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In this podcast series—which is a bit more extensive than our other offerings, as it requires a more thorough examination—we will cover the history of the rise and spread of what became Christianity throughout the earth, as well as the establishment and growth of the church system, both of which are corruptions of the original Hebrew culture that is the focus of the Scriptures.

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Heresy and Orthodoxy

While the ancient catholic church tries to achieve universal appeal, the rival Gnostics challenge its authority. This conflict presses the church to complete its establishment of orthodoxy, which it struggles to maintain in the form of creeds, Scripture cannon, and apostolic succession. This allows the church to cement its hold on the Christian message, and denounce as heretics all challengers to its “apostolic” authority. Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 3: Heresy and Orthodoxy Between the years 70 and 312 CE, Christianity spread throughout much of the Roman Empire and a bit beyond. This rapid expansion of the movement was already called by another name: catholic, from the Greek word that meant universal, in the sense that the religion was to reach all. It grew despite Roman persecution and pagan opposition, and the movement was steered by bishops who, holding to the same beliefs and orthodoxy, presided over churches far and wide. It was to them that the Christian masses turned for counsel and guidance; and it was they who formed the episcopal church government that is the ancient basis for the modern worldwide church system.Ignatius, the respected second-century bishop of Antioch, coined the term “catholic church,” referring to the perceived universality of all the local churches in the realm, and beyond, whose unity the leadership fought to maintain. Many of Ignatius’s letters addressed a problem that plagued Christianity from its inception: that of variant interpretations of the faith from outsiders. He sought to sure up the core structure of the church as an institution; to give it a unified spiritual identity. And that has been the effort of its leaders ever since; an effort that has failed, given the many denominational strands that have stemmed from the main Papal branch and its various offshoots.By the end of the second century, Ignatius’s designation for the church, catholic, was in wide use, as many embraced his view of spiritual and doctrinal unity. What began as scattered Israelite assemblies in the time of the emissaries, morphed into a Hellenized alternative that appealed to Gentiles far and wide. And, by the third century, Christianity was the favored, and later, the official religion of the Roman Empire. When Constantine became the first Christian emperor, churches could be found in every major town in his realm, and they even stretched as far as Britain, Persia, and Carthage—the great Phoenician commercial empire of the North African coast.The spread of Christianity was occasioned partly because it appealed to interested Gentiles who responded favorably to the preaching of the Christian message, which seemed to be the antithesis of what was coming out of the stringent, Torah-centered synagogues. The regions to which Christianity expanded also highlight something interesting. During its first three centuries of existence, the Christian religion reached lands inhabited by simple, humble people, among them: slaves, women, traders, and soldiers. People from these walks of life made up the majority of the population. The hatred many cultured pagans directed against Christians stemmed from prejudice. Those among the cultured and sophisticated saw lower class Christians as barbarians, who were wrapped up in the teachings of primitive Israelites, whose wisdom and knowledge paled in comparison to that of the Greeks and Romans. One outspoken critic of Christianity, a philosopher named Celsus, attempted to deliver a major blow to the religion by stating:“Far from us, say the Christians, be any man possessed of any culture or wisdom or judgment; their aim is to convince only worthless and contemptible people, idiots, slaves, poor women, and children . . . . These are the only ones whom they manage to turn into believers.”In its early stages, one could say that Celsus had a point. But toward the close of the second century, Christianity’s power and appeal would attract some who were thought to be among the keenest intellects of the era. Critics like Celsus gave rise to the apologists, who we touched on in our last podcast. They were the defenders of the Christian faith, warding off pagan attacks, rumors, and railings like those delivered by Celsus, through intellectual, Scripture-centered retorts that were aimed at the educated masses. The apologetics were written to address the flaws in pagan reasoning while correcting the perceived misconceptions surrounding the Christian movement. And it was hoped that these carefully written arguments would lead many to convert to the religion.Justin Martyr’s most well-known disciple, Tatian, wrote an apology titled, Address to the Greeks, in which he goes on the offensive. While the Greeks considered non-Greek speaking souls to be “barbarians,” Tatian argued that even the elite Greeks could not agree on what their cultured language should sound like, since there was a different dialect of Greek spoken in each region. And what the Greeks praised, he also argued, they borrowed from other civilizations: stargazing from the Babylonians, geometry from the Egyptians, and writing from the Phoenicians. Even their philosophy he said, and their spiritual culture, was preceded by the writings of the Israelite, Moses, who wrote well before that of Plato or Homer. Thus, the similarities between Greek and Hebrew culture were a result of Greeks learning wisdom from so-called “barbarians”; Hebrew wisdom, he pointed out, that they both misunderstood and twisted.With so many converts joining the Christian movement, drawn from such a wide variety of backgrounds at that, changes were bound to come. On the one hand, the variety spoke to the “catholic,” or universal appeal of the religion, which attracted many, but on the other hand, this vast mix of personalities and classes of people brought with it equally diversified views on the Christian message, as well as widely differing interpretations of Scripture. This resulted in two outcomes that still plague Christianity and even Hebraic movements to this day: schisms and heresies. A schism is a division among members of a group caused by a disagreement over something, and this can result from differing views on discipline, practice, and even a disdain for the personality, character, or attitude of the leadership or fellow members. In short, schisms can occur due to any number of things within a group, which causes the group to split into two or more factions to satisfy the differing views that led to the schism. This occurred repeatedly in the Christian movement in the second and third centuries, where our current historical narrative resides.A heresy, on the other hand, is quite another matter, being that it is the problem of what is perceived as false doctrine, or the belief in something that dissents or deviates from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice based on Scripture. Heretics were often those who, on a quest for truth, did not lean on a single system of doctrine, but took parts of various existing systems to form their amalgamated teaching. This caused many heretics to hold opinions of Scripture that drifted far from the core messages taught by the church; core messages that became orthodoxy, or traditionally held beliefs and customs that were accepted as true or correct by the majority.In some sense, church orthodoxy was developed in response to the threat of heresy, wherein the church defined itself by formulating its beliefs, which had its roots in the Hebrew culture. It is from that culture that Christianity learned the doctrines of creation, the rule of Yah over that creation, the resurrection of the body—which the Pharisees and Yeshua could agree on—and the coming Kingdom of Yah. In packaging these and other beliefs to form its orthodoxy, the church developed a means of sustaining them, in the form of creeds, a cannon of Scripture, and what is called apostolic succession, which relates to the ordination of various bishops they believe literally inherit the spiritual authority from the twelve emissaries who walked with Yeshua. And this unsubstantiated succession has been perpetuated since the second century.Interestingly, apostolic succession was first claimed by Gnostics, with whom the church came into conflict. In his book, Medieval Christianity, Kevin Madigan writes:“Among the greatest challengers to the triumph of orthodoxy were the numerous sects historians today classify, cautiously and often reluctantly, under the general rubric of ‘Gnosticism.’ The word ‘Gnosticism’ is an umbrella term. It is meant to describe a wide variety of religious and philosophical movements and groups in the ancient Mediterranean world. One early church father in Rome wrote a refutation of no fewer than thirty-three groups he considered Gnostic.“. . . The term ‘Gnosticism’ derives from the Greek word for knowledge (gnosis). Gnosticism in most of its forms was preoccupied with knowledge regarding the genesis of the world, the origin of evil, the destiny of the elect, and the knowledge or teaching needed to liberate one from the material domain, which it regarded as evil. The knowledge it imparted was to a small group of elect; the recipients of this revealed knowledge were a minority of humanity chosen to receive it and destined to return to their heavenly home once liberated from ignorance of their lofty destiny.”This might all sound far-fetched to the modern listener, but Gnostics truly believed what they touted, and the supposed “revealed knowledge” about the spiritual world held by their leaders, posed a serious threat to the church, since its own bishops, the alleged enlightened apostolic successors, were thought to be the custodians of knowledge from Yah. These lofty delusions often led to heated encounters between orthodox Christians and Gnostics.Gnostics were also active in Israelite communities. In attempting to understand what Gnostics believed and how they operated, we can examine Marcion of Pontus, who, though labelled a heretical teacher, is among the most accessible of the second-century Gnostics, in that his positions are far less speculative and fanciful than that of the spate of groups and movements within the Gnostic designation. He had much in common with them, but differed from them enough to fall into his own category. But examining his life gives us a window into the mind of the Gnostic. Marcion’s teachings challenged the leaders of the orthodox church and forced them to mount a counter offensive in order to protect their new Christian heritage.We again turn to Kevin Madigan, who writes:“Born in Sinope, a port city in the province of Pontus on the Black Sea, Marcion was the son of a bishop in that city. A wealthy shipowner and merchant, he traveled to Rome around 140 and joined the Christian community there, to which he donated a large sum of money. Having soon fallen under the influence of a Gnostic teacher named Cerdo, he began to develop his own theological ideas, which he then proceeded to explain to the leaders of the Roman church. Horrified, the leaders returned his money and then, in July 144, excommunicated him. Undaunted and bent on spreading his teachings, Marcion founded his own church. It had a ritual and organization so similar to those of the Roman church that contemporary orthodox Christians felt compelled to warn their flocks not to enter a Marcionite church by accident. One contemporary Christian, Justin Martyr, asserts that Marcion’s ideas were so rapidly and widely disseminated that they could be found everywhere in the Roman Empire by the middle of the second century.”Unlike the orthodox, or apostolic church led by bishops, which embraced the Pre-Messianic Writings often referred to as the “Old Testament,” Marcion, an anti-Israelite, emphatically rejected them, along with all writings that flowed from the pens of the original emissaries. He only accepted Paul and a butchered version of Luke, wherein he removed all references to Israelite culture. He also believed in an extreme doctrine of grace. He saw Yah as a different being from the deity he served, who was—according to him—the “Father of Christians.” His “creator” was all-loving, so there would be no final judgment of mankind, and no punishment, since this deity would simply forgive everyone. In order to make this all possible, Yeshua, the Son of Yah, could not have been born from Mary, so his book of Luke starts at chapter three, expunging all references to a miraculous birth, genealogies tied to ancient Israelites, and things of that sort. Marcion, in effect, posed a greater threat to the church than any other Gnostic teacher. And by founding his own bishop-led church, which grew in measure to rival the official orthodox church—at least for a few years—Marcion bested the various Gnostic movements of his day. We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.Debates over the origin of all existence are central to the development of Gnostic movements of the second century. And these movements borrowed elements from Israelites, Christians, and even pagans. A vast number of Gnostic speculations arose from their attempts to discern deeper layers underlying the first few chapters of the book of Genesis. This is not to say that all Gnostic groups believed the same things. No, each Gnostic teacher had a unique way of thinking that shaped their view of reality; rather, Gnostic communities were held together by myths related to origins, and by their shared speculative language, which helped to mold a kind of group identity.Some of the main components of their various myths are these:The physical, created world we live in was not made by Yah, but rather by the progeny of an Eve-like entity named Sophia. And being unskilled in creation, this progeny makes a physical, rather than a spiritual world that is evil as soon as it materializes. Because the material world, and all things made of matter, were viewed as evil by Gnostics, they despised the contrary belief held by Israelites and Christians that the physical world Yah created was first seen as “good.” Therefore, they refused to attribute the creation of a world of physical matter to a Creator of goodness. They could not conceive of a Creator like Yah being able to allow evil to materialize, despite Yah stating plainly in the Hebraic Scriptures that: [7] I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity.—Isaiah 45:7Other Gnostics, pushing the belief that the world was not made by Yah, taught that it was instead made by his heavenly messengers. And going farther, the Messiah, being born human, and made of fleshly material matter, could not, in their view, come from a spiritual being of perfect goodness. Therefore, Yeshua, they claim, was born of Joseph, just like all other men, but somehow, he became pure in his lifetime. Thus, we see that, the belief that Joseph, the husband of Mary, being the biological father of the Messiah, derives from second-century Gnostic thought.To help pass these ideas onto the public, Gnostics even penned their own spiritual writings, retelling the life of Yeshua and aspects of Scripture by editing details according to their own doctrines. As a movement, the Gnostics were a formidable match for the Christian church. They claimed to have secret knowledge that was handed down directly from Yeshua, which was hidden, according to them, from the Israelites who established the Messianic culture. But Christians successively beat back the tide of Gnostic teachings and established their own set of orthodox convictions. In response to Gnosticism, and other similar efforts that attempted to distort basic Scriptural principles and concepts, the church focused on the three Cs: creed, canon, and clergy.The creeds (from the Latin, credo, meaning “I believe”) were a written set of basic beliefs that were confessed by converted Christians, particularly during baptism. Following the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, creeds went from being mere confessions of faith to being tests that determined whether one was worthy of Christian fellowship. One creed directly refuted Gnostic assertions by referring to the Creator mentioned in the Scriptures, the Almighty, who is referred to as the “Maker of heaven and earth.” This countered the Gnostic teaching that the earth was created by an inferior being and was inherently evil. The creed also affirmed the belief in the Messiah, born of the Set Apart Spirit and of a virgin mother. It also affirmed his death and burial, signifying his complete humanity, which was contrary to what the Gnostics believed. If any converted Christian could not recite such a creed, they were deemed unworthy of fellowship.As to the canon, this is derived from a Greek word that indicates a “measuring rod” or “ruler.” The Scripture canon, therefore, was a body of spiritual writings that acted as a measuring rod and ruler, or, in other words, a standard that believers were to live by. The church’s original canon was taken from the people who introduced them to the Messiah: the Israelites. And the canon of the Israelites was the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. In fact, what was understood as Scripture in the first few centuries, and certainly in Yeshua’s time, were the books that comprised those categories.Yeshua said:[35] “. . . And the Scripture cannot be broken. . . .”—John 10:35And he clarified what many of those books were:[44] And he said unto them, “These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Me.” [45] Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.—Luke 24:44-45Even the book of Isaiah highlighted what the Scriptures were.[20] To the law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.—Isaiah 8:20The law, of course, is the Torah, or first five books of Scripture, which Yeshua called “the Law of Moses.” The testimony refers to the Prophets and Writings, such as the Psalms. The word testimony is the Hebrew teudah, word H8584, which means testimony, in the sense of an attestation, or affirming to be genuine or true; and to authenticate as a witness. In other words, these are the books that testify of Yeshua, and of them he rightly said:[39] “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.”—John 5:39Thus, the Scriptures are, in essence, comprised of the books that testify of Yeshua, ranging from Genesis to Malachi, which are the very ones he often quoted from. The Pre-Messianic books, according to Isaiah 8:20, are the true standard against which all other writings are to be measured, and if those other writings stand the test and speak according to Torah and Teudah, then there is light in them. Thus, these Pre-Messianic books were accepted as canon by the Christian church; a canon of Israelite Scriptures they considered their own. And for a time, only the four traditional Good News books—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—were considered canon from the Messianic era. To the early church, the Pre-Messianic Scriptures of the Israelites were believed to be the authoritative word of Yah, and they, along with the Good News books, a spattering of letters penned by Yeshua’s emissaries, and a few other associated writings, were the basis for defining their Christian message.The third aspect of the church’s efforts to establish orthodoxy in the face of challengers was establishing a defined clergy and imbuing that clergy with authority. This was especially true following the rise of Montanism. Late in the second century, the church experienced a major change: enthusiasm was waning among its members and, while many were still entering the church, the laity felt there was a lack of spiritual prophecy. The church was becoming more secular as well, allowing for philosophical and even heathen discussions to be had. This paved the way for the entrance of Montanus in Asia Minor, somewhere between 156 and 172 CE. He called for a higher standard of worship, where the church would again be separate from the world. What’s more, Montanus, along with his two prophetesses, Priscilla and Maximilla, went forth prophesying in the name of the Set Apart Spirit, proclaiming the impending second coming of the Messiah. What was even stranger, however, was that Montanus and his prophetesses raved in a state of ecstatic trance, as though they had no control of their being. This was quite unlike anything referenced in Scripture that related to the behavior of ancient prophets. While the method was perhaps meant to appear that they were deep in the Spirit, it looked more like demon possession. Despite this, they soon gathered others to themselves and a new movement called Montanism emerged. The church moved to intervene, but the damage had already been done and disorder resulted.The problem wasn’t so much that Montanus had called for a spiritual renewal in worship, it was his insistence that any rejection of the new prophecies would be seen as blasphemy of the Set Apart Spirit. The debate over the relevance of these prophecies created schisms, eventually causing many churches to split. Heretically, Montanus then claimed that a new age of the Spirit had begun, displacing the previous ages, which meant that the ten commandments and all the Pre-Messianic Scriptures were now obsolete. Revelations from Yah would only come through the Spirit of prophecy, and he was its main avenue.Of this, Kevin Madigan writes:“It is quite clear that the Montanists were not doctrinally deviant in the way, say, that contemporary Gnostic groups were. What made them dangerous, in the eyes of many leaders in the Asian (and by 177 the Roman) churches was the very claim of experiencing new revelation outside the emerging channels of early normative Christianity. A series of synods was held in Asia Minor—the first in Christian history—and the result was that the Montanists (again according to Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 5.16.16) were excommunicated. Then, in 177, the Montanists were excommunicated by the bishop of Rome. [. . .] The issue was whether there could be prophecy or new revelation after the age of the apostles, and if so, could women be vehicles of it? Ultimately, bishops felt that prophets were too great a threat to their own precariously established authority; [. . .] In addition, the controversy stimulated the development of a new, important structure in the history of normative Christianity: the synod or council. This was to become the preferred way to settle disputes regarding belief and discipline for two millennia in the history of Christianity.”During this particular period of the Christian church, many yearned for spiritual renewal. Belief in the power of the Set Apart Spirit was strong, and Christians were familiar with the passages that told of how one could obtain the Spirit’s indwelling, such as the example in Acts 2:38, where Peter admonishes his hearers to repent and be immersed in the name of Yeshua, for the forgiveness of sins, that they might receive the gift of the Set Apart Spirit. Christians were also apprehensive about committing sins against the Set Apart Spirit following their immersion. With the ecstatic ravings of Montanus, who accused the church of those very sins—even citing blasphemy—Christians were deeply troubled.By leaning heavily on its clergy, and imbuing that clergy with authority, the church was able to position itself as a significant institution through forceful rejection of Montanism. Led by its bishops, the church was able to face heresy on a unified front, in the form of synods or councils, and give clear utterance to its orthodoxy. The final power bestowed on the bishops by the church hierarchy was the ability to forgive sins. Thus, with this act of true blasphemy, the episcopacy, or church government led by bishops, was complete. Catholic Christianity was now fully formed. And like the leavened bread it was, all it had to do was grow.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: marcion, justin martyr, Ignatius, gnostic, Gnosticism, montanus, bishop, apostolic church, apostolic succession, celcus, carthage, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kingdom preppers, kp Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


14 Jul 2019

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The Church Fathers

None were more instrumental to the development of Christian theology and doctrine than the church fathers; men who, in the early centuries of the movement, rose to prominence via their written expositions of the Christian faith. Modern Christianity exists on the foundation that the church fathers built. And while they gave the Christian movement its doctrinal legs, those doctrines pushed Christianity farther from both Torah and Yeshua’s message.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 4: The Church FathersOne of the most valuable assets to the early church was the collective contributions of a succession of men who came to be known as the church fathers. They were respected and lauded for their efforts in penning a vast body of letters and other writings that were dispatched to various congregations. We made mention of one notable figure among them: Ignatius of Antioch. He could be viewed as a pioneer of the ancient catholic church—the name originated with him after all. In our previous podcast, we examined the rise of the bishops, who led the church into a new era, where the clergy began to exhibit greater authority while defining church orthodoxy amidst the threat of heresy.Ignatius had a hand in the formation of the order of bishops as well, and was therefore integral to their inevitable rise. During the time of the emissaries, there was no such thing as bishops among those who walked with Yeshua. Taken from the Greek episkopos, the word bishop literally means, “overseer,” for that is his role. This word origin also explains the term episcopal, which denotes the involvement of bishops. While the emissaries were unchallenged leaders of the assemblies following the resurrection and ascension of Yeshua, they were seen as elders. Chief among the emissaries, by designation of Yeshua’s words in Matthew 16:19, was Peter the Rock, and concerning himself he said: [1] “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder. . . .”—1 Peter 5:1Even though Peter could have taken a lofty title and commanded greater respect, he viewed himself as an elder, equal to his fellow servants who were seen as shepherds of the flock. Some among the emissaries were given the dual role of prophet, yet they were all teachers, since they were taught directly at the feet of Yeshua. All these experiences and attributes afforded the emissaries unquestioned authority, unlike the leaders of what became the ancient catholic church. While many were granted leadership positions in the churches that succeeded the Israelite assemblies, those leaders shared authority and were also known as elders, or presbyters (which is the Greek word for elders). Another group of leaders was known as deacons. Though the responsibilities of those in leadership varied from church to church, in a general sense, it was the duty of the elders, or presbyters to teach new converts and lead worship services, while deacons were required to assist with everything—though they could not preside over communion ceremonies.It was Ignatius who—while head of the church in Antioch—wrote a series of letters early in the second century, calling for a single bishop in each church, with a body of presbyters and a company of deacons to lend support. After a period of time, this became the adopted order for all the churches. When we reach the late second century, bishops stood as unchallenged leaders in all matters of the church, much like the emissaries did concerning the Messianic assemblies.These were among Ignatius’s contributions as a so-called church father. But, through their various writings, Ignatius and the other early church fathers dealt only with specific issues that arose in the churches. In addressing these problems, their letters offered discipline and sought to enforce church guidelines, or else they provided answers to burning questions like those surrounding the forgiveness of sins. Other letters dealt with the ongoing issue of persecution. But in none of these letters is Christianity addressed in a broad sense, where one can see the scope of its overall doctrine. The entrance of Marcion and the Gnostics changed all of that. Those who were labeled heretics created new doctrinal systems that forced the church to respond with what was perceived as sound doctrine as part of its effort to express to the world its broad and grounded orthodoxy. The speculations of the Gnostics were vast and far-reaching, thus the response from the church had to be equally vast, as well as cogent. This resulted in the many writings that flowed from the pens of the church fathers who took ancient catholic doctrines to the next level, and essentially helped to develop some of the Christian theology we see today. Those writers in question are: Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen.Of all their various written material, the ones that survive are also important for another reason. Regarding this, Kevin Madigan writes:“[I]t remained the case for very long that our main sources for Gnosticism had been the hostile writings of Christian critics in the second and third centuries, writers such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen. Documents actually written by Gnostics were often destroyed by the orthodox or otherwise perished and disappeared from history.”We begin with Irenaeus, who was born in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) around the year 130. He was a disciple of the bishop and martyr Polycarp, who he greatly admired. Unknown circumstances eventually led Irenaeus to migrate to Lyons in Gaul, which is now southern France. There he became a presbyter, or elder, and, in the year 177, he was dispatched to Rome with a letter for its bishop. The letter addressed a controversy that resulted from Montanism. While Irenaeus was away, persecution broke out in Lyons and Vienne, and the aged bishop of Lyons, Photinus, was killed. When he returned to Lyons, Irenaeus was elected bishop of the church, and he served in that office until his death in 202.Unlike Christians of his day, Irenaeus did not like to speculate on Scriptural passages, nor attempt to unravel deep mysteries of the text. He was most interested in leading the Christian flock that was given into his care by the church hierarchy, and this was also reflected in his writing. His pen was devoted to refuting the theories of heretics and instructing those who looked to him as a leader. Only two of his writings survive—one, a body of instructions to his aforementioned flock; the other, a refutation against Gnosticism. In both, we are presented with an exposition of his Christian faith as he received it from those who taught him. Irenaeus argued that apostolic succession validated the church’s teachings, and he reasoned that the church in Rome was the one to exemplify, and so all other churches should agree with its apostolic view. In time, representatives from churches throughout the realm, bowing to Irenaeus’s arguments, would descend on Rome to convene, all having their apostolic tradition in common. Irenaeus also presented ideas on the eucharist, or communion embodying more, and he stressed the importance of establishing a venerated position for Mary, who was considered the new Eve. Irenaeus’s influence loomed large in the church in the West during the Greek period, and his writings paved the way for others who are regarded as giants of Christian history, such as Augustine. He pushed Irenaeus’s ideas on Mary farther by suggesting the possibility that Mary never sinned. Ideas like these seeded the Christian view of Mary long after, reaching full fruition in 1854, when the dogma of Immaculate Conception was promulgated. This decree of the Roman Church holds that Mary was not subjected to sin through grace. Close to a hundred years later, in 1950, Pope Pius XII declared the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. This Assumption holds that Mary’s body did not decompose upon her death, but—through some miracle of the Most High—was instead reunited with her spirit after she departed this world. We can find no support for these dogmas anywhere in the Messianic Writings, nor in all of Scripture, for this idolatry has its origin in the leaders of the ancient catholic church.Now, while Christians endured persecution under various emperors in the third century, the Christian doctrine came to be expressed in accordance with Hellenistic thought. So appealing did some of the church fathers make the melding of faith and pagan philosophy that one of the Roman emperors eventually accepted the religion, irreversibly altering the course of the Christian movement. Clement of Alexandria is one such church father who merged pagan philosophy with Christian doctrine.Clement experienced a life far different from that of Irenaeus. It is believed that Clement was born in Athens, a city renowned for its Greek philosophers. While his parents were pagans, Clement was converted at a young age and soon went in search of a teacher who could aid him in acquiring a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. In his quest around the Mediterranean, he was led to the city of Alexandria. Founded by Alexander the Great himself in the fourth century BCE, Alexandria was the second city of the Roman Empire, and home to Hellenism. It is where Greece and what is now called the Middle East converged.Alexandria was also home to the largest community of Israelites in the Greco-Roman world, many of whom were Hellenistic in heart and mind. And it was there that the Septuagint—the preferred Scripture version of the early church fathers—came into being. There too was Philo, the first-century Israelite philosopher who was among the first to attempt to merge spiritual revelation with pagan philosophy. Christianity was eventually introduced to Alexandria, and a church was founded there that was infused with Gnostic elements early on. When Clement reached Alexandria, he met with a Christian teacher named Pantaenus, who was considered an able thinker. Pantaenus was a Stoic philosopher who offered a philosophical interpretation of the faith that appealed to Clement, and when Pantaenus died, Clement took his place as the main Christian instructor in Alexandria. Persecution broke out in 202 under Emperor Septimius Severus, but despite this, Clement’s school gained considerable importance, and was an effective means of drawing new converts to the Christian faith. Clement, however, had to flee the city. He traveled the Mediterranean yet again, bouncing from Syria to Asia Minor. He spent his later years in Cappadocia, where he died around the year 215.Clement sought to present pagan philosophy as a practice that could be of use to Christians. Since most of his teaching career was spent in Alexandria, an intellectual hub for philosophers and worldly scholars, the city left its mark on his mental faculty. Unlike Irenaeus, Clement did not seek to shepherd a flock of believers; he was a thinker, beholden to philosophy, and this he dispensed to anyone seeking a deeper truth. He appealed to pagan intellectuals by employing Plato in theological exhortations, and he even argued that Plato’s philosophy could support Christian doctrine. The Greeks, he reasoned, were handed philosophy by Yah, just as he had given the covenant Law to the Israelites. Clement would attempt to merge Christian faith and pagan philosophy for his entire life, and others would follow in his footsteps for many centuries. We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.Tertullian, a church father who was very different from Clement, was born in Carthage around the year 150. Following his conversion to Christianity, at about age 40, he promoted the Christian faith by writing a series of books, thirty-one of which survive in Latin. These books gained him the distinction of being the “father of Latin theology.” The books he wrote in Greek are lost. Of note, he is also credited as being the first to use the word “trinity” in its Latin form, though his concept was influenced by elements of Stoic philosophy, particularly his view of the Creator’s “substance.” He developed the trinitarian concept after becoming a Montanist, a group we discussed in our last podcast.Tertullian, it is said, was a trained lawyer, as is evident in his writing, which bears the mark of a legal mind. In one treatise, titled, Prescription against the Heretics, he presents a kind of legal case between orthodox Christians and heretics. His attempt is to prove that heretics were not only wrong in their pursuits, but that they had no license to dispute with the church, which he claims, had full possession of the Scriptures. The heretics, according to him, had no right to the Scriptures at all, as they legally belonged to the church, notwithstanding the fact that the church coopted the Scriptures from the Israelites.To drive his point, Tertullian argued on the basis of apostolic succession, claiming that the churches in Rome, Antioch, and elsewhere, could trace their origins and unbroken lines of succession back to the emissaries. Thus, he parrots the same unsubstantiated claims of his contemporaries and predecessors. Finally, using his supposed legal precedence of Scripture ownership, Tertullian argues that the church alone should be allowed to interpret the Scriptures. This legal argument, as it happens, has often been used against perceived enemies of the church throughout the course of Christian history. It was a main argument used by Catholics against Protestants during the Reformation era.Tertullian was by no means gentle of speech and beneficent of mind when it came to confronting those believed to be heretics. Ryan M. Reeves, an assistant professor of historical theology, says this of the church father:“Tertullian is sort of this curmudgeon of the ancient world in the second century. And he has so much to contribute theologically and intellectually to this world, but his tone with just about everybody is simply nasty and bitter. Tertullian takes a more ancient tactic, which was not uncommon in the day, of simply mocking his opponents. This is the same tactic that Celsus uses. And it’s actually telling that historians have pointed out that there are not many other patriciate scholars—any of his contemporaries—who actually cite Tertullian as a person of repute that they actually want to model themselves after. He’s kind of the bad boy. It actually takes Augustine at a later generation, in a later century, to sort of rehab and to really cite Tertullian as a real sort of powerful person that he considers to be an authoritative voice. But Tertullian takes a more acerbic tone when he’s taking on his pagan opponents.”Still, while pagans and perceived heretics were his main rivals, something in Montanism, a known heretical movement at the time, attracted him enough to join, and he adopted their particular theological slant. But this didn’t stop Tertullian from being recognized as the founder of Western theology.That leaves us with Origen, the most prolific of the church fathers prior to Augustine. Origen was born to Christian parents in Alexandria around the year 185. He rose to become Clement’s greatest disciple, and his own Christian father, Leonides, was martyred during the same persecution under Septimius Severus that forced Clement to flee Alexandria. The persecution came when Origen was still a young lad, and, prior to his father’s martyrdom—while he was still imprisoned—Origen longed to offer himself as a martyr. He was prevented from leaving the house and fulfilling that strong desire when his mother hid his clothes. He instead wrote a letter to his father in prison.Origen had been well-educated, not only completing literary studies of the Greek world, but also learning the prevalent pagan philosophy of the day, which was beginning to take the shape of Neoplatonism. Of this philosophy, Professor Timothy B. Shutt, who holds a PhD in medieval literature, says:“The person who succeeded, at last, in formulating a vision, which made use—In pretty much equal measure—of Plato and Aristotle, and unified their vision into a coherent wider system, was [. . .] Plotinus, who was from Egypt and moved to Rome, and lived in the second century CE. His legacy was called Neoplatonism, and it represented the final philosophical synthesis of antiquity. [. . .] It was taken over [. . .] by Christian theologians—St. Augustine prominent among them—and went on to become the default philosophy of the middle ages in Christian guise.”And in his book, A History of the Middle Ages, 300 to 1500, John M. Riddle writes:“A Christian from Alexandria, Origen attended lectures given by [. . .] a founder of Neoplatonism. Of all the pagan philosophies, Neoplatonism held the most appeal for Christians: its theory of the divine as a threefold emanation from the absolute—Plato’s universal. Origen’s theory of emanation, derived from Plato, provided imagery that could help explain how the Father, Son, and [Set Apart] Spirit could be one [Elohim] in three persons. Unlike Origen, Plotinus believed in no established religion; his work is often quoted as the best source of information on Neoplatonism outside Christianity. [. . . A]nd thus Neoplatonism had a great influence on Christian mysticism, as well as on Christian theology in general.”With all his acquired pagan knowledge, Origen supported his family through secular teaching. But when he was still in his teens, the bishop of Alexandria, Demetrius, appointed him to train catechumens—or new Christian converts readying for baptism. He in fact took over leadership of the school, a position vacated by Clement, who fled the city. Even though he was considerably young, at a mere eighteen years of age, and the task was viewed as a major responsibility, Origen—who was already a genius in his own right—excelled, and his fame soon spread. In accordance with this experience—and given his new position—Origen sold his secular books to support himself and was thereafter devoted to the study of Scripture.So devoted was he in fact that one scholarly achievement credited to him is the Hexapla, a sixfold version of the Pre-Messianic Scriptures in parallel columns that contained line by line comparisons of the text in Hebrew, a Greek transliteration, and four Greek translations. He also attempted to write an extensive collection of commentaries on the Book of John. He wrote thirty-two books on the subject, nine of which survive, though it was never completed. To demonstrate the immense scale he intended to achieve, ten of his books covered the first two chapters of John alone.After a few years, Origen left the teaching of catechumens to his most trusted disciples and ran a school that taught Christian philosophy to both Christians and pagans who were drawn by his fame. There, he lectured to the delight of his hearers, calling on what he had learned from the great classical pagan philosophers. As he increased his studies, so increased his fame, and he was even privileged to an audience with the mother of the sitting emperor.A trip to Palestine resulted in the regional bishops inviting Origen to publicly interpret Scripture in the church at Caesarea, though he was not yet an ordained presbyter. This eventually stirred up some trouble in his life, as laymen preaching in the church was frowned upon. First, the bishops of Palestine were criticized, then the bishop who had assigned Origen to instruct catechumens—Demetrius—suddenly turned on him. While Origen held the position of instructing catechumens—since many of them were women—he took it upon himself to undergo the passage recorded in Matthew 19:12:[12] “. . . And there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.”. . . Yes . . . Yes, Origen took that to mean castration, which he inflicted on himself. While this was kept secret for a time, Demetrius now brought the matter before church officials, as it was enough to disqualify members of the church from holding office. Demetrius was such a thorn in Origen’s life that he was forced to move to Caesarea in 232, where he took up teaching once more. Despite some of Origen’s writings eventually being condemned as heretical, one of his well-known students, Gregory—nicknamed the Wonderworker for his missionary efforts in Asia Minor—would rise to be the bishop of Neocaesarea and later be regarded as a saint. In the year 251, Emperor Decius persecuted Christians yet again, and this led to Origen being imprisoned and tortured, which likely hastened his death a few years later. Pagan philosophy drove his career and infused his theology, and that philosophy was also imparted to his students. Ryan Reeves tells us that:“Origen is the most enamored, really, with pagan philosophy. Origen has a real deep reservoir of platonic thinking within him, and we’re going to get to that again later when we get into the third and fourth century crises over the trinity and christology. There is an Origen tradition of thinking about, not only these topics of theology, but of the Scriptures and all kinds of different things. But Origen’s tactic, you might say, is really to kind of beat the pagans at their own game. He’s not simply trying to refute error or cast down misconceptions, though he does do that. Rather, Origen is of the opinion that if we’re going to be philosophers let’s do it better than the pagans. “And so, much of his writing—and he wrote a lot besides apologetics works—really is an attempt to show how deeply thoughtful Christians can be in the philosophical arena. Now it’s that deep thought that at times gets Origen into trouble; some of his ideas are later condemned, though he himself is not officially condemned by name. And so, Origen has always been sort of this in-between person. He sort of dined with the devil a bit too much, according to some, and he went a little bit too far.” Among some of those condemned ideas are these:Origen believed that humans were once pure spirit, but, some having fallen, are now either trapped in human bodies, or else have become evil spirits. So, to Origen, humans were once heavenly messengers, and some are now the same demons we battle against. Origen claims to have derived this theory from Scripture, but it is clearly born of the Greek philosophy of his day, which was taught well before his time. So those holding to that doctrine today are dredging up pagan Platonic philosophy.Origen also believed that Yah, out of pure love, would even save Satan, and return all demons—as well as all of creation for that matter—to their original perfect state. But all spirits will be free, and because of this limitless freedom afforded them, the possibility of perfect beings falling into sin again will always exist, making for a repeated historical saga of fall, intervention, and redemption, which could loop in an eternal cycle. These are among the broad lengths to which Origen’s imagination stretched during his study and speculation of Scriptural matters, though, to his credit, he does not claim that these speculations are to be accepted as doctrine. Nonetheless, they have been accepted as just that by some students of Scripture over the centuries, and they even led to a portion of his writings being condemned in the sixth century and some of his works destroyed. These and other ideas he put forth are rooted in the classic pagan philosophy he and his teacher, Clement, sought to merge with Christian theology. Long after they lived, Christian theologians would labor to continue their original quest.Over time, other church fathers would rise to prominence in both the east and the west, but they would all be influenced by those who came before them. Eventually, a shift would occur, resulting in a split based on the distinct teachings that emanated from east and west. The Greek provinces of the east would follow Origen and others like him by assimilating and embracing the secular world with its pagan influences. The Latin provinces of the west would follow the rigorist Christian view of Tertullian and others like him, who sought to distance themselves from secular culture. This division between east and west would develop into two individual official catholic churches that would be in direct competition in the centuries to come.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: episkopoi, episkopos, presbyter, elder, deacon, church fathers, bishop, clergy, episcopal, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Lyons in Gaul, Assumption of Mary, Immaculate Conception, dogma, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


28 Jul 2019

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Judgment Comes

Emperor Justinian becomes a law unto himself and declares his word to be sacred. By making himself equal with the Most High, a fierce judgment is unleashed to coincide with the legal primacy of the papacy in Rome. Both Justinian and his realm are met with punishment when a severe plague devastates Constantinople and its surroundings. Strange weather patterns and anomalies in the sky also mark the judgment.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 13: Judgment ComesOne momentous year, a startling thing happened in the medieval world. The year was 535. Justinian had previously commissioned the Roman law to be codified, and in so doing, a number of new things were established, not least the legal ecclesiastical leadership of the Roman Papacy over that of all Christian entities. By 535, he set out on a campaign to conquer Italy by vanquishing its current rulers, the Ostrogoths, in what became known as the Gothic War. That same year, the earth was shaken, the climate began to change, and the sun was darkened.Far east in the Indian Ocean lay two islands, Sumatra and Java. Susan Wise Bauer writes that:“Between the two islands lay the mountain of Krakatoa: a volcano, slowly building up a head of steam and lava beneath its ice-capped surface. In 535, Krakatoa erupted. The explosion hurled pieces of the mountain through the air to land as far as seven miles away. Tons of ash and vaporized salt water exploded upwards into the air, forming a plume perhaps thirty miles high. The land around the volcano collapsed inward, forming a cauldron of rushing seawater thirty miles across.”While other dates have been suggested for this volcanic eruption, author David Keys, who published a book in 1999 titled, Catastrophe, presented his extensive review of evidence for a 535-date based on tree-ring data. That said, the effects of the eruption were felt across a wide region. In China, where the sound of the event is recorded in their History of the Southern Dynasties, “yellow dust,” they say, “rained down like snow.” And according to Susan Wise Bauer:“Procopius reports that in 536, all the way over in the Byzantine domain, ‘the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during this whole year, and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear.’ Michael the Syrian writes, ‘The sun was dark and its darkness lasted for eighteen months; each day it shone for about four hours, and still this light was only a feeble shadow…. [T]he fruits did not ripen and the wine tasted like sour grapes.’ The ash from the explosion was spreading across the sky, blocking the sun’s heat. In Antarctica and Greenland, acid snow began to fall, and continued to blanket the ice for four years.”In the fall of 538, around three years after the event, a Roman senator serving in Ravenna in the Ostrogothic Italian kingdom, writes a letter to an official describing the aftermath. Taken from The Letters of Cassiodorus, he writes:“The Sun, first of stars, seems to have lost his wonted light, and appears of a bluish colour. We marvel to see no shadows of our bodies at noon, to feel the mighty vigour of his heat wasted into feebleness, and the phenomena which accompany a transitory eclipse prolonged through a whole year. The Moon too, even when her orb is full, is empty of her natural splendor. Strange has been the course of the year thus far. We have had a winter without storms, a spring without mildness, and a summer without heat. Whence can we look for harvest, since the months which should have been maturing the corn have been chilled?…The seasons seem to be all jumbled up together, and the fruits, which were wont to be formed by gentle showers, cannot be looked for from the parched earth…. [T]he apples harden when they should grow ripe, souring the old age of the grape-cluster.”And the east was not alone in experiencing this extreme level of crop failure. Susan Wise Bauer adds that:“Tree-ring data from as far away as modern Chile, California, and Siberia show a ‘drastic drop in summer growth’ from around 535 until about 540: this testifies to cold, dark summers. The darkening of the sun was producing plague, hunger, and famine across the medieval world.”It has also been discovered that ash from the volcanic eruption was blown across the earth for some five years.“On the other side of the world, summers grew cold and gray. Drought struck the forests and fields of the Americas, and for thirty years crop-killing dryness alternated with the vicious flooding brought on by unnaturally frequent El Niño events.”In his book, Catastrophe, David Keys writes that: “The eruption was of truly mammoth proportions. Climatologically, the tree-ring evidence shows that it was the worst worldwide event in the tree-ring record. Looking at the ice cores, we see that it may well have been the largest event to show up in both the northern and southern ice caps for the past two thousand years.”  Further expanding on this evidence is author John M. Riddle, who, in his book, A History of the Middle Ages, writes:“On the basis of tree rings, pollen spores, data from peat bogs, and glacial changes, we know that the world’s climate around Augustus’s time (14 CE) was approximately what it is today. About 450, however, warmer and drier trends are evident. Then, in the 530s, evidence indicates a radical change that lasted about a decade. Speculation centers on a volcanic eruption, possibly Krakatoa in southeast Asia, that sent particles into the upper atmosphere, causing droughts, crop failures, and cooling. There were heavy snowfalls in Mesopotamia and floods in Arabia, while Britain and northern Europe became very cold. The change in climate may have caused the Avars, a Turkic or Mongolic people, to be driven from their native central Asia and created catastrophic disruptions for the pyramid-building empire of Teotihuacán in Mexico, as well as for Japan, China, the Mediterranean region, Europe, and both western and southern Asia.”But that is not all that the Krakatoa eruption yielded. The past few summers had been cold and dark in the eastern part of the Roman empire, leading to those failed harvests, which meant less food. The scarcity required imports of grain. In 542, a ship docked at the Golden Horn, the harbor at Constantinople, brought just such grain directly from the mouth of the Nile. But the ship had not docked long before a sudden sickness broke out on the waterfront. It wasn’t a new illness; ancient civilizations had experienced it, but it was new to Constantinople. Victims were struck with fever, diarrhea, headaches, vomiting, and delirium. They also experienced fatigue and sleeplessness, though light could not be tolerated. As death approached, lumps would appear in the groin and armpits, as well as other lymphatic areas of the body. And these lumps, called buboes, from the Greek, boubon, meaning “groin,” are what prompted Procopius to call them “bubonic swellings,” hence the name history has given the pestilence: the bubonic plague.Recent studies have shown that a pathogen in dental remains from sixth century victims of the plague is closely related to the bacillus cause of the Black Death that raged in the fourteenth century. The bacillus, or spore-producing bacterium, is said to spread through fleas, which infest rats. When the rats die out from the disease, the fleas then move directly to humans.After the volcanic eruption of 535, the summers grew wet and cold in the eastern empire, and the temperature drop created the needed element for the active agent of the plague, the Yersinia pestis bacterium, to spread. Constantinople, suffering from years of bad harvests, relied more and more on imports of grain, and the citizens of Byzantium only grew weaker and hungrier from the severe lack. Their bodies were not fit to fight off even minor illnesses, but a ship was bound to bring death sooner or later. When the day of death finally arrived, the population died off in unprecedented numbers as the plague raged at full force over the course of three long months.“The tale of dead reached five thousand each day,” Procopius writes, “and then came to ten thousand, and still more than that.”In his book, Justinian’s Flea, William Rosen writes:“[T]he existing burial grounds were filled, then every square foot of new ground; gigantic new cemeteries were built across the Golden Horn at Sycae. At the same time, the population that was filling up the graves rapidly overtook the population that could dig them—those who were still healthy, and not spending every waking hour caring for victims. Though burial had always been a family responsibility, Justinian could not ignore the problem, and detailed a minister named Theodorus to find a solution. A Christian city could not contemplate cremation. Instead, Theodorus looked to the walls…. “Every 180 feet, a square tower sixty feet high was built from which Constantinople’s bowmen could defend the city from any barbarian attack. The cemeteries at Sycae were likewise surrounded by such towers, and at Theodorus’s direction, Justinian’s troops removed the tops of dozens of the towers, and filled them with the bodies of the dead. ‘As a result,’ Procopius writes, ‘an evil stench pervaded the city and distressed the inhabitants still more, especially when the wind blew fresh from that quarter.’ ”Physicians of the day examined the dead by dissecting them. They came across strange abscesses swollen with pus and dead tissue which rested at the center of the mysterious swellings. Some among those infected exhibited black lentil-sized pustules before they died vomiting up blood. Procopius adds:“There ensued with some a deep coma, with others a violent delirium … who suffered from insomnia and were victims of a distorted imagination, and in those cases where neither coma nor delirium came on, the bubonic swelling became mortified and the sufferer, no longer able to endure the pain, died.”Other victims were said to have walked out of their homes reasonably healthy only to be struck down with fever mid-travel. They only lay in the road where they fell, helpless, until death came. With grim scenes of this nature, John of Ephesus, a Syrian-speaking bishop of the monastic order who lived through the plague, writes that, “Nobody would go out of doors without a tag upon which his name was written, and which hung on his neck or arm,” the reason being that their bodies, disfigured by disease, could then be identified and claimed by their loved ones.According to Procopius, Emperor Justinian also suffered from buboes but somehow recovered. During his illness, Empress Theodora practically ran the government, though Byzantium’s infrastructure was devasted. Those of the Persian empire and the Germanic kingdoms in the east were weakened as well. Death seemed to spread its tentacles to every corner, eventually reaching western Asia, northern Africa, and Europe. Estimates say that anywhere from one-third to one-half of the people who inhabited those regions died from the disease at that time. The plague disrupted farming, commercial trade, military, secular, and even religious life. Eight monasteries that were recorded to exist in Constantinople ceased to be. Families were ripped apart, leaving the weak and helpless to fend for themselves. Ships were reported to wash ashore unmanned. And what’s more, another disease broke out congruent with the first, this time killing cattle. It was believed to have started in Syria and is now thought to have been anthrax.As for the bubonic plague, slowing it seemed impossible. A historian by the name of Evagrius Scholasticus lost his wife, children, and grandchildren to the plague, and he himself developed buboes but survived. According to his own account as a primary source, “Some were desirous of death, on account of the utter loss of their children and friends, and placed themselves as much as possible in contact with the diseased, and yet did not die, as if the pestilence struggled against their purpose.”That this was a judgment from the Most High was not lost on those who lived through the pestilence. A Syrian historian known as Zachariah of Mytilene said of the plague, “It was a scourge from Satan, who was ordered by [Yah] to destroy men.”We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.The high level of deaths, and the voracity with which the plague came, though unprecedented, could not be maintained. Yes, the pestilence was very deadly …“But the deadliness of the plague was also its weakness.”Writes Susan Wise Bauer.“By 543, it had killed so many people (as many as two hundred thousand in Constantinople alone) that it could no longer remain at full strength; it had run out of uninfected hosts, and began to decrease.”Having recovered from his own illness, Justinian resumed control of the empire and was able to stave off its financial insolvency while maintaining public order. Deceased taxpaying landowners saw the transfer of their lands to their living neighbors. Those among the wealthy who had died without heirs, allowed for the redistribution of their income to capable souls who were reassigned their property, which they kept in production. Fallen government officials were replaced, and government services, like water supply, continued. The collection of taxes also resumed.Of course, this meant that Justinian could once more focus his attention on the war he initiated on the Italian peninsula; a war that would in effect act as a judgment of the Romans who inhabited that unfortunate region of the empire. The Ostrogoths had not yet been vanquished, and in 541, they elected a young, capable Goth from their midst to be king. His name was Totila, and he soon seized Rome, southern Italy, and Sicily from Byzantium rule. Then he formed a navy that he stationed in the Adriatic to prevent the Byzantines from sending reinforcements. Unlike Justinian’s poorly paid mercenaries, who pillaged fiercely to make ends meet, Totila waged war without allowing his Ostrogoth troops to do so, and this caused the Roman populations on the Italian peninsula to welcome him. But Totila would not hold his lands for long.Justinian’s greatest general, Belisarius had retired, so, as Will Durant writes in his book, The Age of Faith … “… Justinian gave to his eunuch general Narses ‘an exceedingly large sum of money,’ and ordered him to raise a new army and drive the Goths from Italy.”Narses rebuilt the army from the ground up, by hiring mainly barbarians: which included Huns, Armenians, Persians, Heruli, and Lombards, among others. He raised around thirty-five thousand men in all. With his new army, in the year 552 …“Narses accomplished his mission with skill and dispatch; Totila was defeated and was killed in flight; the surviving Goths were permitted to leave Italy safely, and after eighteen years, the ‘Gothic War’ came to an end (553). Those years completed the ruin of Italy. Rome had been five times captured, thrice besieged, starved, looted; its population, once a million, was now reduced to 40,000, of whom nearly half were paupers maintained by papal alms. Milan had been destroyed, and all its inhabitants killed. Hundreds of towns and villages sank into insolvency, under the exactions of rulers and the depredations of troops. Regions once tilled were abandoned, and the food supply fell; in Picenum alone, we are told, 50,000 died of starvation during these eighteen years. The aristocracy was shattered; so many of its members had been slain in battle, pillage, or flight that too few survived to continue the Senate of Rome; after 579 we hear of it no more.”The Gothic War, which lasted three decades, destroyed the Italian economy and deurbanized the peninsula. Not only did large cities like Rome, Naples, and Milan see their populations shrink to nothing, but great cities along the Mediterranean became nothing more than sleepy provincial towns. The decline in Italy, caused by the catastrophic war initiated by the eastern emperor, stripped the region of its status as a cultural and economic leader in the realm. The famed places that brought it ancient glory were left in ruins.“The great aqueducts that Theodoric had repaired were broken and neglected …” Writes Will Durant.“… and again turned the Campagna into a vast malarial marsh, which remained till our time. The majestic baths, dependent upon the aqueducts, fell into disuse and decay. Hundreds of statues, surviving Alaric and Gaiseric, had been broken or melted down to provide projectiles and machines during siege. Only ruins bore witness to Rome’s ancient grandeur as capital of half the world. The Eastern emperor would now for a brief period rule Italy; but it was a costly and empty victory. Rome would not fully recover from that victory till the Renaissance.”One of the barbarian tribes hired as mercenaries by the eunuch general Narses to fight against the Ostrogoths in Italy was the Lombards. Thought to have come from frigid northern lands in Scandinavia, the Lombards, according to their oral history, were forced, by lot, to leave their overcrowded homeland. By the time Narses arrived in Italy on orders, the Lombards were there, and he promised them land in Pannonia for their service. When the Ostrogoths were finally vanquished, Byzantium ruled Italy and appointed a general known as an exarch to govern, which meant that he also saw to civil matters. Rome was again in the hands of a Roman emperor, now headquartered in Constantinople. But trouble lay ahead. Following the death of Justinian, his nephew Justin II sat the throne, and a year after he rose to power, plague struck Italy this time.A historian of the Lombards named Paul the Deacon speaks of the same signature swellings of the groin witnessed in the earlier eastern plague. Fevers again led to the deaths of many, leaving piles of unburied corpses in the streets, further decimating the Italian peninsula. Paul the Deacon described the scene, saying … “The dwellings were left deserted by their inhabitants, and the dogs only kept house. You might see the world brought back to its ancient silence: no voice [left] in the field; no whistling of shepherds; no lying in wait of wild beasts among the cattle; no harm to domestic fowls. The crops, outliving the time of the harvest, awaited the reaper untouched; the vineyard with its fallen leaves and its shining grapes remained undisturbed while winter came on; a trumpet as of warriors resounded through the hours of the night and day; something like the murmur of an army was heard by many; there were no footsteps of passersby, no murderer was seen, yet the corpses of the dead were more than the eyes could discern; pastoral places had been turned into a sepulchre for men, and human habitations had become places of refuge for wild beasts. And these evils happened to the Romans only and within Italy alone.”The land of the popes was receiving its own personal judgment. Once this second plague was gone, many empty lands left by the deceased proved tempting to the surviving Lombards, who thrived despite the pestilence. Their numbers actually swelled, making the land of Pannonia they had received as payment too limited to sustain their people. To this end, the Lombards conquered the neighboring Heruls and Gepids. Numbering a quarter of a million, the Lombards needed yet more land. In 568, they stormed Italy and conquered Milan the next year, then headed southward. The Byzantines lost central Italy to them. In fact, all that remained in Byzantine hands following the Lombard conquest was land stretching from Ravenna down the coast, and which cut across to Rome, the city of the pope, who was then Benedict I. The Lombards were besieging Benedict’s city the year that he died, 579, but his successor, Pope Pelagius II, spared Rome by buying them off. Most of Italy was now in the hands of the final horn power to rule over her per Daniel 7, as we have shown in podcast 11.But the Lombards, who despised both Roman culture and catholic tradition, would not long enjoy their dominance of the future papal territory. In his book, The Civilization of the Middle Ages, Norman F. Cantor writes:“The Lombards organized themselves into two or three large duchies and a few smaller principalities. Like the early Franks, they condemned Roman culture and government, with the result that the Roman administrative and legal systems disintegrated. The Byzantines had not had enough time to make the Justinian code well known in Italy. Roman law survived in its homeland only as the customary law of the native Italian population and was mixed with the miserable hodgepodge of Lombard folk law. In addition to their political and legal decrepitude, the Lombards remained Arians (for the most part) for a century after their conquest of northern Italy and thus were completely out of touch with the church and the papacy. In fact, even in the eighth century the pope looked upon the Lombard dukes as his bitter enemies. Perhaps no Germanic people had so little to offer to European civilization as did the backward Lombards. They contributed to Italian life only their name and their blood; the former affected the political geography of northern Italy, and the latter made the physical makeup of north Italians different from the Mediterranean physiognomy of the southerners. These were meager boons in exchange for Theodoric’s policy of civilitas. Of course, Justinian had not intended to replace the Ostrogothic with Lombard rule in Italy. But as in his policy in regard to the eastern part of his empire, the risks that he took were so great that failure was bound to result in a worse condition than had existed at the beginning of his reign.”In the end, Justinian, and indeed Byzantium itself, had failed the western empire in offering adequate leadership and protection from its many enemies. Of this, Norman F. Cantor writes:“Justinian’s failure demonstrated to the men of the West that, as a result of the barbarian invasions, the Roman Empire could not be effectively reunited. Justinian, the greatest Roman emperor since Constantine, was the nemesis of Byzantine power. In the late sixth and seventh centuries Europe turned away from Constantinople, and the European peoples no longer looked to the hard-pressed Byzantine emperors and the essentially alien Byzantine culture for leadership and guidance. Hence, the most important consequence of Justinian’s work for sixth- and seventh-century Europe was to bring to center stage the West’s own men and institutions. The West was thrown back upon its own resources and had to find leadership in its own ranks: the church, led by the papacy and the monastic orders, and the Frankish monarchy. The short-lived alliance between the papacy and the Byzantine emperor had in the end created only a new disaster for Italy. It remained to be seen whether an alliance between the papacy and the Frankish monarchy could be effected with more fortunate consequences.”That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: Krakatoa, bubonic plague, buboes, boubon, Yersinia pestis bacterium Cassiodorus, Avars, tree-ring data, Heruls, Gepids, Pelagius II, 535, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


5 Jan 2020

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Constantine defeats his rival Maxentius for control of Italy, leaving him with one final rival blocking the way to complete control of the Roman Empire. The battle of Chrysopolis decides the fate of the realm, establishing Constantine as sole ruler. Constantine thereafter cements his place in history by effectively shaping the course of Christianity through edicts, sanctions, and other policies, and by favoring the movement with many gifts.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 6: ConstantineConstantine was declared emperor in Britain in 306, and he became the master of Gaul and Spain, but that was not enough. In 312, he assembled his forces in Gaul and started the march south, to wage war with his rival Maxentius for control of Italy and Africa as well. As the legend goes, during this momentous journey, Constantine saw a vision of some sort, of a cross superimposed on the sun with the words, “Conquer in this sign” written in Latin. Encouraged by this, he and his army made their way through the Alps, and then marched for Rome, Maxentius’s capital. Constantine ordered his troops to mark their shields with a new sign that was inspired by his supposed vision, though he continued to worship the “Unconquered Sun” long after these events.Had he stayed within its walls, Maxentius might have held Rome, which was well-defended. Instead, he consulted his augurs—diviners of ancient Rome—who advised him to present battle, and that poor counsel changed the fate of the empire, and indeed the course of Christianity itself. Constantine’s attack caught Maxentius by surprise, and he failed to defend his stronghold, which was quickly overrun by Constantine’s troops. In her book, The History of the Medieval World, Susan Wise Bauer writes:“On the morning of October 29, 312, the Roman soldier Constantine walked through the gates of Rome at the front of his army.“He was forty years old, and for six years he had been struggling to claim the crown of the imperator. Less than twenty-four hours before, he had finally beaten the sitting emperor of Rome, twenty-nine-year-old Maxentius, at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Constantine’s men had fought their way forward across the bridge, toward the city of Rome, until the defenders broke and ran. Maxentius drowned, pulled down into the mud of the riverbed by the weight of his armor.” [. . .]“Constantine settled into the imperial palace to take stock of his new empire. Dealing at once with Maxentius’s supporters, he ordered immediate but judicious executions: only Maxentius’s ‘nearest friends’ fell victim to the new regime. He dissolved the Praetorian Guard, the standing imperial bodyguard that had supported Maxentius’s claim to the throne. [. . .] Then he turned to deal with his co-emperors.”Following the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine then traveled to Milan to meet with Licinius, to forge a new alliance. Persecution of Christians, they agreed, would cease, and their religious buildings, cemeteries, and other Christian property would be returned to them. This became known as the Edict of Milan, an edict that seconded the one Galerius issued concerning toleration. Licinius married Constantine’s half-sister, Constantia, as part of their agreement, and for his part, the sixty-year-old emperor set out to battle Maximinus Daia in 313 for control of the eastern territories. Marching under a Christian banner, Licinius had forty thousand less troops than his enemy, Maximinus, who fought for the Roman deity, Jupiter. Still, Licinius’s army conquered Maximinus Daia’s forces, and, seeing no way of escape, the defeated emperor swallowed poison.With Licinius’s victory, Constantine decided to legalize Christianity as part of their new compact. Of this, Susan Wise Bauer writes:“The two men met in Mediolanum (modern Milan) to celebrate Licinius’s marriage to Constantia and to issue an empire-wide proclamation that made Christianity legal. . . .“In fact Christianity had been tolerated in all parts of the empire except the east for some years. But this proclamation, the Edict of Milan, now spread this protection into Maximinus Daia’s previous territories. ‘No one whatsoever should be denied the opportunity to give his heart to the observance of the Christian religion,’ the Edict announced. ‘Any one of these who wishes to observe Christian religion may do so freely and openly, without molestation.”And here, Constantine’s edict tolerates all religions in the realm:“. . . [We] have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases.’ ”This freedom of religion for all would change late in the fourth century, when the leading bishops would convince the emperors that Christianity was the one “true religion,” and all others were to be made illegal. Thereafter, Roman Catholicism would dominate the West and Greek Orthodoxy the East, ending freedom of religion and free expression of culture for all.Constantine had now eliminated two of his three rivals. Licinius was all that remained between him and sole rule of the empire. But Licinius was getting up in age; he would only hold onto power for a little over a decade. In the year 324, Licinius presented Constantine with the perfect opportunity to wage a final war for control of the eastern portion of the realm. Licinius accused the Christians in his territory of spying for Constantine and he expelled them. While the accusations were probably true, Constantine charged Licinius with persecution, which was illegal per the Edict of Milan, and he led his army east to do battle. They squared off twice, with the second encounter leading to Licinius’s sound defeat. After surrendering, Constantine spared his life, momentarily, and exiled the former emperor to the city of Thessalonica. Constantine now controlled the entire Roman Empire, and he would do so for the next thirteen years, until his death in 337.Constantine’s path to absolute power did not come haphazardly. On the contrary, he was a meticulous planner, who took on challengers one at a time after prolonged periods of strategizing. Long before he battled Maxentius’s forces on the Milvian bridge for control of Italy, Constantine had designs on expanding the empire. With this in mind, he focused on building strong bases of operation in Gaul and Great Britain, and strengthening the borders, particularly positions along the Rhine, which was still vulnerable to barbarian invasion. Though, like many emperors before him, Constantine was given to pomp and excess, and thus lavished himself by building an imposing, richly appointed palace in his capital city, Trier—this while neglecting important public projects. For instance, vineyards in nearby fields flooded due to lack of maintenance of the drainage systems, which disrupted the local economy. Constantine, like emperors Decius and Diocletian before him, sought to recapture the former glories of the Roman Empire; but unlike them, he did not choose to do so in honor of the pagan deities. Constantine believed that Rome would prosper once more through Christianity. While he could not know it, Scripture prophecy had placed Christianity at the center of world power, which it would achieve in the form of the Papal Empire, and like Nebuchadnezzar and other kings of old, Yah would use Constantine to establish this leavened religion as the dominant force in the earth to bring about other important prophecies that were yet unfulfilled.Opposition to Constantine’s grand vision for a resurgence of Rome’s glory came from many Romans, particularly members of the Senate, some of whom belonged to aristocratic families with long ties to the ancient practices. They decried policies that would diminish the importance of the Roman deities and the privileges that came with paganism. Prior to his victory over Licinius, Constantine conflicted with the Roman Senate, which was still an active check on his power. But as absolute master of the empire, he could direct his own course and see it through as he pleased. And what he saw as part of his grand vision for Rome’s revival, was a new capital, that was well away from the pagan center of Rome, which was steeped in ancient traditions and those beholden to them.During Constantine’s second battle with Licinius in 324, known as the Battle of Chrysopolis, something promising struck Constantine’s eye. Professor Paul Freedman, who teaches medieval history at Yale University, says:“This event, this Battle of Chrysopolis, showed Constantine the importance of the small fortress city of Byzantium, not far away.”Of course, Byzantium would be renamed in honor of Constantine. And, like the old Rome, this new Rome would feature all the classic pagan elements of the ancient city it was meant to replace, including many statues of pagan deities. These would be removed from their ancient temples and placed in the new city’s public baths and squares, and even its famed hippodrome. Professor Freedman goes on to say:“Constantinople, as this town was called, was planned to be a new Rome. Like Rome it would have a forum, it would have civic spaces, it would have races and sporting events, it would have imperial palaces and gardens, it would have victory columns, triumphal arches, aqueducts; the whole panoply of classical civilization.“And this relocation of the capital to Constantinople, the relocation of the capital to the east, is significant because it shows us the permanent result of the tetrarchy. Diocletian’s experiment was a failure in the sense that the emperors and caesars would not cooperate. And such a scheme was never tried again. But the division of the empire between east and west would be something that would eventually become permanent. Its first traces are with Diocletian; it is also something that continues under Constantine without the addition of the caesars. Constantine ruled over the whole empire. He did not divide it himself, but he facilitated its conceptual and, eventually, real political division by creating a new Rome, a new capital in the former fortress of Byzantium.”In his book, Mysteries of the Middle Ages, Thomas Cahill tells us why this was a lasting economic and political strategy:“In addition to his lightly worn Christianity, Constantine would be remembered chiefly for his dramatic change of imperial residence. He didn’t care much for Rome, too huddled and pluriform for his tastes, so he established a New Rome in the small Greek city of Byzantium on the southwestern shore of the Bosphorus. It was an excellent choice, for the site commanded Europe and Asia on opposite shores, was virtually impregnable, yet stood wide open to trade. Though Western Europe began to fracture into a puzzle of barbarian kingdoms little more than a century after Constantine’s death, the Byzantine Empire would remain in the hands of Constantine’s successors for ten centuries more—till in 1453 Byzantium, now a golden capital called Constantinople, fell to the Turks, who called it Istanbul.”Upon its founding, Constantinople was not a well-populated city. To draw citizens to the new capital, Constantine resorted to doling out all manner of privileges to those who chose to live there. These came in the form of exemptions from taxes and military service. Some citizens received free agricultural products: oil, wheat, or wine. On the strength of these and other acts, so many people flocked to the new capital that a century later, during the reign of Theodosius II, new city walls had to be erected to accommodate the swollen population.We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.Before Constantine came to power and bestowed broad freedoms on the church, Christianity was persecuted and outlawed. His intervention, vaulting it to the lofty status it enjoyed from his reign onward, in effect caused the church to re-envision its purpose and alter its overall image. A new age had dawned on the Christian movement, which was now free to develop and spread without imperial impediment. Constantine had made the religion completely legal, and he used legislation to create a new day of rest for Christians, Sunday, that did double duty honoring the Unconquered Sun (see our documentary: Understanding the Sabbath, for an in-depth study of this topic). Nothing seemed to be able to slow the progress of Christianity, as many streamed into the church, which was now favored by a powerful emperor. Of course, this meant that many pagans were drawn to the movement as well, bringing with them pluralistic, and even secular beliefs and practices that would further poison the Christian well.To Constantine, this was a non-issue. While he could be viewed as a semi-practicing Christian up until his baptism toward the end of his life, his brand of Christianity, and his conversion experience, was not like that of the average convert. In his day, a new person entering the church would endure a lengthy process of education that focused on Christian discipline and doctrinal instruction. This would ensure that the convert both understood and was able to live the new faith he or she adopted. Following this was official baptism. Thereafter, the bishop of the convert’s particular church would act as their guide and shepherd in the course of their spiritual journey. Constantine experienced none of this. After his professed acceptance of Christianity, he never subjected himself to the authority of Christian teachers or bishops. He did have Christians among his entourage—historians, bishops, and ecclesiastical leaders—but they were regarded as employees, in the capacity of tutors of his children, documenters, or otherwise liaisons. They did not dictate Constantine’s religious life. He determined that alone and in fact considered himself the “bishop of bishops.” Beyond that, Constantine continued to take part in pagan ceremonies, and he held onto the title Pontifex Maximus as head of the Roman religious cult, to which the leading bishops raised no objections.Of course, Constantine had lavished the church with many gifts, church buildings among them; his policies greatly favored Christians; and he also spoke well of the being they served. More than this, he sat a powerful ruler who had conquered all challengers. But the bishops remained silent not for these reasons, but mainly because Constantine was not yet a baptized member of the church, and so was not viewed as a Christian in the fullest sense. In light of this, the bishops were in no position to direct the life of such a person. In the end, Constantine’s actions show that he had a superstitious fear of the Almighty, rather than a healthy reverence for him. And while that superstitious fear prompted him to shower gifts on Christians and treat them favorably, it did not preclude him from serving the other deities, which he did openly, even consulting the oracle of Apollo. He was Supreme Pontiff, or high priest of the Roman religion, after all—which was the prerogative of all Roman emperors. Since he enjoyed both paganism and Christianity, Constantine was not about to suppress either. The old pagan deities were still favored by the aristocracy and rural citizens, as well as soldiers in the Roman army. The cities of Athens and Alexandria were still important centers for the study of ancient pagan philosophy and wisdom. Roman citizens among these various classes were not ready to abandon their pagan religion for Christianity, nor was Constantine going to force anyone to do so. That would come later, under a new system and other Roman rulers. As much as he did for the church, and though his empire was largely Christian, Constantine did not make Christianity the empire’s official religion. This too would come later, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius.Now, while we use the term “paganism” in reference to the Roman religion and the general worship of other deities, like many ancient terms, the word “pagan” meant something else during late antiquity. In truth, the ancient Roman religion had no name; only the deities were named. By the early fourth century, the Roman religion was pushed mainly to the rural areas of the empire and was predominantly practiced by rural citizens. The word “pagan” has its root in the Latin paganus, which means “country dweller.” Thus, “pagan” was thereafter used in a derogatory sense by Christians to describe those who held to the old polytheistic Roman religion, and religions or beliefs akin to this. And so it is used today.After Constantine, there were few pagans among his successors who tried to restore paganism to the realm, but failed. Christianity would take root, mainly through the many edicts that supported it. Aspects of some of these edicts are still with us to this day, such as church properties being tax exempt, as well as members being able to legally bequeath property to the church. After many centuries, these freedoms would make the church rich in land and other forms of wealth. In his book, Pagans: The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity, James J. O’Donnell writes:“With governmental approval, money and influence began to flow toward Christian communities, especially in the larger cities. The emperor gave gifts, so other dignitaries followed suit. Wealthy men offered support for building fine new buildings and left gifts in their wills. Gifts to the church of productive agricultural property were a kind of endowment, guaranteeing continuing income. Just as an old master painting, once it gets to a museum, is unlikely to move again, so as wealth flowed to the ancient or medieval church, it stayed there, undivided by descendants.”So generous was Constantine toward the Christian movement that he even allowed the bishops use of the imperial posts, which meant that bishops traveling to synods or council meetings would have a supply of fresh horses along their journey, and the entire affair came at the expense of the Roman state. With his conversion, a few changes took place in the church as well. Syncretism set in, and pagan superstition could be seen among the laity. When people faced illnesses, they would rely on ancient magical practices. Others would be buried with both Christian and pagan religious symbols and artifacts. When the decree was passed, ordering the first day of the week to be observed, Christians given over to the old pagan ways simply honored the Unconquered Sun, since the day equally honored this deity. And while incense was mainly used as a sign of respect for the sitting emperor, it became a part of the Christian worship service as well. Ministers who officiated at those services, and who once dressed modestly, now wore extravagant and luxurious garments in keeping with the royal court. They also began to adopt the title “priest,” like their pagan counterparts—though the ancient Israelites were among the first to use the title to refer to the Levites who officiated in the temple. Around the time of Constantine’s reign, another major issue arose, that of new Christian movements which proposed theories and doctrines that would divide the church. Perhaps the most divisive of these was Arianism. In his book, A History of the Middle Ages: 300 – 1500, John M. Riddle writes:“Of all the Christian sects found in the empire and beyond its boundaries, none did more damage to the unity of the church than Arianism. Around 318, Arius, a Christian priest in Alexandria, challenged his bishop by preaching that [Yeshua], having been created by [Yah] the Father at a point in time, could not, as a created being, be co-eternal with [Yah]. Only [Yah] the Father was eternal and immutable, whereas the Son of [Yah] was subject to change, as the [Good News books] described him. Being lesser than [Yah] the Father, the Son of [Yah] could have only indirect knowledge of the Father. Athanasius, a conservative-minded deacon, defended his bishop by arguing that the Son of [Yah], incarnate in [Yeshua], had existed from eternity as a coequal member of the [Elohim]: Father, Son, and [Set Apart] Spirit. . . .“These were not arcane theological points to Christians of the time. We are told that great numbers within the Christian communities, first in Alexandria, and then in cities in Palestine, Syria, and even Constantinople itself, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, engaged in vituperative debates that resulted in physical clashes when attempts at persuasion turned to violence. Constantine, who had hoped to strengthen the unity of his empire by recognizing and encouraging Christianity, could not ignore the problem and sent an envoy to Alexandria in a vain attempt to resolve this doctrinal dispute. The envoy reported that more than one person’s skull had been fractured in the street fighting over the nature of [Yeshua’s] relationship to the Father.“In 325, Constantine called a Council at Nicaea (near Constantinople), and approximately 300 bishops, out of more than 1,800 in the empire, attended, some at the emperor’s expense. The council wrote a creed (from Credo, “I believe,” the word with which official creeds in Latin began), known as the Nicene Creed (still widely used in Christian churches), which endorsed the Athanasian position. It proclaimed ‘[the Messiah] . . . begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father,’ rejecting the Arian belief that the Son was of a different substance than the Father. Although this section of the Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed became, and remains, the orthodox position for both eastern and western churches, the threat to the peace and unity of the empire represented by Arianism was not ended. In 381, the creed was revised and incorporated the original version of 325, whose text is lost.”The Arian dispute persisted into the reign of Emperor Theodosius, who ruled four decades after the death of Constantine. He too was forced to deal with its divisiveness. “Arguments about the Arian take on the nature of [Yeshua], as opposed to the Nicene understanding,” Susan Wise Bauer writes, “. . . had spread to the lowest levels of society. ‘Everywhere throughout the city is full of such things,’ complained the bishop Gregory of Nyssa, in a sermon preached at Constantinople, the alleys, the squares, the thoroughfares, the residential quarters; among cloak salesmen, those in charge of the money-changing tables, those who sell us our food. For if you ask about change, they philosophize to you about the Begotten and the Unbegotten. And if you ask about the price of bread, the reply is, ‘The Father is greater, and the Son is subject to him.’ If you say, ‘Is the bath ready?’ they declare the Son has his being from the non-existent. I am not sure what this evil should be called—inflammation of the brain or madness or some sort of epidemic disease which contrives the derangement of reasoning.”Despite the controversies that erupted during his reign; regardless of the immense bloodshed of which he was most guilty, which secured his throne; and despite the faithful attachment to his pagan roots, by the year 330, Constantine had managed to fully establish a single empire that would be controlled by one royal family, and be comprised of one church. He had also successfully unified that church temporarily at the Council of Nicaea through imperial sanction. All of this meant that his new Rome would indeed have a lasting impact and enjoy a long legacy. This did not bode well for old Rome, which had lost its status, being isolated as it was, in a region that was far less wealthy that its eastern counterpart centered at the new capital, Constantinople.But in the centuries to come, Rome would find renewed strength and importance following the collapse of the western Roman Empire. The Roman church would eventually assume primacy over all churches in the western realm, under the direction of powerful popes, beginning with Pope Leo, who would be viewed as the Supreme Head of the western half of Christendom.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: Maxentius, Licinius, Constantine, imperator, Milvian bridge, Edict of Milan, paganus, Chrysopolis, Constantinople, Theodosius, papacy, Nicaea, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


25 Aug 2019

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Justinian and Theodora

Justinian comes to power, thanks to his uncle, Emperor Justin, and a law has to be changed in order for him to wed a forbidden woman. Opulence fills Justinian’s court, and he is faced with early revolt, but surviving this, he overhauls the entire Roman law code—which has since been adopted by much of the world. Finally, he suffers disasters that devastate his realm and drains the Treasury.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 12: Justinian and TheodoraIn the Eastern Roman Empire, which would later be called Byzantium, a strange thing began to happen during the reign of Emperor Anastasius. The love of gladiatorial combat, which was long a favored Roman sport, eventually declined, being replaced by chariot-racing. Much like today (and all of this has a modern equivalent) chariot-racing permeated medieval eastern Roman society, particularly in the larger cities. Like the modern abominations of stock car racing, or soccer, or American football, chariot-racing dominated the entertainment scene for eastern Roman sports fans. It was part of daily life and figured largely in the lives of non-fans as well. Put another way, everyone living in Constantinople could name the star chariot-drivers, and almost everyone knew the winning racing teams from a given chariot race.The teams, however, were not defined by drivers and their horses. In fact, the origin of modern sports sponsorship has its foundation in the Eastern Roman Empire, as chariot-racing teams were backed by various associations and companies who sponsored each race. But the symbols these sponsors used in their branding was a simple color, in this case, red, white, blue, or green. Therefore, spectators were not fans of individual chariot-drivers, but the color under which pairs of drivers and their horses would race, and these fans would be associated with those colors themselves. Therefore, fans who cheered for a particular color would be labeled the Reds, or the Greens, etc. What is more, these color-coded fans despised one another.“By the time Anastasius died of old age in 518 …”Writes Susan Wise Bauer in her book, The History of the Medieval Word.“… the fans had settled into two opposed factions: the Blues, who had absorbed the Reds, and the Greens, who now encompassed the Whites. They were increasingly violent, always ready to seize any excuse to murder fans in the other faction. In fact, three thousand Blues had been killed at Constantinople in a 501 riot over chariot-race results, and other riots in 507 and 515 had been almost as bloody.“Anastasius left no son, although he had nephews who were anxious to claim the right to rule. In their place, though, the imperial bodyguard elected its own commander, the seventy-year-old career army officer Justin, as the new emperor.“Justin was shrewd, experienced, and had the support of the Blues. He also had the firm support of his nephew Justinian, a soldier who was in his thirties. In 521, Justin made his nephew consul, the highest official position in Constantinople below that of emperor, and Justinian began to take a greater and greater part in the government of the empire.”By the year 527, Justinian, an avid member of the Blues himself, would be emperor of the east. A few years earlier, he had fallen in love with a forbidden woman named Theodora. “Theodora’s life is chronicled by Procopius, the Roman historian who gives such a sober and trustworthy chronology of Byzantium’s military history in his History of the Wars.”Writes Susan Wise Bauer.“Procopius was a man’s man; he admired strength and force, he scorned uncertainty and compromise, and he believed that a real emperor should be free of female influence. His joint biography of Justinian and Theodora, The Secret History, was written after Justinian married his actress, and after it became clear that Justinian—brilliant and mercurial—depended on his wife. It drips with vitriol.“Despite the acidic tone, there is little reason to think that Procopius got his basic facts wrong; Theodora’s past was well known to her contemporaries. Her father had been a bear-trainer who worked in the half-time shows given by the Greens between chariot races.”As a side note, here we have another ancient reference that has a modern shade: the infamous half-time show. As we have hinted in other materials, modern sports—all of them—are based on ancient pagan practices. And, as Torah-observant believers, we are commanded to not do as the heathen nations concerning these matters. At any rate, citing Procopius, Susan Wise Bauer goes on to say that Theodora’s father took ill and died …“… leaving his wife with three small girls under the age of seven. The Greens had hired another trainer, and in order to survive, the mother had forced the girls to appear before the Blues as entertainers. Entertainment led to prostitution….”… And a life of ill repute. Being both fatherless and absent the protection of brothers, Theodora, like other Roman women doomed to such a life, went down this infamous path and eventually found her way to Alexandria, which was still a Christian center at the time, though a controversial one. Alexandria was the haven for Christians who found themselves on the opposing side of the current theological debate that surrounded yet another position viewed as heretical, this time a belief of the Nestorians, who held that the Messiah had two separate and distinct natures: human and divine. Of this, Susan Wise Bauer writes:“The priests at the Council of Chalcedon thought of themselves as monophysitic, and they had carefully rejected language that might make it sound as though Christians worshipped more than one divinity.”The Chalcedonian Creed proposed that the Messiah was one with the Father; that they existed as one being with one subsistence, but that he himself had two natures, and those natures were not divided or separate. Christians who were far to the east, and were nearer to the Persian Empire, which was inhabited by a people who believed in a pantheon of deities, wanted nothing to do with a theology that sounded like they served more than one being. Alexandrian Christians believed that the Messiah was human but that his divine nature overwhelmed his human nature and thus overcame his natural limitations. Those who held the other popular stance that originated in Antioch believed that his humanity and divinity were not really joined in one, and he was human through his mother and divine through his heavenly Father. These debates led to excommunications of several bishops and the exile of one—Nestorius himself. In fact, quoting Susan Wise Bauer …“In the theological wars of the previous century, Alexandria had lost prestige. Despite the age and size of the city’s Christian community, the bishop of Alexandria had been placed below both the bishop of Rome (the pope) and the bishop of Constantinople (the patriarch) in the Christian hierarchy.”Theodora, while in Alexandria, was converted to the extreme monophysitic form of Christianity and thereby abandoned her undesirable profession. But lacking means to support herself, she was forced to live with an old acquaintance who was also a former actress and a Christian convert as well. Her name was Macedonia and she lived in Antioch. Having abandoned an undesirable profession equal to Theodora’s, Macedonia found a new way to earn her living in Antioch: she was a Roman spy, a member of the imperial secret police.“Antioch was the third most important city in Byzantium (just behind Constantinople and Alexandria), and Justinian apparently had a network of spies and informers to keep him abreast of any unseen developments. Macedonia was one of these informers; Procopius says that she reported to her boss by writing letters, but at some point Justinian must have visited the city and asked for a personal update, because Macedonia introduced him to her friend.”Justinian was smitten with Theodora, who was two decades younger than him. He made a promise of marriage and set her up in a house in Constantinople in the year 522, while he attempted to persuade his aunt and uncle, the current emperor, to approve the marriage. There was one little hitch—well, really two. Constantine, some two hundred years earlier, had passed a law, on moral grounds, forbidding his officials to marry actresses, given the demands of their profession. Justinian, who was consul at the time—number two in the empire behind his uncle—could not wed Theodora by law. But that was a small matter compared to the objection of his aunt Euphemia.“Euphemia announced that she would never approve of the marriage—not because the young woman had been in a brothel, but because she was a monophysite.”Euphemia died around 524, and Emperor Justin immediately passed a new law revoking Constantine’s original marriage ban between Roman officials and actresses. Though they had to be former actresses.“ ‘Women who have been on the stage,’ he decreed, ‘but who have changed their mind and have abandoned a dishonorable profession … shall be entirely cleansed of all stain.’ Legally redeemed by imperial fiat, retired actresses could marry anyone they pleased, and as soon as the law passed, Justinian and Theodora were married at the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople.”The aging Justin later made his nephew co-emperor, crowning him on April 1, 527. He was now the official emperor and heir to his uncle, and his new wife, Theodora, was empress, and she would prove to be a powerful one.Justinian, before becoming emperor, was given to much study and was a man of divided interests. At once he studied to become a musician and an architect (his interest in buildings resulted in what is considered one of the greatest architectural feats to date: the Hagia Sophia); he also had an interest in becoming a theologian, a poet, and a lawyer, all in addition to his ambition to one day becoming emperor, which he achieved. He possessed an active mind that seemed to constantly be at work, yet one cannot say the same for his physical activity. He was not very brave, and though he commanded many battles he never took the field in any of them.Indeed, those very battles, part of a deeply held desire for conquest of the western part of the empire, which he intended to reunite with the east, was a costly affair. Of this, Professor Paul Freedman of Yale University says:“The conquest of the west: folly or grandeur? And it’s both. It is a classic example of overextension—overextension of empires—meaning that empires weaken themselves at some point, fatally, by simply getting either too big, or spending too much money, and the two are linked. You get too big you have to spend more money to defend yourself, not really having the resources to keep what you have—the British Empire, a reasonably clear and neutral example, at some point, is simply too large for the resources of a weakened Great Britain.”It had been Anastasius, the wise emperor who died in the year 518, who had paved the way for the successes Justinian enjoyed during his reign. Anastasius had ended the gladiatorial contests that pit men against wild beasts at the Roman games, and he had erected a forty-mile wall that fortified Constantinople against barbarian invaders, which stretched from the sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. He also built up the fiscal base of the eastern empire through wise administration, which restored its finances and left the treasury bursting with 320,000 pounds of gold, this while reducing taxes. Justinian was able to dip into the treasury to fund his wars against the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, and the Persians on his northern frontier.In his book, Medieval Europe, Chris Wickham writes.“[T]he fiscal system was arguably not robust enough to fight several wars at once as well as building on a considerable scale, and Justinian’s administrative reforms did not achieve the root-and-branch streamlining which he sought; his successors were far less ambitious, doubtless as a result. But his reign certainly shows the possibilities that a determined emperor could contemplate, and partially achieve.”We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.Justinian was both anointed and crowned by the patriarch of Constantinople in a grand ceremony, and he wore a costly diadem of pearls. Yet he allowed lowly citizens to approach him, perhaps being that he was an emperor of low birth himself. These contradictory natures are highlighted by the author Will Durant, in his book, The Age of Faith: The Story of Civilization Volume 4.“[Even] men of low estate and altogether obscure had complete freedom not only to come before him but to converse with him. At the same time, he promoted the pomp and ceremony of his court even beyond the precedents of Diocletian and Constantine. Like Napoleon, he keenly missed the support of legitimacy, having succeeded to a usurper; he had no prestige of presence or origin; consequently, he resorted to an awe-inspiring ritual and pageantry whenever he appeared in public or before foreign ambassadors. He encouraged the Oriental conception of royalty as divine, applied the term sacred to his person and his property, and required those who came into his presence to kneel and kiss the hem of his purple robe, or the toes of his buskined feet.”Justinian’s court was one of opulence and splendor, unrivaled by few other imperial courts in all the annals of history. But its opulence was part of government policy, meant to draw reverence from the populace, and it was effective to a degree. While the citizens at large were awed by the solemnity, the court officials were not, and past coups were incited by members of the court. Notwithstanding this, Justinian did experience revolts during his long reign, the most significant of which came just five years in, and nearly led to his death.“The Greens and Blues—the factions into which the people of Constantinople divided, according to the dress of their favorite jockeys—had brought their quarrels to the point of open violence.”Writes Will Durant.“The streets of the capital had become unsafe, and the well-to-do had to dress like paupers to avoid the nocturnal knife. Finally, the government pounced down upon both factions, arresting several protagonists. The factions thereupon united in an armed uprising against the government. Probably a number of senators joined in the revolt, and proletarian discontent strove to make it a revolution. Prisons were invaded, and their inmates freed; city police and officials were killed; fires were started that burned down the church of St. Sophia, and part of the emperor’s palace. The crowd cried out, ‘Nika!’ (victory)—and so gave a name to the revolt.”Early success emboldened the rioters to demand that Justinian hand over two unpopular city officials, who they intended to execute. The fighting only grew more violent, and buildings were burned, along with the marketplace and dozens of houses belonging to wealthy citizens. Justinian and Theodora, as well as high officials of Constantinople, “shut themselves up in the palace and remained quietly there,” writes Procopius. Whether they expected the riot to die down on its own or not, the trouble only worsened. The rebels sought a new ruler, and so selected Hypatius, the nephew of the deceased and wise Anastasius, who Justin had usurped.Hypatius, who was a senator, lived in Constantinople with his wife and was forced to bar his doors, but the rebels managed to drag him out of his house against his wishes and declare him emperor. A throne had been set up in the Hippodrome, the venue at the center of the city where chariot-racing events were held, and there Hypatius was escorted to take the imperial seat. Justinian contemplated flight by heading for the nearest harbor and sailing off on one of his royal ships. But …“The empress, Theodora, dissuaded him, and called for active resistance.”Writes Will Durant.“Belisarius, leader of the army, took the assignment, assembled a number of Goths from his troops, led them to the hippodrome, slaughtered 30,000 of the populace, arrested Hypatius, and had him killed in jail. Justinian restored his dismissed officials, pardoned the conspiring senators, and restored to the children of Hypatius their confiscated property. For the next thirty years Justinian was secure.”Those thirty-plus years would be remembered not so much for Justinian’s costly and destructive wars or the early revolt, but for his laws. Over the centuries, many Roman laws had been passed that had been rendered obsolete by the changing times, and others were contradictory or downright confusing. A hundred years before Justinian, Emperor Theodosius II had called for a new codification of the Roman laws dating back to the accession of Constantine to address just such a problem. The church, which was a powerful institution in its own right, had modified its own legislation and could readily interpret it. Yet, the civil laws of Rome often ran contrary to those of the nations that comprised the empire. And laws based on ancient Roman times were ill-suited for Hellenic life in the east. The body of Roman law was a muddle of legislation. Justinian, as ever, stoked his desire to unify—he sought to unify the western and eastern churches despite their ongoing debate on theological matters; he sought to unify the empire through conquest; now he sought to unify the law code.In the year 528, Justinian commissioned a body of ten jurists to collect and reform the Roman laws, as well as bring clarity to the code as they systematized it. The first volume was completed the next year, but other volumes would come later. In all, the revised code comprised four parts, the Codex, Digest, Institutiones, and Novellae.“All these publications came to be known as the Corpus iuris civilis, or Body of Civil Law, and were loosely referred to as the Code of Justinian.”Writes Will Durant.“This code, like the Theodosian, enacted Orthodox Christianity into law…. It acknowledged the ecclesiastical leadership of the Roman church, and ordered all Christian groups to submit to her authority. But ensuing chapters proclaim the dominion of the emperor over the Church. All ecclesiastical, like all civil, law, was to emanate from the throne.”The sheer weight and importance of this revelation should not be understated, and should not be missed by those with discerning hearts. Justinian did what no emperor before him had done. Constantine had made Christianity legal, thereby ending the persecution of the church. Theodosius I made Christianity the official religion of the Roman state, and he crushed its opponents while granting it greater freedoms that led to its independence from imperial jurisdiction. Yet, while Justinian was asserting ecclesiastical authority over that of the bishops, he did not reverse the independent status of the church. What he did add to the equation, however, is the legal preeminence of the Roman church. On the books, we can say that the beginning of the Papal powers gaining their prophesied authority to rule for a given period comes in the time of Justinian, with this very law. The fact is that Justinian, who was both emperor and the ecclesiastical authority, represents the state first and foremost. His law code actually declared that he was the Roman law, just as Yah is his set apart law.“Something had happened, almost invisibly, in the eighteen months that Justinian had been on the throne.”Writes Susan Wise Bauer.“[H]is word had become law. And not just secular law, but sacred law as well. Despite his claim to wield the ancient Roman imperium, Justinian’s assertion that his authority was sacred was a new assertion.”Therefore, Justinian is not merely a horn on the beast pictured in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, he is the beast itself, as a representative of the beast empire. Justinian sees himself as equal to Yah in authority by being able to dictate ecclesiastical as well as imperial matters. This is why we see the beast in Revelation 13—not just the horn in Daniel 7—speaking blasphemies. This would be repeated by later rulers who would come to represent the Roman beast state and not just exist as a horn power.The Justinian code was far-reaching in its sweep, from ordering lawyers, plaintiffs, and defendants to swear on Bibles prior to court proceedings—which we still see today—to property laws; penalties against heretics and offending clerics, starting with bishops, and even monks. “Of all the emperor’s work, the making of the Corpus Juris Civilis is the best known and most important in its impact on civilization.”Writes Norman F. Cantor in his book The Civilization of the Middle Ages.“The Justinian code is perhaps the outstanding accomplishment in the history of jurisprudence. It consists of nothing less than the codification into a few volumes of the legal life of a great world empire over many centuries.“… The Justinian code greatly favors absolutism: The emperor is considered the living law, and his will has the unchallenged force of law. ‘The emperor alone can make laws [and] it should also be the province of the imperial dignity alone to interpret them.’“… Although the Justinian code was not studied in the West in the early Middle Ages, after the middle of the eleventh century it slowly became the basis of the legal systems of all the European countries, with the exception of England.”It is also the principle on which the Canadian and American legal systems rest. Now, for all his boasting and blaspheming; with the throwing of his imperial weight around and exhibiting among the greatest earthly authority seen under heaven, Justinian and his imperial city had it coming. Judgment had to be meted out for his sins. Ezekiel 14:21 highlights Yah’s four disastrous acts of judgment. Justinian suffered all four, plus earthquakes. Will Durant writes:“In the end, death won all arguments. Theodora’s passing in 548 was to Justinian the heaviest of many blows that broke down his courage, clarity, and strength. He was then sixty-five, weakened by asceticism and recurrent crises; he left the government to subordinates, neglected the defenses he had so labored to build, and abandoned himself to theology. A hundred disasters darkened the remaining seventeen years during which he outlived himself. Earthquakes were especially frequent in this reign; a dozen cities were almost wiped out by them; and their rehabilitation drained the Treasury. In 542, plague came; in 556, famine, in 558, plague again. In 559 the Kotrigur Huns crossed the Danube, plundered Moesia and Thrace, took thousands of captives, violated matrons, virgins, and nuns, threw to the dogs the infants born to women captives on the march; and advanced to the walls of Constantinople.”These four acts are repeated in the book of Revelation, which gives you a clue as to their prophetic time frame. But during Justinian’s reign, Yah’s judgment wasn’t restricted to Constantinople.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: Anastasius, chariot-racing, Byzantium, sports, Procopius, Council of Chalcedon, Monophysite, Monophysitic, Hagia Sophia, Belisarius, Corpus Juris Civilis, Justinian Law Code, Kotrigur Huns, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


22 Dec 2019

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The Monastic Movement

Following the reign of Constantine, who lavished the church with gifts and property, rich and powerful church members were seen as the main beneficiaries of Yah’s blessings, to the disgust of many among the lowly laity. And with the end of persecutions and martyrdom—which was seen as a means of attaining perfection and sainthood—the laity looked to another path to achieving these goals: monasticism.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 10: The Monastic MovementMajor shifts continued to take place within the Christian church as each new era dawned. When persecution erupted during the reigns of certain emperors, Christians braved torture and torment for the sake of their religion, and many, through gross misinterpretations of Scripture, even saw death by martyrdom as a way to attain perfection and instant access to heaven. When persecutions ceased, this created a problem for those who truly believed that martyrdom was a means to achieving sainthood. What is more, Christian theology was being bent and manipulated by the church leaders to accommodate new developments. Prior to Constantine, early Christians saw the Good News books—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—as good news directed to the poor, almost exclusively. The rich, according to those very books, would find difficulty in both receiving the same news as well as altering their lives and readying their hearts to meet the requirements for salvation. Yet, when Constantine took the throne and showered favor upon the church, great riches, extravagance, and pomp became a mark of Yah’s blessings. The rich were now seen as those worthy of salvation. That theological slant continues to be pushed to this day, through the various prosperity mega churches that have sprung up across the American landscape, showing that the Constantinian era has not ended.Those who saw Yeshua’s message as one directed at the poor and oppressed, the lowly and meek, rejected the direction in which the church leaders were steering their salvation theology, and yet another radical new shift developed: monasticism, a movement that arose partly in protest against the established order. The establishment greeted Constantine’s sweeping changes and favor as a fulfillment of Yah’s promises to Israel, in whose place they believed they now stood. The narrow gate to salvation now became a broad way so expansive and accommodating that vast multitudes now rushed into the church to partake of Christian privileges and rise to esteemed positions without undergoing any spiritual changes. Bishops competed for prestigious positions, where one would pull rank over others, and the wealthy rose to power, heavily influencing or outright dominating church life for the masses. In other words, one could hardly see the wheat for all the tares that flourished. When persecution was still an inevitability for Christians, they were on guard against the Roman authorities, who could snatch them away at any moment to undergo a series of trials that would determine their fate, whether they would face death as martyrs or live as disgraced apostates. This epic choice was taken away periodically during the peaceful times that came in the second and third centuries. And that peace caused many Christians to grow weak when persecutions flared once more. This led to the problem of the lapsed, as well as the Donatist controversy, which we covered in the fifth and eighth episodes of this podcast series, respectively.Many among the laity saw that the security of peaceful times, and the comfort derived from Christian favor bestowed by the state were dangerous elements for sincere believers. When persecutions were determined to be a thing of the past, and the peace and safety of the church was assured during the reigns of Christian emperors; when church leaders were luxuriating in lavish homes and the rich and powerful were being drawn to the Christian movement, which had become a broad avenue for the masses, many sought a different path: the extreme ascetic life of monasticism. Of course, with spiritual leaven, things will always get pushed to the extreme, and in this case, we have two that sit at opposite ends: the riches, excesses, and pomp of the church leadership, and the radical monastic movement among the laity. And I say the laity because:“The whole monastic movement, and later on that of the friars, was a lay one….”Writes Chris Wickham, in his book, Medieval Europe.“… (ordained clergy were usually a minority in monasteries, and, since they had to be male, did not exist at all in nunneries). Men and women in those cases autonomously chose an often extreme version of Christian practice, although this was usually legitimated by equally extreme forms of obedience to abbots/abbesses, and, through them, to the wider order of the church.”Monasticism was a way for devoted Christians to flee the trappings of society and leave behind social traditions that tended to dominate the mind and body alike. To exercise control over their many passions and resist temptations of every sort, a certain degree of isolation seemed necessary. So, while thousands of new converts flocked to the church to be baptized, thousands more were leaving to worship in solitude.In his book, The Civilization of the Middle Ages, author Norman F. Cantor gives us a good description of what Medieval Christian monasticism truly embodied:“Monasticism is a form of religious asceticism, which, in turn, involves the disciplining, limitation, or abnegation of the material and physical aspects of human life to assure a saving relationship with a deity conceived of as a purely spiritual being. Asceticism is therefore intended to secure salvation, and this end can be achieved either by the withdrawal of the ascetic from society and its corrupting temptations and distractions or by the severe control of social life to make the environment suitable for the ascetic to continue to live in the world. The former manifestation of asceticism is called monasticism, and the latter may be termed puritanism. It is obvious that in the circumstances of the early Middle Ages, with a violent, disorganized, and fundamentally un-Christianized society, the puritan control of society to make the world safe for asceticism was out of the question. The ascetic had to withdraw from the world to ensure the triumph of his spiritual will and the salvation of his soul. But the nature of early medieval western monasticism in its ultimate form was such that this flight from the world did not succeed very well; instead, the monastery became a social institution of the utmost importance. The more outstanding monks came to render the greatest services both to the church and monarchy and to give new vitality and leadership to both institutions.”And in the western part of the realm, where invading barbarians dominated, there was a great deal of societal disorganization, which, in the sixth century, would only be addressed, initially, by the church. The church in the west was the hub for almost all the literate men in Europe, thus it was one of the most powerful and influential institutions in existence. But the church was also deeply affected by the barbarian invasions covered in our last podcast. Calling on Norman F. Cantor once more, he writes that:“[T]he secular clergy in general was ignorant, corrupt, and unable to deal with the problem of Christianizing a society that remained intensely heathen in spite of the formal conversion of masses of Germanic warriors to Christianity. Heathen superstitions and magic were grafted onto Latin Christianity: The religiosity of the sixth and seventh centuries was infected with devils, magic, relic worship, the importation of local nature deities into Christianity in the guise of saints, and the general debasement of the Latin faith by religious primitivism.”The Latin church in the west did not suffer the fate of other western institutions post-invasion, most of which vanished. And because of the church’s survival, the monastic movement in particular not only withstood the influence of barbaric customs that flooded into the region, but the monks would also provide leadership, education, and organization to societies in Europe. In this way, monasticism helped shape medieval civilization.The word monk derives from the Greek, monakhos, meaning “solitary.” And to the ancient monk, the greatest form of solitude could only be derived from the desert. This is where the movement thrived, given its isolation from the busy, active life of society with all its noise, distractions, and temptations. Even the term “anchorite,” which refers to a solitary monk, originally held the meaning, to withdraw, in the sense of a fugitive. So, the desert held great appeal for this very reason, as it was largely inaccessible by the vast majority. One could disappear amidst the hot sands while worshipping in their personal oasis.Kevin Madigan, writing in his book, Medieval Christianity, says:“As the Constantinian era wore on, some Christians began to feel their religion was losing the rigor required of the baptized during the times of persecution. They swarmed to the desert and established one of the institutions that would come to define medieval Christianity: monasticism. As medieval Christianity depended heavily—socially, intellectually, economically[…]—on the institution of monasticism and on monks, it is important to understand the emergence of this form of life in the deserts of Egypt, Syria, and Judea. As more serious Christians began to believe, not wrongly, that the skyrocketing numbers of converts were merely nominal or tepid believers, they began to move into the remote deserts, where they could dedicate themselves to a life of profound Christian commitment, asceticism and prayer, bodily self-mortification, and rumination on the scriptures. Some adopted an ‘eremitical,’ or hermit style, of life, of which St. Antony was the illustrious exemplar. Others followed a coenobitical, or communal form, of life, the form that would come to dominate in the West. Women as well as men (who far outnumbered the women) felt this call to the desert, and monastic establishments were built for them in the wild places. By the end of the fourth century, thousands of monks were living in the desert, making (in the words of Antony’s biographer, Athanasius), ‘the desert a city.’”The exact origins of Monasticism are a bit sketchy for many historians. Further compounding the origin accounts is the associated flight by many village citizens to the desert who were fleeing heavy tax burdens imposed by the Roman government during times of economic crisis. While Christian monasticism was taking root, Egyptian villagers were abandoning their rural settings and escaping to the desert as fugitives from government obligations. They were anchorites in other words, and it wasn’t always easy to distinguish them from those who fled to the desert for the sake of their spiritual convictions.Beyond this, two famous early Christian writers proposed two distinct founders of the movement. Jerome, who is credited with the translation of the Latin Vulgate, writes a brief account of a man named Paul who, near the middle of the third century, went to the desert to flee persecution. But his was a life almost entirely of legend, and so cannot be accepted as historical. Paul, it is claimed, spent most of his time in prayer and subsisted mainly on a diet of dates. And, according to Jerome’s account, Paul lived in the desert under these particular circumstances for close to a century and was visited only by wild beasts and another elderly monk named Anthony, who is also believed to be the founder of the Egyptian monastic movement per the account of our second early Christian writer, Athanasius. Athanasius tells us that Anthony was born on the shore of the Nile in a small village. He was the son of wealthy parents who raised him in the Coptic Church, which brought oppression from both Greeks and Romans. Anthony inherited his parents’ wealth upon their deaths while he was still fairly young, and he intended to live out the rest of his life by means of that inheritance, which would also allow him to care for his younger sister. But a reading of one of the Good News books during church service changed his life. It was taken from Matthew 19:21, where Yeshua tells a rich young man to go and sell his possessions, give to the poor, and he would have treasure in heaven.Anthony took this to heart and did what was intended for the rich young man in Yeshua’s day. He then entrusted his sister to the care of virgins of the church and headed off to the desert to live life as a monk. But we are told that, during his first few years in the desert, he learned the ways of monastic life at the feet of an old man who lived nearby, which proves he was not the founder of monasticism, nor the first to become a Christian anchorite.We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.Christians in the early centuries of the church’s existence tended to look to fairly recent writings embodied in the works of the emissaries, and even ancient Israelite writings that formed the Scriptures, to shape their Christian thinking. Mainly, they would simply try to emulate what they read in those works. This was true of non-canonical writings as well, such as those found in what is now known as the apocrypha. While historians have trouble pinpointing where monasticism got its start, or who spearheaded the movement, there is an important clue as to what passage of writing influenced the creation of the movement itself. And, as with many of the major early developments in Christendom—corrupted though they be—monasticism also seems to have an Israelite origin.Well preceding all of the monastic events left to us in history, there is a specific account that sheds light on the inspiration for monks fleeing to the desert to find spiritual solitude. This account is found in the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees, which highlights important events that took place in Judah during Greek occupation in the second century BCE. It all started with the reign of an evil Greek king named Antiochus Epiphanes, who marched on Jerusalem with a strong force and stripped the temple of all its precious items. Years later, a division of his Greek army which was sent to the Judean cities to collect tribute massacred many Israelites and took woman and children prisoners. They plundered the city, set many homes ablaze, and laid siege to the city of David.They polluted the sanctuary and established immoral people in the temple. Finally, Antiochus Epiphanes ordered everyone in his realm to worship according to pagan Gentile customs. For Judahites, this meant sacrificing unclean animals to the deities, ceasing the practice of circumcision, and doing away with the Law of Yah and changing the regulations, among many other abominations. Any who refused to do these things would be killed. Many Judahites yielded and defiled themselves to save their lives, but not all did so.[27] Then Mattathias shouted loudly in the town, “Everyone who is zealous for the Law and supports the covenant should come with me!” [28] So he and his sons fled to the hills and left behind all that they had in the town.[29] At that time, many who sought righteousness and justice went to live in the desert. [30] They were there with their sons, their wives, and their livestock because troubles pressed heavily on them. [31] The king’s officers and the troops in Jerusalem, David’s City, learned that those who had rejected the king’s command had gone down to hiding places in the wilderness. [32] Many pursued and overtook them. The king’s military forces camped opposite them and prepared for battle against them on the Sabbath. [33] They said to them: “Enough of this! Come out and do what the king commands, and you will live.”[34] But the Israelites replied: “We won’t come out, and we won’t do what the king commands and so violate the Sabbath.”—1 Maccabees 2:27 – 34Those Israelites, having left all their possessions in the town and fleeing to the desert for the sake of righteousness, would be considered monastic in the eyes of the sixth-century church. And the drastic actions of those Israelites were followed almost exactly by ancient monks who, as early as the third century CE, fled to the desert for similar reasons: to escape Roman persecution and oppression, or else to seek a greater level of spirituality.The Judahites of the account in 1 Maccabees would be considered cenobites as opposed to anchorites, however, in that they formed a community in the desert. The term cenobite derives from two Greek words that together mean “community life,” and while not its founder, the person responsible for organizing and helping to develop that form of monasticism in the Christian era, during the time of the anchorite, Anthony, is known to history. Professor Philip Daileader has more to say on this subject.“Some of those who followed Anthony, however, and admired him, did develop a more monastic lifestyle in which those who lived an ascetic life lived in a community and encouraged one another. And, the individual who is responsible for gathering followers of Anthony into a community is an Egyptian by the name of Pachomius, who dies in 346. Pachomius and those who lived with Pachomius engaged in collective activities together. They would gather several times a day to pray and then retreat to individual caves for their own devotions. And Pachomius becomes the leader of these individuals; he maintains discipline among them, and they, the followers, accept his judgments.“Pachomius himself regarded the collective lifestyle in which ascetics would gather for prayer several times a day and then retreat to their own caves as merely a preparatory stage; it was a training ground or bootcamp for the ultimate challenge, which was to follow Anthony into the desert and which was to live by yourself. But some of Pachomius’s followers regarded the collective life in the desert as sufficiently challenging as an end in and of itself rather than as a means to an end. And so communal living became relatively commonplace among the ascetics of Egypt during the fourth century.“During the course of that century, the individual elements of what we would later regard as monasticism fall into place. You see, for example, the building of individual houses for all of the monks to live in together rather than simply gathering from various parts at certain times of the day. You see the term abbot (abba, ‘father’) applied to the head of the monastery as the abbot assumes responsibility for supervising the various monks. And you see perhaps most importantly the emergence of written rules, guidelines, by which the monks are expected to abide.”These written rules began to emerge just after the time of Pachomius himself, as Jerome, after penning The Life of Paul the Hermit, also translated Pachomius’s Rule into Latin, which had wide appeal in the Western church, given Jerome’s popularity at the time. Jerome became a monk as well, though a rare scholarly one for that era, and his influence and intellectual stature attracted many in the church to the idea of monasticism. But Jerome’s translation based on Pachomius’s Rule was superseded by the work of another Christian writer. Of him, Professor Daileader says:“A bishop in the eastern half of the Roman Empire named Basil of Caesarea, who dies in 379, composes probably the first written rule for monks. And living according to a written rule or a regula becomes one of the defining characteristics of the medieval monk. In fact, monks are sometimes referred to as the ‘regular’ clergy, because they live according to a regula, or a rule, and this differentiates them from the ‘secular’ clergy, the priests and the bishops, those who live in the world and do not have to live according to a specific written rule.”Overshadowing even Basil of Caesarea was yet another writer of monastic rules, Benedict of Nursia. Author Stephen J. Davis tells us in his book, Monasticism: A Very Short Introduction, that:“In the West, the most well-known and influential of these early Christian monastic rules was the Rule of St Benedict, written in 6th-century Italy. By trying to avoid or moderate certain harsher ascetic practices, Benedict was seeking to distinguish his system from earlier competing models. That is to say, he was founding his own ‘school,’ where the primary ritualized curriculum was … (opus Dei)—a protocol of worship that served to punctuate both the day and the night with designated hours of prayer and ‘sacred reading’ (lectio divina).“Benedict’s ‘school’ proved to be extraordinarily successful. Originally instituted at Monte Cassino south of Rome, his rule quickly became the prevailing model and guide for cenobitic monasticism throughout early medieval Europe. In the 7th and 8th centuries, use of Benedict’s Rule spread to France, England, and Germany. In the early 9th century, his namesake, Benedict of Aniane, was appointed arch-abbot of all the monasteries in the territories ruled by the Emperor Charlemagne. This latter-day Benedict compiled the Codex Regularum, a compendium of rules incorporating and highlighting the original Rules of St Benedict but mandating somewhat stricter standards of behavior (yet another subtle gesture of ritualized differentiation). But it was in the 11th century that the Benedictine movement reached its pinnacle at Cluny and its ‘daughter houses’ in eastern France. The reforms instituted at Cluny de-emphasized the importance of manual labor for monks. Instead, such labor was assigned to an expanded cadre of servants, and the monks dedicated themselves primarily to the precise details of liturgical performance. In this context, the Divine Office (officium divinum) at Cluny became grander and more elaborate, with the use of golden vessels and utensils, the addition of extra hymns and songs to the Virgin and the angels, and increased attention to the veneration of the saints and their relics.”Stephen J. Davis also tells us of the influence monasticism had on the development of architectural planning concerning schools and hospitals, which were based on monastic cloisters or monasteries, and infirmaries.“Monastic scriptoria and libraries played a foundational role for the development of medieval and modern universities (the architectural plans of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge are modelled after cloisters), and monastic infirmaries played an equally instrumental role for the development of hospitals.”Essentially, the monastic movement evolved over time, and it helped shape the societies of both the eastern and western halves of the empire in different ways. What began as a movement that highlighted the solitude of early anchorites grew to accommodate large communities of monks, some with hundreds of members. Monasticism went from frowning on books and learning to being steered by scholars like Jerome, Augustine, and Basil. It began as a lay movement that stood in contrast to the organized church, yet was later embraced by bishops, and eventually set the standard for all bishops. Author Kevin Madigan adds to this equation by stating:“Particularly significant was the way in which ascetic norms and attitudes entered the cultural bloodstream of the West, how monastic ideals came to be embraced by those outside the walls of the proliferating monasteries. The values of the desert came to be established in the city, as the distinction between those two geographical and cultural realms began to blur. Present in the city, monks influenced and inspired laymen and women. Bishops, many of them once monks, encouraged monastic reading practices in their dioceses, such as reading and meditating on the Bible. A way of life based on withdrawal moved to the city; the periphery and center collapsed into one. Ascetical ideals came increasingly to be appropriated not only by lay Christians, but also by priests and bishops. The walls that separated the lives of monks, the secular clergy, and the laity slowly crumbled. By the late sixth century, a new age had dawned.”That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: monastic, anchorite, abbot, abbess, laity, friar, ascetic, Athanasius, Coptic church, 1 Maccabees, Mattathias, Antiochus Epiphanes, coenobitical, cenobite, Pachomius, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. 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24 Nov 2019

Rank #6

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Conquest and Conversion

With monasticism firmly established, the church sets about converting the pagan territories of the Picts and Scots in Scotland, the Angles and Saxons in England and other tribes in western Europe. Also, the barbarian Franks rise to fulfill a key prophecy. Meanwhile, the three horns that are plucked up in Daniel chapter 7 are made known, that being three barbarian tribes which successfully establish kingdoms that are eventually uprooted.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 11: Conquest and ConversionWith monasticism firmly established, monks would act as the agents of Christianity, spreading the message of the church to distant lands and effectively converting many to the religion. Ireland was instrumental in converting neighboring Britain, for instance. An Irish monk named Columba established a chain of monasteries that crossed the sea. Three of his most famous ones existed in Derry, Darrow, and Iona, an island off the southwest coast of Scotland that became the center of Columba’s missionary efforts. Iona was also the central base from which Celtic Christianity spread to Scotland and northern England. Another Irish monk named Columbanus established monasteries in eastern France and northern Italy, and he evangelized the barbarous Suevi who were settled around Lake Constance. In his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, historian Thomas Cahill says of the Irish monk:“Any question of Columbanus’s balance is swept away when you take a serious look at his achievements: at his death in 615 he left behind a considerable body of work—letters and sermons … instructions for the brethren; poems and lyrics, including a jolly boat song; and the even larger legacy of his continental monasteries, busily engaged in reintroducing classical learning to the European mainland. At this great distance in time, we can no longer be sure exactly how many monasteries were founded in Columbanus’s name during his lifetime and after his death. But the number, stretching across vast territories that would become in time the countries of France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, cannot be less than sixty and may be more than a hundred…. He had been on the continent for just twenty-five years.”Public penance, which was quite shaming (and which we covered in episode 5) would give way to a private penitential system of discipline throughout the European continent after Columbanus brought Irish books that demonstrated this new private form of penance. This is also around the time confessions began to be made in private to a priest, who would determine what action needed to be taken on the part of the penitent—this could range from a simple reading of the Psalms, to taking a pilgrimage, paying a monetary sum, or even self-flogging. This new system was developed in Irish and Welsh monasteries during the fifth and sixth centuries. In episode 9 of this podcast series, we mentioned that many monasteries in Ireland were later accessed for their stores of knowledge and literature following the destruction of such literature due to the barbarian invasion of the Western Roman Empire. Irish books like the ones Columbanus brought along were highly valued, therefore, but toting such books had become something of Irish tradition.“Wherever they went, the Irish brought with them their books…”Writes Thomas Cahill.“… many unseen in Europe for centuries and tied to their waists as signs of triumph, just as Irish heroes had once tied to their waists their enemies’ heads. Wherever they went they brought their love of learning and their skills in bookmaking. In the bays and valleys of their exile, they reestablished literacy and breathed new life into the exhausted literary culture of Europe. And that is how the Irish saved civilization.”That civilization truly did need saving following the barbarian invasions. With the coming of the Germanic tribes, centuries of history and development had been thrown into chaos, and cherished knowledge was lost. This is the point at which prophecy truly begins to unfold in clear and dramatic fashion as well. In episode 9, we discussed the rise of the Germanic Vandals, from which the term vandalism derives, based on their senseless destruction as seen in the 455 sacking of Rome. Their king, Geiseric, as we have shown, led them to a successful invasion of North Africa in 429, with Carthage eventually acting as their headquarters. Thus, Geiseric was among the first of the new barbarian kings, but neither he nor the Vandals were one of the three horns to be rooted up in Daniel’s prophecy, as some contemporary Christians believe.Now, while the Western Roman Empire effectively collapsed in 476,“The empire did not disappear in the fifth century.”Writes Richard Fletcher, in his book, The Conversion of Europe.“It is true that there was no emperor in the west after 476, but no one at the time could have guessed that this was more than a temporary hiatus. Authority reverted, at least in theory, to the emperor in Constantinople, where the Roman empire would survive for another millennium. But the western provinces did effectively come under new masters. They arrived by a variety of means. Whenever and wherever possible, the imperial government tried to control, or at least to influence and shape, the process of arrival.”This is important to note because the prophecy contained in Daniel chapter 7 focuses on horns that arose within an established kingdom, and those horns did not form a new kingdom by supplanting the old, as had been seen with the succession of nations from Babylon to Rome. Rome itself, that fourth terrible beast, never really fell; its western half was merely taken over by barbarian rulers who formed subsidiary kingdoms and thereby redrew the map of Europe.The number 10 is also representative of Yah’s complete order, it doesn’t mean that the ten horns represent just ten actual barbarian kingdoms. That number reflects the completeness of the barbarian takeover of the Western Rome Empire that came as a judgment. But the three horns that were plucked up by the roots in Daniel 7:8 did represent three individual barbarian kingdoms that were established by three barbarian rulers or tribes, but they were established over a specific territory, which many fail to see. And, as we will show, all three uprooted horns, or kings and their kingdoms, are in fact barbarian non-Romans.In episode 9, we also made mention of the last Roman emperor in the west under the old order, Romulus Augustulus (or Little Augustus) being deposed by a Germanic commander named Odovacar. This occurred in the year 476, which marked the end of the western empire in its ancient imperial form. With this, the central base of power in the empire shifted back to Constantinople in the east, also known as Byzantium. Odovacar was a barbarian mercenary hired by the father of Romulus Augustus to aid him in seizing the western throne from the current weak emperor. But Odovacar turned on his employers and, at the head of his barbarian mercenaries, marched for Ravenna to seize a western Roman throne for himself. He became king of Italy and thereafter ruled as a client of the emperor Zeno in Constantinople. He is the first barbarian non-Roman king to rule Italy, thus he is also the first of the three horns to be plucked up in Daniel 7.As the newly minted king of Italy, Odovacar soon ignored the authority of the eastern emperor and did as he pleased. The very next year of his reign, 477, Odovacar confronted the rival Vandals and conquered Sicily, which had been in their possession under Geiseric. Emperor Zeno saw these ambitions as a dangerous threat to his supremacy, and when another barbarian power, the Ostrogoths, moved toward Constantinople threatening invasion, Zeno saw an opportunity. Thus, he turned to that tribe, led by a barbarian named Theodoric, to deal with Odovacar.Professor Thomas F. X. Noble picks up our historical thread.“At the same time in 476, and for a few years after this, the eastern court simply hadn’t the means, it hadn’t the possibility of doing anything about what had happened in Italy. Now the Ostrogoths present them with a fine opportunity. Here you’ve got these Goths, who have been in various relations with the Romans for a long time, Theodoric, moreover, amongst those contending factions of Goths, Theodoric’s faction had actually won out. “Theodoric had spent about ten years in Constantinople as a hostage, he knew the players, they knew him, he spoke Greek, he was fairly well-educated. So, an opportunity was presented to the emperor Zeno, and then to his successor Anastasius, to use the Goths to displace Odovacer in Italy to be able to restore some kind of imperial authority in Italy, and at the same time, to get this potentially threatening group of people out of the Balkans and into the west. So, from various points of view, at Constantinople, this looked like a good deal. Theodoric entered Italy in 489. It took him about four years of fairly hard struggle to gain the upper hand.”In his book, Heart of Europe, Peter H. Wilson adds:“Byzantium was obliged to secure Rome by relying on the Ostrogoths, another tribe displaced by the Huns’ eruption into central Europe in the fifth century. Following established practice, Byzantium offered status and legitimacy in return for political subordination and military service. The Ostrogoth leader, Theodoric, had been raised in Constantinople and combined Romanized culture with the Gothic warrior ethos. Having defeated Odovacar, he was recognized as ruler of Italy by Byzantium in 497.” With Odovacar defeated and his followers crushed, he becomes the first of the three horns to be rooted up to make room for the coming papal power, per the prophecy in the book of Daniel.[8] “Just as I was thinking about these horns, a smaller horn appeared, and three of the other horns were pulled up by the roots to make room for it….”—Daniel 7:8And Theodoric, by displacing Odovacar, became yet another barbarian to gain a throne in the empire of the fourth beast, but only the second to rule Italy, thus, he and the Ostrogoths are the second of three horns that will be rooted up to make room for the growing papal power that would rule from the same territory. However, concerning the Ostrogothic Italian kingdom and the ruling power in the east,“Cooperation broke down during the reign of Emperor Justinian, who capitalized on his temporary reconquest of north Africa to try to assert more direct control over Italy.”Writes Peter H. Wilson.“The resulting Gothic War (535 – 562) saw the eventual defeat of the Ostrogoths and the establishment of a permanent Byzantine presence in Italy.”Here, the Ostrogoths are officially plucked up, leaving one more horn to be established in Italy and plucked up as well, but Byzantium, or Constantinople, which took control of the territory, does not count, since it is essentially a major component of the fourth beast itself. Of Justinian’s new governmental structure, Peter H. Wilson goes on to say,“Known as the Exarchate, this had its political and military base at Ravenna in the north, with the rest of the peninsula divided into provinces, each under a military commander called a dux—the origins of both the word ‘duke’ and the title duce taken by Benito Mussolini.“Success proved temporary as the Lombards, another Gothic tribe that had served as Byzantine auxiliaries in the recent war, launched their own invasion of Italy in 568. Unlike Odovacar’s Goths, they failed to take Rome, or the new Byzantine outpost at Ravenna, but nonetheless established their own kingdom based initially in Milan, and then Pavia from 616. Italy was now split in three. The invaders’ new kingdom of Langobardia extended along the Po valley, giving that region its modern name of Lombardy. Lombard kings exercised only loose control over southern Italy, which was largely organized as the separate Lombard duchy of Benevento. The remainder was known as the Romagna, or ‘Roman’ territory belonging to Byzantium, and surviving today as the name of the region around Ravenna.”With this, the Lombards became the third horn that would be plucked up, being the third and final non-Catholic barbarian tribe to establish a kingdom in Italy, the territory of the growing papal power that would become “the little horn” of Daniel 7.We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.In Daniel 7:24, an interpretation is given concerning the three horns being uprooted. First, we are told that ten kings truly would arise in this fourth beast kingdom, which resulted, as we have already shown, in the various barbarian kingdoms that were raised up to judge the Roman Empire. Then the verse goes on to say that after (achar in Aramaic, word H311), after these kingdoms are established, then another little horn would arise, being different from the first three horns, or kings. And those three kings will be shaphel, word H8214, cast down or brought low, in the sense of being humbled. Some Scripture translations use words that do not bear this out. Shaphel, as used in Daniel 7:24 is an Aramaic word whose origin is found at H8213, shaphel, an ancient Hebrew root meaning humility; to become (or be brought) low.  This means that the little horn power does not in fact subdue or destroy the three horns, or barbarian kingdoms, itself, through the use of its own power, as some have stated. According to the same verse, the little horn would not come to power until after those kings. What shaphel indicates is a humbling, in other words, not destructive power on the part of the little horn, even though destructive power is used to remove them, as seen in Daniel 7:8, with the violent uprooting carried out by others. The humbling comes in the sense that the three horns lose their seats of power to another horn that would retain that power in their stead.Yeshua illustrated something along this line in a parable he spoke in the hearing of a group of lawyers and Pharisees one Sabbath.[7] Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, [8] “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, [9] and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.”—Luke 14:7 – 9Odovacar and his followers were forcibly put down by the Ostrogoths, at the urging of the eastern Roman emperor Zeno, and the Ostrogoths took their place as the rulers of Italy. Some years later, the new Roman emperor in the east, Justinian, waged war on the Ostrogoths and forcibly put them down, but the Lombards swept in and established a third barbarian kingdom in Italy. “During Justinian’s reconquest of Italy …”Writes Kevin Madigan.“… Lombards served as mercenaries in the eastern Roman army. In 568, they invaded Italy. By 572 they had subdued the entire Po Valley. Soon most of the peninsula, excepting Venice, Ravenna, Rome, and other coastal areas, fell under Lombard domination. For a time, it seemed as if all Italy might fall. But in 774, the Lombards faced and were destroyed by the most powerful of the Germanic kingdoms, that of the Franks.”The Franks, having converted to Catholicism, defended Papal possessions by destroying this final kingdom, paving the way for the Papacy to rise. Three non-Roman, non-Catholic horns that occupied the peninsula, from which the Roman popes would rule, had to be removed, and this in fulfillment of prophecy. But for the church, the path to securing the allegiance of the Franks was a long one.Gregory of Tours, a bishop born to an elite family in Clermont in central Gaul, is the chronicler who recorded the history left to us of the Frankish kingdom. When they first marched on the frontiers of the Roman Empire as part of the prophesied barbarian invasions, the Franks were not baptized Christians. They were a collection of independent tribes that eventually split into two distinct coalitions, a western and an eastern branch. The western coalition, known as the Salian Franks, occupied the lower Rhine region, spreading across parts of Gaul and Germany. They became allies of Rome during the reign of Julian the Apostate (who we discussed in episode 7) and were charged with defending and securing the frontier on which they lived. In fact, since the third century that very region was named for them, being called “Francia,” or land of the Franks.Early on, the Salian Franks, having been afforded recognition by the emperor, enjoyed good relations with the Romans, and some of them were granted high positions in the Roman administration. In the year 451, an alliance was formed with the Romans when the Salian Franks were called in to help defend the empire against an invasion of the Huns led by Attila.“After the costly defeat of Attila …” Writes Susan Wise Bauer.“… the Salian Franks had straggled back westward to their lands west of the Rhine. The battle with the Huns had weakened them; but now they regathered their strength.“The semi-legendary Merovech died, probably around 457, and was succeeded as chief of the Salian Franks by his son Childeric. But although Childeric claimed the title ‘King of the Franks’ and established his court at the northern city of Cambrai, he was merely one chief among many. The other Frankish tribes still kept their independence, even while acknowledging the long-haired Salians as leaders of the coalition. There were minor Frankish kings scattered across the landscape, and Roman kings too; after the Romans had given up full control of Gaul, renegade Roman warleaders had set up their own little domains in the land north of the Loire.“Childeric was forced to battle against these rival kings, against Odovacer of Italy, against Alemanni invaders to the east, and against Saxon pirates sailing into the Loire. When he died in 481, he was merely chief of the Salians despite his royal title.“But he was succeeded by his fifteen-year-old son, Clovis.”Clovis would prove to be a key figure in the annals of medieval history. By age twenty, he became a capable leader, and he moved to expand the territory of the Franks by attacking a Roman kingdom nearby whose land he annexed. This was but the first of many victories to come. In ten years, he would add to his territory lands from the rival Thuringii, Burgundians, and Alemanni. Many tribal leaders began to look to Clovis as a central authority. He was wise to align himself with his rivals through a marriage contract as well by taking the daughter of a Burgundian king. His wife, a Germanic princess named Clothilda, was Catholic, having been raised thus after her people were converted through the work of Christian missionaries.It would be Clothilda who would attempt to convert her husband to the Catholic religion. Initially, her efforts, and the efforts of her fellow Catholics, were resisted by Clovis. But her insistence that he consider worshipping the deity the Christians served, for the sake of military victory, struck home during one decisive battle against the Alemanni. On the strength of this, Clovis made a kind of pact with the being to whom the Christians devoted themselves and was …“… catechized secretly by Remigius, bishop of Reims.”Writes Kevin Madigan.“Finally, at a gathering of his warriors, Clovis persuaded them to convert; more than three thousand are said to have done so between 496 and 506.“This was a momentous development. The man who now controlled most of central and northern Gaul and who ruled the only stable kingdom in the center of western Europe had linked destinies with Catholic Christianity. A single, militarily powerful kingdom now had a Catholic ruler, soon recognized by the eastern emperors as consul. In their eyes, the kingdom of the Franks (regnum Francorum) continued the presence of Roman authority and tradition.”This would ultimately lead to a marriage between the Franks and the Catholic church, and that marriage would result in mutual power and status for both parties. The Franks would secure the place of the Papacy and essentially be the main vehicle used to fulfill the prophecy found in the book of Daniel. Emperor Justinian had been instrumental in regaining some control of the Italian peninsula, but his victory was reversed when the last exarch of Ravenna was killed by the Lombards. The Duchy of Rome was thereafter cut off from the Byzantine Empire and the popes were left vulnerable. They turned to the Franks for defense.On the other hand, when Clovis became king and ruled over a unified Frankish kingdom, he needed something that would bind that union. This is the very problem that a certain Roman emperor had.“For Gregory, Clovis is the Frankish Constantine. And Clovis was indeed following Constantine’s lead.”Writes Susan Wise Bauer.“Like Alaric’s Goths, the Franks were a confederacy, not a nation: they were held together by custom, by geography, and by necessity. They had lived within Roman boundaries for over a century, and their adoption of Roman practices … was the strongest bond holding them together.“But the Roman empire had crumbled in the west, and the bond of Romanness was crumbling with it. Like Constantine, Clovis saw that a stronger bond was needed to hold his people together (and to allow him to claim the right of kingship over them all). Christianity would serve as the new glue of the Frankish nation.”While the three horns or barbarian tribes had stormed into the realm and conquered Italy, seizing Roman territory for themselves, the Franks acted on behalf of the popes on that very peninsula by annihilating the final horn that remained a viable threat to them: the Lombards.“The marriage of the Kingdom of the Franks and the Catholic Church was arranged by necessity.”Writes Kevin Madigan.“Both sides needed something from the other. The Franks needed a rightful, indeed sacred, authority as respected and prominent as the bishop of Rome to recognize their legitimacy as kings of the Frankish realm. The Church needed a defender and a force capable of returning lands taken from it, unjustly by its lights, by the Lombards.”As far as I have seen over the years, no other set of historical events so neatly and harmoniously unfold to fulfill the three-horn prophecy contained in Daniel 7:8 and 7:24.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: Columba, Columbanus, Derry, Darrow, Iona, Celtic Christianity, penance, Theodoric, Zeno, Anastasius, Ravenna, Lombards, Ostrogoths, three horns plucked up by the roots, Daniel 7 8, Daniel 7 24, three horns, little horn, Clovis, Clothilda, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


8 Dec 2019

Rank #7

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Christian Independence

Theodosius attempts to stamp out the remnants of the Arian movement from his realm, but not before it spreads to Rome’s fiercest enemies. Paganism, on the other hand, is outlawed, and eradicated from the realm, leading to the further rise of the Christian movement. Bishop Ambrose of Milan exercises his new authority while building the church into a political and legal institution, adding to its ecclesiastical strength.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 7: Christian IndependenceDoctrinal disputes created deep divisions in the ancient catholic church, which often led to violence, like the Arianism problem seen at the end of our last podcast. Beginning with Constantine’s reign, these disputes forced the intervention of the sitting emperor, and all groups and parties in dispute sought the aid of the Roman government, which they hoped would crush the opposition. Constantine attempted to settle the Arian dispute by summoning an ecclesiastical council over which he presided. This idea would fruition into the sixth-century situation of the Byzantine emperor being seen as both king and priest, caesar and pope.  On the path to this kind of supreme power, the men who succeeded Constantine had to destroy two important elements that threatened the dominance of the church: Arianism and the paganism of the Roman aristocracy. The Arian adherents were too unified and too strong to be crushed by orthodox Christians without the aid of the emperor, so the leading orthodox bishops pleaded with the Roman state to step in on their behalf. Arianism had spread far and wide, and it had gathered such strength and force that Constantine was baptized by an Arian bishop on his deathbed. Even his sons who sat the throne after him sympathized with the Arian movement. By the middle of the fourth century, the opposition against Arianism was halted by powerful rulers who also sympathized with the cause. But two decades later, the emperors who assumed power would begin to favor the side of the orthodox church and reject Arianism.When Theodosius ruled, he made sweeping changes that would stamp out the Arian problem in much of the realm, but not before great damage was done. Theodosius was an orthodox emperor who condemned the Arian movement and sought to destroy any trace of it from the eastern half of the empire, which was his domain. This was also the half where Arianism thrived. Before he could fully suppress the movement by passing laws forbidding Arians to meet, Arianism spread to the empire’s fiercest enemies. In his book, Medieval Christianty, Kevin Madigan writes:“. . . Europe, no longer an empire but an aggregation of smaller kingdoms, now was home to practitioners of Germanic religions, to Catholic Christians, and to baptized Germans who practiced a form of Christianity that was regarded as dangerously heretical by Catholic Christians. . . .“Born of a Cappadocian Christian family that had been captured by the Goths, Ulfilas was fluent not only in Greek and Latin but in Gothic as well. Consecrated bishop around 340 by Eusebius of Nicomedia, an Arian who was then bishop of Constantinople, Ulfilas laid the foundation by which the Goths later became Arian Christians and Gothic became a written language based on Greek. Aside from preaching an Arian creed, he translated the New Testament into Gothic. In this way, his Arian style of Christianity passed from the Goths to other Germanic tribes and moved back into the western empire when the German tribes crossed the old frontiers, established kingdoms, and began to settle. “The western Goths, or Visigoths, terrified of the Huns (who were migrating westward from Central Asia), already occupied the banks of the Danube late in the third century, when Dacia was given to them by the Romans. . . . In a conflict over land and food, they defeated the Romans at Adrianople. Emperor Theodosius I thereafter recognized them as Roman allies and confirmed them in their possessions along the Danube.”Christianity’s second great enemy, Roman paganism, saw a slight resurgence when Julian the Apostate, a nephew of Constantine, ascended the throne in 361. After rising to power, Emperor Julian—who was raised a Christian, but secretly embraced paganism—openly expressed his favor of the polytheistic religion and set about reversing the Christian policies put in place by Constantine and his successors. Julian was educated in Neoplatonism and was a great admirer of Greco-Roman culture. He sought to elevate classical paganism to a higher level of sophistication and made it a priority to restore the pagan Roman temples that had been abandoned by the masses who flocked to more alluring mystery religions.Paganism was dealt a near lethal blow when Julian’s efforts were halted during a battle against the Persians.“. . . Julian launched a Persian campaign.”Writes Susan Wise Bauer, in The History of the Medieval World.“In 363, he marched east with eighty-five thousand men. . . . One June day, during yet another Persian ambush, Julian was struck by a Persian spear that lodged in his lower abdomen. He was carried back to camp, where he slowly bled to death: one of only three Roman emperors to fall in battle against a foreign enemy.”The other two were Valerian and Decius. Following Julian’s death, all emperors who rose to power after him, in both the east and the west, were thereafter Christian. But while the emperors who immediately succeeded Julian embraced Christianity, they did little to oppose paganism. It wasn’t until the last two decades of the fourth century that the church experienced vindication by gaining the support of emperors who would suppress and eventually crush paganism entirely. Gratian, an emperor of the west who ruled from 375 – 383, separated paganism from the Roman state and excluded the age-old title, Pontifex Maximus from the list of those usually associated with the emperor. No longer was a Roman emperor high priest of the Roman cult.Gratian also ordered the pagan Altar of Victory removed from the curia, the principal meeting place of the Roman Senate in the Forum Romanum, ending centuries of dearly held tradition within the highest ranks of the state. The removal of the pagan altar led to a debate between a man named Symmachus, leader of the pagan elites, and Bishop Ambrose of Milan. Symmachus argued that all roads led to the Creator, therefore the pagan Roman religion should be left alone. Ambrose argued that Christianity was the one true religion and all others were to be destroyed. Co-Emperor Theodosius, who would later gain control of both the eastern and western halves of the empire, sided with the orthodox bishop and thereafter made the practice of the ancient rites of paganism—both in public and in private—illegal throughout the entire realm.This new legislation, which devasted the pagan aristocracy, caused a remnant of them to rally around a Roman general who promised to restore paganism if his usurpation succeeded. The general and his army managed to take control of Rome, but Theodosius annihilated them in a final battle in 394. A year later, Theodosius would be dead, but his sons, who succeeded him as emperors in the east and the west, passed additional anti-pagan laws, and many pagan temples and sanctuaries were destroyed. Thus ended the freedom of religion in ancient Rome.Following the events of 394, Christianity enjoyed greater privileges and saw its catholic clergy placed in equal standing with the realm’s most celebrated pagan priests. Toward the end of the fourth century, the privileges extended to the church by the orthodox emperors included the fiscal as well as the judicial variety, since the church was elevated above the common law of the empire, and was thus a state within a state. The church was in effect able to establish its own law which it steered by internal tribunals. This became canon law. Sentences passed on individuals through the realm’s imperial tribunals could be bypassed by bishops who chose to exercise the church’s right of sanctuary.The ordinary law courts of the Roman state relinquished judicial control over the church, so its clergy was exempted from its strictures. Through the acts of the late-fourth century Roman emperors—Theodosius in particular—the ancient catholic church, for the first time in history, was fully independent of the Roman state’s imperial jurisdiction. This was all necessary in order for the church to fulfill the prophecies that pointed to its unrivaled strength, which it would later amass on its course to achieving full power.With its newly held status as a state within a state, the church—especially in the western half of the empire—was now in a good position to withstand the prophesied invasion of the barbarians in the fifth century, which devastated the imperial Roman state and reduced the words “Roman emperor” to that of a hollow title, devoid of any power. By the time of Theodosius’s reign, the barbarians already had a foothold in the realm, but Theodosius managed to appease and pacify them, keeping them at bay. Theodosius’s successors, on the other hand, who lacked his competence, only managed to enrage their Germanic enemies. The result was that:“[I]n 406 the Rhenish frontiers gave way, and many tribes burst across.” Writes Norman F. Cantor, in his book, The Civilization of the Middle Ages.“There was officially a western Roman empire until 476, but the last emperors had no influence on the course of events. They had even abandoned Rome for Ravenna in the early fifth century. This left the Eternal City open to the invaders, and the bishop of Rome emerged as the leader, taking the place of the absent emperor.“As the Roman state disintegrated in the fifth century, the attention of men in the West came more and more to be directed to the only institution that could provide some unity and leadership to religion and education—the bishopric of Rome, the acknowledged leader of the Christian church in the West.”The course of history was undergoing irreversible changes in this period. While Diocletian had divided the realm into east and west, Constantine, upholding this division, enacted policies that freed the church from the grip of the state, ending its persecution and imbuing it with certain freedoms and privileges. Theodosius I, the last of what is considered the great emperors, did more by destroying Christianity’s main rivals, and establishing the Christian movement as the state religion. After him, there would be no other single ruler over the entire realm, nor would the administrative aspect of the empire be reunited under one emperor.In August of 410, Alaric, an Arian leader of the Visigoths, sacked Rome, the former capital of the empire, which sent shockwaves throughout the realm. The barbarians would become a permanent fixture in western civilization. Seeing the precarious nature of this situation, Pope Leo I, the first of the popes to assert any real influence, negotiated with barbarian kings who had invaded Italy. In 452 he requested that the city of Rome be spared by the invading Huns. In Mysteries of the Middle Ages, Thomas Cahill writes:“The pope and his brother bishops, all public men in their classical mode, moved quickly and deftly to secure the peace of their increasingly fractured realms (and, in the process, to aggrandize themselves). By the early fifth century, the barbarian hordes were pouring into Italy from the north and east, attracted mightily by settled farmlands and sweet vineyards. By mid-century, one massive influx—the Huns under Attila—looked to march on Rome, now a defenseless former capital. Pope Leo the Great, a bishop of massive dignity, intelligence, and purpose, traveled north to Mantua and met with Attila. The pope used every trick he had—from eloquent words to elegant panoply to a tangible aura of spiritual authority—and so impressed the Hun that he agreed to desist. It was an encounter of mythological proportions and would bolster the reputation of Rome’s bishop for centuries to come. The pope could not be withstood, not even by an unbaptized savage.”In 455, Pope Leo again negotiated with the invading Vandals. Here we see the pope replacing the emperor as defender of the realm. It was Pope Leo I, bishop of Rome from 440 – 461, who established the foundation for the supremacy of the papal office, which would begin to reach its height under the eleventh-century popes. The Petrine doctrine, which was formulated by Pope Leo, is based on the words Yeshua spoke to Peter in Matthew 16:15 – 19. Leo’s interpretation of this exchange asserts that Yeshua intended for Peter’s supposed successors to share in his power, each being given the keys of the Kingdom, as it were. The bishop of Rome, who ruled over a city where Peter is believed to have been a missionary, and was supposedly martyred, was to be the head of the entire church, being invested with absolute authority over matters of faith and morality. The Roman pope was to be seen as Yeshua’s vicar, or substitute on earth. Again, this would not begin to be fully realized until late in the eleventh century, as the early popes failed to assert any kind of influence associated with the prestige of the papal office, aside from Leo himself.We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.To be clear, the Christian independence that was realized in the late fourth and early fifth century was not extended to individuals within the institution. That independence was reserved for the leadership—bishops sitting atop the very apex. Individual conscience was under the direct control of the church hierarchy, which was just as authoritarian as the Roman state itself. The church and the state, at this time, operated in different arenas, and one did not yet absorb the other. Morals and affairs of religion were the business of bishops, not the emperor. But this was mainly true in the west, as the eastern half of the realm, centered in Constantinople, made no such distinction.It was Ambrose, bishop of Milan, and his colleagues, who gave the church most of its structure after imperial policies were passed in its favor. It was they who developed the church into a political and legal institution complete with bureaucracy, like any sovereign government. The bishops believed that as the emperor had the charge of maintaining order within his vast realm, so too did the church leadership have the charge of maintaining the morality of the Christian body while shaping overall Christian theology. And this could be achieved through force where reasoning alone failed.Because the church and the state were still separate and distinct in the west, tensions would mount and inevitable clashes of authority were certain. Those clashes were often centered on control of the minds of the people—and it was people who overlapped the jurisdiction of both institutions. This clash of authority could be seen early in the age of church independence, while Theodosius I was still emperor. He had ordered Bishop Ambrose to see that a synagogue was rebuilt, after a horde of angry Christians burned it to the ground. While Theodosius was an orthodox Christian and no sympathizer of those who held to religions outside of his own, he felt this incident fell within his jurisdiction of maintaining order. Bishop Ambrose disagreed, claiming that it was instead a civil matter that was to be handled by the church. Ambrose easily won that contest, and Christian money, as he had argued, was not used to rebuild a Judahite synagogue. Another incident brought the powers of state and church into further conflict following the murder of imperial officials at the hands of Roman citizens and Theodosius’s brutal response. A governor, who had been drinking at a tavern in Pannonia suffered a drunken experience that left a popular charioteer in prison. The charioteer was set to compete the next day, but the governor refused to release him, so his fans rioted and stormed the governor’s headquarters. The governor and other officials were killed.When Theodosius heard of the matter, he immediately retaliated by having all involved in the riot, executed. The result was a massacre of some six to seven thousand citizens of Thessalonica. Theodosius put the matter behind him, but when he attempted to enter a church in Milan, Ambrose, the bishop of that important city, refused him. Theodosius was a baptized Christian, so, despite being emperor, he was subject to church discipline in matters of morality.Since it was understood that the emperor had overstepped his bounds, Ambrose excommunicated him, barring Theodosius from receiving the cherished sacraments as punishment for his crime. In a bizarre twist, the emperor actually yielded, humbling himself before the church by begging Ambrose to pardon him. The bishop did, and Theodosius was reinstated.Of this, Susan Wise Bauer writes:“The Christian historians who recorded this merely say that Theodosius then confessed his sin, did penance, and was restored. But what passes almost as a footnote is the fact that it took Theodosius eight months to do so. Standing on the steps and looking at Ambrose’s unyielding face, Theodosius must have realized that his decrees were having an unintended consequence. The single, catholic church held his empire together because it was greater than the state, greater than any national loyalty, greater than any single man. It was greater than the emperor.”Turning once more to Norman F. Cantor, he writes that:“Ambrose became the dominant force within the Christian church in the crucial decades of the 370s and 380s. Naturally, he brought the attitudes of a Roman official to the church and to society. With his bureaucratic cast of mind, he played a large role in moving the church toward a legalistic style of ecclesiastical life and toward the establishment of canon law as a system based on punishment, duty, office, and obligation. He was deeply concerned with obedience, believing that the role of the bishop was like that of a Roman governor. Bishops had already begun to depart from their early role as pious wise men—the spontaneous leaders of the Christian flock—and Ambrose crystallized the new concept that bishops were authoritarian figures quite separate from ordinary laypeople. A bishop dictates, decrees, and pronounces edicts, and the ordinary Christian is more apt to fear than to love him.”With Ambrose wielding such power and influence at this early stage, we see the beginnings of a state church slowly taking shape. Ambrose only achieved the success he did because a large Christian population supported him; and counted among those Christians were emperors. In this way, Ambrose, having their ear, was able to influence state policy. This is why pagan opposition could be removed by Theodosius, and why Gratian, the young emperor susceptible to Ambrose’s control, could be moved to have the pagan altar of Victory withdrawn from the Senate.Ambrose’s influence reached beyond emperors, however. While he presented the theory of the church existing as both a civil and ecclesiastical power, he proved, through his actions, that the church was in fact above the state in many matters, and this would pave the way for the state church that would emerge much later.That said, the eastern half of the empire was structured quite differently from its western counterpart.“Following Constantine’s example . . .”Writes John M. Riddle:“. . . the emperors maintained that they were responsible for the church’s unity, and, in most cases, that also meant giving approval for appointments to ecclesiastical offices. The emperor appointed the patriarch in Constantinople, generally considered the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Patriarch means “rule of the father,” similar to the late Latin vernacular word papa, for “father” (in English, “pope”), for the head of the Roman Church. In theory, only one “catholic” or “universal” church existed, but by the late fourth century, the eastern and western churches were separating into the Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches over different theological interpretations and the inability of the emperor in Constantinople to determine the religious status of the pope residing in Rome.”East and west, therefore, became more and more distinct over time, though there was still one Roman empire. In both halves of that empire two separate churches had begun to amass power, being led by a pope—in the case of the western church centered in Rome—or a patriarch—in the case of the eastern church centered in Constantinople. This division speaks to the prophecy found in the book of Daniel, chapter 2 in particular, where Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a statue whose various parts represent succeeding empires that would dominate the known world and control the fate of Yah’s chosen people, Israel. Rome, unlike all the other empires before it, would usurp the message of Yah’s people, and assume their role in dispensing that message to the world—albeit in a corrupted form. In that chapter, the prophet Daniel told the king:[31] “ ‘You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. [32] The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, [33] its legs of iron. . . .’ ”—Daniel 2:31 – 33In verse 38 of Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar was told that he was the head of gold, meaning Babylon was the first kingdom in succession within the prophetic dream. We all have one head on our bodies, signifying that Babylon would be one kingdom with one ruler. But the next kingdom is associated with a chest and arms. Arms signify that the kingdom would have two regions of control, and we learn that the next empire is formed by a combination of Media and Persia.[28] “. . . your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”—Daniel 5:28We have already shown that the Greek empire was the third succeeding Kingdom in the very first podcast of this series. And while Greece, which is represented at first by the middle or lower torso of the statue—signifying one united empire with one emperor—that kingdom is also pictured as including the thigh region, which indicates a connection to the next kingdom in line. This speaks to the Greco-Roman culture and language adopted by Rome, the statue’s “legs of iron.” Rome is seen as long legs, signifying not only its impressive span of uninterrupted rule, but also the important eventual, and permanent, division of the empire into east and west, as we see with Rome and Constantinople. This was true of the imperial administration, as well as the later ecclesiastical one, when the Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches emerged as controlling forces within the empire.Those two churches, however, which comprised one Roman empire, would go from being legs of iron, to feet of iron and clay, meaning that their iron rule would be dampened by outside forces, like the Arab invasion, the rise of independent European states, and the emergence of yet other powerful nations far west, in the new world. Those nations would share the power once wielded solely by the church, signified by the feet of iron and clay in Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. The king’s dream, and the representation of that great statue, of course reaches down to our time, and many who live now will witness the culmination of Daniel’s prophetic interpretation.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: Ulfilas, Goths, Visigoths, Adrianople, Gratian, Symmachus, Daniel 2 31-33, Daniel 5 28, Nebuchadnezzar, legs of iron, feet of iron and clay, prophetic dream, eschatology, end times, Eastern Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church, east and west, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


8 Sep 2019

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Enemy Emperors

A succession of intolerant emperors inflicts severe punishment on obstinate Christians who refuse to serve the Roman deities, culminating in the harshest of all persecutions of the first four centuries—that under Diocletian. The empire itself, meanwhile, faces near collapse under the weight of economic crises, internal political conflicts, civil war, and invasion from confederate barbarians pouring in from beyond the Rhine and the Danube.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 5: Enemy EmperorsFrom the years 96 to 251 CE—between the reigns of Domitian and Decius—Christianity had been viewed as a religion separate from Hebraism, Messianic or otherwise. And because of this, together with the fact that it wasn’t based on ethnicity, the church had no right to Roman protection. It was therefore subject to sporadic, mostly localized persecutions that were based on Trajan’s policy, which was still in effect by the third century. But persecution increased under certain intolerant emperors, such as Marcus Aurelius and Septimius Severus. New policies aimed at Christians were also added by Emperors Septimius Severus and Decius, which had grave consequences for the church.When Septimius Severus reigned as emperor early in the third century, he managed to end the civil wars that weakened the empire, though ruling the vast domain that now made up his dominion was no easy task. Beyond the borders of the realm, stretching past the Rhine and Danube were the “barbarians,” always ready to seize any opportunity to attack the Romans. Inside the realm, other problems persisted, which stemmed from dissident groups with other ideas on policy. And there was always the threat that a legion might split off, name its own emperor, and launch a new civil war.With a decline in the empire’s strength, and faced with such internal problems and external threats, Septimius Severus decided to implement a new policy. He sought harmony among the many religions that had crept into the realm, so he promoted syncretism, which would combine the various beliefs and practices of all religions in the empire. This syncretism, however, would be centered on the worship of Sol Invictus, or “the Unconquered Sun.” This meant that everyone was free to worship whatever deity they choose, in whatever manner they choose, so long as they acknowledged that the Sun was ruler over all of them.Not long after this policy was enforced did two groups immediately resist its adoption: the remaining Israelites and the Christians. Both had steadily gained converts to their particular movements over the years, thus the emperor decided to halt their spread by outlawing new conversions to either, under penalty of death. The result of this targeted policy was a round of new persecutions, this time aimed at new converts and their teachers. The very year that the edict was issued, 202 CE, the church father Irenaeus died—some believe by martyrdom—and Origen’s father Leonides was killed in Alexandria. It is also the year that Clement fled from Alexandria to escape the same persecution.After Septimius Severus, other emperors came and went, and his policy was not generally enforced, thus persecutions on a broad scale abated for a time. The mother of one succeeding emperor, Alexander Severus—who was very tolerant of Christians—even went to hear Origen speak. But by the year 249, Emperor Decius, bent on restoring the ancient glory of Rome, donned the royal purple. His was a very different rule from that of his predecessors. The empire he inherited had abandoned its most ancient traditions, as he saw it, and economic problems plagued the realm. The “barbarians” beyond the borders, meanwhile, were steadily growing bolder as they became a greater threat. Philip Daileader, Associate Professor of History at the College of William and Mary, gives us a unique perspective on Rome’s vulnerability to invasion:“The Roman Empire faced pressure on most of its widely extended borders during the course of the third century. The most serious dangers came from two regions, however. At the far eastern end of the Roman Empire, around Syria and Palestine and Mesopotamia, the Persian Empire was attacking the Roman Empire and trying to recover lands that had once been possessions of the Persian Empire. In Central Europe, along the Rhine/Danube frontier, the Roman Empire also faced pressure—albeit pressure of a somewhat different sort. In Central Europe, Germanic tribes were trying to enter the Roman Empire by crossing the Rhine river and, especially, the Danube river, and trying to settle within the Roman Empire. Unlike the Persians who were looking to make permanent annexations and gain Roman territory, the Germans were not trying to take over anything; they were simply trying to become residents of the Roman empire, but the Romans did not want them there, at least not in the numbers in which the barbarians presented themselves during the third century. And the Roman Empire had a very difficult time trying to deal with the simultaneous threat of Persian and Germanic invasion.”Decius saw all these problems as an outgrowth of national rebellion against the Roman deities, which the citizens of the realm had abandoned. A resurgence of the ancient Roman religion, and unified worship of the deities, would perhaps appease them, and cause the glory of Rome to be restored. Such was the reasoning that led to Decius’s particular religious policy, which differed altogether from any that came before it. Decius wasn’t interested in punishing a particular religious group for what they believed or practiced; his was an empire-wide campaign to see that everyone in the realm would serve the deities according to the ancient pagan religion. The future of the Roman empire itself, in Decius’s view, hinged on the enforcement of his policy. With that, persecutions would take on an entirely new form, with the empire effectively declaring war on the ancient catholic church.Gone were the sporadic, local persecutions of the old days. Decius intended to persecute subjects in every corner of the realm who refused his order to sacrifice to the deities by burning incense, pouring a libation, or tasting of the sacrificial meat. Those who abided by the policy and performed these rites would receive certificates, or libellum, attesting that they had sacrificed to the deities. With this, Decius’s persecutions were unlike those that flowed from the emperors before him. He wasn’t out to make martyrs of Christians, he would instead create Christian apostates, by forcing them to accept his religion and abandon their own.Since there had been a period of abatement of prolonged persecutions prior to Decius’s reign, the generation of those who had been martyred gave way to a new generation of Christians unaccustomed to witnessing fellow believers being killed for their faith. This meant that many Christians fell under the pressure of Decius’s campaign, obeying the command to sacrifice to pagan deities. Other fearful Christians purchased fake certificates declaring that they had performed the sacrifices, when they had done no such thing.Beyond that, as part of Decius’s policy, which sought to enforce the worship of the pagan deities, rather than exact death as a first order of business, the number of Christians who died as martyrs were few. The task of the Roman authorities was to arrest Christians (who were the most obstinate among the empire’s citizens), threaten and torture them, and force them to abandon the Christian movement. Late in life, Origen was imprisoned and suffered this kind of torture, which was the fate of many Christians at the time. As proof of how widespread and systematic was the enforcement of Decius’s policy, certificates verifying the performance of sacrifices to the deities have been discovered in some of the most remote parts of the Roman Empire.Because few martyrdoms resulted from Decius’s persecution, rather than consider all who endured it “martyrs,” the term “confessor” went into official use and bore new significance as part of the Christian vocabulary to denote those who resisted but lived. Decius’s persecution, while brief, lasting only to 251, was still devastating. Gallus, the emperor who succeeded him, set aside his policy and persecutions ceased for another six years, until Valerian took the throne. He was once a companion of Decius and brought on a new round of persecutions before being captured by the Persians and taken prisoner. For the next forty years, Christians would enjoy relative peace. But prior to that time, the restless barbarians were continually amassing strength.In his book, The Conversion of Europe, Richard Fletcher elaborates on those developments:“Crippled by instability, civil war, fiscal chaos—and, just to make matters worse, by intermittent outbreaks of bubonic plague—the empire was in no position to defend its frontiers. From 224 onwards the new Persian dynasty of the Sassanids constituted a well-organized and hostile presence to the east, bent upon regaining the Syrian territories which Persian kings of old had ruled. For the Roman empire, the most humiliating moment of this time of troubles occurred in 260 when the Emperor Valerian was captured by the Persians. The Germanic tribes of the Goths, settled at this period on the northern shores of the Black Sea in today’s Ukraine, took to the sea to strike deep into Asia Minor. By land, they pressed hard on the Danube frontier, launching raids into the Balkans and Greece. The Emperor Decius was defeated and killed by them in Thrace in the year 251. Along the Rhine frontier new Germanic confederations, those of the Alamans and of the Franks, took shape. In 257 they broke into Gaul to plunder it at will. Some of them even penetrated as far as northeastern Spain, where they sacked the city of Tarraco (Tarragona). Berbers along the Saharan fringes attacked the long, thin, vulnerable littoral of Roman north Africa. In far-flung Britain the construction of coastal defenses witnessed to new enemies from overseas—Saxons from Germany and Scots from Ireland. One of the most telling signs of the times was the building of town walls throughout the western provinces of Gaul, Spain, and Britain, furnishing defenses for settlements which had never needed them before.”Following Decius’s reign, the church was faced with a new problem: what to do about those who had “lapsed” in their Christian faith by bowing to the pressures of the persecution. What complicated the decision was that not all Christians had lapsed in the same way. Some immediately offered sacrifices to the Roman deities the minute they were told to, not considering their faith at all. It was agreed that they could not be viewed in the same light as the Christians who purchased fake certificates to prove that they had sacrificed but really had not, or others who weakened momentarily but repented and sought to rejoin the church while the persecution still raged.Those who were newly minted as “confessors” enjoyed the same privileges as presbyters in the church and were given the authority to forgive sins. This is because they were believed to have received a special portion of the Set Apart Spirit after they refused to give in to their persecutors. So, the confessors were thought to be the ones with the authority to decide on the fate of the lapsed, such as who should be restored to communion status within the church. You see, communion, or what they refer to as the eucharist (Greek for “thankfulness” or “thanksgiving”) was among the most important celebrations to Christians of this era. It meant that you were still a member of the Kingdom of Heaven in the eyes of the church leaders. To be denied the weekly elements of bread and wine meant certain spiritual death and damnation. And that bread and wine, through the supposed miracle of transubstantiation, was believed to literally transform into the body and blood of the Messiah after being blessed.In North Africa, some confessors stepped forward and claimed the authority to decide on the fate of the lapsed. Thereafter, they began restoring some to communion status by dispensing letters of pardon. Many bishops opposed this action and claimed that only the church hierarchy was vested with the authority to decide on such matters, and they alone could restore the lapsed in a just manner. Others thought that both the confessors and bishops were lax in allowing those who had become apostates such easy reinstatement. This crisis led to schisms of the churches in Carthage and Rome. Decisions on the fate of those who had been immersed but had fallen away, would continue to plague and divide the church. The system of penance grew from crises of the lapsed, and the Protestant Reformation itself was a massive protest against that very system.To give you an idea of what the system of penance would grow to become in the time of the ancient church, we turn to Richard Fletcher once more, who writes:“The penitential discipline of the early church as administered by, let us say, Gregory of Pontus was of an exceptional harshness. Its characteristics were as follows. It could be administered only by a bishop, and it could be undergone by the penitent only once in a lifetime. It was public and it was shaming. The penitent sinner formally entered an ‘order of penitents’ in a ceremony which took place before the entire congregation of his or her Christian community. Penitents were thereafter segregated into a special part of the church building for future services, where they had to listen to the communal intercessions for them of their neighbors. The penitent had to observe lifelong chastity thereafter and was debarred from ever holding any public office: a seventh-century king of Spain who underwent penance had to abdicate. Penance thereby aimed mortal blows at family and civil life. The penitent became in effect a nonperson.”We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.In the year 284, a new emperor would enter the imperial palace and, before the end of his reign, order the most vicious persecution of Christians to date. Roughly thirty emperors sat the throne in the third century, and the Roman senate took the business of electing Caesars more lightly than in times past. Kinship meant hardly anything as well, since being a close relation to a recent Caesar probably meant that you would be assassinated if a rival ascended the throne, which was not unheard of. In one account of life in the time of Diocletian, the book, 20 Centuries of Christianity, by authors Paul Hutchinson and Winfred Garrison, tells us that,“Chaos and anarchy spread throughout the empire. The slaying of one Caesar was a signal to Roman troops somewhere to acclaim a new ruler. Sometimes the Praetorian Guards stationed in Rome itself made the choice; sometimes it came from the armies on the frontiers. As the third century drew toward its close, most thoughtful Romans were in despair. They saw the empire on a swift slide into ruin and the once proud civilization about to plunge into a barbarian sea.”And into that sea the empire did plunge, and it did see ruin, but not until the fifth century. In fact, Diocletian, despite his ill repute, managed to turn the empire around, and in effect revive it. Turning once more to Professor Philip Daileader, he says that:“During this period, the Roman Empire was reeling from a series of political and military and economic crises, and indeed became very close to collapse. It probably should have fallen at this point in time. However, a Roman Emperor, by the name of Diocletian, was going to stave off collapse by a few centuries, and despite his intense conservatism, and his love of Roman tradition, Diocletian was going to reshape the Roman Empire and to make it a far more openly autocratic state than it had been previously.”With that, Diocletian altered the basis for imperial rule and reorganized the entire empire in order to strengthen it.Diocletian was born to slaves in Dalmatia, a Roman province in Illyricum, or what is now the western portion of the Balkan peninsula north of Greece. After setting his mind on the Roman army, he enjoyed a successful military career and rose to become commander of the army before reaching the age of forty. An election held by certain generals and officers proclaimed Diocletian emperor following the murder of the previous emperor. Diocletian quickly, and brutally, dispatched a rival for the throne in the presence of the tribunal of the Senate, and then he made his first order of business securing the Roman borders, setting off a series of battles that drove back the barbarians. He even recaptured territory from distant Britain and Persia, and civil wars were also repressed within the realm.To militate against any future threats of invasion, Diocletian, switching modes from able general to shrewd statesman, implemented a plan to divide the realm.“Known for his administrative skill, Diocletian divided the empire bureaucratically into West and East, with an emperor (or Augustus) and vice-emperor (Caesar) for each vast region.”—Kevin Madigan, Medieval ChristianityPrior to this division, a single emperor governed, and succession ordinarily passed from father to son, though that rule had been violated on numerous occasions. Frequent civil wars were produced by power-hungry generals who, with the backing of their armies, fought to secure the throne. Diocletian’s plan was to establish a more orderly means of succession to the throne, which would begin with top military commanders, who would be succeeded by the Caesars they choose. By dividing the empire into two bureaucratic halves, with two administrative divisions in each, the idea was that ambitious generals could enjoy supreme rule without launching civil wars to attain it. Also, the realm would be protected by invested leaders enthroned in various quarters.A man named Galerius was named one of the two Caesars, and he ruled the prefecture of Illyricum. Of the four emperors, Galerius saw the greatest military action along the borders, fending off barbarians and Persians alike. Because several Roman soldiers within the legions were confessed Christians, this created a degree of friction. Many of them refused to obey orders and some tried to leave the army. Other Christians refused to join. Galerius developed a disdain for them and took the matter to Diocletian in an attempt to convince him to expel them all. Diocletian’s edict did just that, but some officers refused to lose soldiers within the ranks. They tried to force some Christian soldiers to deny their faith rather than face expulsion, and this resulted in the execution of various Christians in the army stationed at the Danube, which was under Galerius’s command.Following this event, Galerius grew all the more determined to push for a new edict, according to the Christian historian Eusebius. Not only was a new edict issued, but it was followed by three others. With that, Diocletian would declare another veritable, but more decisive war on Christians. “It was he who launched the fiercest, longest, and most systematic purge of the Christians, traditionally called ‘the Great Persecution,’ ” . . . Says Kevin Madigan. “Persuaded that the Christians were the cause of bad omens and also to blame for a deteriorating economy, the emperor issued a series of edicts. . . .”The first of these edicts ordered that all palace and military officials perform sacrifices to the deities to prove their faithfulness to the empire. Christians were therefore weeded out and removed from high office.“. . . [H]e then decided to ‘terminate’ the Christian community for its refusal to participate. In November 303, Roman soldiers destroyed and looted a church in Nicomedia . . .” And they proceeded to burn all the Scriptures they could find.“Soon an edict was published requiring the destruction of all churches and sacred scriptures. In response, Christians in the East revolted and burned some imperial buildings. Diocletian retaliated by burning almost three hundred Christians in Nicomedia. Another edict was issued: all higher clergy were to be imprisoned, but a third edict allowed them reprieve on the condition that they would sacrifice. A fourth edict raised the stakes by requiring all to sacrifice. The penalty was hard labor or death. This time, thousands, not hundreds, were tortured, mutilated, enslaved, incarcerated, or put to death.”The persecution, which was not that brutal in the beginning, became systematic and cruel in nature. Diocletian, who primarily governed the prefecture of Oriens from its capital, Nicomedia, took his government reforms seriously and decided to step down as Augustus. He convinced Maximian, the Augustus who ruled the prefecture of Italy from its capital, Milan, to step down as well. That allowed the two Caesars, Galerius and Constantius Chlorus, who governed the prefectures of Illyricum and Gaul, respectively, to assume the top two positions in the realm, becoming the new Augusti. Two new Caesars were chosen: a man named Severus was given control of Italy and another named Maximinus Daia controlled Oriens. Persecutions resumed in the east, with Maximinus Daia resorting to capital punishment to enforce the original edicts. Civil war erupted in the west instead. Maximian, the Augustus who abdicated the throne in Milan, supported his son Maxentius in an overthrow of the new Caesar, Severus, who now ruled the prefecture of Italy. Severus soon committed suicide, and Galerius, who had rushed to aid his Caesar, was forced to retreat to the east as Maxentius secured his rule in Italy. Constantius Chlorus, the ruler of Illyricum, died in the interim. His loyal troops refused to yield to the supremacy of Galerius, so they proclaimed Constantius Chlorus’s son, Constantine, their new Augustus. A man named Licinius, who allied himself with Constantine, gained control of the east.And . . .“In the end, the persecution failed.”. . . Says Kevin Madigan.“By the fourth century, many Christians had non-Christian friends or relatives who were disgusted by their torture or death. Western officials were notably reluctant to carry out the harsh decrees mandating death, willing only to comply with the edicts demanding the burning of scriptures. In the East, suffering was more severe. We have the names of about one hundred martyrs who died in Palestine alone; there must have been more. Still, the Roman state could not carry out a mass extermination of Christians, as there was far too much social resistance. In addition, the numbers of Christians had grown to the point where attempted liquidation would have been futile.”When Constantine and Maxentius assumed power, neither kept up the persecutions, which were credited to Galerius, their mutual rival. At last, Galerius himself grew ill and, as the story goes, he issued a final edict on April 30, 311, but one of toleration this time around. Perhaps believing that his illness was in fact some punishment being meted out for his vicious treatment of the Christians, he finally pardons them, and, to the astonishment of not a few, asks them to pray to their deity for him, and “for the public good.” Thus ended the most brutal persecution in the time of the ancient church.The Christians who survived the persecutions were released from their prisons, signs of torture marking them. But all were thankful to be alive. Galerius met his demise five days later. The Roman Empire was now divided between four principals: Licinius, Maximinus Daia, Constantine, and Maxentius. The first three named among these rulers recognized one another as legitimate leaders, but the fourth, Maxentius, was viewed as a usurper. Of the four, Maximinus Daia was the sole ruler to resume the persecution of Christians that Galerius had overturned with his final edict. Nonetheless, the winds of change were already stirring, and Constantine was about to embark on a campaign of war that would end persecutions outright, and alter the political landscape of Europe and the Near East. In the end, he would sit as the sole and supreme ruler of a Christian empire.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: Domitian, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Decius, Gallus, Varian, Diocletian, Constantine, sol Invictus, libellum, persecution, confessor, martyr, Dalmatia, Illyricum, Galerius, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


11 Aug 2019

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Gregory the Great

During Justinian’s Gothic War, a future pope is born, Gregory the Great, who would lay the foundation for the Papal States as well as the civil authority to govern both them and western Europe. Gregory, through his mission of monks sent abroad, was also instrumental in establishing Christian traditions that are infused with barbarian heathenism, such as Halloween, Easter, and Christmas, to which he turned a blind eye.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 14: Gregory the GreatDuring the time of the Gothic War in Italy, a future pope would be born. The land was being ravaged by opposing forces, but this future pope was a child of wealth, born in Rome, the ancient city now stripped of its glory. His name was Gregory, and …“He was born around 540 into an aristocratic family.”Says Thomas F. Madden, professor of medieval history at Saint Louis University.“And he had an excellent classical education, and then eventually took a civil position in the government. But at the age of 35 he gave it all up and retreated into a monastery, which was essentially, this monastery was his family house in Rome. He and a bunch of like-minded companions went into the monastery, or to the house, to pray.”Gregory had become a monk, and he established seven monasteries based on the pattern of Monte Cassino which was founded by Benedict of Nursia, who we covered in episode 10. Gregory even turned his father’s palace (which he inherited) into a monastery that was named for a supposed saint, Andrew. Shortly after turning to monastic life, the pope, Benedict I (a different Benedict) made Gregory a deacon, or member of his administrative council. By 579, Pope Benedict would be dead, and the next pope, Pelagius II, would elevate Gregory yet more, appointing him as ambassador to the court in Constantinople.He served as ambassador from 579 to 586, during which he witnessed many theological conflicts and political schemes that often filled the imperial city. Pelagius appointed another ambassador to Constantinople in 586, so Gregory was able to return to Rome, and to his quiet life as a monk, wherein he was made abbot of his monastery. But soon, the city was suffering new crises. Another plague was sweeping through Rome, leaving many dead in its wake, and the Tiber river burst over the walls of the city and flooded the streets.Pope Pelagius, aided by Gregory and other monks, saw to the burial of the dead and the feeding of the hungry. Pelagius even managed the organization of city sanitation during this time, but the plague eventually clung to him as well, taking his life. None seemed to want the office of pope during this bitter time, but the clergy, as well as the people of Rome, longed for a new pope. Gregory was content with monastic life, but he was elected, and so the matter went all the way to Constantinople, as was the proper channel at the time. Of this, Professor Philip Daileader says:“Around 550, or, in other words, during the period when the Byzantines are wresting control of Rome from the Ostrogoths, it appears that Byzantine emperors assumed a power that had been held by local secular authorities in Italy before them: the right to veto consecrations. The way it worked was that after election, the pope would have to notify either the Byzantine emperor, or a Byzantine official in Italy known as the exarch of Ravenna that you had been elected as pope. And then you had to await approval, from either a Byzantine official or from the emperor himself before you undergo consecration. If the exarch doesn’t want you to be pope, or if the emperor doesn’t want you to be pope, then you’re not supposed to be consecrated, and whoever elected you has to go back to the drawing board and pick someone else.”Gregory tried to have his election annulled by writing directly to the emperor in Constantinople requesting that he not be confirmed as bishop of Rome. But the letter was intercepted and so the confirmation went through, to the slight dismay of a reluctant Gregory. Regardless, he took on the office with great enthusiasm thereafter and set about continuing the distribution of food to the poor in Rome. He also oversaw the smooth delivery of wheat shipments from Sicily, and supervised the rebuilding of public works, like the ruined aqueducts on which the city depended. Rome’s defenses were also shored up on his watch, and the garrison was trained anew. With little to no help coming from Constantinople at this time, Gregory negotiated peace with the Lombards, who overran Italy’s north. This firmly established Pope Gregory as the ruler of Rome and its surrounding region, which was later called the patrimony of Peter, based on a counterfeit eighth-century document …“… known as the Donation of Constantine …”Writes Thomas Cahill.“… in which the first Christian emperor had supposedly made donations of vast tracts of land in central Italy to the papacy and had awarded to the pope ‘the privileges of our supreme station as emperor and all the glory of our authority.’ ”But of course, again quoting from Cahill’s Mysteries of the Middle Ages …“… the so-called Donation of Constantine was a forgery, used by the papacy to prop up its legitimacy in Europe.”Not all the lands in the so-called patrimony of Peter were based on forgery, however, only those lands that were part of the Donation of Constantine. Other landed properties had been legitimately bequeathed to the Roman church by elite and wealthy Christian citizens. Those estates were scattered beyond Rome itself, and could be found throughout Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, and even parts of North Africa. When he needed a means to fund the expensive distribution of food to needy Roman citizens and thousands of hungry refugees from the north who had descended on Rome, Gregory looked to the lands within the patrimony. “For these purposes, Gregory possessed a pearl of great price, the so-called ‘Patrimony of St. Peter …’ ”Writes Kevin Madigan, in his book Medieval Christianity.“… organized by Gregory into what historians would eventually call ‘the Papal States.’ These were parcels of lands that the apostolic see had received as legacies from grateful and generous Christians over the first Christian centuries. They were, fortunately, scattered far and wide in the West; not only could they be found in central and southern Italy, as well as its offshore islands, but also in North Africa, Gaul, and the Balkans. The military consequence of this scattering was that it was unlikely in the extreme that they could be conquered simultaneously. Economically speaking, they generated substantial income and produce, which Gregory used for refugee aid and defense.”All of these lands and holdings of course made Gregory—and anyone who sat in the papal seat for that matter—the wealthiest Roman, partly through the collection of taxes on them. More than that, however, Gregory was also seen as Rome’s civil leader in a way. He acted as both ecclesiastical and secular head, in that he administered both Rome’s relief and defense in a time of crisis. But this was viewed by many as both his right and duty, since there was a clear vacuum of power at the time. Constantinople was of no help, and the exarch of Ravenna was now less powerful and less respected than Gregory himself. To create some sense of order he even appointed governors to various cities in Italy. Future medieval popes would follow in Gregory’s steps and seize this kind of civic authority for centuries to come, and that authority would expand to western Europe, well beyond what would become the Papal States.After Pope Gregory negotiated peace with the Lombards, which cost him five hundred pounds of gold from the church treasury to cause them to withdraw, the citizens were afforded some comfort. The plague had died away, the flooding had subsided, the poor were fed, and the territory secured. Nearly everyone, Roman prefects and officials included, looked to Gregory for guidance. He was lauded for saving Rome from Lombard pillaging and domination and was considered a capable leader. But in light of his invaluable administrative skills during times of crisis, he felt restricted to Rome. He wrote to a colleague, “I am now detained in the city of Rome, tied by the chains of this dignity.”In the year 596, a new exarch was appointed in Ravenna, and he signed his own peace treaty with the Lombards, allowing for even greater peace between the feared barbarians and those who inhabited Byzantine lands in Italy. Thus, Gregory was finally able to devote his attention to matters of his papal office. While Gregory was respected as a civil leader, he considered himself a religious leader above all, and he seized upon this personal view by his constant preaching in various established churches in Rome. He called on the laity to renew their faith, and he urged the clergy to practice celibacy, according to monastic beliefs. This was a practice that Augustine of Hippo promoted heavily, and being a theologian that Gregory greatly respected, it was not the only point of argument that he borrowed from Augustine. Of note, Gregory was the first monk to be made pope, and his devotion to monasticism led him to infuse the papacy with monastic practices and beliefs. In fact, as Professor Thomas F. Madden points out, when Gregory was elected pope …“… He brought his monastery with him into the papal residence.”Essentially, he also brought his monastic brothers along with him, even using his power and influence to elevate some to the priesthood and calling on others to lead missions abroad. One such important mission was the one sent to England.“He was also eager to see Christianity expand, or to be replaced into England.”Says Professor Thomas F. Madden.“When the Roman Empire was collapsing, and Roman troops had evacuated England, the new Germanic groups, the Anglo-Saxons, had come in—were pagans—and therefore, virtually all vestiges of Christianity had left. And so, in 596, he sent a mission there led by one of his fellow monks to Kent to evangelize. And it was a remarkably successful mission.”Well, it was eventually successful. This fellow monk was Augustine—not Augustine of Hippo who was long dead, and who was the subject of episode 8, but another Augustine. Professor Thomas F. Madden goes on to say:“During Gregory’s pontificate he was able to set up new metropolitan sees (archbishoprics) at the old Roman provincial capitals of Canterbury and York. And these archbishops received their pallium, which is the symbol of their office, directly from Gregory in Rome. And therefore, as the church grew, these direct connections between Rome and these far away dioceses would continue to be forged and to grow, and this is something we’ll see right up into the modern era.”It is apparent that Gregory did not recognize the missionary efforts of Irish monks who had labored in the same region to which he dispatched Augustine (later called Augustine of Canterbury) and the forty or so monks who accompanied him to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. While a few churches had been established in Britain, following the events of 476—which led to the fall of Rome—Britain was abandoned, and the remaining churches there were cut off from the Roman sphere of influence and support. Over a hundred years later, Roman missionaries were sent back to what were now Saxon kingdoms, created by the barbarian mercenaries the Romans appointed to defend the island in their absence. There were Saxons in Sussex, a kingdom in the southern part of England; there were Saxons in Wessex, the western kingdom; in fact, Angles, Saxons, and even Jutes were scattered all across the island.Expected to bring all these Anglo-Saxon barbarians into the Christian fold was the monk, Augustine, who was acquainted with Gregory through his former monastery. Augustine began his mission with a large company of monks and a good deal of supplies that were meant to last them a while, but we are told by the English monk, Bede, that when they reached the coast of the kingdom of the Franks, Augustine withered, “seized with craven terror.” Augustine returned to Rome that same year, 596, without success, and he asked Pope Gregory to allow him to abandon the mission. Of course, Gregory refused and sent him back to England with a letter exhorting him to: “Let neither the toil of the journey nor the tongues of evil-speaking men deter you.”We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.Following Pope Gregory’s exhortation, Susan Wise Bauer writes that “Augustine’s party took heart …”“… crossed the channel, and in early 597 landed on Thanet Island, a tiny isle just off the coast of Kent that fell under the rule of Kent’s king, Ethelbert.”Most likely, Augustine targeted Ethelbert from the beginning.“[H]is wife, Bertha, granddaughter of the Frankish king Chlothar I, was already a Christian. When Ethelbert heard of the party’s arrival, he sent a message telling the missionaries to stay put on the island until he could decide what to do with them. Finally, he decided to go and see them, rather than inviting them into his kingdom: he was suspicious, not knowing whether this was a political or spiritual mission. Talking to them, he was reassured and decided that they were harmless.…”After hearing all that Augustine had to say, the king replied:“ ‘I cannot forsake the beliefs I have observed, along with the whole English nation, but I will not harm you; and I do not forbid you to preach and convert as many as you can.’ Eventually Ethelbert did agree to be baptized.…”Toward the end of that year, Gregory wrote a letter to the bishop of Alexandria reporting of Augustine’s success. “For while the nation of the Angli, placed in a corner of the world, remained up to this time misbelieving in the worship of stocks and stones, a monk of my monastery … proceeded … to the end of the world to the aforesaid nation; and already letters having reached us telling us of his safety and his work…. [M]ore than ten thousand Angli are reported to have been baptized.”Gregory referred to the barbarian inhabitants of England as, Angli, or Angles, lumping them together with Saxons and Jutes. And England itself (Angle-land; “land of the Angles”) as well as the English language is also named for the Angli. But while the seemingly exaggerated figure of 10,000 Anglo-Saxons being baptized might be a stretch of the truth, what is evident is that the missionary efforts were an overall success for Rome. It also established a few things that would continue to develop according to Pope Gregory’s leading: the pope would be the principle party to initiate missionary efforts, which would see the Christianization of northern Europe in the centuries to come; and monks, who were never expected to do missionary or pastoral work would be the main drivers of these missionary efforts, moving according to the pope’s authority, and being guided by his counsel via correspondence.Seeing how successful Augustine’s missionary efforts had been, Gregory sent more missionaries, and, in time, Roman practices would dominate Anglo-Saxon society in England. But the leaven at the heart of Christianity did not diminish even during Gregory’s missions to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, for while the current tainted form of the Messianic belief spread among the barbarians, the heathen custom of the barbarians was also absorbed into the Christian movement.“By the standards of the day …”Writes Kevin Madigan.“… Gregory showed remarkable pastoral sensitivity to the Saxons and their native religious traditions, which he was, in the end, determined to eradicate. He urged his Italian monks not to destroy the Saxon temples but the idols in them.” Didn’t the Creator deal similarly with the Israelites in Egypt? was Gregory’s argument. The Anglo-Saxon temples, if well built, should instead be consecrated and converted to the worship of the Christian deity.“… [T]hey would more likely worship Him if they could ‘resort to the places to which they had been accustomed.’ There they would substitute solemnities like veneration of … martyrs in place of their diabolic practice of slaughtering oxen in pagan sacrifice. Gregory’s advice represents some of the earliest Christian thinking on how the newly converted would assimilate to a novel religious culture.…”This early Christian practice, which was greatly encouraged by Pope Gregory—as well as those who preceded and succeeded him—would see ancient pagan temples that were dedicated to the worship of Roman deities turned into Christian temples. Professor Thomas F.X. Noble of the University of Notre Dame expounds on this idea.“The basic Greek and Roman public building was the rectangular basilica. The word means ‘a royal hall,’ from the Greek basileus, the word for ‘king,’ or ‘ruler.’ The basilica had been used for all sorts of things: for temples, for law courts, for assembly halls, for grain storage; a basilica is a very useful building. The basilica sometimes had multiple aisles, occasionally had apses, an apse is a semicircular extension at one or both ends of the aisle of a church.“Numerous Christian churches adapted the basilican plan. In Rome for example, St. Peter, with its five aisles. Whereas the apse of a secular basilica might have held an imperial statue, and the apse of a temple a cult statue, in the Christian basilica, the apsidal region was given over to the altar and clergy. Whereas in a classical basilica, dignitaries might have made a long, solemn walk down the nave to meet with a ruler, in a Christian basilica, clergy and people processed down those naves to celebrate their liturgies and to bring forward their offerings.”The basilica is just one example of how the Roman Empire, and western Europe for that matter, was physically Christianized. But, as was pointed out, the Anglo-Saxons, being allowed to have their temples stand, and many of their abominable practices continue, in fact infused Christianity and the even wider secular world with their heathen customs. This is why we have Germanic deities as the names for some of the days of the week: Woden, Thor, and Frigga, for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We covered this topic in our documentary, Understanding the Sabbath. Upon Pope Gregory’s encouragement, certain Anglo-Saxon customs crept into the church over time, and the world at large now celebrates many of them, along with a spate of other Germanic and Celtic traditions. It all began with Augustine, the monk who was but a timid librarian, and his mission to England—ordered by Gregory—to convert the barbarians there. As was stated, Augustine initially did not want to go.“[H]e had every expectation that the savages would eat him when he arrived.”Writes Thomas Cahill in Mysteries of the Middle Ages.“Once he landed and was accepted by the English, however, he found himself raised to the office of bishop and soon began to administer his diocese of Canterbury with rigid Romanitas.” Because of his extreme partiality for Roman tradition, Gregory was forced to write letter after letter cautioning Augustine not to prefer Roman customs to English ones.“ ‘My brother, customs are not to be cherished for the sake of a place, but places are to be cherished for the sake of what is good about them.’ There was no need, advised Gregory, the practical Roman, to tear down the pagan temples—just remove the idols and replace them with decent Christian images. Nor was there any need to outlaw the old festivals or the customs that accompanied them. Just baptize them a bit.“By such encouragement were the customs of the northern barbarians allowed to enter the European mainstream. The masks and ghosts of Hallowe’en, the vernal and venereal tomfooleries of May Day, as well as the lustral bathings and lantern-hung forests of Midsummer Night, taken from the Celts; the toasted cheese, toasts of warm ale, and rich desserts of northern winters and the ritual of sweetening with pine branches the claustral air in houses sealed against the cold, taken from the Germanic tribes; the word Easter, originally the goddess of spring accompanied by her fertility symbols of rabbits and decorated eggs, taken from the Saxons; the word Yule and the burning Yule log, taken from the Vikings—these and a thousand other customs of the savage heathens (which men like Clement of Alexandria would only have looked down their noses at) rolled into the former empire and were christened and absorbed. For this we have Gregory and many of his now nameless brother bishops to thank.”Gregory—later designated “the Great”—was known for many things, and among these were his prolific writings, which were influential in the Middle Ages. He was not concerned with being original or creative, however, he merely sought to reiterate and substantiate many of the positions of church fathers before him, particularly Augustine of Hippo, who he admired most. Gregory was a disciple of Augustine in a way, and taught what Augustine had already taught, only Gregory made doctrine what Augustine had not intended to be taken beyond the level of mere speculation. A case in point would be the place of purification Augustine had suggested, by way of conjecture, might exist for those who died in sin, where they would stay for a time before being made worthy enough to head off to heaven. Both men misinterpreted Scripture in believing the dead go to heaven at death, but the place of purgatory went from being speculation on the part of Augustine, to certainty on the part of Gregory. Gregory’s insistence on such a place being in existence led to the doctrine of purgatory. Gregory also pushed Augustine’s views on the eucharist farther by teaching that the Catholic mass or communion saw the Messiah sacrificed anew each time it was celebrated. This became a standard doctrine of the Western church thereafter, but it was later rejected by Protestants in the sixteenth century. To many, Gregory portrayed himself as a man not given to pomp. In monkish fashion he fasted often, so much that it weakened his body and many times left him confined to bed. In 601 he wrote to a friend saying, “For a long time I have been unable to rise from my bed. I am tormented by the pains of gout; a kind of fire seems to pervade my whole body; to live is pain; and I look forward to death as the only remedy.” Neither did he appear to be in favor of grandiose titles. In his book, A History of the Middle Ages: 300 to 1500, John M. Riddle writes:“[Gregory] asserted not only the pope’s supremacy over the western church but also, much to the consternation of the Byzantine patriarch, the eastern churches as well. Once in correspondence, when Gregory received a letter from the patriarch addressed with a long list of superlative titles including ‘Bishop of Bishops,’ Gregory replied by referring to himself as the ‘Servant of the Servants of [the deity, meaning Yah],’ now a title used by all popes.”The “Servant of the Servants of [Yah].” It sounds humble on the face of it, till one considers where Gregory was coming from. Yeshua, in Luke 9:48, established the order of greatness in the Kingdom, stating that he who is least will actually be the greatest. By this account, we see that Gregory, and every pope who succeeded him, expected to be the greatest in the Kingdom by using this lowly title.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: monte cassino, papal states, patrimony of peter, peter’s patrimony, donation of Constantine, exarch of Ravenna, churchianity, Anglo-Saxons, Saxon kingdoms, Angli, Angle-land, Englaland, Jutes, Ethelbert, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


19 Jan 2020

Rank #10

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The Barbarian Element

Christianity’s development beyond the borders of the Roman Empire was also significant, showing the thorough spread of the spiritual leaven. East, west, and even north, to the lands of Persia, India, Mesopotamia, and the barbarian regions beyond the Rhine and Danube, one form of Christianity or another took root. And, finally, Christian barbarians, of the Arian persuasion, having amassed great numbers and strength, invaded the empire.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 9: The Barbarian ElementFor eight podcasts, our history has focused on the origin and development of Christianity within the borders of the Roman Empire, for it was in fact born within that empire, as a direct result of the Messianic Israelites who were under Roman rule, and from whom early Christians borrowed heavily. Catholics, Protestants, and even Eastern Orthodox Christians all have the Roman Empire in common when it comes to tracing their early Christian heritage, which sits a tainted mess. But facets of Christianity, some considered heretical, developed beyond the borders of the Roman empire as well. Prior to the invasion of the so-called “barbarians,” Christianity was already being accepted by Germanic peoples to the north. And to the east, where Syriac was predominantly spoken, the expansion of Christianity continued, well outside the empire. Syriac was the language of trade and international commerce, a language akin to Aramaic. The Israelites of the diaspora, as we pointed out in our very first podcast in this series, had lost their ancient Hebrew language, and the Hebrew Scriptures that were read in Synagogues could only be understood by a scant few. Before Christianity emerged, Israelites had already ceased speaking Hebrew by and large, and thus the need for Aramaic translations of both the Scriptures and written forms of oral traditions, such as those embodied in the Targums, became a priority. Just as the Septuagint benefited Greek-speaking Christians in the east, Aramaic translations of portions of Scripture found their way into the hands of Christians in that region who spoke Aramaic. Later, the Scriptures would be translated directly into Syriac to accommodate the many Christians in the east who existed beyond the reach of Rome.Notably, the Mesopotamian city-state of Edessa, located in what is now southeastern Turkey, embraced Christianity early on, albeit a Manichaean-influenced version. Tall tales and invented legends concerning the spread of Christianity to that city persist to this day, with the core of the tale being that Yeshua himself corresponded with the city’s king, Abgar V, before the emissary Thomas was allegedly dispatched to convert the nobility.In his book, Pagans and Christians, Robin Lane Fox writes concerning this:“A king’s Christianity deserved a noble ancestry, so the Edessans invented one. Perhaps we can also pin down their emphasis on ‘Judas Thomas,’ the city’s supposed evangelist. We have learned recently that the heretical prophet Mani corresponded with the people of Edessa in the mid-third century and sent them his ‘apostle’ Addai, also called ‘Thomas,’ as the preacher of his new missionary gospel.”Also, east of the Roman Empire, Armenia embraced Christianity prior to Constantine’s conversion, and the Armenians produced a version of Scripture in their language. They were instrumental in spreading Christianity to the kingdom of Georgia as well. The spread of Christianity even penetrated Persia at an early date, and history shows that it was present in India as early as the second century. The Christian teacher Pantaenus, who taught the church father Clement in Alexandria, is said to have traveled to India around the year 180, and one of the attendants at the Nicene council of 325 was “John the Persian,” said to be of India. By the fifth century, Christianity was firmly established in India.And far west, still focusing beyond the borders of the Roman Empire, there existed Irish Christianity, brought there by the renowned St. Patrick, the former slave of Great Britain who later witnessed to his Irish captors. Since Ireland was bypassed by the barbarians in their conquest of Europe, many monasteries that were established in the country were later accessed for their stores of classical knowledge and literature; knowledge and literature that had been destroyed or lost when the Germanic tribes swept through the Roman Empire and its many territories.Among those Germanic tribes, north of Constantinople, were people who practiced the “heretical” Arian form of Christianity (we covered Arianism in parts 6 and 7 of this podcast series). After being introduced to the religion by their captive Ulfilas, the Goths then spread Arianism to other Germanic tribes who later settled the old frontiers of the Roman Empire. Thus, many of the barbarian invaders were Christians, though not of the perceived orthodox persuasion.In his book Medieval Europe, Chris Wickham writes:“The northern boundary of the Roman Empire ran right across what is now Europe, along the rivers Rhine and Danube, plus in Britain, Hadrian’s Wall, marking a sharp north-south contrast, not just in political allegiance, but in culture and the economy, which outlasted the end of the western empire by centuries. . . .“The contrast with what the Romans called the ‘barbarian world’ to the north was considerable. There, the economy was far simpler, and so was local material culture. Political groupings were much smaller and simpler too, and often indeed very fluid, with identities changing as different ruling families rose and fell. Immediately north of the Rhine and Danube, most of these groupings spoke Germanic languages. . . .“Not surprisingly, barbarian peoples, especially their leaders, were very interested in the wealth of Rome, and tried to get some of it either by raiding, even invasion, or by taking paid service in the Roman army. There was a gray area along the frontier, more militarized on the Roman side, more influenced by Roman styles on the barbarian side as a result. But broadly, the boundary marked by the two great European rivers was a sharp one. What happened in the fifth century in the Western Roman Empire, put succinctly, is that barbarian incursions from the north, although they had been a feature of most of imperial history, this time led to political breakdown. Armies which did not call themselves Roman took over the different western provinces and carved out kingdoms for themselves.”Alaric the Visigoth sacked Rome in 410, and around the time Augustine parted this world, in the year 430, the Vandals were at the gates of his city, Hippo. And following that time, in the year 452, Pope Leo, as we mentioned, was negotiating with invading Huns. In 455, the Vandals then sacked Rome worse than the Visigoths had done forty-five years earlier. By 476, largely due to invasion, the Western Roman Empire effectively collapsed. The time of the barbarians was at hand, in other words. While they had long been a presence in the empire, both as enemies and allies, they were now showing their strength and essentially overrunning the realm in great numbers, seizing pockets of control. This displaced much of the old Roman order, and the increased population of barbarian outsiders also impacted Christianity in the western regions.While the Byzantine empire to the east was built on ancient Greek culture, Roman institutions, and church life that was cherished by its mostly Hellenized citizens, the civilization of the Medieval world in the west was built on the culture and Latin literature of the ancient Roman Empire, where Roman law and governmental institutions were central, alongside the existence and importance of the western church, which was largely adopting the theology of Augustine of Hippo. The papacy was slowly rising in preeminence as well, but now the barbarian invasions helped to shape the future of the Roman world.The western empire, which began with the inauguration of Augustus, who ruled from 27 BCE to 14 CE, ended with Romulus Augustulus (or Little Augustus) who was deposed by a Germanic commander, Odovacar. The Germans now ruled the former Western Roman Empire. It would seem that the Germanic tribes, the so-called “barbarians,” came out of nowhere, but these diverse groups of people did in fact have a history separate and distinct from that of the Christianized Roman one we have been covering, and their history figures prominently in the overall Medieval narrative. Thomas F. X. Noble, professor of history and chair of the Department of History at the University of Notre Dame, raises a few key points concerning the barbarians.“Well there are several fundamental issues at stake when we discuss the barbarians. We can ask for example in the first place, ‘Who are we talking about? Exactly what people do we have in mind?’ Another question we can ask is, ‘How do we study these people?’ The point is that, their remote past takes place outside the Roman world, and wasn’t noticed by people in the Roman world, so how do we study these people?“That leads on, rather naturally, to another question: ‘What do we actually know about these barbarians?’ We know a good deal about them once they enter the Roman world and begin to interact with the Romans; what do we know about them before? And then, finally, and this is really the fundamental issue, how—at least in the Roman west—do we get from an empire with that vast institutional structure, to a world where there is a series of barbarian kingdoms? We’re going to trade provinces, if you will, for kingdoms. And then, we can reflect just a little perhaps, on what connections, if any, might exist between the barbarian kingdoms that were created in the late Roman world, the world of Late Antiquity, and the states of later Europe? Are there connections at all, and if so, do they matter in any meaningful sense?“So, in discussing the barbarians, there’s a whole series of things that are at stake.”Indeed there are, and we will be looking at those series of things, as well as their important connections, particularly prophetic ones, during the course of this podcast series. So, in answer to the question, how do we study the barbarians, a preliterate people who did not have any writings to speak of prior to, say, Ulfilas, and his gothic translation of portions of Scripture? Well, we must turn to the Romans, who wrote extensively about them, but we must do so cautiously, seeing that the writing was done, at times, with a layer of prejudice and discrimination applied, as well as certain embellishments. And just who were the barbarians? Well, to the Greeks, since the people outside the Greek Empire spoke no Greek and were foreign to their culture and language, they were considered barbaros, Greek for “foreign,” the word mainly referring to incomprehensible speech. To the Greeks, and later the Romans, who adopted the term “barbarian” for the same reason, the people beyond the borders spoke a foreign language that was considered gibberish. This made the barbarians inferior in the eyes of the Greeks and Romans.These various groups of people were also lumped together by the Romans and were called Germani, Germans, collectively, which derives from a Latin word meaning, “related,” that is, of the same parents, signifying the generality that was applied to these foreigners. Of this, Professor Noble says:“The Romans weren’t interested in doing any kind of careful, scientific analysis of the people who lived beyond their frontiers, and so they didn’t develop an elaborate, sophisticated, detailed, descriptive vocabulary for talking about them. So, broadly speaking, who are the barbarians? They are, in a way, ‘them,’ they are not ‘us.’ They are foreigners.”Today, we know that from archaeological evidence and written historical sources that these northern barbarian, Germanic tribes, which is the way we will continue to refer to them for the sake of consistency, mostly occupied lands in or near Scandinavia. They have even been given distinction by historians, being named by tribal order. Will Durant, writing in his book, The Age of Faith: The Story of Civilization Volume 4, says:“In the heart of Europe—bounded by the Vistula, the Danube, and the Rhine—moved the restless tribes that were to remake the map and rename the nations of Europe: Thuringians, Burgundians, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Frisians, Gepidae, Quadi, Vandals, Alemanni, Suevi, Lombards, Franks. Against these ethnic tides, the empire had no protective wall except in Britain, but merely an occasional fort and garrison along the roads or rivers that marked the frontier limit (limes) of the Roman realm. The higher birthrate outside the empire, and the higher standard of living within it, made immigration or invasion, a manifest destiny for the Roman empire then as for North America today.”We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.What little we know of the Germanic peoples who occupied Scandinavia prior to crossing into the Roman world is derived from a rather conventional historical source.“What do we know about these people before they enter the empire? We know something from archeology.”Says Professor Paul Freedman, who teaches history at Yale University.“But as they moved around, they’re not nomadic, they have settlements, but they’re not very urban settlements. They have grave sites. People who have grave sites with a lot of graves are not moving around a lot. So that’s one indication. And, among other things, they show that they had trade with the Roman Empire, because they’ve got Roman artifacts in them. But we actually don’t find out that much about them. The main written source for pre-invasion—let’s call them—Germanic tribes—delicately—is Tacitus, the Roman historian best known for his very pessimistic annals of the history of the Roman Empire, but also the author of a brief work called, Germania, about the German tribes.“Before they entered the empire they lived in little villages. They cultivated grain but they were more cattle raisers. They’re skilled at iron working. They also supplemented their income by a spot of raiding and warfare; opportunistic warfare.”Giving us further insight into the inner tribal structure of the Germanic people, Professor Noble says of them:“They were communities that appear to have been regulated by councils of elders, over whom, some kind of a headman exercised authority. There were leaders, we find in the sources—we call them thiudans, rhix, reiks, not unlike the Latin word, rex; kuning, not unlike the word, king—who were perhaps, once hereditary, sacral rulers, but who then were supplanted by an aristocratic warrior class with sworn companions around them. Many of these people had subgroups. The Franks, for example, were a confederation of Chamavi, Chattuari, Bructeri, Amsivarii, and so on. So, a lot of people made up Franks. Raiding and plundering was always a way of life for these people. But my key point, is that beyond the Roman world there was a kaleidoscopic and volatile region, with which the Romans, in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth centuries, began to enter into relations.”In the end, it was necessity that forced many of the Germanic peoples from their Scandinavian lands and into Roman territories. This is partly because a food shortage was created when their population grew beyond sustainability. Wars also erupted between various tribes, and those who were defeated were driven out, forced to seek new lands in the south. That is when the Germanic people happened upon the Roman frontier and spied the empire’s refined culture, obvious wealth, advanced technology, and even tasted of the realm’s agreeable Mediterranean climate. With this in view, they did not seek the empire’s destruction, as has been pointed out, but rather, they wanted to partake of the lofty Roman lifestyle.From the Roman perspective, the barbarians were bent on destroying the empire after looting it. Resistance, therefore, was the first order of business, and the barbarians were repelled by Rome’s forces for decades. Many of the tribes wandered the frontiers until they settled on lands that either suited them, or, in the case of a few, they were forced to accept due to the superior strength of other invaders who restricted them to a certain area. As a case in point, Kevin Madigan writes:“[T]he Germans had been pushed from their homelands near the Baltic Sea to the border of the Roman Empire by the truly menacing Huns, a nomadic tribe that had been routed by the Chinese and, in the wake of defeat, pressed westward. By ca. 375, the Huns had defeated the Ostrogoths, whom they would then dominate for nearly a century. The Germans, by contrast, were, by and large, not belligerent. Rather, they were attracted by qualities of Roman life, including the relative ease of agricultural production and trade. Very recent archaeological evidence suggests that the ‘border’ between the Germans and Romans was somewhat porous, and some intermarriage occurred. In effect, the Germans were looking for a suitable homeland, free from the terror of domination by the Huns. In fact, one of the Germanic groups, the Visigoths, hoping to escape Hunnish control, applied to the Romans for permission to cross the Danube and enter imperial territory, a request that was granted.“Nonetheless, conflicts sometimes broke out. One, the battle of Adrianople has been vested with special significance. It was there that the emperor Valens lost his life and his army to the very Visigoths his predecessors had allowed into western imperial territory. With the benefit of hindsight, we may say that this was the battle that began the ‘wandering of the German peoples’—or, if you like, the Germanic or barbarian invasions—into the western empire.”Following their victory over the Romans in the battle at Adrianople in 378, the Visigoths—Arian Christians, until they converted to orthodox Christianity—then moved through the Balkans for years before being the first to sack Rome in 410, as stated. Emboldened by their successive victories, they set their sights on Spain after the Vandals vacated it, and that territory was theirs until the early eighth century, when they suffered defeat at the hands of the Muslims.Over time, other Germanic peoples settled other Roman territories. Of this, Chris Wickham writes:“By 500, the Balkans, in the eastern empire, were under Roman control again; the west, however, was very different. There, a sector of the Goths . . . called by us the Ostrogoths, controlled Italy and the Alps; Burgundians controlled the Rhone Valley; . . . a set of small-scale Frankish kings controlled most of northern Gaul; and south-east Britain, a province actually abandoned by the Romans already in the early fifth century, was in the hands of tiny-scale tribal communities called generically by us—and perhaps by themselves—Angles and Saxons.“There were others too, in smaller areas. Territories of the former western empire which were not under the control of military elites originally from outside its borders were very few and scattered: Mauretania (roughly modern Morocco), parts of the central Alps around Chur and western Britain, particularly Wales, plus Brittany; none of these had any link with the others, still less with the Roman empire in the east, and they lost a Roman identity fairly quickly too, except around Chur. . . .“Although, as can already be heard, there was now a confusingly large number of ‘barbarian’ groups, many more than in previous centuries. This was not by any means a dangerous strategy in itself, as long as the Roman leadership kept control of the whole process. At the beginning of the century, for the most part, they did. The problem was the Vandals, whose confederacy had entered the empire from the north across the Rhine in 407, and moved across Gaul and into Spain in the next decade. Although partially crushed in 417, they were not subdued, and invaded North Africa in 429, under their new king, Geiseric. Their settlement in 435 was by no means accompanied by military defeat, and their new territory, not in itself a very fertile one, was right on the edge of the western empire’s chief source of grain and olive oil, the rich lands around the great Roman city of Carthage, in what is now Tunisia.”Carthage fell to the Vandals in 429, and North Africa was thereafter their portion, a Vandal kingdom that stretched from the Straits to the very borders of Egypt, with Carthage being their headquarters. A little more time passed before the Vandals took to the sea, taking possession of Sicily, Corsica, and Sardinia. We’ve already discussed their sacking of Rome, the stronghold of the western church, in 455. And being Arian Christians for the most part, in that they rejected the eternal nature of Yeshua, and his position within the Elohim, they saw Catholics as the enemy. Both Catholics and Donatist Christians alike were persecuted in North Africa by the Vandals, in the midst of their ongoing debate about the episcopal authority of bishops who had buckled during persecution. The Vandals ruled for almost a century before being conquered.We have already learned that the barbarians would effectively redraw the map of Europe, and this would be a recurring practice as, over time, new conquering powers would sweep in to displace the old ones. With the arrival of the barbarians, the imperial western powers diminished, being substituted by the church, headed by bishops, which took over many established public services, such as education. Monasteries sprang up all across the new territories, and monasticism joined the papacy in exercising authority over the masses, both benefiting from the agriculture of the locals, to which they were tied.The barbarian invasion was seen as a judgment against the imperial Roman government, and indeed this was evident given the manner in which the barbarians stormed in, with textbook precision in accordance with past national judgments pronounced by Yah’s prophets against a wayward Israel, who suffered a similar fate. The nation sent by Yah to judge Israel was always a foreign one, whose language they did not understand. This is how Yah always operated, even with non-Israelite nations. The Medo-Persians invaded the Babylonians, the Greeks the Medo-Persians, and so on. Now the Romans were being invaded by a foreign people whose gibberish language they could not comprehend, and which led to them calling the Germanic peoples, “barbarians.”With the arrival of the Germanic tribes, the old western empire crumbled, and many of its institutions vanished, save that of the church itself, which not only survived, but began to take on new importance. Many Germanic peoples would eventually abandon their Arian Christianity for the orthodox, Nicene Catholic variety, further strengthening the church. The barbarians, therefore, were used primarily to remove the imperial powers in the west and carve out a unique space for the church, which it filled according to prophecy. These warlike Germanic peoples were a means to an end, and thus did not effectively establish sophisticated Medieval European states with defined politics along the complex lines of the old order. Those kinds of states would not begin to take shape until the eight and ninth centuries, and they would not rise to the level of perceived greatness until midway into the eleventh century. And that greatness would be achieved through ecclesiastical intervention, as the Roman church would demonstrate authority superior to that of the primitive German concept.Daniel chapter 7 establishes the very prophetic history we are looking at, when it describes a fourth beast with ten horns, or kings that shall arise within the same kingdom. This is none other than western Rome, where all the Germanic tribes stormed into the realm, overthrew the established order, and set up a patchwork of barbarian kingdoms.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: Targums, Edessa, St. Patrick, Germanic tribes, Odovacar, Romulus Augustulus, barbarous, Germans, barbarian, thiudans, rhix, reiks, Franks, Chamavi, Chattuari, Bructeri, Amsivarii, Daniel 7, ten horns, barbarian kingdoms, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


10 Nov 2019

Rank #11

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Augustine of Hippo

Among the most celebrated of all the historical Catholic figures, Augustine, more than most, shaped the theology of the church like a master sculptor, influencing many generations that came after him. The doctrines he spearheaded arose from various controversies that plagued North Africa during his time as bishop, but those doctrines persist to this day, even reaching beyond the church, into the very halls of government.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 8: Augustine of HippoOf all the western church fathers, none is seen as a more towering figure than Augustine of Hippo, whose influence dominated the Middle Ages, particularly in the Latin-speaking world. Even now, he is still regarded as a major theological influence for both Catholics—given his views on the ancient church and the relevance of its sacraments—and Protestants—given his views on grace and salvation.Some hold him in an even greater light than I have proposed here. Dr. Dorsey Armstrong, associate professor of English at Purdue University, says of Augustine:“His was a mind the likes of which the world has only rarely seen.” That great mind, she goes on to say:“. . . helped shape the very landscape of the middle ages in almost all its facets: the political, the religious, the intellectual, the social, and more. Even several centuries after his death, thinkers would return to this man and his writings for guidance and answers to myriad questions.“He was so well-read, it seems impossible that he would have found the time to do so much writing. And he wrote so many texts, it seems impossible that he could have been an active and involved bishop for his congregation. Yet he was all of these things, and more. . . . His writings were the single most influential body of work for all the great medieval minds that followed.“He was destined to become the most important figure in the Catholic church; not only in the Middle Ages, but arguably right up to the present day.”We have reached a point in our historical narrative where we begin to move from the period of late Antiquity into what historians consider the early Middle Ages. And in the late fourth and early fifth centuries, a major shift begins to take place, where the church is being shaped from within by highly influential leaders. Ambrose was one such figure, who we touched on in the last podcast. Jerome was another. He was commissioned to translate the Scriptures into what became the Latin Vulgate. Other prominent figures were their contemporaries, and put together, these men are considered “doctors of the church.”Associate professor, Ryan M. Reeves, who we’ve quoted in past episodes, describes the role of a church doctor as follows: “In Catholic history, and in Catholic practice, a doctor of the church is someone who’s given this honorific, or this title as a way of saying that their theology, their writing, is synonymous, you might say, with Catholic teaching in general. Now, it doesn’t mean that it rises to the rank of papal proclamation, but it does mean that all Catholics are, in a way, engaging with their thinking. From the Protestant perspective, it’s more of honoring the significant changes in writing and deep reflection on Scripture that these men provide to the Church in the West. In both the West, and the East, but increasingly—since many of these men are Latin speakers—it’s the West that sees these great figures as part of their heritage. Well, by far, the most significant figure from this generation—from this period of frenzied activity—is Augustine. Really, you can’t be hyperbolic about the influence and the importance of Augustine. Augustine is a man astride two periods of time. In fact, in many ways Augustine almost embodies the change from the late antiquity period to the early Medieval period. His writings sort of usher in all that would come after it. He’s a bit like Luther in that way. Luther stood astride the modern world. Well, Augustine stood astride the late Antiquity, or the Ancient world, and the early Medieval world. Augustine’s works are some of the most important works of all of Church history, in fact. Again, it wouldn’t be hyperbolic to say that outside of the New Testament, no single figure more shaped the Christian world view or the theology of the entirety of everyone that came after him, than Augustine.”Born a Roman provincial in a minor commercial North African town called Tagaste in 354, Augustine, an Algerian of Berber stock, soon exhibited a gift for learning that was not missed by his parents. His father, Patricius, was a Roman official and a pagan at heart—though he would be baptized prior to his death. His mother, Monica, was a devoted Catholic who would later be granted sainthood by the church. Smitten as they were with their only child, the two exhausted their savings by sending Augustine to a nearby town to study. But young Augustine would get up to worldly exploits and would wander aimlessly with his companions after his parents’ money ran out.Eventually, he was able to continue his studies in Carthage, the North African hub for political, economic, and cultural engagement in that Latin-speaking region of the continent. While he focused on his studies of rhetoric, which was among the highest pursuits in the Roman world at the time, Augustine also indulged in the many worldly pleasures Carthage had to offer. This soon led him to take on a concubine who bore him a son named Adeodatus, interpreted as, “given by the deity,” meaning the Creator, Yah. The child died while still in his teens.As a student of rhetoric, Augustine, like many others of his day, was readying for a career as either a lawyer, politician, or other public functionary who was required to speak and write with a certain elegance that was convincing, even if what was being conveyed was not true. Of this period in Augustine’s life, Philip Daileader, an associate professor of history, says:“Late in adolescence, he explored Christianity to a certain extent. He was curious about the Christian religion, but, upon reading the Christian bible, he found its Greek to be very plain and poor, and he’s an aspiring rhetorician to whom style is everything. And so, he decides that Christianity is not for him, and instead, he becomes a Manichaean.“The religion of Manichaeism had emerged from the Persian empire during the third century. Its founder is a somewhat obscure figure by the name of Mani. Mani is familiar with Christian writings, but Manichaeism should not be regarded as an offshoot of Christianity because it incorporates elements of Persian religion, and even of Indian religion as well.”By the time of Augustine, Manichaeism had spread throughout the Mediterranean basin, and it was a lot like Gnostic movements before it, drawing on certain astronomical observations to form some of its teachings. Those who practiced Manichaeism viewed Christianity and its crude writings as something worthy of ridicule and derision, and this ridicule was used as a lure to attract new members. With this, the young Augustine could agree, as he too viewed the Scriptures as an inelegant body of writings riddled with violence, deceit, war, and other barbaric acts. But what truly drew him to the movement was the question of evil, and the particular view Manichaeism held toward it.Philip Daileader elaborates on that view:“Manichaeism maintained that good and evil were equally powerful and equally eternal, and neither one nor the other would be able to vanquish their opponent. Matter and the material world—everything that you see around you—has been created by Satan, therefore the material world is wholly evil, and wholly corrupt; the spiritual world is wholly good. In Manichaean cosmology, particles of the good spiritual world had become trapped here in the material world. And it is the duty of Manichaean believers to liberate these particles of good so that they can return to the spiritual realm where they belong. And the way for Manichaeans to liberate the good that is trapped in the evil, material world is through personal asceticism, and through vegetarianism.“Augustine was attracted to Manichaeism because it answered an important question that was bothering him; and that was the question of why evil exists in the world.”The answer Manichaeism offered was that evil existed because Yah, who is purely good, is powerless—in their view—to do anything about it. That answer satisfied a young Augustine for a time, as he followed the religion for almost a decade. However,“Manichaeans were regarded with horror by contemporary Catholics, and indeed they looked upon Manichees the way that inhabitants of Middle America looked upon Communists in the 1950s: the mere mention of the name ‘Manichee’ would make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up. When Monica found out that Augustine had become a Manichee she refused to let him in the family house.”Ryan M. Reeves picks up our historical narrative:“In 374, after his education was done, Augustine sort of sets up a shop—you might say he hangs a shingle—and he teaches rhetoric in the city of Carthage. And he’s there for eight or nine years, and then he decides to try his hand at a big city, a more prestigious city. Now, given that we know that Augustine self-identifies as an African, for him to move to the city of Rome as he does, is telling. He’s chasing the bright lights. And he moves to Rome and again he opens up a school of rhetoric, sort of, a life of tutoring students in the subject of rhetoric. Now, he doesn’t like it while he’s there. There’s just parts of the city and parts of the culture there that don’t really fit with what he wanted or what he expected.”Expanding on the state of Rome during the time Augustine taught there, Professor Dorsey Armstrong says:“Rome, at this time, was a seething hotbed of recalcitrant pagans, heretical Christians—like the Arians—and, hypocritical mainstream Christians, who sought after, and used their high religious offices, for personal and political gain. This state of affairs prompted Augustine to quip that, ‘The church extends its reach throughout the whole world, Rome excepted.’ Disillusioned with Rome, Augustine began more and more to go to Milan, to hear the bishop there, a man named Ambrose, preach on the bible.”A chance meeting with the prefect of Rome, Symmachus—the very Symmachus who debated Ambrose—changes the fate of Augustine, and he ends up landing a coveted position in the city he prefers. James J. O’Donnell, the author of Pagans, writes:“At least a provincial governorship is what he was aiming for when Symmachus sent him along to Milan and the imperial court in the summer of 384 with a recommendation for the senior professorship there. Within a few months, he was delivering high ceremonial oratory in honor and in the presence of the emperor. That it was a child emperor probably only made the drama more pompous and the effort of glorification more strenuous.”Ryan M. Reeves gives us a clear perspective on what this professorship meant in terms of status in this period of Roman history.“This job, this professorship of rhetoric, is set up, frankly, to be one of the most important and the most prestigious platforms from which anyone who is a student or a teacher of rhetoric can hold. And it’s telling that Augustine wins this post. He becomes professor of rhetoric in Milan, the imperial city. Now, again, notice, Milan is an important city. It is where the imperial court is, and since so much of the rhetorical discipline is giving speeches on behalf of politicians, and being involved in politics, to hold the professorship of Milan essentially holds the highest chair of rhetoric in the most important city in the West in terms of politics. He has, you might say, reached the top, and he’s done so in 384, at only the age of 30.”We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.Augustine put a few hard questions to the Manichees and expressed some of his doubts to them during their gatherings. Some told him that his questions were profound, but only the great Fautus, a supposed enlightened teacher of Manichaeism, could provide suitable answers. Well, when Fautus arrived to answer Augustine’s puzzling questions, he proved to be no better than the local teachers of Manichaeism. At this point, Augustine had steadily become disillusioned by the religion of the Manichees, and he sought a new avenue for answers to his burning theological questions. While in Milan, a man named Simplicianus—who had tutored Ambrose in theology—introduced Augustine to Neoplatonism. Unlike the dualism of the co-eternal good and evil concept found in Manichaeism, Neoplatonism, which involved mystical contemplation, taught that there was only one source for all things, and that both good and evil emanated from this ineffable source, seen as the One. Evil, it was held by Neoplatonists, resulted from those who drifted away from this source, and the farther removed one was, the more inferior they were, and thus evil was able to manifest within their lives. Moral evil is the result, then, of moving away from the One, according to Neoplatonists. This answer satisfied Augustine following his disappointment with Manichaeism, and he became a Neoplatonist.But one final doubt remained, and that was the supposed crude writings that formed the Scriptures, a book that figured prominently in the lives of Christian Neoplatonists. How could something like that emanate from the Creator? It was Ambrose who dispelled his doubts on that matter. Augustine’s mother, Monica, who stayed with him in Milan for a time, urged him to visit Ambrose’s church to hear his sermons—Ambrose was then the most famous speaker in the city of Milan. Following these visits, Augustine, finding Ambrose to be both substantive and acute in a philosophical and theological sense, “[O]ften sought Ambrose out for a private audience.”Says Dr. Dorsey Armstrong.“His goal, as had been the case with Faustus, was to have many of his questions about faith, addressed more directly. Eventually, this led Augustine to an important conclusion about biblical exegesis, which was that the bible could be used as a tool to instruct people on a variety of levels, from the simplest and most literal, up to the most complex and symbolic. This recognition or realization was crucial, because up until this time, Augustine had considered the bible to be, in many sections, an unsophisticated text that was not well-written. Whereas, now he came to recognize, and appreciate, its complexities.”His intellectual difficulties with Christianity and its particular set of writings solved, Augustine now faced a new problem that arose from his present state of mind. If he was going to be a Christian, he would be one all the way, nothing lacking. That to him meant living a life along the lines of the monastic ideal, coupled with Neoplatonism. This would force him to end his career in rhetoric and even forego all pursuits of pleasure. It was his love of that pleasure that caused him to stall his conversion to Christianity.The time for his conversion did come, however, and it came at a point when a battle of wills was raging within him while he sat alone in a garden. Following his conversion, he was baptized by Ambrose and immediately began a new life, abandoning Neoplatonism, quitting his teaching post, and setting out for North Africa to live as a monk, his son and mother Monica in tow. But on the way to Africa, Monica died, forcing him to remain in Rome for several months, grief-stricken. When he finally arrived in North Africa, coming upon Tagaste, he sold much of his property, donated money to the poor and settled in a place called Cassiciacum, where his son Adeodatus died.His only son an heir dead, Augustine again focused his attention on living a secluded life in a monastery, where he could devote himself to prayer and biblical study, as he originally planned.“What he found instead was a second chance at fame and glory.”Writes James J. O’Donnell.“He took it. Visiting the coastal city of Hippo (modern Annaba, Algeria), mingling with the local Christians, he fell in with, as Ambrose had, enthusiastic Christians who pressed him to accept ordination as a priest. He wept at the idea when he thought of what he was giving up, underwent ordination, then fled home to Tagaste, not sure what he would do. He could have made good an escape, but he went back to Hippo and took up responsibilities he would very much rather have avoided. Perhaps he remembered Ambrose’s own career and decided to attempt something like it.“What emerged was the Augustine of history. As priest for five years, then as bishop for thirty-five, he made this ordinary provincial city, known only as a port for shipping grain from Africa to Rome, into the base for his expanding fame. His preaching built his local reputation while his writing extended his reach into the rest of the Latin world.”Augustine’s position as bishop of Hippo involved pastoring a community that looked to him for guidance. He also presided over the ecclesiastical court, spending many hours daily judging matters brought to him by the people, to whom he provided counsel. He also wrote extensively. Throughout his career, he also adopted a monastic community life, which extended to his clergy, and this would be imitated widely within Catholicism.One major problem with the city of Hippo was that it was largely Donatist, and Augustine spent a considerable amount of time addressing the issue, which threatened the North African church. The Donatism problem arose during the Great Persecution under Emperor Diocletian, which we covered in the fifth episode of this podcast series. Author Kevin Madigan gives us a historical overview:“A group of African bishops was convinced that a bishop of Carthage, Caecilian, had been consecrated by three bishops, one of whom, Felix of Apthungi, was considered a traitor for surrendering sacred books over to the Romans. In the eyes of these bishops, called the Donatists (after Donatus, one of their number), this offense was so egregious that it made Caecilian’s ordination invalid. He was a traitor (traditor; literally one who had handed over the scriptures), one whose ordination was ruined by collaboration with the diabolical state. By the time Augustine arrived in Hippo, the Donatist church there was larger than the Catholic, and a century-long schism between the two looked as if it might remain permanent.”To put it in simpler terms, this was the main gripe of the Donatists: if a priest capitulated, or surrendered to the Romans during the persecution under Diocletian, and, for fear of his life, ended up handing over—or even worse—burning the scriptures to satisfy their demands, that priest was a bad priest, and nothing he put his hand to should stand. His baptisms were null and void, his consecration of other priests was rendered invalid, according to the Donatists, along with every other thing he did while in office.As for such priests:“They branded them as traitors.”Says Professor Paul Freedman of Yale University.“And they said that they could not form legitimate sacraments. Therefore, you, in North Africa, where the Donatists were strong, you as an ordinary Christian had better do a background check on your priest. Because your marriage is illegitimate, your baby is going to hell, your whole participation in the church is, as it were, short circuited by this defect.”The Donatist view had no end either. If a priest was considered good in the eyes of the public, and the priest who consecrated him was also seen as good, but the priest who ordained the priest who ordained the priest, going back a hundred or more years, had been thought to be a traitor, then all the priests who flowed out of his original ordination were considered illegitimate priests. The leaders of the church knew that they could not organize a large, supposedly universal body along those lines, particularly one that was spread throughout the world. The organization the Donatists had in mind would lead to sectarianism, being limited in scope. As they saw it, the church should represent the bride of the Messiah, being without spot or blemish, and of which only the blameless could be members.Moreover, as Kevin Madigan writes:“Like Noah’s ark, it contained only a small minority of the pure. Sacraments dispensed by those disgraced and even contaminated by collaboration with empire, or associated with those who were, were ineffective and even polluting.“Augustine’s view of church was that it was a ‘mixed body’ of saints and sinners. . . . Wheat and tares (the parable [Matthew 13:24–30] to which Augustine habitually alluded in the controversy) would not be separated until the end of time. Noah’s ark? It stank of animals, the stench a symbol of sin that all would have to tolerate. The baptized were made up of the morally mediocre for the most part, fallible sinners whose need for forgiveness was virtually constant and for whom the forgiving church was established.”Thus, the church, backing Augustine’s reasoning, would tolerate its large flock of “morally mediocre” members, its “fallible sinners,” who, in repeated acts of blasphemy, would continue to be forgiven by Catholic priests. These morally mediocre members funded the church’s extravagances, after all. What is more, Yeshua’s field in that parable, according to verse 38 of Matthew 13, was “the world.” Augustine saw that world as the church, which changes the parameters of Yeshua’s parable. But that is the way a master of rhetoric operates.Augustine, who never fully shook off his Manichaean or Neoplatonist views, would spearhead many popular doctrines, some as a result of his debates with a British monk named Pelagius, who taught—among other things—that it was possible for a believer to attain perfection on his or her own by merely living righteously, and that this perfection was in fact mandatory on the part of all Christians. To stem the controversy that Pelagius created with that and other claims, Augustine formulated the doctrines surrounding the Christian view of sin, grace, predestination, free will, and justification.The Donatist controversy also led Augustine to elevate the importance of church sacraments. And he formulated the argument used for what he considered a “just war,” an argument still used unjustly by national powers to this day. But as Professor Philip Daileader aptly put it:“Augustinian thought was going to be an incredibly powerful influence in Europe for well over a millennium. And Augustine’s ideas about human nature, about history, about Rome and classical culture and paganism; on the relations between religious and secular authority, are going to be read and debated and argued over for a long time to come.”If Constantine was Christianity’s King David, Augustine was its Moses.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: Patricius, Tagaste, doctors of the church, church doctor, sacrament, Jerome, Latin Vulgate, late antiquity, Simplicianus, biblical exegesis, Donatist, Donatism, Caecilian, traditor, Felix of Apthungi, Pelagius, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


22 Sep 2019

Rank #12

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Crusade Aftermath

Jerusalem is transformed into a Christian crusader state following the First Crusade. Several principalities are carved out of the Muslim empire as well, but before long, a Second and Third Crusade are fought, shifting the balance in favor of the Muslims, who retake the lauded city. Five crusades would follow before the crusading fervor expired, but the wars would weaken the Byzantine Empire, leading to its fall.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 20: Crusade AftermathAs seen at the end of our previous podcast, Jerusalem was captured by Christians from the west in the First Crusade on July 15, 1099 after a long and bloody siege. Following their victory, the reconquered lands were organized along the lines of the western European ideal. The Greek Church was ended and the former patriarch forced to flee to Cyprus. He was replaced by an Italian primate, but the papacy had ultimate ecclesiastical rule. New parishes and monasteries were established, with the entire kingdom functioning under Latin rites. The noble Godfrey of Bouillon was named “Protector of the Holy Sepulcher,” the most important church in Palestine among Christians, because its grotto was believed to have held the body of the Messiah prior to his resurrection. Godfrey’s brother Baldwin became Godfrey’s vassal as Count of Edessa, with the other two vassals being the count Bohemund, who became Prince of Antioch, and Raymond of Toulouse, who became Count of Tripoli.Upon Godfrey’s death in 1100, his brother Baldwin I succeeded him, but he wanted to be crowned the first Frankish King of Jerusalem and not exist merely as its protector. A few necessary steps had to be taken in order to secure that title, however.“First, he would have to undergo a coronation.”Writes Thomas Asbridge, in his book The Crusades.“This centuries-old rite usually involved a crown-wearing, but this was not—as might be imagined—the centerpiece of the ceremony.”That particular honor came in the form of ritual anointment, when what was thought to be “consecrated” chrism—usually a mixture of oil and balsam—was poured on a prospective ruler’s head by a person believed to be a representative of the Most High on earth …“… such as an archbishop, patriarch, or pope. It was this act that set a king apart from other men; that imbued him with the numinous power of divine sanction. To achieve this elevation, Baldwin needed to reach some form of accommodation with the church.”He managed to do so, and his anointing took place on December 25, 1100, in a Catholic ceremony stolen directly from the Hebrew Scriptures, and of course corrupted. Samuel, a true representative of Yah, in that he was a prophet and judge, is seen anointing the Benjamite Saul as the first king of Israel by pouring oil on his head in 1 Samuel 10. That said, when Baldwin became king of Jerusalem, he handed Edessa to a distant cousin, who was also named Baldwin. Under the original Baldwin, Jerusalem was expanded after several successful battles were fought over the course of eighteen years. Upon the king’s death, his cousin Baldwin left Edessa to rule Jerusalem as Baldwin II.Now, with the capture of Jerusalem in 1099—and Jerusalem becoming a sovereign state—many of the Crusaders—those who had no intention to settle the new territory—saw no need to remain. They made preparations to return to the west. Raymond of Toulouse, who desired to rule Jerusalem but was passed over for Godfrey, left in disgust, but turned back just as a Fatimid Muslim army marched on Jerusalem. Godfrey barely had the necessary contingent of knights to defend his city. When the Muslims camped at Ascalon, Raymond and his crusade forces ambushed and defeated them. Eventually, the surrounding enemies—the emirs of Caesarea, Acre, Ascalon, and Arsuf—surrendered to Godfrey, accepting him as overlord. The sheiks of Transjordan also submitted, but Jerusalem would be threatened by these hostile and bitter enemies for the next twenty-five years. The city, which was weak in certain areas, would struggle to maintain its independence. To shore up this weakness, two military orders were established, both made up of murderous monks, truth be told.“As far back as 1048 the merchants of Amalfi had obtained Moslem permission to build a hospital at Jerusalem for poor or ailing pilgrims.”Writes Will Durant, in his book, The Age of Faith.“About 1120 the staff of this institution was reorganized by Raymond du Puy as a religious order vowed to chastity, poverty, obedience, and the military protection of Christians in Palestine; and these Hospitallers, or Knights of the Hospital of St. John, became one of the noblest charitable bodies in the Christian world. About the same time (1119) Hugh de Payens and eight other crusader knights solemnly dedicated themselves to monastic discipline and the martial service of Christianity.” From Baldwin II, these nine knights acquired a residence near what was believed to be the site of Solomon’s Temple, thus they were known as the Knights Templar. “St. Bernard drew up a stern rule for them, which was not long obeyed; he praised them for being ‘most learned in the art of war,’ and bade them ‘wash seldom,’ and closely crop their hair. ‘The Christian who slays the unbeliever in the Holy War,’ wrote Bernard to the Templars, in a passage worthy of Mohammed, ‘is sure of his reward; more sure if he himself is slain. The Christian glories in the death of the pagan …’Because the Messiah, he goes on to say … “ ‘[I]s thereby glorified’; men must learn to kill with a good conscience if they are to fight successful wars.”The uniform of the Hospitaller was a black robe, the left sleeve of which featured a white cross. The Templar, by contrast, wore a white robe that featured a red cross on the mantle. The orders despised each other. While they defended pilgrims and provided them with medical treatment, both the Hospitallers—who were 600 strong—and Templars—who numbered only 300—leveled attacks on Saracen bases. In the year 1180, both orders were important factions in the crusade and proved to be able warriors, which earned them respect. This is evident from the financial support they were given by both the church and the state, and rich and poor alike. Over time, the wealth of both orders increased, peaking in the thirteenth century with Europe boasting considerable estates for Hospitallers and Templars. These included abbeys, villages, and even towns. While the battles of the Crusade raged on, these two orders enjoyed unprecedented luxury.Jerusalem had been sparsely populated until 1115, when Baldwin II decided to address that issue by turning to Transjordan, from which he imported Syrian Christians. They were lured to the city by the promise of certain privileges, and were settled in empty houses in the city’s northwest corner. The Syrian Christians went to work building new churches for their worship and restoring damaged ones. In a short time, the city’s population swelled to thirty thousand, and Jerusalem functioned as a capital city once more. The Franks looked to it as a primary metropolis because of its historical significance in the Scriptures. But it was operated like a western city, with civil and criminal courts, and even a high court reserved for the nobility; and markets were preserved from the days of the Roman forum. Its chief industry, however, was the tourist trade. Since it could not become a trading center due to its great distance from popular trade routes, thriving merchants could not establish a base there, thus tourism was elevated.Under Baldwin I, Jerusalem ceased to be run as a theocracy. He filled the highest ecclesiastical office with patriarchs who were subservient to him. While the patriarch had jurisdiction over Jerusalem’s old Christian Quarter beginning in 1112, Baldwin controlled the rest of the city. Ironically, this left Jerusalem—which was once the center of spiritual life for Israelites, and later Christians and many Muslims—as a metropolitan center that was far more secular than many European states. With the coming of Baldwin II, the Franks began converting many existing fortresses into castles, to which they added new buildings that created a ring that encircled the kingdom. Fortified monasteries and churches also circled Jerusalem, and stone walls were raised to keep out invaders. Jerusalem, in other words, became a military state poised for war. And war of course did come. In 1144, an important principality of the Crusaders, Edessa, fell into the hands of the Sultan of Aleppo. And because of this …“The Second Crusade of 1144 was preached by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the moral leader of the mid-twelfth-century church …”Writes Norman F. Cantor, in his book The Civilization of the Middle Ages. And the Second Crusade was preached …“… in response to urgent entreaties from the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem for aid against the resurgent Arabic power. St. Bernard succeeded in inducing two of the crowned heads of Europe, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, to take the cross. The inclusion of the two kings provided more prestige than the first crusade had enjoyed but no more military prowess, for Louis and Conrad were not renowned for their skill on the battlefield or the size of their armies. They never reached Palestine, their forces being cut to pieces in Asia Minor.”While the First Crusade succeeded in capturing territory along the eastern Mediterranean coast and beyond—creating several feudal crusader states, including the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, which lasted for centuries—the costly Second Crusade achieved nothing, and simply dissipated after two years. A massive army of Crusaders was annihilated, yet Jerusalem remained in Christian hands. But that would change toward the end of the twelfth century.The First Crusade created a frenzy that would be unmatched by the crusades that followed, but the policy of crusading in fact led to widespread corruption within the church. Crusading was an expensive undertaking, not least because the crusader states needed to be maintained. For one thing, the pope was obligated to provide legates for the new Christian territories that were seized, and funds had to be raised to cover the cost. Spiritual benefits were therefore sold to penitent sinners, creating a new market of sorts.Traditionally, a Catholic would confess their sins to a priest, who, upon hearing the confession would proclaim the confessor’s sin forgiven (again, this was blasphemy according to the very Good News books that were read by these Christians). However, the confession had to be accompanied by a penalty that would satisfy the debt for the sin committed—an act of penance in other words. This would show that the confessor was sincere in his or her repentance. But if the penitent sinner should die before carrying out this act of penance, Augustine of Hippo and Gregory the Great’s concept of purgatory would be the final opportunity to secure eternal life. Thus, be it in life or in purgatory, penance could be carried out, this being known as “temporal” punishment. So goes the traditional Catholic doctrine at any rate—the one that existed prior to the crusades.For as long as the system of confession had existed within the church, priests could only remit, or remove, part of a sinner’s temporal punishment, and were never granted the power to offer full and total pardon to a sinner. When Pope Urban II ascended the papal throne and preached the First Crusade, however, complete remission was offered to Crusaders bound for Jerusalem with a sincere desire to fight for the cause. For those unable to make the trip, the same benefit could be conferred if they simply contributed financially to the cause. In essence, medieval sinners, like Christians and other believers today who dole out fiat currencies to whatever they deem as worthy causes, bought their way into the Kingdom—or so they believed. This is how the popes financed the establishment of legates, and the building of new hospitals and cathedrals in newly conquered territories. But the happy state of affairs wouldn’t last long.We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast. After the capture of Edessa by the Muslims in 1144, an event that launched the Second Crusade, the new emir of Aleppo, Nur al-Din, attempted to consolidate power. In 1146, Joscelin II, the Frankish count of Edessa, sought to recover his lost capital by assembling an army and making an advance. While the Franks were butchered by a wave of violence in the Second Crusade, and their women taken captive, Christians native to the east were spared by the previous Muslim elite, Zangi, along with their homes. Latin churches were targeted in the war, but Armenian and Syrian churches were bypassed. Muslim armies even took pains to limit damage to Edessa’s fortifications. Joscelin II, with the aid of Edessa’s Christians, managed to breach Muslin defenses and put the citadel garrison to flight. Nur al-Din got wind of the attack and immediately took action, amassing an army of thousands which he led on a swift march that continued day and night, making for a relentless journey that left horses dead from fatigue. But a large portion of his warriors reached the city in time and forced Joscelin to retreat, though his army suffered heavy casualties.“With Edessa back in his possession, the emir chose to make a blunt demonstration of his ruthless will.”Writes Thomas Asbridge.“Two years earlier, Zangi had spared the city’s eastern Christians; now, as punishment for their ‘connivance’ with the Franks, his son and heir scourged Edessa of their presence. All males were killed, women and children enslaved. One Muslim chronicler remarked that ‘the sword blotted out the existence of all the Christians,’ while a shocked Syrian Christian described how, in the aftermath of this massacre, the city ‘was deserted of life: an appalling vision, enveloped in a black cloud, drunk with blood, infected by the cadavers of its sons and daughters.’ The once vibrant metropolis remained a desolate backwater for centuries to come.… After the failure of the Second Crusade in the late 1140s, Christian Europe’s enthusiasm for holy war had waned dramatically. At the time, some began to question the purity of the papacy and the crusaders.”A German who chronicled the event at the time wrote of the Second Crusade: “[The Almighty] allowed the Western Church, on account of its sins, to be cast down. There arose, indeed, certain pseudo-prophets, sons of Belial, and witnesses of the anti-[Messiah], who seduced the Christians with empty words.”Some decades later, in 1187, Saladin, a powerful sultan who had lately emerged, invigorated the Muslims under his charge and effectively united much of the Muslim empire in his quest to launch a new jihad. The Christian leadership in Jerusalem had been locked in bitter feuds, while Saladin readied for a massive invasion of their kingdom. Many towns in Palestine surrendered to them on their march, and Jerusalem fell to Saladin’s forces by October of that year. Unlike the bloodthirsty Christians of the First Crusade in 1099, Saladin decided to spare his enemies upon conquering their city. Not one Christian was killed. Wealthy barons were able to buy their freedom, but the poor were taken as prisoners of war. News of Jerusalem’s capture eventually reached the Christians in the west and Pope Clement III called for a Third Crusade. “The mixture of tragedy and farce that characterized the second crusade was repeated in the third crusade of 1190, the most ambitious, at least in its inception, of all the Latin expeditions to the Holy Land.” Writes Norman F. Cantor. “The power of Saladin was to be challenged by a crusading army that, at least on paper, commanded the greater part of the military resources of Europe. The three greatest rulers of western Europe at the time, Richard the Lion-hearted of England, Philip Augustus of France, and Frederick Barbarossa of Germany, set off for the Holy Land with formidable armies. Barbarossa drowned en route, and the Germans ended by participating only in a token manner. It soon appeared that the cynical Philip Augustus intended only to go through the motions of fighting the Moslems; he was eager to get back home to continue his plotting against the English king.” But prior to leaving the fight, Philip joined Richard in a two-year siege that won them Acre, and nothing more. After a series of other pointless battles, Richard settled on a truce with Saladin that was to last three years and allow Christian pilgrims to travel freely to Jerusalem. When Richard ended his campaign and departed for home, he was captured by the German emperor and held prisoner until he could promise a large ransom. “The Third Crusade had freed Acre, but had left Jerusalem unredeemed.” Writes Will Durant. “[I]t was a discouragingly small result from the participation of Europe’s greatest kings. The drowning of Barbarossa, the flight of Philip Augustus, the brilliant failure of Richard, the unscrupulous intrigues of Christian knights in the Holy Land, the conflicts between Templars and Hospitallers, and the renewal of war between England and France broke the pride of Europe and further weakened the theological assurance of Christendom. But the early death of Saladin, and the breakup of his empire, released new hopes. Innocent III (1198–1216), at the very outset of his pontificate, demanded another effort; and Fulk de Neuilly, a simple priest, preached the Fourth Crusade to commoners and kings. The results were disheartening.” At the time, the throne in Constantinople was vied for by two bitter rivals. Pope Innocent was asked by one of them to divert the crusade to the Byzantine empire in order that he might secure the throne, a favor he would kindly repay by supporting the crusade against the Muslims. Pope Innocent refused to do so, but the Venetians, who were to transport the crusaders to Egypt by sea—from which they would launch an attack—instead conspired to divert the crusade to Constantinople for a considerable fee. Venetian trade with Egypt was quite lucrative, and they did not want to disrupt that business, so turning to Constantinople seemed a better alternative. Through these efforts, Baldwin of Flanders was made emperor of Byzantium, and the new Latin Empire of Constantinople was formed, which lasted over half a century. The Greek patriarch gave way to a Latin one, and east and west seemed to be reunited, but the people of Byzantium soon resisted the rule of the Latin emperor, and splinter states eventually broke off, one of which—the Empire of Nicaea, seized Constantinople, thus ending the Latin Empire. Enmity between east and west further intensified as a result. Byzantium was considerably weakened by the events of the Fourth Crusade and remained a minor player in the Mediterranean world until its fall to the Muslims in 1453. Though the Fifth Crusade was led by “the King of Jerusalem,” the title was a misnomer, since the city remained under Muslim control. Also, this so-called “King of Jerusalem,” King John, never saw Palestine, and his attacks on Egypt accomplished little in the crusade. The Sixth Crusade was considered a major success in a few small circles, in that Frederick II, who led it, negotiated with the sultan of Egypt, resulting in both men signing the treaty of Jaffa. This amounted to a ten-year truce and Christians taking back Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. Muslims, however, would continue their worship in the city unhindered. In other Christian and Muslim circles, the treaty created outrage and drew protests. To add insult to injury, Frederick, who had been excommunicated by the pope, and who no bishop or priest would crown, decided to crown himself King of Jerusalem at the Holy Sepulcher’s high altar. When the Templars plotted his assassination, he fled the city. A few years after the truce expired, Jerusalem was back in Muslim hands. The Seventh Crusade did not result in the recapture of Jerusalem by Christians. Led by Louis IX of France (who also led the failed Eighth Crusade that would see him die of fever), the Seventh Crusade was a disaster. The entire army of Crusaders was captured and held prisoner in Egypt in 1250. During this captivity, the elite Muslim party in Egypt was overthrown by an upstart party known as the Mamluks, who founded a new kingdom. Of them, Karen Armstrong, in her book Jerusalem, writes: “As children they had been enslaved by Muslims, converted to Islam, and then drafted into elite regiments in the Muslim armies. Since their lives had dramatically improved after their capture and conversion, they were usually devoted Muslims, who yet retained a distinct ethnic identity and felt strong solidarity with one another. Now the Bahariyya regiment that had seized control of Egypt would create a new Mamluk state and become a major power in the Near East.” The ascension of the Mamluks effected no change in Jerusalem’s status in the beginning, but they fended off the invading Mongols in 1260 and captured the city in a decisive battle. Christians would have to live with the loss, but their annual pilgrimages still occurred. The crusading spirit completely died out in Palestine by 1291, the year that the Mamluk sultan Khalil destroyed the Kingdom of Acre, and rid the city of the Franks who had made it their coastal hub. It was not by force that Muslims accomplished this, however. Acre is actually a testament to the vast amount of material wealth that was actually expended to the various crusades. North of Haifa, Acre is home to an enormous castle built by the Crusaders. Its walls are too thick to have been penetrated by medieval weaponry; its storage chambers belowground so vast that food supplies and other materials could outlast the longest siege. Indeed, the French knights who held the castle when the Mamluk Muslims approached in 1291 willingly surrendered, thinking that they had been forgotten by their homeland, from which relief would never come. They left the garrison with their pennants, strewn with decorative crucifixes, waving in the wind high above them. What the crusades accomplished was blocking the Muslims from controlling the entire Mediterranean coast, which, prior to the First Crusade, they were on the verge of doing. The era of the crusades also saw the merger of religious devotion and military aggression, the combined act of which came with papal promises of spiritual reward—chiefly the complete remission of sins. This ideal normalized the frenzied killing of those considered to be infidels to the Christian mind, and that did not include Muslims alone, but Israelites too. Hebrew Israelites were killed with abandon in this brutal period, not only in Palestine, and not only by Christians, but also in Muslim areas of the Iberian Peninsula at the hands of Berber rulers from the twelfth century onward. Israelites had to leave those regions and settle in Christian-controlled lands which saw them being forced to convert to Christianity in the late fourteenth century. Mass conversions on the part of Israelites followed, but many of them were merely pretending to convert to save their lives while secretly practicing their own ancient culture. With their ultimate victory over the Muslims in the Reconquista, a feat borne out of the crusading spirit, the Spanish and the Portuguese emerged as dominant players on the world stage. The Iberian Peninsula was transformed into a multicultural and ethnically diverse society primed for imperial expansion. Author Norman F. Cantor adds: “In the end it was a missionary society devoted to ambitious programs and great undertakings, and therefore it was Spain and Portugal that inaugurated the great age of European imperialism in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and created the new civilization of Latin America that could very well be the most dynamic culture of the early twenty-first century. The year 1095 leads directly to 1492, and the Iberian peoples bear the stamp of the crusading culture—its violence, its ambitions, its mobility, and its energy.”The transatlantic slave trade would result from these imperial ambitions, fulfilling among the most striking prophecies in Scripture that relate to the true people of Israel.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: Ascalon, Hospitaller, Hospitaler, Knights Templar, church of the holy sepulcher, chrism, 1 Samuel 10, anointing Saul, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


10 May 2020

Rank #13

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The First Crusade

As the investiture controversy rages on, Pope Gregory VII and King Henry IV face off, forcing one to yield to the other. While the eastern empire is being overrun by Seljuk Turks, Gregory’s successor, Urban II, assumes the papal throne and, preaching at the Council of Clermont, initiates the First Crusade, which draws 60,000—peasants and nobles alike—to the cause of vanquishing the Arab and Turkish infidels.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 19: The First CrusadeIn the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, the papacy led both a sweeping church reform and a relentless push to have the secular rulers launch an armed reconquest of Jerusalem from the Muslims, and these two agendas took center stage in medieval history at this time. The reform movement resulted in the popes clashing with emperors over the issue of investiture, which we touched on in our last podcast. Secular rulers, in the eyes of the papacy, should not be allowed to give the symbols of ecclesiastical office to members of the clergy, much less appoint those men. The church was to be a sovereign religious institution, independent of state control. The papal reforms aimed to return the imperial court to its role as the secular arm of the church; and the papacy relied heavily on that secular arm, which was eventually persuaded to focus its military might on the Muslims in the First Crusade. The papacy’s persuasion was quite powerful. German kings styled themselves as “Roman,” and acted like successors of Augustus, but they did not rule an empire along the lines of Charlemagne, or actual past Roman emperors like Theodosius I. Instead, they descended on Rome to be crowned by the pope and ruled over small kingdoms and European municipalities that were a far cry from an empire. But, regardless, what they ruled would be called just that. After Leo IX, the papacy continued the reform movement via other popes, most notably Gregory VII, which elevated the office of the papacy to the loftiest position in Europe. The church was becoming centralized, with bishops at large swearing fealty to the Roman pontiff; and the pope, who was viewed as a supreme monarch and judge, in turn heard wide appeals throughout Christendom, which he decided on. Gregory VII was a powerful pope, and his power was tested by the German king, Henry IV late in the eleventh century. Church and state clashed once more with these two towering figures, as Henry’s view was that, as the sitting king, through the grace of the Almighty, he was invested with the authority to mediate matters between the people of his realm and the clergy. Henry saw the church as a free entity subject only to the state. Gregory, like other apostolic-minded popes before him, argued that the papacy held the keys to heaven, and all Christians, the king included, were subject to its control. The pope, he held, could depose, in his universal authority, unfit emperors. “When Henry fell out with Pope Gregory VII in 1075–76, the pope threatened Henry with deposition.” Writes Chris Wickham, in his book, Medieval Europe. “Henry moved quickly to Italy, and in one of the famous images of the middle ages stood three days and nights in the snow outside the castle of Canossa in January 1077 until the pope, who was inside, accepted his penance.” The pope was urged to do so by those with him in the fortress, for they were greatly moved by Henry, who had arrived barefoot in the snow wearing sackcloth, and weeping. The pope held the power of excommunication, which was an unequalled weapon in the medieval period. He could threaten peasants and kings alike, bringing them to their knees in forced penance, as was the case with Henry IV. The pronouncement of excommunication was usually followed by the formal reading of such by a bishop, then a bell would ring—the same as intoned for a funeral—a book would be heard closing with force, and a candle would have its flame put out. This was all indicative of the guilty excommunicated soul being, as it were, cut off from salvation by the power of the pope’s order. While excommunicated, that person could not partake in legal affairs, either as a judge—if that was his office—juror, witness, or lawyer. They could also not be named in contracts, or act as guardians or executors. Upon death, no Christian burial was to be granted, and should they be buried on what was considered to be consecrated grounds, the church would have their bodies dug up and destroyed. Despite this unprecedented authority, the papacy, through the dictate of prophecy, would always be a “little horn” power, wielding her influence where she could. Thus, the papacy always looked to certain secular powers—the regular sized horns—for defense, or sheer military might. It had relied on the Carolingians to defend it against its fiercest foe, the Lombards, whom Charlemagne destroyed. And it then looked to the kings of Germany for defense against Muslims. When the Normans stormed into the region, taking up position in southern Italy, they did not do so in the manner of the prior horns that had to be plucked up. In discussing a set of European kingdoms which were beginning to develop into powerful states, Chris Wickham writes: “Italy also showed the sharpening of political power. It did so on the largest scale in the south, where Roger II of Sicily (1105–54) unified all the Norman principalities in wars between 1127 and 1144, and was recognized as king by Pope Anacletus II in 1130. The Norman kingdom was tightly governed from then on for the most part, with a rich capital at Palermo and an elaborate Greek–Arab–Latin administration, linked to the provinces by royal-appointed justiciars.” Note that the Norman king had to be recognized as such by the Roman pontiff, Anacletus. This was not the case with the Lombards, or the other two non-Catholic barbarian tribes that were forcefully uprooted. What is more, the Normans, wherever they settled and eventually assimilated, helped develop a new political and social order in Europe, which would have lasting effect. Papal influence would draw Norman feudal lords from southern Italy, together with nobles from France and Germany, to fight in the First Crusade. It was Gregory VII’s extreme reform measures that seeded the fertile soil that gave rise to the crusades. During the investiture controversy, Gregory had argued that Christians who engaged in military efforts for that cause were in fact doing penance by fighting as soldiers of the Almighty. While Pope Gregory VII was instrumental in removing the stranglehold the kings had on the western church, his strong convictions, and his efforts to seize supreme temporal power, were considered too broad. “Although Gregory went too far, too fast …” Writes Thomas Asbridge, in his book, The Crusades. “… and ended his pontificate in ignominious exile in southern Italy, his bold strides did much to advance the twin causes of reform and papal empowerment, establishing a platform from which one of his successors and former advisor, Pope Urban II (1088 – 99) could instigate the First Crusade. Urban’s call for a Holy War found a willing audience across Europe, in large part because of the prevailing religious atmosphere in the Latin world. Across the west, Christianity was an almost universally accepted faith, and, in contrast to modern secularized European society, the eleventh century was a profoundly spiritual era. This was a setting in which Christian doctrine impinged upon virtually every facet of human life: from birth and death, to sleeping and eating, marriage and health.” Much like Mecca was in the eyes of Muslims, for centuries Jerusalem was held in high esteem among Christians who regularly made pilgrimages there to visit places they viewed as sacred. Acts of devotion to the ancient city along these lines could be seen as early as the fourth century. A Spanish woman had written extensively about her visit to Palestine, detailing the Christian rituals she witnessed, the places she visited, and the customs she encountered. So greatly did Christians in the west regard the places they thought to be sacred, her long letter, titled Peregrinatio, was still being read and appreciated by them in the eleventh century. Through the centuries, Christian pilgrimages had been very peaceful, even after Muslims swept in with Islam in the seventh century and conquered the Near East. By and large, Muslims were very tolerant of Christians in Palestine, so much so that, a few centuries later, mass Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem were being organized by bishops, the largest of which left from Germany in 1065 with some seven thousand pilgrims. Things changed quickly, however, when a new enemy entered the medieval arena. The Seljuk Turks amassed power and began to challenge their enemies. Successful raids against the Byzantine Empire resulted in a peace agreement that left the Seljuks with lands on the empire’s eastern frontier, along with much booty, food, and supplies. Emboldened, they also sought to seize Muslim lands, and a march into Baghdad unseated the ruling power there, forcing the remaining spiritual head, the Abbasid caliph, to view the leader of the Seljuk Turks as supreme sultan of the Muslim world. Just as the Germanic invaders of the Roman Empire had converted to Christianity, the Seljuk Turks eventually converted to the religion of the Muslims they conquered. The new sultan of the Seljuk Turks, Malik Shah, looked to expand their region even farther. “Turkish armies, under the command of the general Atsiz ibn Abaq, pushed south all the way to Jerusalem, which up until now had been in the hands of the Fatimids of Egypt.”  Writes Susan Wise Bauer, in her book, The History of the Medieval World. “Atsiz and his soldiers laid siege to Jerusalem and forced the Fatimid defenders to surrender in 1073. Fatimid resistance in the city continued until 1077, but in that year Atsiz grew exasperated and massacred three thousand of its inhabitants.” Mostly Fatimid Arabs and Israelites. “This brought a final end to the Fatimid attempts to hold onto the city. It was now firmly under Malik Shah’s overlordship.” These fanatical new converts to Islam, who systematically plundered the Near East, brought a tense situation to Jerusalem after they seized the city. The Seljuk Turks were not finished yet, however, as they swept north into Asia Minor to complete further conquests. This region was a major source of revenue for the Byzantine Empire, from which it also drew many troops. In 1071, during the Battle of Manzikert, the Turks captured the emperor of Byzantium, Romanos IV, and slaughtered half his troops while they scattered his remaining forces of some 30,000 men. Within a few years, Byzantium lost Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks. In 1095, the sitting Byzantine emperor, Alexius I, dispatched envoys to Pope Urban II requesting that Italian soldiers be sent east to help suppress the Seljuk Turks. “This was a relatively simple request—Alexius needed mercenaries—but Urban II transformed it into something new.”Writes Susan Wise Bauer. “He was on a tour through Italy and Western Francia, designed to demonstrate that the pope’s authority—unlike the fractured authority of his predecessors—once again covered all of the Christian world. Now he would demonstrate that the authority of Peter’s heir stretched across the world.“In November of 1095, at Clermont in Western Francia, Urban II announced that it was not only time to help Byzantium in its battles against the Turks (as Alexius had asked), but also time to recapture Jerusalem from the hands of Muslims (something Alexius had not mentioned).”We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast. In 1095, in an open field at the Council of Clermont in France, Pope Urban II delivered a speech that urged a crowd of thousands to take up the Christian cross and thrust themselves into an important spiritual cause that would not only merit spiritual rewards, but considerable material ones as well. He drew their attention to the land they inhabited, pointing out its narrowness in contrast to their large population. He stressed that the same did not abound with wealth, and could scarcely furnish food enough for its cultivators. This, he illustrated, was the reason the people rose one against the other with violence and murder. There were others, however, who were more deserving of such treatment: the Turks and Arabs, who had seized and occupied more and more Christian lands. “They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire.” He said, in his impassioned appeal on that cold November day. If the people allowed these horrors to continue, the faithful would be attacked all the more by these enemies. On that account, he beseeched the crowd, as the heralds of the Savior …   “… [T]o publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends.” Rather than destroy one another, he insisted that they direct their energy to enemies abroad. “Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels. Let those who for a long time have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians…. Let those who go not put off the journey.” Then came the promise of the spiritual reward, which many in attendance saw as the only means of reversing their dire fate. “All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins.” Thus, with blasphemy, were the people urged to engage in a bloody crusade in what was perceived to be “the Holy Land.” Following Pope Urban’s impassioned speech, the crowd erupted in a cry of “Dieu li volt,” (“the Deity wills it”). Then and there, Urban declared it the official battle cry in the war against the Muslims. He also instructed the crowd to wear the symbol of the cross upon their foreheads or chests. This is why strips were later cut from red cloaks and sewn on the front of tunics in the form of a cross. In fact, the word crusade has its root in the Latin crux, or cross, and means “a state of being marked with the cross.” A contemporary, William of Malmesbury, reported that some of the nobility fell at the knees of the pope and immediately consecrated themselves, as well as their property, to the cause, which they saw as divine. Thousands of commoners in the crowd also made similar pledges. Even monks and hermits abandoned their monastic principles to enlist as soldiers in the crusade. With boundless energy, the pope took his message of the crusade to other French cities over the next nine months, passing through Tours, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, and Nîmes. “When he reached Rome after two years’ absence, he was enthusiastically acclaimed by the least pious city in all of Christendom.” Writes Will Durant, in his book, The Age of Faith. “He assumed, with no serious opposition, the authority to release Crusaders from commitments hindering the crusade; he freed the serf and the vassal, for the duration of the war, from fealty to their lord; he conferred upon all Crusaders the privilege of being tried by ecclesiastical instead of manorial courts, and guaranteed them, during their absence, the episcopal protection of their property; he commanded—though he could not quite enforce—a truce to all wars of Christians against Christians; he established a new principle of obedience above the code of feudal loyalty. Now, more than ever, Europe was made one. Urban found himself the accepted master, at least in theory, of Europe’s kings. All Christendom was moved as never before as it feverishly prepared for the holy war.” Papal legates helped spread Pope Urban’s message as far as southern Italy. Others did the rest. His promise, that the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to enact war could be considered a substitute “for all penance,” if one were sincere in their efforts, drew a great response from central and northern Europe. Around 60,000 in all responded to the call. But other inducements helped to swell the numbers to such a vast multitude. Citizens were promised tax exemptions; debtors enjoyed a temporary cessation in paying interest; prisoners were released; and death sentences, by papal authority, were converted to a life of service in Palestine. Indeed, the sheer numbers of people who headed east dramatically altered life in Europe. But the pilgrimage also instilled great hope in the Crusaders. Some knights were forced to go simply because their serfs had enlisted and abandoned the land. Other enterprising individuals sought to obtain fiefs in the east, a feat that would be impossible to them in their homeland. Merchants were optimistic about new trading opportunities that would increase their traffic of goods. Women and children, who couldn’t bear to be away from their husbands or parents, joined the throng. The journey for the Crusaders, as Pope Urban had said to the crowd during his crusade speech, was to begin after winter had passed. Preparations, therefore, began in earnest in late 1095 and early 1096. Among the first to depart was a horde of 12,000 peasants, together with only eight knights, led by Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless, a Frankish noble who was so named because he had no money to raise a proper army. Wealthy nobles did join the cause as well. The first elite to sell his land and set out for Jerusalem is said to have been a man named Godfrey, a very rich individual of noble birth. Quoting Susan Wise Bauer, he was … “… the duke of lower Lorraine. He was accompanied on crusade by his brothers Baldwin and Eustace, and the three siblings were followed in rapid succession by Robert Guiscard’s son Bohemund, who left his father’s Norman lands in Italy to answer the call with a smaller army; the Frankish duke Raymond of Toulouse, who brought ten thousand men with him; and Robert, the duke of Normandy. Robert, oldest son of William the Conqueror, had inherited Normandy at his father’s death in 1087, while his younger brother William had become the second Norman king of England.” Count Bohemund had his heart set on carving out a kingdom for himself and his faithful Norman warriors from the former Byzantine holdings in the Near East. The peasant company, on the other hand, did not hold such grand ambitions. They were a motley, disorganized band of mostly degenerates given over to bloodlusts, who attacked locals and massacred several Israelite communities as they went. These peasant hordes were ill-prepared for the road, being led by incapable leaders who had provided little in the way of food or funds to support such a vast multitude. Neither did they account for the extreme length and arduous nature of the journey. As they made their way toward Palestine by way of the Rhine and Danube, the impatient children among their number asked at every turn in their march, “Is this not Jerusalem?” which is ancient-speak for, “Are we there yet?” The funds soon ran out, and starvation set in. This sent the hordes on a pillaging spree of the fields and homes along their route, and led to worse acts of atrocity. Beyond the violent resistance of the citizens who were bold enough to fight back, the hordes endured famine, plague, leprosy, and even fever, but at last they reached Constantinople, penniless and reduced in number. Emperor Alexius welcomed them but could not satisfy the hunger of so great a host, thus the hordes took to pillaging once more, this time within Constantinople itself, targeting churches, palaces, and suburban homes. Alexius intervened by providing the Crusaders with seagoing vessels to carry them across the Bosporus where they were to await reinforcements while they subsisted on the supplies sent by Alexius. “Whether through hunger or restlessness, the Crusaders ignored these instructions, and advanced upon Nicaea.” Writes Will Durant. “A disciplined force of Turks, all skilled bowmen, marched out from the city and almost annihilated this first division of the First Crusade. Walter the Penniless was among the slain; Peter the Hermit, disgusted with his uncontrollable host, had returned before the battle to Constantinople, and lived safely till 1115.” A new wave of Crusaders—a more orderly procession this time around—marched toward Constantinople. They reached the eastern empire’s capital via different routes, Bohemund and Godfrey among them. Bohemund immediately proposed to Godfrey that they lay siege to the city. Godfrey refused, reminding Bohemund that the enemy was the Muslims. Emperor Alexius, alarmed at the sight of the combined western forces assembled at his gate—30,000 men in all—thought better of his plea to Pope Urban that they be sent. Alexius recalled the actions of the previous hordes and quickly furnished the new Crusaders with supplies, transport, military aid, and, for the noble leaders, bribes. He then struck a bargain with the nobles, having them agree to swear fealty to him as feudal lord upon the seizure of any lands. In 1097, the troops crossed the Bosporus, intent on waging war. In her book, Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, Karen Armstrong writes: “It was a good time to attack the Seljuks: their early solidarity had given way to factional strife, and the emirs were fighting one another. The Crusaders made a good start, and they inflicted defeats on the Turks at Nicaea and Dorylaeum. But it was a long journey, food was scarce, and the Turks pursued a scorched-earth policy. It took the Crusaders three years of unimaginable hardship to reach Jerusalem. When they arrived at Antioch, they laid siege to this powerfully fortified city during the terrible winter of 1097–98; over the course of the siege, one man in seven starved to death and half the army deserted. Yet, against the odds, the Crusaders were ultimately victorious, and when they stood at last before the walls of Jerusalem in 1099, they had changed the map of the Near East.” The way this was accomplished was a wonder to behold, according to Raymond of Agiles, a priest who witnessed the scene. He reports of corpses and body parts filling the streets, which one could see as they rode in any direction. Many Saracens—a term used by Christians to describe Arabs who were hostile to Crusaders—were beheaded. Some Saracens received arrows, while others jumped to their deaths from the towers. Many more suffered days of torture before being burned alive. Other eyewitnesses reported of women being killed violently, along with suckling infants who were forced from their mothers’ arms. Of the thousands of Muslims who remained in the city, very few survived. The last of the Israelites too were gathered into a synagogue that was later set on fire, killing all inside. Following these and other heinous acts, the victorious Crusaders congregated in the church of the Holy Sepulcher, where they embraced, wept with joy, and offered up prayers of thanksgiving for their achievements.With the Seljuk Turks in Asia Minor vanquished, the Crusaders were able to set up two new principalities that were ruled by westerners: one in Edessa, and the other in Antioch, whose ruler was Bohemund. Godfrey of Lorraine, meanwhile, ruled the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, which was nothing more than a small principality. This dark chapter in Christian history was followed by more crusades, and by 1187, Jerusalem would be back under Muslim control. In another century, the Latin Kingdom would be no more. The chief asset won through much bloodshed, in other words, would be lost to the very infidels they sought to destroy.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: justiciars, Anacletus II, Gregory VII, the first crusade, Pope Urban II, Peregrinatio, Abbasid, Fatimid Arabs, Malik Shah, Seljuk Turks, Battle of Manzikert, Romanos IV, Alexius I, Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


29 Mar 2020

Rank #14

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Decline of the Papacy

The church experiences a low ebb of morality while enduring the external threat of yet other invasions, this time by Magyars from the east and Norsemen from the north. Vikings and Danes plunder the west and establish kingdoms in what would become powerful European states, while the church and the papacy suffer from widespread corruption. The practice of simony plagues the clergy, and feudalism sweeps through the empire.Show TranscriptShalom, and welcome to our history podcast. This is a production of Kingdom Preppers.org. I’m your host, Kingdom Prepper, and you’re listening to: Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. We continue with our history. Last Episode Next Episode All Episodes Part 18: Decline of the PapacyIn western Europe, from the late ninth to the early eleventh century, a low ebb was experienced in Christian and secular societies. Compounding the moral depravity and greed of men and women alike was the external threat of further invasions by the Magyars, who swept in from the east, and whom the Latin West called Hungarians, because they were a brutal reminder of the ancient Huns. But worse than the Hungarians were the Germanic Northmen, or Norsemen, a combination of Vikings and Danes from Scandinavia. The Northmen would later be known as the Normans, who would give their name to a region of France: Normandy.  “Viking” to many ears meant seafearing pirate raiders. Generally speaking, they were northern invaders made up of barbarian pagans who threatened to extinguish the light of civilized advancement ignited during the Carolingian period. Ireland was invaded by them in the eighth century, followed by the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria in England. In both instances, they raided monasteries, simply for the abundant gold and silver that was found in religious relics, such as chalices, crosses, and certain ecclesiastical art pieces. These monasteries were also undefended, and were therefore easy targets, which were often burned to the ground, while its monks were, at times, tortured or slaughtered.In the two centuries that followed the death of Charlemagne, the Vikings made their way not only throughout western Europe, but also northern Europe, along the Caspian Sea north to the Volga, within Russian territory. They traveled along the Black and Mediterranean seas as well, and even far west to the northern Atlantic lands of Newfoundland and greater North America. What made all this possible was Viking technology, summed up in their impressive longships. Of this, author John M. Riddle, in his book, A History of the Middle Ages, writes:“Several developments permitted the Vikings to descend on Europe and the North Atlantic. First, they learned that the ore found in peat bogs could be smelted in pottery chimneys with shaft furnaces, which provided them with the basis for metalwork. Abundant trees provided charcoal for the furnaces where molten iron was manufactured. And skill in metalwork led to the development of tools for felling the forest, clearing land for pasturage, and providing timber for heating homes and building ships. Second, as experienced fishermen, the Vikings were already familiar with building boats, but with good iron tools the Norse shipbuilders designed the longships, nearly a hundred feet long, that were primarily for battle and carrying cargo, including horses and around a hundred men. Primarily, Viking ships were sailing vessels, but their well-crafted beams could handle rough ocean seas, and their flat bottoms had little draft, thus enabling them to sail up shallow rivers for interior raids.”In England, King Alfred the Great of Wessex seemed to be the ruler of the only force that could stall the Norsemen, but by the eleventh century, King Canute of the Danes was master of England in its entirety—in addition to Denmark (hence the Danish language), Sweden, and Norway. The Norsemen conquered the Muslims in Sicily and took possession of that territory as well. Attacks by the Norsemen decreased dramatically after they settled lands and established distant kingdoms in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Northern France. What is more, they converted to Christianity after conquering several Christian lands. They simply adopted the religion of the settled peoples, and many Norsemen still remaining in Scandinavia and Iceland were either forced to convert or inspired to by the leadership. Midway through the eleventh century, almost all Scandinavians were baptized Christians, so they were no longer a barbarian horn in opposition to the papal or wider Christian powers.The terrifying Magyars too, later known as Hungarians, eventually adopted the customs and culture of the surrounding Germans and even the Slavs they had conquered. The efforts of missionaries sent to Hungary from Byzantium and Germany led to the conversion of a tenth-century Hungarian king. And the next king in line, Stephen—later dubbed Saint Stephen of Hungary—spearheaded the forced conversion of his people.Even though Christianity would eventually sweep through all of those European lands, the brutal incursions by Scandinavians and Hungarians in the tenth century has caused that century to be considered one of the darkest in medieval history. And the version of Christianity that was being adopted was more tainted than the one from early antiquity. Corruption was rampant.“In this state of affairs, nonetheless, the pace of Christianization quickened.”Writes Kevin Madigan, in his book Medieval Christianity. “The Northmen of England and France were baptized. From 950 to ca. 1000, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were all converted. On the eastern border, Christianity was accepted in Hungary and Poland in the late tenth century.“Still, everywhere canon law was either unknown or ignored. Church offices were bought and sold. Clergy were sexually immoral. Lay rulers appointed bishops and abbots. They also built private chapels without the supervision of bishops and appointed priests. It would have been impossible to see, in these conditions, that Christendom lay trembling just then on the brink of an epochal revival.”But that revival would not come right away. In fact, this period was one in which the papacy itself fell to its lowest depths as a perfect reflection of the dark times. Accompanying the problem of papal corruption was the Roman citizenry, which was largely unmanageable from of old, when Rome was an imperial stronghold. The papal powers that ruled what was now a small Italian principality were equipped with a militia—small and weak though it be—a powerful creed to which all Christians were bound, and the overbearing influence of their ecclesiastical office. The power of the papal office was such that it was able to control the title of emperor, a right that was granted with the crowning of Charlemagne in the year 800. This kind of power aroused jealousy in the Roman aristocracy, which was drawn from the Roman citizenry.At this time, Roman citizens were not awed by the papal office. Many of them saw weakness in the popes, as well as greed. These citizens, however, along with the Catholic clergy and Roman nobility, had to consent to the election of popes, so the populace held their own power in a way. But the real power lay with those who could control the pope himself, who was often a puppet in this dark period.  “The rulers of Spoleto, Benevento, Naples, and Tuscany—and the aristocracy of Rome—divided into factions as of old.”Writes Will Durant in his book The Age of Faith.“And whichever faction prevailed in the city intrigued to choose and sway the pope. Between them, they dragged the papacy in the tenth century to the lowest level in its history.”One account of barbarity is left to us from the end of the ninth century, and it involves one of papal political treachery. Of this, Will Durant writes:“In 897, Pope Stephen VI had the corpse of Pope Formosus exhumed, dressed in purple robes and tried before an ecclesiastical council on the charge of violating certain church laws.”Pope Formosus, who was the previous pope until his death in 896, had crowned Lambert, duke of Spoleto, emperor. But a change of heart caused him to reject that crowning for that of another candidate, a ruler named Arnulf. These and other acts committed by Formosus were scrutinized during Pope Stephen’s judgment of the corpse of Formosus. And in the end …“The corpse was condemned, stripped, mutilated, and plunged into the Tiber.”This after it was dragged through the streets.“In the same year, a political revolution in Rome overthrew Stephen, who was strangled in jail.”Will Durant goes on to say.“For several years thereafter, the papal chair was filled by bribery, murder, or the favor of women of high rank and low morality.”While the popes had the ostensible power to crown and uncrown emperors, they could not properly govern their own city, let alone rid their office of corruption. Prior to the bizarre trial involving the corpse of Formosus, which is known as the “Cadaveric Council,” a former pope, John VIII, had sought the aid of a Frankish emperor, Charles the Fat, to defend his holdings against Muslim invasion. Pope John also reached out to Byzantium, but when neither showed any interest in aiding the vulnerable pope, someone close to him was ordered to see to his murder, which took place in his palace. Following John VIII, many popes came and went in quick succession, as powerful rivals in Rome and beyond the Alps carried out various intrigues to see their desired man seated as pope. Many popes therefore died a gruesome death, some being strangled, others being thrown into dungeons where they were left to starve in darkness.As an illustration of how the prevailing aristocracy intrigued and maneuvered to control the papacy, Will Durant writes that:“For half a century the family of Theophylact, a chief official of the papal palace, made and unmade popes at will. His daughter Marozia secured the election of her lover as Pope Sergius III (904 – 11).”And in the very year Sergius was made pope, 904, he had his two main rivals, Leo V and Christopher I, imprisoned and killed. Will Durant goes on to say that Theophylact’s wife Theodora …“… procured the election of Pope John X (914 – 28). John has been accused of being Theodora’s paramour, but on inadequate evidence. Certainly he was an excellent secular leader, for it was he who organized the coalition that in 916 repulsed the Saracens from Rome. Marozia, after having enjoyed a succession of lovers, married Guido, Duke of Tuscany. They conspired to unseat John. They had his brother Peter killed before his face. The pope was thrown into prison and died there a few months later from causes unknown. “In 931 Marozia raised to the papacy John XI (931 – 5) commonly reputed to be her bastard son by Sergius III. In 932 her son Alberic imprisoned John in the castle of Sant’Angelo, but allowed him to exercise from jail the spiritual functions of the papacy. For 22 years, Alberic ruled Rome as the dictatorial head of a Roman Republic. At his death, he bequeathed his power to his son Octavian, and made the clergy and people promise to choose Octavian pope when Agapetus II should die. It was done as he ordered. In 955, Marozia’s grandson became John XII and distinguished his pontificate by orgies of debauchery in the Lateran palace.”In the reign of the German king Otto III, who inherited the empire and ruled from 983 – 1002, a spiritual revival was attempted. Otto III, though German, rarely resided in Germany. Instead, he set his sights on Rome, which he planned to reestablish as the center of a new Roman Empire. This was not a thought original to Otto, however. His main influence was that of a religious French scholar named Gerbert of Aurillac who had studied in Muslim Spain and was considered to be the greatest western intellect of his day. Gerbert, along with other Christian authorities who had filled Otto’s court, often discussed a revival of the ancient Roman Empire. This vision impressed upon Otto III the idea of the western world being ruled from Rome, as was seen in the days of the great Caesars and Augusti.Set on implementing his new plan, Otto III established a residence in Rome and placed Gerbert on the papal throne as Pope Sylvester II. These moves were seen as the elements needed to unify the world and the church, and Otto, in an important document, declared the same, stating emphatically:“We proclaim Rome capital of the world. We recognize that the Latin church is the mother of all churches.”We’ll be back with more exciting scriptural history . . . in a moment.[MUSICAL INTERLUDE]We now continue with our podcast.Otto III died of smallpox in 1002, in the midst of his efforts to suppress a revolt, and his grand imperial vision died with him. With Otto’s passing, a new aristocratic family, that of the Roman consul Crescentius, gained power over the papal throne. They were related to the previous dominant family of Theophylact, Theodora, and Marozia. Following them, the counts of Tusculum seized control of the papacy and named three popes in succession, the last of which, Benedict IX, was a mere young teen. In 1045, thirteen years after he assumed the papal throne, Benedict IX abdicated briefly after accepting a financial settlement of one or two thousand pounds of gold. Following more attempts at reform by the succeeding pope, Gregory VI—who bought his seat from Benedict IX—and intrigues by the Crescentius family—who had regained their hold and appointed Sylvester III—the Italian clergy appealed to Henry III, the German emperor, who intervened at last. “[H]e came to Sutri, near Rome, and convened an ecclesiastical council.”Writes Will Durant.“[I]t imprisoned Sylvester, accepted Benedict’s resignation, and deposed Gregory for admittedly buying the papacy. Henry persuaded the council that only a foreign pope, protected by the emperor, could terminate the debasement of the church. The Bishop of Bamberg was elected as Clement II (1046 – 7); he died a year later; and Damasus II (1047 – 8) also succumbed to the malaria that now regularly came out of the undrained Campagna. At last in Leo IX (1049 – 54) the papacy found a man who could face its problems with courage, learning, integrity, and a piety long rare in Rome.”The same council moved against broader acts of ecclesiastical corruption in the church, namely simony, wherein bishops and popes routinely bought and sold their position, as was the case with Benedict IX and Gregory VI. The act of simony was named for Simon Magus, who, in Acts 8:18 – 19, attempted to buy the gift of the Set Apart Spirit from the emissaries—not that the papacy, bishoprics, or any priestly Christian office or benefice could ever equate to the gift of the Set Apart Spirit. Another problem the emperor addressed was the issue of marriage within the secular clergy. Marriage led to sons, who, through the corrupt efforts of the Roman nobility, often became heirs to the papal throne. Celibacy was thus favored to allow for the fair election of future popes. But more than that, allowing a hereditary priesthood, which would result from the progeny of such marriages, would sink the church further into feudalism.The church, by virtue of its vast landholdings, was heavily involved in the social, economic, and political structure of feudalism, a medieval practice that sprang out of France in the tenth and eleventh centuries, but which has its roots in late Roman and early Germanic times. Charlemagne’s habit of land payments, which we touched on in our last podcast, seeded this medieval system, remnants of which exist to this day. While there are various interpretations of what feudalism is, there were mainly three basic elements to its structure. There was the chief social element of lordship and vassalage, which will be explained shortly; there was the secondary economic element, which involved a fief (or land held on condition of feudal service); and there was the final political element of a decentralized government and legal structure that supported the entire feudal system.The decentralized nature meant that relationships formed between persons of noble rank did not need the oversight of a governmental body. And feudalism, a government operated locally by private individuals, began with the upper class, in that a king allowed a count to hold a fief, and a count a baron to hold one, then the baron a knight, and so the vassalage flowed from the highest rank of nobility. A vassal was a feudal tenant of a stronger nobleman, to whom he swore allegiance. A vassal also provided his lord with financial aid, lodging, and counsel. But most of all, he provided military support. Chris Wickham, in Medieval Europe, writes:“Here we are in the middle of the world of what is often called military feudalism: a wide élite of great aristocrats and knights did military service, and showed political loyalty, in return for gifts of office or land from kings or lesser lords, which they would lose if they were disloyal. Such men would often be called the lord’s sworn vassi, vassals, and the conditional landholdings would be called feoda, fiefs, hence the words ‘feudal’ and ‘feudo-vassalic’ in modern historical terminology.”The bond between a lord and a vassal was forged in a ceremony called an act of homage. The vassal traditionally knelt before his lord, pledged that he was his “man,” and professed fealty to him by swearing on a bible or other object thought to be sacred. In turn, the lord swore protection and justice to his vassal. What must be noted is that, by the eleventh century, while the vassal knelt before his lord, he would join his raised hands together, which the lord would clasp with his own hands in ceremony. The joined, raised hands of the vassal before his lord has since become the symbol of prayer to the Creator among Christians, which is a feudal practice. Israelites did not pray in this manner.Among other examples, the idea of a tenant and landlord who are contracted to each other through a lease agreement can still be seen in cities and suburbs where individuals rent apartments. And many still do not realize that translators of English bibles have long substituted the name of the Creator, Yah, for the feudal title “Lord,” which is the English translation of the Hebrew word “Ba’al,” a Phoenician and Canaanite deity. We covered this topic in part 3 of The Covenant Law of Yah scripture study series.While a knight had to be born of the nobility, in this medieval period, a common family, on rare occasions, could rise to the level of nobility by sending its sons to war. If a commoner went to war for a king and demonstrated extraordinary military service, that soldier could be knighted, and knights formed the army of a feudal lord. The knight would then be awarded with land for his loyalty.“[A]rmies had to be constructed on the basis of the public service of landowners, or else by handing out land on which military men could live.”Writes Chris Wickham.“In this world, a substantial proportion of military service, and thus army formation, depended on personal relationships, linked to the possession of land.”The aristocratic families of Rome and beyond the Alps ranked high among the noble families of the empire, a feat they achieved by receiving royal favor, acquiring substantial wealth, restricting themselves to marriages with close family lines, proving their military prowess through knighthood, and other means. But by gaining control of the papal selection, these families among the lay nobility became enemies of the clergy, and they had to be dealt with. With the invasion of Magyars and Vikings, the church turned to French barons and German kings for support, but that meant that many among the upper ranks of the Catholic clergy, and even the abbots within the monastic movement, had to swear allegiance to these elites by becoming their vassals, for which they received fiefs, or lands, that forced them to provide feudal services to their new lords. These bishops and abbots looked to the Roman pontiff as the shepherd of the church, and their true head on earth, so having to become vassals to lesser powers proved to be a problem. But the papacy was in turmoil due to various factions of the diabolical nobility. These opposing loyalties led to what came to be known as the investiture controversy, wherein a bishop or abbot who assumed office received two investitures. Supposed spiritual authority was bestowed by the church, but feudal or civil authority was bestowed by a king or noble, to whom the bishop or abbot was vassal. In this period, however, feudal lords and kings gained control of selecting and installing bishops, abbots, and other clergy. In Germany, where the king’s power extended to the control of the church, this was most pronounced. The church was in no position to challenge the power of the king, or even lesser feudal lords. Widespread corruption and greed inhibited many from even attempting a change of circumstance.“Many bishoprics became in the eleventh century the hereditary patrimony of noble families, and were used as provision for bastards or younger sons.”Writes Will Durant.“In Germany, one baron possessed and transmitted eight bishoprics. A German cardinal alleged (ca. 1048) that the simoniacal buyers of sees and benefices had sold the marble facings of churches, even the tiles from their roofs, to reimburse themselves for the cost of their appointments. Such appointees were men of the world; many lived in luxury, engaged in war, allowed bribery in episcopal courts, named relatives to ecclesiastical posts, and worshipped Mammon with undivided loyalty. Pope Innocent III would say of an archbishop of Narbonne, that he had a purse where his heart should have been.”What came next was a broad measure of reform that began with the Benedictine order of monks at Cluny. These monks sought to reform not only the monastic movement, which had also been in decline, but the feudal church itself, extending to the secular clergy. They called for celibacy and the abolition of simony, with their chief aim being that of freeing the church of secular control and bringing it under papal authority. The papacy itself, with the coming of Pope Leo IX and his entourage of reformers, slowly changed course. Before long, in parts of the land, new laws were passed by other powers, and …“The clergy could not legally marry.”Writes Norman F. Cantor, in The Civilization of the Middle Ages.“[T]hough many had children, these children were bastards who could not inherit fiefs under feudal law. Hence no bishop or abbot could pursue a dynastic interest with regard to his fiefs. The fiefs, in any case, were attached to the ecclesiastical office and were not the personal possession of the bishop or abbot.”The investiture issue was also addressed by the college of cardinals, which, under Leo IX, became somewhat a senate of the Roman church after being institutionalized. In 1059, an important edict transferred papal elections from Roman nobles and German emperors to the college of cardinals. Thenceforth, it became the task of the college of cardinals to elect the pope, as it is to this day.From this period onward, western Europe would undergo a momentous series of changes, with sophisticated feudal European states emerging from former barbarian-controlled provinces, all of them having Christianity in common. The papacy would survive its darkest era in history and emerge as an integral part of what would come to be known as the “Holy Roman Empire,” a multi-ethnic complex of European territories that was none of the three things its name suggested. This so-called empire, which began with Charlemagne’s crowning as emperor, would pass through many hands and last through various historic upheavals until the Napoleonic Wars would see to its destruction at the turn of the nineteenth century.That wraps it up for this episode of Churchianity: Two Thousand Years of Leaven. A production of Kingdom Preppers.org, this episode was written, produced, and hosted by yours truly, Kingdom Prepper. All praise, honor, and glory are due to my boss, Yah Elohim, and to his right hand, Yahushua HaMashiach. You can access the transcript for this episode on our website. Yah willing, our history will continue in the next podcast. Shalom. Keywords: norsemen, northmen, Magyar, Hungarian, Viking, danes, northumbria, Pope Formosus, cadaveric council, Theophylact, Marozia, Sergius III, Crescentius, investiture controversy, churchianity, two thousand years of leaven, history of Christianity, church history, Hebrew history, kp, kingdom preppers Feedback Form Name * First Name Last Name Email * Subject * Message * Let us know what you thought about this episode. Thank you! View Video Excerpt


15 Mar 2020

Rank #15