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HISTORY REBUILT PART 11 - CONSTANTINE TO REFORMATION

Backing up a bit to the political climate in the early part of the 4th century, we find that Rome was persecuting Christianity. Now we need to understand that the Roman Catholic Church was tied to the Roman Empire and was doing the bidding of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire, through the Roman Catholic Church, was persecuting Christianity.


It was through Constantine’s military victory over Licinius, providing him the rule over the entire Roman Empire, that a shift occurred for Christianity. In 323, Constantine triumphed over Licinius and became the sole ruler of the Roman world. The victory enabled Constantine to move the seat of government permanently to the East, to the ancient Greek city of Byzantium (now Istanbul). He enlarged and enriched the city at enormous expense and built magnificent churches throughout the East. The new capital was dedicated as New Rome, but everyone soon called the city Constantinople.


Christians were more populous and vocal in the East than they were in Rome, so during the last 14 years of his reign, "Bullneck" could openly proclaim himself a Christian. He proceeded to create the conditions we call "state-church" and bequeathed the ideal to Christians for over a thousand years.


In 325, the Arian controversy threatened to split the newly united empire. To settle the matter, Constantine called together a council of the bishops at Nicaea, a city near the capital. He ran the meeting himself.


"You are bishops whose jurisdiction is within the church," he told them. "But I also am a bishop, ordained by God to oversee those outside the church."


Presiding at the council, Constantine was magnificent: arranging elaborate ceremony, dramatic entrances and processions, and splendid services. He was also a gifted mediator, now bringing his skill in public relations to the management of church affairs.


Unfortunately, he could not follow abstract arguments or subtle issues and often found himself at a great disadvantage at these councils.


What Constantine tried to do with the Council of Nicaea was to solve a fundamental disagreement about the doctrine of Christ. The Council of Nicaea was the first council in the history of the Christian church that was intended to address the entire body of believers. It was convened by the emperor Constantine to resolve the controversy of Arianism, a doctrine that held that Christ was not divine but was a created being. This difference was caused by the Roman Catholic Church position of divinity and salvation by works. For the next 1000 years, the effects of Constantine and the Council of Nicaea stood within both the political and religious realms.

The Church (Roman Catholic Church) began 1140 through 1300 AD Period of building by the church a dominant institute of state, even world, government.


One of the worst anti-Semitic massacres of the Middle Ages took place in York in 1190. The city’s entire Jewish community was trapped by an angry mob inside the tower of York Castle (The Massacre at Clifford’s Tower). Many members of the community chose to commit suicide rather than be murdered or forcibly baptized by the attackers.


Inside the tower, trust between the Jews and the keeper broke down, and when he left the tower on other business, they refused to allow him back in. They had now challenged the king’s authority, and troops joined the mob outside, where they were pelted with stones from the castle walls by the besieged Jews.


Friday 16 March coincided with Shabbat Hagadol, the ‘Great Sabbath’ before the Jewish festival of Pesach or Passover. According to several accounts, the Jews realized that they could not hold out against their attackers, and rather than waiting to be killed or forcibly baptized, decided to meet death together. The father of each family killed his wife and children, before taking his own life.

Just before their deaths, they also set fire to the possessions they had brought with them; this fire consumed the timber tower. It is not clear how many Jews were present – estimates range from 20 to 40 families, and a later account in Hebrew suggests about 150 people. This was just the start of the implementation of the church political might and the full satanic religious outward display.

  1. In 1231 AD The Inquisition - it was an imposed religion of works, rather than faith from the heart by individuals who had been born-again spiritually. This inquisition attempted to root out unbelievers, non-adherents of the church of Rome.

  2. In 1252 AD The Pope sanctioned the use of torture during the Inquisition as a means of extracting the truth.

  3. In 1290 AD Jews expelled from England.

  4. In 1306 AD First expulsion of Jews from France.

  5. In 1394 AD Second expulsion of Jews from France.

  6. In 1478 AD Start of the Spanish Inquisition.

  7. In 1492 AD Jews expelled from Spain.

It was a boy borne on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Saxony, located in modern-day Germany that made the church front and center in the public eye as to what the church not only stood for but the practices of the church itself.


Martin Luther, at age 22, had a life-changing experience that set him on a new course to becoming a monk. Caught in a horrific thunderstorm where he feared for his life, Luther cried out to St. Anne, the patron saint of miners, “Save me, St. Anne, and I’ll become a monk!” The storm subsided and he was saved.


Most historians believe this was not a spontaneous act, but an idea already formulated in Luther’s mind. The decision to become a monk was difficult and greatly disappointed his father, but he felt he must keep a promise.


At age 27, Luther was given the opportunity to be a delegate to a Catholic church conference in Rome. He came away more disillusioned, and very discouraged by the immorality and corruption he witnessed there among the Catholic priests.


Upon his return to Germany, he enrolled in the University of Wittenberg in an attempt to suppress his spiritual turmoil. He excelled in his studies and received a doctorate, becoming a professor of theology at the university (known today as Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg).


Through his studies of scripture, Luther finally gained religious enlightenment. Beginning in 1513, while preparing lectures, Luther read the first line of Psalm 22, which Christ wailed in his cry for mercy on the cross, a cry similar to Luther’s own disillusionment with God and religion.


Two years later, while preparing a lecture on Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, he read, “The just will live by faith.” He dwelled on this statement for some time.


Finally, he realized the key to spiritual salvation was not to fear God or be enslaved by religious dogma but to believe that faith alone would bring salvation. This period marked a major change in his life and set in motion the Reformation.


On October 31, 1517, Luther, angry with Pope Leo X’s new round of indulgences to help build St. Peter’s Basilica, nailed a sheet of paper with his 95 Theses on the University of Wittenberg’s chapel door.


Though Luther intended these to be discussion points, the 95 Theses laid out a devastating critique of the indulgences - good works, which often involved monetary donations, that popes could grant to the people to cancel out penance for sins - as corrupting people’s faith.

Luther also sent a copy to Archbishop Albert Albrecht of Mainz, calling on him to end the sale of indulgences. Aided by the printing press, copies of the 95 Theses spread throughout Germany within two weeks and throughout Europe within two months.


The Church eventually moved to stop the act of defiance. In October 1518, at a meeting with Cardinal Thomas Cajetan in Augsburg, Luther was ordered to recant his 95 Theses by the authority of the pope.


Luther said he would not recant unless scripture proved him wrong. He went further, stating he didn’t consider that the papacy had the authority to interpret scripture. The meeting ended in a shouting match and initiated his ultimate excommunication from the Church.


Following the publication of his 95 Theses, Luther continued to lecture and write in Wittenberg. In June and July of 1519 Luther publicly declared that the Bible did not give the pope the exclusive right to interpret scripture, which was a direct attack on the authority of the papacy.


Finally, in 1520, the pope had had enough and on June 15 issued an ultimatum threatening Luther with excommunication.


On December 10, 1520, Luther publicly burned the letter. In January 1521, Luther was officially excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.

In March 1521, Luther was summoned before the Diet of Worms, a general assembly of secular authorities. Again, Luther refused to recant his statements, demanding he be shown any scripture that would refute his position. There was none.


On May 8, 1521, the council released the Edict of Worms, banning Luther’s writings and declaring him a “convicted heretic.” This made him a condemned and wanted man. Friends helped him hide out at the Wartburg Castle


While in seclusion, he translated the New Testament into the German language, to give ordinary people the opportunity to read God’s word.

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