ERA 2 << Early Church (2): Stability (AD 300–600) >> SESSION 1
Reference: Gonzalez, volume 1, chapters 13-15
in favour of Christians:
† 5.1.3 Julian the Apostate
· Reversal: His reign was short [361–363] but he sought to restore the lost glory of paganism. He organized massive pagan sacrifices. Julian never decreed persecutions against Christians, but he passed laws forbidding Christians to teach classical literature, thus keeping them from spreading the faith.
† 5.1.4 State religion
· Emperor Theodosius I: He issued edicts  that made Christianity the exclusive religion of the state. Anyone who held to any other form of worship would suffer punishment from the state.
· Impact: Christianity did raise the moral tone of the society. Roman legislation became more just. But when the church became rich and powerful, corruption crept in.
5.2.1 Impact of
· No more persecution: The cessation of persecutions was immediate.
theology: Some Christians were overwhelmed by the favour that the
emperor was pouring on them so they developed an “official theology” which
tried to show that
· Monasticism: As pagans were flocking to the church, including many nominal believers, some withdrew to the desert to lead a life of meditation and asceticism.
† 5.2.2 Practices in the imperial church
· Sacraments: The number of sacraments was unofficially expanded from 2 to 7 by the end of 6th-c.
· Veneration of saints: Saints were venerated for their virtue. Now, the saints and martyrs were made to replace the old pagan gods. Later, they even became intercessory for prayers to God.
· Veneration of Mary: Mary was venerated as the mother of God and head of the saints. Speculations made her sinless and a perpetual virgin and possessing intercessory powers with Christ.
† 5.2.3 Liturgical Developments
· Christian worship: The original simple democratic worship was changed to a more aristocratic, colourful form of liturgy with a sharp distinction between the clergy and the laity.
· Paganization: Because many pagans joining the church, pagan practices crept into the custom of the church as the church tried to make these pagan converts feel at home, such as allowing images and icons.
† 5.2.4 Official theology
· Official theology: The beliefs and emphases of the church were accommodated to fit the new situation.
o Riches came to be seen as signs of divine favour. The church became a church of the powerful.
o There was a new development of a clerical aristocracy far above the common people.
o There was a tendency to set aside or to postpone the hope of the future kingdom.
† 5.2.5 Monarchical bishop
· Factors: The need of leadership in meeting the problems of persecution and heresy was an urgent need that dictated the expansion of the bishop’s power. The development of the doctrine of apostolic succession and the increasing exaltation of the communion were important factors in the rise of the bishop’s power. The sacraments came to seen as effectual only if they were performed by an accredited minister.
o Petrine Theory: The primary argument was that Christ gave authority to Peter, including keys to the kingdom.
Church Fathers: Cyprian and Jerome said
that Christ gave Peter a special rank as the first bishop of
† 5.3.1 Origin of monasticism
· Escapism: In times of worldliness and institutionalism, many Christians have renounced society and retired into solitude to achieve personal holiness by contemplation and asceticism apart from the society.
· Unwelcomed changes:  With increasing power came moral deterioration of the church.  Pagans brought semi-pagan practices.  Growing formalism in worship led some to seek individual approach to God.
· Teachings:  Paul’s preference towards celibacy inspired monasticism.  Gnosticism’s denial of the body still influenced the church.  Classical philosophy encouraged the subjugation of bodily passions.
† 5.3.2 Stages of development of monasticism
· Ascetism. Solitary monasticism: anchorites or hermits. Communal monasticism: monastery.
† 5.3.3 Solitary monasticism
Monks: The early monks searched for solitude because society was seen as a temptation.
The desert, in particularly in
Growth: By the time of
† 5.3.4 Communal monasticism
· Pachomius (286–348)—He built a new community of monks [c.320]. He demanded that anyone who wished to join the community must give up all their goods, and promise absolute obedience to their superiors.
greatest leader of Western monasticism was Benedict of
Nursia (480–547). He lived as a hermit east of
† 5.3.5 Spread of monasticism
Factors: In 4th-c, monasticism spread from
· Impact: Monasticism would become an instrument for the charitable and missionary work of the church.
† 5.3.6 Evaluation of monasticism
· No Biblical support: Monasticism is not taught in the Scripture (Mark 16:15).
· Keeping the culture: Monasteries helped to keep scholarship and education alive during the Middle Ages.
· Missions: Monks became missionaries and won over tribes to Christianity.
· Leaders: Some of the best leaders of the medieval church came from monasteries.
· Drawbacks: Monasticism could lead to spiritual pride. Corruption crept in when monasteries became wealthy.
· Centralization of power: Monasticism also aided the concentration of power of the papacy.
 treasure our heritage
Ancient traditions, if not unbiblical, should be respected.
 appreciate God’s providence
 avoid past errors
Paganization to today’s worship should be avoided.
 apply our knowledge
Arguments against the absolute power of the pope are important.
 follow past saints
Monks’ commitment to live the whole life for God is commendable.