Session 8: Interaction of Church and Culture

Session 8 Interaction of Church and Culture

Christian thought was renewed in the High Middle Ages (1000-1300), especially through the writings of Thomas Aquinas.

The Crusades altered relations between Christians and Muslims, and Western and Eastern Christians. The Crusades affected the very nature of Western Christianity.

Papal power and authority increased over these 300 years.


At the end of this lesson, participants should
• explain scholasticism in the Western tradition during the Middle Ages
• describe the theology of the sacraments that had developed by the High Middle
• discuss the relations between church and society by looking at how European
            Christians related to their neighbors • describe the various Crusades
• discuss current Christian–Muslim relations in light of the Crusades
 • describe the differences between Northern and Southern Christianity during this
            time period • understand the political events that led to the rise of papal
            power and authority
 • characterize the shape of papal authority in the church
• appreciate the stand taken by Thomas à Becket

A. Read: Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, chapters 19

B. Read the following articles and give a one paragraph answer to the question asked.
            1. Reason and Revelation: Scholasticism
                        How would scholastics speak of holiness?
2. The Crusades
                        How do we overcome the centuries of anger and hurt, and the misperceptions of
            3.The Church and the Papacy
                        What are the positive aspects of the rise of papal authority?

C. Write in your journal. Reflect on and respond to the following:  

Reason and Revelation: Scholasticism

Refer to Resource 8-1 in the Student Guide.
 Pope Innocent III ushered in the thirteenth century by asserting and strengthening papal authority and power. This century was remarkable for its theology, and its theology accompanied the building of great cathedrals, the rise of universities, and the recovery of Aristotle. 

Medieval Scholasticism placed emphasis upon the rational justification of religious belief and the systematic presentation of those beliefs. While Scholasticism was forming a method for organizing theology, popes were tightening the ecclesiastical system. Scholasticism’s method led it, sometimes, to degenerate into concern for trivial theological issues. But at its best, Scholasticism affirmed the role of reason and logic in theology. Scholarly work was carried on in monasteries such as St. Germain, France, and in Cathedral schools, which were led by monks.

Scholars of the period included Gilbert of Auvillac (940- 1003), who became Pope Sylvester II in 999. He had studied and later taught at Reims, which was devoted to the seven liberal arts: • the trivium—grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic • the quadrivium—music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy 

Gilbert was among the first scholars to use Aristotle’s logic within the system of education. Among Gilbert’s students was Fulbert (960-1028), who became chancellor of the cathedral school in Chartres in 990. He helped to make the school an intellectual center of Europe. Fulbert, who became bishop of Chartres in 1007, distinguished between the “inner substance”—the body and blood of the Lord—and “outer substance”— the bread and the wine—of the Eucharist.

Berengar of Tours (1010-1088), who studied at Chartres, denied that the bread and wine were even inwardly transformed in the Eucharist. The body of Christ was present only “intellectually.” The bread and the wine did not cease to exist, and the body of Christ born to Mary was not physically present on the altar, Berengar said. The body of Christ does not descend when the priest raises the bread to heaven. They are a sign only that the Lord is truly present.

Jesus, Berengar taught, was sacrificed once, for all. Communion is the memorializing of His death, not its reenactment. Berengar, who also taught that the image of God in human beings is reason, was widely criticized in his own time for his views on the Eucharist. Among his chief opponents was Lanfranc (1010-89), the archbishop of Canterbury. The most common opinion remained that the bread and the wine were actually transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

Refer to Resource 8-2 in the Student Guide.
One of Lanfranc’s successors as archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm (1034-1109), accepted reason as well as tradition to answer theological questions. Like previous apologists, Anselm started with presuppositions acceptable to unbelievers. He worked out an argument for the existence of God based on reason alone. God as “that-than-which-nothing-greatercan- be-thought” must exist in order for this concept to even appear in human minds.

That which is greater than what exists as a category in human minds is that which exists in reality as well as in a mental construct. God cannot even be thought not to exist. This was called the ontological—from ontos, being—argument for the existence of God.

Anselm further affirmed that what is conceived to be perfect must also be conceived to exist. Anselm’s logic met objection from Gaunilo, a monk, who pointed out that an atheist might have no concept of God in mind, and that what might exist in mind had no necessary relation to reality. Nonetheless, theologians often used Anselm’s arguments.

Anselm attempted rational defenses of other doctrines, including the Trinity and the Incarnation. His doctrine of the Atonement became especially influential in Western theology. He argued against the idea of a ransom paid to the devil and rejected the images of victory and triumph in favor of ones more suited to Latin and Western legal language and concerns.

Rather than a payment to the devil, Anselm said, the payment is made to God, who could not simply forgive a debt without any satisfaction, since this would be surrendering to disorder.

Refer to Resource 8-3 in the Student Guide.
While Anselm worked out rational explications of theology, he still maintained that belief or faith must precede true wisdom. A prayer indicated this:

I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving that you have
made me in your image, so that I can remember
you, think of you, and love you.

But the image is so worn and blotted out by faults,
so darkened by the smoke of sin, that it cannot do
that for which it was made, unless you renew and
refashion it.

Lord, I am not trying to make my way to your
height, for my understanding is in no way equal to
that, but I do desire to understand a little of your
truth which my heart already believes and loves.
I do not seek to understand so that I may believe;
But I believe so that I may understand; and what is
more, I believe that unless I do believe I shall not
understand. Amen.

While Anselm seemed to argue neatly and rationally for church traditions, the thought and life of Peter Abelard (1079-1142) was more turbulent. Abelard studied under William of Champeaux (1070-1121), one of the leading realists of the time, and became a teacher in Paris.

While a teacher in Paris, Abelard met and secretly married Heloise. They had a son, but Heloise’s family found the situation scandalous. In 1118 Abelard was forced out of his teaching position and entered a monastery in St. Denis. Heloise entered a convent. They wrote love letters to each other for the rest of their lives. Abelard was able to resume his teaching career in Paris in 1136.

Abelard rejected William’s realism, the understanding that abstract concepts or universals had a transcendent and real existence. Instead, influenced in part by Aristotle, Abelard championed nominalism or conceptualism, the view that what was considered a “universal” was but a “meaningful sound” with no objective existence outside the mind.

Abelard’s theological method was sic et non. He showed that the church Fathers had given sometimes completely opposed and contradictory opinions on theological issues. This cast doubt on the authority of tradition and the church.

In contrast to Anselm’s satisfaction theory of the Atonement, Abelard argued—especially in his commentary on Romans—for Christ’s “moral influence.” Abelard’s view of the Atonement was subjective. Christ, Abelard said, was the great Teacher and Example. Abelard emphasized that the love Christ showed  impelled men and women to be more loving in their own actions. They could believe, when they looked at Christ, that God forgave them. Abelard emphasized that intention, rather than acts in and of themselves, determined a person’s guiltiness.

Some of Abelard’s thoughts on heaven come to us in the way of a hymn:
O what their joy and their glory must be,
those endless Sabbaths the blessed ones see;

Crown for the valiant, to the weary ones rest;
God shall be All, and in all ever blest.

Truly Jerusalem name we that shore,
“Vision of Peace,” that brings joy evermore;

Wish and fulfillment can severe be ne’er,
nor the thing prayed for come short of the

There, where no troubles distraction can bring;
we the sweet anthems of Zion shall sing;

While for Thy grace, Lord, their voices of praise
Thy blessed people shall evermore raise.

Low before Him with our praises we fall,
of whom and in whom and through whom are all;

Of whom, the Father, and through whom, the Son;
in whom, the Spirit, with these ever One.

Unlike Anselm’s theory, Abelard’s views of the Atonement had no lasting impact on medieval thought. In fact, in his own lifetime, Abelard was soundly criticized. His chief opponent was Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), who had Abelard condemned in 1140 for teaching that Christ did not take upon himself flesh to save us from the devil, that free will of itself suffices to do some good, that human beings did not inherit the guilt of Adam, but only penalty. Bernard criticized Abelard’s moral influence theory of the Atonement.

Refer to Resource 8-4 in the Student Guide.
Bernard, a member of a contemplative monastic order, understood that the aim of theology was to aid devotion. Theology brought self-transcendence and pure objectivity. Likewise, Bernard believed, love did the same. God is the initiator, sustainer, and goal of Christian love. Sharing in God’s nature was sharing in His love. Bernard understood Christian love to be intellectual, but leading one to love humanity. Love moved men and women from the mundane—loving with all the heart—to what was higher, the rational—loving with all the soul.

William of Champeaux founded the school of theology at St. Victor’s in Paris about 1110. It was known for its defense of realism, and in particular the idea that three in one essence is present in individuals of the same “species.” Among the theologians to follow at St. Victor was Hugh (1097-1141), who delineated the seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, Penance, Extreme Unction, Marriage, and Ordination. “The person who finds his homeland sweet,” Hugh once wrote, “is still a tender beginner. He to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong. But he is perfect to whom the entire world is a foreign place.”

Another influential Parisian theologian was Peter Lombard (1100-1160), who was professor of theology at Notre Dame. His Sentences was a compilation of material on various theological issues drawn from earlier theologians. It became the basic theological textbook for the remaining centuries of the Middle Ages. 

A more controversial theologian was Joachim of Fiore (1131-1202). Joachim is said to have experienced a conversion to an “interior life” after a visit to the Holy Land as a young man. He entered the Cistercian Order and became abbot of Corazzo in 1177. Shortly thereafter, he resigned to devote himself to writing. He founded a monastery of his own at Calabria, which received papal blessing in 1196. This became the Order of Saint John. By 1202 the order had grown to 60 houses, most in southern Italy.

Joachim was primarily a biblical commentator. He used a prophetic-historical method of allegorical interpretation. He emphasized the future-telling role of Scripture and centered his attention on the Book of Revelation. From the Bible he drew a theological interpretation of history.

He believed in a Trinitarian conception of history. Under the age of the Father, humankind lived under the Law. This lasted until the end of the Old Testament dispensation. This was the age of the laity. The second age was that of the Son, which is lived under grace and covers the New Testament dispensation, which Joachim believed, would last for 42 generations of 30 years each. This was the age of the clergy. Thus—as followers of Joachim pointed out—this period would end in the year 1260. 

The third dispensation is the age of the Holy Spirit and the Eternal Gospel. This was the age of the monks, since they had reached a state of piety and “perfection.” Joachim was looking forward to a desecularized church restored to its spiritual fervor. A pure and spiritual church would arise. Under this new dispensation, new religious orders would go out to convert the entire world.

Church officials saw Joachim’s ideas as a challenge to ecclesiastical authority. Later, some orders, including the Dominicans, and especially the Spiritual Franciscans, believed they fulfilled what Joachim prophesied. The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 rebuked Joachim’s doctrines, yet his teachings continued to provoke great interest.


Scholastics believed we ascend toward God through the intellect, so they emphasized theology. For them, theoria preceded praxis. There was confidence in the orderedness of the world. Human philosophy, reason, and logic were implicitly Christocentric. The Word is in the heart of the world, so a natural theology is possible. There is an optimistic view of God’s creation, humanity, and its ability to ascend toward God.

The Crusades

Refer to Resource 8-5 in the Student Guide.
In order to regain lands lost, and in particular, to take control of the Holy Lands, Western Christians launched attacks upon Muslims. One crusade turned against Eastern Christians. The violence perpetrated by the Christians etched itself in Muslims’ memory. In the end, the Crusades were a disaster. No lands were permanently reclaimed, and animosities between Western Christians and both Eastern Christians and Muslims became more intense.

The Relations of Latin Christendom with the Outside World

The Western Empire experienced no great threat from the East after the defeat of the Magyars by Otto the Great in 955. Still, in Christian lands, especially in the North, “ancient heathendom,” as R. W. Southern put it, was only “slowly dissolving.” The Church was gradually bringing northern Europe into its web of relations, and kingdoms grew closer through the intermarriage of nobility.

The Normans conquered England in 1054 and took Southern Italy and Sicily away from the Eastern Empire in a series of invasions 1059-91. 

Meanwhile, Islamic civilization took deeper roots. By 1100 Muslim scholarship, especially in astronomy and mathematics, was notably useful to Europeans. 

Constantinople remained the trading center of the region, a hub of both caravan and sea routes. With the rise of Anglo-Flemish wool and clothing industries, Europeans had something to trade with the rest of the world.

The Crusades

 The motives of the Crusades were not entirely religious. Christians sought to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims, to destroy Islam, and to stop the potential advance of Turkish Muslims into Europe. At first, they saw themselves as protectors of the Eastern Empire and church, and thought of the Crusades as a means of healing the rift between the two wings of Christendom.

Crusaders sought to conquer in the name of Christ. This gave rise to a strange type of monasticism linked to military action. Crusaders also joined the campaigns for the simple escape it offered from the tedious drudgery of everyday life. The Crusades offered adventure. Many Europeans were poverty stricken. Poor and noble alike saw the Crusades as a means toward economic gain. They offered knights a chance to prove their chivalry in battle.

Divisions among the Muslims gave the Christians reason to hope for success. Land routes to the Holy Lands had become common after the conversion of the Hungarians to Western Christianity during the reign of King Stephen early in the eleventh century. Europeans were beginning, after advances in Spain and Sicily against the Muslims, to hope they could be defeated. The monastic reform movements were taking hold of the people and increasing their devotion.

Sentiment for a Crusade was initiated from Rome among monks and the sons of great ruling families. Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade in 1095 at the Council of Clermont. “God wills it” (Deus vult), Urban announced. Increasingly, Europeans who had been making pilgrimages to Jerusalem saw those whom they considered the enemies of Christ triumphing. Urban also saw a united campaign as a means of overcoming Europeans’ infighting. He hoped to turn their restlessness into constructive action. He also granted an indulgence to any who would join the Crusade.

Peter the Hermit (1050-1115) roused popular enthusiasm, and when an army was raised, joined the Crusade. The First Crusade included five armies, totaling 50,000 men. The Crusaders looted and pillaged towns on the way, and turned against Jews. After crossing into Asia Minor, two of the armies were massacred by the Muslim Turks. 

Professional soldiers and knights joined in the Crusade. They captured Antioch in 1098 and Jerusalem in 1099. When Europeans reached Jerusalem they slaughtered the inhabitants. Godfrey of Bouillon became “Protector of the Holy Sepulchre,” and later his brother became “King of Jerusalem.” They established a feudal political regime along with the Church. The Christians’ action left hatred and antagonism. Though the Church’s reputation was tarnished, this Crusade was a collaborative act that created a sense of European identity. 

Military monastic orders, taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, rose to aid the Crusade. The Templars, founded in 1119 in Jerusalem itself, pledged to defend the Holy Land. The Templars became wealthy through various gifts. Another group, the Knights of Saint John, or Hospitallers, established a hospital in Jerusalem. But it became a military rather than a healing order. 

Refer to Resource 8-6 in the Student Guide.
The Second Crusade began after the city of Edessa fell to Muslims in 1144. Bernard of Clairvaux promoted the idea of a renewed attack upon the Muslims. But many Europeans who joined the effort perished before reaching Syria. Others were defeated at Damascus. In 1187 Muslims pushed Europeans out of Jerusalem. In an attempt to retake Jerusalem, Europeans launched the Third Crusade in 1198. It was led by the emperor and kings, including Richard the Lion-Hearted of England. Europeans recaptured the city of Acre and achieved some other minor successes, but could not conquer Jerusalem.

The Fourth Crusade began in 1202 upon the call of Pope Innocent III. Its goal was Egypt, but spurred by a conniving merchant of Venice, who was transporting the troops, in 1204 the Crusaders turned against and conquered and plundered Constantinople. Venice and Constantinople were rivals for trade. Baldwin of Flanders was declared emperor. A Latin Patriarch loyal to Rome replaced the Greek patriarch, but Eastern churches refused to pay allegiance to this usurper.

The Western powers occupied the Eastern Empire for 60 years. This brought hatred and estrangement, and weakened the Eastern Empire’s capacity to stand against the Muslims. In 1261 the Eastern rulers were strong enough to push the Latin rulers out of the city. 

A pitiful Children’s Crusade was launched in 1212. Many of the children who joined it ended up as slaves in Egypt. It was the worst failure of the Crusades.  

The Fifth Crusade was led by Emperor Frederick II, who went without papal support. Frederick obtained a treaty with Egypt in 1229 giving him control over Palestine and the adjacent region. Muslims at this time were weakened by the Mongols. Frederick became “King of Jerusalem.” However, the Muslims retook Jerusalem in 1244.

The Sixth Crusade, in 1270, was led by the rulers of France and England. It ended a failure. Even the one Christian stronghold remaining in the Near East, Acre, fell to Muslims in 1291.

The crusading spirit continued and was directed against both pagans and Jews in Europe, Muslims in Iberia, and heretics such as the Cathari. The crusading heritage represented a complete reversal from the early Christian stand on war. Not only were some wars now “just,” they were “holy.”

The Crusades stimulated the growth of Italian commerce and in general brought Europeans into closer contacts with Asians. But they utterly failed to achieve their primary objectives. Instead, the Crusades weakened the Eastern empire and church, which became easy prey to the Muslims. The rift with the Western Church deepened. Bitterness between Christians and Muslims intensified. The Crusades lowered the moral stature of Christendom.

The Crusades united European monarchs against a common foe. At the same time, they increased the power and prestige of the pope. 

The Crusades opened Europe more to the size and scope of the unconverted outside world. The Crusades increased the traffic of ideas, especially from the Arabians. Crusaders brought news of Christendom from beyond. This included a mysterious letter received in 1175 from one “Prester John.” The pope sent a letter and emissary to find John and his kingdom, but the emissary disappeared.

The Church and the Papacy

The Church, the Papacy, and the States in the High Middle Ages

While the church was a unifying force throughout Europe, differences were obvious among the Western European states. In particular the northern, Germanic states, which had been less influenced by the rule of the old Roman Empire, possessed distinct languages, cultures, and religious customs. Monastic and other reforms were implemented in the Latin states of France, Italy, and Norman England.

Refer to Resource 8-7 in the Student Guide.
At the beginning of this period, much of Rome was vacated and in ruins. There was little commerce. It was the resting place of saints. Ancient churches contained the relics of saints. Though churches from other places sometimes purchased these relics, and thus they were scattered throughout Europe, Christians from throughout Europe still undertook pilgrimages to Rome.

The rulers of European countries chiefly responsible for filling church offices. This was termed “lay investiture,” since the kings were not clergy. The monarch gave a ring and a staff to the selected bishop when he was inducted into office. The clergy had become little more than officers for the monarchs. The morals of the clergy degenerated.

Wealthy families of Europe controlled church property and divided ecclesiastical as well as political offices. Families sometimes bought top church offices for their children. One brother might be a count, another a bishop. In local cathedrals, lay offices transferred from one generation to the next. “Custodians” earned a degree of the profits or tithes brought by the people. 

In the mid-eleventh century the pope began to move against some of the abuses of buying church offices— called “simony.” In 1049 Pope Leo IX met church leaders at Rheims. The bones of the patron saint Remigius were placed on the altar to send a degree of fear among those gathered. The pope asked which of the bishops present had paid money to attain their offices. One bishop confessed that his parents had bought the office for him. He laid down his staff and the pope gave him another. One bishop who disappeared in the night was excommunicated. Another bishop was reduced to the priesthood. These actions strengthened the pope’s authority and moral influence.   

By a decree issued in 1059 by Pope Nicholas II, the election of popes was to be left to the College of Cardinals. The pope himself, this reform intimated, must be free of the influence of patrons.   

But even after the church began to move against such abuses in the mid-eleventh century, lay investiture remained a problem, creating tensions between the rulers and the pope.    

Gregory VII (1072-1085)
Refer to Resource 8-8 in the Student Guide.
A reformer became pope in 1072. Hildebrand, as he had been known, had been an influential advisor to the popes since 1049, and an agent of reform. Upon becoming pope, he took the name Gregory VII. Though he had been allied with the new urban families of Rome (its financiers and traders) Gregory, as historian R. W. Southern put it, was “eaten up with one burning passion to restore the glory of the Apostles.” He believed the way to reform the church was to strengthen papal power. He immediately issued degrees against simony and clerical immorality.   

Gregory found a document known as the “Donation of Constantine.” Supposedly written by the fourth-century emperor, it gave the church rights over large Italian lands. It made the pope a temporal as well as religious and spiritual leader. Later, the document was proven to be a forgery

The pope also held regular business sessions that established policies; for instance, in regards to the jurisdiction and running of monasteries. The real power of Rome was demonstrated in the provinces. Gregory relied on papal legates or representatives, who traveled, held councils, and pronounced judgments in the name of the pope.

In 1074 Gregory prohibited priests’ marriages and ordered married priests to dismiss their wives or give up presiding over the Lord’s Supper. In 1075 Gregory forbade lay investiture. As the pope saw it, this practice had brought secular control over the church and unsuitable persons to positions of leadership in it. The pope believed he and the church, rather than monarchs, needed the primary obedience and loyalty of the bishops and other office-holders in the church. Being laity, the monarchs, in the pope’s opinion, should hold no power over the clergy.

The monarchs, on the other hand, believed they had God-given responsibilities for the church in their realms, and saw the pope as an outsider and foreigner attempting to control internal affairs. The monarchs preferred the union of church and state. This measure disestablishing lay investiture was violently opposed by the monarchs, especially those of Germany, France, and England. As a result, the French church saw a nearly complete change in its leadership. However, the Norman King of England, William the Conqueror, simply avoided the decree, and continued to appoint his own clergy.

In Germany, the pope was most opposed. After Gregory suspended some bishops in Germany, Henry IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, called a council at Worms to declare the pope deposed—releasing his subjects from allegiance to the pope. In return, Gregory excommunicated Henry and freed his subjects from his authority. In 1077, fearing for his throne, Henry crossed the Alps in winter and met Gregory. Henry repented by presenting himself three days in the snow, barefoot, before the castle where the pope was staying. Gregory lifted the excommunication.

However, the conflict continued. The pope excommunicated Henry again in 1080. In return, Henry set up an “antipope” and marched against and besieged Rome. Gregory called in Norman soldiers to protect  him, but the Roman populace turned against him for this, and Gregory fled into exile.

Pope Urban II

In 1095, under Pope Urban II, the same Council of Clermont that called for a Crusade also defined a clear separation of the church and the world, forbidding clerics to affirm their loyalty as vassals to monarchs or other laypersons. The church would no longer pay homage to secular rulers. The church asserted its divine origin and rights over the state. Laypersons were not to be dispensers of holy things. The clergy were declared to be immune from secular jurisdiction. The special position of church lands was recognized.

Various kings struggled for control over the church in their own countries. In 1162 King Henry II of England appointed his friend and Chancellor, Thomas à Becket (1118-70), as archbishop of Canterbury to lead the church in England. But upon becoming archbishop, Thomas took his new responsibilities seriously and refused to be compliant to the king’s wishes. 

Particularly, he opposed Henry’s desire to increase taxes and to bring clerics charged with crimes before secular rather than church courts. Henry pressed bogus charges against Thomas, by which Thomas fled to France. Thomas deposed two bishops and placed England under an interdict, prohibiting the faithful from partaking of the sacraments. Fearing his citizens, King Henry invited Thomas to return in 1169. The people welcomed him as a hero.

But Thomas refused to reinstate bishops who had sided with the king unless they swore allegiance to the pope. For this continued opposition to him, Henry uttered some words that led four knights to assassinate à Becket—in the cathedral itself. News of this action soon spread throughout Europe. In 1174 Henry did penance at Thomas’s tomb, which already had become a center for pilgrimages. This episode only strengthened the role of the church in the minds of the people and weakened the moral authority of rulers. 

Complex church laws developed to handle incoming cases. Vast amounts of litigation flowed to Rome. Even secular rulers sent matters to Rome to be decided there. Matters were delegated to small committees appointed by the pope. Increasingly, Europe witnessed a rise in the power of the ecclesiastical bureaucracy gathered in Rome.

Innocent III

Under Innocent III, the Papacy reached the apex of its power. The church claimed authority over all spheres of life. Innocent believed the Papacy was heir to the Davidic promises of a kingdom. All earthly kings received their authority from the church, he declared. The Papacy was entitled to both “swords,” the spiritual and the temporal. Innocent further declared himself to be not only Vicar of Peter, but Vicar of Christ—Christ’s representative on earth.

Innocent participated in settling secular as well as religious disputes throughout Europe. He became regent over Sicily. Europeans responded to Innocent’s call for a Fourth Crusade. As a result of this crusade’s attack upon Constantinople rather than the Muslims, Innocent extended his influence over the Eastern Church.

Innocent exerted authority over the rulers of Germany, France, and England. His preference for Frederick over Emperor Otto in Germany led to Otto’s excommunication and being deposed. Innocent required King Philip Augustus of France to reunite with his wife, whom he had divorced, and return church land, which he had confiscated.

When King John of England refused to accept Stephen Langton as archbishop of Canterbury and seized church property, Innocent excommunicated John and transferred the monarchy to Philip Augustus. In order to retain his crown, John surrendered his kingdom to the pope and received it back as a papal vassal.

In order to reform the church and to decide theological issues, Innocent III called for a council, which met in the Lateran, the papal residence in Rome, in 1215-16. This Fourth Lateran Council was among the most significant councils of the church. It established transubstantiation as the theology of the church pertaining to the Lord’s Supper. That is, in the mass, through the prayers of the priest, there was a real transformation of the bread and the wine into the body and blood of Jesus.

The council condemned Joachim’s Trinitarian doctrines. It encouraged the expansion of knowledge and the better education of clergy. It declared that no new monastic orders be created. The council instructed the faithful to confess privately to a priest and partake of communion at least once a year. It voided appointments to ecclesiastical offices made by secular  rulers. The Council forbade Christians from extracting interest and condemned the Jews for doing so. It warned Christians not to have commerce with Jews. The council gave the pope exclusive rights to introduce new relics, and it ratified his call for a new Crusade

While the Papacy was strengthened as a means of reforming the church, with its increased power came the increased temptation for the abuse of power. Monarchs resented papal power and influence within their states, but for a while acquiesced. The pope’s control over temporal lands and interventions in political affairs drew his attention away from spiritual matters. While the pope wrested control over church offices away from monarchs and laity, the Papacy itself was controlled by Italian families and trapped by the clerical bureaucracy of the Roman see.

Write in your journal. Reflect on and respond to the following:


20. While I talked about these things, and the winds of opinions veered about and tossed my heart hither and thither, time was slipping away. I delayed my conversion to the Lord; I postponed from day to day the life in you, but I could not postpone the daily death in myself. I was enamored of a happy life, but I still feared to seek it in its own abode, and so I fled from it while I sought it. I thought I should be miserable if I were deprived of the embraces of a woman, and I never gave a thought to the medicine that your mercy has provided for the healing of that infirmity, for I had never tried it. As for continence, I imagined that it depended on one’s own strength, though I found no such strength in myself, for in my folly I knew not what is written, “None can be continent unless you grant it.” Certainly you would have given it, if I had beseeched your ears with heartfelt groaning, and if I had cast my care upon you with firm faith.

Meanwhile my sins were being multiplied. My mistress was torn from my side as an impediment to my marriage, and my heart that clung to her was torn and wounded till it bled. And she went back to Africa, vowing to you never to know any other man and leaving with me my natural son by her. But I, unhappy as I was, and weaker than a woman, could not bear the delay of the two years that should elapse before I could obtain the bride I sought. And so, since I was not a lover of wedlock so much as a slave of lust, I procured another mistress—not a wife, of course. Thus in bondage to a lasting habit, the disease of my soul might be nursed up and kept in its vigor or even increased until it reached the realm of matrimony. Nor indeed was the wound healed that had been caused by cutting away my former mistress; only it ceased to burn and throb, and began to fester, and was more dangerous because it was less painful.

Preparation for Class Session 9

A. Read: Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, chapters 21
            Write a Big Idea paragraph from your reading.

B. Read the following articles and give a one paragraph answer to the question asked.
            1. The Schism:East and West Go Their Separate Ways
                        What do you see as the biggest obstacle the church faced to remain united?
2. Monasticism and Spirituality
                        “What does this mean for me and for others as we attempt to live out the Christian
                        life together?”
            3.Monks and Clergy
                        How would a Franciscan describe holiness?

C. Write in your journal. Reflect on and respond to the following:  


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