Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 




Christianity


 


Russian Icon
Mary Magdalene




 


see also:


THE BIBLE

*

The Bible illustrations by



Julius von Carolsfeld "Das Buch der Bucher in Bildeb"


Gustave Dore


William Blak
e "The Book of Job"

 

 

 



Mary Magdalene

 


Russian Icon

 


Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene. Anonymous

 


Duccio di Buoninsegna

 


Luca Signorelli

 


Giotto di Bondone
Scenes from the Life of Mary Magdalene: Mary Magdalene and Cardinal Pontano
1320s
Magdalene Chapel, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

 


Giotto di Bondone
Scenes from the Life of Mary Magdalene: Mary Magdalene and Cardinal Pontano
1320s
Magdalene Chapel, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

 


Giotto di Bondone
Scenes from the Life of Mary Magdalene: Mary Magdalene and Cardinal Pontano
1320s
Magdalene Chapel, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

 


Giotto di Bondone
Scenes from the Life of Mary Magdalene: Mary Magdalene and Cardinal Pontano
1320s
Magdalene Chapel, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

 


Giotto di Bondone
Scenes from the Life of Mary Magdalene: Mary Magdalene and Cardinal Pontano
1320s
Magdalene Chapel, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

 


Giotto di Bondone
Scenes from the Life of Mary Magdalene: Mary Magdalene and Cardinal Pontano
1320s
Magdalene Chapel, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

 


Giotto di Bondone
Scenes from the Life of Mary Magdalene: Mary Magdalene and Cardinal Pontano
1320s
Magdalene Chapel, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

 

 


The history of
Christianity

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Part XXVII

 


The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Historical views
From the perspectives of history and sociology, the Christian community has been related to the world in diverse and even paradoxical ways. This is reflected not only in changes in this relationship over time but also in simultaneously expressed alternatives ranging from withdrawal from and rejection of the world to theocratic triumphalism. For example, early Christians so consistently rejected imperial deities that they were known as atheists, while later Christians so embraced European monarchies that they were known as reactionary theists. Franciscans, especially the Spiritual Franciscans, proclaimed that true Christians should divest themselves of money at the same time that the Catholic church erected magnificent churches and the clergy dressed in elaborate finery. Another classic example of this paradoxical relationship is provided by the monks, who withdrew from the world but also preserved and transmitted classical culture and learning to medieval Europe. In the modern period some Christian communities regard secularization as a fall from true Christianity; others view it as a legitimate consequence of a desacralization of the world initiated by Christ.

The Christian community has always been part of the world in which it exists. It has served the typical religious function of legitimating social systems and values and of creating structures of meaning, plausibility, and compensation for society as it faces loss and death. The Christian community has sometimes exercised this religious function in collusion with tribalistic nationalisms (e.g., the “German Christians” and Nazism) by disregarding traditional church tenets. When the Christian community has held to its teachings, however, it has opposed such social systems and values. Given the inherent fragility of human culture and society, religion in general and the Christian community in particular frequently are conservative forces.

However, the Christian community has not always been a conservative force. Twentieth-century black theology and Latin American liberation theology shared the conviction that God takes the side of the oppressed against the world’s injustices. From the perspective of theology or faith, the criticism of the world of which the Christian community itself is a part is the exercise of its commitment to Jesus Christ. For the Christian community, the death and Resurrection of Jesus call into question all structures, systems, and values of the world that claim ultimacy.

The relationship of the Christian community to the world may be seen differently depending upon one’s historical, sociological, and theological perspectives because the Christian community is both a creation in the world and an influence upon it. This complexity led the American theologian H. Richard Niebuhr to comment in Christ and Culture (1956) that “the many-sided debate about the relations of Christianity and civilization…is as confused as it is many-sided.”


The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church, sect, and mystical movement
The German scholar Ernst Troeltsch sought to impose a meaningful pattern on this confusion by organizing the complex relationships of the Christian community to the world into three types of religious social organization: church, sect, and mystical movement. He described the church as a conservative institution that affirms the world and mediates salvation through clergy and sacraments. It is also characterized by inclusivity and continuity, signified by its adherence to infant baptism and historical creeds, doctrines, liturgies, and forms of organization. The objective-institutional character of the church increases as it relinquishes its commitment to eschatological perfection in order to create the corpus Christianum, the Christian commonwealth or society. This development stimulates opposition from those who understand the Gospel in terms of personal commitment and detachment from the world. The opposition develops into sects, which are comparatively small groups that strive for unmediated salvation and that are related indifferently or antagonistically to the world. The exclusivity and historical discontinuity of the sect is signified by its adherence to believers’ baptism and efforts to imitate what it believes is the New Testament community. Mystical movements are the expression of a radical religious individualism that strives to interiorize and live out the personal example of Jesus. They are not interested in creating a community but strive toward universal tolerance, a fellowship of spiritual religion beyond creeds and dogmas. The Methodist Church exemplifies the dynamic of these types. The Methodist movement began as a sectarian protest against the worldliness of the Church of England; its success stimulated it to become a church, which in turn spawned various sectarian protests, including charismatic communities.

Niebuhr further developed Troeltsch’s efforts by distinguishing five repetitive types of the Christian community’s relations to the world. Niebuhr’s types are: Christ against culture, Christ of culture, Christ above culture, Christ and culture in paradox, and Christ the transformer of culture. The first two are expressions of opposition to and endorsement of the world, while the last three share a concern to mediate in distinctive ways the opposition between the first two.

Opposition to the world is exemplified by Tertullian’s question, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” This sharp opposition to the world was expressed in the biblical disjunction between the children of God and the children of the world and between “the light” and “the darkness” (1 John 2:15, 4:4–5; Revelation); and it has continued to find personal exponents, such as Leo Tolstoy, and communal expressions, such as the Hutterites.

Endorsement of the world emerged in the 4th century with the imperial legal recognition of Christianity by the Roman emperor Constantine. Although frequently associated with the medieval efforts to construct a Christian commonwealth, this type is present wherever national, social, political, and economic programs are “baptized” as Christian. Thus, its historical expressions may be as diverse as the Jeffersonian United States and Hitlerian Germany.

The other three types that Niebuhr proposed are variations on the theme of mediation between rejection and uncritical endorsement of the world. The “Christ above culture” type recognizes continuity between the world and faith. This was probably best expressed by Thomas Aquinas’s conviction that grace or the supernatural does not destroy nature but completes it. The “Christ and culture in paradox” type views the Christian community’s relationship to the world in terms of a permanent and dynamic tension in which the Kingdom of God is not of this world and yet is to be proclaimed in it. A well-known expression of this position is Martin Luther’s law–gospel dialectic, distinguishing how the Christian community is to live in the world as both sinful and righteous at the same time. The conviction that the world may be transformed and regenerated by Christianity (“Christ the transformer of culture”) has been attributed to expressions that have theocratic tendencies, such as those of Augustine and John Calvin.

Efforts by scholars such as Troeltsch and Niebuhr to provide typical patterns of Christian relations to the world enable appreciation of the multiformity of these relationships without being overwhelmed by historical data. These models relieve the illusion that the Christian community has ever been monolithic, homogeneous, or static. This “many-sidedness” may be seen in the Christian community’s relationships to the state, society, education, the arts, social welfare, and family and personal life.

Carter H. Lindberg


 


The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and state
The relationship of Christians and Christian institutions to forms of the political order has shown an extraordinary diversity throughout church history. There have been, for example, theocratically founded monarchies, democracies, and communist communities. In various periods, however, political revolution, based on theological foundations, has also belonged to this diversity.

In certain eras of church history the desire to establish the Kingdom of God stimulated political and social strivings. The political power of the Christian proclamation of the coming sovereignty of God resided in its promise of both the establishment of a kingdom of peace and the execution of judgment.

The church, like the state, has been exposed to the temptation of power, which resulted in the transformation of the church into an ecclesiastical state. This took place in the development of the Papal States and, to a lesser degree, in several theocratic churches, as well as in Calvin’s ecclesiastical state in Geneva in the 16th century. At times, too, the secular state declared itself Christian and the executor of the spiritual, political, and social commission of the church; it understood itself to be the representative of the Kingdom of God. This development took place in both the Byzantine and the Carolingian empires as well as in the medieval Holy Roman Empire.

The struggle between the church, understanding itself as state, and the state, understanding itself as representative of the church, not only dominated the Middle Ages but also continued into the Reformation period. The wars of religion in the era of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation discredited in the eyes of many the theological and metaphysical rationales for a Christian state. The Anabaptists in the 16th century and some Puritans in the 17th century contributed to this skepticism by advocating religious liberty and rejecting the involvement of the state in religious matters. The Enlightenment idea of grounding the relationship between church and state on natural law, as advanced by Friedrich Schleiermacher among others, led to the advocacy of the legal separation of church and state.

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and state » The history of church and state » The church and the Roman Empire
The attitude of the first generations of Christians toward the existing political order was determined by the imminent expectation of the Kingdom of God, whose miraculous power had begun to be visibly realized in the figure of Jesus Christ. The importance of the political order was, thus, negligible, as Jesus himself asserted when he said, “My kingship is not of this world.” Orientation toward the coming kingdom of peace placed Christians in tension with the state, which made demands upon them that were in direct conflict with their faith.

This contrast was developed most pointedly in the rejection of the emperor cult and of certain state offices—above all, that of judge—to which the power over life and death was professionally entrusted. Although opposition to fundamental orderings of the ruling state was not based upon any conscious revolutionary program, contemporaries blamed the expansion of the Christian church in the Roman Empire for an internal weakening of the empire on the basis of this conscious avoidance of many aspects of public life, including military service.

Despite the early Christian longing for the coming Kingdom of God, even the Christians of the early generations acknowledged the pagan state as the bearer of order in the world. Two contrary views thus faced one another within the Christian communities. On the one hand, under the influence of Pauline missions, was the idea that the “ruling body”—i.e., the existing political order of the Roman Empire—was “from God…for your good” (Romans 13:1–4) and that Christians should be “subject to the governing authorities.” Another similar idea held by Paul (in 2 Thessalonians) was that the Roman state, through its legal order, “restrains” the downfall of the world that the Antichrist is attempting to bring about. On the other hand, and existing at the same time, was the apocalyptic identification of the imperial city of Rome with the great whore of Babylon (Revelation 17:3–7). The first attitude, formulated by Paul, was decisive in the development of a Christian political consciousness. The second was noticeable especially in the history of radical Christianity and in radical Christian pacifism, which rejects cooperation as much in military service as in public judgeship.

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and state » The history of church and state » The church and the Byzantine, or Eastern, Empire
In the 4th century, the emperor Constantine granted himself, as “bishop of foreign affairs,” certain rights to church leadership. These rights concerned not only the “outward” activity of the church but also encroached upon the inner life of the church—as was shown by the role of the emperor in summoning and leading imperial councils to formulate fundamental Christian doctrine and to ratify their decisions.

In the Byzantine Empire, the secular ruler was called “priest and emperor” and exercised authority as head of the church. Although never ordained, the emperor held jurisdiction over ecclesiastical affairs. The belief that his authority came directly from God was symbolically expressed in the ceremony of both crowning and anointing him. This tradition was continued in the Russian realms, where the tsardom claimed a growing authority for itself even in the area of the church.

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and state » The history of church and state » The church and Western states
In the political vacuum that arose in the West because of the invasion by the German tribes, the Roman church was the single institution that preserved in its episcopal dioceses the Roman provincial arrangement. In its administration of justice the church largely depended upon the old imperial law and—in a period of legal and administrative chaos—was viewed as the only guarantor of order. The Roman popes, most notably Gregory I the Great (reigned 590–604), assumed many of the duties of the decadent imperial bureaucracy. Gregory negotiated with the Lombard kings of Italy, oversaw public welfare, and was the soldiers’ paymaster. His administrative skill helped lay the foundation for the Papal States, which emerged in the 8th century. Supporting papal claims and responsibilities was the so-called Petrine theory—the idea that the pope was the representative of Christ and the successor of Peter.

Although he considered himself part of a Christian commonwealth headed by the emperor in Constantinople, Gregory sought to improve the religious life of the peoples of the West. Under him the church in Spain, Gaul, and northern Italy was strengthened, and England was converted to Roman Christianity. Later popes forged an alliance with the rulers of the Frankish (Germanic) kingdom in the 8th century and succeeded in winning them as protectors of the Papal States when the Byzantine emperor was no longer able to protect Rome. The relationship created a new area of tension, as religious and secular leaders sought to define the exact nature of the relationship between them. From at least the time of Pope Gelasius I (reigned 492–496), two powers, or swords, were recognized as having been established by God to rule. Carolingian rulers maintained that, as holders of one of the swords, they had special rights and duties to protect the church. Indeed, the emperor Charlemagne claimed for himself the right to appoint the bishops of his empire, who were thus increasingly involved in political affairs.

Emperors in the 10th century, building on Carolingian precedent, continued to involve themselves in church affairs. As a result, bishops in the empire were sometimes also the reigning princes of their dioceses, and they were occasionally guilty of being more interested in the political than in the spiritual affairs of their dominions.

These conflicting perspectives were the cause of a series of struggles between popes and secular rulers that began in the 11th century, when lay and religious leaders sought to reform society and the church. Already in the 10th century, monastic reform movements centred at Cluny, Gorze, and elsewhere had attempted to improve the religious life of the monks and establish a new understanding of ecclesiastical liberty. In the 11th century, reformers such as Peter Damian and Humbert of Silva Candida provided new definitions of the sins of clerical marriage and simony. These intellectual developments, along with new decrees governing papal elections, led to the virtual elimination of secular interference in episcopal and papal succession. The staunchest supporter of these reforms, Pope Gregory VII, ultimately banned the practice of the lay investiture of bishops and challenged the traditions of sacral kingship. Gregory’s assertion of papal authority, however, was opposed by the German ruler Henry IV. Their conflict eventually burst into the great Investiture Controversy, which became a struggle for supremacy between the church and the monarchy. The resolution of the controversy left the emperor in a weakened state and increased the influence of the secular and ecclesiastical princes.

Although the empire was reconstituted in the 12th century on the basis of Roman law and the understanding of the empire as a distinct sacred institution (sacrum imperium), it broke down during the 13th century as the result of a new struggle between the emperors and several successive popes. The church, however, faced a new challenge in the rise of the European nation-states. Papal ideology had been shaped by the struggle with the emperors and thus was not suited to deal effectively with kings of nation-states. This first became clearly evident in the conflict between Pope Boniface VIII and King Philip IV of France over matters of ecclesiastical independence and royal authority. In 1296 Boniface issued a bull denying the king’s right to tax the clergy, which he withdrew because Philip forbade the clergy to send money to Rome and the pope needed the revenue. In 1301, Philip violated long-standing tradition by trying the bishop of Pamiers in a royal court. Boniface responded in 1302 with the bull Unam Sanctam (“One Holy Church”), the most extreme assertion by any pope of the supremacy of spiritual over secular authority. Revealing how much had changed since the time of Gregory VII, Philip rallied public opinion against the pope, calling the Estates General to session to accuse Boniface of heresy, witchcraft, sodomy, and other crimes. Philip’s adviser, Guillaume de Nogaret, seized Boniface at Anagni, a town near Rome. Although the pope was rescued by local inhabitants, he died from the shock of the capture, and Philip emerged triumphant. Papal fortunes declined even further during the subsequent Babylonian Captivity of the church, when the papacy resided in Avignon (1309–77) and was perceived as being dominated by the French monarchy.

Secular control of the church increased during the Great Schism (1378–1417), and in some parts of Europe it continued even after the schism ended. The schism was partly the result of growing demands for the papacy’s return to Rome. Pope Urban VI settled in Rome and alienated a number of cardinals, who returned to Avignon and elected a rival pope, Clement VII. Popes and antipopes reigning simultaneously excommunicated each other, thus demeaning the papacy. The schism spread great uncertainty throughout Europe about the validity of the consecration of bishops and the sacraments as administered by the priests they ordained. It was perpetuated in part by European politics, as rival rulers supported either the pope in Rome or the pope in Avignon to assert ever greater authority over the church in their realms. The schism contributed to the rise of the 15th-century conciliar movement, which posited the supreme authority of ecumenical councils in the church.

Although the relationship between the temporal and spiritual powers continued to be a matter of concern in the 16th and 17th centuries, the changes brought by the Reformation and the growth of state power recast the nature of the debate. Under King Henry VIII of England a revolutionary dissociation of the English church from papal supremacy took place. In the German territories the reigning princes became, in effect, the legal guardians of the Protestant churches—a movement already in the process of consolidation in the late Middle Ages. The development in the Catholic nation-states, such as Spain, Portugal, and France, occurred in a similar way.

The ideas of the freedom and equality of Christians and their representation in a communion of saints by virtue of voluntary membership had been disseminated in various medieval sects such as the Cathari, Waldenses, Hussites, and the Bohemian Brethren and were reinforced during the Reformation by groups such as the Hutterites, Mennonites, and Schwenckfelders. These groups also renounced involvement with the state in certain respects, such as through military service and the holding of state offices; some of these groups attempted to structure their own form of common life in Christian, communist communities. Many of their political ideas—at first bloodily suppressed by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation states and churches—were later prominent in the Dutch wars of independence and in the English Revolution.

In the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) confessional antitheses were intermingled with politics, and the credibility of the feuding ecclesiastical parties was thereby called into question. Subsequently, from the 17th century on, the tendency toward a new, natural-law conception of the relationship between state and church began to develop. Henceforth, in the Protestant countries, state sovereignty was increasingly emphasized vis-à-vis the churches. The state established the right to regulate educational and marriage concerns as well as all administrative affairs of the church. A similar development also occurred in Roman Catholic areas. In the second half of the 18th century Febronianism demanded a replacement of papal centralism with a national church episcopal system; in Austria a state-church concept was established under Josephinism (after Joseph II [reigned 1765–90]) through the dismantling of numerous ecclesiastical privileges. The Eastern Orthodox Church also was drawn into this development under Peter the Great.
 

 

 

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