The Schism between East and West.

Thomas

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From a political point of view, the separation of the empire into two camps was an inevitability the moment Constantine split the empire between his two sons, as the empire itself was already in decline, and would be unable to maintain a central hold over such a vast estate.

From a doctrinal perspective, Jerusalem should have been the centre of the Christendom. Paul regarded Jerusalem as the 'mother church' and collected monies from his Gentile churches to bring to her, before commencing his mission to Rome, and thence to Spain.

For Luke, the author of Acts, it wasn't to be. The disputes between Christians and Jews were never so severe than at Jerusalem, as the attempts to assassinate Paul signify. The Fathers of the Church in Jerusalem obliged Paul to participate in a PR stunt to mollify the hardliners, which backfired. Paul was taken into protective custody by the Romans. The hardliners then forced the Church Fathers to participate in another attempt on his life, by making them call for Paul's return to Jerusalem to face charges, at which point he would be killed. Jerusalem had lost its moral centre and was subject to hardline coercion from without. The Church would never flourish there.

Rome it was, then.

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Meanwhile the empire in the East, at Constantinople, or 'New Rome' as they saw themselves, began their political ascendency. Under the emperor, the See of Constantinople usurped the traditional authority of its older brothers, Jerusalem (only nominal now), Alexandria and Antioch. Only Rome stood in the way.

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In the West, the Church had shown itself resistant to all attempts to determine doctrine according to political expediency. The East was not so successful. When Egypt separated from Rome over a Christological dispute, the empire lost the Egyptian wheatcrop, the breadbasket of the empire, and a huge economic resource.

The East moved to prevent any repetition of such events simply by forbidding the discussion of doctrine — which failed. The State was moving to control the Church, its thinking and its freedom, and was resisted. The Fathers of the East looked to Rome, and Pope Martin I, assisted by the genius of the monk Maximos, continued to argue against heresy.

The Pope and the monk were tricked, arrested and conveyed to Constantinople, where they were tortured and exiled, to die of the injuries they suffered. Maximos, his hand cut off and his tongue torn out, was hailed 'The Confessor' for refusing to allow 'the true doctrine' to be declared subservient to political expediency.

Matters came to a head a century later when, in an attempt to offer a sop to their Moslem neighbours, Emperor Leo III sought to ban religious imagery, and this led to the persecutions of Iconoclasm. Here the State was resisted by the people (there were riots in Constantinople) but moreso by the monks. The State reacted with violence against its own Christian community with slaughters not seen since the Roman persecutions.

Whilst the East will cite theological reasons for the reality of the schism, this is not the case. St Maximus himself pointed out that disputes arose because of the difference of language, not of theology, and could easily be resolved. He went unheeded. Constantinople was bent on succeeding Rome as the seat of the Empire.

It is a tragic fact that the theology of the Church was shaped by the Greek Fathers, but it was the enforced 'integralism' of Constantinople that brought an end to that rich stream of theological thought. St John Damascene for example, who although Christian served the office of the Caliph of Damascus and was an ambassador between Christianity and Islam, vigourously opposed the Iconoclasm and wrote much defending the images and relics that Leo III was destroying. Leo III then forged a letter, supposedly signed by John, offering to betray Damascus to her enemies. The Caliph had his right hand cut off, and sent him away.

St John Damascene is regarded as the last of the Fathers, and in fact is regarded as the only Father never to have put pen to a theological error, despite his magisterial "A Complete Exposition of the True Faith". He was a member of the council that decided the dispute.

But Eastern Theological freedom would never rise to its former glory as more and more the Church in the East was seen as an extension of the State. It was only a matter of time before East and West would separate, seemingly irrevocably.

On what theological nicety that was, was largely immaterial.

Thomas
 
Thomas,
It was only a matter of time before East and West would separate, seemingly irrevocably.

On what theological nicety that was, was largely immaterial.
So Trinity doctrine is immaterial? For the Orthodox Church it was a major point of contention.
 
But Eastern Theological freedom would never rise to its former glory as more and more the Church in the East was seen as an extension of the State. It was only a matter of time before East and West would separate, seemingly irrevocably.

Thomas, have you ever read John Julius Norwich's trilogy on Byzantium? Absolutely fascinating, and very readable.

If I recall, one reason for it's writing was the otherwise appalling treatment the Byzantines get at the hands of Edward Gibbon, who was writing from apparently Western Roman sources, and therefore picking up on an apparent bias against that civilisation.
 
From a doctrinal perspective, Jerusalem should have been the centre of the Christendom. ....

Jerusalem had lost its moral centre and was subject to hardline coercion from without. The Church would never flourish there.

Rome it was, then.

....But Eastern Theological freedom would never rise to its former glory as more and more the Church in the East was seen as an extension of the State. It was only a matter of time before East and West would separate, seemingly irrevocably.

On what theological nicety that was, was largely immaterial.

Thomas
and 1700 years later...Rome is only the center of Catholocissm...if I wish to be a tourist...I go to Italy, if I want to find the origin and center of istory Christianity...I go to Jerusalem.

The rest of us don't take our marching orders from the Pope...its all just a bunch of black and white smoke to us.
 
On what theological nicety that was, was largely immaterial.
Have you read any official position statement from the Orthodox church in which they explain the basis for their rejection of the Latin church? It is largely theological.


Whilst the East will cite theological reasons for the reality of the schism, this is not the case.
So you would contend that the East's theological reasons were simply a false pretext?

It is remarkable how the Catholic church has continued to downplay the issues underlying the schism.

St Maximus himself pointed out that disputes arose because of the difference of language, not of theology, and could easily be resolved.
Do you have a direct quote handy?
 
Have you read any official position statement from the Orthodox church in which they explain the basis for their rejection of the Latin church? It is largely theological.
Yes, and there are many today on both sides who regard the theological issues as not insurmountable. In fact it was an Easterner, St Maximus the Confessor, who was one of the first to make the point (and got himself killed by the East for his troubles): "[Latins] cannot reproduce their idea in a language and in words that are foreign to them as they can in their mother-tongue, just as [Greeks] too cannot do."

Knowing how difficult it is to comprehend theology in one language, and that confusion was rife in one language, it was inevitable that confusions should arise when moving to another.

It's not the theological difference, it's whether there's a will to seek communio/koinonia ...

So you would contend that the East's theological reasons were simply a false pretext?
No, I would contend the theological differences between east and west were exploited by both sides with a political end in view.

It is remarkable how the Catholic church has continued to downplay the issues underlying the schism.
Careful ... we don't downplay the issue of Petrine authority, which was acknowledged by the whole Church until Constantinople chose to dispute it, so it was their break with the unity of the whole Church, not the Latin Church in schism with the East ... in fact my liberal eccumenical correspondents here have criticised the RC Church for refusing to ignore difference, so I don't see how you can make that claim that we ever 'play down' difference.

Thomas
 
In hindsight it seems like Constantine was a weak father. Perhaps he was hoping his inheritance would cause his sons to get along. It didn't! The same thing happened when Alexander the Great divided his empire among his beneficiaries. They fought, too. If the heirs don't get along on their own, then big money can't help them to do it apparently. Its not uncommon that family inheritance can get ugly. Fortunately, moms and dads can make their kids say 'sorry' to each other and even hug after they get into an argument. That tends to make the kids learn to get along as they get older, to appreciate their connection instead of exploiting it. There is no excuse for treating as trash those closest to you. Constantine was not a very good father or his sons could have successfully divided the empire into smaller estates. Together they could have made the empire better than before.
 
I know this is an old thread but I just had to comment,

Careful ... we don't downplay the issue of Petrine authority, which was acknowledged by the whole Church until Constantinople chose to dispute it, so it was their break with the unity of the whole Church, not the Latin Church in schism with the East

I'm not really here to debate Petrine authority however I just have to mention that the 1054 schism was not the first major break in Christendom. Here it sounds like Constantinople broke from 1000 year tradition, thus seperating itself from everyone else. (first that's not how it happened at all, as Rome excommunicated Constantinople first not the other way around) But despite that fact, the Church underwent a first "great schism" in the 5th century when most of the Church in the East rejected Chalcedon, as well as Pope Leo's Tome, and of course they were then labeled as "heretics" by Rome and Constantinople. So even if there had always been a full and understood Petrine authority dating all the way back to the 1st century Constantinople was not the first See to break with Rome.

in fact in the 5th century not one, but 2 major Sees broke with Rome and Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch not to mention most Christians in Jerusalem. (plus a bunch of other minor Christian regions eventually followed suit) In fact most of the middle east rejected Chalcedon, but, if indeed as Catholic apologists say, all Christians everywhere knew Rome was the final say on all matters of faith, why would they do this KNOWING Petrine Authority rested in Rome?

This has never made sense to me on a personal level. it would be like a person today KNOWING Peter Jackson directed the Lord of the Rings movies, and then simply saying "no he did not and I'm willing to go to hell to prove it"

A person would have to be delusional to reject something they know is true, even if it was just about a movie, let alone 2/3rds of the middle East rejecting Leo's Tome because it was thought to be Nestorian. Whether it was or not is not my point, my point is that they believed it was, and thus believed the Pope of Rome could err.

the 1054 Schism was mostly due to politics on both sides, and in fact it made little difference to most Christians at the time, as writers from the 1th century reported that inter Communion continued well after the bull of excommunication was placed on the Altar of Hagia Sophia. But the great schism was simply not the first schism in the Church. Both Rome and Constantinople like to claim the "Church was one for 1000 years" for apologetic purposes, but it's simply not true. Again, it is for those who begin with the assumption that the Bishop of Rome is always correct, and anyone who disagrees with him is "wrong"....but the truth is very few Christians in the 4th and 5th centuries actually held that assumption in the same way Rome held it in the 1th century, or the 19th century.

The concept of doctrinal development exists for a reason, and it in fact may be the doctrine that explains both sides of the issue.

The 1054 schism imo was just a sad, pathetic event in Church history based on Eastern pride and Western power, and in that since of it being largely political I agree with the OP. The Schism at Chalcedon is IMO far more understandable from a theological perspective than anything that happened in 1054. But that's just my opinion and view of the issue.
 
Knowing how difficult it is to comprehend theology in one language, and that confusion was rife in one language, it was inevitable that confusions should arise when moving to another.

It's not the theological difference, it's whether there's a will to seek communio/koinonia ...

Just to find some grounds of agreement, I totally agree with you here! Much of the hostility between the EO and Rome in modern times comes from the EO and an unwillingness to think in any other way than a "greek way". (the same thing they accused the Latin Church of doing during the Photian schism, "they aren't thinking like us greeks do".

Now it's us who refuse to think like the West because of course, all things Western are bad....baaaadd!!!!! (or so we're told)
 
Something in the first chapter of Dan B's book (which he may just be here on the site to hawk) sparked an idea for me related to NightPhoenix' comments about being agnostic. There is Dan's point that so much of the educated world is no longer agrarian. We mostly do not grow up on farms now, and this has completely changed the environment in which churches exist. It is difficult to simulate a farming mind inside of a city. We have plants, but we aren't farmers and don't slaughter anything. I have rarely seen blood that didn't come from my own finger, and the stars are often obscured by the glare of city lights. There aren't any clever wild animals, like raccoons, nearby to remind me that I am just another kind of beast.

I think, NightPhoenix, that the church contains the potential to forget all of its internal schisms; but society has changed so much that there is now a much bigger, generational schism. Now there are people like you and I reared in industrial societies who are unused to questions without immediate answers. We want answers first and hate the questions. One practice of the church was to find value in the questions before it answered them, or without answering them. It relished in them and symbolize them! It is like when you said in your introduction thread "All the "correct beliefs" in the world do me no good if they don't help me live a good Christian life..." I think that is pretty much the way most Christians would think. The question is "Why should I believe," but people beforetime felt the that question itself was a miracle. The necessity of belief was apparent, so the question was explored as a phenomenon -- less frequently as a challenge. Now the importance of belief is itself obscured, so the nature of the question has changed if not the words. It is no less miraculous that you and I are asking it. Who knows, but perhaps the real answers do not satisfy the questions even after they are answered. It could could be one of those things like when there is a broken heart or when a loved one dies and answers do not help so much.
 
Dream,

thank you for your reply. It has given me a number of things to think about it, and given me a few points of self examination. And that is what I think I need at this time.

Thank you!
 
This is nothing but a propaganda piece upon which some historical facts have been hanged.
 
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