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UNTIL 1054 A.D.
Taken from “Church History” by Dennis Mock
Primary impact of the era on the Christian Church in history
What happened from 100 A.D. – 312 A.D. unfortunately
laid the foundation for the next 1200 years of Church History!
• Persecution continued to cause the Church to spread as
Christianity became illegal
• Martyrdom was the fate of those who stayed true to the
• Spiritual emphasis in worship gave way to more formality and
• The Lord's Supper and Baptism were corrupted into
grace-giving "saving sacraments".
• Ecclesiastical organization took the place of spiritual vitality in
the Church.
• The Church became a religious organization not a spiritual
• Opposition from pagan societies caused the writing of
Apologies (defenses of the faith).
• Heresy within the Church caused leaders to begin to write out
doctrine in a systematic way.
• The era paved the way for
- the Roman Catholic Church.
- the great Church Councils and Creeds.
- the development of orthodox theology.
2016-02-17 Sunday Service
Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 1
312 A.D. ———————————————————— 590 A.D.
The State Religion
Fall of Rome
Theology Defined
Gregory I
The 1st
Conversion of Emperor Constantine in 312 A.D.
Christianity the official Roman religion
Church Creeds
Church Councils - theological debates
[Deity and humanity of Christ]
The Trinity
Monastic Movement
Eastern (Byzantine) and Western (Roman) churches
Golden Age of Church Fathers Leo I the first unofficial "Pope"
Athanasius Chrysostom
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Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 2
Justinian I
Barbaric Invasions
Fall of Rome
[Church Councils, Creeds, and Christianity as the State Religion]
This period of Church History was characterized by
• The conversion of Emperor Constantine in 312.
• The establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the
Roman Empire.
• The entanglement of Church and State.
• The development of Church creeds.
• The settlement of theological controversies in great Church
• The fall of the old Roman Empire and the invasion of barbaric
tribes from Europe and Asia.
• The beginning of the monastic movement as monks moved
into monasteries to preserve the true faith from worldliness
and corruption by the organized Church.
• The establishment of the bishop of Rome as head (Pope) of
the Western Church.
• The beginnings of the division between the Western Church
in Rome and the Eastern Church in Constantinople.
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Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 3
• The Roman Empire was in its declining stages and had failed
to destroy Christianity despite severe and sometimes
Empire-wide persecution. Upon the death of Galerius in
311 A.D. a struggle for supremacy within the already divided
Roman Empire took place.
In 312 A.D. Constantine, under what he said was help from
God through a vision of a cross in the sky along with the
words "in this sign conquer", won control as Emperor and
openly favored Christianity.
Christianity was officially recognized as the Emperor's
religion with great privileges and favor. The capital of the
Eastern (Byzantine) Roman Empire was established in
330 A.D. at Constantinople, (Byzantium) which became
1600 years later the capital of the Turkish Empire and which is
known today as Istanbul, Turkey.
• Church and State became inseparably mixed as Constantine
ruled over Church leaders much as he did government
• Under Emperor Theodosius in 380 A.D. Christianity was
officially declared the religion of the empire with adherents to
be called "Catholic Christians".
• The "wedding" of one Church to the State in the early part of
the fourth century was perhaps as politically motivated as
anything else. Constantine and Theodosius saw Christianity as
a way to unify the empire and bolster its crumbling
foundations. Even so, the witness of Christian martyrs, moral
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Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 4
living, strong family units and the love of Christians or each
other had finally had a positive impact on society.
The Roman Empire became split along both political and
religious lines as the Western part of the Empire was
centered in Rome with its Roman (Western) version of
Christianity and the Eastern part in Constantinople with its
Eastern (Greek Orthodox) version.
With the Emperor in Constantinople, the bishop of Rome took
on new political power in addition to his religious importance.
Constantinople would remain intact for a number of centuries
although it would be greatly impacted by Muslim influence.
The Eastern part of the Roman Empire which centered in
Constantinople would remain intact for a number of centuries
although it would be greatly impacted by Muslim influence.
The height of the Roman Byzantine Empire was perhaps
reached under Justinian I who ruled from 527-565 A.D.
Byzantine art and culture was mixed with Roman law,
Christianity and Greek philosophy. Justinian saw the state as
God's instrument in the world. He established new Roman
legal codes, promoted art and culture and built churches on a
grand scale. He also defeated the vandals in North Africa and
Gothics in Italy. Justinian defended Eastern Nicene orthodoxy
and even closed some Greek schools of philosophy. The
Church identity dissolved into a "Christian" society run by the
The Western part of the Roman Empire was not so fortunate
as it was overrun by hordes of barbarians, first from Europe
and then Asia. Rome was sacked in 410 A.D. by Gothic tribes
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Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 5
who settled in various parts of the Roman Empire.
Later, Mongol hordes from Asia under Attila the Hun
threatened to all but destroy Rome. In 452 A.D. Bishop Leo of
Rome negotiated with Attila on behalf of the emperor, and
Rome was spared for a time. The political and religious,
genius of Leo was soon recognized.
In 455 A.D. the vandals overran Rome and killed the Emperor
Maximus. Again Leo intervened and begged for mercy. Rome
was looted and many religious sites destroyed, but the city
was not burned.
• By 476 A.D. the Western Roman Empire was all but dead
following invasions by barbaric German tribes. The last
imperial Roman Emperor m the West was dead. The
Germanic invaders were eventually all but absorbed into the
peoples of the empire, but the glory of the Roman Empire
was gone.
• Culturally what was left of the Roman Empire in the West was
a mixture of Roman, Greek, Christian and barbaric cultures.
Major religious movements and developments
The main religious developments of this era
can be summarized as follows:
• The East-West division in the Church
As has already been noted, the Christian Church divided into
two rather distinct groups - the Church in the West headed by
the bishop of Rome and the Church in the East which was
headed by the Emperor in Constantinople. The Eastern
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Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 6
Church had a number of important bishops in key cities like
Constantinople, Alexandria, Carthage, Hippo, Antioch,
Jerusalem and Ephesus. A number of doctrinal and practical
issues would later permanently separate the Eastern and
Western divisions of the Church. In the West there really was
no other bishop to contest the power of the Bishop of Rome.
While in contrast, in the East no one bishop was able to
assure control and authority.
• The Christianization of the Barbaric invaders
• To the credit of the Church, the Gospel was effectively
preached to the barbaric invaders in the West, and missionary
activity was prevalent and reached as far as England. In the
East from major Christian centers like Alexandria, the Gospel
reached out to parts of Africa, including Ethiopia.
But with the multitude of converts to Christianity came the
influx of many pagan religious practices and thoughts.
Perhaps the area of greatest lack was in the training and
teaching of these new converts in the principles and truths
of Scripture.
Many of these conversions took place when pagan leaders
married Christian women. One such incident involved Clovis
(481-511 A.D.), Chief of the Franks in Northern Gaul (France).
His Christian wife pointed him in the direction of Christ, and
God worked to bring him to the point where in a military
encounter he turned to God rather than the German gods. He
was saved and his whole tribe baptized and thus
"Christianized." These "conversions" of entire tribes still raise
serious issues since each individual must respond by faith in
2016-02-17 Sunday Service
Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 7
• The rise of the Pope to supremacy in the West
Many political and religious factors have already been noted
m the development of the Papacy in Rome. From about 313
A.D. forward the Bishop of Rome had been recognized as
special although not supreme. Rome was considered to be
the foremost Apostolic Church founded by Peter, and the
misinterpretation of Matthew 16:13-18 was used as the basis
for supremacy and Apostolic succession.
After the capital of the Roman Empire had moved East to
Constantinople, both the religious and political significance of
the bishop of Rome was enhanced. There was simply no other
strong civil leader. And the bishop of Rome had been able to
maintain a stronger doctrinal stance than had been true
in the East where most of the doctrinal heresies arose.
Further, the bishops of Rome had developed a loyal following
among monks doing missionary work throughout the Empire.
There were also a number of strong bishops in the Roman
Church over the years including Gregory of Nyssa
(330-395 A.D.) under whom Augustine served and Damascus I
(366-384 A.D.) under whose order the Bible was translated
into Latin by Jerome (the "Latin Vulgate" translation).
It was Leo I who as bishop of Rome from 440-461 A.D. first
began to use unofficially the title Pope which means "great".
Leo's prestige in the religious world was greatly enhanced by
his political negotiation skills and success related to Attila the
2016-02-17 Sunday Service
Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
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Hun and other barbaric leaders. By the time of Gregory I, who
became bishop in 590 A.D., all that was missing in the papacy
was the official title of Pope.
Major doctrinal disputes. heresies and religious practice
• The period of 312 A.D. to 590 A.D. saw negative development
in both the practice of worship as the Church moved toward
formal ritualism and "saving sacraments" and the
organizational structure and government within the Church
as the bishops assumed non-biblical titles and positions,
separated clergy and laymen and created hierarchal authority
and structure.
But there were also some very significant developments of a
positive nature in the area of theology and doctrine.
Two primary factors contributed to the
formalization of doctrine in this period:
1 The teaching of serious heresies related to the nature, person
and work of Christ and the Trinity.
2 The need for a common body of doctrine for Christianity as it
became the official religion of the State.
Church Councils were called, and leading churchmen were
asked to state and defend various theological views in an attempt
to arrive at an "orthodox" set of beliefs for Christianity. In the
process, "Creeds" were developed for use in the churches.
"Orthodox" refers to that which is right according to a recognized
standard and is commonly believed.
2016-02-17 Sunday Service
Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 9
Five major Church Councils will be highlighted in this section:
Nicea (325 A.D.),
Constantinople (381 A.D.),
Ephesus (431 A.D.), Chalcedon (451 A.D.) and
Carthage (397 A.D.).
Interestingly, most of these doctrinal disputes centered in the
Eastern part of the Roman Empire. Orthodoxy in the West had been
fairly well controlled by ,the Bishop of Rome and explained by such
great Western theologians as Tertullian.
Primary impact of the era on the Christian Church in history.
This period of Church History, perhaps more than any other except
the Reformation, has had a lasting influence on the Church. The
Church has been impacted in the following ways:
• When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman
Empire, Church and State became inseparably mixed.
• Church Councils and Creeds defined orthodox doctrine for
Christianity in the face of heresy and doctrinal disputes.
• The establishment of the primacy of the bishop of Rome as
Pope of the Church led to Roman Catholicism and
ecclesiastical abuse in the Church.
• The gap between clergy and laity widened as formal liturgy
• The monastic movement provided an imperfect means of
preserving Christianity during the dark ages.
• The beginning of the split of the Christian "Catholic" Church
into Western and Eastern factions guaranteed major
divisions in the Church.
• The development of a substantial body of Christian literature
is still being felt today.
2016-02-17 Sunday Service
Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
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590 A.D. ———————————————————— 800 A.D.
Pope in Roman church in West;
Muslims invade the East
Gregory the
Church involved
in missions
the l5th
Holy Roman
Gregory I - the first Pope
Founding of Islam
Muslim invasions
Formalization of Roman Catholic Theology
Missionaries to Europe
"Icon" controversy
Joining of Church and State in 1st Holy Roman Emperor
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Era of the Medieval Church
590-800 A. D.
[Pope in the West]
[Muslims in the East]
[Church moves out in missions]
The long period of Church History from 590-1517 A.D. is perhaps
the most misunderstood of all, being called by many scholars the
"dark ages" or the Christian Middle Ages. It is treated as one long
era by many Church historians.
But momentous forces were at work both within the Church and
outside the Church which would shape modern history - and
Christianity was at the very center of it all!
This period of Church History
from 590-1517 A.D. may be characterized by:
• the evangelization of the Teutonic invaders from Northern
and Western Europe by the Church.
• the invasion in the East by hordes of Muslims in the 7th and
8th centuries.
• the formation of alliances between Church and State known
as the Holy Roman Empire in Europe under Charlemagne
around 800 A.D.
• the controversy over the worship of "icons", especially in the
• the final, irrevocable split in 1054 A.D. between the Western
Church headed in Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Church
headed in Constantinople.
2016-02-17 Sunday Service
Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 12
• the Crusades to the Holy Land.
• the final rise to power of the Roman Catholic Church under
the Pope who became both a religious and political leader of
worldwide significance.
• the rise of feudalism in Europe.
• the full development and corruption of Roman Catholic
theology and practice.
• scholasticism and the revival of learning.
• significant but futile attempts at reform within the Roman
Catholic Church.
It is virtually impossible to separate political and religious
movements within this period because they were so interrelated.
Developments in this period of almost 1000 years are also
incredibly complex and detailed and thus beyond the scope of this
course. The emphasis will be on a summary of the major
developments and how they impacted the Church in the West and
in the East, subdivided into four key time periods
Many scholars and Church historians consider the entire
period from 590 A.D. - 1517 A.D. as the Era of the Medieval
Church. However, for purposes of communication and
understanding it seems better to divide it into four separate
period of time or eras.
2016-02-17 Sunday Service
Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 13
In the West
The beginning of this period is marked by the date 590 A.D. when
Gregory I "The Great" became Bishop of Rome and functioned as
Pope though not claiming the title.
Gregory's greatest contributions centered around
- increasing the power, prestige, land holdings and
wealth of the Bishop of Rome which had both religious
and political implications. Gregory's influence spread
over Gaul (France), Spain, Britain, Africa and Italy.
- initiating great missionary activity through monks in:
Northern and Western. Europe and the British Isles
which brought Christianity and Western culture to the
Teutonic inhabitants of the land.
- extensive writings which would shape Roman Catholic
• Shortly after Gregory became Pope, Italy was invaded
by the Lombards, a Germanic people who had largely been
converted earlier to Arian Christianity, which denied'. the full
deity of Christ. Gregory was able to work out an '. acceptable
peace agreement and over a period of years the Lombards
moved toward orthodox Christianity but controlled the
religious and political scene. The Roman Popes began to
search for a powerful ally who could free them from the
Lombard domination.
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Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 14
The Franks, who had been Christianized under Clovis (466510 A.D.), were the most logical choice: Clovis’ sons were
not able to maintain control after his death and the Franks'
kingdom was divided into mayoral states until about 687
A.D. when Pepin of Heristal gamed control of the Frankish
In 714 A.D. Charles Martel came to power and played a
significant role politically, religiously and militarily as he
defeated the advancing Muslims at the Battle of Tours (or
Poitiers) in 732 A.D. and saved Spain and Western Europe for
Christianity. After over-runnng North Africa and much of the
Middle East, the Muslims had headed west to conquer
Charles Martel was succeeded by Pepin the Great (also Pepin
le Bref "the short") who took the title of King in 751 A.D.
The Pope in Rome had requested help against the Lombards.
A strange alliance was formed and Pepin was consecrated as
King by Archbishop Boniface, the English missionary monk to
the Germans.
What is significant is the idea which Charlemagne picked up from
Augustine’s City of God of a universal Christian Catholic Church
joined to a revived Roman government to form a Holy Roman
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Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 15
The religious and the secular were so intertwined as to be
impossible to distinguish. For 1000 years until 1806 this concept
would dominate Europe and influence Western civilization and the
The year 800 A.D. was indeed significant as the Holy Roman Empire
came into existence.
In the East
• This period of time saw the beginning of the end for the
dominance of the Christian Church in the East, although
it would not finally fall until 1453 A.D. when Constantinople
came under Muslim control. The downfall came primarily
through political and military means. Although the lack of
missions, evangelism and discipleship by the Church was a
major factor.
• The founder of Islam (the Muslim religion) was a Bedouin
camel herder and tribesman from Arabia named Mohammed
(c. 570-632 A.D.) who came into contact with both
Christianity and Judaism. Based on a claimed vision and
revelation from God, he started a religious movement which
still impacts the world today. He favored monotheism against
polytheism and idolatry and claimed that "Allah" was the one
true God. By 630 A.D. Mohammed's movement had gained
such strength that he conquered Mecca in Saudi Arabia,
which became the capital and most holy place of Islam.
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Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 16
Mohammad died in 632 A.D., but for the next 100 years the
Muslims gained incredible political and religious strength until
the tide was finally halted at the Battle of Tours (or Poitiers)
in 732 A.D., where Charles Martel defeated the Muslims who
were about to invade Europe through Spain.
The Islamic invaders had already conquered Syria, Palestine
(Israel), Egypt, North Africa and Persia by 650 A.D.
The expansion of Islam into the West by way of the northern
side of the Mediterranean Crescent was temporarily halted in
717 and 718 A.D. at Constantinople, Turkey as the Eastern
Empire under Leo the Isaurian successfully repulsed the
The political/military victories took a great toll on the
religious scene also as the defeated peoples were required to:
embrace Islam
pay tribute
or die.
The advancing tide of Muslims waned around 750 A.D., but it
was able to establish an elaborate Arabian civilization
headquartered in Baghdad (Iraq). It was greatly influenced by
Greek philosophy, including that of Aristotle, which made its
way to Europe through Arabic Spain
• The wars fought by Islam were, in their way of thinking, really
religious wars as they carried out the will of Allah.
2016-02-17 Sunday Service
Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 17
In the West
• Primarily through the work of Gregory I and those who
followed him, the primacy of the Pope as a religious and
political figure was firmly established.
• It was under Gregory that the bishop of Rome was recognized
as the "head of all the churches".
Under Gregory I
- The Roman Church began to gain ownership and control
of large parcels of land.
- Monasticism received official papal sanction.
- Roman Catholic theology took shape through his
He falsely taught that:
• man was sinful, but not beyond cooperating with God’s grace
through the merit of good works.
• baptism as a saving sacrament brought forgiveness of sins to
that point.
• after baptism, sins had to be atoned for by the individual
doing penance (repentance, confession and meritorious good
works involving giving, sacrifice and suffering) or face divine
punishment. The greater the sin the greater the penance
• sinners could pray to patron saints of the faith for help and
intercession with regard to sin.
• holy relics (artifacts, clothing, hair, etc., from the saint and
martyrs) possessed magical religious power.
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Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 18
• if penance in this life were not sufficient at death a saint
would have to go through a period of purgatory to pay for his
sins before heaven.
• the Lord's Supper ("Eucharist" or mass) was also a saving
sacrament which could deal with the sins of the participant
and could be offered for saints in purgatory.
• in the celebration of "mass" then, was the beginning of the
false notion that in the hands of the priest the elements
literally became the sacrificial body and blood of Christ.
• the Bible was inspired but Roman Church tradition and
teaching was of equal value and authority.
800 A.D. ———————————————————— 1054 A.D.
Holy Roman Emperors;
Church and State joined
the 1st
Holy Roman
2016-02-17 Sunday Service
rise of Pope's power
Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
Page 19
Charlemagne the 1st Holy Roman Emperor
Rise of feudalism in Europe
Church and State combined in Holy Roman Empire
Church secularized, corrupted and ineffective
Rise of Pope's power
Split between Western (Roman) and Eastern Churches
Some of the factors which led to the split are:
Western Church
(Roman Catholic)
Eastern Church
(Eastern Orthodox)
Pope claimed supremacy over
bishop of Eastern churches.
Theologically progressed after
Chalcedon (451 A.D.)
Believed the Holy Spirit
proceeded from Father and
Focused on church policy and
practice and used Latin.
Celebrated Easter on the
Sunday following the 14th of
Allowed use of icons in
worship including statues.
Used unleavened bread in the
Lord's Supper.
2016-02-17 Sunday Service
Eastern bishops were never united in
their effort to have a comparable
spokesman to the Pope in West.
Stagnated in doctrinal development
after council of Chalcedon.
Believed in procession of the Spirit
only from the Father.
4 Focused on theology and
philosophy and used Greek.
5 Celebrated Easter on the 14th
day of Nisan (Passover)
regardless of the day of week.
6 Restricted icons to images like
pictures but not in worship.
7 Forbade use of unleavened bread
in Lord's Supper.
Spring Valley Bible Church, Pastor Herman H. Mattox, Th.M.
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All clergy had to be celibate.
Clergy could shave.
viewed salvation in legal terms
and sin as a violation of God's
holy character.
Formalized the church as an
institution based on legal
rights with Peter as founder of
the church.
Icons became sacred religious
relics to be venerated and
Clergy below bishop could marry.
Clergy had to have a beard.
Viewed salvation in terms of
restoring God's image in man and sin
as marring that image.
Saw the church as the "mystical"
body of Christ renewed by Holy Spirit.
Icons represented only a
manifestation of the heavenly image
through man.
Icons represented only a
manifestation of the heavenly image
through man.
Major doctrinal disputes, heresies,
and religious practices
Other than the dispute between Rome and Constantinople the only
other major doctrinal issue that showed significant development
was related to the Lord's Supper. In 831 A.D. a book was written by
a monk named Radbertus entitled Of the Body and Blood of the
Lord in which he falsely taught that in the Lord's Supper a miracle
occurred which actually changed the bread and wine into the body
and blood of Christ. This served to increase the power of the priest
and to lay the groundwork for the Roman Catholic doctrine of
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