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Jesus, Gamaliel and Constantine Part Four

By Shlomo Phillips © 09.13.1989 (last updated 02.27.2017)


Monarchianism, Arianism and the Judaizers

    Go to:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
This Is Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven

Rome and Constantinople

During these formative years of Papal development religious debate, political intrigue, betrayal and wrangling of all kinds raged between the bishops of Rome and those headquartered at Constantinople. These were the two leading centers of the Universal Christian Church. Despite Constantine's intention of establishing a one-world government and universal religion, external and internal factors warred ceaselessly against that proposed unity. According to Emperor Constantine Iēsoús (Yeshua) had promised success to the new Church and its global political rule, but that success never came. For those who believe his conversion story, this failure should give pause. If Iēsoús was whom they believe him to be, and if he really promised this to the Church, then why is the Church losing so much ground? Catholicism is no longer the world's largest religion, It has been replaced by Islam. With the possible exception of Vatican City there are no countries that embrace political Christianity. While the Church as a whole is still numerically larger for now, all of Christendom is declining while Islam continues to expand, both in terms of practitioners and influence.

Even as the Roman Empire was eventually divided East and West and then fragmented into the several nation-states, so too did the "One Holy Apostolic Catholic Church." The Orthodox Churches of the East and the Roman or Western Catholic Churches eventually split. Both groups continue to claim that they are the original Christian Church and that the other side caused the split. Much later came the Anglican and then the general Protestant exodus from the Vatican controlled Western Church.

Contentiousness had been building between the two leading patriarchates for many years. The two main straws that finally broke the episcopal camel's back, so to speak, were the issues of "filioque" -- which is to say, a debate over whether to use leavened or unleavened bread for the Eucharist -- and the Bishop of Rome's claim to wield universal jurisdiction as Vicar of Christ (from the Latin Vicarius Christi) over the entire Church as "Papa" or Pope. This claim sought to overturn the established policy of relative Pentarchy or co-rule by the heads of the five major patriarchates or episcopal sees. The Bishop of Rome was clearly making a power grab which, in Rome's opinion, was little more than a clarification of the obvious, but which from Constantinople's perspective, was tantamount to a Church coup. Since the Church was considered the Kingdom of God on Earth, it was seen as a coup against Iēsoús (their god) himself!

Previously, local Christian Congregations had been delegated to the ruling bishops of the region: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Now the Bishop of Rome proclaimed himself "heir to the Throne of Saint Peter" (even though James headed the Church, not Peter, see my study here for more on this) and "Ultimate Potentate of the One Universal Church" (this in open defiance of I Timothy 2:5 etc., in the opinion of Constantinople). But how, Pope Leo argued, could the One Church have more than One head? And so he proclaimed himself the one and only Pope (papa) of the Christian world.

Prior to this conflict, each patriarchate had been accepted as an equal member in "the original church built by Iēsoús." Once the split was finalized however the Pope of Rome excommunicated the Eastern churches and they effectively excommunicated Rome. The Eastern churches continue to accept Rome as a legitimate patriarchate and to recognize autonomy of each of patriarchate. Today these Eastern Church communions are commonly known collectively as the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church, although Constantinople has always been given deference among these communities.

It should be noted that the Eastern Orthodox Church is different from "the Churches of the East." These are Aramaic speaking churches and are relatively independent of the European patriarchates on either sides, although doctrinally they were strongly influenced by the rulings of the original counsels and creeds.

This "Great Schism" was a long time in the making. Its separate currents had been evident for many years before the split between the Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches of the One Apostolic Catholic Church finally became official in 1054. The formal split was due in large part to the ravages both sides suffered at the hands of the ever expanding Islamic Ummah that began in 7th century Mecca and Medina. The Muslim military conquests created land and cultural breaks between the two sections of the Christian empire, further dividing the Church and making communications between the two sides ever more difficult.

In the year 1054, Roman Catholic legates sent by Pope Leo IX (born: June 21, 1002, Eguisheim, France, died: April 19, 1054, Rome, Italy) traveled east. They formally demanded that the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael I Cerularius (born: 1000 AD, Constantinople, died: January 21, 1059, Constantinople), stop using Greek liturgy and embrace Latin as the official Church language. They also, on the authority of Pope Leo IX, denied Cerularius the title "Ecumenical Patriarch." This leading Eastern Orthodox Patriarch was ordered, on pain of excommunication, to recognize the Church of Rome's claim as the supreme patriarchate and Mother Church of the Christian world. Cerularius refused and was officially (from Rome's perspective) excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Ecumenical Patriarch Cerularius denied Pope Leo's authority to do such a thing and responded in kind by excommunicating Cardinal Homburg and the other legates sent by the Pope. This effectively cut off all ties between the Eastern Church and the Western Church. There were now two independent Catholic ("Universal") Churches. Rather than two "heads," Pope Leo created two complete "bodies" for the "One Church."

While there were a few doctrinal differences, such as the preferred form of idolatry to practice: worshiping icons verses statues, leavened verses unleavened communion bread, etc., the Great Schism was mainly the result of human greed, the lack of communication methods of the day, along with various political power plays. Neither the Eastern nor Western Catholic Church has ever displayed any interest whatsoever in removing Paganism from their dogmas and traditions nor in restoring the abandoned reformed Torah teachings of Iēsoús and his talmidim. Historically all who sought to do this have been condemned as Apostate Judaizers.

To this day both of these fourth century created branches of the Nicolaitan/Nicene Church claims to be the original Church established by their counsel created god-man Iēsoús. Both considers the other to be in rebellion to their Christ. Both continue to be at odds with Torah and the reformed Jewish teachings of Iēsoús and his talmidim.

This of course is but a very brief overview of the Great Schism. Volumes could and have been written on this topic. I have sought to be even handed in this presentation. Both sides have legitimate claims in my opinion and neither is biblically authorized in their claims. The point, for our purposes here, is that neither was established by Yeshua nor his talmidim. Rather, the Church was established on the word of the warlord Constantine the Great who claimed to have had a vision of Iēsoús and his mother. Neither the Eastern nor the Western Church carried on the movement established by the Apostles nor did either intend to. The Way movement ceased to exist and the Covenant remains, as it always has, with the Jews (John 4:22).

Continue to Part Five


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