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Summary: Tonight, we are going to cover a very large portion of history, the period normally referred to as The Middle Ages. This lesson covers a thousand years of church history, so there will be much more that is left unsaid than is said.

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Church History: Examining the Creeds and Confessions of the Church Through the Ages and Why They Matter.

Lesson 8: The Middle Ages (AD600 to the Reformation)

Tonight, we are going to cover a very large portion of history, the period normally referred to as The Middle Ages.

This lesson covers a thousand years of church history, so there will be much more that is left unsaid than is said.

The reason for covering this entire period in one lesson is because it represents a bridge between the great ecumenical councils of the first few centuries of the church and the reformation, which was a revival of solid biblical thinking and scholarship.

We are going to examine four major developments which occurred during this period.

The Rise in Roman Catholic Theology

There have been false teachings which have attempted to invade the church from its inception; however, none has been so pervasive and destructive as the exaltation of the Pope.

The first time the title Pope was given was to Boniface III, by Emperor Phocas in AD607.

The Word Pope, from the Latin word Papa and the Greek Pappas, is a child’s word used to describe a father.

The Bishop of Rome was consider the Universal Father of the Church.

There are other titles which the Pope has been given, all of which demonstrate various degrees of blasphemy.

Vicar of Christ - Vicar, or vicarious, means one in the place of, or a substitute. The problem is that there is already one on earth who is in the place of Christ, and it is not the Pope. It is the Holy Spirit of God. John 14:16-17 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, [17] even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

Pontifex Maximus - This title has a long history which goes back to the College of Pontiffs in Ancient Rome. Pontiff means bridge-builder, and this term means “greatest bridge builder”. This is not one of the Pope’s official titles, but it is used on buildings, coins and monuments of the Pope. This title can be associated with the term High Priest, a title which is used in the New Testament exclusively of Christ.

So, along with the title “Father”, we see the Pope also receives titles which belong to the other two members of the Trinity.

There is a very real sense which the Pope proclaims himself as Deity, by accepting the titles reserved for Deity.

NOTE: There are a lot of folks who really like the new Pope, exclaiming his virtue of humility. The problem is that no man can claim true humility who would allow himself to share the titles of God.

During the middle ages, the authority of the Pope is expanded greatly, as are many other false teachings of Rome.

Here are just a few teachings which were established during this period.

Prayers to Mary, Saints and Angels AD600

Worship of the Cross, Images and Relics AD786

Use of Holy Water blessed by a Priest AD850

The Praying of the Rosary AD1090

The Sale of Indulgences AD1190

The Doctrine of Transubstantiation AD1215

It is the doctrine of Transubstantiation that truly demonstrates the dangerous doctrines which are contained in the church of Rome.

Transubstantiation is the belief that the bread and wine of the Eucharist literally become the Body and Blood of Christ.

This, in and of itself, is not the most repugnant part of the teaching.

What makes it so vile is that the reason for this change of substance is that Christ must be perpetually sacrificed for the sins of His people.

In the Catholic Catechism, there is a definition of the Eucharist:

“The Mass is...the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated (1382).”

“The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents [makes present] the sacrifice of the cross...and because it applies its fruit...the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit. The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: The victim is one and the same. In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner (1366,1367). It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection (1524).”

In the book, The Faith of Millions, Father John O’Brien explains what the Catholics believes happens during the Mass.

“When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into heaven, brings Christ down from His throne and places Him upon our altar, to be offered up again as the victim for the sins of man. It is a greater power than that of monarch and emperors. It is greater than of saints and angels, greater than that of seraphim and cherubim. Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Virgin Mary was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven and renders him present on our altar as the eternal victim for the sins of man not once, but a thousand times. The priest speaks and lo, Christ the eternal omnipotent God bows his head in humble obedience to the priest's command. Of what sublime dignity is the office of the Christian priest, who is thus privileged to act as ambassador and Vice Regent of Christ on earth. He continues the assertion ministry of Christ. He teaches the faithful with the authority of Christ. He pardons the penitent sinner with the power of Christ. He offers up again the same sacrifice of adoration and atonement which Christ offered on Calvary. No wonder that the name which spiritual writers are especially fond of applies to the priest, is that of Alter Christus, for the priest is and should be another Christ.”

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