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Many young believers have no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

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The First Crusade, Part 1 (The History of Christianity #223)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #223, titled, “The First Crusade, Part 1.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Mark 16:20 which reads: “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Athanasius of Alexandria. He said: “Christians, instead of arming themselves with swords, extend their hands in prayer.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The First Crusade, Part 1” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

For centuries, Christians had held the Holy Land in high esteem, and pilgrimages to its holy places had become one of the highest acts of devotion. Already in the fourth century, Constantine’s mother had considered a visit to the holy places of Palestine an act of devotion. Shortly thereafter, a Spanish nun named Etheria [UH-THEE-REE-UH], but commonly known as Egeria [UH-JEE-REE-UH], traveled to the Holy Land and left detailed notes of its places, customs, and Christian rituals. Her account, the Pe-re-gri-na-ti-o Ae-ther-i-ae, was still circulating in the eleventh century, and is an example of the manner in which the Christian West looked to the holy places as objects of devotion.

Those holy places had been in Muslim hands for centuries. But now the rise of the Seljuk [SEL-JUHK] Turks, who had become Muslim and were threatening the Byzantine Empire, reminded many of the earlier losses at the time of the Arab conquests. If the West were to save the Byzantines from that threat, it was to be expected that relations between the two branches of the church, broken since 1054, would be restored. Thus, Gregory VII had already envisioned a great Western army that would save Constantinople and retake the Holy Land. But the time was not yet ripe, and it was Urban II who, at the Council of Clermont in 1095, responding to a request for support against the Turks from Byzantine Emperor Alexis I, proclaimed the great enterprise, to which those present responded with cries of Deus vult [DEH-UHS VULT]–“God wills it.”

It was a difficult time in many parts of Europe, where crops had failed and disease ran rampant. Therefore, the call to go to a foreign land as soldiers of Christ was received with enthusiasm by many, both of the lower classes and of the nobility. The apocalyptic dreams that for centuries had been repressed, and that had been revitalized earlier, in expectation of the new millennium, now emerged again. Some had visions of comets, angels, or the Holy City suspended over the eastern horizon. Soon a disorganized mob, under the very loose leadership of Peter the Hermit, set out from Cologne [KUH-LOWN] for Jerusalem. Along the way, they fed on the land, on which they fell like locusts, and had to fight other Christians who defended their goods and crops. They also practiced their war against the infidel by killing thousands of Jews. Eventually, most of this initial wave lost their lives, and a few joined the ranks of the more organized crusaders.

The formal Crusade was led by Adhemar [AH-DEH-MAAR], bishop of Puy [PWEE], whom Urban had named his personal representative. Other leaders were Godfrey of Bouillon [BOOL-YAAN], Raymond of Saint-Gilles [SAINT JILL], Bohemond [BO-HEH-MOND], and Tancred [TANG-KRID]. By various routes, the crusaders converged at Constantinople, where they were well received by Emperor Alexius, and where Peter the Hermit joined them with the remnant of his ragged army. With the help of the Byzantines, they took Nicea [NAHY-SEE-UH], which had been the capital of the Turks–and which the Byzantines entered first, for the emperor feared that the crusaders would sack the city. They then marched on Antioch, and endured many sufferings while crossing Asia Minor. Before the walls of Tarsus, Tancred [TANG-KRID] and Baldwin, Godfrey’s younger brother, quarreled, and Baldwin decided to abandon the enterprise and accept the offer of the Armenians to establish himself as their leader, under the title of Count of Edessa [IH-DES-UH]. The rest continued their long march to Antioch, to which they finally laid seige, as they had done earlier before Nicea [NAHY-SEE-UH].

The siege of Antioch was a difficult enterprise. The besieged had more supplies than the crusaders, who were about to run out of food and had been plagued by desertions, when an Armenian Christian who resided in the city opened a gate to them. At the cry of “God wills it,” the crusaders entered the city, while its Turkish defenders sought refuge in the citadel. But four days later a large Turkish army arrived, and the crusaders found themselves besieged while the citadel itself had not yet surrendered to them. Hungry and discouraged, the crusaders began to doubt the wisdom of the entire enterprise.

Then someone said he had a vision, that the Holy Lance with which Christ’s side had been pierced lay buried in Antioch. Led by the seer, they dug where he told them. And they found a spear! Convinced that this was the Holy Lance, the crusaders resolved to continue their enterprise. After five days of fasting and prayer, as indicated by the visionary who had told them of the Holy Lance, they sallied against the much larger Turkish army. Their standard was the Holy Lance. They were possessed of such frenzied zeal that the Turks broke and ran, and the crusaders helped themselves to all the provisions that the Turks had brought with them. They also captured many women who had been left behind in the Turkish camp, and an eyewitness boasting of the holiness of the Christian army says: “We did nothing evil to them, but simple speared them through.”

Next time, we will continue looking at “The First Crusade.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

The Offensive Against Islam (The History of Christianity Podcast #222)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #222, titled, “The Offensive Against Islam.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is 1 John 4:20 which reads: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Urban II. He said: “I say it to those who are present. I command that it be said to those who are absent. Christ commands it. All who go thither and lose their lives, be it on the road or on the sea, or in the fight against the pagans, will be granted immediate forgiveness for their sins. This I grant to all who will march, by virtue of the great gift which God has given me.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Offensive Against Islam” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Among the many ideals that captivated the imagination of Western Christendom during the Middle Ages, no other was as dramatic, as overwhelming, or as contradictory, as was the crusading spirit. Tragically romanticized by many, the Crusades have the distinction of being one of the most blatant of the many instances in which Christianity, fueled in part by its own zeal, has contradicted its very essence–on this score, only the Inquisition can be compared with it. For several centuries, Western Europe poured its fervor and its blood into a series of expeditions whose results were at best ephemeral, and at worst tragic. The hope was to defeat the Muslims who threatened Constantinople, to save the Byzantine Empire, to reunite the Eastern and Western branches of the church, to reconquer the Holy Land as well as other territories that Islam had previously taken by means of a similar use of military force, and–in so doing–to win heaven. Whether or not this last goal was achieved is not for us to decide. All the others were achieved, but none of them permanently. The Muslims, at first defeated because they were divided among themselves, eventually were united in a common front that expelled the crusaders. Constantinople, and the shadow of its empire, survived until the fifteenth century, but then were swept by the Ottoman Turks. The two branches of the church were briefly reunited by force as a consequence of the Fourth Crusade, but the final result of that forced reunion was greater suspicion and hatred between the Christian East and the Christian West. The Holy Land was in the hands of the crusaders for approximately a century, and then returned to Muslim control.

Next time, we will begin looking at “The First Crusade.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation, Part 3 (The History of Christianity #221)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #221, titled, “The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation, Part 3.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Acts 20:28 which reads: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Paul House. He said: “The early church was most useful when it preached the meaning of Christ through the lens of the whole of Scripture. It was most powerful when it maintained integrity with God and other human beings. It was most evangelistic when it understood that adherents of other religions, whether Jewish or Greek or Roman, faced eternal judgment without Christ.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation, Part 3” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Henry V (fifth) waited three years to respond to the pope’s challenge. Then he invaded Italy, and Paschal was forced to reach a compromise. What Henry proposed, and Paschal accepted, was that the emperor would give up any claim to the right of investiture of bishops, as long as the church gave up all the feudal privileges that prelates had, and which made them powerful potentates. Paschal agreed, with the sole stipulation that “Saint Peter’s patrimony” would remain in the hands of the Roman church. Henry’s proposal cut to the heart of the matter, for civil rulers could not afford to give up the right to name and invest bishops as long as these were also powerful political figures. And, if the reformers were consistent on their application of monastic principles to the reform of the church, they should be willing to have the church follow the way of poverty.

But this decision, reasonable though it seemed, was not politically viable. There soon was a violent reaction among prelates who saw themselves deprived of temporal power. Some were quick to point out that the pope had been very liberal with their possessions, but had retained his. The high nobility in Germany began to suspect that the emperor, having strengthened his position by stripping the bishops of their power, would turn on them and abolish many of their ancient privileges. Then the people of Rome rebelled against the emperor, who left the city taking as prisoners the pope as well as several cardinals and bishops. Finally, the emperor returned the pope to Rome, and the latter in turn crowned him at St. Peter’s–with the doors closed for fear of the populace. The emperor then returned to Germany, where urgent matters required his presence.

In Germany, Henry encountered new difficulties. Many of the high clergy and the nobility, fearing the loss of their power, rebelled. While Paschal remained silent, many of the German prelates excommunicated the emperor. Then several regional synods followed suit. When Henry protested that by his attitude Paschal was breaking their agreement, the pope suggested that the emperor call a council in order to solve the dispute. This Henry could not do, for he knew that the majority of the bishops, who saw their possessions and power threatened by the emperor’s policies, would decide against him. Therefore, he opted for renewed use of force. As soon as the situation in Germany allowed him to do so, he again invaded Italy, and Paschal was forced to flee to the castle of Sant’ Angelo, where he died.

The cardinals then hastened to elect a new pope, lest the emperor intervene in the election. The new pope, Gelasius II (GUH-LAY-SHUS second), had a stormy and brief pontificate (1118-1119). A Roman potentate who supported the emperor made him a prisoner and tortured him. Then the people rebelled and freed him. But the emperor returned to Rome with his armies, and Gelasius [GUH-LAY-SHUS] fled to Gaeta [GEE-TUH]. Upon returning to Rome, he was again captured by the same Roman magnate, but he fled and finally fell exhausted in the middle of a field, where some women found him, almost naked and lifeless. He then sought refuge in France, where he died shortly thereafter in the abbey of Cluny.

The decision of Gelasius [GUH-LAY-SHUS] to flee to France was a sign of the new direction in which papal policy was being forced. Since the empire had become its enemy, and since the Normans in the south had proven unreliable allies, popes began looking to France as the ally who would support them against the German emperors.

The next pope, Calixtus II (KUH-LIX-TUS second) (1119-1124), was a relative of the emperor, and both he and his kinsman were convinced that the time had come to end the dispute. After long negotiations, interspersed with threats and even military campaigns, both parties came to an agreement by the Concordat [KUHNG-KOR-DAT] of Worms [VURMS] (1122). It was decided that prelates would be elected freely, according to ancient usage, although in the presence of the emperor or his representatives. Only proper ecclesiastical authorities would henceforth have the right to invest prelates with their ring and crosier [KROW-ZHR], symbols of pastoral authority; but the granting of all feudal rights, privileges, and possessions, as well as of the symbols thereof, would be in the hand of civil authorities. The emperor also agreed to return to the church all its possessions, and to take measures to force any feudal lords holding ecclesiastical property to do likewise. This put an end to this series of confrontations between papacy and empire, although similar conflicts would develop repeatedly through the centuries.

In the end, the program of the reforming popes succeeded. The rule of clerical celibacy became universal in the Western church, and was generally obeyed. For a while, simony [SAI-MUH-NEE] almost disappeared. And the power of the papacy continued to grow, until it reached its apex in the thirteenth century.

However, the controversy over the appointment and investiture of prelates shows that the reformist popes, while they insisted on the monastic ideal of celibacy, did not do the same with the ideal of poverty. The question of investitures was important for civil authorities–especially the emperor–because the church had become so rich and powerful that an unfriendly bishop was a political power to be feared. Bishops could afford rich courts and even armies. Therefore, in the interest of self-preservation, rulers had to make sure that those who occupied such important positions were loyal to them. Henry V (fifth) had pointed to the heart of the matter when he suggested that he was willing to relinquish all claim to the investiture of bishops in his realm, as long as those bishops did not have the power and resources of great feudal lords. As the reformist popes saw matters, the possessions of the church belonged to Christ and the poor, and therefore could not be relinquished to the civil authorities. But in fact those possessions were used for personal profit, and for achieving the ambitious personal goals of bishops and others who in theory were not owners, but guardians.

Next time, we will begin looking at “The Offensive Against Islam.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation, Part 2 (The History of Christianity #220)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #220, titled, “The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation, Part 2.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Romans 12:4-5 which reads: “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Henry Ward Beecher. He said: “The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation, Part 2” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

As soon as the ice thawed in the passes through the Alps in the spring of 1081, Henry marched on Rome. Gregory’s only possible support were the Normans who ruled in southern Italy, and who had been his allies before. But he had also excommunicated them. He then appealed to Byzantium [BUH-ZAN-TEE-UHM], but to no avail. The Romans defended their city valiantly. But when it became clear that the pope would not negotiate with the invader, they opened the gates of the city, and Gregory had to flee to the castle of Sant’Angelo. Henry entered in triumph, and Clement III took possession of the city. Then the Normans intervened, and Henry abandoned the city. The Normans acted as masters of the city, and many citizens were killed, buildings burned, and thousands taken away to be sold as slaves.

After several days of violence and depredation, the people of Rome rebelled, and a long period of violence and chaos ensued in which Clement III and his supporters were able to reclaim a part of the city. Gregory, who had fled to Monte Cassino [MAAN-TEE KUH-SEE-NOW] and then to Salerno [SUH-LEHR-NOW], continued thundering against Henry and Clement III. But his words were to no avail. It is said that when he died in 1085 his last words were: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity. Therefore I die in exile.”

Before his death, Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND] had declared that his successor should be the aged abbot of Monte Cassino [MAAN-TEE KUH-SEE-NOW]. These wishes were followed, and the old man, who had no desire to be pope, was forced to accept. He took the name of Victor III, and was restored to Rome by his allies. But he became ill, and withdrew to Monte Cassino [MAAN-TEE KUH-SEE-NOW] to die in peace.

The reforming party then elected Urban II, who was able to regain the city of Rome and expel Clement III. He is mostly known for having proclaimed the First Crusade—with which we shall deal in the next chapter. But he also continued the policies of Gregory VII. This led him into further conflicts with Philip I of France, whom he excommunicated for having set aside his wife in favor of another. In Germany, he encouraged the rebellion of Henry’s son Conrad, who promised that if he were made emperor he would give up any claim to the right to the appointment and investiture of bishops. But Henry reacted vigorously, defeated his son, and had him disinherited by a diet of the empire.

Urban’s successor, Paschal II (1099–1118), hoped that the schism would end when Clement III died. But the emperor made certain that another was appointed to take Clement’s place, and therefore the schism continued.

Henry IV died in 1106, when he was preparing to wage war against his son Henry, who had also rebelled against him. Pope Paschal was ready to make peace, and declared that all consecrations that had taken place during the previous reign, even under lay appointment and investiture, were valid. But he also made it clear that any future lay investiture was unacceptable, and that any who disobeyed him on this point would be excommunicated. Thus, while clearing the slate, he also threw down the gauntlet before the new emperor.

Next time, we will continue looking at “The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Canonical and Papal Reform, Part 3 (The History of Christianity #218)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #218, titled, “Canonical and Papal Reform, Part 3.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Ephesians 4:11-13 which reads: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Philip Yancey. He said: “History shows that when the church uses the tools of the world’s kingdom, it becomes as ineffectual, or as tyrannical, as any other power structure. And whenever the church has intermingled with the state, the appeal of the faith suffers as well. Ironically, our respect in the world declines in proportion to how vigorously we attempt to force others to adopt our point of view.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Canonical and Papal Reform, Part 3” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

After that time, with one exception, there was a succession of reforming popes. That exception led the reformers, under the leadership of Nicholas II (second), to call the Second Lateran [LAT-ER-UHN] Council, which determined the manner in which popes were to be elected thereafter. The power of election was to rest with the cardinals who also held the title of bishops, who would then seek the consent of the rest of the cardinals, and, finally, of the Roman people. (The origins of the title “cardinal” are obscure, and need not detain us here. By the time of the Second Lateran [LAT-ER-UHN] Council, in 1059, the cardinalate was an ancient institution.) Since the cardinals were committed to reform, and since the popes elected by them would name any new cardinals, the power of the reforming party seemed assured. The next pope, Alexander II (second), was duly elected by the cardinals and continued the work of reformation, although some of the powerful Roman families, with support from the Germans, set up a rival pope.

When Alexander died, Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND] was elected pope, although the order prescribed by the Second Lateran [LAT-ER-UHN] Council was reversed, for it was the people who demanded his election, and the cardinals who agreed. He took the name of Gregory VII (seventh), and continued the work of reformation in which he had been engaged for years. His dream was of a world united under the papacy, as one flock under one shepherd. Among the many steps he took in this direction, he declared that the Bible should not be translated into vernacular languages, for the ministry of teaching and interpretation msut be in the hands of Rome. His vision of unity included not only Western Europe, but also the Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] church as well as the lands then under Muslim control. For a while he sought to organize a great military offensive against Islam, with a western front in Spain and another in the East, where Latin Christians would go to the succor of beleaguered Constantinople–a project that two decades later would result in the Crusades. But these plans, as well as his efforts to extend his authority to the East, never came to fruition.

In Western Europe, Gregory VII (seventh) continued the campaign against simony [SAI-MUH-NEE] and the marriage of clergy. A synod gathered in 1070 condemned simony [SAI-MUH-NEE] and ordered that clergy by celibate. Gregory reinforced the synod’s decisions by forbidding the laity from receiving the sacraments from the hands of simoniacs [SAI-MUH-NEE-ACKS]. He also named legates who would travel, ensuring that these orders were obeyed. In response, some accused Gregory of heresy, for long before his time Augustine had declared–and the rest of the church had agreed–that sacraments administered by schismatics [SKIZ-MAT-IK] were nonetheless valid. In truth, Gregory did not declare that such sacraments were invalid; he simply ordered people to abstain from them. In France, King Philip I would not heed Gregory’s admonitions. With his support, the French clergy refused to obey Gregory’s reforming decrees. Indeed, the two-pronged offensive against simony [SAI-MUH-NEE] and clerical marriage was unwise, for it created an alliance between the powerful prelates who profited from ecclesiastical posts, and the many worthy members of the lower clergy who bemoaned simony [SAI-MUH-NEE], but who were married and refused to set their wives aside. By joining the monastic ideal of celibacy to his reformation, Gregory and his friends made it much more difficult for their plans to succeed.

Gregory was most successful in England, where William the Conqueror now ruled. When he was still a papal advisor, Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND] had supported William’s plans to invade England from Normandy, and now the Conqueror, who in any case was in favor of ecclesiastical reform, supported the pope’s campaign against simony [SAI-MUH-NEE].

Next time, we will begin looking at “The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Canonical and Papal Reform, Part 2 (The History of Christianity #217)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #217, titled, “Canonical and Papal Reform, Part 2.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is 1 Peter 2:9-10 which reads: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Paul House. He said: “The early church was most useful when it preached the meaning of Christ through the lens of the whole of Scripture. It was most powerful when it maintained integrity with God and other human beings. It was most evangelistic when it understood that adherents of other religions, whether Jewish or Greek or Roman, faced eternal judgment without Christ.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Canonical and Papal Reform, Part 2” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

As soon as he saw himself on Saint Peter’s throne, Leo began his work of reformation by calling to his side several people who were known for holding similar ideas. One of these was Peter Damian, who had long rued the state of the church, and had convinced many of the need for reformation–although without the fiery zeal of Humbert and Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND], for he insisted that reformation must be a work of love and charity. The program of reformation of the entire group was based on the promotion of clerical celibacy and the abolition of simony [SAI-MUH-NEE]. There was a connection between these two, for in that feudal society the church was one of the few institutions in which there still existed a measure of social mobility. Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND], for instance, was of humble origin, and would eventually become pope. But this social mobility was threatened by the practice of simony [SAI-MUH-NEE], which would guarantee that only the rich would occupy high offices in the church. If to this was added clerical marriage, those who held high office would seek to pass it on to their children, and thus the church would come to reflect exclusively the interests of the rich and the powerful. Thus, the movement for reformation by abolishing simony [SAI-MUH-NEE] and promoting clerical celibacy had the support of the masses, who seem to have understood that here was an opportunity for wresting from the powerful the control of the church.

After taking a number of reforming measures in Italy, Leo decided that the time had come to carry the movement across the Alps. He went to Germany, where Emperor Henry III (third) had already taken some steps against simony [SAI-MUH-NEE], and reaffirmed the emperor’s decisions while making it clear that this did not mean that the emperor could rule the life of the church in his domains. While in Germany, he excommunicated Godfrey of Lorraine, who had rebelled against the emperor, and forced him to submit. Then he saved the rebel’s life by interceding for him before the emperor.

In France simony [SAI-MUH-NEE] was widespread, and Leo sought to put an end to it. With this in mind, he decided to visit that country. Although the king and several prelates let him know that he would not be welcome, Leo went to France and called a council that deposed several prelates who had been guilty of simony [SAI-MUH-NEE]. The same council also ordered that married bishops should set their wives aside, but this order was not generally obeyed.

Leo made two grave errors during his pontificate. The first was to take up arms against the Norsemen who had settled in Sicily and southern Italy. Peter Damian urged him to desist, but he marched at the head of the troops, which were defeated by the Norsemen. Captured by those whom he had hoped to conquer, Leo remained a prisoner until shortly before his death. His other error was to send Humbert as his legate to Constantinople. Humbert’s rigidity and lack of interest in the concerns of the Byzantines [BI-ZUHN-TEENS] led to the schism of 1054, shortly after Leo’s death.

The election of the new pope was a difficult matter. To ask the emperor to select him would be tantamount to the control of the church by the state, which the reformers deplored. To let the Roman clergy and people proceed to the election risked having the papacy fall again in the hands of one of the Italian families who wished to have it as a means to their own political ends. Eventually it was decided that the Romans would elect the new pope, but that this had to be a German–thus making it impossible for any of the various parties in Rome to capture the papacy. The new pope, Victor II (second), continued Leo’s policies. When emperor Henry III (third) found himself in difficulties–Godfrey of Lorraine had rebelled again–the pope went to this aid, and on the emperor’s death was entrusted with the care of his young son, Henry IV (fourth). Thus for a time Victor held the reins of both church and empire, and the reformation that he advocated progressed rapidly.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Canonical and Papal Reform.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Canonical and Papal Reform, Part 1 (The History of Christianity #216)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #216, titled, “Canonical and Papal Reform, Part 1.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is 1 Timothy 3:15 which reads: “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Pope Pius the Eleventh. He said: “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Canonical and Papal Reform, Part 1” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

There were other efforts at reforming the entire church through legislation and through the centralization of power in the hands of reforming popes. In the field of legislation, the Decretum [DUH-KREE-TM] usually called “of Gratian [GRAY-SHEE-UHN]”–although its author is unknown–was compiled around 1140, and was an effort to compile and coordinate the many laws that supposedly governed the life of the church. Joined to five other main documents, it came to form the Corpus Juris Canonici [KUH-NON-UH-SAHY], which was the basis for the law of the Roman Catholic Church until 1917.

But it was a series of reforming popes that led the way to reformation as they understood it. The small band of pilgrims on their way to Rome in 1048 was headed by Bruno, to whom the emperor had offered the papacy, and who had preferred to enter the city as a pilgrim. If, once there, the people and the clergy elected him, he would accept. But to take the office of pope from the hands of the emperor was dangerously close to simony [SAI-MUH-NEE]–or, as Hildebrand had told Bruno, it would mean going to Rome “not as an apostle, but as an apostate.”

Another member of the small party was Humbert, who in his monastery in Lotharingia [LOTH-UH-RIN-JEE-UH] had devoted himself to study and to a constant campaign against simony [SAI-MUH-NEE]. This had never been attacked as forcefully as in his treatise Against the Simoniacs [SAI-MUH-NEE-AKS], which was a blistering attack on the powerful of his time. Humbert was a man of fiery temperament, and in his attack against simony [SAI-MUH-NEE] he went so far as to declare that sacraments offered by simoniacs [SAI-MUH-NEE-AKS] were not valid–a position that Augustine had rejected centuries earlier in his debates with the Donatists [DAA-NUH-TUHSTS]. It was also he who later, in 1054, would lay the sentence of excommunication against Patriarch Michael Cerularius [SEH-ROO-LAHR-EE-UHS] on the high altar of Hagia Sophia [HAI-UH SOW-FEE-UH], and thus seal the schism between East and West.

The third and most remarkable member of that party was the monk Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND], a man of humble origins–his father was a carpenter in Tuscany [TUH-SKUH-NEE]–who had entered a monastery in Rome at a very early age. While a monk at Rome he had met the future pope Gregory the Sixth. As was said at the end of the last chapter, Gregory the Sixth hoped to reform the church. To that end he called Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND] to his side. But then a situation developed in which there were three who claimed to be the rightful pope, and Gregory abdicated for the sake of peace and unity. Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND] went with him into exile, and it is said that he closed the saintly man’s eyes on his deathbed. Two years later, Bruno, on his way to Rome, asked Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND] to join him in the task of reformation that lay ahead.

Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND] has often been depicted as the ambitious man behind several popes. Until he felt ready to take power for himself, however, the sources of the time seem to indicate that in truth he wished nothing more than the reformation of the church. It was apparently on that basis that he supported the work of several popes, until the time came when it seemed that reformation could best be served by accepting the papacy himself, which he took under the name of Gregory the Seventh.

For the time being, however, the man called to be pope was Bruno of Toul [TOOL], who went to Rome as a barefooted pilgrim in an act of personal devotion. As he crossed northern Italy on his way to Rome, multitudes lined the roads and cheered him, and soon people began to talk of miracles that supposedly had taken place during that pilgrimage. After entering Rome barefooted and being acclaimed by the people and the clergy, Bruno accepted the papal tiara, and took the name of Leo the Ninth.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Canonical and Papal Reform.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Monastic Reform, Part 4 (The History of Christianity #215)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #215, titled, “Monastic Reform, Part 4.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Luke 10:41-42 which reads: “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Thomas Merton. He said: “By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Monastic Reform, Part 4” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

The wealth that it accumulated was one of the main causes of the decline of the Cluniac [KLOO-NEE-ACK] movement. Inspired by the holiness of the monks, rich and poor alike made gifts to their monasteries. Cluny [KLOO-NEE] and its sister houses adorned their chapels with gold and jewels. Eventually, the simplicity of life that had been Benedict’s ideal was lost, and other movements of more recent foundation, and more insistent on poverty, took the place of Cluny [KLOO-NEE]. Likewise, one of the main causes of the final failure of the reformation of the eleventh century was the wealth of the church, which made it very difficult for it to set aside the intrigues of the powerful, and take the side of the poor and the oppressed.

Discontent with the ease of Cluny [KLOO-NEE] soon gave rise to other movements. Peter Damian, for instance, sought to outdo the Benedictine [BEH-NUH-DIK-TEEN] principle according to which a monk should be content with what is sufficient, and advocated living in extreme need. The next great movement of monastic reform, however, began late in the eleventh century, when Robert of Molesme [MOH-LES-MAH] founded a new monastery at Citeaux [SIT-OH]. Since the Latin name of this place was Cistertium [SUH-STUR-SHM], the movement came to be called “Cistercian [SUH-STUR-SHN].” Robert returned to his original monastery, but a community continued existing in Citeaux [SIT-OH], and eventually gave rise to a wave of monastic reform similar to that which had been led earlier by the abbots of Cluny [KLOO-NEE].

The great figure of the Cistercian [SUH-STUR-SHN] movement was Bernard of Clairvaux [CLARE-VOH], who was twenty-three years old when he presented himself at Citeaux [SIT-OH] (in 1112 or 1113) in the company of several relatives and friends, and requested admission to the community. He had decided to join that monastery, and before even presenting himself for admission he had convinced several others to follow him. This was an early indication of his great powers of persuasion, which would eventually be felt throughout Europe and would even send many to the Holy Land. When the number of monks at Citeaux [SIT-OH] grew too large, he was ordered to found a new community at Clairvaux [CLARE-VOH]. This grew rapidly, and soon became a center of reformation.

Bernard was first and foremost a monk. He was convinced that, as Jesus had told the two sisters at Bethany, Mary’s was a better lot than Martha’s, and all he wished to do was to spend his time meditating on the love of God, particularly as revealed in the humanity of Christ. But he soon found himself forced to take on the role of Martha. He was a famous preacher–so much so, that he came to be known as “Doctor Mellifluous [MUH-LI-FLOO-UHS],” for the words from his mouth were like honey. Examples of this are two hymns attributed to him and still popular: “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” and “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee.” His fame forced him to intervene as an arbitrator in many political and ecclesiastical disputes. His personality dominated his time, for he was at once the mystic devoted to the contemplation of the humanity of Christ, the power behind and above the papacy (especially when one of his monks became pope), the champion of ecclesiastical reform, the preacher of the Second Crusade, and the enemy of all theological innovation. Bernard’s fame gave the Cistercian [SUH-STUR-SHN] movement great impetus, and soon it came to play a role similar to that which Cluny [KLOO-NEE] had played more than a century before.

This brief overview of the two main movements of monastic reform from the tenth to the twelfth centuries has forced us to move ahead in our story. Therefore, let us return to where we had left our narrative at the end of the previous chapter, to the year 1048, when Odilo [OH-DIL-OH] was still abbot of Cluny [KLOO-NEE], and rejoin Bruno of Toul [TOOL] and his companions as they made their way to Rome.

Next time, we will begin looking at “Canonical and Papal Reform.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Monastic Reform, Part 3 (The History of Christianity Podcast #214)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #214, titled, “Monastic Reform, Part 3.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is James 3:2 which reads: “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Saint Benedict of Nursia [NUR-SEE-AH]. He said: “Whatever good work you begin to do, beg of God with most earnest prayer to perfect it.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Monastic Reform, Part 3” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Thus, the goal of ecclesiastical reformation was seen in the eleventh century as an extension of what was taking place in many monastic communities. This was the vision that Bruno of Toul [TOOL], and his companions Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND] and Humbert [HUM-BUHT], took with them on their way to Rome, where Bruno would become pope under the name of Leo IX (ninth). Just as Cluny [KLOO-NEE] had been able to carry on its great work because it was independent of all civil power, so was the dream of those reformers a church whose leaders would be free from every obligation to civil authorities, be they kings or nobles. Simony [SAI-MUH-NEE] (the buying and selling of ecclesiastical posts) was therefore one of the worst evils to be eradicated. The appointment and the investiture of bishops and abbots by nobles, kings, and emperors, although not strictly simony [SAI-MUH-NEE], was dangerously close to it, and must also be forbidden, particularly in those areas whose rulers were not zealous reformers.

The other great enemy of reformation thus conceived in monastic terms was clerical marriage. For centuries, many had practiced celibacy, and there had been earlier attempts to promote it, but never as a universal rule. Now, fired by the monastic example, these reformers made clerical celibacy one of the pillars of their program. Eventually, what earlier had been required only of monks and nuns would also be required of the clergy.

This was not achieved without much pain, heartbreak, and even violence. At some point in the process, apparently in Milan [MI-LAHN], the “Patarines” [PAH-TAH-REENS] arose. These were overzealous promoters of clerical celibacy who held that the marriage of priests was really a form of concubinage, called priest’s wives harlots, and insisted that they must simply be expelled from their husband’s households. In Florence, many refused to accept sacraments celebrated by married priests. When the bishop tried to appeal to reason and tradition, the Patarines accused him of simony [SAI-MUH-NEE]. John Gualbert [GOHL-BERT] of Vallombrosa [VAHL-OHM-BROH-SAH]—later canonized as a saint—paraded through the streets of the city proclaiming that the bishop was indeed a simoniac [SAI-MUH-NEE-ACK]—which the bishop denied. Hildebrand entered into the fray in support of John Gualbert [GOHL-BERT]. Peter Damian, a respected reforming monk, called for calm, moderation, patience, and love. Finally someone suggested that the matter be settled by trial of fire. On the outskirts of the city, a bonfire was built, a monk who supported the Patarines [PAH-TAH-REENS] walked across it, and this was taken as proof that the accusations against the bishop were true. The bishop had to flee the city, where clergy families were forcibly pulled out of their homes and thrown out in the streets.

Obedience, another cornerstone of Benedictine [BEH-NUH-DIK-TEEN] monasticism, would also be fundamental to this reformation of the eleventh century. Just as monks owed obedience to their superiors, so must the entire church (in fact, all Christendom) be subject to the pope, who would head a great renewal in which his role would be similar to that of the abbots of Cluny [KLOO-NEE] in the monastic reform.

Finally, when it came to poverty, both Cluniac [KLOO-NEE-ACK] monasticism and the general reformation that it inspired were ambivalent. A good monk should own nothing, and must lead a simple life. The monastery, however, could have property and vast expanses of land. These grew constantly through gifts and inheritance from the faithful who admired the monastic way of life, or who simply wished to earn merit toward their salvation. Eventually, this made it difficult for monks to lead the simple life which the Rule required. In the case of Cluny [KLOO-NEE] itself, the time came when it and its sister houses were so rich that their monks could spend all their time at the Divine Office and neglect physical labor. Likewise, the reformers criticized the luxurious life of many bishops, but at the same time insisted on the right of the church to its holdings of land and to all the wealth it had accumulated over the centuries. In theory, this was not for the use of the prelates, but for the glory of God and to help the poor. But in truth it hindered the proposed reformation, for it invited simony, and the power that bishops and abbots had as feudal lords led them to be constantly involved in political intrigue.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Monastic Reform.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Monastic Reform, Part 2 (The History of Christianity Podcast #213)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #213, titled, “Monastic Reform, Part 2.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Galatians 2:20 which reads: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Philip Schaff. He said: “The history of the Church is the rise and progress of the kingdom of heaven upon earth, for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Monastic Reform, Part 2” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Berno [BER-NO] ruled at Cluny [KLOO-NEE] until 926. Not much is known of those early years, for Cluny [KLOO-NEE] was only one of several monasteries that Berno [BER-NO] set out to found or to reform. But after his death the house was led by a series of able and highminded abbots who turned Cluny [KLOO-NEE] into the center of a vast monastic reform: Odo [OH-DOH] (926–944), Aymard [AY-MAARD] (944–965), Mayeul [MAH-YEE-UHL] (965–994), Odilo [OH-DIL-YOH] (994–1049), and Hugh (1049–1109). Six abbots of extraordinary dedication, ability, and length of life ruled Cluny [KLOO-NEE] for a total of two hundred years. Under their leadership, the ideals of monastic reform expanded ever farther. The seventh abbot, Pontius [PON-SHUS] (1109–1122) was not of the caliber of the rest. But his successor, Peter the Venerable (1122–1157) regained much of what had been lost in Pontius’s [PON-SHUS’s]time. One of the characteristics of the Cluniac [KLOO-NEE-ACK] reformation of monastic life was that all their houses had to have clear title to their property, thus freeing them from subjection to the whims of a feudal lord.

At first, the purpose of the monks of Cluny [KLOO-NEE] was simply to have a place where they could follow the Rule of Benedict in its entirety. But then their horizons widened, and the abbots of Cluny [KLOO-NEE], following Berno’s example, set out to reform other houses. Thus there appeared an entire network of “second Clunys,” [KLOO-NEEs] which were directly under the abbot of the main monastery. It was not an “order” in the strict sense, but rather a series of independent monasteries, all under the rule of a single abbot, who normally appointed the prior of each community. This reformation also gained way in women’s monastic communities, the first of which, Marcigny [MIIR-SE-NY], was founded in the eleventh century, when Hugh was abbot of Cluny. [KLOO-NEE]

The main occupation of these monks and nuns, as the Rule commanded, was the Divine Office, or the celebration of the hours of prayer and scripture reading that had been set by Benedict. To this the Cluniacs [KLOO-NEE-ACKs] devoted their undivided attention, to such a point that at the height of the movement 138 psalms were sung in a single day. This was done in the midst of ceremonies that became more and more complicated with the passing years, and therefore the Cluniacs [KLOO-NEE-ACKs] came to spend practically all their time at the Divine Office, neglecting the physical labor that was so important for Benedict. This departure from the Rule was justified by arguing that the monks’ function was to pray and to praise God, and that they could do this with more purity if they were not soiled in the fields.

At its high point, the reforming zeal of the Cluniacs [KLOO-NEE-ACKs] knew no bounds. After ordering the life of hundreds of monastic houses, they set their sights on the reformation of the entire church. This was the darkest hour of the papacy, when pontiffs succeeded one another with breathtaking frequency, and when popes and bishops had become feudal lords, involved in every intrigue that was brewing. In such circumstances the monastic ideal, as it was practiced at Cluny [KLOO-NEE], offered a ray of hope. Many who were not Cluniacs [KLOO-NEE-ACKs] joined in the goal of a general reformation following the monastic model. In contrast with the corruption that reigned in the highest offices of the church, the Cluniac [KLOO-NEE-ACK] movement seemed to many a miracle, a divine intervention to bring about a new dawn.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Monastic Reform.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.