Rudolf Sohm.

Outlines of church history online

. (page 1 of 23)
Online LibraryRudolf SohmOutlines of church history → online text (page 1 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


' ■ ■- '■

K








• ••■•;■■-■
■'.■':'•■•■:•.',•'•■■■■

•:•••-:-■••.«.-.
.•".••• :•-.-■ ••••:-<•



Si!!?

••••■:-.••

••x ;: '.



..■.'. - ..
;.•••:•..•■

■'•''•'••: •■•":'*'■ •'■

■-:''■••"■



-.■■•■. ■■•\ .■,...-.•- g •;. •







THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



-



OUTLINES OF CHURCH HISTORY



OUTLINES OF

CHURCH HISTORY



BY

RUDOLF SOHM

PROFESSOR OF LAW, LEIPZIG

TRANSLATED BY

MISS MAY SINCLAIR

WITH A PREFACE BY

PROFESSOR H. M. GWATKIN, M.A.



ILontion
MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited

NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

I 90 I



First Edition, 189 =
Reprinted 1901.






EDITOR'S PREFACE

The present work is intended to supply a want which
most historical teachers must have felt — that of a
clear and suggestive outline of general Church History
for intelligent readers. Such a manual is Professor
Rudolf Sohm's Kirchengeschichte im Grundriss. Short
as it is, it is neither a meagre sketch nor a confused
mass of facts, but a masterly outline of Church History
from the first ages to our own times, combining a
lawyer's precision and a historian's insight into the mean-
ing of events with a philosopher's sense of the unity of
history and a Christian's conviction that the Kingdom
of God is spiritual.

The translation is made from the eighth German
edition, which the author has brought well up to date.
His vigorous and often epigrammatic sentences are far
from easy to render into flowing English, and the work
has cost the accomplished translator no little time
and care.

We are becoming used to the transformation of
Christian thought by the advance of science during
the last two hundred years. It has been 'a revelation
come up from the earth to meet the revelation which

. 1760



VI EDITOR'S PREFACE

had come down from heaven ' (Hort). It may be that
another revelation is coming back from the past which
will work another and as great a transformation in the
next two hundred years. The critical study of history
has already done much to loosen our Pharisaic ideas
of the Gospel, and to show that it is far more spiritual
than Catholic or Calvinist imagined. It has revealed
a new world, which is yet an old one, of Christian
thought beyond and above the narrow Western sec-
tarianism which bounded the horizon of Catholics,
and even of Protestants also. Not by unreasoning
worship of the past, nor by ignorant contempt of it,
nor yet by partisan distortion of it, but by critical
and sympathetic study of it, we shall learn something
of the grandeur of our own time, and of the meaning of
the mighty questions which lie before our children.

H. M. GWATKIN.



AUTHOR'S PREFACE

The following pages contain a collection of essays
which I published some little time ago in the All-
gemeine Conservative Monatsschrift. It is not without
some misgiving that I now bring these essays out
as a whole. Yet I dare to hope that this method of
exposition, by which I attempt to present the history of
the Church as a part of universal history, will perhaps
make it easier for the casual reader to obtain a survey
of the whole course of historical development, and an
insight into those spiritual forces which through Chris-
tianity have flowed out into the world.
Leipzig, November \2th, 1887.

The Second Edition differs from the first only in a
few alterations.

Leipzig, February \\th, 1888.

A few additions have been made to the Third
Edition; as in § 10, Montanism ; § 15, Rise of Mon-
asticism — Augustine. . But the work as a whole has
remained unchanged.

Leipzig, November SM, 1888.



Vlll AUTHORS PREFACE

The Fourth Edition was unchanged from the third.
The opportunity offered by a Fifth Edition is taken to
revise the whole carefully once more, and to enlarge it
by some additions which seemed necessary in order to
present the whole picture in a clearer light. With this
view sections 6, 7, 16, 20, 26, 32, and 51 have undergone
fresh treatment with reference to the ' Proceedings
against the Christians,' Iconoclasm, the Libri Carolini,
Pope Nicolas I., Bernard of Clairvaux, ' Reforming
Forces,' and Alphonso of Liguori.

Leipzig, January igt/i, 1890.

In the Eighth Edition some sections, namely §§ 10-
38, have been further elaborated with special reference
to the results set forth in my Ecclesiastical Law,
vol. i. (1892).

Leipzig, February 22nd, 1S93.

RUDOLPH SOHM.



DIVISION I



SECT.

i. The World
2. Christianity



THE BEGINNING

INTRODUCTION



PAGE
I



CHAPTER I

PERSECUTION

3. Judaism and Christianity .

4. Paganism and Christianity

5. Proceedings against the Christians

6. The Decisive Battle

7. The Church and her Victory .



19



CHAPTER II
INTERNAL DEVELOPMENT
8. Jewish Christianity



9. Gentile Christianity .

10. Constitution of the Church. Catholicism



23
27

31



CHAPTER III
THE CHURCH OF THE EMPIRE

11. State and Church ......... 44

12. The Council of Nicasa 4^

13. Institution of Patriarchs -57

14. Rome and Constantinople 59

15. Rise of Monasticism. Augustine 66



CONTENTS



DIVISION II
THE MIDDLE AGES



SECT.

16. Introduction



PAGE

74



CHAPTER I
THE FRANKISH EMPIRE

17. The Kingdoms of the Germans 80

18. Under the Merovingians ....... 82

19. The Frankish Reformation . 85

20. The Empire of Charles the Great 90



CHAPTER II
THE GERMAN MIDDLE AGES

21. The German Emperors .

22. Reform of Monasticism .

23. Ecclesiastical Reform

24. The Concordat of Worms

25. The Crusades and Chivalry

26. Monasticism. The Mendicant Orders

27. Spiritual Law and Jurisdiction

28. The Mendicant Orders and the Middle Class

29. Encroachments of the Papal Authority — Abuse

30. The Babylonian Exile — Schism

31. Degradation of Monasticism .

32. Reforming Forces ....

33. The Councils of Reform .

34. Power of the Sovereigns .



96
101
106
no

"3

116
124

125

129

135
137
138
141

143



CONTENTS



XI



DIVISION III
THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION



CHAPTER I

REFORMATION
si;ct.

35. New Currents ......

36. Luther .......

37. The Protestant Reformation .

38. The Constitution of the Protestant Church

39. The Lutherans and the Reformed Churches



PAGE
I46

153
l6l
l69

175



CHAPTER II

COUNTER REFORMATION

40. The Catholic Reformation . . . . . • • '79

41. The Order of Jesuits 180

42. The Council of Trent 1S5



DIVISION IV
PIETISM AND THE ILLUMINATION



43. Pietism .

44. The Illumination

45. The Destruction of the Jesuit Order

46. The Omnipotent State .

47. The Idea of Toleration



•95
198



209



xii CONTENTS



DIVISION V
THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

SECT. P AGE

48. The Question 212

49. The Restoration and Romanticism . . . . . • 213

50. Liberalism 222

51. The Realism of the Present 228

52. The Church and Society 240

53. The Situation .......... 243



Division I
THE BEGINNING



INTRODUCTION
§ I. The World

Let us go back to the first century of our era.

In Strasburg the legionary is drawing up his sentinels
on guard and the Roman word of command is resound-
ing. The Roman eagle is supreme, not only on the
Rhine, but on the Danube, the Euphrates, the Nile, at
the foot of the Atlas and of the Pyrenees. With the
rise of the empire the full power of the Roman state
springs into life. The provinces are flourishing under
a wise government. A single will sways the vast army.
Along with energetic warfare against the outside enemy,
we see peace and prosperity united within the empire.
Commerce is flourishing; and the rich culture of the
Hellenic East spreads far and wide over the Latin
West, bearing life and blessing in its train and raising
art and learning to a new development.

A golden age has dawned. The kingdom of Rome
has come in all its glory.

What more can mankind want ? Are not all earthly
and spiritual good things showered on it in profusion ?
They cannot but now say to the passing moment, ' Stay,

A



OUTLINES OF CHURCH HISTORY



thou art so fair ! ' And yet with all its wealth and all
its culture the highest good is lacking. The old gods
are dethroned. The temples of Jupiter and of Apollo
still stand, but the faith is gone which once worshipped
them in simplicity. The Olympic heaven is empty
now. Its guests, whose forms the ancient world once
beheld in their fulness of sensuous power and of ideal
beauty, have faded into the dream -pictures of poetic
fancy. The cultured world has turned from the gods
of Homer to Philosophy with her many tongues,
Philosophy whose systems end in the one refrain,
' There are no gods.'

The multitude follow after Isis and Serapis, the gods
who have made their entry into Rome out of Egypt.
They find edification in the juggling arts of Etrurian
soothsayers, in the secret and intoxicating solemnities
of the Mysteries, and in the demoralizing Festivals of
Cybele, the great Mother of the gods.

Not that the heathen world had wholly lost its need
of religion and its ideals of religion on the eve of its
dissolution. On the contrary, in the first and second
centuries of the empire, we see a steadily rising de-
velopment of the religious spirit, with stages marked
by the noble figures of Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.
Philosophy in divesting the old gods of their splen-
dour was at the same time a guide to the one highest
divinity. Philosophy was a schoolmaster to bring the
pagan to Christ, as was to the Jew the Old Testament
law. Though Stoicism represented the creed of the
majority of educated men, with its exhortations to a
life of stern self-discipline on purely natural grounds,
it was becoming more and more influenced by the
Platonic philosophy ; and the Platonic quest of the



INTRODUCTION



ideal world which lies behind the sensible became with
the philosophers of the empire more and more a long-
ing for the divine, a longing for revelation, a longing
for redemption. Side by side with the innumerable local
worships of the heathen world, the idea of monotheism
arose in all its power, ruling as a spiritual ruler over
the world of the Roman Empire. But the monotheism
towards which ancient philosophy tended was power-
less either to displace polytheism, to win real popularity
for itself or to secure what men first of all desired —
certainty. To this monotheism no power was given
to regenerate an ageing world. Even this philosoph/
also resulted, not in attainment or secure possession,
but in the mere longing after the divine — longing which
carried at its heart doubt of the existence of the thing
longed for.

The world is empty, because heaven is empty first.

Mankind is full of eagerness to discover the kingdom
which is from above. That mighty movement of cul-
ture, which in the Roman Empire was borne in a single
upward direction by the combined forces of the Latin
and Hellenic spirits, now culminates in the creation of
the world's Desire, which goes forth to meet the world's
Saviour.

§ 2. Christianity

Over the wide field of the Roman Empire, a few
Christian communities are scattered here and there, as
yet unnoticed. The new faith has gone forth from
Jerusalem. Already (somewhere about the middle of
the first century) it has reached Rome and Alexandria.
Between these two extreme points are ranged the



4 OUTLINES OF CHURCH HISTORY

churches of Greece, Macedonia, Asia Minor, and Syria,
for the most part founded by the Apostle Paul in the
fifties. Amongst their various members, as yet few in
number, those of the Jewish nationality form a promi-
nent part. Side by side with them are Greek slaves and
freedmen. Not many rich, not many learned, but many
of the common people : handicraftsmen, soldiers, petty
traders, fishermen, publicans — the poor and the despised
of this world.

It is upon this little society, destitute as it was of all
worldly resources, a vanishing quantity in the tumult of
the great cities, that the eye of the historian rests. It
contains a power which shall one day overcome the
world of the Roman Empire.

Seen from the outside, the Christian community
seemed to be only one more newly formed club, like
countless other unions of the same sort.

The Roman world of the first century was overspread
with religious societies. There was no longer any fixed
religion, but there were religions in plenty — worships of
local deities, divine honours paid to men, together with
divers religious customs. There were none, especially
among the lower classes of the people, who did not
belong to some union of the kind. There was a divinity
of each society ; and there was always the divinity of
the Emperor actually reigning, which was worshipped
in regular monthly meetings. There were secret rites
of lustration, like the Christian Baptism. There were
common meals, like the Christian Agapa and the
Lord's Supper. The members of the societies were
even formed into a sort of general brotherhood. In
the clubs and brotherhoods, just as with the Christians,
all class distinctions were done away with. The slave



INTRODUCTION 5



was equal to the freeman, the freed man to the frecborn.
There, at the gatherings and festivals of the unions,
the most miserable slave could enjoy for an instant
freedom and equality. There the poor man could shake
off, at least for the moment, the burden of life. Nay
more, these unions had relief funds for the needy who
had joined for the sake of union, more particularly
funds for providing honourable burial for members of
the guild. The idea itself of practical brotherly love
does not seem to have been peculiar to the Christian
communities. To the mere onlooker the association
of the lower classes had only developed a new impulse
in them. That impulse might come and go like the
rest.

But what a difference ! Where are the other countless
unions which the great need of the masses once called
into being in the Roman Empire? Where are they
now ? The wind of history has swept them away.
Long ago, many centuries ago, not a trace of them was
left. Of all those religious societies of the Roman
Empire only two are living to this day : the Jewish
Synagogue and the Christian Church. The Jewish
Synagogue endures mainly by the living power of the
Jewish nationality. The Christian Church, which rested
on no exclusive nationality, endures solely in conse-
quence of the living power of its religion.

'The history of the world
Is the world's judgment.'

No other religion has had power to guide the progress
of our culture save Christianity alone. Therefore it is
that it has conquered. On its side were neither Roman
legions nor ancient learning, but the power of divine



6 OUTLINES OF CHURCH HISTORY



truth which is mightier than all the powers of our
earthly life.

By virtue of the spirit which is alive within her, the
Christian Church in its slow upward growth had power
to outlast the great Roman Empire, to join the ancient
to the modern world, and to be the educator of the
race of men that was to come.



CHAPTER 1

PERSECUTION

§ 3. Judaism and Christianity

The enemy of the Church from its very birth was
Pharisaic Judaism.

Pharisaism, which had sprung from the heroic struggle
of the Maccabees, represented the regenerate Jewish
world, holding itself separate from all that was pagan
and impure, cumbered with the daily service of legal
righteousness, a service made more and more grievous
by the constant addition of new rules. The mass
of the Jewish people was Pharisaically inclined. In
Pharisaism it found its own innate zeal for the law,
found all the proud self-consciousness of Jewish nation-
ality joined to a burning hatred against the heathen
conqueror, and to wild hopes of the kingdom of Judah
which was to be set up over the world by the Messiah.
And now, in the sharpest contrast to this slavish zeal
for the law, appeared the Christian doctrine of the
freedom of God's children from the law ; in contrast to
this image of a Jewish Messiah coming in earthly glory,
the form of the Crucified who called heathens and Jews
without distinction into His heavenly kingdom.

Pharisaism meant the completion, Christianity the
abolition of national Judaism.

So the conflict arose at once. Stephen died a
martyr's death (A.D. 36 or 37) because he taught that



8 OUTLINES OF CHURCH HISTORY

Jesus of Nazareth had come to destroy the worship of
the temple and to abolish the forms of the Mosaic law
(Acts vi. 14). Of the Apostles, James, brother of John,
was beheaded under Herod Agrippa (44) ; Peter was
imprisoned for a while ; James, the brother of the Lord,
was stoned (62). As far as its power reached, Judaism
vented its hatred against Christianity in deeds of
violence. For a while the community at Jerusalem
fled before the enmity of the Pharisees and was
scattered abroad, so that only the Apostles had courage
to remain behind in the city. In Pharisaism the Jewish
people fought against Christianity the more bitterly
because the moral forces of national Judaism were
attacked by Christianity. Thus even Saul, one of the
noblest of men, went forth, full of holy enthusiasm, to
defend the law of his fathers against the destroyer.

The effect of Pharisaic persecution was to hasten the
spread of Christianity. Nay more, the persecutor him-
self might find 'as it were scales' fall suddenly from his
eyes. It was to Saul that Christ revealed Himself— the
risen Christ. He saw Him whom he had persecuted ;
and the zealous champion of Judaism and of the law
became the Apostle of the Gentiles, who by powerful
preaching was to make known to the Jew and also to
the Greek the justification which comes not by the law
but by faith.

Yet the conflict of Christianity with Judaism was but
the prelude to a mightier battle upon a vaster stage.

§ 4. Paganism and Christianity

Christianity had to deal not only with Judaism but
with the world.



PERSECUTION



The world was Roman. The fate of the future had to
be decided within the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire was pagan. What was the
attitude of Paganism towards Christianity ?

That was clear from the beginning. Scarcely was
the Christian Church founded, when it was attacked by
Paganism.

The burning of Rome (A.D. 64) was laid to the
charge of the Christians. A vast number of the
brethren, cruelly put to death, fell victims to the
revengeful multitude. The Apostle Paul, who had been
long held in captivity in Rome, was probably numbered
amongst those who there sealed their faith with their
blood about this time ; and with him, so we may fairly
suppose, the Apostle Peter likewise suffered martyr-
dom.

The flames of the burning of the world's capital,
together with those living torches, the bodies of the
martyrs flaring in the gardens of the Emperor Nero,
lit up the Church's entry into the world's history.
Hitherto the Christians had been confused by the
populace with the Jews. Now, for the first time, the
distinction became generally recognized — the Christians
alone, not the Jews, were charged with the burning of
Rome.

In the inquiry which was set on foot, the Christians
were declared innocent of incendiarism. But they were
condemned all the same, being found guilty of ' hatred
against the whole human race.' The religion of love
appeared to the Romans as a religion of hate, and
(which was more wonderful) not altogether wrongly —
from their point of view.

The Roman believed that his city and her empire



IO OUTLINES OF CHURCH HISTORY

should endure for ever. His patriotism consisted in
this belief. But the Christian believed in the destruc-
tion of the city, the empire, the globe itself. He be-
lieved that one empire alone was eternal — the empire
of Christ, the kingdom of God. Indeed, the early
churches believed that the end of the world was close at
hand. The eyes of the disciples had seen Christ who
was risen from the dead. They were persuaded that
even in their lifetime they should see Him come again
in His divine glory to destroy the earthly order of
things, and to judge the quick and the dead. They
longed for this day with all the desire of the bride for
the bridegroom. They longed for the fall of the king-
dom of Rome, that so the kingdom of God might come.
Herein was their treason to their country — in their
hatred towards the Roman Empire, and thus towards
the 'whole human race.'

Rome, that is Paganism, and Christianity stood face
to face. To the old pagan world, the State represented
the highest good. Moral virtue was identified with the
active service of the State. To live and to die for the
commonweal was the whole duty of man. Therefore
in that worship of the Emperor which the Roman world
had borrowed from the most ancient customs of the
East, Paganism found its last and highest expression.
The Roman Emperor was the incarnation of the idea
of the State. The altar raised to him was consecrated
to the worship of that which, for Paganism, was the
highest moral force, the power of the State. To the
new views which the Christians put forward with reck-
less determination, the worship not only of idols, but
of the Emperor (that is, of the State), was irreconcilable.
To the Christian the highest of all things was not the



PERSECUTION II



almighty Caesar, not the Roman Empire, not the Roman
nation. To the Christian the Highest was, before all,
not of this world, for his longing was fixed upon a better.
With Christianity a new theory of the world came into
history, challenging all other to open combat, a theory
which insisted on the worthlessness of all earthly things
when compared with heavenly things ; which rendered
unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, but at the same
time desired to give unto God the things that are God's.
And this theory of the world made in Christianity its
claim to be the only universally valid one. While Juda-
ism shut itself in from the outer world, and claimed its
promises, as it guarded its beliefs, for itself alone ; while
the philosophical systems appealed only to the learned,
Christianity claimed from the very first to conquer the
world. It went out into the highways and market-
places for the very purpose of gaining a decisive influ-
ence over those modes of popular thought on which the
commonweal now depended.

For this reason Christianity was dangerous to the
State, in the old pagan sense. It struck at the very
foundations of the ancient State — that State which, with
its unlimited and illimitable power, claimed to regulate
the whole outer and inner life of man. Virtue was
attacked, virtue in the ancient sense of love for the
commonweal as for the highest good. The outrages of
the Emperor Nero, the blind rage of the heathen multi-
tude against Christians transported by 'hatred against
the human race,' were but the instinctive and necessary
expression of the ancient political idea of the State,
which had good reason to feel that its very life was
threatened.



12 OUTLINES OF CHURCH HISTORY



§ 5. Proceedings against the Christians

To the Roman citizen the Christian, as such, was the
enemy of the State ; he was suspected of high treason
on account of his opinions, and therefore in the eye of
the law guilty of death.

The Christian community maintained itself under the
pressure of this penal law during three centuries.

It would, however, be an error to imagine this long
period as one of unbroken persecution. On the contrary,
the law was only carried out now and then, by fits
and starts. Times of persecution alternated with long
periods of practical toleration. It follows that the
persecutions of the earlier periods were throughout of
local and limited character. Where plague, famine, or
fire stirred up the masses of the people, or where
some violent provincial governor felt himself con-
strained to vent his passion on the Christians, or where
the Christians themselves challenged the multitude to
opposition, there a persecution arose, now in one place
now in another. Thus the burning of Rome gave the
pretext for the persecution of the Christians under
Nero, but of the Christians in Rome only. Thus
Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, died a martyr's death
(about 115), and Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, sealed his
faith with his blood upon the scaffold under Antoninus
Pius (about 155). Under Marcus Aurelius (161 -180),
there fell that bloody persecution in Southern Gaul
which claimed countless victims from the Christian
Church at Lyons (177). Under Septimius Severus, con-
version to Christianity was forbidden by law (202), and


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryRudolf SohmOutlines of church history → online text (page 1 of 23)