my sake, who assumed life in the flesh, and who, through matter, accomplished my salvation.

    Absolute worship due only to God, reverence may be offered to holy images because they are sacramental channels of the divine.

    3. Two Traditions Created

    a. Background

     th century: East and West already unique: language, culture, traditions governace, By end of 8

    Trinitarian creed. HRE is a direct slam at Byzatine Empire. Olson, quoting Jaroslav Pelikan argues the most fundamental cause of the schism was “intellectual alienation”

    b. Conflict over the papacy

    West believes Byzantine emperor is ruling that church; pope is true bishop overseeing Christian church. Ex: Pope declares they must use unleavened bread in communion, Eastern bishops say buzz off.

    c. Filioque controversy

    Greatest theological argument between East and West. The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 did not contain the phrase “and the Son” (filoque) after the portion in which the Holy Spirit is said to proceed “from the Father”:

    We believe in the HS,

    the Lord, the giver of life,

    who proceeds from the Father (and the Son).

    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.

    He has spoken through the prophets.

    Eastern bishops find out this has been added c. 850 and balk. Demand that it be removed. Do so based on two reasons. First it was fundamentally altering a universal creed. Second, it revealed the West was rejecting orthodoxy concerning the Trinity and embracing a view which was heterodox (unorthodox bordering on heretical).

East says: the HS proceeds from the Father through the Son, not and the Son.

    Two churches excommunicate each other. Pope Leo IX‟s representatives enter Hagia Sophia cathedral and place declaration of excommunication against the patriarch and leave with EO representatives begging them to reconsider.

    West: Trinity is seen as divine unity of substance then moves to explication of the threeness.


    East: Eastern view implies subordination of the Spirit. Denigrates threeness. Is almost modalistic.

    4. Differences between East and West (Olson 292)

    a. West:

    Looks to objective, written authorities to settle disputes and guide its development. Theology as a kind of philosophy, even if one that recognizes and element of mystery in God‟s relationship with the world. Salvation was regarded increasingly in judicial terms as God‟s legal favor or

    judgment upon souls. Worship is an outgrowth of reflection on Scripture and theology.

    b. East

Theology is never divorced from divine liturgy. Theology is an outgrowth of worship. “While a

    Western Christian generally checked his faith against external authority…the Byzantine

    Christian considered the liturgy both a source and an expression of his theology; hence, the very great conservatism which often prevailed both in Byzantium itself and in post-Byzantine times in matters of liturgical tradition and practice. The liturgy maintained the Church‟s identity and continuity in the midst of a changing world.

    Worship of the church is the major aspect of tradition, which is the ultimate source and norm of all theology. Scripture is a part of tradition.

Traditions today are not exactly the same as first century. Eastern Orthodoxy does believe,

    however, that the development of its worship primarily in Constantinople throughout the centuries form Constantine to the Second Council of Nicaea and especially during the reign of Emperor Justininian was divinely inspired.

EO theology is reflection on tradition.

    5. Eastern Orthodoxy vs. the Protestant Faith

    a. Filoque Controversy

“What about filoque controversy? Some modern theologians—especially Protestantshave

    suggested that the entire controversy rests on some basic misunderstandings as well as on attempts to peer too closely into the inner, eternal life of the Trinity. They suggest that filioque ought to be affirmed when Christians are referring to the economic Trinitythe relations of the

    trinune persons toward the world and for salvation. In that set of statements about the Trinity the Spirit is confessed as being sent by the Son, and event eh Eastern Orthodox Church itself affirms that the Spirit proceeds “from the Father through the Son.” But, say the modern Protestant thinkers, when referring to the immanent Trinitythe inner life of the Godhead in eternity apart

    from the worldit is probably best to stick with the original wording of the Nicene Creed and simply say that the Sprit proceeds out of the Father even as the Son is eternally generated


(begotten) by the Father. So whether or not the phrase and he Son should be used depends on

    the context of meaning.

    b. Authority

Protestant view of tradition:

    Calvin: Then, with a frightful to-do, they overwhelm us as despisers and adversaries of the fathers! But we do not despise them; in fact, I it were to our present purpose, I could with no trouble at all prove that the greater part of what we are saying today meets with their approval nd class quotes]. Yet w are so versed in their writings as to remember always that [Remember 2

    all things are ours, to serve us, not to lord it over us, and that we all belong to the one Christ, whom we must obey in all things without exception.

EO view: Remember quote at beginning regarding tradition as inspired.

    c. Soteriology

“The great theme of Orthodox theology is the incarnation of God and the re-creation of man.

    According to Orthodoxy when man sins he does not violate the divinely established legal relationship between God and man; he reduces the divine likenesshe inflicts a wound in the

    original image of God.

    “Salvation, therefore, consists of the restoration of the full image. Christ, the incarnate God, came to earth to restore the icon of God in ma. The major themes of Orthodoxy, then, are rebirth, re-creation, and the transfiguration of man” (Shelley, 143)

    “These fundamental differences were present in the church as soon as the gospel reached Rome and Corinth,. But the distinctively Eastern Christian faith appeared first under Constantine” (Shelley 143).

    “I have found that the Achilles heel of the Orthodox presentation of theology…whether in the written word or the celebrated liturgy, is its assignment of the substance of the saving gospel of God to the periphery of its concerns. Redemption is simply not at the top of Orthodox theology‟s priority list.”

    DR: “A person could attend an orthodox church their whole life and never realize there was something they needed to do in order to be saved” (i.e. place faith in work of Christ).

“Orthodox contends “the „Augustinian scourge” of original sin, and the subsequent distortions of

    the Scholastics have placed the issue of justification particularly, but soteriology in general, in unduly forensic categories. The two views of the atonement salient to our discussion here is that of “classic” or “incarnational” view more prominent in the Christian East, and the “Latin” or

    “juridical” view which prevailed in the Christian West.” First view highlights incarnation and redemption connection; second views atonement as penal substitution for debt of sin owed to God. Note: We see both of these in Scripture and in early church writings.


See chart


CONTRASTING VIEWS OF GOD, THE FALL, AND SALVATION (draft v. 3.0; compiled fallibly by Jon Jacobson, 9/19/2005)

Issue Related to God, Fall, Gnostics (15% Origen of Pelagians and Augustine of Aquinas / Luther / Calvin / Wesley / Liberals / and Salvation (Orthodox agreement Alexandria Arians Nestorians Hippo Scholastics LutheranReformed ArminianUnitarians response is “yes” in each with E (40%) (60%0 (60%) (60%) (50%) s(60%) (40%) s (60%) (15%) case) Orthodox) 1. Is the Son a distinct divine No; the Son is No; the Son is No; the Son is Person Who is one in essence an emanation the Father‟s a God-like with the Father? from the Yes first creation Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes man Father 2. Is the Spirit a distinct No; the Spirit No; the Spirit No; the Spirit No; “Spirit” is divine Person Who is one in is an may be a is simply just a name for essence with the Father? emanation creature God‟s created Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes God from the power Father 3. Is God‟s essence distinct No; they are No; they are No; they are No; they are No; they are No; they are No; the No; the No; the No; they are from His uncreated energies? the same the same the same the same the same the same same same same the same 4. Is God‟s essence beyond No; Platonic No; Platonic No; “Father” is No; natural No; analo-No; analogy No; see No; see No; natural all created analogies? forms forms such an analogies exist gies exist of being Yes Aquinas Aquinas analogies exist analogy 5. Is the human soul created No; soul No; soul pre- No; 40-80 No; at viability at the same time as the body? preexists body exists body Yes Yes Yes days later Yes Yes Yes or birth 6. Was Adam created, not No; Adam No; No; No; perfect, but with a potential was perfect No; Adam Adam Adam Adam for growth into God‟s Yes Yes Yes Yes in every was perfect was was was Yes likeness? way perfect perfect perfect 7. Did Adam have free will? No; see # 8 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No; see # 8 8. Did man have free will No; there is no No; free No; free No; there is no even after the Fall of Adam? free will Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes will lost will lost Yes free will 9. Would Adam have lived No; he‟d No; death is No; death is forever if he hadn‟t sinned? escape from Yes Yes natural Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes natural the body 10. Is a baby guilt-free? No; see Origen No; see # 11 Yes Yes No; see # 11 No; see #11 No; .#11 No; #11 Yes Yes 11. Is the death of fallen No; it is No; souls are No; it‟s No; ...for No; ....for No; ....for No; it is meneven babies-- primarily escape from punished for pun- inherited inherited inherited escape from an act of mercy to stop sin? suffering in the prior sins Yes Yes ishment for guilt guilt guilt Yes suffering in the body Adam‟s body guilt 12. Is the grace of God by No; a created No; a created No; a created No; God‟s No; super-No; see No; No; No; No; God‟s which we are saved an energy energy energy counsels to natural, cre- Augustine God‟s God‟s God‟s decree uncreated energy? man ated virtue decree decree decree 13. After Baptism, is it No; one can be No; faith No; faith No; faith No; God necessary that we cooperate justified by alone is alone is alone is forgives with grace to remain faith alone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes needed needed needed everyone justified? 14. Is it possible to resist No; God‟s No; the No; grace is No; elect No; grace God‟s saving grace in this elect are fixed Yes Yes Yes elect are efficient Yes are fixed Yes extends to all life? fixed


15. Did God the Son suffer, No; the Son No; only the No; only the No; Jesus the die, and rise bodily to free us only appeared man Jesus No; Jesus was man Jesus man suffered from sin, death, and Satan? to suffer suffered not fully God suffered Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes & rose spiritually 16. Is it wrong to say No; Anselm No; see No; see Christ‟s merits satisfy God‟s Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes was right Yes Aquinas Aquinas Yes wrath? 17. Is Communion the real No; a spiritual No; spiritual No; spiritual No; spiritual No; spiri- No; see No; see Calvin presence of Christ‟s Body? presence only only only only Yes Yes Yes tual only Calvin 18. Does salvation involve No; the body No; a spirit- No; a spirit-the literal resurrection of the is a prison body Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes body body? 19. Is eternal fire for some? Yes No; temporary Yes No; temporary Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No; no fire 20. Does salvation involve No; salvation No; vision No; salvation No; salvation No; ...a No; ...a No; ...a No; ...a No; ...a No; salvation sharing in God‟s love but not includes a includes a includes a blissful blissful blissful blissful blissful includes a a vision of God‟s essence? blissful vision blissful vision blissful vision vision vision vision vision vision blissful vision



The Emergence of the RCC

    As we examine soteriology in the Roman Catholic Church, we see that there was an increasing distancing from Augustinian view of man and belief that man could meet certain conditions to be forgiven. However, there is evidence that this was not universally embraced. Heretical groups that stressed adherence to Scripture, teaching from Scripture. Luther‟s confessor in the

    monastery was Johannes Staupitz. Staupitz rejected that there were conditions to be met which lie within the sinner. Emphasizes instead God‟s grace and mercy. Luther would later credit him with theological development (Olson 376).

    A. The First Pope, Gregory the Great, distorts Augustinianism.

“Gregory‟s significance for the history of Christian thought is not his originalitywhich was

    rather meagerbut rather in his influence on medieval theology, and the manner in which served as a filter through which that theology read the works of Augustine.‟ Olson

He is synergestic. Writing is full of tensions: “Even the predestination itself to the eternal

    kingdom is so arranged by the omnipotent God that the elect attain it from their own effort.”

    Luther would later be taught Gregory‟s form of Augustinianism. “He was plagued by an idea of God as wrathful and impossible to please. He tried flagellating himself to punish himself for his own sins, thus completing the work of Christ on his behalf through self-sacrifice….. In large

    measure Luther‟s Protestant theology was a reaction against Gregory‟s doctrine of salvation” (Olson 289).

    Shelley‟s summary of Gregory: 1) Fall destroys freedom of will. 2) Once man has been moved bygrace, he may cooperate with it and win merit for himself by his good works, which are the joint product of divine grace and human will. 3) Baptism: In baptism there is complete forgiveness of sins. 4) Post-baptism there must be penance done by man. Penance: “For either man himself by penance punishes sin in himself, or God taking vengeance on him smites it.” Penance requires prayers and meritorious works. 5) Sinners have the help of Saints.

    “Behold,” he wrote, “the severe judge Jesus is about to come; the terror of that mighty

    council of angels and archangels is at hand. In that assembly our case will be tired and

    yet we are not seeking patrons who will then come to our defense. Our holy martyrs are

    ready to be your advocates; they desire to be asked, indeed if I may say so, they entreat

    that they may be entreated. Seek them as helpers of your prayer; turn to them that they

    may protect you in your guilt” (170).

6) They also have the help of holy relics. 7) We have the help of the holy Eucharist. “It is

    offeredy by the priest for the sins of men—not like Christ‟s death upon the cross, for the sins of

    all men, but only for the sins of the participants, or of those for whose benefit it may be specifically offered. For all such it has the same effect as penance, taking the place of a certain amount of suffering which they would otherwise have to undergo because of their sins. It may


benefit the dead as well as the living, the dead, that is, in purgatory not in hell.” 8) If these be

    not enough, there is purgatory. Example of prayers offered for the monk in Shelley page 171.

    B. Sacramental System Develops

    God‟s grace still necessary for sacraments to be used. Peter Lombard especially influential. Scholasticismreconciling various authorities.

Later, Lombard is going to formalize what Gregory proclaims. Seven Sacraments in Four


This forms the basis for the RC doctrine of justification.

    C. Atonement

    Along with the development of the Sacramental system, have differing views of the atonement develop. (Grudem & Hannah)

    1. Defined

    Atonement: “The atonement is the work Christ did in his life and death to earn our salvation” (Grudem 568).

    2. Theories of the Atonement

    Origen (185-254): The Ransom-to-Satan View of the Atonement. Christ pays a ransom to Satan, in whose kingdom all people were by virtue of sin (The Passion?).

    Moral influence theory. Peter Abelard (1079-1142). Not required, but shows us how much he loves us: willing to even die to share in the sufferings of his creation.

    Anslem: Penal Substitution (bear punishment); vicarious atonement (stand in the place of)

    3. Important Aspects of the Atonement

We deserve to die as the penalty for sin: Sacrifice.

We deserve to bear God‟s wrath aginst sin. Propitiation.

We are separated from God by our sins. Reconciliation.

We are in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan. Redemption

    D. Sacramental Magic

    At the popular level, Sacramental system devolves into something like magic.


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