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Monday: The Little Horn — 8 Comments

  1. ... Continuing on from yesterday's comment.

    Pagan Rome did not suddenly spring onto the world stage. It has a long history and for many centuries was a loose confederation of Italian states. It was in the first century BC under the Caesars that it became aggressive and started to colonise the rest of the known world. They had moved into the vacuum left by the collapsing Greek empire, and expanded westward into Europe and even Great Britain. Julius Caesar was the first major player, although he was assassinated soon in 44BC after he became the virtual dictator by his opposition. This sparked a series of succession wars that culminated with Octavious becoming the emperor around 30BC. He was given the title Caesar Augustus.

    Ausustus began a period known as Pax Romana (Roman Peace). It was a period of prosperity and and stability and more or less peaceful successions lasting until Nero in 69AD. It should be noted that while it is generally regarded as a time of peace, Rome put down any insurrection with both speed and cruelty. Crucifixion was a powerful social engineering tool in those days. Jesus was born in this period of relative peace. One benefit of this relative peace was that world travel was relatively easy and this aided the spread of the Gospel. (eg Paul's missionary journeys. During Biblical times, Caesar Augustus, followed by Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero were the emperors.

    On the whole, the Roman Empire was fairly tolerant of other religions. Much of the religious persecution during this period was localised in its extent. Where the Jews, and by inference, Christians came into conflict with the Empire authorities was over the question of allegiance and resulted from a conflict of understanding about the ceremonial allegiance to the emperor. I am not saying that the Jews and Christians were wrong in not wanting to take part, but the resulting persecution was not specifically directed at them and ws the same for anyone who refused to take part in the allegiance ceremony.

    In 66 AD, rebel Jewish factions seized power in Jerusalem, raising the ire of the Roman Empire and leading to the Siege of Jerusalem and ultimately the destruction of both the city and the temple. This event took place in the rule of Vespian. The last part of the battle played out at Masada. It is estimated (Josephus) that 1 million Jews were killed or died as a result of this conflict. It lead to the great diaspora where the Jews (and Christians were scattered throughout the rest of the world.

    The Roman Empire continued on to around the 4th century AD when Northern European tribes essentially challenged Romes leadership. By this time, Christianity had become the state religion and the transition from pagan to papal Rome was under way.

    ... to be continued.

    Amen!(44)
  2. Protestants (including Seventh-day Adventists) often have a rather simplified view of Papal Rome. We typically view the period from about the 4th to the 18th centuries as a consolidated block of Papal power where the church and state combined to persecute, “True Christians”. It is far more complicated than that and the few paragraphs that I will write here do not really do the period justice. I will point out a few ideas that are pertinent to our study and will endeavour to give some indication of the complexity of the period, but if you want to be better informed, I suggest it is worth reading some of the summary histories of the period.

    Most scholars are agreed that Constantine was the ruler that gave impetus to the combination of Church and state. Constantine did not become a Christian until he was nearly on his deathbed, but he saw clearly the political value of being “on the same side” as the Christians. As a little side note, it was during this time that the idea of large church buildings was developed. (I could expand on that but maybe another time)

    It took another 100 years for the Church/state combination to develop into a political coercion machine.

    The papacy was not always based in Rome. For a long time, Byzantium/Constantinople (modern Istambul) was the seat of power. And during the 1300s the papacy shifted to Avignon in France. Papal buildings from that period are still visible and are on the southern France tourist circuit.

    Typically, the appointment of popes was under the control of the royal families of various countries. This led to a number of schisms and there were several periods of multiple popes, competing with one another. A lot of persecution resulted from these schisms as competing popes sought to command the populace to serve them.

    A couple of big events that need to be mentioned are:

    The East-West Schism. While the split between the Roman Catholic (western) Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches was formalised in 1054AD, the political and theological differences had built up over a couple of centuries to the extent that neither side trusted one another. This schism became quite bitter during the crusades.

    The Crusades. The Muslim faith had its origins in Arabian countries around the 6th century AD, By the 11th century, countries loyal to that faith were making considerable inroads into countries towards the west. The crusades were a series of military operations to limit the intrusion of the Muslim infidels. Those taking part were offered absolution and many participants thought that there would be a mass ascension from Jerusalem. At best it was an ill-conceived campaign and at worst it was a cruel misuse of human resources.

    The papacy was seriously challenged during the reformation years and while church books champion protestant articles of faith, there was also an element of nationalism involved as well. Even Luther, whose contribution on righteousness by faith and the relationship between God and man without the intermediary of the priest, was influenced considerably by the enormous tribute that was being paid to Rome to finance the building of St Peter’s Basilica. His contemporary Germans were eager to cut the ties with Rome so that they could keep their money at home. I am not trying to downplay the importance of the emerging Protestant theology, but we need to keep in mind that it went hand in hand with national freedom from Rome.

    We typically refer to the end of the Papal period as 1798. There are some issues with the actual event that occurred on that date but there is no doubt that by that time the political influence of the papacy had diminished considerably.

    There are a couple of things that we should consider. We characterise the papacy as persecuting those loyal to God. And while that is true to a certain extent, the papacy was not that focused. It uses persecution as a tool to enforce control on anyone, non-conforming Christians, Jews, Gypsies, Muslims, other Catholics that acknowledged a different Pope, and so on. The big sin of the papacy is that it used compulsion backed by persecution to enforce conformity and to ensure unity. The notion of free choice was done away with.

    A Characteristic of the papacy was the pursuit of power and they used the notion of salvation as a powerful weapon to ensure that the people conformed and contributed to their sense of power.

    Disclaimer: I am not a historian and my summary only touches on some of the highlights of what I have read in the last week. The history of the papacy is complex, and we have tended have a collective stereotype of its organisation and its goals. It is worth taking the time to understand this period a little better, because in doing so we may understand ourselves a little better.

    Amen!(29)
  3. Just as Daniel was given the meaning of dreams and writings on the wall, his prophecies could not remain unsolved forever. They remained without revelation for centuries. But God would not let His people stay in darkness about Daniel's visions. Today we have the revelation and the opportunity to study it again, and to remind ourselves of what is still to come. Today, we have a chance to renew our faith in Him, Who created the world, died for it, and is soon to comeback to take those who want to live forever with Him!

    Amen!(12)
  4. The Power of the Spirit of God

    2 Thessalonians 2: 1-12 Paul writing to the Thessalonians encourages them to be faithful even in persecution. Many like Peter, says it doesn’t matter what happens we will serve and walk with our Lord. Then when the rubber meets the road it’s a different thing. He mentioned before Christ comes there will be a falling away. But who will fall away? If will be Christians during times of hardship and persecution. We knew about persecution to Christians but things will occur on a greater scale, only those standing with Christ and take on Verse 2 will make it.

    Amen!(5)
  5. Three times Daniel is given the interpretation of visions given to pagan kings and they come true.
    Now Daniel is given a vision and the interpretation is given through an angel, this is for us and can be believed, it lasts to our days, how does it affect my life and yours?

    Amen!(8)

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