of Church and State
What was already at work
in the church in Pauls day?
For the secret
power of lawlessness is already at work; but
the one who holds it back will continue to do so
till he is taken out of the way. 2
What class of men did he
say would arise in the church?
I know that after I
leave, savage wolves will come in among you and
will not spare the flock. Even from your own
number men will arise and distort the truth in
order to draw away disciples after them.
What was to develop in
the church before Christs Second Coming?
Dont let anyone
deceive you in any way, for the day will not
come until the rebellion occurs and the man of
lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to
2 Thessalonians 2:3.
How was this falling
away from the truth shown?
By the adoption of heathen
rites and customs in the church.
about 200 A.D. 200, mentions many admittedly no
scriptural practices as already traditional in
his day, such as immersing three times in
baptism, thus, making a somewhat ampler
pledge than the Lord has appointed in the Gospel;
offerings for the dead as birthday honors; the
prohibition of fasting or kneeling in
worship on the Lords day,
Easter to Whitsunday; a special reverence
for bread and wine; and the tracing of the sign
of the cross on the forehead at every
forward step and movement, and every going in and
out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when
we bathe, when we set at the table, when we light
the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary
actions of daily life. De Corona,
chaps. 3,4 in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol.
3 (1918 ed.), pp. 94, 95.
Union of Church and State
What came to be the
character and work of many bishops?
bishops, instead of caring for the salvation
of their flocks, were often but too much inclined
to travel about, and entangle themselves in
- Neander, General
History of the Christian Religion and Church
(Torreys translation), Vol, 2, p. 16.
What did the bishops determine
theory was already the prevailing one in the time
of Constantine; and the bishops voluntarily made
themselves dependent on him by their disputes, and
by their determination to make use of the power
of the state for the furtherance of their aims.
- Ibid., p. 132.
Note The theocratical
theory, that of a government administered
by God through the bishops, was confronted by the
actuality of the pagan system under which the
emperor had been Pontifex Maximus, or chief
priest, of the pagan state religion, in
consequence of which Constantine, after his
recognition of Christianity, regarded himself as
a sort of bishop of external affairs of the
church, and the church as a sort of department of
the government. The ideal of the bishops that of
a government guided by God through the church was
pursued with variable but increasing success in
Western Europe in the development of the bishop
of Rome as the pope.
What has been one great
characteristic of the papacy?
A union of church and state,
or the religious power dominating the civil power
to further its ends.
When was the union of
church and state formed from which the papacy
The foundation was laid for
it during the reign of Constantine, A.D. 313-337,
and it developed under his successors.
granting first liberty and then preference to the
recently persecuted Christians opened
the door to the elevation of Christianity,
and specifically of Catholic hierarchical
Christianity, with its exclusiveness towards
heretical and schismatic sects, to be the
religion of the state. For, once put on an equal
footing with heathenism, it must soon, in spite
of numerical minority, bear away the victory from
a religion that had already inwardly outlived
itself. From the time Constantine decidedly
favored the church, though without persecuting or
forbidding the pagan religions. Philip
Schaff, History of the Christian Church
(Scribners, 1902 ed.), Vol. 3, pp. 30,31. Under
Constantines successors official paganism
was abolished, and Christianity made the only
legal religion of the state.
How did the elevation of
the church begin?
Through the patronage
and religious legislation of Constantine.
differ as to when or whether Constantine
was converted to Christianity, and whether he
favored the church more from religious or
political motives. The outline of events follows:
A.D. 306 Constantines
accession as one of the four rulers of the
empire, with jurisdiction over the Prefecture of
A.D. 312 His victory
over Maxentius, which made him sole ruler of the
West, and which he attributed to the aid of the
God of the Christians, whom he had invoked after
a supposed vision of a cross in the sky.
A.D. 313 The
so-called Edict of Milan, issued jointly with his
colleague Licenius, granting liberty to all, of
whatever religious belief, and particularly
mentioning the Christians. Hereafter Constantine
surrounded himself with bishops, gave preference
to the Christians, and issued legislation in
their favor, without renouncing or persecuting
A.D. 321 His famous
Sunday law, which served to unite his Christian
and pagan subjects in the observance of the
venerable day of the Sun.
A.D. 323 or 324 His
attainment of sole rule of the whole empire by
the defeat of his last rival, the pagan Licinius,
who had resumed persecution of Christians in the
East; his open espousal and promotion of
Christianity about this time, and the subsequent
disappearance of the sun-god and other pagan
symbols from his coinage.
A.D. 325 His
convening of the Council of Nicaca, which he
dominated, in order to secure unity in the
church; subsequently, his enforcement of that
unity against heretical Christians in favor of
the Catholic Church.
A.D. 337 His long
deferred baptism during his last illness.
For principle facts about
Constantine, see Philip Schaff, History of the
Christian Church, Vol. 3, pp. 12-36; for
shorter treatment see A.F. Flick, The Rise of
the Medieval Church, pp. 115-122; A.E.R.
Boak, A History of Rome to 565 A.D. ,pp.
What form did this government
patronage take under Constantine and later
Immunities, privileges, and
certain judicial functions for the clergy, and
gifts, endowments, and financial support for the
church; first on a basis of equality with the
priesthood and temples of paganism, then on
preferred basis, and finally the exclusion of all
except Catholic orthodoxy.
What kinds of religious
legislation united church and state?
Laws granting privileges and
patronage, and those enforcing church dogmas.
Practices, or disciplinary decrees, or
suppressing paganism and heresy.
earliest Christian legislation exempted the
Christian clergy from military and municipal duty
(March, 313); abolished various customs and
ordinances offensive to the Christians (315);
facilitated the emancipation of Christian slaves
(before 316); legalized bequests to catholic
churches (321); enjoined the civil observance of
Sunday, though not as dies Domini [Lords
day], but as dies Solis [the Suns day], and
in company with an ordinance for the regular
consulting of the haruspex [soothsayer] (321).
Philip Schaff, The History of the
Christian Church (Scribners, 1902 ed.), Vol.
3, p. 31. For Sunday legislation see the
How did Constantine
initiate state supervision of the church?
Having achieved political
unity in the empire, he sought to gain church
unity through church councils.
Note - The first ecumenical,
or general, council of Nicaea, in 325, was called
and presided over by Constantine. The
ecumenical councils, says Schaff, have
only an ecclesiastical significance, but bear
also a political or state-church
character. The very name refers to the empire.
The Christian Graeco-Roman emperor is
indispensable to an ecumenical council in the
ancient sense of the term; its temporal head and
it legislative strength. Upon this Byzantine
precedent, and upon the example of the kings of
Israel, the Russian Czars and the Protestant
princes of Germany, Scandinavia, and England
be it just or unjustly build their
claim to a similar and still more extended
supervision of the church in their dominions.
Ibid., pp. 334, 335.
What were the principle
questions discussed at Nicaea?
First the Arian
controversy; next, the date for Easter.
Note It appears
that the churches of the Syria and Mesopotamia
continued to follows the custom of the Jews, and
celebrated Easter on the fourteenth day of the
moon, whether falling on Sunday or not. All
the other churches observed that solemnity on Sunday
only, viz.: those of Rome, Italy, Africa,
Lydia, Egypt, Spain, Gaul and Britain; and all
Greece, Asia, and Pontus. Isaac
Boyle, Historical View of the Council of Nice
(1836 ed.), p. 23. By this council Easter was
fixed on the Sunday immediately following the
full moon which was nearest after the vernal
What does Neander say of
the securing of religious laws?
In this way, the
church received help from the state for the
furtherance of her ends.
- General History of
the Christian Religion and the Church (Torrey
translation), 1852 ed.), Vol. 2, p. 301.
Note In this way the
church and state were united. In this way the
church gained control of the civil power, which
she later used as a means of carrying on most
bitter and extensive persecutions. In this way
she denied Christ and the power of godliness, and
denied that the civil power should be exerted to
compel men to serve God, as the church should
What did Augustine, the
father of the Christian theocratic, or
church-and-state theory, teach concerning it?
Who doubts but
what it is better to be led to God by
instruction, than by fear of punishment or
affliction? But because the former, who
will be guided only by instruction, are better,
the others are still not to be neglected. Many,
like bad servants, must be reclaimed to their
master by the rod of temporal suffering, ere they
can attain to this highest state of religious
development. Ibid., pp. 214,
Lord, in humble, sweet
Here we meet to follow Thee,
Trusting in Thy great
Which alone can make us
Naught have we to claim as
All duties we can do
Can no crown of life
All the praise to Thee is
- Robert T. Daniel.
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