THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce
My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. - Revelation 2:20
The Holy Roman Empire
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, Europe was ruled by various invaders such as the Visigoths, Vandals, Angles, Saxons,
On Christmas day in AD 800 Charlemagne ("Charles the Great"), who had been King of the Franks, then King of Italy, was crowned as the first
Emperor over part of the old domain. His coronation was held in Old St. Peter's Basicila, and it carried with it the endorsement of the
Catholic Church. He restored the unity of most of Europe. He was also a great champion of the Church. The official name "Holy Roman Empire"
was not adopted until 1254. The beginning of this new Empire brought a unification of Church and state that still persists in European
thinking, and which has been the cause of many problems. The Apostle Paul would not have condoned this development. He warned,
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light
with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple
of God with idols? For you[b] are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
"I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people."
"Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 6:14-17
The Dark Age
The Catholic Church experienced the low-ebb of its integrity and morality between the years of AD 904, with the installation of Pope Sergius III,
to 964, the death of Pope John XII. This period of time is called the "Dark Age" (Latin: saeculum obscurum), and it is also often called the
"Pornocracy." A corrupt Roman aristocratic family, the Theophylacti, exerted their evil influence over a number of Popes during these years.
The Catholic Encyclopedia admits the degeneration of this era:
The spiritual and moral debasement in the Italian Peninsula was shocking, even in Rome. The names of Theodora and Marozia recall an
unutterably sad chapter of church history. The disorder in the capital of Christendom was only a symptom of the conditions throughout Italy.
(Catholic Encyclopedia: Otto I, the Great, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11354a.htm)
The "unutterable" fact, about this phase is what historian Edward Gibbon called "the influence of two sister prostitutes, Marozia and Theodora."
These members of the Theophylacti family misused their wealth and beauty to corrupt the government and the Church. Marozia's illegitimate son,
a grandson, a great grandson, and two great great grandsons all became Popes.
Of the last Pope in this Dark Age, John XII, the Catholic Encyclopedia says,
The temporal and spiritual authority in Rome were thus again united in one person - a coarse, immoral man, whose life was such that the
Lateran [Papal residence] was spoken of as a brothel, and the moral corruption in Rome became the subject of general odium.
(Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope John XII, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08426b.htm)
The lesson to be learned here is that if the highest spiritual office in the world can be corrupted morally, it is no wonder that its
theology can also degenerate over time.
Split with the Eastern Orthodox Church
In AD 1054, after generations of differences of opinion about various matters, the Eastern branch of the Church split off from the rest. The
new denomination was called the Eastern Orthodox Church. Sub-divisions of this Church were called the "Greek Orthodox Church," the "Russian
Orthodox Church," etc.
It is good to remember that there were other branches of the Church, some dating back to the Apostolic period. Some of these are the Coptic,
the Syriac, the Armenian, the Ethiopian, and the Assyrian Church of the East.
Reasons given for the split were the claims by the Pope of supremacy over the whole Church and a theological debate about the wording in the
Nicene Creed that says the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, when they believe the Spirit only proceeds from the Father.
They also disagreed with the veneration of icons, and debated whether the bread used for the Eucharist needed to be unleavened. Some historians
feel that the East was also upset by Charlemagne's assumption of control over the West. The moral scandals in the West were probably also
factors in the separation.
At a certain point, high officials on both sides of the schism excommunicated leaders from the other side.
At the end of these Middle Ages, we will see another great split - the Protestant Reformation. At that point we will discuss the
literally thousands of denominations that we now have in the world.
Come back soon for the next installment of our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Revelation.
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