Sunday, January 1, 2012

Of Kings, Popes, Ecclesia and Mundus

The Love/Hate Relationship
Between Church and State

210 years ago today, on New Year's Day, 1802, President Thomas Jefferson penned a letter to a group of Connecticut Baptists who had been the unfortunate victims of religious persecution. At the time, Connecticut had established Congregationalism as the official religion of the state, and these Danbury Baptists had asked President Jefferson for aid. In what has become known as the Danbury Letter, President Jefferson responded to the Danbury Baptists by repeating the words of the First Amendment, which state that Congress shall "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." President Jefferson then added the words, "thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

This "wall" of "separation" between church and state is the fundamental issue at play in many a culture war today. Advocates in favor of a "Christian Nation" reduce the significance of the Danbury letter by revealing the fact that the phrase "separation of church and state" is nowhere to be had in our founding documents. Those opposed to the "Christian Nation" rebuke such a claim by pointing out that many of those same founding documents (particularly the Constitution) make no mention of God. And while both sides make appeals to different influencing factors that helped to bring about the formation of the United States (i.e. Christianity, Enlightenment, etc.) it is important for us to recognize that there is NOTHING uniquely American about this church/state battle.

To better understand the depth and the importance of this church/state conflict let us travel back to a time when it wasn't constitutions and congresses that made law but rather kings and popes. Of course I am speaking of Medieval times. This was a time of passionate religious and political bickering, as heads of state (or kingdoms) and vicars of Christ jockeyed with one another for ultimate control. The question of who possessed ultimate authority became the central theme of almost all Medieval politics. Pontiffs and princes, priests and politicians, spend centuries arguing over this singular issue in the futile effort to seize a measure of control over the other.

The analysis into the origins of this Church/State conflict could, if we let it, take us all the way back to Constantine himself. Ever since the day that Constantine the Great saw his famous vision and heard the voice "En Hoc Signo Vinces", the battle between church and state has been a raging fire throughout the Western world. Constantine's newly endowed Catholic Church, complete with imperial sanctioning and ecclesiastical authority, was a budding juggernaut of power that would eventually monopolize the governments of heaven and much of earth. Unlike its pagan predecessors, which required no major governing bureaucracy, Christianity (at least of the dominant Roman Catholic form) developed a hierarchical, authoritative governing body that eventually came to rival that of the Roman Empire itself (many historians, including the legendary Edward Gibbon, have hypothesized that this development was THE catalyst to the demise of the western Roman Empire). Traditional and simplistic rituals to the various gods and priests of paganism were replaced with dominant and influential representatives of the resurrected Christ who held all the keys to one's salvation.

As Christianity continued to rise upon the ashes of the dead western Roman Empire, various leaders of various lands hitched their wagons to the church in order to add divine sanctioning to their leadership resumes. Gothic lords and Frankish kings all saw the advantages that Christianity provided. It is therefore no surprise that so many of these former "barbarians" eventually became anointed kings and saints of the church. But these perks were not without their costs. As the Medieval world continued to evolve, monarchs found themselves at odds with their religious counterparts. Popes, abbots, bishops and priests demanded more control (and money) from their secular leaders, who were often found reluctant to acquiesce to those heavenly demands. And with Catholicism still in its infancy, secular leaders were able to put the early church in check by integrating themselves in with church authority. For example, most early popes relied upon powerful monarchs for not only protection but also for their nomination to the papacy. For centuries, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire wielded incredible influence over new nominees to the Holy See, and once in power, these same popes relied heavily upon the Emperor's authority. There is no greater example or precedent of this fact than Pope Leo III, who begged Charlemagne for protection and for reinstatement to his seat as Bishop of Rome. Charlemagne obliged Leo and restored him in Rome; a gesture that Leo rewarded by pledging his allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor and by crowning Charlemagne in St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Day, 800.

But this reliance upon monarchs was not held in high esteem by everyone within the church. For centuries church authorities had tried, with varying levels of success, to break free from the secular power. From the fraudulent Donation of Constantine to Libertas ecclesiae, examples of Ecclesia's quest to be on equal or superior footing with Mundus fill the archives. The best example of this quest to "break free" and assert the church's ultimate authority is the Investiture Controversy, in which several kings (specifically King Henry IV) and popes (specifically Pope Gregory VII) took center stage in a clash worthy of a Hollywood script. In a nutshell, the Investiture Controversy was a disagreement that arose when church leaders challenged those monarchs who had granted appointments (investitures) to bishops and abbots within their kingdom. Contrary to popular belief, the church did not always exercise its domain over the appointment of local leaders. In fact, almost all local bishops and abbots of the early Medieval period were appointed by their local secular powers. This was due to the fact that these positions were almost always accompanied with a large land endowment. In what became known as the practice of Simony, kings and lords profited substantially from the sale of these church investitures, which were usually granted to secular nobles who could both afford to pay for the post and would remain loyal to the crown. For obvious reasons, church leaders saw this practice as an affront to their sovereignty and authority and looked for ways to change the status quo. This effort, however, proved to be extremely difficult, especially in the wake of ugly affairs like the Rule of the Harlots and the Great Schism of 1054.

An opportunity for change finally presented itself 1056 with the death of Emperor Henry III. Henry's successor, six-year-old Henry IV, was obviously too young to govern, thus opening the door for the church to make its move. During Henry IV's youth, the church made three significant moves to help establish its supremacy: First, in 1059, Gregorian reformers helped to push forward the all-important Papal Bull, In Nomine Domini, which established the College of Cardinals and invested in them the exclusive power of electing future popes. Second, in 1075, Pope Gregory VII created the Dictatus Papae, which, among other things, stated that the Pope alone had the authority to depose an emperor. And third, in a Lantern Council of 1075, church leaders declared that the Pope alone had the power of investitures. With these three new mandates in hand, church authorities were finally armed with the justification for ultimate sovereignty that they had longed for.

But as was often the case with Medieval politics, many within the secular realm were not impressed. Now no longer a child, King Henry IV elected to continue with the status quo and appointed his own bishops and abbots. In addition, Henry revoked his imperial support of Pope Gregory and issued a stern warning to the Holy Father. In a letter to Pope Gregory (in which Henry addressed him as "Hildebrand, at present not pope but false monk") Henry declared that his divine kingship came not from papal decree but from god himself:

And we, indeed, have endured all this, being eager to guard the honor of the apostolic see; you, however, have understood our humility to be fear, and have not, accordingly, shunned to rise up against the royal power conferred upon us by God, daring to threaten to divest us of it. As if we had received our kingdom from you! As if the kingdom and the empire were in your and not in God's hands! And this although our Lord Jesus Christ did call us to the kingdom, did not, however, call thee to the priesthood. For you have ascended by the following steps. By wiles, namely, which the profession of monk abhors, you have achieved money; by money, favor; by the sword, the throne of peace. And from the throne of peace you have disturbed peace, inasmuch as thou hast armed subjects against those in authority over them; inasmuch as you, who were not called, have taught that our bishops called of God are to be despised; inasmuch as you have usurped for laymen and the ministry over their priests, allowing them to depose or condemn those whom they themselves had received as teachers from the hand of God through the laying on of hands of the bishops.
Unfortunately for Henry, his royal rebuking fell on deaf ears. Pope Gregory simply ignored the letter and responded by excommunicating the Holy Roman Emperor. Not only did Henry's excommunication please church authorities but it also excited a number of German lords who had longed for a justification to usurp the king and increase their own wealth and power. Faced with overwhelming opposition from the church and growing hostility from his nobles, Henry finally chose to swallow his pride and appealed to Pope Gregory for reinstatement (legend has it that Henry traveled to Canossa, adorned himself in hairshirt and stood barefoot in the snow). Pope Gregory eventually removed Henry's excommunication but did not declare him king. In 1080 German lords had elected a new king, Rudolf of Rheinfelden, and had petitioned Gregory to anoint him as Holy Roman Emperor. Gregory found himself at a difficult crossroad and decided to not anoint either man as king. This infuriated Henry who proclaimed Clement III as pope (or antipope if you are on Gregory's team). Henry then attacked and killed Rudolf of Rheinfelden and moved on Rome to forcibly remove Gregory from the papacy. Left with no choice, Gregory called on Normon allies to come to his rescue. And though the Normans were successful in driving Henry's forces back, they chose to sack Rome themselves, causing Gregory to flee for his life.

Eventually the Investiture Controversy was resolved by Henry and Gregory's successors. The Concordat of Worms, which essentially granted sovereignty to both the church and the state in their respective realms, became one of the first occasions in which a "wall" of "separation" was created. The Investiture Controversy, though a dramatic mess to say the least, had revealed the fact that mixing matters of church and state together would surely lead to an explosive reaction. Both entities needed a buffer from one another. As the great Medieval historian Norman Cantor put it:

The Investiture Controversy had shattered the early-medieval equilibrium and ended the interpenetration of ecclesia and mundus. Medieval kingship, which had been largely the creation of ecclesiastical ideals and personnel, was forced to develop new institutions and sanctions. The result during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, was the first instance of a secular bureaucratic state whose essential components appeared in the Anglo-Norman monarchy.
And though the tug-o-war between church and state would rage on for several more centuries, the Investiture Controversy was a landmark event for both ecclesia and mundus. It gave religion a greater measure of independence from secular authorities who had for too long meddled in affairs to which they did not belong. The Investiture Controversy also endowed the state with a very clear sense of legitimacy that would, over the next millenia, rely less and less upon ecclesiastical endorsement and divine right authority. In short, the Investiture Controversy became the launchpad for future reformers and revolutionaries, who battled against the powers of church and state, in an effort to legitimize the independent authority of both. While the Investiture Controversy (along with subsequent struggles over the next several centuries) didn't completely solve the church/state debate, it did lay some of the initial mortar for the "wall." And as we have learned, this "wall" is not made of bricks but rather is a semi-permeable membrane through which church and state are able to occasionally cross, though once crossed is navigating through delicate waters.

For me, the church/state barrier is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich: though very different in texture and flavor the two were made for one another, so long as they are applied in the appropriate proportions and nobody uses the jelly knife to scoop out the peanut butter (or visa-versa). And as everyone knows, though sticky and often messy, there is nothing better than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!


Angie Van De Merwe said...

The GOVERNING document, the Constitution, is "godless". The "wall of separation" is in the DOI, which grants individual liberty, but is not a governing document. It was a contextual response to authoritarian governance. The Constitution spelled out how to limit authoritarian governance, as separated and divided powers.

The First Amendment does not forbid Church and State relations, but it does forbid the State from intervening into Church affairs. The problem is when Christian Nationalists, understand themselves to be "above the law", then they abuse the power of the Church. And unfortunately, the Church has that right in our government, UNLESS the individual resists it.

Christian Natonalists really are theocratic in thier understanding of governance, because they believe that God superintends, or grants them the "proper authority" to be "above the law", as to those that might disagree about policy issues.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

And such as these might have religious tests for public office, even though our Constitution does not require it.

Roddie said...

I really enjoyed this post. A lot. I too agree that the church/state dichotomy is much more than just an American history thing. I really enjoyed your commentary on the Investiture problem. It was thorough and related very well to your argument on church and state.

Angie, I completely disagree with you. The Constitution is not godless and the Declaration of Independence is not what creates a wall between church and state. I have no idea how you are abe to come at such a baseless conclusion.

As far as Christian Nationalists (which I assume is a term for basically a Christian conservative) go, I don't know how you are able to label them as "above the law" abusing the power of the church. This is also a baseless argument on your part. I don't mean to be attacking you personally here, but your commentary simply isn't accurate in any way. And let me add that your suggestion that Christian Nationalists are theocrats is like me saying that liberal philosophers are anarchists. You take a very hard-lined position here at this blog, which is fine for politics, but is baseless for history.

But again, great post!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Exc post, Brad. So few of us today are aware of the history of the government taking over the church [and its "cosmic" authority over men's allegiance] instead of vice versa.

The Investiture Controversy points this out, but there's certainly henry VIII's takeover of the church as well. In fact, during the brief reign of his son Edward [before Elizabeth I], they took over the Roman churches, stripped out the saints, and turned the altars around!

And a key early controversy in pre-revolutionary America was that the C of E [the crown!] was going to appoint the church's bishops in America.

Even the Presbyterian/Calvinists were opposed. As it turned out, it was the growth of the dissenting Protestant sects [neither Romish nor Anglican] that made church establishment undesirable and eventually impractical, as we see with the Danbury Baptists. And it was Baptists, not the "Enlightenment secularists" who swung the day in Virginia, for the Statute on Religious Freedom.

In fact, Massachusetts, the last state to disestablish its official state church [1833] did so because the unitarians had taken over half the Congregationalist churches.

By contrast, to this day, there's still a

But America produces sects by the sackful, and of course we have the late-19th century American sects as well, like Christian Science, 7th Day Adventism, and of course Mormonism.

Theocracy here is unlikely, as I doubt except for a few basic things, the plethora of sects in America could ever agree on much more than that.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Sorry that you didn't like what I said.Please, if you will, let me explain.

The Constitution is "godless" in the sense of its differing function in society. It arbitrates disagreements regarding civil liberties, as it does not take a stand on the definiton of "God", because our Founders themselves differed as to how they understood "God".

As to "Christian Nationalists", because the Christian Nationalists believes that God really exists and intervenes in the affairs of man, unlike Deists, government is granted authority by God to carry out punishments, etc. as stated in Scripture. Therefore, Kings DID have a DIVINE and APPOINTED RIGHT to RULE or Govern. And resistance or rebellion was rebellion agaiinst God. Reformers were those that worked within the social structures to bring about change, but there were also revolutonaries that wanted wholesale change.

Revolutionaries argue that God Transcends the Political realm. These take the argument that God has a "higher law", and didn't want men to submit or have ANY authority other than His! These were the early Christian resistors to the Caesars and these were called "atheists". Revolutionaries defened their resistance to the political authority of Great Britain or the defining status quo, as the status quo is unacceptable. The challenge is to know when or whether reform or revolution is necessary. Social order is a value for civilization. So such change should not be done without foresight and a commitment to see it through.

So, it becomes a slippery slope when one uses the argument of "God", because one can use Scripture anyway he wants to defend his position.

But, the form of government that is balanced and limited, that grants civil liberties is a government that allows for ALL VIEWS EQUALLY!!! This the "rule of law" or equality before the law. Definitions about God are a mute point, because the Founders themselves disagreed! But, those that believe that their view is the ONE and ONLY, will be resistant to diversity or plurality of views.

I apologize again for not explaining myself and being so direct about my understanding. History is a fact based art, as one has to piece together the 'facts' that are found and interpret these facts within the context of men's minds (understanding) within a certain period of time....

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The question in my mind is: Should the government be used by the Church to bring about discipline? Or should the government intervene when the Church does not respect civil liberties?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Should the Church discriminate because of their particular opinion regarding issues of "faith"?

Jonathan Rowe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan Rowe said...

Roddie: A point of clarification, I don't think a "Christian Nationalist" is synonymous with a religious conservative. There are many religious conservatives from meat and potatoes Republican voters to more politically independent types who disagree with Christian Nationalism.

For the space of sake I'm not going to describe what Christian Nationalism is (I'd suggest John Fea's new book on the matter), but it's basically a "line" that is pushed by folks like David Barton and the late Peter Marshall and D. James Kennedy.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Religious conservatives are social conservatives, as these don't like to circumvent the social order, as it is "God's". But, this is the question isn't it? Religious conscience regarding discrimination based on "faith claims"!!! "Faith claims" are claims based on text or tradition.

Marriage, and family values underline such commitments and values and they believe that laws should prevent homosexual marriage and change Roe v. Wade. And some would believe that homeschool is the best policy as that is the place for religious indoctrination, as the public sphere would undermine "creationist accounts" of scriptures, ETC. And homosexuality is forbidden, as an abomination, therefore, there is no "civil union" for homosexuals allowed! These believe that even if nature has endowed homosexuals with a different biology, then because of GOD, they should not be allowed the liberty to find happiness with a same sex partner in life long commitment. But, why, apart from "God" or "faith claims"? Religion is given "free reign" and right to Rule over another person's conscience....

I much more prefer "secular conservative" as these don't pretend to make claims for or about "god"....but they deal with their arguments based on the realities of the politcal world, and not some "Big Guy" (or Bully?) in the sky.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Angie, your conception of God as a bully isn't how the Founding saw divine providence.

Pls stop. You need another blog to say such things in the comments section, not American Creation.

"Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge."

---George Washington, First Inaugural Address

Pls, Angie. Stop it.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

If leadership is to represent "God" to the people, then you would believe that leaders are responsible to not bully, true? This is how "Providence" really was understood, wasn't it? (as nothing gets accomplished without good leadership). And our Founders did not serve the country, but their own ideals, of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (as the country did not exist yet and after it did, there were various understanding of what these ideals meant, which split the country as to the economic issues at hand.)

What does it mean to be representative of God in our political realm? The political realm is the arena of power, and absolute power corrupts, would that not apply to "God" as well? or is he above the law...and arbitrary? Our Founders again understood that men were limited and prone to corruption without accountability, therefore the divided and separated powers, as the natural needs of government to protect itself, not be overseen by a religious authority. These believed that Providence was destiny.

If one looks at nature, which is how most theologians argue for "general/common revelation", then arbitrariness is what we find, as to natural disasters and diverse scientific laws do not affirm a monistic order to the universe. But, Order was how the Founders understood nature's God, because they were just beginnning to understand the laws of science.

An Absolute Being has problems, just as an absolute Egoist. Most anyone would argue that we have to live in social relationships, therefore, an absolute Egoist isn't compliant to the rules of the "social game". Therefore, there are no absolutes, only contingencies, variable, probabilities, etc. And these uncertainties lead not to predictablity but a "uncertainty principle". Therefore, though the Founders understood the need for forming a government, they also understood the result of a static class structure, where the elites rule and reign. We are far from what the Founders first envisioned, aren't we?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I haven't understood our country to be structured after the hereditary Kings of Europe, but this is why the Founders encouraged an involved citizen, so that government would not run away with the Treasury...

Should there be campaign finance reform....should there be term limits in Congress?

Phil Johnson said...

I hesitate to make any contrarian statements regarding Brad Hart here; but, I think he builds his entire case on a false assumption and that is seen in this paragraph:

To better understand the depth and the importance of this church/state conflict let us travel back to a time when it wasn't constitutions and congresses that made law but rather kings and popes. Of course I am speaking of Medieval times. This was a time of passionate religious and political bickering, as heads of state (or kingdoms) and vicars of Christ jockeyed with one another for ultimate control. The question of who possessed ultimate authority became the central theme of almost all Medieval politics. Pontiffs and princes, priests and politicians, spend centuries arguing over this singular issue in the futile effort to seize a measure of control over the other. and followed by this statewment, Ever since the day that Constantine the Great saw his famous vision and heard the voice "En Hoc Signo Vinces", the battle between church and state has been a raging fire throughout the Western world.
The only arguments that took place in Medieval times were almost always between individuals regarding the authority of the pope or of some local ruler and they were invariably settled on religious grounds. The church and the rulers all operated under the power and authority of God. As far as any people were concerned, there was no difference--no separation. Matters of state were matters of the church as they were so closely integrated a difference was not able to be seen. Can anyone show where the question of separation of church and state was ever the subject of any quesiton during the Medieval era? To paint the pope's struggle to have infallible authority as something between church and state is wrong. The struggle was within the framework of a church and state that were not separatede from each other.


Brad Hart said...

I think you COMPLETELY missed the point of my post, Phil. Of course matters of church and state were the same in Medieval times, but the Investiture Controversy was one of the first times that people saw a problem with it. Every Medieval historian sees this.

I would brush up on Medieval history.

Jason Pappas said...

Great history lesson, Brad. Such a separation, or division of labor, or spheres of influence, does seem to be part of a long story perhaps going back to "Render unto Caesar ..." It's back and forth is interesting. I'm less knowledgable of the Middle Ages. But my interest picks up in the 16th century. I still find it astonishing that Pope Julius II commanded an army into battle against the French King.

Phil Johnson said...

I belierve the big picture here is that it is with the Founding of the United States of America that the separation of church and state is finally--once and for all time--begun.
Elsewhere the church played the final card in mattes of state. But, it was an ever weakening card ever since Martin Luther's "Here I stand" statement.

Phil Johnson said...

I reread Brad Hart's article.
I think I COMPLETELY missed his point.
Please accept my apologies.

jimmiraybob said...


I look forward to sitting down and reading the post now that the holidays are over - I've only had a chance to scan it so far. I recently started Cantor's Civilization of the Middle Ages. I keep pushing back in time. At least in the final centuries of the Western Roman Empire, since Constantine, it's apparent that the emerging Church and the imperial state become entwined and it's impossible to untangle which institution called on the other more before they finally merged for all intents and purposes in the 5th-6th centuries.

"Finally, when fanatic Christian bishops convinced the emperors in the fourth century that there was only one true religion and all others must be proscribed, the empire began to control thought. In the end, Roman Catholicism alone could be practiced in the West and Greek Orthodoxy in the east, and there was an end to freedom of religion and culture. (p.47 1994 ed.)

Phil Johnson said...

As a fairly regular visitor at this site, I will be interested in reading JRB's posts regarding Cantor's Civilization of the Middle Ages.
I've said it before; but, it bears repeating that I come here to learn.

jimmiraybob said...

So few of us today are aware of the history of the government taking over the church [and its "cosmic" authority over men's allegiance] instead of vice versa.

Cantor begins the Medieval period at 300 AD (CE if you prefer). It is the period from roughly 200 to 600 AD that defines the relationship between the Church and state in the west. During this period the growing institution of the Christian church willingly coopt the institutional nature of imperial Roman society and the waning Roman imperial state coopts the institution of the Church. This was not a period in which the Church resisted (I'm only referring to the western or Latin church). And this is the Church that steadily grew in temporal wealth and power and assumed the mantle of the state in attempting to bring and maintain order once the Roman state power was gone. It is this church that engaged in the conflicts with kings and princes in the 12th - 16th centuries where most people seem to start the story.

But, to truly understand the relationship and tension between the western Latin church and extra-church authority, you really have to understand how the 12th century became the 12th century and what the seeds of discontent were and when they got planted and why they split the western world apart in later Medieval times.

This is how Cantor frames the relationship of the Church to the state(1):

"The differences between Christianity and imperial Rome were implicit from the beginning of the Christian era, but churchmen tended to avoid direct confrontation with the imperial authorities - partly because they lacked the wherewithal to defy the empire and partly they believed sincerely that the end of the world was at hand...

"By the end of the second century A.D., however, Christians were no longer convinced that the end of the world was necessarily imminent and that pagan culture could be ignored... Their attitude was one of accommodation: They believed in the identification of church and empire...

"Eusebius, adviser to Constantine and chief spokesman for the newly established church, explained that Christ's birth in the reign of Augustus proved that the church and the empire were partners. Born at the same time, the two institutions would coexist in triumph until the Second Coming. Eusebius and his colleagues sanctified the empire, and they were as lavish in support of the state as the Christian emperor had been generous to the church. These fourth century churchmen gave moral and religious sanction to imperial rule; priests and bishops preached the divine appointment of the emperor and his representatives to rule Christians."

It is apparent that the Church was not passive in the transformation and became as authoritarian as the roman imperial state had been. As Cantor says, "...neither institution expressed any concern for the rights of individual conscience."

"One of the most progressive factors in the Middle Ages was the continuing struggle between church and state. Both institutions were authoritarian, both wanted to control the people's mind. but because there was tension between them, there was the possibility of emancipation. Later rebellious men could play off pope against emperor, church against state, and thus make room for intellectual freedom."

Fast forward to the Italian Rennaissance and the introduction of the humanistic studies(2) and then fast forward through the Enlightenment to the American founding and the next 220 or so years and we finally see the fullest flowering of the individual's right of conscience since....well, ever, theoretically unhindered by church and state.

As Ben F. said, if we can keep it.

1) From Cantor's Civilization of the Middle Ages, pages 66-74.

2) and the reintroduction and inspiration of classical Greek and Roman thought inside the academy, the Church and the expanding civil societies.

Phil Johnson said...

I am currently attending to thirty-six Great Courses lectures on DVD given by Professor Tyler Roberts of Grinnell College: Skeptics and Believers: Religious Debate in the Weswtern Intellectual Tradition. He touches on the Medieval World.
Nice thing about lectures of DVD, you can play them as often as you like.

jimmiraybob said...

As to the "civil" authorities (again from Cantor):

"We can look back over the whole period between the death of Constantine and the end of the pontificate of Leo the Great and see that, unintentionally, the Christian Roman emperors had laid the foundation for the power of the medieval papacy. During the fourth century, the bishops of Rome were a succession of weak and incompetent men who used the great traditions and inherently vast power of their office to little advantage. Fortunately, the emperors did the pope's work for them. They crushed paganism and made Rome into a Christian city...

"The emperors destroyed heresy and assured the doctrinal unity of the western church. They endowed the church with enormous material benefits and corporate privileges."

It is impossible to look at this period without seeing that the source of sanctifying the divine right of Kings lies as much within the western Church as it does in the civil authorities. I had made this point in a discussion with KOI some time ago but the above fleshes it out a bit more.

It is also impossible to credit Christianity (whether Roman Catholic or Protestant) or the Judeo-Christian tradition alone with undoing this relationship. If the authoritarian gridlock of state & church unity had not been broken by looking back to classical sources and reclaiming humanity and the human condition (Renaissance humanism, and I'm not talking secular humanism), I don't think we could have gotten where we are today (a kind of liberty and freedom of one's own mind that I enjoy).

The intellectual seeds to rebellion against tyranny were planted in Mediterranean cultures and Greek and Roman republican philosophy/politics and pagan religion as much as in early Judaism or the latecomer Christianity. It is all our inheritance.

So, I hereby claim that the founding fathers fully intended that we not be a Christian nation or a secular nation but a nation that could grow and safeguard our vast intellectual inheritance. There, now that that's settled for all time, it's time to fire up the coffee. :)

Phil Johnson said...

I also have this course taught By Professor Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D., Duke University,
Purdue University

I've lent it out to a friend; but, will be attending to her lectures again as soon as I get them back.

I am very interested in the Medieval World, so, thanks to you JRB for reading Cantor's book and blogging on it here.

jimmiraybob said...

Phil, I've bookmarked your link and will look into the DVD. I'll pass on a couple of links to a series of lectures (New and Old Testaments by Yale faculty - free access):

I'm guessing that there's a wealth of other possibilities also.

Phil Johnson said...

You can send all the lecture links you think are appropriate. I attend to them when I'm exercising on my peddler.

Tom Van Dyke said...

JRB, church and state were always intertwined in the West. Socrates gets the hemlock for impiety toward the gods of the city, the Roman Emperor was

King ferdinand started the Spanish Inquisition, not the Pope; Henry VIII took over the Roman church in England.

And the true heir of Constantine was the Byzantine Empire, where church and state were a co-dominion. It had a pretty good run, 1000 years or so.

We were just discussing Hobbes,

who argued the king should be the final arbiter on theology.

But I blame those pesky Calvinists for slipping out from state dominion, not the Renaissance or Enlightenment. The latter might have talked about it, but the Calvinists did something about it.

jimmiraybob said...

...not the Renaissance or Enlightenment.

TVD - I think that you would enjoy (and find useful) Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe by Charles G. Nauert (2nd ed. 2006). Starting with the Italian Renaissance and spreading north and east, the rise of studia humanitatis (humanistic studies) is the rise of the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Medieval humanism was not so much a philosophy as a way of viewing humanity in a positive light - as being capable of greater intellectual realization.

Studia humanitatis was a break with Scholasticism and relied heavily on uncovering and disseminating classical Roman and Greek culture. It wasn't separate from the church and indeed many churchmen were behind the movement. Studia humanitatis did not displace the Scholastic authority (more traditional and conservative) altogether but opened the door wider to what was acceptable. In essence, whether the Church realized it or not, it opened the door to human individualism including accessing the Bible and being free from a central authority established orthodoxy. It kick started the rise of Calvin and Luther and eventually free thinkers of a more secular variety.

As to Isabel and Ferdinand, they were both pious Catholics, her probably more than him, and when they "started" the Spanish Inquisition they were calling on Church tradition going back to at least the 13th century. Although there was probably ulterior motives involved, such as land acquisition by forcing out the pagans, Jews and Muslims, Ultimately, I think that they both thought that they were serving God. And, of course, however reluctantly, the Church did give the Spanish Inquisition sanction.

We can quibble over the "true heir" of Constantine's legacy, but his actions greatly benefited the Latin Church, laying the ground for its later dominance in the west. And the Latin Church doesn't call him "the Great" for nothing.

jimmiraybob said...

From Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe (Nauert, 2006):

“As the German emperors lost effective control of Italy, many cities in the north and central parts of the peninsula had become self-governing republics. Although these city-republics were often unstable because of class rivalries and old political enmities, all of them passed through a stage of republican political life. Even if the came under the rule of and authoritarian ruler (as most eventually did), they still retained some republican institutions and practices. In a rough way, therefore, their political structure and practices came to resemble the condition of ancient Greece and ancient Italy. Literate people quickly saw this similarity and turned to the history of Rome for inspiration and guidance.

“Any republic formulates and applies public laws and policies through a process of discussion and debate. Thus the Roman educational system, which had no appeal for the aristocratic and clerical rulers of the [earlier] Middle Ages, provided exactly the kind of training in oratorical skills and fostered exactly the sense of obligation to public service needed for those who governed the Italian communes. At first, this attraction to humanistic studies was felt mostly by judges, lawyers, and notaries. In time, however, as the chaotic political conditions of the thirteenth century gave way to established republics or despotisms in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the social groups who dominated political life found in a humanistic education precisely the kind of education needed to prepare their sons to govern. The humanist programme [sic] of education was conceived by an intellectual who was also a great poet, Petrarch. But its eventual success in becoming the educational padeia[1] of the Italian elite classes resulted not from its being artistically appealing but from its being practical”

[1] – this is my note in order to back up a bit and put padeia in context: “…the phrase studia humanistis implied a programme [sic] of education for the ruling elite of the republic, somewhat akin to the Greek term padeia or the modern German term Bildung, a word that is properly translated as not only education but also as culture.”