The Church and the Empire Being an Outline of the History of the Church from A.D. 1003 to A.D. 1304

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The Church and the Empire: From its inception, the Christian Church has had a reciprocal relationship with empires and royal authority. Christianity developed within the Roman Empire; they constructed it amid persecution and martyrdom by imperial power.

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The medieval and early modern times saw notions of empire as both a speculative system of rulership and a political-theological order. This included notions of papal dominium through universal authority and Christ/the pope as dominus mundi – and developing perceptions of ‘regnal imperialism’, with ‘the king as emperor in his own kingdom’.

Professor of sociology Dr. Alvin Schmidt notes Elwood Cubberly’s view that the scriptural teachings of Jesus Christ challenged “almost everything for which the Roman world had stood” (How Christianity Changed the World, Schmidt, p. 44). Dr. James Kennedy writes, “Life was expendable prior to Christianity’s influence. In those days abortion was rampant. Abandonment was commonplace: It was common for infirm babies or unwanted little ones to be taken out into the forest or the mountainside, to be consumed by wild animals or to starve. They often abandoned female babies because women were considered inferior” (What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, pp. 9–11).

The Romans promoted brutal gladiatorial contests where thousands of slaves, condemned criminals and prisoners of war mauled and slaughtered each other for the amusement of cheering audiences. Roman authors indicate that “sexual activity between men and women had become highly promiscuous and essentially depraved before and during the time that Christians appeared in Roman society” and that homosexuality was widespread among pagan Greeks and Romans, especially men with boys (Schmidt, pp. 79–86). Women were relegated to a low status in society, where they received little schooling, could not speak in public and were viewed as the property of their husbands (Schmidt, pp. 97–102).

As Christianity spread in the region, those parts of its instructions that conformed to biblical truths had a deep impact. They confronted pagan traditions with biblical truths regarding the prominence of women and the value of the family, the sanctity of human life as created in God’s image, and the sinfulness of sexual depravity and homosexuality. Roman emperors outlawed the branding of criminals and crucifixion and stopped the inhumane gladiatorial contests that had thrived for seven centuries—implementing one of the most important reforms in the moral history of mankind (Schmidt, p. 63–65). In the words of historian Christopher Dawson, the developments began by the advancement of these ideas marked “the beginning of a new era in world history” (Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, p. 25). held

Change Not Always Voluntary

Christianity held many biblical teachings in its canons, traditions and doctrines, but it was a blended religion that combined some of Jesus’ scriptural teachings with the beliefs, practices, and philosophies of many of the peoples it wanted to convert.

Many intellectuals who realize the benefits that professing Christianity contributed to the world as its influence widened also recognize that this growing influence was usually achieved by unbiblical and unchristian measures through movements such as the Spanish Inquisition which sought to forcibly convert Jews and Muslims to Catholicism. The religion that spread Christ’s name was often not Christ like as they demonstrated by their launching of the Crusades and other militaristic attempts to establish areas where its influence could expand.

Burnings at the stake, beheadings, hangings and other executions of heretics and those unwilling to convert were characteristic of both the Roman Catholic and Protestant strains Professing Christianity (Schmidt, p. 293). The theology that was changing the world was called “Christianity,” but it was not the religion of Jesus Christ.

Impact on Modern World

Still, the impact of that religion continues to be visible in Western civilization today. Historians of professing Christianity have noted that “by the Middle Ages, Christianity had shaped Western culture, and it would continue to influence culture wherever [its teachings] spread” (Seven Revolutions, Aquilina & Papandrea, pp. 6–7). The charity encouraged by biblical teachings eventually blossomed into hospitals, orphanages, homes for the elderly and care for the poor, the hungry and the homeless (Schmidt, pp. 147–148). Many of our finest and most distinguished universities were established for “Christian” purposes.

And while critics claim the Christian religion impeded the growth of science, history says otherwise. Dr. Rodney Stark, a professor of sociology and comparative religion, states, “the leading scientific figures in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries overwhelmingly were devout Christians who believed it was their duty to comprehend God’s handiwork” (For the Glory of God, p. 123). Unlike the godless religions of Asia and the capricious gods of other faiths, the God of the Bible was a rational Being whose creation operated on laws that were discoverable and could be applied to solving problems for the benefit of mankind, an understanding “essential for the rise of science” (Stark, p. 123).

Modern, atheistic critics can sneer at the doctrines of the Bible and the superstitions of professing Christianity, but they do so while benefitting from living in a society based on many of the principles they despise. Although Christianity appears to be in decline at this time, the Bible foretells that this apostate, professing Christianity will later gain power, not just to influence the world, but to conquer it, on a route that will put it in conflict with the true Christianity it has undertaken to leave behind. And in maybe the turning point in history that the dissemination of Christianity represented may foretell a stronger turning point to come.

J. Medley, M.A

Dudley Julius Medley (1881–1953)

Dudley Julius Medley (D.J. Medley) was born on March 31, 1861 in Paddington, London, England and died on October 14, 1953. He was the 2nd son of Lieutenant-General Julius George Medley, Royal Engineers, and Adelaide Steele, daughter of Colonel James Steele, CB and married Isabel Alice (Gibbs) Medley in 1890 in England.

D.J. Medley was educated at Wellington College 1875-80; matric at Oxford (Keble College) October 1880; 1st Class Modern History and BA 1883; MA 1887; Hon LLD Glasgow University 1931.  He became a lecturer and tutor at Keble College, where they gave him the nickname “Deadly Muddly”, before coming to Glasgow in 1899.  He was a Professor of Modern History at the University of Glasgow from 1899 until 1931 and then became Chairman of the University Appointments Committee for many years before they awarded him an LLD in 1931.

He threw himself into the life of Glasgow University, encouraging the General Council to take a more active role in its affairs; serving for sixteen years as Honorary President of the Athletic Club and introducing the annual conversazione at which graduates met members of the Court and Senate. He set up a class library in the Department of History, the first in the University, and founded the History Club. The son of a Lieutenant-General, Medley took a great interest in the Officer Training Corps and became Chairman of the Military Education Committee at the University and of the Central Organization Military Education Committees. He was also a member of the Glasgow School Board.

Most widely held works of D. J. Medley

  • A student’s manual of English constitutional historyby D. J Medley58 editions published between 1894 and 2011 in English and held by 1,565 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

    Intended for the student, this overview digs deep into British history to present a clear account of how constitutional law was developed and then evolved. Starting from Roman, Teutonic, and Celtic roots, Medley considers land, tenure, feudalism, royalty, privy councils and star chambers, treason, the origins of Parliament, as well as the judiciary

 

 

 

  • Original illustrations of English constitutional history by D. J Medley22 editions published between 1910 and 2010 in English and Latin and held by 565 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

    Contains “selected documents suitable to the needs of the ordinary student”—Preface

 

 

 

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