Pre-Reformation Church History II:
IBRI Syllabi #24
Allan A. MacRae
President & Professor
Faith Theological Seminary
© 2014 John P. MacRae
This is the second semester of a two-semester course in Pre-Reformation Church History. These lectures were transcribed from a sound-recording and only lightly edited, so they still have much of a spoken flavor. The first semester material is found in IBRI Syllabi #23. This second semester begins in the latter part of the fourth century AD with the rise of monasticism, and it goes on to discuss the careers of Jerome and Augustine. Then the fifth century is sketched, along with the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The thousand-year period from then to the Reformation is first given in overview, and later discussed in more detail. Each century (or two-century period) includes a sketch of the secular or political situation, the various doctrinal controversies, monastic movements, the papacy, and principal writers and leaders. The rise of Islam and the Crusades are sketched, along with various movements leading toward the Reformation.
Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute
Contents and Course Outline
A. The Method of the Course
B. The Value of Studying Church History
1. It can be a source of great encouragement to us
2. The purpose of studying Church History Negatively
a. Not to learn what is true in theology
b. not to learn how God desires us to worship Him
c. Is not to learn God's plan for our lives
3. The purpose of studying Church History Positively
a. To see how God has worked in the past
b. To see how Satan has worked in the past
c. To see how much of our social and religious culture is historical rather than logical or Biblical in origin
d. To become acquainted with great men of the past and to see the points of strength and weakness
e. To get illustrations for Divine truths
C. Divisions of Church History
1. History is a continuum -- breaks are not usually complete at any one point
2. Centuries are convenient means of general division
3. Church history is usually divided into three major sections
a. Ancient church history - After Apostolic Age
b. Medieval church history - After the fall of Rome
c. Modern church history - After the Reformation
D. Remarks about Dates
E. What is History?
F. What is the Church
G. What is Church History?
II. The World into which Christianity Came
A. The Roman Empire
1. Its Importance (in Church History)
2. How It Came into Being
a. It was a Gradual Growth
b. In Rome there had developed a constitutional system with a large measure of individual liberty
c. A gradual extension of the rights of Roman citizenship to conquered peoples
d. There was a concentration of power in experienced hands
e. The Tensions which were largely the result of extremely rapid conquest, eventually resulted in concentration of ultimate power in one head
3. The nature of the Roman Empire
a. Strong Central Power
b. A Great Tradition of Law and of Personal Liberty
4. A rapid survey of the history of the Roman Empire
a. The Julian Line (30BC-68AD)
(1) Augustus (30BC-14AD)
(2) Tiberius (14-47AD)
(3) Caligula (37-41AD)
(4) Claudius (41-54AD)
(5) Nero (54-68AD)
b. The Flavian line (69-96)
(1) Vespasian (69-79)
(2) Titus (79-81)
(3) Domitian (81-96)
c. The Nerva-Antonines (90-193)
(1) Nerva (96-98)
(2) Trajan (98-117)
(3) Hadrian (117-138)
(4) Antoninus Pius (138-161)
(5) Marcus Aurelius (161-180)
(6) Commodus (180-192)
5. Advantages to Christianity of the Existence of the Roman Empire
(1) Comparative Peace and Safety
(2) Lack of Borders
6. Disadvantages to Christianity of the Existence of the Roman Empire.
a. The Great Importance of the Personality of the Emperor
b. The Development of Official Opposition
1. The Achievements of Greece
a. Culture, Science, Art, Literature, etc
b. Failure in Government
2. The Spread of Greek Civilization and Language. The Hellenistic Age
3. Advantages to Christianity
a. The Existence of a Common Language widely understood
b. This Language was Uniquely Fitted for the Expression of Complex and Sublime Ideas
c. Partly as a Result of Greek Philosophy, There was a Widespread Attitude of Skepticism Regarding Paganism and of Longing for Something Better
4. Disadvantages to Christianity
a. Many, particularly of the Lower Classes, were greatly attached to the Greek gods
b. The Widespread Skepticism of Everything Supernatural Among a Small but Influential Class
1. Judaism was represented in all parts of the Empire
2. Factions among the Jews
a. The Sadducees
b. The Pharisees
c. The Essenes
3. High Spots in the History of Judaism During the First Two Centuries
a. The Destruction of Jerusalem 70 AD
b. Simon Bar Kokhba, 132 AD
III. The Church in the First Century
A. The Beginning of the Church
1. Evidence in Acts and the Epistles
2. The Importance of the Resurrection
B. The Period of Little Evidence
1. How does there come to be so little evidence?
a. The Type of Writing Material
b. The lack of Stimulus to Write History
c. The Expectation of the Soon-return of Christ
2. Why had God allowed such a gap in our knowledge?
3. Traditions about the Apostles
4. I Clement
5. Information from Non-Christian Sources
b. Suetonius on Claudius
c. Tacitus and Suetonius on Nero
6. Information on Domitian's Persecution
C. The Concluding Summary
IV. The Church in the Second Century
A. The Roman Empire
1. Nerva (96-98)
2. Trajan (98-117)
3. Hadrian (117-138)
4. Antoninus Pius (138-161)
5. Marcus Aurelius (161-180)
6. Commodus (180-192)
7. Septimius Severus (193-211)
B. Pliny's Correspondence with Trajan
1. Evidence of the spread of Christianity
2. Evidence of the Official Roman Attitude toward Christianity
1. His letters
2. His idea of martyrdom
3. His idea of the place of a Bishop
4. His Idea of the Catholic Church
D. The Apostolic Fathers
1. General Remarks
2. Early Christian Literature
e. Epistle of Diognetus
f. Aside on the N.T. Apocrypha
E. The Apologists
1. First Apologists
(to Hadrian, all lost)
2. Justin Martyr (ca.100-ca.166)
3. Tatian of Assyria
4. Melito of Sardis
1. The Meaning of the word Gnosis
a. Previous de-Mythologizing of Pagan Religions
b. The Claim to Superior Knowledge
c. Apocryphal Books
2. The Roots of Gnosticism in the First Century
a. New Testament Evidence
b. Simon Magus
3. Points Common to Most Gnostic Groups
a. The Claim to Possession of Higher Knowledge
b. Belief that Matter is Essentially Evil.
c. Belief in Angelic Intermediaries and in opposition between the good God and the creator of this world
d. Denial of the Incarnation
e. Their Attitude toward the body
4. The Great Variety of Gnostic Groups
5. Gnostic Leader--Marcion
a. His life
b. His relation to Polycarp
c. Marcion's Attitude toward the Scriptures
6. The great spread and ultimate decline of Gnosticism
7. Some Effects of Gnosticism on the Church
a. Determine exactly the True Books
b. Enlarge the Idea of a Catholic Church
G. Persecution by Marcus Aurelius
1. The Character of the Emperor
2. The Persecution Particularly in Gaul
3. The Cessation of Persecution under Commodus
1. His Life
2. His Opposition to Gnosticism
3. A Source of Knowledge of Church History
4. His Attitude Toward Other Christian Groups
1. The First Latin Theological Writer
2. His Life
3. His Writings
4. Tertullian's Influence
L. the Papacy in the Second Century
l. The word Pope
2. The insignificance of most of the Roman bishops in the 2nd century
3. Anicetus (155-166)
4. Eleutherius (177-190)
5. Victor (190-202)
M. Conclusion of our discussion about this century
1. The Growth During This Century
2. Principal Centers of Christianity
a. Asia Minor
e. North Africa (Carthage)
V. The Third Century
A. The Roman Empire
1. Septimius Severus (193-211)
2. Caracalla (211-217)
3. Elagabalus (218-222)
4. Alexander Severus (222-235)
5. Maximinus (235-238)
6. Phillip the Arabian (244-249)
l. Dynamic Monarchianism
3. Sabellianism or Modalism
4. Beryllus of Bostra
D. Clement and Origen
1. Clement of Alexandria
a. The Catechetical School
b. His writings
c. The Allegorical Method
d. Clement's reference to the Didache
3. Origen's Writings
4. Origen's Views
E. Roman Emperors from 249 to 300
1. Decius (249-251)
2. Valerian (253-260)
3. Gallienus (260-268)
4. Aurelian (270-275)
5. Beginning of Diocletian's Reign (284-305)
1. His life in general
2. Cyprian's Idea of the Church
3. The Controversy over his Flight
4. The Problem of the Lapsed
5. The Novatian Schism
6. The Problem of Heretical Baptism
7. Cyprian's Relation to Rome
8. Cyprian's Martyrdom
G. Mythraism and Manichaeanism
1. Its Background
2. Ammoniacus Saccas
J. Forty Years of Freedom from Persecution
1. Growth of the Church
3. Paul of Samosata
K. The Church of Rome in the 3rd Century
VI. The Church the Fourth Century
A. The Persecution of Diocletian
1. The Situation at 303
2. The Outbreak of Persecution
3. The Attitude of Constantius Chlorus
4. Persecution in the East
5. The Greatest Persecution in the History of the Christian Church
6. Persecution in Italy and North Africa
7. The Death of Galerius
B. Constantine the Great
1. The Rise of Constantine
2. Constantine's Victory
3. Edict of Toleration, 313 AD
4. The Advance in Christian Scholarship under Constantine
a. Eusebius' Church History
b. Copies of the Bible
c. Study of Palestine
(1). Increased interest in Palestine
(2). Constantine's Mother
(3). Eusebius' Onomasticon
5. The Donatist Schism
6. Constantine's Social Legislation
7. The Council of Nicea
8. The Founding of Constantinople
9. The Alleged Donation of Constantine
10. Constantine's character and Achievements
a. His Character
b. His Effect on the Christian Church
c. His Baptism
d. His Place in Secular History and in Church History
C. The Rise of Arianism and the Council of Nicea
1. The Rise of Arianism
a. Its Leader
b. Its Background
c. Its Views. The views of Arianism
d. Its Dissemination
e. The Opposition to Arianism
f. Constantine's Attitude
2. The Council of Nicea
a. The Calling of the Council
b. The Deliberations
c. The Homoousian Creed
d. Other Acts of the Council
(1). The Melitian Schism
(2). The Matter of Easter
(3). Centers of Church Leadership
3. The Arian Controversy to the Death of Constantine
a. The Work of Athanasius
b. The Political Maneuvers of the Arians
c. The Exile of Athanasius
d. the Return and Death of Arius
D. The Reign of Constantius
1. The Sons of Constantine
2. The Progress of Arianism
E. The reign of Julian (361-363)
1. Julian's Background
2. Julian's Religion
3. Julian's Attitude to Christianity
F. The Downfall of Arianism (363-381)
1. The Attitude of Valens (364-377)
a. The Reign of Jovian
b. The Accession of Valens
c. The Efforts of Valens to carry out the policies of Constantius
d. The Death of Valens
2. The Last Years of Athanasius
3. Hillary of Poitiers
4. The Cappadocian Fathers
a. Basil the Great
b. Gregory of Nazianzus
c. Gregory of Nyssa
5. The Elevation of Ambrose in Milan
6. The Accession of Theodosius
G. The First Council of Constantinople
l. The Calling of the Council
2. The End of Arianism
5. Gregory and Nectarius
H. The Beginning of Monasticism
1. Causes of this Development
a. The Example of Paul.
b. The desire to escape the worldliness of the Roman Empire
c. The Condition of the Egyptian and Syrian Deserts
2. Paul of Thebes and St. Anthony
a. Paul of Thebes
b. St. Anthony
3. The Influence of Athanasius
4. Basil the Great
J. The Church at Rome during the Fourth Century
1. Sylvester I (314-335)
2. Julius I (337-352)
3. Liberius (352-366)
4. Damasus I (366-384)
K. The Roman Empire in the Last Third of the Fourth Century
1. Valens (364-378)
2. Gratian (375-383) (West)
3. Theodosius I (378-395) (East)
L. St. Jerome
1. His birth and early life
2. Jerome's life in the Syrian Desert
3. Jerome at Rome
4. Jerome at Bethlehem
5 The Vulgate
6. Jerome's Commentaries
7. Jerome's Other Works.
8. The Origenistic Controversy
9. The Monastic Controversies
10. Jerome vs. Augustine: Views of Inspiration
[See VII-H. Augustine's Relations with Jerome]
11. Jerome c. Augustine: The Pelagian Controversy
[See VII-J. The Pelagian Controversy]
12. Conclusion regarding Jerome
M. The Downfall of Paganism
N. St. John Chrysostom
A. Augustine's Early Life.
B. Augustine's Conversion.
C. Augustine as Bishop
D. Augustine's Confessions
E. The Manichean Controversy
F. The Donatists
G. The City of God
1. The Political Situation
a. The Barbarian Invasion
b. The Sack of Rome
2. The Pagan Reaction
3. Augustine's Answer
4. Effect of the Book
H. Augustine's Relations with Jerome
J. The Pelagian Controversy (411-431)
1. The Outbreak of the Controversy
a. Pelagius' Background.
b. Pelagius' Views
d. Pelagius and Coelestius visit Africa
e. Augustine's First Treatises Against Pelagius
2. Pelagius in Palestine
a. The Spread of Pelagianism
b. The Attitude of Jerome
c. The Synod at Jerusalem in 415
d. The Synod of Lydda
e. The Attack on Jerome's Monastery
3. The Controversy in the West
a. The North African Synod of 416
b. The Letter of Bishop Innocent
c. Augustine's Famous Sermon
d. The Action of Bishop Zosimus
e. The African Council of 418
f. The Edict from Honorius
g. Zosimus' Changed Attitude
4. Julian of Eclanum
5. Augustine's Doctrine of Predestination
6. The Council of Ephesus
7. Later History of the Controversy: Semi-Pelagianism
K. Augustine and the Church of Rome
1. The Immediate Effect of Augustine's Work on the Development of the Roman System
a. The Donatist Controversy
b. The City of God
2. The Ultimate Effect of Augustine's Work in this Regard
3. Augustine's Personal Relation
a. The Famous Sermon
b. Reaction to Zosimus' Attitude
c. Other Matters
L. Other Writings of St. Augustine
M. The Last Days of Augustine
1. The Political Developments
a. The Vandal Entrance into Spain
b. The Western Empire
c. Count Boniface
2. Augustine's Death
A. The Political Developments
1. The Sack of Rome
2. The Vandals
3. The Huns
4. The End of the Western Roman Empire
5. Events in Britain
6. The Franks
B. The Church of Rome in the Fifth Century
1. Factors Contributing to its Importance
a. The Importance of the City
b. No Other City could compete for Leadership in the West
c. It was founded by Apostles
d. Removal of the Emperor from Rome left the Bishop as its most powerful citizen
e. Other Western Churches naturally looked to the Church of Rome for advice and for help
2. The Relation of the Roman Bishops to the Church of North Africa
3. The Comparative Insignificance of most of the Roman Bishops up to 440 AD
4. The Mission to Ireland, and the Work of St. Patrick.
5. Leo the Great (440-461)
a. His Character
b. His Activities for the Roman People
c. His Theological Leadership
d. His Papal Claims
6. Gelasius (492-496)
C. The Christological Controversy
1. General Remarks, Nature and Importance
2. Background of Trinitarian Controversy
3. The First Step, Apollinarianism
4. The Nestorian Council
b. His Views
c. The Opposition to Nestorianism
d. The Council of Ephesus
e. The Later Nestorians
5. Eutychianism or Monophysitism
a. Outbreak of the Controversy
b. The So-Called "Council of Robbers"
c. The 4th Ecumenical Council
d. Monophysite Schisms
e. Later Monophysite Controversies
D. Some Other Aspects of Church History in the Fifth Century
a. A Special Development of Monasticism
2. The 28th Canon of the Council of Chalcedon
A. General Remarks as to its Relation to Church History
B. The General Political and Cultural Development.
1. The Cultural decline produced by the Migration
2. Lack of a Strong Center to Produce Peace and Order
3. The Dark Ages
4. Development of the Feudal System
5. The Theoretical Continuance of the Idea of the Roman Empire
6. The Ultimate Rise of Nationalism
7. The Preservation of Culture in the Monasteries
8. The Renaissance
9. Conditions in the Eastern Empire during this Period
C. A General Sketch of Movements in Church History during This Period
a. Formation of Orders
c. New Types of Monks
d. The Increase in Wealth of the Orders
e. Good and Bad Features of Monasticism
2. The Increase of Superstition
b. The worship of the saints
3. Spiritual Movements
5. The Growth of the Papacy
a. The Growth of the Local Ecclesiastical Power
b. The Bishop of Rome
A. Survey of Secular History
B. The Foundation of the Benedictine Order
C. The Fifth Ecumenical Council
D. Pope Gregory the Great (590-604 AD)
1. The Mission to England
2. Relations with the Bishop of Constantinople
4. Gregory's Writings
A. Survey of Secular History
3. Great Britain
4. The Eastern Empire
B. Monothelism and the 6th Ecumenical council
1. The Nature of the Controversy
2. The Force of the Controversy
3. The 6th Ecumenical Council (680 AD)
4. The Question of the Orthodoxy of Honorius
C. The Rise of Mohammedanism
1. Its Teachings
2. The Early Life of Mohammed
3. The Hegira (622 AD)
4. Mohammed at Medina
5. The Conquest of Arabia
6. The Wider Extension of Islam
D. The Irish and English Missions in the 7th and 8th Centuries
E. The Growth of the Empire of the Franks
1. Charles Martel
2. Pepin the Short
a. In 752 he took the title of king
b. Pepin Defeats the Lombards (754)
c. Pepin's Donation
3. Charles the Great, Charlemagne (716-814)
a. His Greatness
b. His Interest in Education
c. His Conquest of the Saxons
d. His Relations With the Bishop of Rome
e. The Establishment of the Holy Roman Empire (800)
f. The Character of Charlemagne
F. The Iconoclastic Controversy
1. The Origin of the Controversy
2. The Constantinople Council of 754
3. The 7th Ecumenical Council of 787
4. The Caroline Books
G. The Adoptianist Controversy
A. Political Developments
B. The Iconoclastic Controversy
D. The Papacy
1. Nicholas I (858-867)
2. Formosus (891-6)
E. Agobardus and Claudius
F. Radbertus and Ratramnus
G. The Papacy in the 10th Century
H. The Cluny Reform and St Dunstan
A. Political Events
2. The Western Empire
3. The Eastern Empire.
B. The Papacy in the 11th century
1. Benedict IX
2. Renewed German Intervention
3. Hildebrand -- Gregory VII (1073-1085)
4. Sylvester II (999-1003).
C. Separation from the Eastern Church 1054
A. The Papacy
B. St Bernard of Clairvaux
C. The Crusades
D. Henry II of England
1. The Conquest of Ireland
2. Thomas à Becket (1118-1170)
1. Anselm (1032-1109)
2. Abelard (1079-1142)
3. Peter Lombard (c.1096-1164)
A. Innocent III (1198-1216)
B. The Mendicant Orders
1. St Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)
2. St Dominic (1170-1221)
C. Divergent Groups
2. The Albigenses or Cathari
D. The Inquisition
E. Scholars of the 13th Century
1. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225?-1274)
2. Roger Bacon (1225-1294)
3. Bonaventure (1221-1274).
4. Duns Scotus (c.1266-1308)
5. Raymond Lull (1232-1315)
F. The Papacy
1. Pietro da Morrone, Celestine V. (1294)
2. Boniface VIII (1294-1303)
A. The Babylonian Captivity of the Church
1. John XXII
B. Marsilius of Padua (1275-1342) and William of Ockham (1287-1347)
C. Urban VI (1378-1389)
D. John Wyclif (1320-1384)
A. The Great Schism
B. John Huss (1369-1415)
C. The Council of Constance
1. Its Objectives
a. End the Schism
b. Reform the Church
c. The Hussite Movement
2. Its Beginning
3. Huss and Jerome of Prague
4. John XXIII (1410-1415)
5. Efforts at Reform
6. The New Pope Martin V
D. The Popes of the 15th Century
E. Europe on the Eve of the Reformation
This is the first time for about a month that we have met together for Church History. We are just to start our second semester of the course, and our second semester is a unit by itself. A person can start Church History right now. By the way, we will get out a revised seating next Monday. There will very little revision, most of you will sit just where you are, but for any who are entering this semester, we'll give you definite seats at that time.
This is a unit by itself—this semester. Anyone can start here. Some people don't like to do it that way. They figure Church History should run right straight through, and each semester should be taken in the proper order. They say, "For each semester you have to know what precedes." Well, it's true for a full understanding of each you have to know what precedes, but that applies to the first equally. Wherever you start, you have what precedes and what follows. You can take a course better if you know what precedes. At the same time you can take it better if you know what follows. Because in it are found the germs and the beginnings of the things that develop later; and if you know what came afterwards you see more clearly the importance of what follows, of what you're taking.
So, my personal opinion is: it doesn't particularly matter what order you take the semester in. Nevertheless, from a viewpoint of convenience, I treat the first and second semesters as one unit in giving it. Most of you take it in that order. I go right straight through in my enumeration. Anyone who's starting this semester, don't worry about the fact if you don't have the first semester yet. But for your enumeration, you will start the course—not with Roman Numeral I, but which Roman Numeral are we on, it's VI isn't it?—under VI; the last capital letter we had was G, The First Council of Constantinople. So this will start with Roman Numeral VI, and under that it will be
H. The Beginning of Monasticism. Now this is a rather good place to start the semester, although every time I've given it before we've been further along than we are this time. But it's a rather good point at which to start the semester; because we're not jumping right into the middle of things, but we are taking a movement and looking back to the very beginning of that movement; the beginning of monasticism. We may have said a very little about monasticism during the first semester. We have mentioned it occasionally, but we have said very little about it.
Anyone taking a course in Church History in a Roman Catholic institution—I'm sure—would have said far more about monasticism up to this point than we have. I remember when I was 11 years old, my family spent a winter in Rome, Italy. Before that I had been in a very predominantly Protestant area in northern Michigan. And one of the things that impressed me in Rome that winter—which I had never noticed before—was to see large groups of men with long gowns on, some of them black, some of them brown, and sometimes other colors, often with a rope tied around the waist; small groups, maybe 15 or 16 of them walking two abreast down a street. And large groups of women, similarly often dressed in black, with very great amounts of clothing on them; and often with a white thing around their heads.
And I'd never seen these before—at least to notice them—but there were these great numbers of them. They were very common. And in the Roman Catholic Church today there is no feature of life that is more conspicuous than the part that monks and nuns play; they are a very large part of the clergy—not all of the clergy—but the overwhelming majority of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church are monks or nuns. They wear a special garb; they live a special kind of life; they are very marked and different in many ways from other people. Well, as I say, if such a course as this one is given in Roman Catholic institutions, I'm sure there would have been much said about monasticism in discussing Church History up before this time.
Now we do not have the institution in Protestantism; and it would be possible to give a course of Church History from a Protestant viewpoint, and say very little about it. But it would not give us any true picture—a whole picture of the history of the church—because when you come to the beginning of the Reformation, you find that the Reformation sprang out of the monastery; the early Reformers, many of them, had been monks. Martin Luther had been a monk; he had been a very active monk; a very successful monk. He had been—for a number of years—acting head of the whole order of monks to which he belonged in Germany. And he was greatly influenced in his development by his background in monasticism; and then when Protestantism got under way, one of the great forces against it, to hold it back, came from monasticism.
So in any study of the Reformation we need to know much about monasticism. And in any understanding of the Roman Catholic Church today you need to know much about monasticism. And in any study of the history of the Christian Church, between maybe 350 or 400, and the time of the Reformation, you're just constantly dealing with the subject of monasticism.
Now it would seem strange then to a Roman Catholic, who didn't know anything about Church History, to see a history of the Christian Church starting in and spending a whole semester and hardly mentioning monasticism; but that is a fact with which we should be familiar: that this which is so prominent a feature of the Roman Catholic Church, and was so prominent a feature of the whole Christian Church, during a thousand years of history, more than half of the time from Christ to now, a period between 400 AD and 1500 AD. This feature was practically unknown before 300 AD. That it did not reach any great development until nearly 400 AD; and that one of the most important features of modern Roman Catholicism, the grouping of the monks in specific orders, with specific rules for the orders, and leadership, and organization, for each order, is a feature which did not begin until after 500 AD.
Now you might say, "What's four or five hundred years out of two thousand years of history?" Very little; it runs way back. Automobiles were hardly in existence before 1900; there are 1960 years since the birth of Christ and we've had automobiles only about 60 of them. So out of 1960 since the birth of Christ, monasticism has been a great factor. Yes, from one viewpoint it's been a great factor for most of the history of Christianity. But from another viewpoint, everybody who holds that Christianity is the church that followed Christ, and Christ is the head of the church—which is certainly theoretically at least the doctrine of the Roman Catholics. Anybody who holds that must feel that the first few centuries are of tremendous importance. And therefore, of course, 300 years can go by with scarcely a trace of monasticism. Nearly 400 years can go by before it was a strong and important feature. Over 500 years can go by before one of its most outstanding features today—the development of monastic orders—came into existence, is a factor of tremendous importance.
And there are hundreds of facts we look at in the course of our Church History, and you will forget many of them before the examination; and of those you remember for the examination you will forget at least half or two-thirds within the next five years; but I do hope that none of you will forget this one. Because I believe that it is one of tremendous importance. It is—well the general fact to which it relates—one of overwhelming importance: that the peculiar features of the Roman Catholic Church; the distinctive features of it, those features which distinguish it from Protestantism; most of such developed some centuries after the time of Christ.
We have noticed that the idea that the Bishop of Rome is head of the whole church is an idea which we found very little trace of overtly in these first centuries. Occasionally, a Bishop of Rome has tried to assert such an attitude, but rarely during this period. But never has the early church recognized any such thing as true, during this period at the beginning. So that most of the distinctive features of the Roman Catholic Church developed centuries after the time of Christ. This is a vital factor. And specifically I'm very anxious for you to have in mind that that is true of monasticism, which is certainly one of the two or three or four most distinctive features of the Roman Catholic Church.
a. The Example of Paul. Now the example of the apostle Paul is not certainly a full example for monasticism, because most of the features of monasticism were not in Paul; but there is this about Paul, that he lived a celibate life during the time of his Christian activities. He went about from place to place; he did it somewhat more easily because he had no family to take with him. He tried to put all of that energy—which in the ordinary person goes into the relation to a family—he tried to put into relation to the church. He said that we don't have many fathers. I have been your father in the faith. He thought of Timothy as his son in the faith. He tried to consider his life as entirely devoted to Christ, with no ordinary family ties.
Now to some extent, this set the example of a life which will break with ordinary family ties. You cannot find such an example taught in the Word at all, because Paul said, "Have we not a right to lead about a wife as Peter does?" Strange thing; the Roman Catholic Church looks at Peter as its head, as its founder, but according to what Paul said, Peter took a wife about with him as he carried on his ministry. He was not nearly like an example for monasticism as Paul was.
But the example of Paul and many others would suggest a very natural thought: that if one is to be devoted to Christ, he should be entirely devoted to him and he should break with all earthly ties. Well, anybody who thinks such a thing does well to read the statement that our Lord made, "Some are born eunuchs and some are made eunuchs, and some become eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake." Remember that the Lord made it definite, that there are some who are blessed in giving up a large part of ordinary earthly ties, and activities, in order that their life may accomplish more for Christ; but that this is not the normal situation for the Christian or the Christian worker. There's nothing in the N.T. to suggest that a Christian leader should be quite divorced from ordinary human relations; there's nothing to suggest such a thing; and besides there is much to suggest that the one who is able most effectively to show forth the love of Christ, and to make it real in people's lives, is one who himself is experiencing the normal human activities of life; and who is speaking from personal experience in his sympathies with other people in those phases of life. But the example of Paul, to a small extent, would be a cause of the development of monasticism; certainly it would be in point of time, the very earliest step in it. But
b. The desire to escape the worldliness of the Roman Empire. Christianity came into a world in which there was widespread injustice, wickedness, and immorality. It was a world with a remarkably high degree of police protection and of human individual liberty—remarkably high—seldom in the history of the world had so high a degree as this been attained. But everywhere you went, there were religions that had lust and debauchery as part of the carrying on of their religion; and the standard of individual morality was very low; and there was much to make a person to feel, "Oh, if I could just altogether escape from this wicked world." Now that, of course, helped some in the spread of Christianity. It did not have so much the grey to face as the black; and it makes it easier against that which is clearly bad, to stand out for what is good; than it does for that which is deceptive, looking good but very bad underneath.
But there were many who thought more of their own individual escape from the wickedness and worldliness on earth, than they thought of getting out to serve the Lord by helping others and winning others away from it. And so naturally people—thinking first of their own style of living the Christian life—some of them thought, "If I could just get out of the world altogether, if I just didn't have to live with people who are enticing me to wickedness all the time. If I didn't have to walk along a street and see these lurid pictures and have these people trying to arouse in my mind images and ideas that are wicked and contrary to the teaching of Christ, how much easier it would be to live the Christian life."
Now this sort of idea doubtless occurs to people; and it has in all ages, in all times. But probably it never would have led to anything if it were not for
c. The Condition of the Egyptian and Syrian Deserts. A person here in Philadelphia might feel in the summertime, "Oh, if I could just get away from all this wickedness around! If I didn't have to live in a city that has all the wickedness that I find here." And he could go back here into the hills somewhere; he could take a little cave in the side of one of the hills; he could go out and hunt berries and things to eat and live; he could get along to some extent through the summer. But when winter began to come, it began to get pretty cold, and all of the leaves dropped from the trees, and there were no berries to be found anywhere; and assuming that he was not particularly trained in hunting, he didn't know how to find squirrels and animals to any great extent, he would find it pretty difficult and probably would straggle back into civilization, and give up the new life.
But in the Egyptian and Syrian deserts there was a mild climate; it might be chilly in winter. I spent a few days a few weeks ago in the desert in southern California. There during the day just a thin shirt was all you needed to be in comfort. When night came, it would get down near freezing. It was cold at night but the days were warm, and you could find some kind of shelter; and in the Egyptian desert it would be warmer probably than that; it would be much farther south. And from time immemorial there had been people in Syria, and more particularly in Egypt, who had found themselves dissatisfied with life; they found themselves perhaps disgruntled with the world, discouraged, as a result of some personal catastrophe they had suffered or something; they had just left everybody and gone out into the desert, and found they were able to get along.
So hermits didn't begin with Christianity by any means; there were hermits out there in the desert in some places—many places in the Egyptian desert, and some places in the Syrian desert—there had been hermits from time immemorial. And as the wickedness of the Roman world impressed people with Christian aspirations; and then as the persecutions came, and many people fled from the persecutions; out in the deserts there were little springs in various places; and it wasn't particularly difficult to find a place where it would take a large group of soldiers to search a person out and find him, fleeing from the persecution, fleeing from the worldliness of the Roman world. There soon came to be Christian hermits.
But this did not take place during the first century AD. We have absolutely no evidence of any such thing prior to 100 AD. I don't believe there's any evidence prior to 200 AD. Certainly there was some in the period between 200 and 300 AD. And of course during that period, as you know, the persecutions, though they were by no means constant, were much more intense than they were during the previous century. And during this century from 200 to 300 AD, there were some hermits who went into the desert and who there established themselves alone; and they claimed to spend their time developing their spiritual life, many of them doubtless doing it—some of them probably reading the scripture and studying it—many of them, however, being illiterate, and having only such scripture as they might have in their minds. There were individuals between 200 and 300. We will mention one of the first of these, one of the earliest of the hermits according to legend, or history of the saints:
2. Paul of Thebes and St. Anthony. Now this Paul of Thebes has been doubted; his early existence has been doubted by many. We have no absolute proof that he lived; but if he lived, he was very important in the history of monasticism. Well, I think I'll say Paul of Thebes and St. Anthony. I'll put the two together because St. Anthony, also, some people think was imaginary. But St. Anthony succeeded Paul of Thebes—came after him—and we know much more about him, if he existed. Personally, I think he probably did exist; but there are those who question them altogether. Now then Paul of Thebes and St. Anthony are number 2, and under that we'll make
a. Paul of Thebes. According to the tradition, Paul of Thebes—when he was 22 years of age, in AD 250—went to a distant cave in southern Egypt; and he lived there 60 years, in a grotto near a spring and a pond, till his death in 304. According to the tradition, in later years a raven brought him half a loaf every day, as the raven ministered to Elijah. But St. Anthony—whom we will speak of next—came to the same area; St. Anthony is the only man from whom we learn anything about Paul. So if Anthony didn't exist, probably Paul didn't either. But Anthony—according to the story—came and visited him; and he knocked at the door of the cave for more than an hour, and no answer. Finally Paul came and admitted Anthony; he greeted him with a holy kiss, Paul had enough curiosity left to ask whether there were any idolaters left in the world. And by whom the world was now governed? According to tradition, he had had no conversation with anybody for many, many years. Anthony says that during this conversation, a large raven came gently flying and deposited a whole loaf of bread. And Paul says, "The Lord is kind and merciful in sending us this. It is now 60 years that I've daily received half a loaf; but since you've come, Christ has doubled the supply for his servants."
So with nothing to do, they sat down by the fountain; but now the question was, who should break the bread? And Paul said, "You're the guest; you break the bread," and Anthony said, "You're older; you are the one who should have the honor," and so they spent the whole day trying to decide this important matter. And as it got near the end of the day, and I guess they both probably got a little more hungry, they finally decided to compromise; each took one end of the loaf and pulled; and then they kept what remained in their hands; and so they ate the bread and had a drink from the fountain, giving thanks to God; and this closed the day.
But Anthony had two disciples by this time; he said to them, "Woe to me a sinner, who falsely pretended to be a monk. I've seen Elijah and John in the desert; I've met St. Paul." But soon afterwards he made a visit to Paul, and he found him dead in his cave, with head in hands lifted up to heaven. So he buried him; sang songs and hymns over the grave; and he took this as the first Christian hermit, Paul of Thebes.
Well, now we don't know anything about Paul except what Anthony said; and just about all he says I've told you.
b. St. Anthony. St. Anthony seems to have been born in 251, that is, about a year after Paul became a monk. He was born in a Christian family, people of some means; he never knew Greek though; he knew Coptic, the language of ancient Egypt as it had developed to this time. He so carefully listened to the scriptures as a boy, and retained them in memory; and he seems to have had very large portions of the Holy Scriptures in memory.
When he was 18—at the death of his parents—it was put into his hands the care of a younger sister and a considerable estate. Six months later as he was in church, he was meditating on the apostles, and on the words of Jesus to the rich young ruler, "If thou wouldst be perfect, go and sell that which thou hast and give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." He determined to follow this, so he took the 300 acres of fertile land that he owned, and divided it among the inhabitants of the village; he sold his personal property for the benefit of the poor, except only a moderate amount reserved for the support of his sister; but then he went to church and heard the scripture read, "Take no thought for the morrow," so he gave away the part for his sister too.
And of course this is something that is all too apt to be typical of monasticism—thinking only of one's own soul's good, rather than of the welfare of others. Now I don't say it is always typical by any means; but there is a danger in it, in separating oneself from the world, with the thought only of contemplation and prayer, that one may be thinking only of one's own soul's salvation—of his own soul's good—and may adopt a selfish attitude toward others.
Jesus wants us to develop our own souls—our own spiritual life—but he wants us to do it in such a way that we will be a help to others in the world; and periods of withdrawal in relation to others may build us up spiritually; and equip us to serve the Lord more faithfully; and to have a greater influence on others; but they should always be directed toward that end. Well, Anthony went out into the desert then; he found a place where he could live, he says—or at least it is the story of his early life which says—that he devoted himself; he visited many other ascetics who were already to be found in the desert. He was not the first by any means; whether Paul was the first we don't know; but Anthony said that he learned humbly and thankfully the virtues of these other ascetics; from one, earnestness in prayer; from another watching and fasting; from another meekness; but from all, he said, love to Christ and to fellowman.
But after about the year 285, he felt that he could reach a higher level of ascetic holiness; so he retreated further and further into the desert; and he got way back, where there would be berries enough and water to live on, and enough of food to sustain life; and he would have very little contact with other people. So eventually he was way back in the solitude; and there, according to the story of his life, he had great spiritual struggles. He ate hardly anything—bread and salt, sometimes dates—ate only once a day, generally before sunset; often he would fast from two to five days; and he had a life of rare abstemiousness; but he had visions and dreams of terrible temptation; and he had felt that he had struggles with worldliness; he thought of his early life; he thought of the comfortable existence he had enjoyed; he longed for more comfort, and felt that this was the temptation of Satan; and so he decided to get as far away from everything of that kind as possible.
In later years he never washed his feet, and he tried to get as far away from the pleasant memories of his early life as he could, feeling that by giving these up he was honoring God. He claimed to have many visions of the Devil, trying to lead him astray; and bringing unchaste thoughts into his mind; and exciting him to carnality in different ways; that he had these great struggles, which he described to St. Athanasius who visited him. Athanasius wrote these in a book and, as I mentioned, some of the English scholars of church history insist St. Anthony never existed; but I believe that most feel that he did. If he didn't, there was certainly somebody very much like him, because there were these ascetics in the desert by this time; and there must have been some of them who were outstanding among them, and who would arouse the interest of the occasional visitor from the city.
In 311, they say that he appeared in Alexandria during the persecution, with the hope of himself gaining a martyr's crown. He went to the confessors; it was during Diocletian's persecution; he went to the confessors in the mines and the prisons, and he heard them in the tribunals; he accompanied them to the scaffold, but no one laid hands on this saint of the wilderness. And in 351, when a hundred years old, he showed himself for the second and last time in the metropolis of Egypt to bear witness for the orthodox faith of his friend Athanasius against Arianism; and they said that in a few days he converted more heathen and heretics than had otherwise been gained in a whole year.
He declared the Arian denial of the deity of Christ worse than the venom of the serpent. And they tried to persuade him to stay longer, but he said, as a fish out of water, so he out of his solitude would die. Well now this is a brief summary of the tradition about this Anthony. But the thing that makes St. Anthony important is the fact that Athanasius wrote it. So we call
3. The Influence of Athanasius. Now those of you who were in this class last semester—and that of course is most of you—realize that Athanasius was probably the greatest man of the first three-fourths of the fourth century. And Athanasius claims to have been helped by St. Anthony. We know this, that Athanasius on two or three occasions when he was driven by the persecution of the Arians, driven away from Alexandria; he went into the desert and was hid by the monks, so that the officers of the government were unable to find him. And he lived with one monk for years. And Athanasius felt that this one hermit was outstanding, and he wrote a biography on him, told the things I have given to you, and a good many more.
And Athanasius took the testimony of Anthony for the orthodox faith, because Anthony, a simple hermit in the wilderness, had all these visions and dreams and hallucinations of temptations and that; but when it came to theology, he simply took the literal words of scripture which he remembered; and those literal words would simply point to Jesus as God; Jesus was fully man, Jesus was fully God. And that simple Christian found that clearly taught; and it is the one who tries to explain it away who gets into Arianism or other deluded views.
Scripture clearly teaches the two facts that we can't understand together; but they're facts that do go together; that Jesus is God; he is God just as much as the Father; and there's only one God. And He is man, just as much as we are, yet without sin. And so Athanasius wrote a life of St. Anthony; and this Life of St. Anthony by Athanasius probably was the greatest single influence for the increase of monasticism in these first four centuries. All who stood for the orthodox faith had tremendous regard for Athanasius. And Athanasius spoke very highly of this; you can see how very far it was from Athanasius' own type of life. Athanasius was certainly as self-sacrificing as anyone in Christian history. He was constantly in his activities going back and forth to Egypt, dealing with people for their souls and presenting the truth of Christ to them.
He was an indefatigable worker. Five times he was driven into exile for his opposition to Arianism. He suffered all sorts of privations in his exiles, but he kept his eye clearly on the great fundamental truth of the deity of Christ—his full deity—and our only chance of salvation through the atonement of Christ. He was a man who in the truest sense was utterly self-sacrificing, utterly devoted to the cause of Christ; but in his constant activity, his constant dealing with hundreds of people, he must have looked rather longingly to be able just to devote himself to contemplate the things of Christ, and to give up all of the bustling activity of life; and also along with it, the luxuries, most of which Athanasius never had time to think of, if he did have a certain amount of them.
But he must have looked rather longingly at this, and he idealized St. Anthony. And of course I suppose that in idealizing St. Anthony, that to some extent he was advancing the cause for which he stood, by giving St. Anthony's testimony to the belief in the full deity of Christ. But the result of Athanasius' book went far beyond this. It led people all over the Empire who believed in the orthodox view, as St. Athanasius did, to feel, "Well now there's a real Christian man, who gives up everything for Christ; sells everything he has and gives it to the poor; and just spends his life contemplating Christ, thinking of Him; developing his spiritual life; giving up all the pleasures of eating and drinking and of decent clothes, and decent cleanliness and all the other things that seem so normal and natural, living in a city; he just goes out and gives it all up for Christ." So Athanasius, the influence of his book, was a tremendous factor in advancing this, which was a natural reaction against the worldliness all around; against the wickedness all around; against the many activities that make it hard to find the time to just contemplate and meditate on the things of God. And Athanasius' book added to these natural feelings, greatly increased the number of these hermits in the Egyptian desert, and the Syrian.
In other parts of the world it was pretty difficult to have hermits, because they couldn't get along—too cold—and they couldn't exist very easily that way; but here the climate was ideally suited. Then
4. Basil the Great. Now we've already noticed that Basil the Great was a great administrator. We have a monastery—I believe it is—a couple of miles from here, called the Monastery of Basil the Great. It is Greek Orthodox. The Eastern Church venerated Basil far more than the Western Church because he was in the Eastern Church.
Basil was a great man; he was a great administrator; a great advancer of the Nicene Creed against Arianism; he is a man who deserves great credit for the advance of the cause of Christ. But Basil, in his busy activity, found himself tremendously attracted by the monastic idea; and so Basil tried, in the midst of the activity, to live the ascetic life; to cut down his eating and drinking as far as he could, and still have strength enough to carry on his work. He had a part of his house into which he would retire; a very simple arrangement, a very simple life; and he got a few friends to come and live in it with him.
Here was almost the beginning of an order—except that he didn't establish one—there was nothing continuous; there was simply the existence together of a few men holding to this desire: to imagine they were out in the wilderness, living a hermit life, devoting themselves to Christ. How much time Basil had for it, it's hard to say, because Basil was very, very active, and very busy; while the others that he supported there, were giving their whole time to it. There were others like Basil after this time.
But a far greater influence was St. Jerome, who comes very soon.
We were speaking of H, Monasticism, and under that what number we were on Basil the Great. I spoke about Basil the Great and his influence on Monasticism.
5. Pachomius. Jerome—of whom we will speak later—is a man of tremendous importance for himself for many different reasons; we will have a great deal to say about him. Pachomius is not so much a man of importance himself, as being the first one who comes conspicuously before us in connection with a new development: from having hermits, into the situation of having groups of monks.
Pachomius is the earliest to be particularly connected with an organization of monks together. You remember that Anthony fairly early in his career had some disciples who were with him for a time. But this was a matter of their being with him a brief time, and then they would go off by themselves. He didn't want them with him; he was glad to have them temporarily. But Pachomius—a contemporary of Anthony, also an Egyptian—was a man who went out into the wilderness in order to live a life of contemplation and of prayer; he developed this new idea of groups of monks.
In 313, when Pachomius was about 21 years of age, he visited an aged hermit and asked him to teach him the way to perfection. And this hermit said to him, "Many have come hither who have been disgusted with the world and had no perseverance." He said, "Remember, my son, my food consists only of bread and salt; I drink no wine, take no oils, and spend half the night awake singing songs and meditating on the Scriptures; and sometimes I pass the whole night without sleep." Pachomius was astounded, but not discouraged; and he spent several years with this man as a pupil. Then in 325 he established in upper Egypt—that is, quite far south in Egypt—on an island in the Nile, a society of monks, which in time grew so strong that even before his death it had 8 or 9 cloisters in different areas, and 3000 or more men in it.
It was not like later orders of the Roman Catholic Church; it was not a fixed order, with definite vows or anything of the kind; but it was men coming together to live the hermit or monastic life under a general director. And he gave them work to do—building boats and making baskets—ways thus of earning their living and also helping the poor and sick; he divided them into groups, three in a cell; they ate in common, in strict silence with their face covered; they made known their wants by signs; they had communion every Saturday and Sunday; and then Pachomius established a cloister of women for his sister to be the head. He never admitted her to his presence when she wanted to visit him. He sent her word to let her know he was alive; but he established an arrangement whereby she would have a group of women similar to his. He said that after his conversion, he never once ate a full meal, and for 15 years always slept, sitting, on the floor. There were all sorts of stories about him, which doubtless became exaggerated in subsequent years; but he doubtless had a tremendous influence, and led many others to imitate him in leaving the worldliness, the luxury and injustice of the Roman world; going out in the wilderness to give themselves to piety, to contemplation, and to development of their spiritual life.
So you have the beginning of groups of monks this way under Pachomius, The establishment of actual orders, where they take vows, and have a direction such as you have in the modern Roman Catholic Church, did not come for another few centuries after this; and this is already, as you know, three centuries after the time of Christ.
Now from this, I want to go on to a subject which for those who were with us last semester would not need to take but very little time. But it is a subject following on the discussion which we had last semester; it may be unfamiliar to any who are starting Church History this semester. So for them I may put in a few words of explanation that would not otherwise be necessary; but if it's not enough for you, don't worry about it, because the material is so important that most of its basic essentials will be repeated, as we touch on similar subjects in days to come.
J. The Church at Rome during the Fourth Century. Now for any who were not with us last semester we want to make clear that the Roman Catholic Church and its organization, such as we have today, is nothing that was found in the ancient church, in the ancient world. We do not use the term in that sense then. At that time there were groups of Christians gathered throughout the Roman world; and they had—each group usually had—a bishop over the town. There'd be a little town of 300 people and it had a bishop; if it was a big city of 100,000, it had a Bishop.
And the Bishop of Rome—the largest city in the empire, the famous early capital of the empire—naturally was in a very strategic and important position. But we have no evidence that at this time other churches admitted any authority of the Bishop of Rome over them, any more than they would of any other man who was in a position of such importance; that is, in other important cities, with many others working with them. Naturally they would look to him for advice and direction, but that he actually had authority, we have no evidence. It is interesting, though, that in the 3 centuries prior to this, there was no man of outstanding importance in Church History who occupied the position of Bishop of Rome. The nearest to it was Clement, in the first century, at the time of his writing the first epistle of Clement. We know practically nothing about him except that he wrote this one work; and it is strange indeed—really is strange—that when you come to the 4th century, from 300 to 400, and you have many important great leaders in the church in different sections during this century, but no Bishop of Rome ranks as one of the most important men in the Christian church as far as influencing the future history of the church is concerned.
Now this would be quite obvious to you if you were to read the section in Farrow's book, The Pageant of the Popes, which I mentioned to you. I see many of you have it in the pocket book edition, put out by one of the Roman Catholic orders; it is paper-backed, quite reasonable, and I think it's unabridged. Then the cloth-covered edition, published by the Roman Catholic press in N. Y.; and it has gone through several editions; it has the imprimatur of the Bishop of Los Angeles, a Roman Catholic. Well you do not find anti-Catholic propaganda in a book like that. He tries to give the facts as they are; that's his purpose. But his ultimate purpose, of course, is to show that the Roman Catholic Church is the true church. You will find at the beginning and the end, he insists very strenuously upon it; and he does not give all the facts; there are certain important facts he omits; but of course that's true of any book. A man has to make a selection. Some facts that are important from our viewpoint he omits; but there are many facts which we would consider important—which we would think a Roman Catholic writer might be anxious to forget about—which he gives.
And so I think it is very fine to get material on a subject like that from those who are prejudiced in the opposite direction to us, and see just how much there is to bear out our views regarding it. Now I have another book here which I mentioned to you last semester; it is by a monk named Joseph McSorley of the Paulist Fathers. He was formerly Professor of Dogmatic Theology in the College of St. Aquinas, Catholic University of America. And his book, An Outline History of the Church by Centuries, by a Roman Catholic. The Paulist Fathers is the order which is dedicated to missionary work among Protestants. This book also has the imprimatur of the Bishop. It is interesting to see the presentation which he gives. We have noticed that in some of the earlier centuries, the bishops of Rome are little known. In the first century they're practically not known at all; the second is almost as bad. In this fourth century they are fairly well known. McSorley says 11 popes occupied the chair of St. Peter in the 4th Century. They call them all saints; in recent days they call very few of the popes saints. The best known are St. Sylvester, Liberius, Damasus, and Julius. How well known are any of them? They are the best known of the Roman Bishops. But if you name the 15 most important Christian characters in the century, none of those bishops of Rome will appear among the 15.
1. Sylvester I (314-335). Now of these, it is worth noticing Sylvester first, who was bishop from 314 to 335. It is important to be familiar with him for certain reasons. First, because he was the Bishop of Rome at the time of the great Council of Nicea. What did he do? He sent two presbyters there to represent him. His influence on the council was negligible. Now, McSorley says, "Legend, linking the pope with Constantine, added many imaginary episodes to this simple history; and a (spurious) ninth-century document recorded the emperor's 'donation' to Sylvester of 'the city of Rome, and all the provinces, places, and cities of Italy and the western lands.'" [ibid., p75].
Well, now, you notice McSorley says this is a spurious 9th century document. In other words, he admits what is admitted by all—that the so-called Donation of Constantine is a forgery of centuries later. That being the case, it does not indicate any great importance of Sylvester, but it does mean that his name had great importance during the Middle Ages. All through the Middle Ages it was believed that Constantine the Great, when he moved to Constantinople, had given Italy to the Popes to control and rule; and that is the basis of the Pope's claim of temporal power.
Just before the Reformation, this was proven to be a forgery. Conclusively proven, and that is admitted to this time. Now Sylvester is also important because there were many laws considered tremendously important in the Middle Ages which were called the Decretals of Sylvester; and it was alleged that Sylvester had laid down these important laws for the church as a whole. We now know they were written in Spain sometime after this time; he probably had nothing to do with it. But you see how his name became a symbol—the name of the Bishop of Rome at the time of the Emperor Constantine—became a symbol for the power of the Roman Church. And so the name of Sylvester I, who was bishop of Rome 314-335, is a name of great importance in the history of the papacy. But the man himself, so far as we know, was of little importance; just that he happened to be there at that time.
2. Julius I (337-352). Then there is another name with which we should be familiar, Julius I. He is not of great importance, but it is worth noting that when St. Athanasius fled—or was exiled—he came to Rome; and Julius saw that Athanasius was right in his views about Christ, and he stood with him. That was a service to render to the true Christian party. Julius rendered that service. Now, McSorley says that Julius restored Athanasius to his see of Alexandria. That of course was nonsense. He had no power in the world to restore him to his power in Alexandria. As a matter of fact, at that time, everybody called Athanasius Pope—the Pope in Alexandria—and as far as I know, called nobody called Julius that. Athanasius was called Pope; Julius gave his influence and his word in favor of Athanasius being restored to his power in Alexandria; but it was the emperor who did it. Julius had nothing to do with it.
3. Liberius (352-366). Liberius was a man of some importance in the history of the papacy, because a grave question was raised about his orthodoxy. Now if you find any church—in the course of 700 years—having one man who was suspected of unorthodox views, that's no tremendous criticism of that church. Churches are made up of human beings; if the church comes back and is not led into heresy by the view of its leader; it would be a strange church indeed, that did not have that come up in the course of a few centuries.
The only reason this is of importance is the Roman Catholic claim that each of the Popes are infallible; the Bishop of Rome is infallible. If they're infallible, certainly no one of them could fall into heresy. And so Liberius becomes a man of real importance—not on account of himself or anything intrinsically important—but because of that claim that the Roman Catholic Church makes, that their popes are infallible. Well, if they're infallible, would one of them sign a heretical document?
Well, here's what McSorley says about Liberius: "Of Liberius we know little more than the two facts that he was exiled by the Emperor Constantius for his refusal to condemn St. Athanasius, and that after his death, his orthodoxy was the subject of long and fierce dispute." And then he has a footnote "The controversy was occasioned by the statement of certain writers, including St. Jerome, who affirmed that the pope was allowed to return from exile only after he had signed an Arian formula."
Jerome claims, other ancient writers claim, that Liberius, when the emperor sent him into exile, was allowed to return only on the condition that he sign a statement that he did not believe in the full deity of Christ. Would a man who was the infallible spokesman for God sign a statement which denied the whole deity of Christ? Well, of course, McSorley explains it all away. He says, "Such an act under compulsion would not, of course, involve papal infallibility—a circumstance overlooked by many who have attached undue importance to the controversy." It is his duty of course to maintain papal infallibility, which has been the view of the Roman Catholic church for nearly a hundred years now—not before that—that the popes have always been infallible. But how can you maintain this when you find one of them signing a statement, which statement the whole church since would declare a heretical statement? Well, McSorley said it was under compulsion. Well, would a man who is true servant of God—a divinely ordained head of the church—sign it, even under compulsion? We of course, believe that all the church is made of human beings. It's not a great criticism to the Roman Church if one of their bishops did sign such a statement. But it is a great criticism of their claim to papal infallibility.
Now it's interesting what McSorley says about his return. He says during his exile Constantius placed the Roman Archdeacon Felix on the papal throne; and when Liberius returned from exile, after his rumored repudiation of Athanasius—I don't think Constantius would have been satisfied with a rumored repudiation—but he says, after his rumored repudiation of Athanasius, the emperor proposed that Felix should cooperate with Liberius in the government of the church. But the Romans shouting, "One God, one Christ, one bishop!" drove Felix from the city, and the Senate condemned him to perpetual banishment.
Now the fact that at this time in Rome there was practically a riot insisting on only having one bishop shows something of the degeneration of the church, of the spiritual life of the church, that they would have a riot like that. Now we have such a degeneration in all churches; again it's not an attack on this particular church, but it is on its claim to be the divinely established head of the Christian church.
Now there is one other bishop of whom we should know something
And here we note an interesting thing about the Roman Church. One reason for the continuance of the Roman Church as an effective organization through the ages—not enough to account for the continuance by itself—but one which has had an important effect, has been the method of election of the Roman bishops.
The Roman system of election of the bishops is such that no Roman bishop is able to determine who his successor is going to be. There is always the possibility that with the best of plans, these plans may go astray. And so there has often been in the Roman church what some speak of as an alternation. That is to say, after a bishop is Pope of Rome, who has a certain view and a certain attitude, it is rather common for the Cardinals to be rather tired of this and elect somebody just as different from him as they could find. So we have Liberius who was bishop of Rome, who came back to Rome, and Felix the Archdeacon had been bishop in his absence, and they drove Felix from the city. But when Liberius died, it was one of Felix's men who was elected to succeed him; it was a supporter of Felix. And then the party of Liberius' supporters, who had had a candidate to be bishop, organized a riot and set up their leader as Pope. So the Roman church called Felix an anti-Pope; that is, you see Liberius is in there—he is Saint Liberius, he's the Pope—while Felix, they don't call him saint; he's Felix II, anti-Pope, because they don't recognize him as Pope. Now the successor to Liberius is Damasus, whom they call Saint Damasus I; but they mention Orsinus, anti-Pope, and Orsinus is a man who stood with the previous Pope, and Damasus was the one who that was against him.
Now that alternation—it's not that these particular individuals are so important—but the alternation is one which occurs over and over in the history of the Roman church; and it has meant that it's difficult for any one Pope to make his influence important after his death. It's a very interesting phenomenon, but in this case, Damasus who succeeded him was Pope for 18 years, and he was a vigorous man. Orsinus organized a riot against him; and then Orsinus carried on a propaganda campaign against him for many years; but he was very vigorous and very effective; and during these 18 years he did much to advance the standing of the church, and of course the standing of the Roman church; and he was often asked for advice by people from different areas. And whenever they do that, McSorley points to it as evidence that people recognized the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Actually there is no proof of it at that time, but it makes a precedent for the claim which was later maintained.
Well, I won't mention the other bishops of Rome at this time. There were bishops in dozens of cities, some of them great spiritual leaders, some of them men of minor importance; but in view of the future history of Rome and of Damasus with Jerome, we mention these particular men.
K. The Roman Empire in the Last Third of the Fourth Century. We have paid more attention to the Roman Empire in this century than in any previous century, because the Roman Emperors have been more closely connected with the developments in the Christian church now than ever before. We will pay less attention to the Roman Empire in every succeeding century than we did in this particular one. But in this particular one the Roman Empire had a tremendous effect on the church; it was very important, up to the last third of the century. Now in the last third of the century it is not nearly as important, so I will speak rather briefly about it now. I will remind you, those who were here last semester, of Jovian. Jovian was emperor only from 363 to 364—a very brief rule—immediately after Julian the Apostate. And then after Jovian, we mentioned his successor Valentinian I; and we noticed that Valentinian I, who reigned from 364 to his death in 375, was a very effective and successful Roman Emperor, but he didn't have a great importance as far as church history is concerned.
From our viewpoint he is not of particular importance. But his brother, the co-emperor
1. Valens (364-378), whom he put in to rule the eastern half of the empire, and who reigned from 364-378 is a man of very particular importance to the Christian church. Those of you who were here last semester should be very familiar with him. Any who are just starting now, I wouldn't worry too much about Valens, because we spoke a fair amount about him last semester and we won't repeat it now. He tried to do for Arianism what Constantius did, but was unable to succeed in it; and he died in 378 in the Battle of Adrianople, when the Goths flooded into the Empire, as we noticed.
Now the son of Valentinian I,
2. Gratian (375-383) (West), reigned in the West. And Gratian continued the policies of his father; he's not of tremendous importance to us, though he was quite a successful emperor. But Gratian introduced as his co-emperor,
3. Theodosius I (378-395) (East), and he is a man of very great importance. Theodosius I became Emperor in the East in 378, because Gratian selected him. And Theodosius reigned until his death which was in 395. Theodosius was a Spaniard, hot-blooded, very easy to anger, but also on the whole a kindly, extremely able soldier, very energetic, a devoted Christian; and it was he who called the Council of Constantinople which established the Nicene Creed as the established religion of the Empire.
Theodosius did not merely give Christianity the freedom from persecution as Constantine did; he gave it active support in every way. He was very busy—holding back the Barbarians, stopping the incursion of the Goths, and dealing with the various problems that came up—but he took an active interest in the church. After the Council of Constantinople, when Arianism was declared to be contrary to the law of the Empire, the catholic churches—that is the churches which were united together throughout the Empire—had fellowship with one another, not around the relationship to the Bishop of Rome particularly, but united together as churches which recognized one another as holding the Nicene Creed and holding the orthodox creed. They were the only churches which were supposed to be allowed to hold services in Constantinople, but one group was made an exception.
You remember our hearing of the schism that took place in Rome—with the Novatians, about 250—over the question of the election of a bishop. The Novatian churches, who said Novatian was the right bishop, had separated from the rest. We don't know much about the history of the Novatians, but here 140 years later, we find that the Emperor, who in his decree that only the catholic churches could be permitted in Constantinople, made an exception for the Novatian church; because the Novatian churches, during the period when Arianism was in complete control in Constantinople, had held aloft the banner of the full deity of Christ; and so they were made an exception and allowed to continue their churches in Constantinople.
It would be interesting to know more about the history of the Novatian church. Just how large was it? Here is Constantinople, a thousand miles from Rome. And here they have a number of churches; evidently they had considerable importance in many parts of the Empire; they seemed to have continued for centuries. We don't know much about them, but here is a separate church from the main church, holding orthodox views and having an effective ministry until in the Middle Ages it disappeared completely while the catholic church of course continued.
So Theodosius gave this right to the Novatians. He was active in bringing about the Council of Constantinople; at which, as we've noted, the Bishop of Rome was not even represented. It is interesting that at one time, there was a situation in Antioch, in which the people, aroused to hatred of the Emperor Theodosius for something he had done that had displeased them; the mob seized the possessions of the Emperor and his family, tortured them and dragged them through the street; and Theodosius just gave way to terrible anger, and he had 7,000 citizens killed, in reprisal for the uprising against his control and against the honor of his family in this second greatest city of the Empire in Antioch.
Well, it's the sort of thing that most rulers in history have occasionally given way to. If a man does it much, we regard him as a tyrant, a bloody tyrant. In the case of Theodosius, he did so many good things, he was on the whole such a good ruler, that we consider it as an exceptional case where he gave way to his anger, and used his power in a very bad way. But the interesting thing about this is, that after he did this and word of it went through the Empire, he came to Milan in northern Italy. We've already seen the history of how St. Ambrose became Bishop of Milan. Ambrose was having the communion service, and the people would come up to the front to partake of the communion; they had a procession of people, lining up to come and take communion; and Ambrose noticed that in the back of the group, the Emperor had joined himself to the group and was coming to take communion in the church.
And when Ambrose noticed that, he turned to one of his assistants and told him to continue with the service; I guess he had one to take different parts anyway; he left and went around and came to the Emperor and said to him, "Your hands are bloody with the men whom you have massacred—individuals whom you have not proven were personally implicated in the unfortunate insult to you and your power which occurred in Antioch." He said, "No man who has a sin like that on his conscience can partake of communion in this church, without first showing full remorse and true penitence for it."
And you can imagine what an ordinary ruler would do if any man would come to him that way. And here was the ruler who had just shown his anger by the execution of 7,000 people like this a short time before. There aren't many ministers who would dare do this; and there aren't many who would get away with it if he did. But it speaks well for Theodosius' character—and also for Ambrose's influence and his recognition of his responsibility—even like David when Nathan said, "Thou art the man." Theodosius admitted his error, left the line-up of communicants; he came to see Ambrose the next day; talked the matter over with him; recognized his sin, and made a full confession of it; he promised to try to keep from all such actions in the future; and he was then restored to fellowship in the church at Milan. It's a very interesting incident in the history of the early days of the church, and of the Roman Empire. It's not so very early, though, when you think that it was AD 390 when it happened. It's over 300 years after the time of Christ; and yet within 300 years, for Christianity to get such a hold in the empire, that the very emperor himself would submit in this way; not to a man who is recognized as head of the church, but to Ambrose, the bishop of the city. A very interesting incident, and honoring to Ambrose, it shows the character of Theodosius, who is one of the great figures among the Roman Emperors, and who well deserves the title of Theodosius the Great.
Theodosius is the last man to rule for any length of time over the whole Roman Empire. Before then, the Empire had often been divided between two men, but they had recognized each other as associate rulers. It was too large for one man to administer. Theodosius on his death left the Empire to his two sons, one of whom took the eastern half and one of whom took the western half; but from now on, the two parts—while theoretically one empire—the two parts come to be really separate from each other, the Eastern Roman Empire and the Western Roman Empire. I've just mentioned that he divided it between his two sons; they're not particularly important, his two sons, but we will see one or two things about them later. But now we will note some of the great figures in the Ancient Church. But the man named Jerome, is worthy of more than a subhead so
L. St. Jerome. According to any representation, Jerome must be recognized as one of the great figures in the ancient church. Schaff in his Church History usually handles the man as an important figure, where he takes up the different writers and puts them together as a group of men, giving each one separate section. But to Jerome he gives two sections in different parts of his book, because Jerome was a man of such wide influence and such varied ability.
Jerome was not a man whom I would consider one of the great spiritual leaders of the church. He had many facets to his character. This section in Schaff is entitled "Jerome as a Monk," the section which deals with his early life. And one feature of Jerome's life which has tremendous importance was his interest in the monastic life, his emphasis upon it, and the part he played in its development. But that is only one feature; and from the viewpoint of a Protestant, it is far from being the most important feature.
Jerome was probably the greatest scholar of the ancient Christian world. He was a far greater scholar than any Christian writer we have mentioned up to this time. As a thinker, as an influence in Christian history, St. Augustine, who comes just after him—in fact the two overlap—is a greater figure, but Jerome is the greater scholar of the two. Jerome was a very great scholar and a very influential writer; and to this day, the translation of the Bible which Jerome made from the original Hebrew and from the original Greek, is accepted as the inspired Bible—or the authoritative Bible—by the Roman Catholic Church. So you see what an importance the man has, when it is his translation which today is the authority rather than the original upon which it is based, in the eyes of the Roman Church. That is of tremendous interest. And as you go up to St. Peter's church in Rome at any time, you can see there beautiful mosaics which are modeled after great paintings. Some of the paintings are in the Vatican gallery; some of them are in other places. The mosaics keep their color a little better than the paintings. They're of course copied from the paintings, and I think they're almost more impressive than the paintings.
But one picture which you will see in the mosaics in this church is called St. Jerome receiving his last communion; and it shows him as an old man hardly able to move, receiving his last communion. He had a long life and had a very, very active life, he was a man tremendously interested in scholarship and a man greatly devoted to Christianity. We've noticed Origen of course before; he was next to Jerome as a scholar.
1. His birth and early life. Well now; Jerome as a young man came from Dalmatia. Dalmatia, as you know, is now in Yugoslavia or Albania; it's the region east of Italy; and he was born there somewhere around 350 AD. He came from wealthy Christian parents, and he was educated in Rome, under the leading teachers in Rome. He studied very extensively and used to visit the subterranean graves of the martyrs in Rome when he was a student, which he said made an indelible impression upon him. He fell, to some extent, into the temptations of the great corrupt city as a young student; and he repeatedly acknowledged it with great pain, the extent to which he had fallen into sin there. He certainly never was a man who gave way to a life of sensuality or anything of the kind; his interest was constantly mental, but he did fall among evil companions for a time, and he regretted it all the rest of his life. He joined the church at Rome; and he declared that he was going to devote himself henceforth, in rigid abstinence, to the service of the Lord. And in the first zeal of his conversion, he renounced his love for the classics, and declared he was going to devote himself henceforth to the study of the Bible, which previously he had not paid much attention to, though his parents were devoted Christians.
He had a dream later on, in which he said he was summoned before the judgment of Christ, and told that he wasn't a Christian; he was a heathen Ciceronian; and he used to speak very strongly against the pagan literature; he said, "What have light and darkness, Christ and Belial, the Psalms and Horace, the Apostles and Virgil, the Apostles and Cicero to do with one another? We cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons at the same time." And yet, though he speaks this way about classical learning—and certainly it is true of any kind of worldly learning for its own sake—yet in Jerome's writings we find him constantly making use of these classical writings as instruments for the advance of the Christian teaching; and we find great benefit which we have secured from his literary claims in them. So I think as Christians we should not reject the classics, but rather guard against making them an end in themselves, giving them a place more than they deserve.
But we notice the language he used. He used rather extreme language in regard to whatever he was standing for. Well, after his conversion, he divided his life between the east and the west. First he went to the east; he went to Antioch; he studied there; then he spent some time as an ascetic in the Syrian desert; and there he said that—out in the desert, eating very little—he said, his fancy tormented him with wine, Roman banquets, and dances; and helpless he cast himself at the feet of Jesus, wet them with tears of repentance; and he subdued the resisting flesh by a week of fasting and the dry study of Hebrew grammar.
2. Jerome's life in the Syrian Desert. But he had a great interest, a great devotion to the monastic life; though in him it was combined with constant study, constant effort to advance Christianity, by writing, by studying, disseminating ideas; it was by no means simply a retreat from the world; and he himself spent a great part of his life in the big city in activity, and not just literary activity either. He had a tremendous influence on other people; and this seems to have led a great many other people into giving up worldly activities, and devoting themselves to what they considered to be the service of Christ. He thought monastic seclusion—even against the will of parents—was the right thing. He wrote to a friend, saying, "Though thy mother with brown hair and rent garments should show thee the breasts which have nourished thee; though thy father should lie upon the threshold; yet depart thee, treading over thy father, and fly with dry eyes to the standard of the cross. This is the only religion. It is kind, in this matter, to be cruel. The love of God and the fear of hell easily rend the bonds of the household asunder. The Holy Scripture indeed enjoins obedience to parents; but he who loves them more than Christ, loses his soul. Oh desert, where the boughs of Christ are blooming; Oh solitude, where the souls for the New Jerusalem are prepared; Oh that which rejoice in the friendship of God. What doest thou in the world, my brother, with thy soul wretched in the world? How long wilt thou remain in the shadow of roofs, and the smoky dungeon of cities? Believe me, I seek here more of light." [See Edward L. Cutts, Saint Jerome, p40-42, Letter to Heliodorus]
3. Jerome at Rome. Well, he stayed in the east for a time; he was ordained a presbyter in Antioch, but he never took charge of a congregation. He went about studying, writing, visiting. In Constantinople, he heard the anti-Arian sermons of Gregory Nazianzus whom he had looked after frequently; and in 382 he returned to Rome. Here he came in contact with the Roman Bishop Damasus; and Damasus took him as his theological adviser and ecclesiastical secretary. Damasus saw in Jerome a man who could render a real service by correcting the incorrect elements in the Old Latin translation of the Bible; and he encouraged him to begin a revision of the Latin version of the Bible in order to get nearer to the truth. So we owe Damasus thanks for his part in stimulating Jerome to give his great scholarly gift to this needed service. Though, of course, the credit that goes to Damasus is far less than the credit to go to Jerome for the fact that he accomplished the task.
And he did make a translation of the Old and New Testaments. He first made a revision of the Latin O.T. on the basis of the Septuagint Greek. Then he made a whole new translation from the original Hebrew. He studied with the rabbis, some of whom had to come to him by night for fear of getting others displeased with them for passing this knowledge on to a Christian; but he studied with various rabbis, and we learn much about the state of Hebrew knowledge at that time by what we get from Jerome.
He learned Hebrew very thoroughly. He, of course, was a very careful student of Greek. He made a complete new translation of the N.T. In the Latin Vulgate you have a translation of the O.T., and a translation of the N.T., with the exception of the Psalms. The people were so accustomed to the Latin Psalms—which were not translated from the Hebrew but from the Septuagint, from the Greek translation—that they would not accept a true translation from the Hebrew; and so the Vulgate contains not the translation that Jerome made from the Hebrew, but a new translation which he made from the Greek; and if you want his translation from the Hebrew you have to get it in a separate volume. The Vulgate of the Psalms is from the Greek. But of the rest of the O.T. it is from the original Hebrew.
Jerome's translation was not accepted, because Damasus died before he'd made great progress, and his successors were not particularly interested. But Jerome was started in the work and he pushed ahead with it. And the acceptance of Jerome's version was due to the excellence of the work, not to any authority that put it upon the church. It was an excellent piece of work; it has its faults as any translation is bound to have; but it was a good piece of work, sincerely made, by a man who was seeking to find the meaning of the original and put it into good Latin expression; a man who was a good scholar and well prepared for the task. So he rendered a tremendous service to the church in this translation, which has had great influence ever since.
Of course, the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church to take Jerome's translation as the final authority is wrong and too bad. And to that extent, we are against it, because it is the Greek and Hebrew that is God's word, not a translation. We of course hold that the Roman Vulgate has been a very valuable thing in the history of the church; and it is still of real value for us to study and see how he wrote it and how he understood the different phrases of it. Well, we'll have to look further into the Roman church next Monday.
Last time we were speaking about Jerome. St. Jerome is one of the figures in ancient church history that is very important in any discussion of the history of the Christian church; or in any discussion of the way it has developed through the ages; and in any discussion in matters of the study of the Biblical text. Because in all 3 of these areas, he exerted a tremendous importance. Last time we began our discussion of him, and we looked at His birth and early life; and we noticed that his birth was in Dalmatia, the son of well-to-do Christian parents.
There is a dispute whether he was born in 331 or 342. If he was born in 331 he was 91 years old when he died; if in 342, he would be about 82 and it's pretty hard to tell. There is a disagreement on that. As you know, they did not number years then the way we do, so that anything like that has to be figured back now. You ask Jerome when he was born and he would say, "Well back in the reign of the emperor Constantine," or he'd say, "Well I'm not sure whether Constantine was still emperor or whether that was after he had died and his son had taken over." They did not number of years the way we do; people didn't know the exact year of their birth the way we do. And he did not stay in Dalmatia where he was brought up; he was in other parts of the empire all through his life. We do not have access to family records, which would have the precise year of the emperor in which he was born, so we're not sure when he was born, when his birth was only one of thousands and thousands of people. His death was one which would not be forgotten, because he was a very famous man at the time of his death, one of the most famous men in the Roman world.
Last time, also I went on to tell something of his education; how he was a brilliant young scholar, studied in Rome and in other cities; he amassed a very considerable library; while at Rome he fell into sin. Now for a man of his type, the sort of sin that he is most apt to be attracted by is the sin of intellectual pride, of arrogance, that sort of thing; and these are sins that we do not find evidence that Jerome overcame any time in his life, because we have evidences of them in him toward the very end of his life—evidences of his being sometimes extremely disagreeable to deal with when he felt he was right and other people were wrong.
He had a tremendous knowledge and was very conscious of the fact. But he also was—during most of his life—a very sincere Christian. But before the time that he considered to be his conversion, he fell into gross physical sin—probably for a very brief time—but it was something which he was always regretting all his life; and always looking back to and wishing he might have avoided; and always referring to the fact that it was only through the mercies of the Lord that he was forgiven for his sin. They say the evidence is that it probably was very slight—in time—and probably rather intense for a brief period, but not comparable to that of the average pagan of the day by any means.
But he with his Christian upbringing felt very bad about having fallen into this; and it may have colored his attitude for the rest of his life—in the extremely ascetic attitude which he took and which he stressed—and which had a great influence on the development of the peculiar features of the Romanist church through the Middle Ages.
We also mentioned Jerome's life in the Syrian Desert. We noticed how he was very much attracted by a complete asceticism, a turning away from all physical pleasure of any sort; and he spent about five years in the Syrian Desert as a monk, as a fairly young man. But during these years he was busy studying; and for arresting himself from the temptations of the flesh, he said he found relief in the dry study of Hebrew. But he was very busy studying there; but one night he had that dream we mentioned, where the Lord seemed to call him before the judgment seat of Christ and told him, "You're not a Christian, you're a Ciceronian," because of his great love of the classical writing. And for a number of years he turned away from his great love for the great classics; but toward the end of his life he was again teaching them; and all his life in what wrote he was constantly referring to them, drawing figures and allusions to them. But what he wrote about this dream had also an influence on the development of monasticism, because ignorant people could quote what he said, "What have light and darkness, Christ and Belial, the Psalms and Grace, the apostles and Virgil, the apostles and Cicero to do with one another? Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons at the same time." This is entirely true, if one puts non-Christian writings in the place of these. But certainly the finest of writing in the ancient world was done by these men he named; and Jerome himself learned much from them, which he used for the advancement of the study of the Bible. So from his example we could learn to take the best in every field of study and use it for the work of God. But from these words in his describing this dream—which probably was a very proper rebuke to him for putting these things first—from the expression of the dream, some people took the attitude of, "Well, forget all learning, everything except what is definitely Christian," and of course that is harmful to the Christian church when that attitude is taken.
We also mentioned last time how Jerome left the desert and went to Constantinople and heard there those famous sermons on the Trinity by Gregory Nazianzus; how at Antioch he was ordained as a presbyter, although he seems never to have acted in that capacity; it seems to have been rather against his will that he was thus ordained; but that he then came on to Rome; and there at Rome in 382, he found there Damasus as Bishop of Rome. And Damasus was a man of culture and of learning and was attracted by the young ascetic scholar, and made him his personal secretary. And Jerome was secretary to Damasus, and was very highly thought of in Rome at first; and there were even those who thought that he might be the right man to be Bishop of Rome to succeed Damasus. Well that's the way they talked when he first got there; when he left Rome they weren't talking that way about him, and he wasn't talking that way about them. Because when he left Rome in 385, he said that he left on account of the bad qualities of the Roman clergy, with whom he was unable to have any satisfactory cooperation at all. He was very, very critical of them; they were very, very critical of him.
It was shortly after the death of Pope Damasus when he left. The new bishop was not interested in learning particularly; and Jerome was greatly disliked in Rome by others; but not because of his learning. Eventually he came to be greatly admired in Rome, as you know; I mentioned the great picture of him in St. Peter's church today; and how I believe his body was taken to Rome after his death; he is considered one of the great saints of the Roman church, one of the four great leaders of the early church, from their viewpoint.
The reason he was disliked in Rome was because of his very strong emphasis on the ascetic life. Now this emphasis of his came naturally in Rome to the fore because of the sharp antithesis between it and the luxury of the wealthy families of Rome. These wealthy families, which went back to the early days of Roman greatness, many of which had been very prominent in the days of the Roman Republic, 400 years before; these families in the course of the extension of the Roman Empire had famous men in them, and they had amassed very great wealth. They were very wealthy; they were living in great luxury; and many of the clergy were carried away with the luxurious habits of these Roman families. And Jerome was introduced by a friend from Antioch, a bishop who came with him, to a widow, a young widow named Paula; and this young widow became tremendously interested in the teachings of Jerome, and in his emphasis in turning away from luxury, from worldly pleasure of every sort.
And through Paula, he met the Patricians of Rome; he met the people of the most outstanding families there, particularly women in these various groups; and he soon came to have a tremendous influence upon them. He explained Biblical questions to them; he read the Scriptures with them, he incited them to turn away from luxury and from worldliness of every sort; and in his writings to them, and his other things that he published, he told, in the very strongest language, what he thought of the luxury of many Roman Christians and of the attitude of some of the clergy.
Here is a quotation from one of his writings at this time: He says:
"His silken garments breathe of perfume waters, his hair is curled by the barber with the highest skill, and with jeweled fingers foppishly raising his dress, he skips into the palace, his dainty feet clad by the skill of the shoemaker in shoes of the softest and glossiest morocco leather. Anyone seeing this man would take him for a bridegroom rather than a clergyman. He is known through the whole town under the nickname of 'town coachman.' He is everywhere and nowhere to be met with, nothing happens that he's not the first to know, and there's no gossip of the town which he has not discovered nor magnified. His career is in short this: he has become a priest in order to have freer access to beautiful women. His way of life is briefly as follows: he rises early and having a visit this day, sets forth on it at once. Where he finds anything beautiful in a house, either a picture or a fine cloth or any kind of furniture, he persistently admires it until it is presented to him, for the sharp tongue of the 'town coachman' is feared by all women."
Now when Jerome began speaking this way about the developing luxury of the clergy in Rome, it naturally made him very unpopular with them; and on the other hand, it reacted on him in making him go further and further into the ascetic life; and perhaps partly as a result of his experience in early youth when he had fallen into the sins of the flesh, he took a very strong attitude against marriage; he felt that the great sign of real devotion to God was to declare that one should only be married to the Lord and have no physical tie-up with any human being, such as marriage.
He got many Roman widows to follow, to become very fond of his teachings, and to try to follow his advice in these regards; and there were large numbers of young, unmarried Roman women who also took vows that they would never marry, and that they would devote their lives to the study of the Bible and to doing good deeds and advancing Christianity. When a daughter of Paula carried his advice on ascetic living to such a point of fasting and of ignoring the normal needs of the body that she died, at the funeral there was a riot and people began to cry out, 'Throw the monk into the Tigris!" And Jerome wrote very sarcastically and very strongly against the people who were taking this attitude; and you can see after three years in Rome, he was very unpopular there.
But during his time in Rome, though he spent a great deal of time in this activity and had a tremendous influence with these Christian women there, he was very busy with his studies; and when Damasus urged him to undertake the improvement of the translation of the Bible into Latin, he set to work on it thankfully; and he worked very steadily on it there in Rome, and for that also he was criticized.
People who were already against him were glad to find something else to criticize him for. They were accustomed to the words of the Latin translation of the New Testament; and as he revised it and made it more accurate, they criticized him for that; and then Damasus asked him to go into the translation of the Psalms. The Psalms were translated from the Greek translation, from the Septuagint, not from the Hebrew, as they were used in the Church. And he attempted to improve the translation; so he made a new translation of the Psalms from the Septuagint. And these translations were bitterly criticized; there was tremendous opposition to them.
Damasus died before he could have given any official papal sanction to them. His successor wasn't interested in that sort of thing. But his translations, by their excellence, by their greater fidelity to the original, by their excellent style, they eventually won their way, until his translations came to be the standard translation to use and all earlier translations disappeared from use altogether.
In 1547, at the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church declared that the Vulgate is the official Bible; it is the last word—that was their claim. Of course, Jerome was the translator of it, but the text had become very corrupt during the centuries since he made it. In the early days no great effort was made; it was just a translation, no official translation; and all sorts of errors had come in through the copying of his translation. One pope set to work to provide a better text; he got a group of scholars together about 1550; they studied all the available manuscripts; they made a new edition; the pope had it printed with a statement: this is the official Vulgate; and then, just before it was distributed the pope died; his successor had all the copies called in, and said it wasn't any good. And so there is no official text today of the Vulgate; but even making allowances for errors of copying, it is a very excellent translation, and a very fine help in Biblical study.
[Student: Was Jerome considered to succeed Damasus?] They talked about Jerome becoming bishop when he first came to Rome. But my guess is that by the time that Damasus died, the general run of the clergy disliked him sufficiently—and he knew it—that he realized that he had no chance of ever being elected. At this point, we are in a time when Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire; we have many letters from Jerome on all kinds of subjects; and we have quite a bit of material from others too; so for almost any question like this, it would be possible to find the data, to get precise answers and fairly precise proof; but for a great many questions of that type, I have not personally gone into. But I don't believe in that particular case that electing him Bishop of Rome would've been much of a factor then, because I think he would have known well before that time, what the Roman clergy thought of him.
Jerome was so friendly with this Paula that they began to circulate rumors about him and her, trying to raise scandal about them. She was a widow of age 36, the mother of 5 children when she came under the influence of Jerome; he was maybe ten years older. She renounced all the wealth and honors of the world and devoted herself to the most rigorous ascetic life; and of course one thing was the baths, the bathing in milk and all that sort of thing, and the extremes the patrician people went to. Well, Jerome fumed against all that sort of thing so much that naturally they tended to go to the other extreme; so then people talked this way and tried to raise scandal about Jerome and Paula.
Jerome wrote a letter, which he had circulated, in which he dealt with this matter. He said, "Was there no other matron in Rome who could have conquered my heart, but that one, who was always mourning and fasting, who abounded in good, who had become almost wan with weeping, who spent whole nights in prayer, whose song is the Psalms, whose conversation was the gospel, whose joy was abstemiousness, and life was fasting? Could no other have pleased me but that one, whom I had never seen eat? Nay, verily, as I began to revere her as her chastity deserved, should all virtue have at once forsaken me?" In other words he tried to show how ridiculous it was to raise scandal about him and her, because if he was interested in that sort of thing, there were widow women elsewhere.
But he said that, but she, of course, was probably a very attractive and very charming woman, and very luxurious before she came under his influence. But she devoted the rest of her life to the ascetic life as he advised. He boasted of her that she knew the Scriptures almost entirely by memory, and that she learned the Hebrew so that she could sing the Psalms of it in the original. She was constantly asking exegetical questions; and he said she went into it so thoroughly that often she asked questions that he just could not answer at all.
She went with him to Bethlehem, and she lived there the rest of her life; so that he started the thing in three years; but these praises of her were probably given in connection with his eulogies after her death. After her death in 404, he opened his eulogy with the words, "If all the members of my body were turned to tongues to utter human voices, I should be unable to say anything worthy of the holy and venerable Paula." Well,
4. Jerome at Bethlehem. In 385-386, Jerome left Rome, and Paula also did, and one of her daughters. A few others went with them and they journeyed to the East; and there in the East, they visited different places in Palestine. Jerome took Eusebius' study, which we mentioned before, of places in Palestine, with the attempt to tell where the different Biblical events occurred. He made quite a study, quite a trip through that way, and he decided to settle in Bethlehem; so he came to Bethlehem, and there he established a monastery in Bethlehem, of which he was the head; and others came with him to join in the ascetic life there with him; while Paula built a building not far away, where women came to lead the ascetic life under her direction. And there in Bethlehem he stayed from 385 till his death in 419 or 420. So 385-420, for 35 years he lived there.
He stayed there during these years, and devoted himself to literary study; he wrote commentaries and controversial articles on all sorts of matters; and he undertook the new Latin translation of the O.T. directly from the Hebrew. So while there—he had already studied Hebrew, a very considerable amount—he found a very learned rabbi, who came to him at night for fear that the other Jews would disapprove of his helping this Christian making the translation; but he came to him at night, and with him he studied Hebrew further; got a further understanding of it; and his translation into the Latin of the O.T. is a tremendous help in O.T. study. It shows us the state of the Hebrew text at that time; the state of Hebrew knowledge; it gives us what the people thought a Hebrew word meant at that time. It is a very valuable proof in O.T. study. People criticized it, attacked it, and he answered very strongly to people's attacks; but he continued very laboriously and carefully with his work; and the translation won its way by its excellence, till after a time it displaced all earlier translations into Latin. Well, we'll speak a word about that under a separate head.
5. The Vulgate. It's interesting that Jerome's translation is called the Vulgate—that is, the translation into the common language. It is the Bible, which is Greek or Hebrew, put into the language of the common people. Now in these days, our word "vulgar" has come today to mean something that is uncouth. But originally "vulgar" simply means ordinary, everyday; anybody in Rome, then.
If Jerome wrote something elaborate, he might try to imitate the old Latin, as used 400 years before, like some people today might write a prayer and try to imitate English the way it was spoken 400 years ago. Many people today use old English pronouns, as if there was something more reverent in using the language of 400 years ago. And in those days, there was a high style of language, trying to imitate the old times. But the Vulgar Latin is Latin as the ordinary person spoke it; as everybody spoke it, except when they were trying to give some great oration or something like that; and so the Vulgate means the Bible in the language of the common people.
And it is a strange thing, that the Bible in the language of the common people—so that those who couldn't read Greek or Hebrew could get it in their own language and understand it—should have become the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, which has tried all over the world to make people, instead of reading the Bible in their own language, read it in the translation that Jerome made, which was called the Vulgate. It really is a rather queer development. But history is full of queer developments like that.
But this translation—which he made so that the ordinary person could read the Bible in his own language, and understand what it meant, if he didn't know any Greek—this translation of the Vulgate included—he had done the N.T. and he had made a new translation of the Psalms from the Greek—now he proceeded to make the translation of the O.T. from the Hebrew; and he started with the books of Kings; they were the first that he issued.
As he translated a book, he issued it; and he wrote a little introduction to each book. And so in the introduction to Kings—the first that he published—he stated what the books of the Bible are. He stated how many there were; he discussed it a little, and that discussion leaves no room whatever for the books which we call Apocrypha, which the Roman Catholics consider today to be part of the O.T. The Roman Catholics use the word apocrypha for any Christian ancient religious books which are not part of the Bible. We reserve the word apocrypha for those books that the Roman Catholics say are part of the Bible, but which we say are not. These 7 books (and additions to two others in the O.T.) we call the O.T. Apocrypha.
Now we sometimes speak of the N.T. Apocrypha, which are an entirely different type of book. They are not books which anybody has ever held to be inspired books; but they are books which were imaginary, adding details to the life of Christ, or the travels of the apostles, written long after their time and entirely undependable. The O.T. Apocrypha are entirely different from that; they are good Jewish books of devotion or of history or of some other phase of good religious literature; and to the early Christians they were like Pilgrim's Progress to us—a fine, helpful book, but with errors, as any human book will be; they were not inspired, they were not part of the Bible.
Well, Jerome sharply distinguished between other books and the books which are part of the Bible; and he was determined to translate only the books of the Bible; so he declared what these books are, in his issue of Kings; he limited it strictly to the books of the O.T. which the Hebrews have; and of course these so-called apocryphal books, we don't have in Hebrew; we have them only in Greek. For one of them, some parts in the original Hebrew have been found more recently, but through the ages the Hebrew originals were lost; some of them may have been originally written in Hebrew; some may have been originally written in Greek.
Some of Jerome's friends liked his translation very much; many of his enemies detested it. But some of his friends liked it, but they said, "We wish you would translate Tobit and Judith and these other books, because they are good devotional books; some people think they are inspired, though most don't, but they're helpful books and we wish you would make a good translation of them into Latin."
Well, Jerome was interested in what the real Bible was, so for a time he refused. Finally, he was urged by so many, that he made a translation of just two books, Judith and Tobit. The other five apocryphal books he never translated. But Judith and Tobit he translated; now the book of Tobit is book of maybe 20 chapters—fairly long chapters—and he translated it in one day. So you see he didn't take any pains with it as he did with his translation of what he considered as part of the Bible. He translated Tobit and Judith later on. Other people made translations of the rest of the books; and in the Latin Vulgate today, they are included, but they are not Jerome's translation. What I've always understood is that some of his friends urged him. Now one of those who urged might have been the Bishop of Rome of the day. Some Roman Catholics today might say the Pope ordered it, but I don't believe you can find any proof that at that time a man living in Bethlehem would think of the Bishop of Rome as having any authority over him. Damasus would have had authority over him, because he was Damasus' personal secretary, and in that employment relationship he could give him orders. And he might have thought that the Bishop of Rome would have a right to give orders for Rome, but that he could give orders for a man in Bethlehem, very few people in those days would thought that; I doubt if many of the Bishops of Rome thought that, though some of them might.
There are seven separate books which belong to the Apocrypha, which are in the Latin Bible but are not in ours—7 books. Now there are also two other books which the Roman Catholic Church accepts—Daniel, and Esther—which we also accept. But the Roman Catholic Church has a number of additions to Daniel and Esther; some of these additions appear in Bibles that have the Apocrypha in them—under separate titles—so you might get three or four titles out of different parts of Daniel or Esther. One addition to Daniel is called "Bel and the Dragon"; one is "The Story of Suzanna"; and one is "The Story of Obadiah," how Obadiah was carried across the desert. The so-called 3rd Ezra, though found in the Vulgate, is not considered by the Roman Ctho1ic Church as inspired. So it's in sort of a middle group; whether we call it Apocrypha or not might be questioned, because it's a valuable book; but 3rd and 4th Ezra are not accepted as inspired by anyone. They are included in present editions of the Vulgate but not translated by Jerome.
The important thing about the Vulgate, of course, is not whether it contained the Apocrypha or not, it is that it is a very valuable, excellent translation into the Latin which gave the whole western world during the Middle Ages a first-class translation of the Bible into Latin. A subsidiary fact about it, of real interest to us Protestants, is Jerome's attitude toward the Apocrypha. That is very interesting to us; and it is interesting that as late as just about the time when Martin Luther was preparing to publish his theses, the head of the church of Spain, called Cardinal Ximenes, head of the church at Spain, issued a copy of the Bible in several languages which he dedicated to the pope; and the pope accepted the dedication with thanks; and in the dedication Cardinal Ximenes said the whole church is indebted to St. Jerome for distinguishing between the true books of the O.T. and the other books which are not inspired.
It was only after the Council of Trent in 1547, that the official position was taken that these books are part of the Bible, and that anyone who does not accept them all with all their heart, let him be anathema. That position was taken in 1547 at the Council of Trent; and it is required of all Roman Catholic teachers since that time; but before that time, even the leaders differed as to whether these were or not, and many of them felt they were not.
Well, so much then for the great service that Jerome rendered the church in his translation of the Vulgate. We must mention
6. Jerome's Commentaries. He wrote commentaries on quite a number of the books of the Bible, and these commentaries contain much that is very valuable. He had the greatest learning of any Christian of the day—perhaps of any Christian of the ancient world. There's only one who could possibly dispute that with him; and that would be Origen, who lived over a hundred years earlier. Jerome had tremendously wide knowledge; he had studied everything he thought might be related to the Bible; he was interested in anything that might throw light upon it. He says in the Preface of his Commentary of Isaiah: "He who does not know the Scriptures does not know the power and wisdom of God. Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ." And his Commentaries contained much that was valuable. He was particularly interested in seeing exactly what the words meant. It was careful explanation, careful investigation, and a defense against the attacks of the pagans upon the dependability and the truth of the Book with which he dealt. So as a commentator he also rendered a real service to the Christian world ever since. Then,
7. Jerome's Other Works. His other writings include a translation of Eusebius' Onomasticon, his study of names and of places in Palestine; and that is a great help to us in our study of Palestine, in trying to determine where the different events in Biblical history occurred. He also made a free Latin translation of Eusebius' Church History, bringing it up to date. He wrote biographies of celebrated saints, Concerning Illustrious Men.
He wrote against those who questioned the importance of the celibate or the ascetic life. He wrote very, very strongly on these subjects. The only value he could see in marriage was in order to bring into the world people who could take vows of celibacy. But I think these features of his life can be understood in the situation, his type of personality and his revulsion against his disagreeable experiences as a young man. They did contribute to the development of the ascetic ideals of the Roman Catholic Church, and I think that was harmful. But I think his contributions to Christianity were very great, and we are much indebted. He thought there was a much higher life: the single life; the life devoted to God was a much higher attitude of loyalty to the Lord; and that's the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church today. At this time, we find the development of the idea of the celibacy of the clergy, until in the Roman Catholic Church it became established that the members of the clergy were not to marry. But it was not that way in Rome in the early years. It gradually developed, and Jerome by his attitude contributed toward that development.
Jerome is like all other men who ever lived; there are good features and bad features, because all men sin, all have their weaknesses and their failures; and I tried to give you a rounded picture this morning. In his case it's important, because he did so much that was helpful to the church, and yet he pushed forward tendencies which, you might say, were in contrast to the dissipation he describes and that sort of thing; but the truth would have been in between; and he is just excessive by pushing against this evil, pushing to the opposite extreme; something that has brought much that is harmful into the church.
So much for a brief discussion of his other works. Now,
8. The Origenistic Controversy. Now if we were to try to study the full detail of the thought life of the ancient church, we would need to spend a week or two on the Origenistic Controversy. But with the two years of Church History that we have, we have to pick what is most important; so I'm not giving them a main head at all, merely discussing them this way under Jerome; but it is good for you to know something about them.
I wrote some articles for the Sunday School Times a couple of years ago, and they were anxious to get a set of the Anti-Nicene Fathers in their library—you know the complete set published by Eerdmans; and to get this complete set they didn't want to have to pay for it. So they wrote me to ask me if I'd be willing to write a review of it. And then they wrote the publisher, and asked if they would give them a set if I would write a review which they would publish with front-page notice. I wrote three reviews in fact—the set was about 15 volumes; they paid me of course for writing the review; ordinarily they give you the book. But they paid me for writing this review; they have the set in their library. I figured the review would be most useful—for something like that, especially with a front-page editorial, three of them the way they publish it—to take some people from it and tell a little about them, men of whom the Christian world should be interested, of whom they should know.
And among them I discussed Origen; and I described some of his excellencies, which we looked at last semester; and I said some words about his speculative errors also. But someone wrote a letter to them, very critical. I suppose they were really critical of my criticism of the RSV, an article like that, but they wrote the letter and said, "How could somebody praise Origen when he held all these wrong views, and named some of his views, praise Origen, and then criticize something like the RSV?"
Well, the fact of the matter is of course that the emphasis is the important thing. If the RSV had just as many mistakes as it has, and no more, and those mistakes were on minor matters, I would be much less critical than I am. But it has—on just about every Messianic prophecy of the O.T.—a translation in such a way as to get rid of the Messianic prophecy, and it does that often in cases where there's not the slightest evidence for any other translation; they've often thrown aside the text. There is an animus there against the predictions of Christ—against the claims of the N.T. that the O.T. predicted Christ and that Christ is the one spoken of.
Now when you come to Origen, you find that he made mistakes as all human beings do, and that he made some rather serious mistakes; but you find that the central emotional attitude of Origen's life was a desire to honor the Lord; a desire to advance true Christianity; a desire to be loyal to the scriptures. And consequently Origen is a man who, for his attitude, his real love of the Lord, deserves great credit. And Origen, in his commentaries, and in his discussion, takes the matters that are clearly taught in the Scriptures and he stands upon them; he advances them; he does everything he can to defend them against attack. But Origen, as you know, was a man of such tremendously fluid mind; such a constant covering such wide areas of thought; and such a speculative turn of mind; that in the matters on things which are not clearly taught in Scripture, he let his imagination run; and he tried to decide what was probably the case in matters that aren't taught in the Scripture; and often these conclusions differ from what we conclude, after carefully studying the Scripture on these points, what we think is really the Scriptural teaching on this.
Now a man like Jerome would take Origen, and he would find a tremendous value in the thinking and the writing of that great Christian man; and he would derive from it a great deal that was beneficial, but at the same time discarding or laying aside the point at which Origen let his speculations run beyond what the Scripture said; and sometimes beyond what we feel is the import of Scripture even though not absolutely explicitly stated. A man like Jerome would find tremendous value in Origen; and such men as Athanasius, Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa—these great men—also thought very highly of Origen, but distinguished between his speculative ideas and the solid service he gave to Scriptural teaching.
But unfortunately, the unthinking person, if asked, will do one of two things: he will take a great man like Origen, and either consider that everything he wrote must be true, and follow him in his speculations; or else he will turn his attention to those speculative errors, and say the man is a wicked man, and everything he said is harmful. So as the years went by, you got people of these two types: those who strongly followed Origen, and those who bitterly opposed him.
There is a good Christian Seminary, whose president a few years ago was a man whose teaching was on the whole very excellent; but on certain comparatively minor points he was extremely dogmatic; and in some of those things, I think he was wrong; and his students were graduating thinking that everything he said was just the last word—every little thing about the Bible—what this seminary president said, that was the last word.
Well, I've met a few who, after graduating thinking he was the last word on everything, found that he was in error on one or two minor points; and then they took the opposite extreme, and decided that he was wrong on everything; and were bitterly opposed to him. And between the two attitudes, I like the first much better than the second, because he was a godly man, and a fine Christian leader, but in error on some points as everybody is; but I've known people who bitterly hated him and everything he taught, simply because they found that he was in error in his viewpoint on certain points; and it's a natural human tendency which I think we should oppose.
I think we should try to find what is right in a man, not take everything he has to say, and that way you can find great benefit from Origen and from Jerome, but you will find them both wrong in some matters. Well, we have to stop for today, see you tomorrow morning...
Now we were speaking yesterday about Jerome; and we had come to 8, the Origenistic Controversy, and these controversies were about whether Origen was a safe leader or not; and of course it is a fact that no human being is an altogether safe leader; we all make mistakes; there is one to follow and that is Christ, and his Word. The Bible is the only thing to follow; there is no one yet—no human being—who did not misinterpret the Bible in places; but from human leaders and human interpreters we get great help.
When we take any human interpreter as the last word—everything he says is right—we are apt to get into danger; because if he's a very fine teacher and a very loyal man to the Lord, his errors may be minor; but we may take a minor error he has made, and we may double it and it may become a major error. We should check everything by the Word of God.
Well men like St. Jerome, Athanasius, Basil the Great—many others like that—found tremendous benefit from the great loyalty to Christ of Origen; the great desire of Origen to find exactly what the Bible means; his great defense of the Bible against the attack of the pagans; his years of effort, of studying the text in various manuscripts to see exactly what it was. Origen was a great Christian leader and teacher. Men of real caliber like these, found tremendous benefit from his writings.
But unfortunately most men are not of this caliber. Take a man like Origen, and use him wisely, because either Origen is wonderful—"Look what he said here, isn't this marvelous!" Well, he said many marvelous things. Then they go on and they quote other things—and Origen wrote thousands of words. He was dictating all the time. He had a tremendously fertile mind, with speculation on every subject under the sun, and when he had definite Biblical teaching he followed it; but where he didn't, he used his imagination; he used his guessing, and often his guesses were unwarranted, or even went contrary to what other people giving very careful thought to the particular point involved, reached as a conclusion.
And the result is that the people who would say, "Origen said it therefore it is true," got into some pretty bad errors—some pretty wild ideas—through taking his speculative points and carrying them on to conclusions. And then naturally from that you have the reaction of the others, "Isn't this terrible? Origin said all men are going to be saved eventually—even the devil is going to be saved eventually. Isn't this awful? Isn't this awful, what Origen said about this point, that point, the other point. Origen is a wicked man; nobody should ever use Origen's work."
And so you got at this time—toward the end of the 4th century—you got many people highly excited on these two views of Origen. Among his greatest opponents were a large group of Egyptian monks with Pachomius—whom we've already discussed under monasticism—with Pachomius at their head, who were strongly opposing anything Origen said as wrong, as wicked; we must be against everything he said.
I mentioned yesterday a man widely known during these last few years, who is now no longer living; but a man who wrote extensively, and who had many students who thought he was very wonderful; and his teachings are, in the main, true to the Word of God; he was very loyal to the Scripture; but there were certain points, too, where he allowed speculating, theorizing, to carry him into things that are not clearly taught in the Scripture; and in some places these contradict what seems to others to be clearly taught in Scriptures. And I've known many students who thought that anything he said was absolutely the last word; but I've met at least seven or eight bright, keen fellows, who after taking that attitude had now swung to the opposite extreme; and anything he ever said is wrong; they're dead against him.
And of the two errors, I think the second is much worse than the first; because he was a man who said very little that was really harmful. Most of what he said was good. But it just shows the evil of taking any human being as an infallible guide; we get our leadership from the Scriptures; we have men as helps, not as something to depend upon, to trust. And so in this case we got this terribly excited discussion about Origen; and when you got it, it is to be regretted that Jerome, at this point, showed I think one of the most unfortunate errors of his career. I don't think it was an error which greatly injured the church, because I think the movement was so strong that he couldn't have affected it much one way or the other.
But Jerome, after having originally been very fond of Origen, and getting tremendous value from his life—though using him critically and not being affected by the unfortunate speculation at certain points; Jerome now, being accused of being an Origenist, came out strongly against Origen, and attacked Origen very, very severely; he denounced his statements in such a way as to give the impression that he denounced everything that he had taught.
The Bishop of Rome condemned Origen, and within the next succeeding years various council condemned his teachings very strongly. In modern times people have seen, not only that Origen's teachings themselves are not as bad as the councils made out, but in addition that the great Christian leaders during the 150 years after Origen thought highly of him. It was only 150 years after his time that this picking up of these particular speculative errors, and concentrating attention upon them, led to this complete repudiation of Origen by the church. Origen—and most of these other men in these early days—they called saints. But they don't call Origen saint. Yet if it comes to what would make up a true saint, Origen would probably come a lot nearer than most of those they call saint. He made certain speculative errors that were harmful if followed specifically; but in his life, he was devoted to the Lord; he was one who stressed salvation by faith; he owed everything in his life to Christ; and he was ready to die for the sake of Christ—and in fact, did die of the tortures that were inflicted on him by persecution. He was one who worked night and day, absolutely unsparingly, in order to spread the word of Christ and to train men to serve effectively. He was one who spent years of work in studying the text of the Bible in order to get it as accurate as possible; his life—from the viewpoint of saintliness, in the sense of good moral qualities, certainly in general morality most of these men were quite removed from the worldly sins—but in the sense of kindliness, generosity, helpfulness and that sort of thing, he was way ahead of a man like Jerome; and so it is very unfortunate that they are called saints and he is not. Actually, we are all saints if we believe in Christ; and the Lord knows who is and who isn't, and I don't think any human being really does. So much then, for the Origenistic Controversies.
9. The Monastic Controversies. The Monastic Controversies we have mentioned slightly before. At this point I just will bring out the fact that the Word-searching writers, at this time, took a strong stand against the developing monasticism. They—I don't know whether I'll even trouble you with their names—because of the fact that they lost out on their emphasis at this time. I think, though, you can at least write them down.
a. Jovinian. He is the most important of the anti-monastic writers at this time. In Rome about 390, he wrote a work attacking monasticism. But he was a monk and remained so to his death. But he attacked the idea of thinking of it as a higher life than others. He abstained from marriage, he said, because of the feeling that he could give particular service to the Lord by devoting himself entirely unhampered by family responsibilities; but he felt that that was an individual thing where he was able to render particular service. He did not feel that it should be held up as the ideal for the Christian, nor that a Christian—simply by abstaining from marriage and cutting his eating way down—that that, per se, made him saintly, as monasticism tends to hold.
And Jerome attacked him very strongly. Jerome said, "If he's sincere in his writing, why doesn't he get married, and prove that he can be just as saintly while married as in his present celibate state? Or else why doesn't he give up his opposition to the position we hold?" Of course Jerome, on this point, was much less intelligent in his statements than he is in the greater part of his discussions. This was one of the points on which he was highly prejudiced, very emotional; and you will find, the most intelligent people, when they get on matters that they're highly emotional about, often become quite unscholarly and unintellectual. He was not opposing an individual in this, but opposing the general trend.
Jovinian's book is lost but we have this address preserved, with a number of others, which attack him and criticize him. And, he said, for instance, that Christ attended the marriage feast at Cana as a guest, sat at Zacchaeus' table with publicans and sinners, was called by the Pharisees a glutton and a winebibber. He said that the apostle said, to the pure, all things are pure, and everything is to be received with thanksgiving.
He pushed what we try to think is the real Christian ideal, with making your life count for Christ in the world in which God has put you—rather than trying to get off in the desert somewhere where you won't be contaminated by the wickedness of others—but you will be able to help the others. We feel that he had nearer the true Christian ideal than monasticism. But the way some people have compared it to Luther is quite extreme because actually his influence was just a tiny part of what Luther's was. We know him principally because of the strong attacks against him.
b. Helvidius. Then there was man named Helvidius—also at Rome—and Vigilantius. And the man Vigilantius originally came from Gaul, which we now call France. And he had been a presbyter in Spain, Barcelona. He wrote against the ascetic spirit of the age and the superstition connected with it. He wrote in stronger language than Jovinian did. He used more heated expressions and Jerome reacted very strongly against it, and Jerome sat down one night in Bethlehem, and just poured out his feelings about Vigilantius, and you see what Jerome could do when he got really stirred up.
[Jerome, Against Vigilantius (406). "In Isaiah we read of centaurs and sirens, screech-owls and pelicans. Job, in mystic language, describes Leviathan and Behemoth; ... Gaul alone has had no monsters, but has ever been rich in men of courage and great eloquence. All at once Vigilantius," (The word means wide-awake, vigilant, you know) "or, more correctly, Dormitantius" (that means dead asleep), "has arisen, animated by an unclean spirit, to fight against the Spirit of Christ, and to deny that religious reverence is to be paid to the tombs of the martyrs. Vigils, he says, are to be condemned; Alleluia must never be sung except at Easter; continence is a heresy; chastity a hot-bed of lust. ... And now this tavern-keeper ... is mixing water with the wine. ... he assails virginity and hates chastity; he revels with worldlings and declaims against the fasts of the saints; he plays the philosopher over his cups, and soothes himself with the sweet strains of psalmody. ... This I have poured forth with more grief than amusement. ... Shameful to relate, there are bishops who are said to be associated with him in his wickedness."]
Thus Jerome goes on through this sort of discussion which he occasionally dealt with, though as a rule he was quite intellectual and scholarly in his discussion on matters he didn't grow so heated on. But this sort of argument of Jerome I don't think would've carried much weight alone, but unfortunately there were others also engaging in it, and this was like a feeble cry of resistance against a great tendency that was sweeping over towards the introduction of monasticism. But as you notice, it is three hundred, four hundred years after Christ before this great sweeping over it of monasticism, which is still the strong emphasis for Jerome's church. In fact, in the Roman church today, a priest—a parish priest—is not considered nearly as saintly and spiritual as a monk. Of course, some monks act as parish priests, but the monk, who has taken the vows of extreme abstemiousness and so on, even if he lives alone in the desert, is pretty much the ideal of sanctity.
We believe in separation from the evil of the world, but not in separation from the world. We believe in being in the world—to help the world—we spend our time and efforts bringing the truth to people, going to them and winning them, reaching them, there's nothing particularly honoring to the Lord in being out of contact with them.
God did not take us to heaven, assuming we were perfect, but left us here in order that we may serve him effectively. [student: What about Paul's years in the desert?] We have no evidence of the way Paul lived in those days. But I would say that Paul's three years in Arabia, after his conversion, were like a college student who was converted to the Lord and decides to spend 3 years in a seminary studying the Word, instead of going directly into active service for God. That is, we don't know a great deal about it, but we have strong reason to think that Paul spent his time there studying the O.T., learning more and more about just how Christ was predicted in the O.T. and what it meant to serve Christ.
Of course, all we know is he went to Arabia, and there is very little more said; and it would seem that was his time of study and preparation for his work. But that he didn't go there permanently, it was a temporary period of training, and of course the monastic ideal—in the sense of drawing off, away from all worldly things that would attract you to worldly life, for the sake of studying, the development of your spiritual life for a time, then to come back into the world to help—it is something which we would all think well of.
And certainly the one who just gives himself over to the pleasures of this world, and puts them first and then tries to serve the Lord a little in his spare time; and the man who thinks he serves the Lord, by getting off in the desert somewhere and spending all his time singing songs and reading scripture, and trying to develop his spiritual life; the latter is far superior to the former, as between those two extremes. But the Lord doesn't want us to take either of the extremes. The Lord wants a combination. He wants us to have our time for meditation, for prayer, for solitude; even taking days and weeks and maybe years at it; but wants us to do it not simply to grow spiritually, but to serve Him effectively. If our life does not result in effective service, He would have taken us to Himself immediately. He wants us to serve Him here in the work.
Now most historians hold that this development of monasticism actually was a wonderful thing in its effectiveness. Because within the next century after this, the Barbarian hordes flooded over Europe and for some centuries Europe was divided up into little tiny sections, constantly fighting with one another, and there was all sorts of confusion and turmoil; and the historians say that civilization would have entirely disappeared if it were not for monasteries, where people were alone, copying books, and studying the Scripture and having services, and having little influence on life outside the monasteries, but preserving civilization in the monasteries.
So most historians hold that the development of monasticism was a wonderful thing for the preservation of civilization. Now that is the way it has worked out; we are far better off than if there had not been monasticism. But personally I feel that we would've been still better off if these thousands of people who got out into the desert somewhere—completely apart from human life, having little influence, except once in a while when great hordes would come in to make a protest on some particular point—that if many of these people had been in the world, actively presenting and promulgating Christianity, might they not have brought in the modern period of civilization that much quicker?
After all, these Barbarians who came in and turned Europe into a state of desolation, there was nothing wrong with them personally; it was simply that there were too many of them to be assimilated. They were—this Germanic strain which they were—had been coming into Europe, the Roman Empire, for the previous four hundred years; and many leaders in the Roman Empire had been of Germanic background; but they'd been coming in a few at a time, becoming soldiers in the army of the emperor; and then gradually getting from that into private life; getting the education and being regular members of the Roman Empire. The trouble was not that they came, but that so many came at once that they just took everything over; and if with the larger number coming, there had been a greater number of real active Christians, dealing with these people, it might have prevented the Dark Ages altogether.
Of course, we can't say what might have happened. We see what did happen; and it's far better than if there'd been no Christians there at all. Far better; but if there'd been more active Christians there, it seems to me that it might have made up for the great good the monasteries did do through the Middle Ages. But that is getting a little bit ahead of ourselves.
We were discussing here 9, the monastic controversy. Now I had listed here ten items, but I'm going to change that to 12 items. And I'm going to simply mention to you that there are two more matters. I have indicated in my notes here, "Mention two other matters to be given later." I think it will be good to give numbers for them. 10 and 11 are two items about Jerome which are of great interest to us. They are of great interest to us, but they are matters which relate closely to other things we have not yet introduced; and that's why I don't want to bring them here. As you know the method I use for this course is pretty much chronological; we're thinking of them as they come pretty much. And yet we can't be strictly chronological. The average history will take something, and they will trace it through three centuries; and then they will take something else, and I think that way you lose the feeling of relation.
Well, I'm trying to go just about a half century at a time, and doing this part of the history. But even so, it's better to take Jerome's life together as I'm doing, rather than to look at 5 years of this and all the other things at the same time. So that there are two developments that are of great importance, we're going to look at later—in relation to which Jerome had a minor relationship—but yet one on account of which, because of his great importance, becomes of some importance; and I don't want to anticipate by giving these other two things now.
So there are two other matters about Jerome. If I should ask you at the end of the year to tell everything you can about Jerome, if I should by any chance give that as an exam question, and you fail to include these two other matters, I would be greatly disappointed. But I don't want to mention them now; I will mention them under the other heads to which they're related, rather than under Jerome. So
12. Conclusion regarding Jerome. Jerome is one of the great figures of the ancient church. He's the greatest scholar in the ancient church. He's not the greatest thinker of the ancient church. Origen was a greater thinker than Jerome; but Origen didn't stay quite as close to Scripture as Jerome did. On the main points of Scripture, Origen was thoroughly sound; but he let his imagination run away from him a lot further than Jerome ever did.
Jerome's scholarship made a tremendous contribution to the development of Christianity; but along with it, his great interest in Monasticism made a tremendous contribution to the development of those particular qualities which today are characteristic of the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the points distinctive of the Roman Catholic Church today, Jerome would not have stood with. He did not believe that Jesus built His church on Peter. He said that the Rock on which he built his church was Christ. It was Christ and Peter's confession about Christ. And yet many others thought in his day it was Peter and the expression could be taken that way; but Jerome does speak in clear language that it is Christ who is the foundation of the church, not Peter. And he did not believe in the immaculate conception of the virgin Mary; I doubt if hardly anybody had ever thought of the immaculate conception, they certainly didn't believe in Mary's being taken to heaven without death, or of her body's being taken after death.
Jerome did not believe in a great many of the superstitious ideas of the Roman Church today. But there is much that has developed in the Roman Church, of which the germs are found in some of the other things he wrote, particularly in his great stress on monastic life. And then his excessive disagreements—I've read you one or two quotations from his assailing of others who disagreed with him—which show his rather overbearing and sneering attitude toward those who differ with him on church points; this is certainly unfortunate in a Christian leader. He is a man whose influence was tremendous; a man with whom we should be thoroughly familiar; but he's not—simply as a Christian—not one of the great Christians of the early church. We look at a far greater man rather soon.
Jerome is usually pictured with a lion beside him—with a lion and a skull. In almost any large museum you go into, you see a picture of Jerome in his cell in Bethlehem, with a lion—there's always a lion sitting near him—and there's usually a skull which he had to remind himself of the shortness of human life, of its weakness, of the necessity of thinking of eternal things; and there are some legends about a lion having followed him around and stayed with him; and it is pictured there with him in these pictures of Jerome, of which there are a great many. The Roman Church through the Middle Ages venerated him about as much as any man of the early church. Well, we go on to
M. The Downfall of Paganism. This century—the 4th century—began with paganism seemingly supreme. Diocletian had the great persecution; Christianity was supposed to be utterly destroyed; the pagan temples seemed to be strong and powerful all over the Roman Empire. Christianity stood the persecution—that was merely a fact of coming through it; then Constantine gave it power, and in fact gave them his favor; but still there were certainly not over a fourth of the people in the Roman Empire that were professing Christians at the end of the Diocletian persecution.
By the end of this century, the popular thing is to be Christian rather than to be Pagan; and it is rather unpopular to go to the temples at all. Many of the temples have been destroyed by that time, and the emperors by this time, instead of giving tolerance to Christianity, are facing the question whether they shall tolerate Heathenism, or not. During this whole century that change is taking place, and in the last few years of the century, we find the great movements of monks—and you might say Christian mobs—who are convinced that the heathen gods are demons, and the temples are places where demons are worshipped; and therefore these temples ought to be eradicated; and there were hundreds of great strong temples which were torn down and wrecked, often by mobs, during the last few years of this century and the beginning years of the next century.
Doubtless many great heathen temples—most of them—were destroyed by the end of the next century after this. In Syria, hundreds were destroyed in this period. There was a tremendous wrecking of temples, tearing them to pieces; and the Roman Senate, during the last 40 years of the century, sent to the Emperor, asking that they be permitted to still have the sacrifice at the altar of victory which normally started sessions of the Roman Senate; and these last few emperors rigidly refused. Theodosius even completely forbade them.
Theodosius enacted very restrictive laws against heathen practices altogether, against heathen temples. And yet when Theodosius died, the Roman Senate carried through its customary act of voting to enroll him among the gods; so his name was enrolled among heathen gods, though he was an ardent Christian and one who had even forbidden heathen worship. And of course a strange development took place the other way: the head of the heathen system had always been known in Rome as the Pontifex Maximus, the chief bridge-builder.
In early days in Rome, building bridges across the Tiber was a very important thing; and it was a difficult thing, because occasionally the river would flood and tear down the bridges; and so they had religious ceremonies in connection with it; and they gave the head of the heathen religion in Rome the title of "Chief Bridge Builder," Pontifex Maximus; and then the Roman Emperor stood over the Tiber and called himself Pontifex Maximus; but when the Emperor moved to Constantinople, and was no longer near the Tiber, eventually the Bishop of Rome took over the title; so that to this day, for the name of a pope, you will see after his name—nearly always—the letters P.M. which means Pontifex Maximus, Chief Bridge Builder, which was the title taken by the old heads of the heathen religion for many centuries; now it is taken by the Pope regularly.
Well, during this century, we have discussed at great length, the Arian controversies, in which the emperors had favored Arianism for a time; and it seemed destined to be absolutely supreme in the Roman Empire. Our interest has centered on that largely, but along with it was going the constant retreat of heathenism; the very word heathenism—like the word paganism—the two words mean exactly the same thing; pagus means a little country village; and heathenism, from heath; a heath in Germany is a little place way out in the country where few people live. And the words paganism and heathenism, as words, mean the backward superstition that is held by a few people way out in the country; that's what they mean, so it's rather anachronistic to speak of the great pagan processions of Rome and the worship of Jupiter and these other great gods as paganism; because the very word didn't come into existence until their religion was dying; and it was given to it as a religion which was still clung to tenaciously by a few people way off in the backwoods. That's what paganism means, and heathenism means exactly the same, only one is a German word and one is the Latin word used in the Roman Empire.
So the downfall of paganism or heathenism; that's still more anachronistic, because it didn't come till later on; the German word, it comes during this century and no individual emperor had more to do with it than Theodosius the Great; and I just want to remind you again of this point about the greatness of Theodosius.
By the way, we have noticed that Diocletian divided the Empire in four parts; but Diocletian when he divided it, he had two emperors [Augustuses], himself and another emperor, and then there were two Caesars, who helped the emperors. These emperors were supposed to stand equal to each other, though one was operating in the West and one in the East. Well, we had Theodosius made the emperor in the East after the death of Valens; Gratian called Theodosius to be emperor of the East. Gratian was Emperor of the West. The two were equal.
Actually Theodosius was much the greater because he was by far the greater man; but theoretically their powers were equal, both were emperors. And then after Gratian's death, Valentinian II continued to reign for some years in the West; but Theodosius had to come to the West several times with his armies to rescue Valentinian from predicaments into which he got. He was not a very able man; eventually he was killed by usurpers, and then Theodosius destroyed the usurper and he ruled the whole empire for three years,
Theodosius I was one of the great effective characters in the rule of the Roman Empire. Valens had been destroyed by the Goths as they were breaking into the Empire in 378. Theodosius stopped the invasion; put an end to their breaking in for the time; held back the Barbarian hordes for at least 20 years longer than would have been the case if he had not been there; and allowed many of them who had already come in to settle in the Empire; and he established them and took many of them into his armies. Theodosius was the one, as you know, who called the Council of Constantinople which put an end to Arianism.
We noticed how Theodosius, in Thessalonica, was aroused about this terrible uprising of the mob there, and as a result put 7,000 people to death. He was a man of hot-blooded Spaniard roots who could become very angry, and give way to very harsh measures; but ordinarily he was a very kindly man. It was he who St. Ambrose in Milan refused to partake of the Lord's Supper, until he had publicly confessed his crime in killing all these 7,000 people in Thessalonica; and it's to Ambrose's honor that he made that stand, and that he was able to do it in a way that could carry it through. It was to Theodosius' honor that he saw his error, and admitted and confessed it.
Then after that Theodosius had a situation where in Antioch, the people had become stirred against him, and had taken his statue and the statue of his family, and had dragged them in the mud and broken them up in their rising feeling against the emperor; and then knowing what had happened in Thessalonica, the people were in terrible fear in Antioch of what might be done to the city; but in the end the city was spared, though the ringleaders were taken and investigated and punished for it.
Theodosius had the whole empire in his hand the last three years of his reign, but actually he was the dominant force of it all through his reign. At his death in 395, his two sons became emperors, one of the West and one of the East. And this is the final division of the Roman Empire; there never again was one man who united all into one empire. Theodosius had no part in making the final division now; but he did put one son in the East and one in the West, and unfortunately neither of them was a man of Theodosius' ability. It would lave been far better to pick out somebody else, like Gratian had picked him.
But Theodosius is the outstanding figure in the downfall of heathenism. His sons carried on what he'd been doing; there was still much to be done, but it was his attitude, his strength of character, and his condition, which had much to do with its results.
Now we go to a man named John; but he's usually called by a title which was given him, the title is Chrysostom. So he's generally referred to as
N. St. John Chrysostom. Now those of you who know Greek, of course, immediately recognize that Chrysostom is from chrysos, gold, and stoma, mouth; and you know that when you say St. John Chrysostom, you are saying "St. John of the golden mouth," and he is probably one of the greatest preachers, one of the most effective speakers, that the Christian church has ever seen. As an influence, he's not to be compared with Jerome or with Origen; he was not a great writer like they; not a great scholar like they; and he was not the influence he might have been, because of the opposition that he ran into; but as a speaker, as a preacher, as an orator, as a man who doubtless had tremendous influence on the great multitudes who heard him, there probably have not been more than a dozen in the whole history of the Christian church, if that many. He had rare gifts in this direction, and with these rare gifts he combined a wonderful Christian character.
He was born about 347, son of a general. His father died when he was still a child, and his mother refused all offers of marriage that she might educate her son and administer his property. He was brought up, then, very carefully by his mother, with a first-class education; and he studied under a celebrated rhetorician in Greece, a man named Lebanius, who had students come to him from all over the Roman world; the emperor Julian had studied under him, and Basil the Great. But on his deathbed when asked who should be his successor, this great pagan rhetorician declared that of all his disciples, John, the man he called Chrysostom was most worthy to succeed him if the Christians had not taken him away from him. That's what he said. He recognized the ability of John, and John learned a great deal from him of matters of speaking.
He began as a lawyer, but then decided to withdraw from worldly pursuits; he wanted to go off into the desert and live as a monk; but his mother entreated him not to leave her, and so he stayed at home; but he practiced with asperity to live the strictly ascetic life in his own house. And in 374 he found himself so worn with his extreme asceticism, a great amount of fasting, that his health was permanently injured to some extent.
There was something that happened in 374 which greatly endangered his life; he and a friend were walking along the shores of the river, near Antioch. At this time the emperor (Valens) had very strict laws against magic and magical books; it was punishable by death if you possessed a book of magic; and he and a friend were walking along the river and they saw a book floating; and he said, "I wonder what it is." And he reached out and picked it up and started to look into it; and he saw it was a book of magic; and then just then he glanced up and saw a soldier walking his direction; and if this soldier grabbed him and said, "What's this you're reading?" and found it was a magical book which was forbidden under pain of death, and John said, "Oh, I picked it out of the river," nobody would believe him. And he said he threw it away in the river; and if the soldier saw him throw it away that would make it worse yet. So he felt he was in an absolutely terrible predicament. Fortunately, the soldier didn't notice it, and he threw the book back into the river, but he felt that he had been just on the edge of death in the experience. And for the next six years he was under the shadow of this—spending time in devotion and meditation—and then he went to Antioch and he was ordained a deacon and a presbyter; and from 381 to 397 he was a great preacher in the church of his native city.
During these 16 years there in his native city, after he'd been preaching there for six years, this incident of the statue occurred which I mentioned in Antioch. It was the second greatest city in the empire; and a mob had grabbed the statues of the emperor and his family, dragged them in the dirt and broken them up. Very few emperors in the world's history could stand for a thing like that to be done without very severe reprisals; and when the people as a whole realized what had happened, they felt that the city would suffer for it; they didn't know whether they would all be killed; the people were in tremendous fear and agitation. In messages in 387, he pointed out that the terrible thing they feared might come to them was nothing compared with that which would come to those who continued in sin and died outside of Christ. And on the other hand, how they need not fear because Jesus was ready to forgive; he died for their sins on the cross; and if they had eternal happiness and peace with him, that it was a temporary matter whether they lived or died; it was far less important; and how they could bravely take whatever might come, if their eyes were on Christ; and they say there was never a sermon preached under more dramatic circumstances and with more effect than these 21 discourses of his on the statues. The whole city was moved by it; a tremendous number of conversions; great glory for the Lord; and then on Easter Day, he gave the last of his series, telling of the aged bishop of Antioch who'd just returned from an interview with the emperor; and the emperor had agreed not to destroy the city; forgave the city as a whole for this, though the city was naturally to have some punishment for it; the baths and theaters in the city were to be closed; public distribution of funds was to cease; the city was to be no longer the capital of the East, but to be a suburb of a neighboring town, Laodicea; and the individuals who were responsible for it were sought out and punished, but the city as a whole did not suffer for it.
But these sermons of Chrysostom at this time made a tremendous impression upon the city; and it was ten years after this when he was called to come to Constantinople, to be bishop of Constantinople, the most prominent place in the Roman world; and there he had very sad experiences which we'll look at tomorrow morning.
We have to finish up with John Chrysostom, and John Chrysostom is not one of the greatest figures in the ancient church but certainly is one of the noblest figures. He is as fine a character as almost any man in Christian history. I know of no real flaw in his character which can be pointed out, unless it might be perhaps a little bit of over-sureness of his position on moral issues. But his position on the moral issues is generally quite right, and so the flaw there—if there is a flaw—would be less than most people have. Now he was a human being, and he must have had his flaws; and he's not one of the greatest figures, so we don't go extensively into the details of his life. He must have had his flaws, but we don't come across them much in what we usually read about Church History. The ordinary flaws that you find—the sins of the flesh, the hypocrisy that you find in many people—you don't find much in the great leaders of Church History, though you find them in many of the subordinate characters; no evidence of anything of that sort in him. The grasping for money, seeking for personal honor, which you find in many Christian leaders today—and also in ancient times—there's no evidence of anything whatever; and the attitude that Jerome often showed of irritation and insistence on his own view on things, you don't have evidence of that here.
And of course John Chrysostom was a tragic figure; and that tends to make us think of his difficulty and of his good points rather than to look for any flaws in him. But Chrysostom, as we mentioned, was as great an orator as the Christian Church has ever seen. And it is marvelous to find this ability as an orator combined with the wonderful character which he had. Personally I'm a little afraid of orators; I've found that so very frequently, when you get a man who can just move multitudes, he's carried away by his own oratory and moves himself beyond what he really thinks. Or he can be influenced by others.
The greatest popular speakers, as a rule, shift themselves. They can move multitudes; and they themselves can move. Not all, by any means, but most are that way. But Chrysostom kept his eyes right on the Scripture, and particularly on the great teachings of what Christ has done for us—the peace which we have in Him, the blessings that He can be to our hearts, and the need of our standing completely by Him, and turning away from everything contrary to His will. At Antioch, as we noticed, his comforting and the courage that he brought to the people in those terrible days was truly a tremendous thing; something that was remembered by the church for centuries after, as one of the great outpourings of divine blessing; that he was there to give the people exactly the comfort and courage that they needed and to use it to draw them to the Lord, and to win them to Him.
But now I just barely mentioned at the end of the hour the move that was made first, when Chrysostom was moved from Antioch to New Rome, that is, Constantinople. That came about through the determination of a eunuch in the government in Constantinople. We mentioned that, when Theodosius died in 395, his two sons took over. They are minor characters: Honorius in the Western Empire, Arcadius in the Eastern Empire, but put together they didn't have half the ability of their father.
But they ruled with great splendor, and they felt very proud of their power; and yet they were not very diligent in determining how to use it wisely; and so Arcadius in the Eastern Empire was ruled by a series of—well, something like Henry VIII of England. He would have a favorite who would rule, and then he'd get tired of him and kill him or get rid of him; and there'd be another one. Well, there was a eunuch who had been the leader of his household, who became actually the force in the Empire. And he was a good man, a man of real desire for good things; and he coveted Chrysostom's great preaching for Constantinople, so he sent and asked Chrysostom to come to Constantinople. Chrysostom had always lived in Antioch, and loved Antioch; he loved the people of Antioch. He saw the great needs of Antioch, he wanted to stay there. And he said, "No, I'd rather stay in Antioch."
But this eunuch was used to governing an Empire, and he would not take no for an answer; and when Chrysostom still said no, he sent somebody to lure him out of the city of Antioch on a pretense; and they got him outside the walls—out into the open country—and then they seized ahold of him and put him in a carriage, and the horses drove off rapidly; and they carried him all the way from Antioch to Constantinople. As soon as he got there, the crowds were there to welcome him with great cheers as their new Bishop of Constantinople. And Chrysostom, under the circumstances, accepted what had happened; he was installed as the Bishop of Constantinople; and the previous Archbishop of Alexandria, he had come to install Chrysostom; he was against having him, but he bowed to imperial authority; and he installed him, and then spent the next few years scheming to get rid of him.
And so Chrysostom was installed with great pomp and glory as Bishop of Constantinople. And immediately he began preaching in the great cathedral there; throngs came to hear him; the empress was always present, was very devoted to his messages. But very soon, though, the emperor got tired of the eunuch. His reason had nothing to do with Chrysostom at all; but the eunuch was out, and a new man was put in power, who had no interest in Chrysostom. So that was a tragic thing in Chrysostom's life; that a change was made, and then the man who made it had no power to be with him anymore.
But for some time after he came there, everybody seemed to favor him; and of course his sermons were wonderful, but Chrysostom never had any interest in preaching great orations that thrilled people's ears. He was a great orator and a wonderful preacher, and he gave tremendous emotional sermons that stirred people's hearts and gripped them; but he was interested in constantly presenting the demands of the Scripture on people's consciences and the opportunity of true faith in Christ. And he was appalled at the tremendous luxury at the court of Arcadius. Everything was in gold; the most expensive things; hundreds of people coming and opening the way when the emperor appeared in church; and all this tremendous pomp and splendor and more; worse than that, the women with their faces all painted up; and all of the signs of a luxurious and voluptuous life in the court; he simply was appalled at it; and he began to preach against people putting their interest in worldly things; and against women painting their faces like Jezebels, as he said; and against immorality of life of every sort, and worldliness of every sort.
And soon some began to turn against him; and especially the empress Eudoxia, the wife of the emperor who seemed to be so drawn to him when he came; she was proud of having the greatest preacher in the world as their court preacher, but she did not like the way he criticized her and her people. There's no evidence he named her by name; but one time at a service, when she was not there, somebody came and asked him to be a little easier on the subject. And they said that in his next sermon, John said, "Herodias dances; Herodias sings; Herodias asks the head of John the Baptist." There's no proof that he said this; his enemies may have pretended he did; but she took it as a personal attack on her.
And this, combined with the jealousy of the Archbishop of Alexandria, resulted in two forces coming against him; the emperor wasn't particularly interested one way or the other, but he was moved by his wife's insistence; finally 5,000 soldiers seized Chrysostom and carried him away—the populace was enthusiastically with him—but he was carried away and taken into exile, accused of having criticized the emperor and his family; he was taken into exile, and there they would have him in primitive circumstances, living somewhere; and then they would move him in the dead of night. A man would come and get him up and move him to another town; and he'd have to go out and ride horseback for 30 miles, get off at another place where they put him and stay there a while. And they made it very disagreeable for him, and before long he died in exile.
So Chrysostom's life ended in this tragedy; he died at the age of 60 in exile, in 407 AD, praising God for everything, even for his unmerited persecution. So the people venerated him as a saint; it did not contribute at all to the popularity of the emperor, what had been done. But the emperor in the East here was so thoroughly established, that he didn't bother particularly about it; but 30 years after Chrysostom's death, the son of the emperor, Theodosius II, in 438, gave orders; his bones were brought back to Constantinople and deposited in the imperial tomb. The emperor himself, the son of Arcadius and Eudoxia, fell down before the coffin; and in the name of his guilty parents, Arcadius and Eudoxia, implored the forgiveness of the holy man.
So he was buried with great pomp in the imperial tomb in Constantinople; and he is revered by the Eastern Church ever since as a saint, as indeed he was. He was a saint, as we are all saints, who believe in Christ and are saved through Him and justified through Him. But in addition, he was one of the saintly men of the Christian church; his tragic end shows the danger that was coming in with the imperial favor to Christianity, which could be a tremendous help in the spread of Christianity, but which could—at the whim of an emperor or an emperor's wife—end in disaster for one of the finest Christian men in all our history. Not one of the great—he was a great man—but there are others who certainly were greater in character and abilities, in accomplishments, though he was definitely in the top ranks, but he was a good man, a man who was devoted to what he thought to be right.
Well, then, we go on. We have finished all but one matter that we want to discuss in the 4th century. And this one matter begins in the middle of the 4th century, but runs over for 30 years into the 5th century; it's a unit and I don't like to divide it. And in addition to that, it is an outstanding subject in ancient church history. So I am going to do what I had not originally thought I would do at all; I'm going to give you a Roman numeral heading that is not a century.
The man whom I'm going to discuss is one whom most people—most students of church history—regard as the greatest man in the ancient church. Certainly no man—aside from the apostles—has had a greater effect upon the church since his day; no man of the ancient church, than the man of whom we are now going to speak. Many of you are familiar with [Alexander] Souter through his edition of the New Testament in Greek. Souter made this statement about the man: "Whether he was the greatest Latin writer who ever lived might be argued, but there is no question that he is the greatest man who ever wrote Latin." Well, now that's a tremendous thing to say, when we think of the great leaders of ancient Rome who wrote Latin; and I don't think we have to necessarily say through his writing, but it shows the tremendous things that are said about this man. Martin Luther and John Calvin both thought that he was the greatest man of the ancient church, and both of them declared that much of what they taught and held was simply taken over directly from his teaching. And he lived in North Africa.
It's very interesting that Italy, the center of imperial authority, produced some men of considerable ability, but none of the greatest leaders up to 450 AD. None of the greatest leaders came from Italy, actually, though many went there; and that three of the greatest should have come from this rather remote area of North Africa; and especially that the very greatest of all, according to most judgments, should have come from there.
In English-speaking countries it is usual to call him St. Augustine; but a professor in Princeton Seminary, 30 years ago, used to say, if he heard any students saying St. Augustine, he'd say St. Augustine is in Florida; St. Augustine is in heaven. Now, certainly St. Augustine in Florida was named after St. Augustine, so that actually they should be the same. But it is customary in England, to call him St. Augustine. Of course, in Latin, his name was Augustínus Aureliánus. And the emphasis, it would seem to me, St. Augustine is nearer to the emphasis of the Latin than St. Augustine. But that is the definite English pronunciation, and I believe most American theologians follow the English preference in the matter. The English sometimes contract it, particularly for the other St. Augustine who was later in England—they contract it to St. Austin—which of course you couldn't do for Augustine.
But St Augustine is not an organizer, in the sense of St. Cyprian, and he is not a scholar, in the sense of St. Jerome. He was a large reader and a good student, but he did not have the extensive scholarly knowledge that Jerome had; yet most authorities would say that in just about every other regard, he was superior to Jerome. Now not all would say that; there are those, particularly in the Roman Church, who might even put Jerome higher than Augustine. Certainly Jerome was one of the great figures, one of the great writers, one of the great influences in the ancient church. But Augustine was much more of an original thinker than Jerome; he had a wider interest than Jerome; he had a greater hold on the great doctrines—the great central doctrines of sin and salvation—than Jerome had; and he wrote very, very extensively; in fact, almost everywhere he went, he took two stenographers with him; so that if he had a discussion with anybody, and they might get on an interesting subject, these men were there to take down everything he said in shorthand, in case he could use it to write an article or a book.
Constantly writing—and that's one reason for his great influence, that he was constantly writing—he wrote tremendous amounts, and most of what he wrote was good. One man wrote him a letter: "I picked up a piece of paper off the street, and I find a strange new sort of heresy in it. Here's what it says, some queer kind of a new thing; I don't know whether this is the start of a new sect or new religion or what it is; what do you think about it?" Augustine wrote him 150 pages in answer, going into full detail, into the views in them. He was a man, you see, of boundless energy, and his interest was in spreading what he considered to be true.
Now the attitude of most writers—Romanist or Protestant—is to make Augustine a saint, who is just about perfect in everything that he did. Personally I do not share that attitude toward him; I consider him a very great man, a very great influence, a very good man; but I consider that he did certain things which I think we would have been much better off if he hadn't done. And, as a matter of fact, it's a strange thing, that if you take the Protestant viewpoint of theology that is characteristic of the Reformation—characteristic of Protestant churches—it points back to Augustine; and he is the greatest writer among these found in the ancient world. And Calvin and Luther were both tremendously fond of Augustine, got tremendous value from his writings.
But also, if you penetrate developments in the Roman Catholic Church—some of the developments there that we think are wrong—they also will point back to Augustine, as one who gave tremendous impetus to them. They venerate him as one who had tremendous influence on the development of certain of their particular emphases and ideas—certainly the main ones—although on certain other of the main ones, where they claim him as a leader, they misinterpret his words. We'll look into those later. But Augustine is a figure with whom every Christian should be familiar; and he is one whose influence we feel in all sorts of ways that we don't realize at all, because his thought crept into the thinking of the church as a whole; his very words, his phrases, even as Tertullian's did, though to a greater extent. So we'll call
A. Augustine's Early Life. I rather dislike starting—but we have to—with Augustine's early life; because, after all we've said about him that is so good, we find a great deal that is not so praiseworthy at all in his early life. Well, one reason for that of course is that he did not become a Christian until he was 33; and naturally there was much in his life before that that he would not feel happy about; but in addition to that, most that we know about Augustine's life comes from his Confessions. And his Confessions were written in his great remorse and sorrow for the sins and errors of his early life, from which Christ had redeemed him; and his Confessions are written in a tone of thankfulness to God for what God has done, and regretting and expressing all that did that was wrong; and so he takes everything that he can think of that was bad in his early life, and he presents it in the worst light he can, in the Confessions; and some of the things—it's strange—some of the things that he thinks were perfectly terrible, look pretty minor to us; like when he was a boy, he stole a couple of pears off a tree once, and ate them; and I guess every boy has done something like that at some time in his life; but the way he feels so bad about that, and feels it is so wonderful that Christ has taken it upon Him, seems rather exaggerated to us; and there are some things he does that with. While there are other things, that don't seem to bother him at all, that to us are much worse than the things that he feels so badly about.
Well, that's possible because ideas change from generation to generation. And what seems bad to one may not seem so bad to another. Whether they are improvements or not, I don't know; I hope they are improvements. But Augustine's early life was in North Africa, of which we have a very poor map up there on the board. But North Africa, as we mentioned last year, is the part of Africa that is extremely north. If we said northern Africa, it would include eastern. But North Africa has come to be a specific technical term for that section of Africa which is northwest; but not so much west either; it is the eastern part of the western half of the northern section of Africa. It reaches quite a bit north of the Egyptian area, and between it and Egypt there is a very great desert area which is extremely difficult to travel through. Most travel between places in North Africa is by boat, so that it is actually thought of as an entirely different region to the Romans. You'd go by boat to North Africa or to Egypt, or you'd go by boat from one of them to the other; rarely indeed would anybody ever try to go overland from North Africa to Egypt.
Well, North Africa today is—east to west—Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco. Now in ancient times in Tunis, there was a great city called Carthage, which was founded by colonists from ancient Tyre, which is just north of Palestine. According to tradition, Carthage was already there after the Trojan War, a thousand years BC. It came to be a very great city; Carthage was a great city when Rome was just a small insignificant place. And then when Rome became a great city, the two of them struggled for a period of many decades as to which one would be supreme; and eventually, after Carthage had almost destroyed Rome—that is, it didn't get clear to Rome, but their armies came clear up to Europe, over the Alps, down into Italy and ravaged for many years—eventually the Romans won the complete victory in a series of wars; and in the last of these wars, it carried the war to Africa, and they took the city of Carthage and utterly destroyed it.
Carthage burned for 17 days. One of the greatest cities of the ancient world absolutely destroyed, utterly wrecked; all the people driven from it in 146 BC. A hundred years later the Romans sent a group of colonists over to rebuild Carthage; and the Romans built a city in Carthage there which became again one of the greatest cities—the third greatest city in the Empire—the greatest was Rome; the next was Antioch; the third was Carthage. It was a very great city, but it was strictly a Roman city, entirely under the domination of Rome. Latin was the language of Carthage, and all the important towns in North Africa; but in the villages they spoke Punic, a dialect of the ancient Phoenicians, Canaanites.
Well, in that region, Tertullian lived about 200 AD; Cyprian lived there about 250 AD; and now in 354 Augustine was born there in a little town which would now be in Algeria. That is, it is across the border, just a short distance across the border of the present Tunis. In a little town there, of well-to-do parents, supposed to be of Roman background, Augustine was born. His mother was a Christian. How earnest she was when he was a young boy, we don't know. There are those who think she was not particularly fervent then. She doesn't seem to have had a great influence on him as a boy. But by the time that he was in his twenties, she was a very earnest Christian; and from when he was 20 until he was 33, she was constantly praying for him; very active in her interests and in her prayer for him, and he was constantly rejecting her testimony.
Her name is one which is known to everyone who has ever been in California, and to most who have heard much of California; because one of the towns in California is named after her. Her name was Monica, and she is revered in the Roman Catholic Church as a saint. She was a humble woman, not particularly educated as far as we know. During the years from when he was 20 to his 30s, she was a perfect model of a mother, constantly in prayer and constantly concerned for the conversion of her son; and she lived to see it, but she died shortly after his conversion. So Santa Monica is the town named after her. His father seems to have been a pagan; but toward the end of his life accepted Christianity, but died when Augustine was 18 years of age.
Augustine was a boy who was always interested in study. Of course, in his Confessions he confesses that when he was five and six and seven, he was very, very lazy and didn't study his lessons as he should, and so on; but he does admit that by the time he got to be nine, he was always tremendously interested in his lessons, and really worked at them. He was a boy of intellectual promise. But he was in a region which—some writers say North Africa was the cesspool of the Empire, and Carthage was the cesspool of North Africa—but whether that is exaggerated it's hard to say; but certainly the pagan life was extremely immoral and extremely low in many ways, with the great gladiatorial combats, in which people were killed just for the amusement of others; and the worship was of the old Phoenician gods who now took Roman names; but they were still much the same, accompanied with all sorts of immoral activities in connection with them, which were very debasing.
One thing the Romans had done away with—in old Carthage—the great statue of Molech that had an opening below with a tremendous furnace there; and people would sacrifice babies to Molech. We read in the O.T. of passing their children through the fire, which is a sacrifice of babies to Molech, the god of the Phoenicians. But the Romans did away with this and did not permit it.
But the Roman worship was low enough, and Augustine seems never to have been attracted by the pagan worship at all; but he was a catechumen—that is—he was one who attended the church services as a boy; but he never claimed to be a Christian until he was 33. Now Augustine was sent away as a young boy—to study for a couple of years—to Carthage; and he was sent to another town for a while; his parents were very interested in his getting a good education; and when he was in Carthage, when he was 18, he fell into immorality which he regrets very bitterly in his Confessions; but it seems to be an immorality of a very different type from that of Jerome. Jerome fell into immorality as a student in Rome; it would seem that only on two or three occasions at most; and he was terribly revolted by it, and it contributed to his extreme attitude against all marriage in his later years.
Augustine arranged what we today would call a common-law marriage when he was 18. He considered the woman a concubine; but he took a woman of whom he tells us practically nothing, except that for 14 years he lived with her. She came when he was 18, for 14 years he lived with her; as far as our evidence goes he was true to her during that time and she was true to him; she bore him a son, to whom he gave the name Adeodatus, which means the gift of God. And to this son, Augustine was very devoted; but he always felt that, according to Christian standards, he was living in sin. And he bitterly regrets this in his Confessions. This woman then lived with him from 18 on; he studied to be a professor of rhetoric, and rhetoric was most highly honored in the Roman world. As a professor of rhetoric he would have a very good salary, and very high standing. Well, I see I'll have to quit there for today; this is Wednesday. If any of you have questions which you'd like to see me about, please save them till tomorrow, because I have to move along.
Now we were looking at VII, St. Augustine. Since he's such a tremendously important figure, probably the most important figure in the ancient church, after the apostles, I decided to give him a separate Roman numeral to himself. Roman Numeral VII, was St. Augustine. Under that A, was Augustine's early life.
We noticed how he was born in 354 in a little town in what is today Algeria; it was then called Numidia. And we noticed something of his upbringing; his mother was a Christian; his father was a pagan until toward the end of his life; he became a Christian shortly before his death when Augustine was 18. We noticed that Augustine was a naturally studious type; he was devoted to his studies; he had very brilliant mind; and it looked as if he would have a very great career as a teacher of rhetoric, which was one of the great careers available in that day. Nobody today can think what it means to be a teacher of rhetoric in the 4th century AD. But at that time—in the sort of democracy which they had throughout the Roman Empire, without any radio, or TV or moving pictures or anything of that kind such as we have today—people were tremendously interested in speech arts; and a gifted orator could command a crowd any time, no matter what he talked about. And a teacher of rhetoric had a salary about double the salary of a teacher of anything else; and all the cities had official publicly paid teachers of rhetoric; it was very remunerating, and one with great honor, for which Augustine was preparing himself.
We noticed a little bit about his early life in North Africa there; his experiences in Carthage, and eventually his going to Rome; and we mentioned the fact that his moral life was very different from Jerome's; Jerome as a young man was with evil companions who led him into vice which he found tremendously detestable and unattractive; and all his life he was opposing any sort of physical relations between men and women, and yet at the same time was loving women's comfort; he had a great number of women who took vows of chastity and studied the Scriptures and studied Hebrew and other subjects under his direction; they devoted themselves to the spreading of the ideas which Jerome had, the great bulk of which were good Scriptural ideas.
But St. Augustine's situation was entirely different from that. As a young man, he took a woman as his mistress, and for 14 years he seems to have lived with her, with absolute fidelity on both sides, as far as we know. There's no suggestion anywhere of anything different from this. She was what today we call a common-law wife; but they called her a concubine in those days; and that doubtless meant that she came from a different social level altogether than he—probably a woman of no education—probably no real companionship in any way except a physical way. We don't know; he says very little about it; but he regards it as one of the great sins of his youth, his living with this woman for 14 years. And wherever he went to live, he took her with him, during that length of time. Well, then,
B. Augustine's Conversion. And Augustine went through various phases in his thinking; but when he was about 20 years of age, he became attached to a sect, known as the Manicheans. We have already studied about the Manicheans last semester. For any of you who were not here last semester, we will just very briefly say that the Manicheans were a sect of people, the followers of a man named Mani, who had lived in Persia a hundred years before this time, a hundred to 150 years before. Manichaeism is a remarkable carrying forward of the view of the gnostic sects, which were very prominent in the Roman Empire in the 2nd century; that is, this man Mani was doubtless familiar with the teaching of the Gnostics; he was familiar with Persian religion; he was familiar with Christianity, to some extent; and the religion which he inaugurated was a very strong group of people which, although generally condemned by the governments of the lands into which it came, spread through a very substantial part of the world.
In Persia Mani himself was condemned by the emperor; he was flayed alive, killed with great torture by the Persian emperor. In the Roman Empire there was great condemnation of various kinds of the beliefs of the Manicheans. During the Middle Ages there were even crusades against the Manicheans; but the Manichean belief continued for over a thousand years, and there were many people who followed them. The Manicheans had congregations in different parts of North Africa, and they had a church organization quite similar to that of the Catholic Church.
Catholic Church, as I explained last semester, is the term which was used at that time; it has nothing to do with Roman Catholic Church of today; it's a different meaning. The Roman Catholic Church has taken the term today; but what the term meant then, was those churches which held to what they mutually considered to be orthodox teaching, and consequently they worked in communion with one another, throughout the Roman Empire. They called themselves Catholics; the word means all-embracing. It is people who, without laying stress on the minor points of doctrine, on the great doctrines of the Christian faith stand sufficiently together that they regard one another as true Christians—not as heretics—and they stand in a mutual relationship, a fellowship; they called themselves the catholic church. There was no head to the catholic church; every town had its bishop who was the head of it there; and these bishops were supposed to form something of a unit together; and they worked together for the spread of the Christian faith.
We've noticed there were two or three Christian groups which were not in the catholic church, but which were recognized as orthodox, though not in fellowship with the other churches; they were separate groups; but the great bulk of Christians were in the catholic church, Then there were certain heretical groups; and these Manicheans—it's hard to tell sometimes whether to consider them as a group of heretical Christians or as another religion altogether. They had similarities to Christianity—they spoke highly of Christ, highly of Biblical characters—but their origin was Persian, and their teaching was dualistic. They believed in matter as being essentially evil. And what we want to do is get rid of matter; to get ourselves away from everything to do with matter; and consequently they held a very ascetic ideal; but they believed in the principle of good and the principle of evil. Some them even said a man has two souls—a good soul and an evil soul—which were disputing against one another.
Augustine attended the meetings of the Manicheans. From the time he was about 20, he frequently attended these meetings; he considered himself a Manichean, though he never took the step of being enrolled as one of the inner circle of true members; he was simply an attendant. The inner circle was given special understanding and things. They were the real members. He never went that far. But the time came when Augustine began to raise questions, and people said, "Wait till Faustus comes; he is a great learned man; he's going to come and visit one of these days; he will have the answer to all your questions." And when Faustus came, Augustine looked forward with great anticipation to finding all his questions answered; but when Faustus came, he found that Faustus was a clever teacher; a fine representative; a man of very attractive ways; but underneath it all, he was just repeating what he heard, not a clear thinker at all; and not having any answer to most of the questions that Augustine presented. And this was a great disillusionment to Augustine with the Manicheans.
Augustine seems to never have been attracted by the pagan worship. It was all around him, but it was accompanied with all sorts of very wicked sensuous excesses which repelled Augustine from it. He paid comparatively little attention to it in his early days; it just was a great outside wicked force that he was not much interested in, both in North Africa and in Rome. That seems to have been his attitude toward the pagan religion in those days.
But Manicheism did not have the answer for his problems. So he began to look elsewhere; and when he was in Rome, he learned about the Neo-Platonists; and he began to look into their teaching, which pleased him much more than the teachings of the Manicheans. Neo-Platonism might be said to be the opposite extreme of Manicheism. The Manicheans, with their emphasis on matter and evil, and the desire to get away from it, are somewhat similar to Buddhism. But Neo-Platonism believed in great spiritual principles. The principles were all that mattered; matter hardly existed to their minds. And he got some of the principles of Neo-Platonism which impressed him much better. And he moved to quite an extent in their direction.
After he spent a time at Rome, and nothing satisfactory opened up in Rome, he had an offer to go to Milan, in northern Italy. Milan is one of the three or four greatest cities in Italy today. It then was at some periods the place where the emperor lived, and so it was a place of real importance in the Roman Empire; and he was offered a place as a teacher of rhetoric in Milan, paid by the city of Milan. It was a very attractive offer. He went up there, and a number of friends who had been following him around went up there with him—friends from North Africa—who were greatly attached to him. He was a natural leader; and these friends went with him, and his mother came shortly afterward; she came up and visited him in Milan.
She heard Ambrose speak, listened to his sermons and was much impressed. Augustine went to try to talk with him, but found him very busy; and it was difficult to get much opportunity for discussion with Ambrose. Those were very difficult days for Ambrose, with many difficult problems with which he was grappling in the administration. So Augustine was influenced by Ambrose's sermons, but probably not much by any personal contact. The circumstances rendered it impossible for Ambrose to spend much time with him. However, his mother talked to him; and he decided that he would give up his relationship with this woman. She had born him a son, whom he had given the name "gift of God." And his mother thought it would be better if he were married, and she found a nice wife for him. He was then 30; she found a girl of ten who came of good family background, and would make him a fine wife; but unfortunately she was too young to marry; they would have to wait two years till she was old enough to marry.
And Augustine sent away his concubine; he returned to Africa, and was going to wait two years for his wife, but he found he couldn't wait and he took another wife; so he had this second woman living with him now. But he was going through his spiritual struggles and feeling more and more that his whole life had been wrong, and that in Christ would be found the answer to all his problems, as he tells us in his Confessions; he tells about the thoughts he went through and of the influences, and so on, and finally he decided that if he would but belong to Christ, he must belong entirely to Christ; that he must make no concessions to worldliness, or to the attractions of the world, or to that which it seemed he just could not break with. And it seemed to him that to live without a woman—for instance—was absolutely impossible; and therefore he felt that this was one of the things that if he would give everything over to Christ, he must give up altogether. He found the thought of a life as a teacher of rhetoric, with a good income; married life with a nice wife and a nice home and good friends; he found that very attractive to him, and there was nothing wicked in that; but it was not a putting of Christ completely first and giving everything up for Christ.
He felt that if he became a Christian, he must go the whole way, and give up everything except the advancement of the work of Christ. So he was between. He felt he could not become a partial Christian, he must be absolutely one, given over completely; or he just felt he couldn't become one at all; and he was in this state of mind for some weeks and months. And then one day, a friend in the administration of the government was visiting, and he saw a book lying on the table, turned upside down; he picked it up and looked at it and saw that it was a copy of the gospels; and he was quite surprised to see Augustine interested in that, and told him that he himself was a Christian. And then he proceeded to tell him how people he'd known had been greatly impressed by the story of St. Anthony; and people who had given up everything earthly and taken the vow of complete asceticism, followed the example of St. Anthony; and when he left, Augustine said to his friend there, "Here there are these ignorant unlettered people, this man tells me, who were able to follow in everything, give up everything for Christ; how is it that we cannot do it?" And he felt greatly rebuked by it.
There were various steps like this in his life, but he just felt that he just could not make the step. Until one time he became very much agitated; he went out into the garden, and he said that just then he heard a voice, he thought it was some child near; but he didn't know what game a child could be playing where they would say these words. He thought he heard a child's voice saying, "Take, read, take, read." He afterward puzzled what game would a child be playing that he would say these particular words. Anyway, he picked up the Bible and opened it up; and immediately he read the words of St. Paul, to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." And when he read those words, he said it was as if a divine voice had spoken to him. He said, "I'm just going to step out and take the Lord Jesus Christ as my whole complete sufficiency in life, and not look for anything to make it palatable for me to continue; I'm just going to put him first, and nothing else in the way."
So he counted his conversion from that point. Now he describes this very, very vividly in his Confessions. But that was the turning point in his spiritual experience. In Latin, "take, read, take read." Just those two words. Now, it's probable that some child yelled something like that at a distance, and it sounded like that. We don't know anything about it; all we know is that it sounded to him like what he thought he heard; and he did of course the thing that one should do: look to the Scripture for that answer to his problems—not take a divine voice from heaven, or an accidental voice of a child in a game—to lead us to look to the Scripture for the answer to our problems. But it often does. We get wandering off to look in all sorts of places for our answers to the problems in life, when God has put them all in the Scripture; and in this particular case, the Lord in some way providentially worked to lead him to the place where we must find all of the answers, in the Word of God.
So that Augustine counted this the moment of his conversion; but immediately then, as soon as he conveniently could, he resigned his position and went to a place in the country and took his friends there with him; and his mother, who was rejoicing in this, his mother went out there and took care of the provisions of the household, handling the meals; and he had two or three pupils with him there whom he taught in the morning; and then in the afternoons, they all engaged in discussions. And after about a month of this, Augustine felt that the discussions were worth keeping; so he hired a shorthand writer. They called them notaries in those days; but they were very common in the Roman Empire—these shorthand writers who would take down anything quickly in shorthand.
So Augustine got this shorthand writer to come there; and they stayed another three or four months; and during that time, he and his friends would discuss all sorts of questions; and the shorthand writer was there taking everything down that was said. They'd spend some of their time in the garden, some in the house; there was a Roman bath right next to their place; they'd go in there, and you know the Roman baths are great luxurious places—where there'd be the hot room, where there'd be the cooler place, then there were gaming rooms, and so on—so they could easily find a place by themselves; so they would go in and have their Roman baths, somewhat similar to Turkish baths of today; they would have their Roman baths, and then they would retire into the next room together—he and his friends—and the shorthand writer would be there to take down everything they said; even on the way home, he took the words down as they walked home. And then he would write these down in longhand; and Augustine went over them, and revised them, and prepared them for eventually sending to friends.
They say he wrote over a thousand books from now on. Now this—over a thousand—includes big books, some of which would take five days almost continually to read; and others of them are small works that you can read in, say, half an hour. But when you think of over a thousand, of course, it is a tremendous number. He never could have done it without a shorthand writer. But the rest of his life he always had a notary, they called them, right ready to take anything down that occurred to him at any time, or that he said to most anybody. And he was—I quoted you what Souter said—that he was doubtless the greatest man who ever wrote Latin; whether that's an extreme judgment of not, certainly I believe that all people, regardless of their viewpoint, simply as an objective judgment, would certainly say that he is among the dozen greatest people in the ancient world. I don't think anybody would try to question that. He was a great thinker and a man who made a tremendous influence on the world, whether one feels—like some of his admirers did—that everything he did was just about perfect, or whether one feels like some of his detractors do—that just about everything he did was bad—why they all admit that he was tremendously influential and tremendously effective. He was a very active and powerful man, and most critics consider him as a very good man, a man who accomplished a tremendous deal of good. The Reformed movement and Calvin looked to Augustine—next to the Bible—as their great source of understanding of the Gospel.
After these five or six months, they went to Milan. He and some of his friends were publicly received by Ambrose. Augustine had never been baptized, so he was publicly baptized there; and according to the tradition that has grown up, he and Ambrose together sang the Judean Praise to God, which became one of the great hymns of the church of the Middle Ages. Now most writers think that is a later tradition that developed. They say actually—to Ambrose—he was just one of a group that was coming forward at that time, and probably Ambrose had no inkling of his later greatness, and the idea that they composed a hymn to Christ there together is probably a later story.
But at least he then was publicly recognized as having become a Christian by Ambrose. He makes no reference to his second concubine in his Confessions; we can assume that when he became a Christian, he simply sent her away. His son, though, was with him in all these discussions; and he was very much attached to his son, Adeodatus, gift of God. And he decided to return to Africa; so he and some of his friends and his mother started to Africa. They got to Rome and went to the port of Rome; and while they were there at the port of Rome waiting to take a boat to Africa, his mother was taken with a fever, and she died of the fever there; and Santa Monica—as the Spanish call her—St. Monica, his mother, he speaks of in his Confessions as a woman of very great piety, of very great love for the Lord; and he felt that she had great discernment and understanding; but she died rejoicing that her son had become a catholic Christian, and she saw the result of what she had prayed for years.
Now, one writer I read—as I mentioned—suggested that St. Monica became a really active Christian only, say, after Augustine was about 20, because in his confession we don't find much reference to her as having any great influence over him in his younger years; and it may be that she had a great spiritual experience at about that time, we don't know. But from when he was 20 on, she was very active with her prayers and with her efforts for his conversion; and now, he was determined to put Christ first in everything, and devote his life entirely to Christ.
So he went to Africa; and there at his own home in Thagaste, he sold his property inherited from his father; he kept one building, and lived there with his friends—with these men—they received no woman in the place; no woman was allowed to even enter the place, not even a sister of one of them; but these men lived there in this place, and there they discussed the relation of Christianity to all sorts of problems, and continued writing.
Augustine wrote a long treatise on music; and he wrote on various fields of thought. But most of what he wrote was on different problems, and some of the best writing in his life seems to have been done there. They had a period there of several months of quiet study, and working together, and in writing things; some of these were distributed and were used in the Christian world. But this presented a danger for him. He knew how Ambrose had been made Bishop of Milan.
Ambrose was the Roman Governor, and he was there in Milan keeping order when they were having an election for a bishop; and they couldn't agree on anybody and a child yelled out, "Let Ambrose be Bishop." And the people had taken it up, and Ambrose had done everything he could to get away from them; but they insisted and so he was made bishop. Well, Augustine didn't want anything like that, so he was anxious not to go anywhere where he would be in danger of anything like that happening to him. But he was constantly writing to people who were considering devoting their lives to giving up worldly pursuits, separating from anything of the kind, and devoting their lives entirely to Christian contemplation. And he was writing to people constantly urging them to do this sort of thing.
And he got a letter from a man in the town of Hippo, which was one of the smaller towns in North Africa—nothing like Carthage in size or importance—but there wasn't much that was comparable to Carthage. Next to Carthage—much below Carthage—it would be one, perhaps the next most important town, maybe there'd be one or two comparable to it, but that at the very most. Well, this man was in Hippo, and the man wrote to him and said, "I'd like to discuss these matters further; could you make a trip to Hippo?" And Augustine felt that he could not pass up the opportunity to show this man how he could make his life devoted entirely to Christ; and if he could get him to give up all worldly pursuits, it would be a real service to the Lord and worth the trip to Hippo. So he went; and at Hippo they had a bishop anyway, so it wasn't a place where a vacant church might call on him to be bishop, so he felt safe in going there.
So he went to Hippo, and saw the man, and afterward he went to church. It was a catholic church in the town which perhaps had 300 or 400 members—a town of about 40,000 people—and an old Greek bishop who talked Latin with a hideous accent; but he was a very pious man and well-loved by the people. His name was Valerius; and Augustine came there, and he went to the church; and one time when he was in the church, Valerius preached a sermon, in the course of which he told the people how he was getting old, and the labor of the work was very heavy for him, and would they all pray that the Lord would send him an able man to be his presbyter. He had no presbyter; he had a couple of deacons, but no presbyter.
Some books will say presbyter; some will say priest; the same word in the Greek, whichever way you want to translate it. But would they pray for a presbyter or priest? He would like someone to help him in the work. It would really be like an assistant pastor. And he talked about this, and in those days the people were very demonstrative in the church service. They would clap if there was something very well done in the sermon, great clapping. And if there was something they didn't like they'd yell out, "Look at the clock, it's about time you were through." And there was a great deal of informality in the church. And when Valerius talked this way, the people began to yell, "Why don't you get Augustine? Get Augustine for presbyter, Augustine for presbyter."
And there he was in the church; and he tried to persuade them that it should not be; but they said, "Here's the work; you're needed; it's the call of God; you must take it." And Augustine didn't want to do this, but there was nothing he could do, the people were demanding it, so he said to Valerius, "Valerius, I really need to know a lot more about the Scriptures before I can take on a responsibility like this." He said, "Let me go for four months and just study the Scripture, and I'll promise to come back and be your presbyter." So four months later Augustine was back; so that will give us the next head.
C. Augustine as Bishop. Augustine was only presbyter at first, but he wasn't presbyter very long. He was ordained presbyter, but Valerius proceeded to do very irregular things. In the Western Church it was understood that all preaching was done by bishops; the bishop did all the preaching, and the bishop did all the instructing of new Christians; the Presbyter was sort of a handyman around the place. But Valerius wanted a real assistant; and he put Augustine to preaching almost immediately. And when people objected, Valerius said, "That's the way they do in the East."
Valerius is very unimportant in the history of Augustine. He is the man whom Augustine assisted for about two years. Really it was his own importance that brought Augustine into the position. Valerius gave Augustine all sorts of important things to do. Now one thing Augustine did when he came, he said, "Can I put up a place here like I have in Thagaste, where I can live apart from distractions of the world when I'm not actually involved in service?"
So on the church grounds he put up a building, in which Augustine lived and others lived with him; and in this building, they devoted themselves to study and to prayer and contemplation; but then Augustine was helping the bishop in the work that the bishop had to do. And he hadn't been there more than a year or two before the Bishop said, "You should be made Bishop along with me." Coadjutant bishops, as some would call it. That is, assistant bishop, or associate bishop.
Now there was a law at the time forbidding this, but Augustine didn't know about the law. Probably the main reason that the bishop thought Augustine should be made associate bishop with him was that otherwise, if Augustine went for a visit to some other church when that church was vacant, they would call him to be bishop there. And he wanted to keep him for Hippo. Any rate, they made him coadjutant bishop. He persuaded the bishop of Carthage to come and agree to it; and they got the bishop of another place near to come; and ordained Augustine bishop; and then less than a year later, the other man died. So Augustine was made bishop of Hippo. It's only a very brief period of transition.
But Augustine is now bishop of Hippo in North Africa. And there as bishop of Hippo he had a varied course of work to do; when we think of the work a bishop had to do in those days, we wonder how he could do any writing at all. When we think of the thousands of works he wrote, we wonder how he could do any work of a bishop; but he certainly did, because we have a tremendous amount of evidence of the work he did as bishop. For one thing, as bishop there, the bishop now had the right in the empire to try cases. Somebody read from Corinthians, "Why do you go to law before unbelievers, aren't there people among you capable of trying the case? Why don't you settle it among yourselves rather than go before unbelievers?" And so sometime before this, they had secured the right from the emperors that, if the people in a case want to submit it to the bishop, they could do so; and his decision was binding. So the result was that often a large part of every morning went to solving cases; and many people, thinking that the courts were subject to bribery and fraud and so on, would come; even if they were pagans, they might come to the bishop and ask him to settle the case.
So he had a great many cases to handle this way; and that gave him, of course, a lot of work; it took a good bit of his time. Then of course there were people asking for counsel on all sorts of matters; and Augustine was always open to that; he was ready to deal with almost anything people would bring, and that took a tremendous lot of time.
Then he had this building on the property there; he wanted to have open for anyone who wanted to live the contemplative life, and he made no restrictions on anybody coming in. Anybody could come that wanted to. The only thing was, he had to give up all his property and have everything in common; and to abstain from worldly practices. Well, he didn't try to enforce these things; he simply laid them down as rules; and after some time, one of the men who was living with them there, they found he had quite a bit of property which he left in a will. And that made Augustine feel very much upset that his rules had not been followed; they were supposed to divest themselves of all property, coming into it.
So he was too easy going in letting people come in there. Slaves would come and ask to join them; and then he would try to get them freed by their master, who wanted to give themselves to this sort of life. And many—some very earnest people, but some very lazy people—simply found an excuse there. He said later, "I've never known better people in the world than are to be found in monasteries, nor worse ones." He had both types in his own monastery. He was very trusting, and he made many mistakes; but yet from out of it came ten men who became leading bishops in Africa; so it became a training school of great value, not only intellectually, but also spiritually. And of course that would take a fair amount of his time.
Oh, his son, by the way, died just before he became bishop. Augustine mourned very much, because the young man then showed rare promise; he was very spiritual and also of much intellectual ability. But Augustine then was much concerned with the various things in the lives of the people.
It was the custom in North Africa that every year on the memorial of any saint, the people would have a big memorial; and at this memorial, they'd come to the church and bring great amounts of food and wine; they would partake of them, and often they'd get drunk on them; and they'd have all kinds of celebration and yelling and dancing and cheering and what-not; and Augustine felt that was very unworthy of the churches and he set to work to put a stop to it.
And before he'd been there very long, he began a series of sermons against this sort of observance of the saints; they were having them all through the empire at the time; and he began a series of sermons and then when the morning came, and the people gathered for the service, he began preaching. In Milan Ambrose had strictly forbidden, completely forbidden this; he had a job doing it but it was easier up there than down here in Africa, where they were much more widespread, and the people gave way to their feelings.
Augustine preached against it, and the people came; and he was persuading them it was wrong; he spent the whole day preaching to them, trying to deal with spiritual things; and then they began to hear the yelling from a block down the street, where the Donatist Church was, where they were having a celebration of the martyrs' death, and drinking a lot of wine, and so on; and Augustine told them, "See how much more spiritual it is to observe it this way, with singing songs, praying, studying the Scriptures." What the Donatists were doing, his own people would have done the same way the year before. He managed to get the thing pretty well cut down in North Africa, but it took a certain amount of effort through many years to do it.
[student: Was it a church or a pagan celebration?] It was definitely in connection with the church. The way Augustine explained it to others, he said, "In the early days here, with the introduction of Christianity," he said, "in order to make it easier for the common people to make the transition from paganism to Christianity, the old festivals were, some of them, just taken over and saints' names given to them." And he said, "That may have been excusable in the early days. But we've had enough Christian teaching by this time to know that that should not be in the church." And whether that is the true explanation of it, or whether it is something the people had fallen into, after having been earnest Christians originally, and then as time went on, fallen into this, we don't have evidence. But that was the explanation Augustine gave; and upon the basis of that, he urged them to do away with it, and they did do away with it.
And in different parts of North Africa, they used to have great faction fights, in which two groups would have a big battle over some very minor matter. And it used to get to throwing stones and hitting each other with clubs, and often there would be fatalities; and Augustine began to preach against these, and he had a very considerable influence in cutting these down. He took an interest in all these matters of morals needing reform. His people sometimes criticized him very strongly; they said, "He doesn't spend enough time calling on the rich, and getting legacies for the church, and getting big gifts for the church." They said he doesn't devote enough time. Well, he did devote some time to it, but he felt other matters were more important, and he was criticized rather strongly. We know from his defending himself in some of his sermons; because we have many of his sermons which were taken down in shorthand; and some were revised by him in later years, others simply copied as they were.
It would seem that a good bit of the support came from people of some standing making substantial gifts to the church. [student: Were the churches prosperous?] I suppose that varied. But of course Augustine lived very abstemiously; he did not, like Jerome, carry it to the point of physical torture to himself and that sort of thing, carrying abstemiousness to the point of getting along on practically nothing, and so on; but he ate very plain food; and in his group that lived with him, they were restricted, I believe, to one glass of wine a meal. And in order to try to stop the African habit of swearing, anyone who swore would lose his glass of wine for that particular meal. But the expenses were quite small, and there evidently were quite a few gifts given to them. Augustine himself had been a man of some means, but he gave away most of it when he was ordained.
Augustine as Bishop, here; I've been trying to show something of the active career he had, the work in the church and the interest in other churches. He would get letters from people all over asking questions, and he would answer them and he corresponded with them.
When he stopped this feasting there, he heard how in Carthage, at the feast of St. Cyprian—the remembrance of Cyprian's death, 150 years before—people had caroused all night; they were drinking much alcohol, and eating tremendous amounts of food, and dancing and yelling, and all this; and he wrote the Bishop of Carthage, and told him how he had stopped it at his place, and asked him if he couldn't take vigorous steps to try to stop that sort of thing in Carthage also. He was taking an interest in all the churches; but the thing that Augustine is mostly remembered for is the few particular issues which occupied him over long periods of years. And these I'm going to take up under certain heads. First I'm going to mention what is not the first of these, but perhaps well mentioned here.
D. Augustine's Confessions. These were written about the year 400. He wrote this book which is called Augustine's Confessions. And it is a book which is the best known today of Augustine's works; it has been reprinted in many, many editions, translated probably into all languages, most of them. It is a book in which Augustine, writing 13 years after his conversion, addresses God.
It starts in with a direct address to God; it is written as if Augustine is talking to God. And he talks to the Lord, confesses his sins to the Lord, the sins of the early days. Well, the only thing that he confesses in his early days that people today would think of as much of a sin—that is the general mass of people of course—is this matter of his irregular wife for these 14 years. The other things he mentions are mostly what people today would think of as comparatively trivial errors. He mentions his being lazy when he was in school until he got to the age of 10 or 12 when he got interested in intellectual things. He mentions his stealing some pears off a tree when he was a little boy. And he mentions different things like this—things which of course fall short of the standard God has for us—but he certainly lived a life in most regards far superior to that of the average young person.
But looking at it in the light of one who felt that everything he did and thought should be entirely devoted to the Lord, and the Lord should be first in everything, he felt that these were matters which revealed his natural human heart, as one which was far from the things of God; and therefore he should confess to God; and should thank the Lord for having led him out of these; and bringing him to an understanding of his absolute lost condition apart from Christ; and of the fact that it is only the grace of God that could him save him.
So his confessions burned with feeling and emotion; and he pours out his heart to God, thanking God for having delivered him from the errors and weaknesses and sins of a human being who does not love God; and bringing him by His marvelous grace into the knowledge of the Lord. And Augustine was so convinced of the marvelous way the Lord had acted in causing things to come into his life; and bringing things to his attention; and leading him to the knowledge of the Lord; that he felt there was absolutely nothing in him in which to go on, but it was all in the Lord's goodness to him, in working things out in such a way as to bring him into a knowledge of Himself.
That sentence he has in his Confessions, which has been so often quoted since: "Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find themselves in Thee." It is, you might say, the motto of his, that all through this he was dissatisfied; he did not have what was vital; until the Lord by His marvelous grace, turned him from the kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God. And so that is the central theme of his confessions; but they are written in a very interesting style which makes comparatively simple things interesting and vivid, in the fine way in which he presents them. It's well worth anybody's reading, The Confessions of St. Augustine.
The name is not particularly well chosen for today. I've seen books, Great Confessions. They'll have confessions of Rousseau; the confessions of Augustine; and so on—different people—books published in order to arouse those who want to read something that's all colored; if you call it confessions, it will be that way. Well, maybe Rousseau is, and some of the others, but I'm sure those who buy for that purpose find themselves very disappointed in the confessions of Augustine. It certainly is not colored in that way.
But his Confessions is one of his best-known works, and one which has exerted a great influence on the world ever since his time. But after this, I want to go on to
E. The Manichean Controversy. Augustine was in the small church in Hippo as pastor; that is, he was assistant to the bishop for a time, then bishop himself. Bishop simply meant pastor, actually, in those days. There were 600 bishops in Africa at this time. Many of them might have 30 or 40 people in their congregation. Of course in Carthage you'd have hundreds, perhaps thousands; but each town had one bishop, if there was any Christian group there at all.
But Augustine found that in the town there was quite an active Manichean church; and his preaching soon became known, and he was writing against the Manicheans—and he made references to them—and so the people of his church and the Donatist church, which was larger, came to him—there may even have been two or three Donatist churches in town; we don't know for sure, but we know there was one important one just a block from his. They all came to him and said, "Augustine, won't you do something about this Manichaeism?" And he challenged these bishops of the Manichean church to a debate, and they put it off as long as they could. They knew Augustine's ability as a debater. But this is one of the great activities in which he spent a great deal of effort—the refuting of Manichaeism—and he did it very effectively.
It was one of several such endeavors, which are the things which have made Augustine famous and caused him to be such a great influence through the ages. Well, we'll have to look at that tomorrow morning.
(questions) We have a couple of interesting questions here which did not come in today but recently. Here's one: "Considering that one of the causes of the development of monasticism was the desire to escape the worldliness and persecution of the Roman Empire, can we say that the catacombs of Rome were perhaps the beginnings of monasticism?" That is a very thoughtful question. And one which I think it's good to say a word about, and particularly because you ought to know something about the catacombs, and it has not fit in with any of our important questions of church history, so I don't know if I've said anything about it.
The catacombs are not really connected with any of the vital movements in church history. They have not really entered into the development and progress of it, and therefore they have not fit in, in any of our points in the outline. But it is good to know something about them; they are very interesting from several viewpoints.
They were lost during the Middle Ages. It was completely forgotten there ever had been catacombs in Rome. And then it was just about the time of the Reformation that they were rediscovered. And when they discovered these catacombs and began to tell about them, the Protestants—many of them—thought that it was just a put-up job as an argument for Roman Catholicism against Protestantism; and of course the fact was that it was only Roman Catholic scholars who had any access to them; and out of the tremendous amount of material there, they naturally noticed that which seemed to fit in with the claims of the Roman Catholic church and they talked about that part.
And the Protestant scholars naturally felt it was just entirely a mistake; and there have been many fakes in scholarship in archeology and in history. There have been many fakes. But the catacombs are not a fake, and they have been opened up so that scholars of all views have examined them; and they are very interesting. There are over 500 miles of catacombs. Now that's a tremendous thing when you think of it. There are maybe 10 or 12 places in Rome where you can go down into the ground into a catacomb. And then when you get down there, you begin to go along through long passages going one direction and another and there are over 500 miles of these passages. It's tremendous. It's just hard to believe, hard to realize, what a tremendous amount of them there are.
And naturally, it's a theory we have heard from somebody that they were either connected with the beginning of monasticism, that they were people trying to get away from the world; or that they were made for meeting places; or that they were made for escape from persecution. It is not known if any of these three has anything to do with the origin of the catacombs. They may have been used to a slight extent for some of them. In time of persecution, people would look for any place to hide perhaps. Catacombs would make an excellent place, with all those long tunnels and twists and turns; naturally it would be very difficult to catch a person if he got a head-start in them. Although it would be quite simple to wait at the door till he starved and had to come out. So that it wouldn't give him a very permanent safety, down there. There's no source there of food; I question whether there would be many places in them where there would be any source of water. But they were not built to escape persecution.
Now the theory has been advanced that the early Christians used them for meeting places; but the fact is that they are mostly long fairly narrow tunnels with little ditches on the side and little shelves here and there and where you find a little square place that opens up it's usually big enough for about ten people. There are hardly any places in them that would be big enough for a decent-sized meeting. So that it is not felt that they were built at all for meeting places.
We do know that some of the Jews dug burial places underground before the Christians; and the idea seems to have come from them. The Romans mostly cremated. But the Christians and the Jews buried their dead, and followed the Palestinian custom of burying. We think today of burying, of taking a person and putting them down in the earth, but nobody ever buried anybody that way in ancient times. In ancient times they lifted them up and put them on a shelf; and that's the way with hundreds of tombs in Palestine, where you go in a little room, and then you have this shelf, you lift the body up and put it up there on the shelf, and you leave it there upon that shelf; and it's wound up in grave clothes of course; and they have various perfumes and things put there with it; but then you come in again with another, so you have a whole family buried in them. They did not cover them over with dirt as we do today. And in the catacombs in Rome there, cemeteries were not available; the Romans didn't bury much, they burned the bodies; and the Christians and the Jews would just have a little space to dig down a ways and then they would dig out in these tunnels to make room in these places for burial, following the Palestinian custom. And there must have been, in the course of 3 or 4 centuries, a great many buried there; when you think of the 500 miles or more of catacombs down there. But it is quite well agreed they were just for burial. There's no evidence of any thought of monasticism having anything to do with the catacombs.
Monasticism began in the East—began in Egypt, in Syria, and that area. It came from there to the West; and by that time, the catacombs were becoming abandoned; because once the Christians were free from persecution, and were favored by the emperor, it was quite easy to establish their own burial places and they did away with the catacombs. When Jerome was studying in Rome, he mentions that they'd go to them as a sightseeing place; the Christians would go down to the catacombs, and there they would see on the wall pictures and the symbols of early Christian worship; and they found it very devotional, very inspiring to go down there then; but as time went on, they were completely forgotten; and for a thousand years people forgot they had even existed, till they were rediscovered at about the time of the Reformation. So much for that question.
Then, I have a question here, "What were some of the commentaries that Jerome wrote? When you discussed that in class I didn't understand what you said." Well, Jerome wrote a great number of commentaries. He commented on most of Paul's epistles, and on other portions of the N.T. and O.T. He was a careful scholar, who studied various evidences of the precise meaning of the Hebrew and the Greek; and he also was interested in what others had said about the subject. He had his own very definite views on everything, and was a very careful linguistic scholar; and his commentaries do not try always to take the different points and fit them together into a theological system. He was not at all philosophically minded, as Augustine was. But he was a careful, methodical investigator; and then, once he determined something was right, he might become very incensed with anybody who didn't recognize his great knowledge and authority on the point; and there are points at which the Roman Catholics can draw very definite support from the conclusions he drew; but there are still more—as to their chief ones—at which he differs from the interpretation they give.
Neither Jerome nor Augustine said that the rock on which the church was built was Peter. Neither of them said that. Jerome explicitly says in his commentaries that presbyter and bishop, in the early church, were the same office. He explicitly says that in his commentaries. But at any point at which he felt that the general view of the catholic church—by which of course we don't mean the Roman Catholic church, we mean the church of his day—held a specific view, he would not oppose it. He was very careful to keep within the area of what he considered catholic orthodoxy. But on what he considered minor points then—many of which today would be considered major points—he wrote just whatever he thought he found in the text; and his commentaries have been of very great value. They're not so much value to us today, because so many other commentaries have dug out most of the good insights that are in them, and compared them with other things, and so his major insights have been passed on to other commentaries.
And here is an interesting question: "Did all the Christian writers after Tertullian write in Latin?" How many would say they did? Would you raise your hand? How many would say they didn't? Why not? A lot of them didn't know Latin, of course. But the Christian writers in the West, after Tertullian, largely wrote in Latin; that is true. Before Tertullian's time, most of the Christian writers in the West wrote Greek. And in the East, about half of them wrote Greek, or maybe a third; and the rest Syriac. Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, was the language of the early church in the East, and our earliest books are largely in that language. But then as time went on, the Greek language supplanted the Syriac and Aramaic in the East.
In the West, the church in Rome was a church largely of foreigners from the East; and so Greek was the language of that church for the first two and a half centuries, at least, maybe three; even though it was in a community where Latin was the primary language.
Tertullian was not in Italy but in North Africa; and down there the leaders all spoke Latin, the people in the villages spoke Punic. But the leaders and most of the town people spoke Latin, and Tertullian is the first great theological writer in Latin, in his writing. Since him, others followed suit, Cyprian wrote in Latin, of course, entirely; and writers in Rome began to write in Latin, and the Western writers after his time practically all wrote Latin; but in the East they naturally continued to write Greek; they didn't even know Latin.
A man like Jerome, of course, knew both; but he wrote mostly in Latin, though he was in the east a good part of the time. So much for these questions, now we will continue with Augustine.
Augustine is perhaps a greater influence on the church, through its history, than any other man of the ancient church. And we began to look at E, the Manichean Controversy. Augustine, we noticed, had not been in Hippo very long before he began—or he continued—he'd already been writing against the Manicheans; he continued to write against them and to speak against them; and then the Donatist church joined with his church in begging him to get a debate with the bishop of the Manichean church. The Manicheans had a church organization paralleling that of the catholic church, even going beyond it, because they had what they called their twelve apostles who were over the whole church. And of course the Manichean church knew the twelve apostles were dead, but they had a living continuation, like the Mormons do, of the apostles at the head, and then they had their bishops over all their churches, and this very elaborate organization system.
The Manichean bishop's church was considered pretty much the elite of the town. They were the Christians that really knew things; they were the better trained; the more educated; the sophisticated Christians. These were largely in the Manichean churches. They looked on the Donatists, but still more on the catholics, there as just simply country folk who didn't know much; and their simple Christian teaching they had was good enough for them. The Manicheans, in their own view, had the advanced understanding.
Well now the catholic church had as its presbyter—or priest if you want to call him, it's the same word at that time—had a man who was as highly trained as anybody in the town; who had been teacher of rhetoric in Milan; and the Donatists and the catholics felt here is a wonderful opportunity to show the error of the Manichean view. So they called the Manichean bishop to have a debate with Augustine; and the Manichean bishop tried to put it off, he was a bit afraid of Augustine's reputation. But he finally agreed to it, they had a debate and Augustine worsted him at all points.
There were three reasons for this: First, of course, the truth was with Augustine on the points under consideration. But second, Augustine had a much greater knowledge of philosophy and Scripture, and of the points involved, than the Manichean bishop had. And thirdly, Augustine was a far better debater. He was a trained rhetorician, an able dialectician, and excellent in his ability to present things; and compared to his presenting of simple messages to the simple folks of the church, it doubtless was a real challenge to appear before these more sophisticated people and to meet this man who claimed to have the advanced truth on these deeper matters of Christian faith.
And at the end of the debate, the Manichean bishop said that there were many points to which he did not have the answer, but the leaders of the Manicheans did; and he was going off and get the answers. So he left the town, and went off to get more information, and never came back. And everybody felt that the Manicheans had been quite conclusively worsted in the discussion by Augustine. It was the end of Manichaeism as an important force in Hippo.
And Augustine went on to some extent with his writing against the Manicheans, and tremendously cut down their influence in North Africa. It continued as something of a force in the Roman Empire and even in the Middle Ages, by remnants of the Manicheans. There was a belief in it which had a great appeal to the natural man in many ways; and it continued till quite late in the Middle Ages to be a force of some importance. But it was tremendously cut down and just about done away with as far as North Africa was concerned.
By the way, this word Africa is a word which originally meant the Northwestern part of Africa. The Romans had what they called the province of Africa; and they talked of carrying the war to Africa after the Carthaginians had tried to destroy Rome and Hannibal's army had been up there in northern Italy for several years, till the Romans finally defeated it. The Romans, when they spoke of carrying the war to Africa, they meant right to the headquarters from which the terrible danger to them had come. Well, after they utterly destroyed Carthage, they made it a Roman province called Africa.
So the extension of the name of Africa to the entire continent occurred later; but it originally just means that part, that is Africa. Egypt is not in Africa, except when you extend the name to the whole continent; then that would include everything. But Egypt is much further south than what we call North Africa, although it's right on the Mediterranean. And Egypt was a highly different province: highly different background; different kind of people; different history; entirely separate from what the Romans called the province of Africa. So much then for E, the Manichean controversy. Now,
F. The Donatists. When Augustine came to Hippo, he found several nominally Christian churches in the town. One of them, of course, was the Manichean church, which some would say was Christian, others would say it wasn't. There might be dispute whether it is a Christian sect or whether it is another religion. At least there would be those who claim it was another Christian sect. Then there was the catholic church, the one to which he went; it was quite a small church of humble people with a bishop who was a Greek, and didn't speak Latin very decently. It was a small church without any great influence in the community. Then there was at least one large church of the Donatist group, and perhaps two or three. We don't know for sure. But at least one, a block away from the Catholic Church.
Now the Donatists, as we noticed, were a group which had started nearly a century before this time. It was after the great persecution of Diocletian early in the 4th century that the Donatists had separated from the catholics. Now they wouldn't call themselves Donatists; they claim they are the true Christians; and the separation came over a number of matters of difference between them. The principal differences between them were personal. There were individuals after the persecution who felt a great dislike of certain other individuals, and if you're going to unravel all the personal matters that entered into the separation between the Donatists and the catholics, you would need to be there and talk to all the people and get the evidence. These things were discussed by many, many writers during the succeeding centuries; and the tales are very hard to gather, but we have a great deal of material on them. But the principal charge which was made was that the Donatists claimed that the leaders of the catholic church were men who had compromised with the persecutors.
Now of course, it was pretty well established that the man who was bishop of the church in Carthage, the main church in North Africa, during the Diocletian persecution, gave up some other books which were not the Scriptures. They said, "We've come to take the Scriptures; they're to be burned," and he said, "Here take these," and what they took were some apocryphal books; they were not the Scriptures at all. And some said that he had a deal with the officers who came; and of course what they mean by a deal would be hard to prove. Did he bribe them? Or were they men who didn't like this whole business of persecution anyway; and they came to him saying, "Here give us the Scripture, we're going to destroy them." He said, "I can't do that; those are our sacred books, we couldn't give them up."
Well, they said, "You'd better be careful. They'll be killing you if you take a stand like that." Well, he said, "I don't care if they kill me; I can't give up the sacred books to be burned." Well, they said, "See here, now; we like you, and we have great respect for you. We don't want to see you killed this way." But, they said, "We don't have anything to do with it, but these are the orders we've been given; and we've got to go and turn some books in; give us some kind of books that we can take them, and this fellow, this head of the police down there, he won't know the difference, so we'll give him those." I mean, it may have been that sort of thing; it may have come from the desire of the police who came not to carry it out. You'll often find that sort of thing done, in modern times. That's one possibility.
On the other hand, Mensurius may have bribed these people; and on the other hand they may have just not known the difference; and he may have passed them off on them, thinking, "Well they'll see tomorrow they're wrong; they'll come back and demand the right ones, and by that time I can get them hid in a better place than they are now."
And maybe they didn't notice. We just don't know. But at any rate Mensurius here faced one of the great problems of the Diocletian persecution: What are you going to do about these sacred books? They hadn't had many previous persecutions. Decius, in his persecution about 250, tried to destroy the bishops and the heads of the church, people who were the leaders. That was the important idea of persecution in his mind, as a way to get rid of the church; but it was in Diocletian's time that this matter had been introduced to get rid of the sacred books. And of course it was a very clever idea. Christianity is based on the Bible; if you can destroy the Bible, you can make great headway in destroying Christianity.
So among the Christians at that time, this word traditor had come to be a terrible word; to call a man, "He's a traditor," that is, he's a man who turned over the sacred books. Well, now, the proof on a thing like this is very difficult to get to; because in the days of persecution the people are fleeing; people are hiding; others are being dragged out and being killed or sent into exile; nobody is there taking down shorthand notes of exactly what they say and exactly what happened; and many of the people who are on the scene are killed or tortured or thrown into exile in distant places, perhaps never to get back, and to prove anything is difficult.
But after it was over, the attitude of the catholics—those who later came to be spoken of as the catholics—was this: a man has passed through this terrible struggle, and he comes out and gives evidence of wishing really to serve the Lord. If He has made past mistakes, he perhaps should not be put in a position of importance in the church; but if he has truly brought his mistakes and weaknesses under the blood of Christ, we should not simply hold it against him in our Christian fellowship.
Whereas the attitude of the group that became the Donatists was: if a man has surrendered the sacred books; has done anything to save his life, which involved compromising his faith; that is a man whom we must judge very, very strictly and very severely; and I heard of a church in the orient, recently, which went through a considerable persecution within the last 20 years; and after it was all over, there was a group in that church that felt that any church which had been profaned with idolatry must be burned. And this group went around trying to burn down the churches that had been profaned by idolatry during the time of persecution. And it made naturally quite a disagreement, quite a stir, in that group. In fact, I knew of a missionary—I heard him speak once, seemed to be a very, very fine missionary when I heard him speak. Later on, I heard that he had joined that group in that country and broken his relationship with the Mission Board that had sent him out.
Well, here they came together to select their new bishop after Mensurius' death at Carthage; and Mensurius' archdeacon Caecelian was the one that the bulk of the people seemed to favor, and that the bulk of the leaders of the church in Carthage seemed to favor; and as Caecelian was one who had been very much disturbed at the fact that some criminals, arrested for trial, tried to make out they were arrested for Christian claims; and tried to cover up their crime with the claim they were martyrs; and others had been giving them veneration as martyrs when they really had been criminals; and he had been trying to get the people not to go to the extreme, and practically worship anybody who was in prison because of the persecution; so they made up stories about how Caecelian, they said, stood outside the prison walls, with a big whip in his hand; and when some of the Christians would come with food for the people in prison, he would take this whip and drive them away; and thus some of the martyrs had starved in prison, because the other Christians couldn't bring them food because Caecelian drove them away.
Well, of course, that sounds very unlikely; particularly since he was the archdeacon of the church, it would seem that he would probably have been arrested when they were trying to get all the leaders if he did anything as conspicuous as that. We don't know the facts, but we do know that there was very sharp feeling after the persecution, and the groups separated; they said that Caecelian was ordained as bishop by Felix of Aptunga, and that Felix was a traditor. Well, now you see, they're carrying the point one step further. They're not saying now that if a man's been a traditor, he is forever ruled out from leadership in the church; they're saying if a man is a traditor and he consecrates somebody, that man has not been consecrated; and you see what that introduces into the church.
Suppose a man has been baptized and then you find the man who has baptized him really was a hypocrite; does that mean he has not really been baptized at all? Suppose a man has been ordained a pastor; he's been the pastor of a church for 20 years; and then they find that the man that ordained him was a hypocrite; does that mean he hasn't been ordained at all? Well, the view of the Christian Church through the ages has been that if people used Scriptural words in baptizing or in ordaining people, setting them apart for the Lord's service, and if the person himself sincerely desires thus to be baptized or to be ordained, that something about the character of the person who did it, will not later be a valid reason for upsetting it. But the Donatists were very, very strict on this point. And they maintained that anybody who has been ordained by a traditor was not ordained at all.
Then the Donatists, after they began to establish a separate group, they took the position that if somebody from the catholic church comes to them, they must be re-baptized; and so when anybody would leave the catholic church and come to the Donatists, they would re-baptize them, though doctrinally the two held exactly the same views; their ceremonies in the church were identical; their doctrine was identical; there was no difference between them, except on these points, and on their claims historically about the beginning of the church.
Well, the Donatists—you remember—appealed to the emperor; they made a personal appeal to the emperor. They said this man Felix, this traditor, ordained the bishop; he's not properly ordained, they said; the emperor should step in and give them the control of the church; they claimed they were the true Christians. Well, the emperor sent a commission. The emperor said, "Here's the Bishop of Rome," he said, "and the Italian bishops they've had much experience in church affairs, let them examine the facts." There's no evidence that anybody felt that the bishop of Rome had, per se, the authority, but he was simply a leader of the church in the biggest city, and the general area; let him make the investigation, with a commission; so they did. He said, "The Donatists were wrong." The emperor then sent a commission of investigators over to Africa; they said, "Felix was not a traditor. The Donatist claim was wrong; that the Donatists should give up their claim; let these ones who were the bishops, who had been established as bishops, continue and go along with them."
Well, the Donatists then said, "What has the church to do with the emperor? What right has the emperor to dictate to us church affairs?" Which is a very reasonable position to take, but it seems that this is a rather unreasonable thing to do after you, yourself, are the ones who've appealed to the emperor!
Well, of course in these things, we are at this disadvantage: that we have practically no information that comes to us from the Donatists. We cannot investigate any of them; we can't visit them; we cannot question; and the books that have been preserved have been preserved through the catholics, so that we know that most of these were writing against them. But most writers—regardless of the viewpoint of the writer—most writers are firmly convinced that in the point under the discussion, the Donatists were wrong. But, of course, as I say, our information is very scanty and it mostly comes from their enemies.
By Augustine's time, the Donatists had grown greatly. There were probably more Donatists in Africa than there were catholics. And they had churches all over Africa; some places they had two or three churches to the catholics' one; probably there were other cities in which the catholics were much stronger. But in Africa probably the largest church was the Donatist. The two churches claimed to hold tie same doctrine, carried out the same ceremonies. The only difference between them was the claim of the Donatists that the catholics were wicked because they had been ordained by traditors; and the claims of the catholics that they were the ones who had the relation with other churches across the sea and that it was schismatic to break from them.
That was the situation, but the feeling was intense. When Augustine came to Hippo, he found the poor people in the town there were at a great disadvantage in his church, because they all had to bake their own bread and cakes. The baker in Hippo was a Donatist. He would not sell to catholics; he would not allow them to buy bread or cakes in his store. And so they could not buy bread or cakes; they had to make their own; and that was not as much a disadvantage then as it would be today, when most all of such things are bought; but since the great bulk of people were buying, they felt it a tremendous disadvantage to them. Some of them weren't particularly good at baking anyway. And there was persecution; there was feeling like this between the different groups. Occasionally, they say, the Donatists would catch one of the catholic presbyters or bishops and beat him up; sometimes they'd squirt lemon juice in his eyes and he'd be blind for a couple of days.
And they'd claim, at different periods, that there were Donatist groups, whom they called the Circumcelliones, who traveled around in groups, and they followed the Scripture very literally. Jesus said to Peter, "put up thy sword," so they never used swords; but they carried big clubs, and sometimes they beat people to death with the big clubs. Now of course that's the story we hear from the catholic writers, and we have nothing from any other writers. But it is repeated in all the books on the subject; and evidence would seem to be pretty strong that there's at least a considerable measure of truth in it. Of course, the fact is that the Africans are rather hot-blooded people anyway—the North Africans—and there was a good deal of violence there anyway; and if you got two religious groups feeling as these two did toward each other, there were outbreaks of violence every now and then.
Well, Augustine, very soon after his debate with the Manichean bishop, sent a word over to the Donatist bishop and said, "I would like to have a debate with you, about the matters at issue between the Donatists and the Catholics." And I don't know whether he used the names; maybe he just said between your church and ours. You know, Donatus was not the founder of the movement; he was the second bishop but a very able man. Whether they simply used his name for them, or not, I don't know. Martin Luther would have been horrified at anybody's using his name for the church, it was simply the Christian church; but of course after his death they came to use his name. And maybe it was so with the Donatists, I don't know.
But at any rate, Augustine sent to him and the bishop said, "No, I'm too busy with pastoral work, I have no time for debating people; that just stirs people up unnecessarily." Augustine kept after him, and when he would not debate with him, Augustine wrote a little poem, in doggerel. It took the points at issue between them, starting the first line with a, the next with b, and the next with c, so it would be easy to remember; it went from a up to e, naming all the points of difference, and showing how the Donatists were wrong; and he taught it to all the children in his group, till they could repeat it on all the street corners and everywhere through the town; and thus he spread through the town his attack on their views. He wrote books and articles on it; and for the next 15 years—over 15 years—a substantial part of Augustine's activity was devoted to trying to prove the Donatists were wrong, and that there should not be two Christian churches in North Africa but one.
Every year they had a big synod meeting in Carthage; of course Augustine was not the leader of the synod; that would be the bishop of Carthage, head of the church in the main city of North Africa; but Augustine was always present and very, very active; and he came soon to be concerned about the Donatist influence there; and he was constantly pushing this matter, that the Donatists should either be proven right, and we should go over to them; or they should be proven wrong, and they should come over to us. But he said, "It is a scandal before the world to have two churches in North Africa, holding the same doctrine, claiming the same Lord, but having such a relation of hostility, one toward the other." And so for 15 years Augustine gave a great amount of effort to this struggle against the Donatists; and under his leading, the synod made offers to the Donatists; they said, "Unite with us, and in every town we will recognize your bishop and you will recognize ours and they will be two bishops working together in the town, in one church." And then they said, "Whichever one survives, the one who lives longest will be the bishop of that town until his death, and then whoever is chosen then could succeed him."
They made fairly reasonable offers this way too, to unite with them and form one church. The Donatists refused very strongly to do this, insisted on their separation from them. Augustine said that they began kidnapping or attacking various bishops, catholic bishops, beating them up. One of Augustine's good friends, who was bishop of another town, was pursued by a group of Circumcelliones; he came into a deserted house and got down in the cellar, they set fire to the house, and the burning got so bad that he couldn't stand it, he rushed out of the house and then they grabbed him and beat him up pretty badly.
They had this sort of violence; and finally Augustine said, "This matter should be settled peacefully; there should be no force brought." He was always trying to win people by peaceful arguments. But he said, "The thing has reached the point where these people are utterly unreasonable, and there's no sense of having two churches like this. If they're servants of Christ, there should be one church." And he said, "Instead of discussing it reasonably they're attacking us and having all these upheavals and riots. There should be order in the empire, and the government should force them to quit this sort of thing and to unite together in one church."
And so the appeal was made to the emperor; and in 411 the emperor had his representative for the governor of North Africa call a meeting at which the Donatists and the Catholics were to appear and discuss the points at issue before him; and he would decide which of them was right. So they met for four days. At the first meeting the Donatists had 279 bishops present and the catholics had 260; so when they first came together the Donatists had more; but then 20 more catholic bishops came, so they had six more than the others; and there was much discussion over which had the majority. Actually the majority didn't make any difference in it, because the governor was going to make the decision in any event.
And the governor was a close friend of Augustine, so the Donatists weren't at all sure they would get a fair deal in it anyway. So in 411 they held this great meeting in Carthage; and at this meeting they argued all the matters, going back to the beginning of the split between them, and whether this man had been a traditor or not; all the details of their present attitude; and the offer that was made to them, "You unite with us, we'll have two bishops in each place, you're welcome to have cooperating bishops and then whenever one of them dies, the other continues," and that was the offer made. But the Donatists said, "No we can't unite with people who were ordained by traditors," and the argument went on for several days; and then Martilenus, the Roman Governor, said he would make his decision the next day; and the next day he announced his decision that the Donatists were wrong; that they must unite with the catholics; that if they would give in their agreement, there could be the cooperating bishops according to the offer given; and if they did not, they were to give up their churches' they were not to be allowed to have their property; they were not to be allowed to hold meetings; that the catholic church was to be the one continued church; and so Martilenus gave his decision.
Many of the Donatists accepted; many others refused to accept. A very sad story, about ten years later: how Augustine came to a certain town where he was to preach in the church—a big church—and as he was going down the street he saw a former Donatist bishop, who now for nearly ten years had not been bishop anymore; they'd taken the building away from him; Augustine greeted him in friendly fashion, asked him to accompany him to the church; they got into the church there, and then Augustine asked him to stand up and discuss the matter; he said, "Will you join with us?" the man said, "No, no he wouldn't." Well, he said, "Let's discuss the points at issue." The man refused to say anything. He sat there in the church and people said, some asked this Donatist bishop if he had agreed to come in and join them; and no, no he hadn't; and they asked him if he would discuss the matter and he wouldn't say a thing; and he just kept quiet and just stayed there; and he evidently had just given up and was discouraged in his heart; but he still felt he was right.
This was the sad situation of this particular Donatist in that town. But the Donatist controversy ended after 15 years of effort and struggle on Augustine's part; he went into all the details of it, at great length; and he wrote numerous books entering into all the details of the history, from the time at which there was a difference, and so on; it ended with the complete defeat of the Donatists in North Africa. So that the catholic church, which had been maybe a third or a little more of the Christians when Augustine went there, was now maybe four-fifths; and there were still groups of Donatists who may have been meeting secretly; there were still groups of them off in the hills, keeping away from the officers of the law; and a century and a half later, there was another revival of Donatism for a brief period.
Well, as you can see, this activity of Augustine had tremendous effect upon the development of the church. Augustine was always for peaceful discussion; determine what is right and stand on it; but when the thing got so heated in the end, Augustine agreed to the calling in of the secular authorities and using the power of the empire. After that, Augustine was always for being very mild on these matters; he was against those who were going to use really harsh measures against the Donatists; but nevertheless what he had done gave an impetus to the development of the idea of the forceful control of the church of the Middle Ages.
And of course Augustine's struggle against having two churches—both Christian churches, both holding the same views but separate from each other—gave the stimulus to the idea of one church; and Augustine never—the idea probably never entered his head that the bishop of Rome was in any sense the head of the church; but when in the Middle Ages, that idea came to be advanced and stressed, what Augustine had done toward having one church and its being so wrong to have a schism like this—having two churches holding the same views—contributed toward the support of the idea and thus advanced the development of the Roman Catholic system.
We were discussing the life of St. Augustine and we dealt with F, The Donatist Controversy. We noted that in this controversy there was no matter of doctrine involved; there was very little of church order involved. The only question of difference, that might be on the edge of a doctrinal matter between the two groups, was as to the fact that that people who left the catholic church and went to the Donatist church were re-baptized by the Donatists, which the catholics considered to be a denial of the value of the original baptism; and they were very much offended at this matter of re-baptizing these people. But that was part of the main issue: that here were two churches holding the same doctrine, presenting the same ideas about Christ. There was no doctrinal difference on any vital point between them; there was not even a minor point of doctrine on which they differed; but that there were two groups over all of North Africa and that these two groups were bitterly opposed to one another.
Now I feel personally that Augustine was entirely right, that it is a terrible affront to the honor of Christ that two truly Christian groups should have bitter hostility toward one another. But I do not think, as he did, that it is necessary that two groups be organically related; I do not see why two groups cannot serve the Lord as separate groups; I mean groups which do not have doctrinal denial of any point of the Scripture; why they cannot be separate in organization and yet have Christian fellowship with one another and work together harmoniously to serve the Lord, even though not necessarily being united in organization.
Now of course they did not have a tight organization in the church anywhere at that time; but in these towns, they had the one church, and their understanding was that there should be one church in a town; one bishop in a town; and that idea was held throughout the catholic church; and Augustine was in line with that idea; only he didn't sit back and say, "Isn't it a shame we have such a division in the African church?" He did something about it, and he devoted a great part of his time for 15 years to bringing an end to this condition; and he succeeded this objective; he brought an end to this condition; but there were a few Donatists, who were secretly continuing, or who were perhaps off in the hills somewhere; but the mass of the people were attending the same churches under the same bishops, and many of the former Donatists were attending the same churches under the same bishops throughout North Africa, by 414 at the latest.
So his objective in this regard was accomplished. It is an instance of an individual having an ideal which is tremendously important; working very hard to accomplish it; and accomplishing what he set out to do. It would be enough alone, to make a man a figure of great importance in church history, to have had as much accomplishment as that. There are comparatively few men in church history who have it, but this is only one phase of the many-sided accomplishments of St. Augustine. And so we go on to another phase of his activity which we will call
G. The City of God. Now that may be thought to be a title like the modern title of a book, which tells you nothing about what is in it; because the name "The City of God," if a person knows nothing about it, will not tell you what we're now going to discuss at all.
But it is a good title to give for this section because it is the name of what many people call Augustine's most famous work. Others might think that it was not his most famous work, but all are agreed that his two most famous writings are his Confessions and The City of God. Out of the thousands of works which he wrote, these are the two which are best known, and which have had the greatest influence on the world; and it's possible that this one had a greater influence than his Confessions; that is hard to say.
The Confessions have been reprinted more frequently and translated into more languages; but this has been very widely translated, very widely read and has had a very great influence through the history of the Christian church. And so, under G, The City of God, I'm going to make
1. The Political Situation. Now we have not yet taken up the 5th century and it would seem logical under the 5th century to discuss the political development; but the trouble is, if you discuss all the political developments of this period of very great change, we would spend a month going into it, and we cannot do that; I'm going to have to try to get an idea to you of the main ones, but at the same time doing my best to keep back from mention any of the thousands of very interesting details which will simply arouse all kinds of further questions in your mind, simply for lack of time. It is important that we have the main thrust of the political situation.
Now as I say, these must naturally come under our next main Roman numeral head, when we take up the next century. But at this point they are very vital, because they are important in the background of this particular book of Augustine; and therefore I think it would be wise to take them up to some extent at this point, to have you get an idea of the main situation which produced this tremendously influential work of Augustine. So under the political situation, I'm going to make
a. The Barbarian Invasion. Here I want to add a few important things to what we have already said; but first I want to be sure that you have a clear idea of what we've already touched upon several times.
The Roman Empire did not stand for centuries absolutely Roman in its content—in its racial and linguistic content—and all of a sudden have a tremendous attack of outsiders that overwhelmed them. That was not the situation at all. The Roman Empire was facing the people from outside of it all through its history.
As early as 390 BC there was a group of Gauls—these were a people speaking a Celtic tongue—coming from the area that we now call France, who had made their way across the Alps, down into Italy and had conquered and pillaged the little town of Rome, killing most of the leaders of Rome in 390 BC. Well of course that was a time before Rome was very great or very strong. But that left a great impression on people's minds, because it was the last time such a thing happened to Rome for 800 years. It was 800 years later before any foreign enemy managed to enter into Rome; and if you're quick in mathematics you've immediately said to yourself, "Well, that brings us right into Augustine's life somewhere."
But this shows us the power of outsiders—outside the empire—that as early as 390 BC a group of soldiers would make their way all the way down to Italy, to Rome, and actually would take the city and plunder it. According to stories they tell, when the Gauls came in there, into Rome, the Senate, the Roman Senators, the elderly statesmen who decided the affairs of Rome, sat in great dignity in the Senate house; all the defenses were destroyed, they sat there in great dignity and said nothing. And the barbarians came in and were appalled to see the great dignity of these men sitting there and saying nothing and making no move; and they almost hesitated about doing anything; and finally when they began to feel around and wonder if they really were living or not, one of them stuck the edge of his sword into a man's side, and the man yelled. And when he did that, they decided they were really living, and then they set on them with their swords and spears and killed them, and proceeded with their pillage. But the Senators, unable to defend themselves then, those of them who had died with great dignity, showed their feeling about the greatness of the continuance of Rome against something like this barbarian invasion.
Well, Rome was always expanding after that, and always had outsiders on the frontier. In the time of Julius Caesar—before the time of Christ—two Germanic tribes, the Cimbri and the Teutones, made their way down across Europe, across the Alps, and got to northern Italy; and there these great groups of Germanic people, trying to conquer Italy were met by the Roman legions and were destroyed. And it was a great battle there in which they were completely annihilated; but it was already inside of Italy, which shows the force of these external groups, which were growing and expanding and pressing on the edge of the Empire.
One reason why the Roman Empire continued so long was the wisdom of its statesmen, at a very early time, in treating outside groups not as enemies per se, but as gradually bringing in forces into the Empire; allowing them to come in; become Romans, eventually Roman citizens; and giving them Roman privileges within the Empire; and having them gradually take over the features of Roman civilization. So even by the time of Christ, a great many of the soldiers in the Roman army may have been actually German people of Teutonic extraction; with a Germanic background, who had been brought into the Empire gradually; and one reason the Roman Empire lasted so long, was that when the Romans conquered areas, they usually extended Roman citizenship to them over time, so that they became part of their actual empire; this instead of, as in the case of the British Empire, always treating them as outsiders and inferiors to themselves; in a way that no matter how much good the British have done—and they've done a great deal nearly everywhere they've gone—they left most of the people feeling that the British looked down on them; and there's been an emotional feeling which has rebounded very often in a strong reaction against the British, and a complete forgetting of the many good things the British have done for the people most everywhere they've gone.
Well, the Romans treated people in such a way that they allowed them to become Romans; and this process conceivably might have gone on for another thousand years; but the Roman Empire within itself became weakened by bad economic measures, and by the whole moral situation; and it got to the point where they were unable to keep on the slow bringing in, and the groups came in too rapidly. Then the whole borders were wrecked; and great crowds of unassimilated outsiders came in, and spread all over the Empire; and the ancient world ended and the Dark Ages began. Not that there was anything wrong with these people who came, but that so many came at once to be assimilated.
Well, this thing which was pressing against them all through their history—you remember Decius in 250, the great persecutor of the Christian Church then, was killed in a battle with the Goths—one of the Germanic groups that was forcing its way into the Empire. He was killed in attacking them, but the Romans held them back; it was 130 years later, practically, when Valens was killed in a battle with the Goths, in the battle of Adrianople, 378. Well, these groups outside were probably pressed on by other groups behind them; stronger and more ferocious groups, pressing upon them; taking away from them their land, and in turn pushing them toward the Roman Empire. At any rate, just about 400, right in that area, the pressure became so great that the Western forces of the Roman Empire proved unable to resist them. And early in the fifth century, they began to flood over the Empire. Of the Barbarian groups that came in, the first ones that came were already nominally Christians.
And when I say nominally Christian I don't mean that they simply for political reasons had taken the name of Christians; I don't mean that at all. Doubtless many of them were sincere and earnest Christians. The first two groups that become prominent in the barbarian invasion of the Roman Empire are a group named the Goths and a group named the Vandals, and both of these names, we should remember.
The Goths, they are the group that killed Decius in 250 AD. And they are the group that overcame Valens in 378. But they are a group to which a missionary Ulfilas had gone, as we mentioned, early in the 4th century. Ulfilas, in the reign of Constantine, had gone out into the Germanic forest, to the Gothic people, and had learned their language; he had made an alphabet for the writing of the Gothic words—invented an alphabet to suit their language—and he translated all the Bible into their language, except for the books of Kings. He said they were already so warlike he thought they were better off without the account of the wars of Kings; so he omitted that, but he translated all the rest of the Bible into their language. And he converted the nation to Christianity, so that the Goths considered themselves a Christian nation.
And there was—as we've already noticed, when we spoke about Ulfilas—there was one unfortunate thing about him; that was that he was an Arian. Now you know that Arianism itself, and the leading Arians, were men to whom the primary objective in life was to prove that Jesus was not eternal, but that he had been created even though he had then created the world. He had become God, but was not originally God. He is less than God, according to the Arian view. And the Arian leaders had as their great purpose in life to convince people of this heretical view.
But among the Arians, there were people like Ulfilas who took the Arian view and accepted it and believed it; and when they taught that aspect, that is what they taught; but whose primary emotional interest was not in the Arian area, but was in most features in which Arianism and Trinitarian Christianity agree. Ulfilas was interested in bringing the Bible to these people; he was interested in leading them to know Christ as Savior. He was interested in showing them how they could become saved, and how they could become true followers of Christ; that was his central interest. And it is too bad that he did not have a sound theological training, in order that he would not have given them erroneous ideas on these vital theological points; but yet we must say he accomplished a tremendous lot of good. The history of the world is far different than it would have been if Ulfilas had not done what he did. He accomplished a tremendous lot of good, but there were unfortunate by-products of his work which we will look at later—very unfortunate by-products—which I'm sure poor Ulfilas never foresaw. So Ulfilas is a great Christian worker, a great Christian missionary; he deserves great praise.
And it was a wonderful thing for the Roman Empire that the Goths were already Christians when they came in, a tremendously wonderful thing. Now among the Goths, there were doubtless many to whom Christianity was just a veneer; there were cruel people, there were brutal people, there were people with all kinds of wickedness; but you'll find them in every group and place. But there were also, among them, many true Christians; no question of it, and we will see wonderful evidences of it as we go on. So the Goths, then, had already been Christianized before they came in the Empire.
There's another group we want to speak of which is called the Vandals. The Vandals were another Germanic group which came into the Empire and settled in the northern part of the Empire; they settled in central Romania, or a little bit west of Romania; and the Vandals—I'm not sure whether they were converted before they came into the Empire or afterwards—but they, at any rate, were brought to the same belief that the Goths had, the Arian viewpoint. And the Vandals were perhaps not as wholly penetrated by the teaching of Christianity as the Goths were; or it may be that later on in their history, those who gained the supremacy were less affected by Christianity; which of these is the case would be very difficult to prove, because we cannot interview the people and ask a lot of these questions that nobody thought to ask at the time and write down the answers. But these two groups are extremely important, in the Christian history of this period.
[student: Were their own homes also invaded?] I didn't mention why they came down; I mean, I'm not giving any events before this time, but I mentioned there was pressure from other groups which was moving these Goths; and that's a good thing to have in mind. And later we'll speak of these other groups behind them. It's a good point, and if I hadn't given it, I appreciate your calling it to my attention. I hope you've all got it now. But the Goths and the Vandals are the two groups I want you to have in mind now.
Now the Goths assume an importance not directly to Augustine, but indirectly. About 400, these people began moving into the Empire; they began before 400, but the movements become intensified. Theodosius had met them, had stopped them. He was an able general, a powerful leader, and he had stopped them; he held them back, and then allowed them to come in gradually. If Theodosius had continued—had lived another 30 years—and if he had been succeeded by people of equal ability, the barbarian conquest might have been postponed 50 years; but Theodosius, when he died in 395, was succeeded by the young boy Arcadius who was, if I recall correctly, about 16 years of age. He became the Emperor of the Eastern Empire, where the barbarians were not in that area. The Western Empire came into the hands of his younger brother, Honorius, who was only 8 years old; and what could a boy of 8 do to hold back the invasion of the Barbarians?
Well, during the first years of the reign of Honorius, naturally, he was only a figurehead; and the reins were in the hands of other people. And here's an interesting thing. There was a man named Stilicho. He's important politically—not tremendously important religiously—but Stilicho administered the Western Empire for many years. Honorius was emperor, but Stilicho was a man who'd been a general in the army and then had become leader of the administration; and he practically ran everything in the Western Empire for many years.
And an interesting thing is, Stilicho came from this Germanic group called Vandals. Now that is something that I think is interesting, and it is worth knowing for this reason: the Vandals got a very bad name, later on. And we have a modern word, "vandal," that is derived from what the Vandal tribe did later; but the first Vandal that is important in history—that is, of great importance in history—is this man Stilicho; he was an able administrator, the director actually of the Western part of the Empire, and probably as fine a man as ever administered in the Roman Empire. He was a very, very fine man and he came from the tribe of the Vandals. Some have tried to deny that lately, and say he was a Goth, but most people will say he was a Vandal.
Well, this Stilicho, then was administering the Western Empire; and he was holding back the forces of the Goths and others that were coming in, impinging upon it; and when he couldn't keep them out of the borders of the Empire, he was at least keeping them out of Italy; and he was incorporating some of them gradually into the Empire; and he was doing in general a pretty good piece of work. But in 408, his enemies succeeded in persuading Honorius that Stilicho wanted to make himself Emperor. They succeeded in persuading Honorius of that; and Stilicho was put in prison, charged with treason and then killed. And with the death of Stilicho, they lost the strong able administrator that had been protecting Italy. And a group of Goths under a king—whose name in Church History is somewhat more important than the name of Stilicho—the name was Alaric, a group of Western Goths under Alaric, came into Italy; there was no one with the ability of Stilicho to hold them back; they came into Italy while he was in prison before he was killed; they made their way down to Italy, to southern Italy, and Alaric was even able to put his brother-in-law in as nominal ruler in Rome.
And they say that somebody said to young Honorius—who was now in his early 20's—"Well, it looks as if Rome isn't going to last much longer." And the story is that Honorius had a pet hen which he called Rome. And he said, "Oh, is she sick? Is there something wrong with her?" And when he was told it was the city and not the hen, he felt much better. He, of course, was not in Rome; he was further north where the capital was a good part of the time. That story may not be true at all, but at any rate it doubtless truly reflects the fact that Honorius had no capability for the position of Emperor; and with the Empire in the hands of a man like that, it meant that the favorite would rule. It was grand as long as man like Stilicho ruled, but when he got inferior men in, naturally the Empire was in a bad situation.
b. The Sack of Rome. Alaric came down into southern Italy, and he got a brother-in-law put in as nominal ruler of Rome; and this man reigned in Rome, and he threw out to quite an extent the authority of Honorius. The time came when Alaric, after Stilicho was killed, that Alaric decided that he would actually plunder the city of Rome; and he led his troops into Rome with very little difficulty in coming in. Of course, that was the weakness of the Roman Empire; that the people of Rome had largely been fed at state expense; those of real ability would get high positions; the rank and file, strong able-bodied men, had good support given at state expense; they had for three centuries, just so they voted right; and they were able to go and watch the games and so on. Now this wasn't true in many cities of the Empire, but it happens to have been true in Rome. They had plenty of Germans and others to fight their wars for them, but the rank and file of the people were not trained to defend themselves; and now Alaric, when he came right into Rome, it was the first time in 800 years that Rome had been entered by a non-Roman army.
[student: "Did I understand you rightly, that Alaric's brother-in-law ruled in Rome, and Alaric decided to invade Rome?"] Well, Alaric's brother-in-law was out of the way now. The people of Rome were not cooperating the way he wanted them to; so with his army, he simply plundered the city. Maybe he was running out of money to pay his soldiers properly too; and Rome gave plenty to plunder, because for 800 years Rome had been the city to which the plunder was brought, from all the cities of the world that Rome was conquering; and in Rome there were many wealthy families, which would have millions of dollars' worth of property. Some of them would have estates in Spain, in France, in Italy, in North Africa. And there were many, many families of tremendous wealth in Rome; and of course through the years they'd been building monuments and putting up expensive homes; they'd been decorating in all sorts of elaborate ways; and the wealth of the city of Rome was simply almost beyond our imagination.
And in 408, when the Romans began to fear that actually the city might come to be plundered they—some of the Romans—began to flee, and a good many of them fled over to Africa. Well, the thing that shocked the Roman world was that the city of Rome was actually entered by a barbarian army and plundered; and for three days Alaric's army plundered the city, taking anything they felt like taking. I don't know whether it was like Berlin was at the end of the war. People told me that the Russian soldiers would come in and see the radio over here and say, "That would be nice in my home in Moscow." They'd tear the thing down and take it out and put it in a truck; then they would take out the bathroom fixtures and different things; tear them out, get them out to the truck; maybe they'd get them, carry them away; the truck would get too full, they'd throw them out and get themselves some other stuff. And things were just left in a wreck; but it didn't do much good to the people who took it—many of them; of course later on, the Russians did their plundering much more scientifically. But the first plundering was pretty much that way; they left things just in a wreck, but didn't actually get much for those who plundered.
Well, Alaric's troops were probably somewhat more intelligent in what they took, but they did a tremendous lot of damage; and for the people who had never seen a thing like that in their city, it was a terrible thing. There was a lot of injury to individuals; the soldiers didn't just intentionally kill people, but if people got in their way or interfered or tried to save their property, why they did away with them. So there was a fair amount of loss of life, a lot of physical injuries, but there was a tremendous lot of plunder of goods.
But there are certain things about this invasion which have rarely been equaled in history. One is this; after three days, Alaric said, "The plundering is at an end; come out," and the soldiers came out. And Rome has been plundered several times since—including armies that we called Christians—and never has any commander-in-chief had the power to make his soldiers stop after three days. They continued at least a couple of weeks. I talked with a man in a bookstore in 1947 in Berlin. He said a Russian colonel came in here the other day; he looked around, picked a book on Babylonia, another book on Egyptians. He said he knew books; you could see he was a highly trained man. But he said, he just picked these things and walked off with them. And he said we've been having that for three years now. He said we know we're taken, we're conquered; we can expect people to plunder; but he said it sort of seems that they ought to set a date; that they'll do it up to that date and after that life could go on without being subject to this sort of thing. They came to Berlin in 1945.
But the thing is that Alaric, after three days, drew his army off and the plundering stopped. Another thing is that Alaric's soldiers did not injure anybody who took refuge in a church. The churches of Rome were uninjured; the people who took refuge in them were safe, themselves and whatever they had carried with them into the churches. And so you see how the Christianizing of the Goths resulted in the plundering of Rome at this time being milder than the sacking of almost any city I know of in history. And yet, when you think of the tremendous wealth of Rome, and of a gang of soldiers loose for three days to take anything they want, it was a tremendous thing, and a terrible devastation; and it affected the whole world to think of Rome, that for 800 years had been secure, to be ravished in this way.
And for two or three years afterward, refugees from Rome were arriving in North Africa; seeking protection, seeking a means of getting along there; and of course, they were going anywhere they could, but Africa seemed the safest place because the Mediterranean Sea was between, and none of the barbarians had as yet penetrated to Africa. So we call
2. The Pagan Reaction. Paganism had been dying. Christianity had conquered paganism as far as argument was concerned. Christianity had conquered paganism as far as moral character was concerned. Julian had had an opportunity to try to prove paganism was superior to Christianity, and he had failed. Not merely because he died so soon, but that it became evident that the Christian character, Christian leadership, Christian morality, the Christian seriousness of purpose, was far superior to anything Julian was able to bring forth for paganism. And the result of this had shown itself in the people more and more quitting going to the temples; and then Theodosius had made laws against temple worship, and the Christians had begun to destroy the temples; and in this last decade of the fourth century, many of these temples had been destroyed; and it looked as if paganism was about to disappear entirely. However, when the sack of Rome came, many pagans, who hadn't been saying much, now began to say, "Look what Christianity has done to the Roman Empire! Here is Rome, that stood for 800 years, and now Christianity has come in, the people have become Christians. Rome has become weak and flabby, has been conquered by barbarians; the old gods of Rome that made Rome strong are angry that their people have turned away from them; they have allowed the barbarians to come in and sack the city. What a terrible thing it is for our Empire that Christianity was allowed to come into the Empire!"
And so you have this reaction now, which is spreading through the empire; and it is particularly active in North Africa, where the refugees are coming in by the hundreds, perhaps by the thousands, but actual war has not yet reached North Africa at all. But it is affecting people's minds and people's attitudes; and Augustine faced it; and Augustine's answer to it became one of the great forces of the Middle Ages. So Augustine faces this pagan reaction—this argument—based upon the political situation; Augustine set out to write an answer. And so
3. Augustine's Answer. Well, Augustine, as you know, had not bothered himself a great deal about paganism. He'd been fighting Manichaeism; he'd been fighting Donatism; he'd been fighting various heresies; but he'd never been attracted by paganism; he had occasionally spoken against it, but never taken great part against it; but now he comes face to face with it as a reviving force; and he thinks of a rather new way of approach.
And this approach was to think of two cities. There is the heavenly city, and there is the earthly city. There is the city of man, and there is the city of God; and these two cities interact upon one another. Rome might be thought of as typical of the city of man. Rome had developed due to the virtues—the human virtues—which the Romans possessed; the early Romans had been thrifty; they had been industrious; they had been temperate; in general, they had been careful and shrewd in their planning; they had developed a great and powerful city. The city of Rome, he said, was not developed because of the power of the Roman gods developing it; no, he said, that was not it at all; it was the human virtues which the early leaders had had. And he said the human virtues may be found anywhere, but they will be greatly intensified under the influence of the Goths. The Goths, who will not cut them down, but will intensify them.
But he said it is human virtues which developed the great earthly city. But while it was a very great earthly city, yet it had its very great weaknesses, and its very great failures; and one of these was its worship of false gods. And the moral character, which came from the worship of the false gods. Now he said this earthly city is an important thing; but its importance is very slight compared to the importance of the heavenly city. And he said the heavenly city had the effect of its outreach on earth; it is made up of those who are to reign with Christ for ever. It is the City of God, the city which represents the outworking of the divine attributes in the world; it eventually will replace the good of the human city; it eventually will destroy the evil of the human city; it eventually will become supreme and triumphant.
And so that is the concept that Augustine had. And some people said that the concept that Augustine had was far more important actually than the book that he wrote. And the concept which he had has had tremendous influence in Christian history ever since. But it had influence, unfortunately, in various directions—good directions and bad directions. But his concept became a tremendous force in human history. Now soon after the sack of Rome, Augustine sat down and started his idea, began to plan his book; he began to write on it, and he wrote several—he called them books within it—it was made up of books and he wrote several of these books. Then he became very busy with administrative matters, with court matters, with his sermons and dealing with all sorts of problems in his community, and he didn't make much progress for a while.
Actually it was not until about 426 that he issued the book; and the last half of it—or so—was written 14-16 years after the actual sack of Rome. But the book got started as a result of the sack of Rome. Probably he was studying the idea through these years, even though he hadn't yet finished the book. The book was issued then, and it is Augustine's great work against paganism. It is his philosophy of history. It is his explanation of the course of human events, and of the part that human events should play in it. And so this book, The City of God, Augustine's answer, is a book which had tremendous influence on the Christian world, and on the Roman world, during the next few years, a book which was copied and read through the Middle Ages.
I would say that probably in the last 50 years, Augustine's Confessions have been republished at least 20 times, in various languages, during the last 50 years. Now the City of God may have 5 or 10, I don't know. It is published much less than the Confessions; but yet for a book that old, to be republished and disseminated and studied as much as it is after that long a time, is a very rare thing indeed. And this book was a tremendous force; it would be an accomplishment for a man who had done nothing else in his life than to write this book, The City of God. There are many whose names are famous, who have written one great book, like that, had a great influence on world history and done nothing else. It's one of the many things that Augustine did.
But the book, unfortunately, did not have nearly as much influence upon the world for what Augustine said, as for its contents. And so we must mention
4. Effect of the Book. Now the effect of the book would be, in the first place, a very good effect in controverting the pagan apologetics based upon the disasters of the Roman Empire; that would be a very good effect. It had a good effect in its opposition to the errors of paganism; but of course that is something that disappeared in the next century or two, as far as we in the western world are concerned. And its arguments are based upon—relate a great deal—to Roman mythology, and so on, and would not have a direct relationship to other types of anti-Christian religion. But that of course was his first objective; and that was a good objective which was accomplished.
Now a second objective which he would accomplish, of course, would be to encourage Christian people in all times. And to give us a sane attitude toward human accomplishment, by seeing that human accomplishments go forward for their virtues—not for their evil—and when anything goes forward to some extent, you know there is some good in it, or it wouldn't go forward. The evil may be much greater, but the strength comes from the good; and thus, we see, we distinguish the good and the evil of human movements. We see what makes these movements succeed; but we realize that all human movements are temporary, and that it is only the City of God that is permanent. So here are these two great excellent results which can be helpful and beneficial to anyone.
But unfortunately Augustine did not make it crystal clear just what he meant by the City of God. He does not make it crystal clear in the book. He deals with all these matters of disagreement with the pagans, and the matter of difficulty of interpretation of Scripture; he goes into various points and discusses them; there's a great deal of tremendous value in the book; but he nowhere sits down and makes absolutely clear what he means exactly by the City of God.
And so it's quite easy for a person rather superficially examining it to say, "Well, the city of man is the city of Rome; look how it's developed; look at it's greatness; look at the result of human virtues that built this great city; then they failed, and the city is gone. But the City of God is going to succeed it; there'll be a new one, later than the old Rome; a Rome that is based upon God rather than upon man. A Rome that is His representative on earth; a Rome that will rule over human power; and it will, among these human powers, enforce righteousness and will establish what ought to be upon this earth. Now that's not what Augustine said, anywhere. It certainly is not what he thought; but it is an indirect result which the book had, in fostering the idea of a City of God which would be like the old city; an earthly city, but a City of God, and which would exercise its power over human minds everywhere; and there would be thus a Christian Roman power which would establish righteousness upon the earth.
I'm sure Augustine never dreamed of such a thing, but that is a side-effect of the book which in the Middle Ages became more and more popular.
H. Augustine's Relations with Jerome. This is a very much shorter subject than the one we just spoke of. G was a very long subject, as most of those about Augustine are. But H, I think, deserves a special heading even if it is a comparatively brief topic. You remember St. Jerome was in Rome in 384, the year when St. Augustine was there; but of course they did not know each other, they were in very different sorts of work. Augustine was not even a Christian at the time. It was in 387 that Augustine was converted in Milan, and Jerome already in 385 had left Rome and had gone to Palestine, and established his monastery there, while Paula had a convent not far from it.
Now as Augustine became more and more active in North Africa, and took a part in all the various discussions of the day, he decided that he would like to establish friendly relations with Jerome. So in 394 or 395 Augustine wrote a letter to Jerome, expressing admiration for his work and inviting Jerome's attention to his own writing. It was a very good, courteous letter from a young man, comparatively young, at least young in Christian experience. He was actually ten or twenty years younger in years, than Jerome; but in the course of the letter, he criticized Jerome's interpretation of Galatians 2:11-14. Remember that is where Peter says he withstood Paul to the face. Now Jerome was taking the attitude that Peter was an apostle, Paul was an apostle, the apostles are God's messengers to us; whatever they say is right, and therefore you can't have two of them arguing with each other. So where Peter says he withstood Paul to the face, Jerome said it must be that Peter and Paul decided that this truth could be better brought home to people if it was dramatized. And therefore they agreed between themselves that Peter, when these Judaizers came—when these people from Jerusalem came to visit—Peter would withdraw himself from the people he'd been eating with before, and go and just eat with them, and make it look as if he agreed with them; and then Paul would get up and withstand him to his face; and that way he could drive home to people's minds what the truth was, on which there never was any difference between Peter and Paul.
Now that's the idea some people have of the apostles. That the apostles knew everything; they understood all truth. Anything they ever said or wrote is the truth. All we have to do is to know anything by an apostle and it's God's Word. When I was in Princeton Seminary a professor said, "If a lost epistle of Paul were to be found, it would be a part of the Bible because it's written by an apostle; and our next edition of the Bible would contain it." Now I don't believe that for a minute. It's not my idea of inspiration at all. I believe that inspiration is God's leading in the writing of the book he wished to have in the Scriptures. I believe that when David wrote the Psalms, God inspired him—kept him free from error—but when he wrote a note to Joab telling him to put Uriah in the forefront of the battle where he would be killed, I don't think he was writing under inspiration of the Holy Spirit at all.
I don't think that everything an apostle or a prophet wrote was necessarily inspired. I think inspiration refers to those works that God intended to be part of the Scriptures; and He selected the individuals whom He wished to have write these books, and led them to write them. Well, now that of course is not properly a matter of Church History; that is a matter of Biblical Introduction, and I'm just giving it here as background to the slight disagreement between Jerome and Augustine.
Jerome held the view that Paul and Peter simply put on a performance there, and Peter pretended to believe what he didn't believe in order to get the point across. Augustine, I believe, took a more truly Christian idea here of inspiration. The apostles were men like ourselves. God gave them revelation; they told these revelations; they presented them in their speaking. As in our speaking, there were mistakes; but the general import of their speaking was in line with what God wanted to get across. And we repeat things as we speak so that the mistakes are more than balanced by the correct statement.
But when something was written, which wasn't to be listened to once and forgotten, but which was to be studied through 2000 years of subsequent history, then God did something he did not ordinarily do. He caused not merely that they would have correct ideas to present, but that in the presentation of these ideas the words would be kept free from error so that there was no reasonable inference that could be drawn from their words that would be a false inference. Now if that is the fact about the apostles, then is not necessary to resort to this idea that Jerome resorted to.
Augustine didn't write the letter for the purpose of criticizing Jerome. He just in the course of a letter did express his disagreement on this point. But Jerome had had so many people violently attack him and violently differ with him that he had become rather sensitive on disagreement and criticism; and Jerome had a bitter tongue; he was always able to give back triple what anybody gave to him. So when a young fellow like Augustine—a newcomer to the Christian church—when Augustine expresses his disagreement, it could easily arouse Jerome's resentment. But in this case there was an additional unfortunate thing that happened. They did not have a well-developed postal service in those days. The state had its own postal service which would carry official messages. But for individuals, for example, Paul's epistles, had to be carried by special messenger, somebody who was going anyway. And Augustine gave his letter to a man who was going to Palestine; but when he got to Italy something happened and he didn't go to Palestine; and so the letter never reached Jerome.
But in Italy, he showed a friend the letter he had to Jerome from Augustine; and Augustine was becoming quite famous, and Jerome already was famous; and the man was tremendously interested to see what Augustine had written; and he said, "Let me copy some of that." And next thing you knew, it was being published and distributed all over Italy what Augustine had said about Jerome being wrong; and Jerome hadn't even seen it. And in 397, Augustine wrote again to Jerome; and the man he gave the letter to made a rather long trip before he finally got to Palestine; and this letter didn't reach Jerome until quite late. In the meantime, when Augustine got no word from Jerome, he wrote a third letter; and this letter got to him soon. And this is just a nice letter saying he'd like to establish friendly relations with him.
And in 402, he got an answer. And Jerome said "Far be it from me to dare touch the works of thy holiness. I'm quite content to care for my own writings without criticizing those of others. For the rest, thy student is well aware that opinions are free, and it is a childish boastfulness, only befitting you, to seek renown by attacking illustrious men. Be content therefore to love one who loves thee, do not thou seek to provoke an old man in the field of critical study."
[Jerome to Augustine, Letter 68, 402 AD: "...Far be it from me to presume to attack anything which your Grace has written. For it is enough for me to prove my own views without controverting what others hold. But it is well known to one of your wisdom, that every one is satisfied with his own opinion, and that it is puerile self-sufficiency to seek, as young men have of old been wont to do, to gain glory to one's own name by assailing men who have become renowned. ... Love one who loves you, and do not because you are young challenge a veteran in the field of Scripture."]
In other words, don't bother me; I don't think you're worth my notice. And the next year, Augustine sent another letter to Jerome, a friendly letter; and this time Jerome capitulated. Jerome replied and decided that he was perhaps hasty to Augustine; but he said in his letter to Augustine: [Jerome to Augustine, Letter 404 AD. "... desist from annoying an old man, who seeks retirement in his monastic cell. If you wish to exercise or display your learning, choose as your antagonists, young, eloquent, and illustrious men, of whom it is said that many are found in Rome, who may be neither unable nor afraid to meet you, and to enter the lists with a bishop in debates concerning the Sacred Scriptures. As for me, a soldier once, but a retired veteran now, it becomes me rather to applaud the victories won by you and others, than with my worn-out body to take part in the conflict...."]
Augustine refused to become irritated at Jerome's language. He realized Jerome was a real Christian, a fine student of the Word, a man who had much to offer, and he wanted his friendship, and so Augustine wrote again and he managed to make Jerome his friend. And not only did they become good friends, but in subsequent years, Jerome suffered injury for his loyalty to Augustine.
It's a most interesting illustration of the difference between opposing the enemies of God's Word, and taking rebuke from those who are true but who misunderstand, and taking a friendly attitude toward them and not becoming slighted when they misunderstand us, but eventually winning their friendship. That is what Augustine did in this case.
Well, now, a little later, Jerome suffered because of his friendship to Augustine; and that we will not mention right now, because it comes in connection with our next subject, which is the relation between Jerome and Augustine. And I think it is very interesting to note that in this tremendous controversy—what was in some ways the greatest controversy of Augustine's life—Jerome was of tremendous help to him, tremendously important; and Augustine never would have had it if he had not been willing to bear the slights and the misunderstanding on Jerome's part.
This controversy, from our Protestant view point, is the most important controversy of Augustine's life. It is the most difficult for us to understand. It is a very involved one, but it is tremendously important. We will call it
J. The Pelagian Controversy (411-431). The Pelagian Controversy begins in 411. It does not end until 431 and actually that's about the time, or a year after the time, when Augustine died. There is a continuation after that which we'll look at, but the main part of it ended by that time. Now this Pelagian controversy, we will note under it
a. Pelagius' background. We name it the Pelagian controversy, therefore we ought to know something about Pelagius. Later on, when Jerome wrote about Pelagius, he called him that great god, that great bloated god from Albion. And Albion, as you know, is another term that was used for the land that we today call England. Other writers have referred to him as the British Serpent, and they used the term British in relation with it. He was probably brought up in what we today call England. It would be false to say Pelagius was an Englishmen, or was brought up in England. That would be false because there was no England then. They used to have statements on automobiles saying, "There will always be an England" back during the war. Well, there was not one in those days. In those days the island was called Britain; the people who lived in the southern half of it were called Britons.
It had been conquered by the Romans under Julius Caesar before the time of Christ. It was a part of the Roman Empire, the southern half of the island they called Britain, that is, the part of the island which we call England. It was fairly Romanized; Constantine was there at the town of York, when his soldiers proclaimed him the Roman Emperor; but there were no Englishmen, because it gets the name of England from the Anglo-Saxon wild barbarians from Germany, who came over there after this time and conquered the land; and after a century of other barbarisms, it finally settled down to become rather civilized, and it became the land of England, named after them.
But at this time it is Britain, the southern half of Britain, and Pelagius probably was called Morgan originally; that's not certain, but it is likely that his name was Morgan. The word Morgan means "born of the sea." And he, being a student of Greek, thought it was a beautiful thing to have a Greek name, so he translated it into Greek and took the name "Pelagius" which means born of the sea. So were not sure his name was Morgan, but it's most likely. He is always called Pelagius in history. He was a man who was brought up in Britain, and who came over to Italy; he was very ascetic, they called him a simple monk.
He seems to have been sincerely devoted to the desire to improve morals, to get people away from worldliness, away from external things, away from that that seems to be ungodly and harmful; and he lived in Rome, which was a center of vice and wickedness to a very large extent; and he devoted himself there to trying to bring people away from it. And he was along in years before the controversy started. But Pelagius, against whose personal character nothing seems to be said, except for misrepresentation and duplicity to some extent at a later time. But aside from that, there is no personal criticism of his character in the writing that we have; but the fact that he was earnestly working to reform the character of the Roman people; and he was constantly urging them to exert their manhood; show the good that is in them; step out and leave this wickedness and vice and turn to do good. As far as the gospel doctrines and the Scripture in general are concerned, he declared his acceptance of the whole system of orthodox doctrine; his belief in the full deity of Christ; he declared his belief in the atonement, the bodily resurrection, and so on.
But his stress was upon people exerting their manhood, and turning away from what's wicked and living a good life; and then he found that people were reading Augustine's Confessions; and finding in the Confessions that Augustine says that no man can turn from wickedness and become good; it is only the grace of God that can turn man. And Augustine says—it is a prayer, where Augustine prays to the Lord—he says, "Give the power to do what you command; and command whatever you will—give it to the Lord."
And Pelagius found some people, who said, "Well, I can't; they said I'm not elected to salvation; I can't live a good life. God hasn't given me the grace to do it. So there's no use in talking to me." And of course this is just an excuse, when people talk that way, for living the sort of life they feel like living.
But Pelagius began to think that these statements of Augustine's were hurting his attempts to reform people. So he began to criticize; and pretty soon Pelagius was thus driven into clarifying his thinking a bit on these things; and making it clear that he felt that there's plenty of good in human nature; all we need to do is express it; and this idea that man is just lost in sin, and there's nothing good in him, that's much too extreme for the Pelagians. Human nature is essentially good. Adam sinned, and many another person had sinned since; but we don't need to sin, we can do what is good. Now the grace of God can help us, we can use the grace of God and we should.
Pelagius was a careful Greek student; he wrote a commentary on St. Paul's epistles, which he got distributed; and people forgot he'd written it, and it got into Jerome's writings; so people eventually got to thinking Jerome had written it. Of course it's now well established that Pelagius was the writer. But he was a good exegete, a good interpreter; but on this point, his whole stress was on the value of exerting your manhood, and showing the good in human nature, and stepping out and turning away from sin. So he came into conflict in Italy with Augustine's ideas to some extent, though I don't know whether Augustine ever heard anything about him while he was there.
b. Pelagius' Views. As I say, he didn't deny anything that he thought was explicitly stated in the Scripture; but he wrote a letter to Demetrias, a noble Roman nun, in which he describes a model virgin and the proof of the excellency of human nature. He said, "As often as I have to speak concerning moral improvement and the leading of a holy life, I am accustomed first to set forth the power and quality of human nature and to show what it can accomplish. For never are we able to enter upon the path of virtue unless hope, as a companion draws us to them. For every longing after anything dies within us so soon as we despair of attaining that thing."
You see, Augustine said just the opposite. Augustine said we strive and we struggle and we make the best effort we can to live a good life, and we fail and we fall because there's nothing in us that can live a life that is satisfying to God. We must confess ourselves miserable sinners that can do no good and look Christ, by His wonderful grace to lift us up and to give us a life within us. You see the sharp contrast between the way that Augustine spoke and the way that Pelagius spoke. Well, now,
c. Coelestius. And Coelestius is really the active man in the controversy, though the ideas come from Pelagius, and it is referred to as the Pelagian Controversy. It is proper for us to attribute it to Pelagius and call it Pelagianism, but Coelestius is the man who brought it to the fore.
Coelestius was a Roman lawyer. And Coelestius was converted to Pelagius' ideas by Pelagius' effort. He was younger than Pelagius, skilled in argument, ready for controversy, and he became a very devoted follower of Pelagius.
d. Pelagius and Coelestius visit Africa. In 411 the two friends left Rome in order to escape from Alaric, the Gothic king, who you remember had attacked Rome. They left Rome and went to Africa. And they passed through North Africa, intending to visit Augustine at Hippo. He was away at Carthage, so Pelagius wrote a very courteous letter which he left there; and Augustine answered it, and he said in his letter, "Pray for me that God may really make me that which you already take me to be." Pelagius praised Augustine's character. How sorry to have missed becoming acquainted with this great godly man, the model of all Christians. Augustine writes him, "Pray for me that God may really make me that which you already take me to be."
Pelagius went on to Palestine, but Coelestius applied for ordination as a presbyter in Carthage. And in Carthage, there was a deacon from Milan who was familiar with the views of Pelagius; he came before the council and declared that they should not ordain Coelestius as a presbyter because, he said, his writings contained very serious error. He said that in Coelestius' writings he found the statement that Adam was created mortal and would have died even if he hadn't sinned. He said that in his writing it was said that Adam's fall injured himself alone, not the whole human race; that children come into the world in the same condition in which Adam was before the fall. He said that Coelestius said that the human race neither dies as a consequence of Adam's fall, nor rises again in consequence of Christ's resurrection. He said that Coelestius said the law, as well as God, preached the kingdom of heaven; and that Coelestius said that even before Christ there were sinless men.
Well, Coelestius, at the council, gave evasive answers to these statements. Oh, he said, "These are just speculative questions; they don't concern the substance of the faith." He said, "I believe in the deity of Christ. I believe in verbal inspiration. Why do you make these little technicalities?" But he refused to say that he didn't hold these views; he said they weren't vital. And the synod voted to exclude him from ordination, even from the communion of the church.
[student] Carthage was the leading city in North Africa. As you know, Hippo is a long distance west of Carthage. There was a primate of North Africa; there was a primate of Numidia, further west. Augustine was simply bishop of Hippo, and he never had a higher position than that, though his influence was tremendous. His writings were spread all through the African church—that is, North Africa was the province of Africa. They were read all through there, and to some extent, all through the rest of Christendom. And his influence there was tremendous; but there is no evidence he took any part in this synod at which Coelestius was condemned.
Coelestius then left there and went to Asia Minor, where he became ordained at Ephesus.
e. Augustine's First Treatises against Pelagius. Hearing of this, Augustine did what he always did when he heard of heresy. He sat down and wrote a book about it, to show why it was wrong. And so Augustine now wrote several small works, on the matter of grace; the matter of spiritual leaven; on the matter of forgiveness of sins; on the matter of human perfection; he wrote these letters attacking the views which were found in Coelestius' writings, and showing that these views were very harmful.
Nevertheless Pelagius and Coelestius had won many followers in Italy and some in North Africa.
a. The Spread of Pelagianism. There in Palestine, Pelagius and Coelestius began to spread their ideas and many began to follow them in these ideas.
b. The Attitude of Jerome. Jerome was living at Bethlehem. This was just after the time when he had become an enemy of the teachings of Origen, throwing his lot with those who were attacking Origen. Formerly he had been an enthusiastic admirer of Origen, because there was much in him to admire; but there also was that which was harmful, and in the big controversy against Origen, Jerome threw his lot with those who were attacking.
Now he attributed Pelagius' views to the influence of Origen. And Pelagius criticized some of Jerome's statements; and Jerome wrote a letter in answer to inquiries sent to him, in which he wrote three books against the Pelagians toward the end of the year 415. And in these letters Jerome attacks Pelagius and his views; and he took a very strong stand against him and this rising movement of Pelagianism.
c. The Synod at Jerusalem in 415. In 415, in Jerusalem the bishop John, bishop of Jerusalem, called a synod to which the bishops came from the whole surrounding area. Jerome, as you know, was not a bishop. Jerome was simply a presbyter as head of a monastery.
But at this synod a man from Spain, Orosius—a friend of Augustine, a man who had studied with Augustine, and Augustine had sent him on there; he studied with Jerome to perfect his understanding of the Greek text, and to work in exegesis with Jerome—Orosius came before this synod and brought criticism of Pelagius and Coelestius, and gave information that the council of Carthage had condemned Coelestius, and that Augustine had appeared against him.
And Pelagius said, "What does Augustine matter to me?" and began disparaging and evading. Orosius said that any man who could thus speak about the bishop to whom the whole North African church owed their restoration deserved to be excluded from communion of the holy church. And then John the bishop, who was a great admirer of the condemned Origen, said to them, when they were talking about Augustine, he said, "I am against talking about Augustine. I am Augustine here," meaning Augustine was a big figure in Africa but this is Jerusalem, I'm the big man here. He said, "I am Augustine here," and he began to defend the accused; he permitted Pelagius, though only a monk and a layman, to take a seat among the presbyters; he found no criticism of his statements; and after much discussion, which was hampered by the fact that the bishop spoke only Greek and Orosius spoke only Latin, and the interpreter often translated inaccurately. After much discussion the synod decided to lay the matter before the Roman bishop, Innocent. Innocent was the name of the Roman bishop; and they decided, "Let's lay the matter before him, since both parties of the controversy belong to the Western Church, and meantime let them refrain from any attacks on each other."
Well, that was the decision of the synod; but Jerome, who was not in the synod, proceeded immediately to write another book, in three sections, against Pelagius and to try to bring out the harmful nature of this error.
d. The Synod of Lydda. Then there was another synod called in December that year. And this was called in the town of Lydda, down near Joppa. That city was also called Diophilus, In this town, Lydda (or Diophilus) in December of that year, there was another meeting held at which two bishops from Gaul, two bishops from France, acting with Jerome, brought charges against Coelestius and against Pelagius.
And it was particularly Pelagius whose error was in view; and Pelagius was very skilful in wriggling out of these charges, declaring very strongly his views; and he sought the support of Gaul in the discussion; and then, for instance, when they said, "Well Coelestius was condemned in Carthage for saying that Adam's fall injured himself alone," Pelagius said, "Well I don't think that; Adam's fall injured all." But then later on he explained: the way he injured all was by setting us a bad example. It's very different from what the church has always held; what Paul taught: that Adam's fall, that we were in Adam; Adam represented us; that Adam represented the whole human race and when he fell, we fell with him; that brought original sin upon the entire human race, by his fall; and as Paul said, as we were in Adam, so we are in Christ, if we believe in Christ. Adam was the head of the whole race in our fall; Christ is the head of those who believe on Him and we rise again through Christ.
Well, Pelagian says, "I don't believe that, certainly Adam's fall injured all of us." But what he meant was that it was a bad example. And by evasions like this, he succeeded in persuading them that there was nothing wrong with him; and the synod acquitted him of all heresy. Jerome said it was a miserable synod.
But Augustine said, "It is not heresy that was there acquitted, but the man who denied the heresy." Which, of course, was the fact. They would not stand in favor of Pelagius' views, but Pelagius persuaded them that he did not hold those views that he actually did hold. Then
e. The Attack on Jerome's Monastery. In the beginning of the year 416, within a month or two after the Council at Lydda, a mob of Pelagianizing monks, ecclesiastics and vagabonds, broke into Jerome's monastery at Bethlehem; they maltreated the inmates, put the building on fire, and compelled the ancient scholar to take to flight. And Bishop John, at Jerusalem, just 5 miles away, left this unpunished. So there Jerome suffered physical injury; lost a great deal of property; might have lost his life, as a result of his stand by Augustine in this controversy.
a. The North African Synod of 416. There were two synods in North Africa in 416 which condemned the Pelagian error; declared their disagreement with the Council in Palestine; pointed out the un-Christian statements of Pelagius and Coelestius; and took the strong position of Augustine about the absolute necessity of the grace of God in anyone who was saved. Grace is not merely a help, it is that without which none of us can be saved. And they sent a statement of this to Innocent, the Bishop of Rome. The Council in Jerusa1em decided to submit the whole thing to Innocent, and the people involved in it were protesting. They wrote to Innocent at Rome, and they told him what they thought about it; they tried to present the matter to him clearly, in order that he might take a correct stand on the matter, and do something to stop the rapid growth of Pelagianism in Italy. So much for the North African Synod.
[student: "Why didn't they send it to Constantinople or Antioch? Why did they send it to Rome?"] Well, the matter was first under discussion in Palestine. Then in Palestine, they said "These folks are westerners." They said, "We'll refer the matter to Rome because they're westerners," So they referred the man to the Bishop of Rome, "Let's us send him what we think about it, so he'll have that in mind."
Constantinople and Antioch were not particularly involved. As a matter of fact, the Eastern Church did not become much aroused. It was the Western church mainly. So that
But Innocent, the Bishop of Rome, understood the controversy; and he saw that the people in Africa were right in it; and he wrote a letter to the Africans, but he was so pleased that they should address the Bishop of Rome about the matter that he just couldn't contain himself. And so he wrote them a letter in which he spent about half of his time telling them what good sense they showed in referring the matter like this to the Bishop of Rome; and that was really showing good sense to go to the man who should be properly able to determine important things like this, to come to me—of course they made lots of courteous statements in their letter; and he was very grateful that they had so much good sense; and he said they were absolutely right, that Pelagius and Coelestius were utterly heretical; they should be condemned; they should not be permitted in the true Christian Church; he commended the Africans for being so wide-awake, seeing the error of it; but he didn't say anything about the synod in Lydda; he carefully refrained from giving any judgment about that.
Yes? [student: Did Innocent send a letter to Palestine?] I don't know anything about his answering them at Palestine; I don't know whether anybody does. He may have written them; he may not. I should think likely he did. But you see we're primarily interested in Augustine. I mean there were many bishops in Palestine, in all these countries. If we went into the history of the details of all the countries, we would take a year on this one period of 30 or 40 years. I'm trying to pick those events which throw light on the Pelagian Controversy.
Well, it took a long time to get mail in those days. That was a distance it would take you a week or two to travel. They sent the request to him; the council adjourned; he wasn't sending his decision to the councils, but these men; later, on further consideration, they would look for an answer from the Bishop of Rome.
Now there's no evidence of any answer being given in the next six months. Because six months later, the Council at Lydda simply proceeded on their own to acquit and to support Pelagius. But then, when the word eventually got to Innocent, the real pressure came from North Africa; and he answered North Africa in this way. Then, so much for the letter of Bishop Innocent. Then
c. Augustine's Famous Sermon. Now the reason this sermon is famous is because the Roman Catholic Church all through the last few centuries has rejoiced to quote this sermon of Augustine's. Augustine saw the tremendous harm of Pelagius' view, and he was anxious to put an end to their influence. And therefore, when Augustine got this letter from Innocent, saying how entirely right you are in it, and so on, he preached a great sermon—he was visiting in Carthage then—and he preached a great sermon in which he showed the error of Pelagianism; showed how wrong it was; how people should turn away from it; he said Innocent of Rome agrees with us; we've gotten a letter from him; and he says he agrees with the decision that was made by the North African Synod, that this is a harmful thing; these men should not be in the church; their influence should not be spread; the cause is finished; he said, "Would that the error would be finished as quickly as the cause." Now that's what he said. But it became twisted so that it has been quoted over and over that Augustine said, "Rome has spoken; the cause is finished." Well, now he did not say that; all sound historical scholars today agree that he did not say that. He didn't say, "Rome has spoken, the cause is finished," but he did mention the fact that the Bishop of Rome had agreed with them; and he felt that all who were qualified to take a clear understanding on it, took this position; and that this is the position which all ought to take.
The Roman Catholic books admit that the statement that is so often quoted. "Rome has spoken, the cause is finished," was not stated by St. Augustine.
But here's a very interesting thing. When Augustine was making this sermon; when he was giving this important sermon, there in Carthage on the 23 of September, 417; a letter was already on the seas, crossing from Rome to Carthage, to take the opposite position, when he said it. Augustine did not know it, but Innocent had died; and a new bishop has been elected, a man named Zosimus, and so we go on
d. The Action of Bishop Zosimus. Now I call him Bishop Zosimus, I do not call him Pope Zosimus. Any Roman Catholic book would refer to him as Pope Zosimus, and they would not be wrong in so referring to him, because he was called Pope. But so was Augustine, called Pope Augustine. John of Jerusalem was called Pope John. Every bishop was called Pope at that time. It was the regular word used for any bishop at that time. It was only much later that it became restricted to the Bishop of Rome. I do not use the word now, because if we use it today, it gives the impression that the idea of papal supremacy held today was thought of then, of which there is no evidence. But in actual fact, they did use the title, but they used it for Augustine and for all the rest of them; any bishop was called pope. But Bishop Zosimus, who became bishop, was a Greek; and Zosimus found that Coelestius came to see him, right away, when he was elected bishop.
And he had a letter from Pelagius—the matter had been referred to Bishop Innocent—so he saw Pelagius' letter and he saw Coelestius. And Coelestius was evidently a very skilful talker; and he persuaded Zosimus—he took points on which he was orthodox and he spoke very, very strongly about his belief in these—and so Zosimus wrote a letter to the North African bishops, an encyclical papal letter, in which he censures them for not having investigated the matter more thoroughly, and having aspired in foolish over-curious controversy, to know more than the Holy Scripture. He said that Pelagius and Coelestius were thoroughly orthodox men; and that the two bishops from France who had attacked them in Palestine were worthless characters, whom he had excommunicated now, and ordered deposed from these bishoprics. He said men in Rome can hardly refrain from tears that such fine men as Coelestius and Pelagius should have been condemned as heretics. And finally he entreated the bishops of the North African church to submit themselves to the authority of the Roman See. Well, now if Augustine had said, "Rome has spoken, the cause is finished," and then three days later a boat arrived saying the opposite from the Bishop of Rome, he certainly would've been highly embarrassed. But it is now agreed that he did not say those words at all. But this letter came from Zosimus and so the Africans had to do something about it. So we have
e. The African Council of 418. They got the bishops together again. They held a new council. And at this council there were two hundred bishops present. They defined their opposition to Pelagius. They said, "If Pelagius was right, human nature is naturally good and only becomes bad when people fall into sin, why what a silly thing infant baptism would be." They said we baptize infants, showing that these people have got original sin; and we all need the grace of God for salvation.
Now they said, "If these were just perfectly innocent children, not yet having any sin for which they needed redemption, what would be the sense of infant baptism?" So that was one of the big points that the Africans made; but, of course they made other points also; they said that anyone who said that Adam was created mortal and that even without sin would have died of natural necessity, should not be in the true church. They attacked the various views of Pelagius; they took a strong position on it; they said that the former bishop of Rome had seen these things; he had given the decision that Pelagius and Coelestius should not be recognized as true members of the church, They said, "We call on the people in the area that are subject to his direction, to follow the argument of Innocent, and not let themselves be confused by the attitude that Zosimus is taking now." And they wrote a respectful letter to Zosimus, asking him to look into the matter further. So much for the African council of 418.
f. The Edict from Honorius. But it seems that Augustine—we don't have full evidence on this now but it seems most likely that Augustine—had good friends in the court of the Roman Emperor Honorius in northern Italy. And Augustine had very good friends in the administration in Carthage; and not only did they write to Zosimus, but they also wrote to the court of the Emperor at Rome; and while Zosimus was considering what to do about it, an edict came from the Emperor, saying that this un-Christian view of Coelestius and Pelagius ought not to be tolerated within his domain.
g. Zosimus' Changed Attitude. And it wasn't very long after, till Zosimus came out in the same direction. So I was interested to look in the McSorley's History and see what he had to say about Zosimus. He says when Coelestius and Pelagius were condemned at Carthage, at 411, they misrepresented things to the Pope so skillfully that he wrote in their behalf to the African bishops, but later he condemned Pelagianism. And then in another place here, speaking about Pelagianism, he says that Zosimus, after considerable hesitation, condemned Pelagianism.
Well, Zosimus did go along with the evidence that Augustine and others so clearly presented, but it's interesting that the sermon that Augustine wrote when Innocent said he was right, they have made so much of, to show how Augustine recognized the authority of the Roman Bishop, that the next Bishop took the wrong position and Augustine recognized no authority in him, but he got the Emperor to take an action first, and then Zosimus came right in line with the critics. So this is interesting, not only for the controversy on Pelagianism, but also for the matter of the development of the Bishop of Rome.
But now he circulated the letter with an anathema upon them; he declared his concurrence with the decision of the Council of Carthage; and whosoever refused to subscribe, he said, is to be deposed, banished from his church, and deprived of his province, that's what Zosimus said. Well, 18 bishops in Italy refused to subscribe and were deposed, but several of them afterward recanted; and one of them who had been deposed became the greatest writer for Pelagianism of all. We'll have a word to say about him under our next head.
Pelagianism is a viewpoint which has been in the Christian church, to some extent, right from the beginning; but it became crystallized around the name of Pelagius, because of Augustine's clear understanding of his error and pointing it out very strongly and very clearly; and the name of Pelagius has been tied to it ever since.
And it is an attitude which you will find constantly cropping up. I was asked—30 years ago—to speak over the radio, and to give a brief message; but when I got there I found they had another man to speak; and this other man, who was also to speak, was from the YMCA. The fellow who had this radio program had different people come in. I thought I was to be the only speaker, but I had about a third of the full time; and this YMCA man had the other third. The YMCA man had a talk quite fully worked out, but the main feature of it was, some people think human nature is bad. They say that an apple is no good if its core is rotten. That's not true at all. An apple can have lots of good in it, even if the core is rotten.
And he said human nature is not like that, it has its bad spots but it's fundamentally good. What we want to do is to improve it, help to build it up and to get rid of the bad elements in it. That was a clear presentation of Pelagianism. He made no reference in his talk to the grace of God, but I imagine that he would have had no objection to saying he needed the grace of God in doing this. One can stress the grace of God quite a bit and still be quite Pelagian. If human nature, as Augustine says, is something which has been affected and contaminated as a result of the sin of Adam; and of course as a result of the sin, that has been in the human race through the ages ever since, to the point where we are absolutely helpless; and our only salvation is the grace of God that can lift us up from our lost estate and can save us.
Or is human nature a wonderful thing which needs only a little help here and there to improve it? Now of course, human nature, Augustine would say, is originally a wonderful thing. He would say it is fundamentally and originally a wonderful thing which God created. God made Adam sinless. Adam was not mature. He was like a child. But he was sinless. He was innocent. He had the possibility of developing into a perfect being. He had that possibility but he had also the possibility of sinning, and when he sinned, human nature became corrupt. He lost the image of God. And humanity fell and can be saved only by a supernatural act on the part of God; He can redeem us from the guilt of our sin, which we could not possibly do ourselves. But not only that, He can give us a change so radical and complete and thoroughgoing, that it is even referred to as the "new birth" in the Scriptures, as if we were born all over again. We are said to become a new creation, to the Lord Jesus Christ. Not to take that which is good and make it better; not to take that which is good which has been slightly tarnished, and to remove the tarnish; but to take that which has fallen and become so corrupt, that there is absolutely nothing man can do to make it worthwhile in God's sight, and by a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit to transform us, to translate us, from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of light, and from following Satan into following Christ.
The doctrine of complete corruption of man does not mean that man is completely evil. If he were he would not last two generations. We would just kill each other off immediately; there would be absolutely nothing left. We would be like the men from the Mutiny on the Bounty. These men, you know, went to this island, Pitcairn Island, and they landed there; and they had a lot of liquor and they had some weapons; they had a group of native women with them; and they settled there to be away from any difficulty with the British nation against which they had mutinied; and they settled there, and within the course of a year or two, they had killed one another off, in fighting, in brawling, in attacking; they had just fallen into absolute utter wickedness; and there wouldn't have been anything left of them, if it were not that the one man who was left alive after the rest were gone, happened to be rummaging through an old trunk and came across a Bible and started to read it. And the Lord saved him, and his life was transformed. And he established an orderly civilized community, which, when this place was next visited 70 years later—the next time that anybody from the outside visited the place—they found an established settled civilized community, as a result of this one man's having read the Bible and turned to God. But before that he had been like the others; and in the course of a year and a half, they just completely killed each other off.
And if there was nothing good in man, he would be completely destroyed. There is the image of God still there; there is goodness even in the worst of men. Remember this man in Germany who was the head of the great persecutions of Hitler? He was the leader of Nuremburg prison, one of the most brutal of all Hitler's men; and when some reporters spoke to him about his being a brute, he said, "My, no! I'm very, very fond of birds." He said, "I have them all around my house; I take good care of them." He was very, very careful with his birds. That lovely streak in him, along with all the other wickedness, that was there.
And the worst of men have a good streak in them somewhere, which you can appeal to if you can find it. And it's there to be found. And our whole life would just utterly disappear if wickedness alone ruled, if we were completely wicked. But the righteousness of men—compared to the standard God wants—doesn't come more than a foot up from the floor. It's nothing that in God's sight is worth anything; and it would inevitably degenerate into complete destructiveness if it were not for the grace of God that prevents that; and for the influence of those here and there who, as Jesus said, are the salt of the earth, who know the Lord and have been transformed.
So, I think we make a great mistake, if we think that anybody who is saved we can completely trust; he is entirely good and dependable; while anybody who is lost is just utterly bad. You'll find some lost people who are a lot better in human sight than some saved people. And you can't really trust any of them, because we've all got sin within, except the Lord only.
But the fundamental basic difference between Pelagius and Augustine was that Augustine saw human nature as fundamentally bad, with a corruption which extended to every element of human life; that every area of it was corrupt, not that every detail is corrupt by any means. And that Augustine saw it needed supernatural grace or else it was absolutely impossible to be saved. While Pelagius saw it as very fine to avail ourselves of supernatural grace, but that that the main thing was to have the good that is in us developed.
The Presbyterian Board got out a book for children—for summer school—I remember. They called it As The Twig is Bent. And the fundamental idea of it was, that as the thing just grows, you just want to give a little twist there, a little twist here, a little development here, to develop this wonderful human nature that we have. Well, Augustine said, "No, what you need is a change—a transforming—not simply to develop."
Well, we must go on here; and we have been noticing the external details of the controversy; and we came to Zosimus' changed attitude. And, as McSorley said, "After some hesitation, Zosimus reaffirmed the edict of Innocent." After enough hesitation to write a strong encyclical letter taking the opposite position (!) and said what wonderful men Coelestius and Pelagius were; and it was really sad that anybody would criticize such noble Christians as these two. Then, after the emperor already took the position, Zosimus put himself in line; he issued an edict for the churches that were in communion with him, that he had relationship with, that Coelestius and Pelagius were to be cut off and all who had followed their view; and that all the bishops in Italy who followed Pelagius were to be deposed from their bishoprics; and there were 18 of them; so you see what progress Pelagius had made in Italy. But of these 18, quite a few later began to regret what they had lost in their salaries and in their positions as bishops and decided that a little bit of compromise with their views was worthwhile in order to be continued in their positions; and, as you have with almost any great movement for God, people step out to serve the Lord, and then they begin to look back and remember the loaves and fishes and one by one quite a few of them turn back; so out of the 18 this was, as in any movement; whether it's for God, or anything they think is for principle, it happened in this movement, that a good many of them stepped back; but Julian of Eclanum was one of these 18.
4. Julian of Eclanum. It's important to have the name of the place. Now why don't we just call him Julian? Why do we call him Julian of Eclanum? Eclanum is a very unimportant place, I'm not even sure exactly where it is, I never heard of anybody going to visit it or taking any particular interest in it, and yet, if you refer to him in an examination and you simply call him Julian and don't call him Julian of Eclanum, I will be very disappointed. Why will that be? What would the reason be? If you refer simply to Julian, I will assume you mean the Emperor Julian. We often call him Julian the Apostate. But he was an emperor who is a very important figure in church history. There have been other Julians too. But he is the Julian that we think of particularly—he was much more important in church history than Julian of Eclanum. Therefore, we reserve the name Julian for him, and we need something to distinguish this man. So Julian of Eclanum; I give him 4, because he rendered a great service to the cause of clear and careful theological thinking.
The service which he rendered was that he presented the Pelagian views and the Pelagian arguments more reasonably, more effectively, more carefully, more clearly, than any other of the writers including Pelagius and Coelestius; and of course in doing so, he did a great deal of harm by leading people astray in their understanding; but he did a great deal of good, because Augustine happened to be living at the time. And you had a man there who was capable of handling the matter—from the truly Biblical view—very clearly and very excellently; and with Julian having to be answered, it stimulated Augustine to write works which might be called the foundation of the Protestant Reformation.
Augustine was the one of the ancient fathers who, of all of them, was the one that they followed; they felt they were simply presenting Augustine's views, which had been so largely forgotten and brushed aside during the Middle Ages. Both Luther and Calvin put Augustine right next to the Bible—right next to St. Paul as an expounder of the Christian faith—and that might have been true even if Julian of Eclanum had never lived, because Augustine wrote extensively against Pelagius and Coelestius; but it was more true now, because better arguments more clearly worked out were presented by Julian for the position they had originated. And Augustine answered it very fully, and up till the end of his life he was putting what time he could spare from his other activities; and with most of us, if we had all his other activities we couldn't spare a little, we wouldn't get his other activities done; but he got the other activities done, and also wrote a number of books against Pelagianism; and half of them are against the writings of Julian of Eclanum.
So Julian of Eclanum, in the end, did good for the Christian church by his clear strong presentation of the heretical position on this point. We will not go into detail much further on this; that is a matter more for theology, than for church history. We will now look at
5. Augustine's Doctrine of Predestination. It is clearly taught in the Scripture that, from before the foundation of the world, God had foreordained the things that are going to happen; and that God is sovereign in the universe; this is clearly taught in the Scripture; but perhaps it had not been emphasized or worked out in detail quite as much by anyone before this time as it was by Augustine; and it was done by him as a part of his anti-Pelagian discussion; because the question immediately comes up, here are two men; one looks to you to be quite a good man; the other looks to you not nearly as good a man as this one; but you say neither one of them has got sufficient goodness to be saved; and you say that neither one of them would ever be saved if it were not for the grace of God alone. How then is it that the grace of God saves some men and not others?
Well, if it isn't because God sees what goodness there is in them, is it because He sees how much good sense we've got? Some of us have got sense enough to see how reasonable it is to accept God's offer of salvation, and others haven't. Well, that certainly would be a much worse position to take than the other one. The position that a man is saved because he's morally better than another is not the Christian position, but it is certainly a much more noble position than that a man is saved simply because he has a little higher IQ than the other man—simply because he has a little more intelligence, his brain quality is a little bit better and he can see the sense in the offer of salvation. We are not saved because we are morally better than others; we are not saved because we are intellectually better than others; we are not saved because we have more common sense than others; we are saved because of the grace of God and that alone.
Well then, what makes the difference? Why does one person who has all the opportunities you might ever think of, of the presentation of the gospel, turn his back on it, and go the other way, and another man accept Christ and follow Him? Well, Augustine said the answer to this must be found in the matchless wisdom and goodness of God. It is the grace of God which has predestined from the foundation of the world those to whom His grace is to be extended. That is the only answer to the problem which gets away from attributing it to something good in man. And Augustine said there is nothing good in us, but only the grace of God.
Now that doesn't mean, of course, that it is mere arbitrary, contrary, willful reaching across and grabbing someone, saying this is the one I'm going to save. It doesn't mean that it's just willful, arbitrary thoughtlessness on God's part. The wisdom of God is certainly one of His great characteristics; and we can trust to the wisdom of God. But this wisdom of God is based upon something in God's marvelous holiness, His wonderful goodness, His great plans, not based upon some goodness in us that He sees and desires to reward.
It is not a matter of forcing some goodness in us—nothing of the kind—but it is a matter of wisdom; it is altogether right and wise, but is based upon God's wisdom and upon His marvelous predestining. Now, of course, that does not mean at all that God does not use secondary causes; and it does not absolve us, in the least, from the tremendous responsibility that every human being has to turn from sin and to turn to God; we are to seek the grace of God, everyone who is saved is to reach every other possible one with the Gospel. But it does explain the fact that, with many, we will do our very utmost and we will get no response whatever; and with others, in seemingly most unexpected ways, we will get a very wonderful response from them; and the reason lies in God's marvelous plan, not in the difference in the goodness of the various people.
Well, we cannot take time to look into theological details of this beyond the main points in this class; but it is very important that you have the main points in mind, and that you see how the understanding developed in the Christian church. I do not believe it is right to speak of the Christian church as developing a doctrine, or originating a doctrine. The doctrines are in the Scripture; but the understanding of the gospel is developed as people discuss it; and people come to see what is in the Scripture; and they talk back and forth, and they are stimulated by the presentation of false doctrine in the church; and by the necessity of combating it; and thus in Christian history there has developed an understanding of these doctrines; and the putting of them into clear language that makes it easier for us to get; and for that we of course are grateful; and to no one are we more grateful than to Augustine in this regard.
6. The Council of Ephesus. We will not say much about the council of Ephesus here; we will have a good deal to say about it later on. But the council of Ephesus was a council which met in 431 AD. How many of you know where this council met? Will you raise your hand? 3 or 4 do, yes. I heard a very good guess here on the front row, it met in Ephesus. That is right. It met in the town of Ephesus, which is in Asia Minor, which I trust you all know.
Now Ephesus in Asia Minor was the place where the third ecumenical council met in 431 AD. This council we discuss later at considerable length, so there's no need of my anticipating now, except to mention that one of the less emphasized acts of the council was to condemn Coelestius. He was condemned by the council, and therefore you will find it stated in all books of theology that the council of Ephesus condemned Pelagianism. The members of the council were concerned about other matters; but it has generally been accepted since that time, that this ecumenical council determined that this is the correct attitude of the Christian church; and all Christian groups, I believe, having accepted the first two ecumenical councils as having made correct decisions on the matters of doctrine with which they dealt. This was one of the matters they did not stress, but nevertheless, they did touch—the condemnation of Coelestius. So we mention that as number 6. And here we should properly stop because we are under the heading of Augustine.
And yet I believe for the sake of logic and understanding, it will be worthwhile for us to take a brief glance into the subsequent future, so I'm going to make
7. Later History of the Controversy: Semi-Pelagianism. Semi-Pelagianism is a movement which came during the subsequent years in the western church. Now we are speaking largely, when we speak of Pelagianism, about the western church. We have some important events in this controversy in the Eastern Church, but the principal movers in these events were largely westerners. There is a difference between the eastern and the western church. The Eastern Church was tremendously interested in understanding details about the person of Christ. How can He be both God and man? How can we explain this? That is what the eastern church was interested in; details of that problem; speculative details that do not greatly affect our direct lives. That is, they may ultimately, but not immediately. But the ancient western church tended to take these matters as given in the Scripture, and be satisfied with them. The Bible says Jesus is God; the Bible says Jesus is man. Well He's a man like we are, and yet He's fully God, and yet he's one person; that's what the Scripture teaches. There was not much agitation in the western church on this point, except when it was brought in from the Eastern Church.
When Athanasius, in the eastern church, made his great stand for the full deity of Christ, the bishop of Rome stood with him; and most of the western church stood with him, except when the emperor Constantius forced them under penalty of losing everything, to say they believed in Arianism; but the minute his force was gone, they swung back to the simple acceptance of the basic Scriptural teaching of these great theological manuscripts. But in the west, the practical questions assumed more importance than the theoretical; and the most practical question is the question of Pelagianism: is human nature inherently sound, or is it inherently corrupt? That is the basic question in the practical sphere. Not what are the details of the person of Christ, but how can man be saved? That is what was agitating the western church. So in the western world we find this tremendous discussion over Pelagianism; and in the east they did not pay a great deal of attention to it on the whole; and in the council of Ephesus, which though it was only eastern bishops who were present, has been accepted by the whole church as an ecumenical council. At that time, they just incidentally declared that Coelestius was worthy of utter condemnation.
But now in the western church, the Pelagian teachings had been widely distributed; and not only that but they fit in with the natural human tendencies, which you find in all churches and in all groups. When we get our attention away from the great central doctrine of salvation, we very easily drop into a Pelagianizing tendency. We want to help people; we must help people; we find what's good in them; we easily drift into this tendency of saying, "Well, look at all the good in these people; let's just see if we can't help them to realize their goodness that is in them."
And you find that most Christian groups pass through this cycle. First there is the great emphasis on the grace of God and salvation through that alone; then people get to forgetting these great supernatural doctrines, and putting their emphasis on helping people and a more humanistic level. And you get to a place where you have the churches change, a place which externally appears much more attractive than when they're arguing about doctrine, and insisting on these precise points of doctrine. But then they do not stay at that point; from that, they soon move on to the point where they begin questioning the ethical principles; and questioning the moral principles; and soon they lose their ethical character, after giving up their theological character.
Well, in the western church there was a strong tendency toward Pelagianism. Pelagianism was condemned by the council of Ephesus; condemned by the bishop of Rome; thoroughly controverted by Augustine's writing.
There developed in France a strong movement which their opponents called Semi-Pelagianism. I don't know if you need to remember that at first they called themselves Basilians; but that would be a name taken from Marseilles, which was their principal center—Marseilles in southern France. There at Marseilles were men who developed the idea that, "Well," they said, "Augustine was right, and divine grace is tremendously important, and man is not morally sound," but they said, "Augustine went too far in thinking man was entirely corrupt and in bondage." They said, "Man is more diseased or crippled rather than completely corrupt." They said, "There is a crippled state, a diseased state, which needs the grace of God," but they said, "Divine grace and human will jointly accomplish the work of conversion and sanctification; and ordinarily man must take the first step." So this semi-Pelagian view, this view which was more or less halfway between Augustine and Pelagius, but a little nearer Pelagius—let us say one-third of the way towards Augustine from Pelagius—which, they called themselves at first, Basilians, but soon came to be called Semi-Pelagians.
This view spread over a large portion of France, and into other parts of the western world; and it continued for quite a time, for several decades; there were two synods in France where it gained a victory, and where Augustine's doctrine of predestination was condemned, but Augustine was not named. One would hardly name Augustine when they were opposing him, as his name had too great a standing all through the church.
Then, however, a strong movement developed against this Semi-Pelagianism; and in 496 the Bishop of Rome issued a decree in which he declared that the writings of Augustine were among books ecclesiastically sanctioned, and those of the two main leaders of the French semi-Pelagians were condemned—were forbidden for Christians to read; and there was a synod at Orange in 529, in which the Semi-Pelagian system was condemned, without mention of its leaders. The Bishop of Rome had condemned the leaders, but now this synod of Orange condemned the view, giving 25 chapters of statements in which they declare a view that was much more Augustinian than the view of the Semi-Pelagians. And so this declaration of the synod of Orange in 529 marked the end of Semi-Pelagianism as a strong force in the church. From that time on, it was not only considered heretical to support Pelagius but to give views which were as near those of Pelagius as those held by the so-called Semi-Pelagians.
However, Schaff refers to the Synod of Orange as the victory of Semi-Augustinianism. And it is customary for Protestant writers to refer to the attitude of the Roman church through the Middle Ages as Semi-Augustinian. They honor Augustine tremendously, and there's much in his writing to which they give great sanction. But on his great doctrines of sin and grace, they fall very considerably short of going the whole way that Augustine went; and in fact, movements in the Roman Church have been condemned and destroyed which were simply following Augustine's views.
In the 17th century, there was the Jansenist movement in the Roman Catholic Church, which stressed the writings of Augustine. Pascal, the great scientist and great Christian writer, belonged to this Jansenist movement. It was a very strong movement in France for a time. But the Jesuits attacked the movement; the Pope condemned the movement; the king ordered it destroyed, and the monasteries in France in which the Jansenist leaders had been, were completely taken to pieces and eradicated, and everybody removed from them; and the nuns who held this view were taken and divided up among other convents, scattered among them.
At a cemetery in France, where one of the Jansenist leaders had been buried, someone said that a great act of healing occurred; and the people who'd been moved by the much superior movement of the Jansenists, began to gather around the place and look for miracles; and the French King gave orders that no congregation of people was to be allowed to come around that cemetery. So some wit put up a sign one night, and next morning they found it: "By order of the King, God almighty is forbidden to perform miracles at this place."
But that Jansenist movement, which is very important in the history of France in the 17th century, was simply a revival of the full Augustinianism within the Roman Catholic Church. Now there were individuals through the centuries, who followed Augustine very closely, but the mass of the leaders held to the view of Semi-Augustinianism; and so we make that
8. Semi-Augustinianism. Semi-Augustinianism came to be the general view of the western church. It may be one-third of the way from full Augustinianism to Pelagianism. But all through the centuries there have been individuals, and some of them rather important leaders, who have been followers of the strict Augustinianism; both Luther and Calvin felt that the main thing they were doing was bringing the views of Augustine clearly to the front, making them available to the people at large. Then we go on to
a. The Donatist Controversy. We have seen how Augustine, for a period of more than ten years, devoted a great part of his energy to the Donatist controversy. And this Donatist controversy resulted in almost entirely destroying from North Africa a rival system which claimed to hold exactly the same doctrinal views as the catholic church. This greatly strengthened the idea that the church must be one church. And many would go on from that to the natural corollary: and have one head. Augustine never said that, but many would naturally go on.
So the Donatist controversy, and Augustine's writings and his activity in the Donatist controversy, did much to strengthen the development toward one unified church with a head who had power and authority to affect all portions of that church. So Augustine, through the Donatist controversy, gave a great push forward to the development of the Roman Catholic system of government, even though he did not directly participate in any such system. Then
b. The City of God. And we've already seen the effects of his great work, The City of God, in this regard. He had a great concept—the two cities, the city of man and the city of God—but then he went ahead and in his book he devoted himself mostly to trying to prove paganism was wrong and Christianity was right; and he did a great service in doing that; but his great concept, unfortunately, he did not have some spur or stimulus to work out fully, and explain clearly just what he meant. And, we believe that what he actually had in mind was that the city of God is the working of God, through His grace, to build up the kingdom of God, the city of the truly redeemed.
Nevertheless, the concept, with old pagan Rome and the city of God—superficially considered—stimulated the development of the new city of Rome, the new supposedly heavenly city which they organized and controlled, which would be heavenly instead of earthly; and thus stimulated the idea of this analogy of the Roman Catholic system.
It had a more theoretical connection with it, almost, than the Donatist controversy, which concerned itself simply with Africa and had no relation actually to the rest of the world. But this is a result which Augustine certainly never intended, and which is not a logical result of his activity in this direction, but was a very natural one. Then
2. The Ultimate Effect of Augustine's Work in this Regard. The ultimate effect of Augustine's work in this regard would relate to the Pelagian Controversy, in which the stress is not on the organization, but on the views—on the theology—on the grace of God as absolute necessity, And this phase of Augustine's work had its most direct result in the 16th century, when Luther and Calvin read Augustine; and were stirred with the clear presentation of his great Biblical principles; and stimulated to do the tremendous work in connection with the Protestant Reformation. This was a delayed result of Augustine's work: to give tremendous stimulus to the Protestant Reformation; and thus to do much to tear down the power of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, which his other two activities had contributed toward building up.
a. The Famous Sermon. This sermon was quoted through the Middle Ages—over and over. Augustine is one of the two or three greatest of all the ancient church leaders. Augustine said, "Rome has spoken, the cause is finished," therefore what Rome says settles the matter. Now, of course, it is now proven that he didn't say that; and Roman Catholic writers admit he did not say it now; but it was said all through the Middle Ages that he had said it. And while he did not say those specific words, with only a little bit of misunderstanding, his sermon can be twisted to give that idea; because Augustine was anxious to see the end of this Pelagian heresy, and he said, "Here the Bishop of Rome had declared his thoroughgoing agreement. Look, we're all agreed like this; all have studied it, and here's this letter from the Bishop of Rome; he says it's utterly un-Christian, outside the pale of true Christianity; here's all this agreement, the thing is finished now; let's get rid of it and go on to serve the Lord."
b. Reaction to Zosimus' Attitude. And one who has an idea that the Bishop of Rome is head of the church, can find aid and comfort from that sermon, even though the specific things they quote are not in it. But of course in the providence of God, there was, even while he gave that sermon—as we noticed yesterday—there was on the high seas a ship carrying a letter from the bishop to the Carthaginian church, telling him they must not condemn Coelestius and Pelagius because they are wonderful godly men. And so it contradicted everything that Bishop Innocent had said. And when Augustine got that letter, that proves his attitude toward the bishop of Rome. If Augustine had immediately said, "Oh, I'm so sorry; I was mistaken; I thought the Roman Church condemned Pelagius, but I see now that it was a misunderstanding; the Roman Bishop said we must not criticize Pelagius; well, he's the head of the church, we'll do what he says."
But that's not what Augustine said at all. When they got this letter from Zosimus, the African synods, under Augustine's influence—though he was in no sense official leader, he was a man whose personal influence was greater than that of anyone else in the church—under his influence they took a strong stand that Zosimus was wrong; they declared that they were against Pelagius and Coelestius, and they tried to get the emperor to act directly contrary to what the Bishop of Rome had said. Well, it's pretty hard to get out of that any submission to a Bishop of Rome. It's pretty hard to get out of that, so that it controverts the superficial effect of his sermon. So that is important to have in mind.
c. Other Matters. If time permitted, we could take up three-quarters of an hour, going into details of situations where men who, for moral delinquency, were condemned and deposed by the church in Africa, appealed to the Bishop of Rome; and the Bishop of Rome ordered they be reinstated; and the African Church refused to listen to the Bishop of Rome; and even sent him letters telling him that matters like this should be determined by people on the ground, by people who know the facts; they even passed a ruling that in the church anyone who should appeal to a leader across the sea, was thereby proving himself not a worthy member of the church. Well, now that is going pretty far away from thinking the Pope is the authority, and we should do what he said; it's going pretty far in the opposite direction.
And the bishops of Rome were getting—some of them—rather anxious to assert their authority by this time; and for one representative of the bishop of Rome, who came to Carthage and declared his authority in very strong language, the Carthaginian church wrote to the bishop of Rome telling him this man was not desirable to have in their midst, and please take him away; they didn't want to have any more connections with him. So there are a number of these details; but they fit—coming together—they show that Augustine held the view of Cyprian, that the bishop was the leader of the local church, and all the bishops stood together, making one unified catholic church; but that it did not recognize any official superiority of one bishop over another, and certainly not of one bishop over the rest.
So Augustine's attitude in this regard is something with which we should be familiar. There is no man who is more venerated in the western church by Protestants than Augustine, because our great central doctrines of Protestantism trace back to his teaching. There is no man in the ancient church who is more venerated by Roman Catholics than Augustine, because so much of the development of the hierarchy traces back to influences which he forwarded by certain of his activities. But the claims that he held the present view of the supremacy of the bishop of Rome over the church is one which is utterly unfounded; and it's easily disproven by his own writings as they have been passed down to us within the Roman Catholic Church.
We were talking about K, The Relation of St. Augustine and the Church of Rome. And we noticed first those matters in which Augustine unintentionally gave impetus to the movement which resulted eventually in the development of the theory of a tightly organized church, with the Roman Bishop at its head. We noticed, secondly, those phases of Augustine's activity which in the end resulted in the revolt from that, which were the background of the Reformation for Luther and Calvin. Then third, we noticed the specific relations between Augustine and the Bishop of Rome; and the last of these that we were looking at just at the end of the hour; we did not go into detail on—but merely mentioned the fact—that when the Bishop of Rome tried to interfere in local affairs in the church of Africa, the church of Africa—which was very largely under Augustine's influence at the time—refused to accept any such dictation. They did it always in very polite language; but they insisted that matters in Africa can be settled by people in Africa; and that no one in Africa should appeal to someone beyond the seas for freeing him from a discipline which had been made against him by the people in Africa who knew the situation.
Now from that, we will move on to
L. Other Writings of St. Augustine. We have noticed particularly those writings of St. Augustine which refer to the controversies in which he was engaged. We noticed how many he was engaged in, and how thoroughly he carried them out. I'm not going to go into detail on these other writings, but I'm trying to call your attention to the fact that we've already mentioned, that Augustine was the most extensive writer of the ancient church, except for Origen. Origen, of course, wrote tremendous amounts of material. But Augustine wrote over a thousand works; it may even be that he wrote more than Origen did. And his writing is different from that of Origen in that he took more care with his work. A great many of Origen's were simply taken down in shorthand from his lectures, and distributed.
Origen took tremendous care with textual criticism; he spent his time for many, many years, carefully studying the text of the O.T.; comparing the different manuscripts; comparing the Septuagint; he was tremendously interested in textual criticism, and in this he did extremely careful work. This was a field in which Augustine was not interested.
But Origen let his mind run freely on philosophical matters of all sorts; when he was dealing with the great doctrines of the faith, he was very loyal to the Word of God; he intended always to be loyal to the Word of God, but in his lectures with people who almost idolized him, he dealt with just about every speculative matter you could think of that related to the Bible; and where there was no evidence, he let his imagination run; and if you will take these as simply guesses, there's no harm in it. But it does mean that a substantial part of what Origen wrote is not of great value for us, for that reason.
Now Augustine was in a different situation. Augustine was not merely a teacher as Origen was, with people whom you were trying to interest, and trying to get them to work along the line you were speaking of; he was a practical worker in the church, constantly dealing directly with problems, and anxious to bring the Word of God to bear on these problems. Therefore, almost everything he wrote had a relationship to a practical problem in the spiritual life of his people; in his own spiritual life; or in some movement or some tendency; or some leadership which he felt was harmful and dangerous to the church of his day.
So the result is that there is not a great deal of a speculative nature in Augustine's work. There is some, but as a rule, in his work—particularly after he became bishop—he is trying to deal with important situations; and therefore, he is very, very careful in what he says; to have it closely in line with the Scripture; and in line with what he feels will be helpful; and therefore, Augustine's work had a tremendous influence, not only then, but all through the Middle Ages, and even in modern times.
His Confessions have been translated into many different languages; they have appeared in new editions repeatedly; even within the last 20 years, they have been reprinted two or three times. His City of God has been reprinted many times, and translated into many languages—not nearly as much as the confessions—but yet much more than most works that were written as long ago as that.
But these are not the only works of Augustine which have had great influence. His anti-Pelagian writings have had a tremendous influence. I think we can safely say there's a strong chance that the ancient church would have drifted into Pelagianism if it were not for Augustine's strong fight against it. As it was, he woke people up to the terrible danger of Pelagianism. As a result of his efforts, the leaders of the church took a strong stand against Pelagianism; and then when the semi-Pelagianism developed, he began writing against that; and in the end, that was condemned by most of the church leaders; so that what the church drifted into, we call semi-Augustinianism; while it is not really close to the teachings of the Scripture; and it contributed to the turning away of the Roman Catholic church in the Middle Ages from the clear truth of the Scriptures; yet it was nothing like as bad as it would have been if it had gone all the way into Pelagianism. And there is a strong possibility it would have, if it were not for the great influence of his writing.
And then of course—in addition to that—these writings of Augustine had a tremendous influence in modern times. Luther and Calvin got their teachings from the Word of God; but it is hard to say how much they were influenced in their understanding, and how much sooner they may have come to the understanding of many important points, through having Augustine's writings and Augustine's views, points which they doubtless would have gotten from Scripture eventually, which might have taken quite a bit more time. It left them that much more time to be active influences in the church, the fact that they had Augustine's influence upon them; and this was largely through his anti-Pelagian writings.
His writings against the Donatists, as we noticed, had a very considerable influence in the development of the medieval idea of the one church; that you might not break away from the true church, but if you hold the true gospel, you should be at one with the true church. That was carried of course to an extent far beyond what Augustine ever dreamed of, and we feel that that is a tendency which has wrought much harm; but Augustine's influence in it cannot be underrated.
The influence of his book, The City of God, we mentioned, and it was very important in various ways.
Augustine wrote many exegetical works. He wrote a commentary in 12 books, in which he dealt with the first three chapters of Genesis. He wrote other commentaries on the rest of Genesis, but this longest one was on the first three chapters. He published a long series of sermons on the Psalms; another on the Gospel of John; one on the first epistle of John; an exposition on the Sermon on the Mount; a harmony of the Gospels; a commentary on the epistle to the Galatians; an unfinished commentary on the epistle to the Romans. These many commentaries which he issued vary in quality; some of them he worked over extremely carefully; others he gave as sermons, going straight through the book.
The same thing is true of Calvin. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible is very uneven; some of his volumes he issued in several editions and worked over very carefully; and others of them are simply a series of sermons which he gave, just about as he gave them the first time. So some of his commentaries are tremendously valuable; others, while always abounding in interesting presentation and clear exposition, are not nearly so valuable, because they did not have a fraction of the work that some did. That is true of Calvin, as it is of Augustine.
Augustine, toward the end of his life, was visited by an Arian bishop; and this bishop came in and wanted to talk with him, to discuss Arianism with Augustine. This was about 15 years before the end of his life. This man came in and wanted to talk to him; and Augustine was glad to talk to him; he said, "Just a minute; I'll call in the shorthand writers, and they'll take down our discussion." "Oh," this man said, "I wish you wouldn't do that. I'd feel much freer to talk without having everything written down." So Augustine said, "All right," so they went ahead and talked without the shorthand writers.
And then the thing happened, that Augustine found several times happened, when he had a discussion with somebody without any stenographer present to take it down; the man would go away and say, "Oh, I completely defeated Augustine, I silenced him." If they said that, when he had it all taken down, he simply sent out a copy of what was said. People could see what the truth was, and it's one thing that made him more and more insistent on doing that. So often he found people would misrepresent the discussions if it hadn't been taken down here. Well, in this case, he talked with the bishop for a good part of an afternoon; they went into matters concerning the Trinity; Augustine felt that they were sort of laying foundations, going to go on to other discussions; he let the man talk quite extensively, to get his view rather fully; he put in a few questions, a few comments, intending to go into it more fully the next day; and next morning he found a note there. The bishop said, "I would like to see you some more, but unfortunately I have to move on, have to be in Carthage in a couple of days." So he had no further discussion with him. Well, Augustine thought this was unfortunate, he'd like to have gone more fully into detail on these matters.
Then he got a letter from someone in Carthage; and this Arian bishop had come to Carthage and was holding meetings all over Carthage and telling everybody, "I had a big discussion with Augustine in Hippo, and he could not answer my arguments; he was unable to prove that there was not a time when Christ was not." Well, of course, Augustine hadn't tried particularly to prove it; he'd been getting the man's view and raising a few points here and there incidentally, but expecting to go on the next day or so.
The Arian bishop reported, "He couldn't answer my arguments; he was absolutely stumped," and he thought that it was helping greatly in the spread of his ideas in Carthage. So Augustine sat down and wrote a long book on the Trinity; he called it Fifteen Books on the Trinity. Of course, to them, a book was a division, in those days, of a good many chapters, like a book of the Bible, not like a book in our modern sense. But it was a very sizeable work. Schaff says of it, "It is the most profound and discriminating production of the ancient church on the Trinity. In no respect inferior to similar works of Athanasius and the two Gregory's and for centuries final to the matter of the Trinity."
So here is a matter on which Augustine never had any great controversy, which the Council of Constantinople, before his conversion, had settled as far as the Roman world as a whole was concerned. It was not a vital issue among the Christians in the Roman Empire, but it was among the barbarians; and there was an occasional man advancing Arian views; but this incident stirred Augustine to study this particular matter and deal with it fully; and the work that he wrote had a profound and tremendous influence on the ancient church, and on through the Middle Ages.
Oh, we should perhaps just mention, that he wrote a lot of practical and ascetic works. I've already referred to them. Perhaps we should specifically mention them again here.
But there is one very interesting thing that Augustine did, which shows the tremendous seriousness of the man. I know of hardly anybody else who has done quite anything like this. In 427, when he was 73 years of age, he followed the proverb: "In the multitude of words, there wants not sin." He remembered that the Lord said that we must give account for every idle word, and we are commanded to judge ourselves that we be not judged, and he said, "I should judge myself," and so he wrote a work which he called Retractions. And in this Retractions, he went through everything that he had written, starting with when he was first converted; he went through all his works, and as he went through, he tried to find whatever there might be which he now thought was wrong; and any point of fact or of judgment, of doctrinal viewpoint, or even an attitude which he felt was deserving of criticism; he wrote it down in his Retractions. So he went through all his works, taking them in chronological order from the beginning; writing a statement of any point at which he felt now, that what he had said needed revision, or change, or anything that he regretted that he had said.
So here is one of the few cases in history where you can know exactly what the man thought at the end of his life. Professor William F. Albright, retired from Johns Hopkins University last year; he has been one of the most productive scholars in the field of archeology in modern times; and one thing I like about Professor Albright is: he is not like so many scholars who will want to wait 20 years to write something that's absolutely the last word on anything. Any new thing that's come up, he has immediately published his opinion about it; and that's tremendously helpful to the advance of scholarship. Because immediately you get his insight, his observation of his ideas, and the other scholars can study it.
But it has its disadvantages, that he immediately publishes his first ideas on it. A year later he may, in the light of new evidence, think the exact opposite on a further consideration of it. I remember one time when the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, of which he was then editor, came out with a heading: "A Revolution in the Chronology of the Ancient East. New discoveries on the Upper Euphrates disprove the whole idea of the early chronology, it's three centuries later than we thought." Well, then, everybody jumped on them.
The next issue came out—three months later—"I wish to retract what I said in the last issue. In the light of evidence that has been presented, I see it's been completely wrong. This material is important and interesting but it does not make a revolution."
Then the next one came out, three months after that. He said, "I wish to retract what I said in the last one; on further investigation I find that this evidence does prove that there is a revolution in the chronology of the ancient east."
Well, in the course of the next ten years, practically every other scholar came to adopt the view he had presented, but gradually, one by one. But anybody picking up one of these bulletins, they won't know what his opinion is on it unless they've got the latest one.
Back in 1929, he gave me about 40 reprints of articles he had written before that; and he'd say, "Now that one has been completely revised—that one there—I used to cite it, but I don't anymore; this one here has got some good stuff in it, but a lot of it that I think now is wrong." And if you're going to quote anything from him, you have to know when he wrote it. He has been a very productive scholar and very helpful to the advance of scholarship; but it has been his way of saying immediately what he thinks in helping others to react to what he says and make progress. Most scholars are not like that though they are to some extent like that.
I remember one man Fairbairn wrote a book, and then later he wrote another book which he called Fairbairn against Fairbairn, because he was now attacking the views that he had given in his previous book.
Well in the case of Augustine, we have his Retractions; and it isn't as much of a retraction as it is an examination, a revision; there is nothing really vital that he is taking back; but on little points where he was thinking differently now, or where he perhaps erred in some minor matter of fact, he tells us, at the age of 73, what he wished he had said; what he would say if he were saying it now. It says the Retractions of Augustine give beautiful evidence of his love of truth, his conscientiousness and his humility. Now,
M. The Last Days of Augustine. And before telling about the specific things about his own personal experience in his last days, I want to say a few words about the historical developments. Because it is impossible for us to think of him, as he lay on his deathbed, without being conscious of what was happening then in the political field. So,
a. The Vandal Entrance into Spain. Now we have noticed that there was a Germanic tribe, called the Vandals. From this tribe came Stilicho, the great general of Honorius—practically administrator of the Empire—who held the various barbarian tribes at bay as long as he lived; and finally, when he was accused of treason and killed in prison, the result was the Goths were able to penetrate to Rome, and sack Rome.
I like to think of Stilicho, because it reminds us of the fact that the Vandals were like other groups; they had their good people, they had their bad people; there is no group of people which is good or bad. But a group of people can have good leadership or bad leadership. I mean by a group, a large group—a tremendously large group. It is made up of good people and bad people. Now the Vandals were just like any other of the various groups. They had their good people; they had their bad people among them. The question is: who is in the leadership? And almost any group can become very bad or very good, depending on the leadership.
Well, now, in the case of the Vandals, they penetrated the Roman Empire; and they made their way down to what is now France, and down into Spain; and there in Spain they established control, though they constantly were under some attack from others—like a group of the Goths who were there, who claimed to be a part of the Empire and subject to the emperor, though they were ruling as they felt like, but giving nominal allegiance to the empire. Well, the Vandals established quite a sizeable kingdom there in Spain. Now we want to mention
b. The Western Empire. We have noticed that Honorius, son of Theodosius, was a very weak ruler; and what happened during his reign depended on who was the prime minister, and how he managed to handle things. The prime minister was always in danger; somebody might turn Honorius against him, and he'd be put out, and they'd have a new one.
But now Honorius dies; a usurper takes over for a brief time; and then the cousin, who was over the eastern empire, sent an army, destroyed the usurper, and established Honorius' young son as emperor. But he was, if anything, a weaker man than his father had been; and the government was largely in the hands of his mother, who had really no ability for statecraft at all. She would like this person or that person, and let them run it. So the western empire is in a very weak situation. Now
c. Count Boniface. Count Boniface was a Roman general who was in command of Africa. Previous to that he had been in charge of armies who had driven back large barbarian groups. He was a very capable general. There was another general who was equally capable; these two had led in the defense of the empire; but now the other, Aëtius—I don't want to bother you with his name—he was in Italy; Boniface was in charge in Africa. In 420, Boniface's wife died; Boniface was a very earnest Christian man. He was a good friend of St. Augustine. And when his wife died, he said, "I'm going to leave the Empire, give up administrative positions; I'm going to go out into the desert, become a monk and devote myself to contemplation, study of the Scripture, and contemplation of the great things of Christianity."
And ordinarily nothing would please Augustine better than for somebody to do a thing like that. But in this case, Augustine said to Boniface, "Boniface, you've got a key position here in the Roman Empire; you are the bulwark, the protection of the Empire, and the establishment of sound justice in Africa; I think you ought to spend all the time you can studying the Scripture in devotion to the Lord; but I think that in your particular case, I say a thing I would say to nobody else: that you would serve the Lord better to continue in your position, and do the good you're doing to the whole civilized world in that way, instead of leaving it and devoting yourself to contemplative life."
Well, Boniface took Augustine's advice; but two years later he was sent on a mission, representing the emperor, to the court of the Vandals in Spain; and there he fell in love with a young Vandal maiden, and married her. And this established a friendly relationship between him and this group of the Vandals. Now, Aëtius, the other great general in Italy, about 5 years after this, decided that he would like to get rid of Boniface, so he would be the only leader in the empire, next to the emperor. So he succeeded in persuading the emperor that Boniface was beginning to waver in his allegiance, and that he ought to call him back in order to interview him and find out for sure if he was. And then he wrote letters to his good friend Boniface, and he told him that the emperor had turned against him; and that if he were to come back, the empress would seize him and put him in prison and kill him. And that had happened to Stilcho a few years before; and Aëtius was able to write Boniface in such a way as to convince him that these things were being done against him, and that Aëtius was his only friend; but at the same time in Italy he was telling everybody that Boniface was turning; and then when Boniface refused to come back, he said to the emperor, "See, what I told you, he's giving up his loyalty; he's going to try to become independent of the empire."
And the result was that the emperor sent a more urgent letter, urging Boniface to come back; and the result was that Boniface declared he would not come; and they sent a small army to bring him back and he repulsed this army; and then, knowing he could not meet the whole force of the empire, he sent to his friends the Vandals, and he said to them, "Will you come over to Africa and help me? I am being undermined and would be killed. If you will come and help me, I'll give you a reward and you will help me to defend myself against the empire."
Well, the king of the Vandals had died; and his half-brother who was a generous sort of a fellow, but an able fellow, Genseric, he gladly accepted the invitation, from Boniface. He got ships, and Boniface provided ships; and some say 80 thousand Vandal warriors came to Africa from Spain; Gibbon thinks it was only 50. The Spaniards were glad to get rid of Genseric; and they did everything they could to help him get across the Mediterranean to Africa.
But meantime, there was another official in the court who said to the queen in Ravenna, in Italy, he said, "You know, I think there's some mistake here." He said, "Will you let me go and try to talk to Boniface before we have an all-out war?" And she said, "All right," so he went under a flag of truce and got to Africa and talked to Boniface, and told him what he had heard; and he said, "Well, Aëtius has been saying the opposite about you, up there, and I can't believe that." And Boniface got out the letter, and showed him what it said. And this man, whose name was Zerias was able to persuade Boniface that it was all Aëtius' fault, and actually the Queen wanted to be friendly with him; and he should be loyal, of course, to the Roman Empire.
And so Boniface declared his loyalty again; and then he went to Western Africa, and met the Vandal group and told them, "I've made friends with the empire again; I won't need your help." Well, they said, "We've come down to Africa; we were expecting to take North Africa as a reward for helping you. We're certainly not going back now." So all that Boniface could do was to gather an army as quickly as he could, meet the Vandals, and try to stop them; and he failed.
And now the 80,000 Vandal warriors were there, in North Africa; and as they came along, they'd gathered the Moors and the wild tribes who were back in from the Mediterranean; they welcomed them into their army; and they increased their army from these people, who naturally disliked the Roman Empire; and they gathered more and more of them; and they made their way across Africa, and within six months, they'd taken all of North Africa except the three leading cities.
So that when Augustine lay on his deathbed in Hippo, around him you could look out from the walls and see villages burning; you saw marauders rushing here and there, destroying houses, taking people captives, pillaging and robbing; how much of it was the Vandals; how much of it was the wild North African tribes that gathered with them; how much of it was due to the leadership of Genseric, this degenerate who had the power of control among them, it was hard to say.
Some say that a good bit of it was due to the fact that they were Arians, Ulfilas having converted the Goths and the Vandals; and they looked on the Trinitarians as utterly wrong, and were glad to destroy them any way they could. How much that might enter into it is hard to say. But the fact is that North Africa, the finest of the Roman provinces; the one to which Romans fled for safety when Rome was sacked; was now ravaged and pillaged by the Vandals to such an extent that the name Vandal has come to mean simply wrecking without purpose, utter destruction, annihilation, to accomplish nothing. And vandalism has come to have that meaning; you will find it in the newspaper occasionally today—vandalism. But that was going on all around outside, while Augustine lay on his deathbed. So that it must have been a very sad situation to Augustine, who had spent his life building up the church in North Africa; defending it, solving the various schisms; gathering the people together into fellowship, one with another; spreading the word of God; to have the whole region desolated, destroyed, and wrecked in this way; while only the strong walls of Hippo and of two other towns protected the inhabitants of those three towns from the destruction that the Vandals were carrying on. But Augustine's eyes were on the Lord.
2. Augustine's Death. Augustine's eyes were on the Lord. He did not know whether the end of the world had now come; whether it meant that the whole world was now going to be destroyed and ravished. Actually it was the end of ancient civilization; very soon the dark ages descended over Europe, which lasted for centuries; Augustine didn't know, but he did know that the Lord's plan was best; the Lord's purposes were right; and Augustine carried on his work in Hippo as best he could. He was 76 years of age; and then he weakened into what everybody realized was his last illness; and for 30 days he lay on his bed, and he had the penitential Psalms written in large letters on the ceiling; and he read over those words, and meditated on them through those 30 days. Meditating on his life; thinking of the errors and faults he had committed; trusting them to the love of Christ; looking to Christ to fit him for his entrance into the eternal land.
And there peacefully, with his friends around him, he died in Hippo; but his life work, as far as Africa was concerned, was a complete ruin. As far as Christendom was concerned, his writings and his influence have been and are effective even till today.
I interrupted our sequence of centuries to give a whole Roman Numeral to Augustine; and M, the last we spoke of, was the Last Days of Augustine. We spoke, 1, of the Political Developments; and 2, Augustine's Death; and there we noticed something of the last acts that he performed in his final illness; his lying there in the bed with the penitential Psalms on the wall above him; where he constantly went over and over them during his last hours before his death. We noticed the situation, with the Vandals all over North Africa, except these three cities; and all the work that he had built up in his lifetime, as far as external evidence is concerned; seemingly completely disappearing under the Vandal attack. Now, we go on to
That is to say the 400's. We have already discussed some things about the Fifth Century AD.
A. The Political Developments. And this is a century differing from any that ever occurred before or since, at least since recorded history has been at all full. It is a century of great change, a century of the end of the Roman Empire, and of the beginning of the Middle Ages. We notice how in 378 the Emperor was killed in a battle with the Goths; but Theodosius stopped their progress, and they settled down; it could have been just an individual occurrence; but it wasn't; actually, it was the beginning of the big movement of the Germanic tribes into the Empire, which during this fifth century brought the Roman Empire to an end—at least from the viewpoint of us westerners. That is to say the Roman Empire was originally a western movement; it was in Europe for many centuries before it got into Asia at all; it never extended a long distance into Asia, so that as you think of the Roman Empire as it has been through history, it comes to an end.
But as you think of the Roman Empire as Diocletian divided it into two parts—the eastern and western—the eastern part continued for a thousand years after the western was ended. So the Roman Empire in that sense did not end until a thousand years later. But the western. part of the Roman Empire—which after all is where it started—it ends during this century.
Our interest is particularly in Europe, because the background of our religious life and of our cultural life goes back to Europe; and in Europe this century was a century of a complete change from the condition of the three previous centuries: most of southern Europe, the southern two-thirds of Europe, was people who lived under Roman law, Roman civilization, Roman government; one settled government controlled it, and it established a very great measure of justice, law and order.
Then you have, in this century, a complete change from that situation, until you get the situation that has prevailed ever since: in which Europe has been divided up into little groups, little sections, squabbling with one another, as they have done ever since that time. And so it is a time of tremendous upheaval and change as far as all western civilization is concerned. And that we should be familiar with, about the fifth century. Now to go into the political history of the fifth century, it would occupy a month or two; but we will not do that. I want you to have a few of the main elements in mind. So under that, I will entitle:
1. The Sack of Rome. And we have already discussed this to some extent under Augustine. The city was entered by invaders and plundered. This occurred in 410 AD and it was the first time for over 800 years that foreign invaders had entered the city of Rome. So, it was a great turning point in world history. We noticed the group that did it. I have called them, to you, only the Goths. For the sake of this course, it is not particularly important to notice that there were two main groups of Goths—the eastern and the western—and this is the western, the Visigoths. That is not particularly important from the viewpoint of our particular course. I gave you the name of the king of the Goths, Alaric. It is a fact that he permitted the sack to continue for only three days; he drew his army out at the end of three days and put a stop to the plunder. I've never heard of an army in modern times which has been as well-controlled, as well-handled, as Alaric's army was then. In fact, Jackson, in his history of the Christian Church up to 461 AD, remarks upon it, that when Rome was sacked 1100 years later by an army half of Spaniards and half of Germans, that the plundering lasted far longer and was far more bloody and far more destructive than that of Alaric and the Goths. But he made a tremendous impression on the world, because it was the first time that the mistress of the Empire had been plundered by foreign invaders in 800 years.
So Alaric withdrew his army, and they eventually headed westward; and eventually the western Goths settled in Spain, where probably most of their descendants have remained to this day.
2. The Vandals. Here again, we have already spoken of them; we noticed that the Vandals, like the Goths, were Arians. They were nominal Christians; there doubtless were many real Christians among them, many who were openly professing Christians; but there was an attitude toward Christianity which was far different from what you would expect from heathen. Alaric's army had been very careful not to injure the churches of Rome; nor anyone who was finding refuge in the Church; and people who took valuable things into a church, and kept them there, Alaric's army did not interfere with.
The Vandals were Arians, like the Goths had been. They came down through France, across the Rhine, and eventually made their way to Spain; and then we noticed how they were invited over into Africa; and how they went; and then how Count Boniface, though he had invited them, told them he didn't need them any more; they could go back; but they didn't go back, and they defeated him, and they took all of Africa. The result was that in 430 when Augustine died, the Vandals had all of Africa in their hands except the three main cities. According to some of the stories that are told about it, their treatment of the people of North Africa was utterly barbaric—indescribable the way they destroyed houses and wrecked that area. Some of the stories may possibly be overdrawn; we don't know, but it certainly was one of the most barbarous destructions in modern history, in any event.
Alaric's men seemed to have felt much in common with the catholic Christians, and so they spared the churches. The Vandals, rather, felt their difference from them; being Arians, they felt a profound dislike of the catholic Christians—or Trinitarian Christians, we might call them—which dislike lasted through the next century of Vandal dominion in Africa.
The emperor made a peace treaty with the Vandal king, in which the agreement was made that the emperor should retain Carthage, but that everything else in Africa would be in the hands of the Vandals. Well, they already had everything else; they held the rest of Africa; they destroyed Hippo; they wrecked things pretty badly. But they settled and made their homes there; and Genseric, their king, set to work to build a free city, which none of these other barbaric tribes ever did.
Now we noticed—I mentioned to you last time—that the king of the Vandals was a man who was not properly the next in line for the kingship; he was a man who had been looked down on by the rest of the family; but had seized the power in Spain, and he was evidently a very brutal rude sort of a fellow; and he probably put people of his own type into the leadership; and it is not fair to judge a whole people by the activities which come about under certain leaders. Every nation has got wicked people among them, and kind-hearted among them. In this case, the brutal and ruthless people were in control.
Anyway, he made a treaty with the Roman Emperor—emperor of the west—whereby Rome would keep Carthage, and the Vandals would have all the rest of North Africa. And there was a region which had Roman cities all along the coast, with finely built buildings, with a fine municipal life, with a high Roman culture. It was the granary of Italy; they got a great part of their food from there; it was a very fine province of the Roman Empire; now it was just utterly wrecked and left waste, and it has never altogether recovered from that to this day.
But the king and his people were not satisfied with this; and within a few years, in 439, his army suddenly attacked and took Carthage; and he dated his reign after that from the taking of Carthage, counting that only then had he really begun to reign. But he took over Carthage, and made it his capital.
And then he organized a fleet and began to sail through the Mediterranean. He said, "I'm going to start out to punish those people with whom God is angry." And the people with whom God is angry seemed to be wherever the wind happened to blow them. They'd land most anywhere, and they'd attack the village and destroy it; and they attacked Rome itself; and for 14 days his men systematically carted off movable property from Rome; they took anything they could lay their hands on, belonging to anybody there.
Although one historian said, "There is no evidence of their having just ruthlessly wrecked and destroyed for the sake of doing so," they took what they felt had any value and carried it off with them; so "vandalize" has become a synonym today for utterly meaningless destruction. We speak of vandalism today as somebody just wrecking something for the sake of wrecking it; whether the Vandals did that when they first came into Africa is hard to say. They seem not to have done that in Rome, but they did plunder everything they could get ahold of; and for many decades now, their fleet went sailing around the Mediterranean, and one never knew when the Vandals would attack and plunder and wreck. Well,
3. The Huns. Now these are a people who came from what is now Asiatic Russia. They came from that area, perhaps around 300 AD; and there is reason to think that this people's attack on the Goths may have had much to do with the Goths' attempt to escape them by coming into the Roman Empire. Many think that this sudden burst of the various tribes into the Roman Empire was, to some extent, due to the Huns' pushing from behind. At any rate, this pushing from behind lasted for about a century; and we find a strong kingdom established, which occupies a very large territory at the beginning of the fourth century; this occupied a place in northern and eastern Europe, extending over into Asia; and about 430, the king of the Huns died and was succeeded by the two sons of his brother; one of these was a man named Attila, a name that is famous in history.
When you read about Attila, the picture you usually get of him is that of a ruthless brigand, who led an army of bandits, who traversed Europe wrecking and plundering. That's the usual picture given of Attila the Hun. In fact you will read that he said that, wherever his force stepped grass never grew again, and such statements as that. This is probably not a true picture of him, though it is doubtless one phase of his character. Because he had a kingdom extending many hundred miles in length, he had other people than Huns who were in his army; these he was able to direct, and they carried on war against neighboring tribes for 20 years before he finally began the big attack that made his name most famous in history. So he probably was a man of considerable organizing ability and considerable leadership. The most that we know about him is, after these 20 years in which he had been conquering other tribes, amalgamating his empire, then he made an attack on the eastern Roman Empire; the eastern emperor bought him off with a large sum of money; and he gave up the territory he conquered; and the walls of Constantinople were strong enough to keep him from taking it.
And then he came west over into France; and the French, the Visigoths, the various Gothic people there, in alliance with the emperor, organized a large army which met him there, about 450. They met his force; and after a terrific battle, they had held him back sufficiently that he gave up trying to go any further in that direction. Then he came back, and came down into Italy. And there in northern Italy he ravaged and pillaged and destroyed; the result was that some of the people from northern Italy fled before his army out into the Adriatic; here there were lagoons and little islands, which would be very hard to get to without good boats; and these people of the Roman Empire—of that section of northern Italy—fled over to these islands and established their homes there, where Attila couldn't reach them.
And then they decided they were in a pretty safe place, so they would stay there. And so they built a city there on these little islands, using the passages between the islands instead of streets; and that was the origin of one of the most famous cities in the world—the city of Venice. It was the beginning of the city of Venice, due to Attila's attack. And these people were able to maintain themselves on these islands and to keep their independence up until the time of Napoleon; till that time they were an independent country, the Venetians; they became a great maritime people with ships that went over most of the then-known world of the Middle Ages, a very important city. Even today, if you visit Venice, you find that most of its streets are canals, and you can hardly get anywhere except by boats; it's a reminder of how they fled from Attila over to that area.
It looked to everybody as if Attila would now go down and attack Rome as others had; but the bishop of Rome made a visit to Attila—went up to the north, he and some men with him—they visited Attila and they talked with him; what happened there, we do not know; but the Bishop of Rome at that time was the most able man who had ever yet been Bishop of Rome. He was a skilled politician and an able diplomat, a fine scholar, a very able man. I would say several times as able as any man who had ever been bishop before that; and we'll speak of him more later.
And Attila turned around and headed back north across the Alps. And the Bishop of Rome received credit for it—he had persuaded Attila to leave, that it was due to his activity.
Now if you go to Rome today, you can go into the Vatican, what is called the Palazzi Pontifici; and there on the wall you will find a beautiful picture, which I always love to see, whenever I can get to Rome. This picture shows the Pope—as he was considered—when Raphael made his picture, 400 years ago; it shows the Pope seated on a horse—benignly seated on his horse, very pious on his horse. There sits the Pope all in white with his triple crown on his head; behind him are two cardinals all in red; and behind them are some priests in black; it makes a most peaceful looking procession. They are coming from one side of the picture. On the other side you see this terrible wild-looking fellow, sitting on a horse; behind him some of his wild marauders; his horse is drawn up on its hind legs, its feet are pawing the air; he just looks utterly terrified. But as you look at the picture, you see he's not just the benign-looking Pope on his horse; above the Pope in the air, there is St. Paul waving his sword at him; and St. Peter brandishing his big key; and they are in the air above the Pope; and, according to the picture, that's what frightened Attila, and led him to turn around and leave Italy.
Well, it did much toward the prestige of the Pope—the Bishop of Rome—that he was able to save Rome from the attacks by Attila the Hun; that would certainly have meant frightful slaughter, and frightful plunder; at least that was the impression everybody had of the Huns. It made such an impression on the people that they paid little attention to the fact that, only three years later, Vandal marauders from Africa, did enter Rome and took 14 days to plunder the city. That isn't much mentioned in the account. But it is a historical fact, the empirical fact which probably would have impressed people much more if it were not for the fact that they felt so relieved to be delivered from the threatened attack by Attila; and of course the bishop got the credit for the protection from Attila at this time.
Well, now, Attila went back across the Alps; and within the next year he died. He was marrying maybe his 78th wife—or whatever it was—and they had a big feast, and during the night he died. He had many children, and his children began to fight as to who would be his successor. His empire broke up and disappeared from history. Many of the invaders probably made their way back into Russia again. It disappeared from history; during the next six centuries, it was not heard of at all. A great force that developed and then utterly disappeared. Whether any of the people in it had any relationship to other groups that came in centuries later, the names which were somewhat similar, nobody can prove one way or the other, it's just absolutely unknown.
But it was typical of the disturbances of this century: the march and countermarch of Attila; the terror of the people; the amount of plundering that he did; and of course that tremendous battle in France which drove him back from France; and probably that was the