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Doctrinal Writings
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The Rise of the Papacy

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Pastor Mark Montgomery
Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
  • I. Natural conditions leading to the Papacy.
    • A. The in condition of the Empire.
      • 1. There was a century of revolution between 133 and 31 B.C.
      • 2. This revolution was ended by a powerful principate.
        • a. This was set up by Augustus after he defeated the army of Antony.
        • b. In this principate, the emperor shared authority with the senate.
      • 3. The principate was too weak to handle some of the problems facing the empire.
        • a. There was much internal decay.
        • b. There were barbarians on the border of the Empire.
      • 4. Thus, the principate gave way to another century of revolution until between 192 and 284 A.D.
      • 5. Diocletian became the emperor in 284 A. D.
      • 6. He reorganized the Empire along autocratic lines.
      • 7. He felt that Christianity was a threat, thus he sought to destroy it.
      • 8. He was unsuccessful in his attempt.
      • 9. Constantine was Diocletian's successor.
      • 10. He realized that if the state could not wipe out Christianity, than it could use it as an ally.
    • B. The suitability of the Church of Rome.
      • 1. The church was located in the capital city of the Empire.
      • 2. Rome had been the traditional center of authority for over five hundred years.
      • 3. When the capital was moved to Constantinople, the bishop of the Church at Rome was the single strongest person in Rome.
      • 4. The bishops of Rome had a reputation for orthodoxy.
        • a. Many great theologians were under the leadership of the bishop of Rome.
          • 1. Cyprian was under the Roman bishop.
          • 2. Tertullian was under the Roman bishop.
          • 3. Augustine was under the Roman bishop.
        • b. The domains of the Roman bishop nearer suffered from heretical disputes.
          • 1. Many heresies were to be found in the Eastern part of the Empire.
          • 2. The bishop of Rome held synods where he was able to develop clearly what was to be the orthodox position.
      • 5. Of the five Great Metropolitan churches, (Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome only Constantinople and Rome were cities of consequence by 590 A.D.
        • a. The bishop of Jerusalem lost prestige after the Jewish rebellion in the second century.
        • b. Alexandria and Antioch declined in importance and were overrun by the Mohammedans.
      • 6. There was much missionary work done by monks who were faithful to the bishop of Rome.
      • 7. The church of Rome had many able bishops.
      • 8. The Council of Constantinople (381) recognized the primacy of the Roman see.
      • 9. The growth of Christianity was almost entirely in the West from the fifth century onward.
        • a. This was caused because of doctrinal difficulties and Mohammedan encroachments in the East.
        • b. Western rulers gave in to Rome in order to extend and confirm their dominions.
        • c. Rome was thus appealed to both from the East and the West.
      • 10. The church of Rome received Paul's most doctrinal epistle.
      • 11. Irenaeus traced the Apostolic Succession of the bishop of Rome back to Peter and Paul.
        • a. Many believed that Peter had been given "ecclesiastical primogeniture" over his fellow apostles.
        • b. There is however no indication that Peter was ever in Rome.
    • C. The establishment of a religious heirarchy.
      • 1. The rise of bishops.
        • a. In the first generation of the church, the head was not referred to as the bishops
          • 1. James was the head at Jerusalem, but was not given the title of bishop until later.
          • 2. The church at Jerusalem had elders.
        • b. In the second century, the accepted pattern became that of a bishop governing a particular church.
        • c. In Antioch, the bishop attempted to address himself with authority to other churches.
        • d. Ignatius had much to do with this.
          • 1. He wrote many letters to churches which had only one bishop.
          • 2. There was presumably only one bishop in each city.
          • 3. He taught that the bishop is representative of God the Father and should be obeyed.
          • 4. He taught that the presbyters are the sanhedrin of God, the assembly of the Apostles.
          • 5. He taught that nothing could be done without the bishop.
            • a. The Eucharist could not be administered.
            • b. It was not lawful to baptize.
            • c. A love feast could not be celebrated.
          • 6. He taught that whosoever honored the bishop would be honored by God.
        • e. The teaching of Irenaeus on Apostolic Succession added to the office of the bishop.
          • 1. He taught that the apostles had passed on their commissions to the bishops.
          • 2. Thus, the bishops had apostolic authority from Christ.
        • f. Bishops began to come together for common action.
        • g. In a city, the bishop became more than just an administrator.
          • 1. He was in charge of worship.
          • 2. He supervised the entire life of the church within his territory.
        • h. Cyprian stated, "The bishop is in the church, and the church is in the bishop, and if anyone is not with the bishop he is not in the church."
        • i. Bishops became the esse rather than the bene esse of the church.
          • 1. Bishops were originally for the well-being of the church.
          • 2. They came to be the very existence of the church.
      • 2. The hierarchical formation
        • a. This came about in response to heresy in order to promote unity.
          • 1. Gnosticism was becoming popular.
          • 2. The Marcionites were becoming popular.
          • 3. The Monarchian heresies were becoming popular.
          • 4. Manichaeism was becoming popular.
          • 5. Pelagianism was becoming popular.
          • 6. Arianism was becoming popular.
        • b. The number of Christians had grown greatly.
        • c. The number of bishops also increased.
        • d. With each town having one bishop, many areas had literally hundreds of bishops.
          • 1. North Africa had this problem.
          • 2. Italy also had this problem.
        • e. Thus, another system began to emerge.
          • 1. In each area, one superior bishop would rise to leadership in that area.
            • a. The bishop of the largest city was usually the one to take on the leadership.
            • b. All the other bishops in the area became his assistants.
          • 2. Areas were divided into territorial subdivisions.
            • a. These were known as parishes.
            • b. They were led by either a priest or a presbyter.
            • c. The priest and presbyter were under the authority of the bishop of that particular area.
          • 3. Assistant bishops were "to do nothing extraordinary" without the superior bishop.
          • 4. The superior bishop became known as the archbishop.
          • 5. The archbishop was to take no action without the concurrence of the other bishops in the area.
          • 6. Each bishop had authority within his own diocese.
            • a. He was responsible for the whole district, which was under his city.
            • b. He was to ordain deacons and presbyters.
            • c. He was to "settle everything with Judgement".
            • d.He was not allowed to "undertake anything further without the bishop of the metropolis.".
          • 7.) Bishops were elected by the clergy and presbyters of the city.
          • 8. The bishop was consecrated by other bishops.
          • 9. The bishop selected and ordained subordinate clergy.
            • a. He selected deacons.
            • b. He selected presbyters.
          • 10. A bishop might have under him a group of chore-piscopol.
            • a. These were to supervise the churches in villages and rural districts.
            • b. They were appointed by the bishops.
            • c. They were ordained to the episcopate.
            • d. They could ordain those in the subordinate ranks of the clergy.
              • (1) They could appoint readers.
              • (2) They could appoint exorcists.
              • (3) They could appoint sub-deacons.
              • (I) They could not appoint presbyters or deacons.
          • 11. The Bishop of Rome, because of his authority, became known as the Pope.
          • 12. The Emperor of Rome was referred to as the pontifex maximna.
            • a. The state controlled the religion of the Empire.
            • b. The emperor was the chief priest of all the acknowledged cults.
        • f. The merging of church and state aided the formation of the heirarchy.
    • D. The merging of church and state.
      • 1. The role of Constantine in this merging.
        • a. Constantine was the illegitimate son of the Roman military leader Constantius and a Christian Oriental freedwoman.
        • b. He became emperor in 306.
        • c. He was religiously like his father.
          • 1. He was not in agreement with the popular religion.
          • 2. He was interested in the worship of the Persian sungod Mithras.
            • a. This was a combination of NeoPlatonism with Zoroastrian modes of thought.
            • b. It appealed to military men.
        • d. In 313 he was about to be overwhelmed by his enemies, by Maxentius.
          • 1. A battle was to be fought at the Milvian bridge near Rome.
          • 2. Success meant ultimate headship of the Empire.
          • 3. Defeat would be utterly disasterous.
        • e. Maxentius was praying to many gods, and Constantine knew that he could not compete with him in this regard.
          • 1. He had been brought up to regard Christianity with some degree of favor.
          • 2. In anxiety, he prayed to the God of the Christians.
          • 3. He claimed to have seen a cross in the sky bearing the words, "In this aign, conquer".
          • 4. He led his armies under this symbol and won a great victory.
        • f. Shortly after this victory, in 313, he issued the Edict of Milan, which proclaimed religious liberty, but showed partiality to Christianity.
          • 1. It is taken by many that Constantine adopted Christianity because of his victory.
          • 2. It is likely that Constantine's favoritism toward Christianity was a matter of expediency.
            • a. He felt that the Chruch would provide a center of unity.
            • b. He felt that it would perserve classic culture.
          • 3. His personal life would seem to indicate that he was not a true Christian.
            • a. He was a shrewd and unscrupulous politician.
            • b. He executed those who were his Political adversaries.
            • c. He murdered nearly all of his relatives.
            • d. He delayed his baptism until shortly before his death.
            • e. He retained the title of pontifex maximus, chief priest of the pagan state religion.
        • g. Constantine showed much favor towards Christianity.
          • 1. He filled the public offices with Christians.
          • 2. He destroyed offensive pagan temples.
          • 3. He exempted Christian clergy from military and municipal duties.
          • 4. He exempted the clergy's property from taxation.
          • 5. He abolished deprive pagan customs and ordinances.
          • 6. He freed the Christian slaves.
          • 7. He allowed wills to be made out to the church.
          • 8. He restored confiscated property to the church.
          • 9. He placed a ban on soothsaying.
          • 10. He set apart Sunday (the day of the Sun) as a day of rest and worship.
          • 11. He contributed largely towards the building of Christian churches.
          • 12. He instituted the purple robes of the first emperors in his new palace.
          • 13. He gave his sons to Christian education.
        • h. Constantine's view of the relationship of church and State.
          • 1. As pontifex maximus, he was the head of all the state religions, including Christianity.
          • 2. The relationship was for the purpose of unity.
          • 3. He was indifferent about doctrinal differences, but dreaded dissension in government.
            • a. He attempted to settle the Donatist controversy by negotiation and arbitration.
            • b. He resorted to violence only when all other means had proved ineffective.
            • c. He convened and presided over the Nicean Council in his purple robes
              • (1) He believed that Arianism must be defeated in order to promote unity.
              • 2. He practically dictated the council's findings.
          • 4. He did not make Christianity the state religion.
      • 2. Constantine's son, Constantius, went far beyond his father in his attempts to destroy paganism.
        • a. Pagan superstition and sacrifice were forbidden.
        • b. The visiting of temples was forbidden.
        • c. The death penalty was affixed to heathen sacrifices and conversion to Judaism.
        • d. He viewed his Sagan opponents as traitors and the pagan rites as conspiracy.
      • 3. The role of Julian the Apostate in the merging of church and state.
        • a. Julian was made Caesar by Constantius in 356.
        • b. He was hostile towards Christianity,
          • 1. He was zealous in reopening heathen temples.
          • 2. He restored the sacrificial services.
          • 3. He withdrew the privileges of the Christian clergy.
          • 4. He borrowed from Christianity in an attempt to make paganism more popular.
          • 5. He attempted to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem to discredit Christian prophecies.
        • c. He was killed in battle after only two years.
        • d. Tradition says that at his death he cried, "Galilean, thou hast conquered".
        • e. Under Julianis rule, Christianity was tried, but not defeated.
      • 4. The role of Theodosius the Great in the merging of church and state.
        • a. Julian's successors removed the restrictions which Julian had imposed.
          • 1. The churches were restored to the favor they enjoyed under Constantine.
          • 2.) Gratian refused to accept the title of pontifex maximus.
        • b. Theodosius, reigning from 378 to 395 is regarded as the first orthodox emperor.
        • c. He was the first emperor to make Christianity the exclusive religion of the state.
      • 5. The State Church.
        • a. There were some external advantages of having a state church.
          • 1. A large number of people came under Christian influence.
          • 2. Christians influenced Roman legislation.
            • a.) The position of women was elevated.
            • b. Adultery was punished as a crime.
            • c. Human life came to be valued and slavery was lessened.
            3. The morality of the Empire rose.
        • b. There were many evils which accompanied the formation of the state church.
          • 1. Christianity became secularized.
          • 2. Christian churches assumed the magnifcance of heathen temples.
          • 3. Because the pagans had worshipped many gods, now the Christians worshipped many statues and objects.
          • 4. The hierarchy was stimulated.
          • 5. The church became a persecuting power using the legislature to put down paganism.
          • 6. Monasticism and ascetism came into popularity.
  • II. Religious conditions leading to the Papacy.
    • A. Ecumenical councils were initiated.
      • 1. These councils were empirewide.
        • a. They were called by different emperors.
        • b. They were held in the East, but attended by Western representatives.
        • c. They strenthened the concept of the papacy.
      • 2. The first of these was called by Constantine in 325 at Nice.
        • a. Its purpose was to end the Arian Controversy.
        • b. There were three major opponents in this council.
          • 1. Arius was a presbyter in Alexandria.
            • a. His view held that Christ was the highest of God's creation.
            • b. He rejected the deity of Christ.
            • c. He did this in response to polytheism.
          • 2. Eusebius was the bishop of Nicomedia.
            • a. He maintained a compromise view of Christ.
            • b. He held that the Son was of similar homoiousios substance to the Father.
            • c. This is a semi-Arian position.
          • 3. Athanatius was a deacon in Alexandria.
            • a. He saw no distinction in the essential Being of God.
            • b. He saw three distinct personalities in the Godhead.
            • c. He held that the Son was of the same (homoousios) substance as the Father.
        • c. Arius's postion was immediately rejected by the council.
        • d. Eusebius' compromise was at first accepted.
        • e. Athanatius' view was ultimately adopted by the council.
        • f. Constantine ruled in favor of the majority of the council.
          • 1. Arius' books were burned.
          • 2. He and his closest supporters were banished.
          • 3. Eusebius was disposed.
      • 3. The second council was called by Theodosius, at Constantinople in 381.
        • a. They confirmed the Nicean Creed.
        • b. They added that the Holy Spirit was also of the same substance as the Father and the Son.
          • 1. Macedonius, bishop of Constantinople, had founded the sect of the Pneumatomachi.
          • 2. He taught that the Holy Spirit was a divine energy diffused through the universe, not a person.
        • c. Two separate views came to the foreground during this council.
          • 1. One trend, based in Alexandria, stressed the Divine element in Christ.
          • 2. Another trend, based in Antioch, stressed the human element in Christ.
        • d. Appolinaris, Bishop of Laodicea, denied the humanity of Christ.
        • e. He claimed that the logos replaced the human spirit of Jesus.
        • f. The council condemned this view.
          • 1. Both sides appealed to the Emperor.
          • 2. The view was again condemned.
      • 4. The third council was called by Theodosius II at Ephesus in 431.
        • a. Nestorius divided Christ into two Persons and two Natures.
        • b. Cyril of Alexandria opposed this view.
        • c. Cyril arrived in Ephesus before Nestorius did, and had him disposed in abstentia.
        • d. Nestorius was excommunicated and exiled.
        • e. The term, "Mother of God" was applied to Mary for the first time.
      • 5. The fourth council was called by Marcian at Chalcedon in 451.
        • a. Eutyches denounced Nestorianism.
        • b. In doing so, he went to the other extreme and said that there was only one Nature and one Person in Christ.
        • c. Flavian, bishop of Constantinople, had leanings toward the Antioch view of Christ.
        • d. Flavian presided over this council of 448.
        • e. Eutyches was excommunicated in 448.
        • f. The debate did not end here.
          • 1. Both Eutyches and Flavian appealed to the Emperor and the bishop of Rome, Leo the Great.
          • 2. Leo sent Flavian the Tome, in which he supported Flavian's decision.
          • 3. Dioscurus, bishop of Alexandria, sided with Eutyches.
          • 4. The Emperor called a council in Ephesus in 449.
            • a. Dioscurus presided.
            • b. The Tome was not read.
            • c. Leo was not present.
            • d. Eutyches was exonerated and Leo and Flavian were excommunicated.
            • e. This became known as the "Robber Synod".
        • g. In 551, Leo called the council of Chalcedon.
        • h. Flavian and Leo were exonerated, Eutyches and Dioscurus were excommunicated.
      • 6. The fifth council was called by Justinius at Constantinople in 553.
        • a. This council dealt with the Monophysites, who adopted Eutychianism.
        • b. The Monophysites were condemned.
        • c. Vigilius of Constantinople was banished.
      • 7. The sixth council was called bv Pegonator at Constantinople. in 681.
        • a. The purpose of this council was to reunite the church.
        • b. The major controversy was over the Monothelites, who held that Christ had only one will.
        • c. The Monothelites were found to be heretical.
        • d. Pope Honorius was excommunicated.
        • e. This council ended the Christological controveries.
      • 8. The seventh council was called by Irene at Nicea in 789.
        • a. The main issue was the Icon controversy.
        • b. The council approved the use of icons.
        • c. Nothing was done to those who disapproved of them.
        • d. Tarasius presided at the council.
          • 1. He was hand picked by Irene.
          • 2.) He was eager to solve the problems between the church and state.
            • a. He wanted the church recognized as supreme in matters of dogma.
            • b.) He wanted to give to the emperor authority in ecclesiastical law and administration.
            • c. This seemed to be accepted.
      • 9. The eighth council was called by Basilius Maredo at Constantinople in 869.
        • a. Ignatius and Photius quarrelled over Bulgaria.
        • b. They represented the Eastern and Western branches of Catholicism.
        • c. Each side ultimately excommunicated the other.
    • B. The doctrine of infant baptism was advanced.
      • 1. The pagans believed in a salvation by works.
        • a. Pagans had a custom called aqua lustralis, (the water of purification) whereby newborn babies were protected against sorcery.
        • b. When they entered the church, they carried these views with them.
        • c. Out of this came the theory of baptismal regeneration.
      • 2. The writings of the church Fathers teach baptismal regeneration.
        • a. Ignatius said, "He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water."
        • b. Clement's writings indicated that the concept of salvation through Christ's death was declining.
        • c. Hermas wrote, "We descend into the waters and receive forgiveness of our sins."
        • d. Barnabas wrote, "Mark how He has placed together the cross and the water...We go into the water full of sins and filth, and come forth fruitful."
        • e. Justin wrote, "They (new converts) are led by us to a place where there is water, and according to the manner of the new birth, through which we ourselves also were born again, they are born again."
        • f. Tertullian, while opposing infant baptism, seems to teach a baptismal regeneration.
      • 3. Cyprian favored the doctrine extra nulla salus ecclesiam (no salvation outside the church).
      • 4. This view plus baptismal regeneration demanded infant baptism.
      • 5. Augustine developed a theological argument in favor of infant baptism.
        • a. His religious background was Manichaeism and Neoplatonism.
        • b. He believed that all infants had original sin.
        • c. He believed that baptism washed away original sin.
        • d. Thus, all infants should he baptized.
      • 6. The council of Mela in 416 decreed infant baptism compulsory.
      • 7. The council of Gerunda in 517 favored infant baptism.
      • 8. The Synod of Orange in 529 taught that grace was received through baptism and thus infants should be baptized.
      • 9. Charlamagne issued the first law in Europe for baptizing infants in 789.
        • a. Heavy fines were given to those who refused.
        • b. Infants were to be baptized within their first year.
    • C. The doctrine of the universal (catholic) church was advanced.
      • 1. This was based upon Platonism.
        • a. Plato believed in reality in the universal.
        • b. Aristotle believed in reality in the particular.
        • c. Platonism and Neoplatonism were very popular philosophies during the time of the early church.
      • 2. The church fathers, caught up in Platonism, taught the doctrine of a universal church.
        • a. Ignatius said, "Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of people also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic church.
        • b. He also wrote, "As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout this whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it..."
        • c. Virtually all of the church fathers taught the concept of a universal, visable, church.
      • 3. A visable body needs a visable head, i.e. the Pope.
    • D. Many miscellaneous doctrines appeared which strengthened the Papacy.
      • 1. The doctrine that confessions were to be made to a priest.
        • a. This strengthened the role of the bishop in the church.
        • b. The priest forgave individuals based upon their sorrow, confession, and willingness to give satisfaction.
        • c. The priest could give the individual absolution.
        • d. Without priestly absolution, the individual had no assurance of salvation.
        • e. People did penance, as commanded by the priest, in order to receive forgiveness.
      • 2. The doctrine of indulgences strengthened the papacy.
        • a. God forgave the eternal punishment of the confessor; temporal penalties remained.
        • b. An indulgence was a remission of these temporal penalties, based on the merits of the saints.
        • c. Priests gave out these, indulgences to those who they felt were worthy.
          • 1. Often they were given to pilgrims.
          • 2.) Most often they were either sold, or given to individuals who contributed much to the church.
        • d. Indulgences strengthened the sacerdotal concept that the priest is the mediator between God and men.
      • 3. The doctrine of purgatory strengthened the papacy.
        • a. Purgatory is a state of fire in which Christians are purged of light sins before the final judgment.
          • 1. Works of penance ease the pains of purgatory.
          • 2. The last rites are administered.
        • b. Individuals would go to the bishop to have him pray for the dead in purgatory.
      • 4. The doctrine of the Eucharist strengthened the papacy.
        • a. At first, the Eucharist was simply a memorial.
        • b. It developed into a manditory function.
        • c. Failure to observe the Eucharist at least once a year resulted in excommunication.
        • d. From this sprang infant communion.
      • 5. The term "Pope" strengthened the papacy.
        • a. This term was originally applied to the bishop of Rome.
        • b. It came to be universally applied to the leader of the church in 707.


Calms, Earle. Christianity Through The Centuries. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1954. This is a well written, yet easy to understand overview of Christianity.

Hurst, John, Short History of the Christian Church. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1897.

Latourette, Kenneth. A History of Christianity, vol I. New York: Harper and Row, 1953. Latourette is a liberal Baptist, but a fine historian. His work here is an extremely broad and comprehensive view of the overall picture of history.

Mosheim, John Lawrence Von. Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, vol. 1. New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1861. Dr. Mosheim is referred to as the "Father of Modern Ecclesiastical History." This is perhaps the greates work on the history of Christianity in modern times.

Mosheim, John Lawrence Von. Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, vol. 2 . New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1861.

Newman, Albert. A Manual of Church History. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1933. Dr. Newman is a strong Baptist with much knowledge in the field of Baptist History. His is an easy to read style which still deals with the difficult facts of history.

Strouse, Thomas. "History of Christianity Syllabus". Watertown: ,Maranatha Baptist Graduate School of Theology, N.D.

Stalker, Williston, A History of theChristian Church. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1970.

Warns, Johannes. Baptism. London: The Paternoster Press, 1957. This volumn traces the history and doctrine of baptism. It is extremely valuable to any true Baptist.

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