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44. J. Savage

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It is a wonder to many as to how the Church of Rome came to be what it was, how Rome among all the cities of the ancient world should have gained this general supremacy in the Church. It seems to me fitting therefore, as the next step in our study of the evolution of Christianity, that we should trace the growth that culminated in the power of Rome throughout Christendom,- trace it of course briefly, but sufficiently to make plain the processes by which it became what it has been, and to note some of the good and some of the evils connected with its supremacy.

The churches at first, as you find them referred to in the New Testament, were simple, little, voluntary gatherings of free and equal men and women, no one having any supremacy over another. You will understand that Jesus organized no church. There was nothing that could be called a church until after his death. After the belief sprung up that he was not dead, but was still alive, and had passed into the heavens to be their unseen, spiritual, divine head and leader, then the hearts of the discouraged disciples rallied together, and they gathered themselves into these little groups here and there, organizing what they called churches, meaning by that merely meetings, assemblies, of those who were one in heart, in spirit, and in purpose, in their belief in the Christ and their hope for the coming kingdom. And by a process purely natural to those days, when the spirit of human equality was not abroad as it is to-day, and when all the models of government with which the people were familiar were aristocratic or monarchical, these churches became associated in

* Stenographically reported

larger or smaller groups; and there grew up a hierarchy of officials claiming authority more or less circumscribed over them. We find in the New Testament deacons and presbyters or elders, and later those called bishops, bishop meaning simply an overseer or superintendent. But these bishops. at last arrogated to themselves great power and authority. One man would have more authority than another on account of his natural ability, or on account of the size of the church from which he came and over which he presided, or on account of the dignity of the city in which that church was situated, precisely as we see to-day. Let any gathering of ministers come together from any part of the world, and you will find here a man and there a man who on account of his position or recognized ability or eloquence naturally assumes and exercises a larger authority than anybody else.

But there was more than this after a while. There came to be distinct rivalries and jealousies and attempts at arrogating authority and influence on the part of this bishop or that. If there was any dispute between one church and another, a dispute over doctrine, over ritual, over practices, over what should be done in this or that emergency, they would naturally agree upon some one to whom the dispute should be referred for decision, that order might be maintained. And by and by, perhaps, the bishop residing in the principal city of a province, or one who had the widest jurisdiction over the largest number of churches, would be recognized as the fitting one to whom to appeal. Then these bishops would naturally attempt to extend the range of their authority until at last a conflict of authority would spring up. So we find in the ancient world that after a good many years had passed there were a few leading churches; and the bishops of those churches found in their hands an immense power and authority. They were able to lord it almost at will over all the churches within a certain territory of which they were regarded as the centre. And at last, since Rome had two political centres, though not at the same time,—

you will remember that the capital was transferred to Constantinople from Rome,- it would naturally follow that the bishops of Constantinople and the bishops of Rome would be regarded as the two great bishops of the Church, as the great rivals for authority, because the ecclesiastical power would naturally follow in the footsteps of political power. So there was this rivalry between what was called the Eastern Church and the Western Church. They were never quite There were differences of race, differences of language, differences of government, differences of philosophical speculation, as well as differences of religious ideas. The East and the West were never quite firmly cemented, although for a long time the Church was regarded as the one true Catholic Church, embracing all Christendom.


About the eighth century, however, the conflict grew bitterer than it had been, and continued until the year 1054 A.D. At that time there was a distinct split in Christendom. Henceforth the two great churches were known as the Church of Rome and the Greek Church. You are aware of the fact that the Greek Church is the national church of Russia, and still rules throughout the East; and it has never acknowledged the absolute supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. In 1054 A.D. came the split concerning a matter that seems very slight and trivial, of no practical importance whatever to us to-day. But we are not to think that the two great bodies of Christendom were cleft asunder entirely over a dissension like this. This was only the culmination of the long debate of which I have spoken; but it caused, so far as appearances were concerned, the final separation. What was it that they were quarrelling over and that separated them at this time?

It was two Latin words, Filioque. The Eastern Church had always said, in its explanation of the trinity, that the Son eternally proceeded from the Father, and that the Holy Spirit also eternally proceeded from the Father. But the Western Church, the Church of Rome, said the Son proceeded eternally from the Father, and the Holy Spirit pro

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