College Notes
Church History
Lecture 17

The Catholic Church - Doctrines/History

Principle doctrine of the Roman Catholic church that dominates their philosophy and thought.

Beatific Vision

Death Hell
* *
Limbus Limbus
Infantium Patrium

1. Ultimate destiny of all souls.
2. Once there, souls bask in the glory of the love of God.

From My Catholic Faith, we read:

"The greatest joy of heaven is the Beatific Vision. This is the sight of God face to face. This vision is called beatific, because it completely fills with joy those who possess it. They know and love God to their utmost capacity, and are known and loved by God in return. The Beatific Vision will satisfy completely and supremely all our desires. Having God, we shall never wish for anything else." p166

    3. Only a few go directly to the Beatific Vision.
4. No one in the Old Testament went directly to the Beatific Vision.

1. A form of Hell.
     a. Souls in a state of punishment.
     b. Status in Purgatory moving one closer to the Beatific Vision can be accomplished only through the penance of loved ones still living on earth.

Also in My Catholic Faith, we read;

“Purgatory is a middle state where souls destined for heaven are detained and purified. Souls in purgatory cannot help themselves, for their time for meriting is past. But they can be helped by the faithful on earth, by prayers and other good works....

Purgatory is a place of temporary punishment for those who have died in venial sin, or who have not fully satisfied God's justice for mortal sins already forgiven.... The souls in purgatory suffer from a great longing to be united to God, and from other great pains...their chief pain is the deprivation of the Beatific Vision, the vision of God in the glory of heaven.... St. Augustine believes that the sufferings of the poor souls are greater than anything that man can suffer in this life. St. Thomas believes the least pain there is greater than the greatest on earth.... The greatness and the duration of a soul's sufferings in purgatory vary according to the gravity of sins committed." p.167-168

        c. Doctrines of penance and confession come into play.

From The Riddle of Roman Catholicism, we read:

"Nowhere is the ambiguity of the Roman Catholic sacramental system more evident than in the sacrament of penance...classically defined as involving three steps. The first is contrition, which means, according to the Council of Trent, 'a sorrow of mind and a detestation for sin committed with the purpose of no sinning in the future.' One who feels this contrition is then obliged to go on to the second step, confession to a priest. In confession the penitent is to recite all his mortal sins.... Functioning as a judge, the priest inquires into any circumstances that might mitigate the offense. When he has heard the confession, the priest pronounces the forgiveness of sins in the formula of absolution: 'I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.' Then the priest prescribes the third step of the penance, the performance of certain acts of satisfaction." p. 120

Purgatory cont.

    2. Possible to work up status and eventually gets into the beatific vision.
3. Can only go to if a good Catholic.
     a. Concept that no one lived a life so righteous that they can immediately go before the face of God
     b. Believe all must pay a penalty for sins and all souls will be reunited with their physical bodies in either hell or purgatory, and reap the benefits of sins in their physical life
4. Rejected by all Protestants.


According to My Catholic Faith:

"Those are punished in hell who die in mortal sin; they are deprived of the vision of God and suffer dreadful torments, especially that of fire, for all eternity.... Not one single sinner is sent to hell except by his own fault. No one is sent to hell unless he has willfully, deliberately, and knowingly refused to obey the commands of God. We can truly say that the fetters of hell are of man's own fashioning.... They feel despair, remorse, envy, and hopelessness, because they know that they can never obtain the one thing needed for happiness: they can never see God.

The greater the value of what is lost, the greater is the pain of loss. But the sinners in hell have lost God, of infinite worth. Their pain of loss must be in proportion.

There is no love in hell the damned hate God, hate each other, and hate themselves. St. Chrysostom says 'Insupportable is the fire of hell -- who doth not know it? -- and its torments are awful; but if one were to heap a thousand hell-fires one on the other it would be nothing compared with the punishment of being excluded from the blessed glory of heaven, of being hated by Christ....

The pains of hell will last for all eternity. If the punishment of hell were temporary, many sinners might prefer to gratify their passions on earth, no matter at what cost and penalty in hell, if it were to have an end. The fear of hell should urge us to lead a good life.

It is the opinion of Doctors of the Church that no one in hell is punished as much as he deserves." p. 174-175

Hell cont.

    1. Once in hell, can never go anywhere else.
2. One mortal sin not repented of can result in eternal punishment in hell.
3. Degrees of punishment:
     a. Lesser sinners are tortured less
     b. Depends on how bad you were
4. Made up of two compartments:
     a. Limbus Patrium:
         1) Where Old Testament penance went
         2) Remained there until Christ paid the penalty for their sins
         3) I Pet 3:19 - Preached to the spirits in prison is applied to Christ and the penance in Limbus Patrium
         4) After the resurrection they were released to enter the Beatific vision
         5) No one now in this compartment
     b. Limbus Infantium:
         1) For unbaptized babies who have not sinned, but all are born into original sin, and must be punished
         2) Live in pain and agony for eternity
         3) Reason for uterine baptisms and baptism being so important

From The Riddle of Roman Catholicism, we read:

"The washing of baptism symbolizes the purification of the soul from the stain of sin, but it also effects such a purification. The act of washing, combined with the words 'I baptize you in the name of the Father and d of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,' actually confers divine grace upon the recipient, forgives his sins, and makes him a member of the church.... Once baptism has been administered, its effect cannot be obliterated: for it confers an 'indelible character' upon the person baptized, a divine seal to which the person may indeed prove unfaithful but which he cannot undo. More than any of the other sacraments, except perhaps extreme unction, baptism emphasizes the passive attitude of the recipient. Its efficacy does not depend upon the attitude of the recipient at all, but upon the promise of Christ and upon obedience to the command of Christ to use water and to recite the name of the Holy Trinity." p. 112

From this same book we read:

"The teaching of the Roman church about baptism takes the doctrine of 'es opere operato' so seriously that it is even willing to draw this conclusion from it: children who have been baptized by a Protestant minister in the name of the Holy Trinity are validly baptized and are therefore members of the catholic church.... Because the validity of the baptism does not depend on the minister, baptized Protestants who go over to Roman Catholicism are, as a general rule, not rebaptized." p. 113-114

"Holy water...came from pre-Christian sources, both Jewish and pagan.... Holy water is not primarily a reminder of baptism at all, but a means of warding off danger from the devil or from more terrestrial enemies. p. 113

A. Second Century:
1. (Mid 100s) Bishop at Rome observed the Lord's Day.
2. Annecitus tried to influence Polycarp to change Passover to Easter.
3. (c.200) Victor I has confrontation with Polycrates over Easter.
     a. Victor's power grew
     b. First to threaten excommunication to those who refused to worship

B. C.300s A.D.
1. (Early 300s) Sylvester I Bishop at Rome.
     a. Christianity made state religion
     b. Becomes institution of importance in world politics
2. Empire divided into five areas:
     a. *Rome
     b. *Constantinople
     c. Antioch
     d. Jerusalem
     e. Alexandria
3. (c.395) Empire officially divided into East and West.
     a. Siricius (Bishop at Rome) claimed universal jurisdiction of the church
     b. Bishop in the East (Constantinople) never heeded


C. 400s
1. Early 400s.
     a. Innocent I called "Ruler of the church of God" and he had authority to decide matters of the church
     b. Augustine wrote [1]"City of God"[1] laying foundation for the Papacy
     c. Church taking on image of the beast
2. (450) Leo I - regarded by some as first pope.
     a. Persuaded Attila the Hun not to burn Rome
     b. Forming of allegiances with Vandals and Ostrogoths, forming three heads of Daniel 12
     a. Popes free from civil authority

D. (c.554) RESTORATION of the Empire headed under Justinian.

E. (c.600) Gregory I - FIRST REAL POPE.
1. Established complete authority over Spain, Italy, Gaul and England.
2. Claim to fame - conversion of England from "paganism".

F. (c.750s) Empire is solidified in Europe.
1. Papal states give power to Pope.
2. Later confirmed by Charlemagne.

G. (800s)
1. Charlemagne crowned by Leo III as head of Holy Roman Empire.
     a. Begins 1,000 year reign of "Holy Roman Reign"
     b. Lasted until Napoleon
    2. Mid to Late 800s:
     b. Pseudo Isidonian Decrees
         1) Manuscripts found from the 2nd and 3rd centuries exalting the power of the papacy
         2) Gave tremendous amount of power to papacy in dark ages
         3) Later found to be a hoax

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, says:

“The PseudoIsidorian Decretals are certain fictitions letter ascribed to earlier popes, from Clement to Gregory the Great, incorporated in a ninth-century collection of canons purporting to have been made by 'Isidore Mercator'.... Seventy-five manuscripts of the Pseudo-Isidoriana are known, which differ widely one from another.... The Pseudo-Isidore took as the basis of his work the HISPANA GALLICA AUGUSTODUNENSIS, thus lessening the danger of detection, as collections of canons were commonly made by adding new matter to old, and his forgeries were less evident when incorporated with genuine material.... The falsity of the Pseudo-Isidore's fabrications is now admitted, being proved by incontestable internal evidence (e.g., anachronisms like the use of the Vulgate and the BREVIARIUM ALARICIANUM -- composed in 506 -- in the decretals of the older popes), by investigations concerning the sources and method of fabrication (see 3, below), and by the fact that Pseudo- Isidorian letters were unknown before 852. The fabrications of the Pseudo-Isidore are not expressed in his own language, but consist of sentences, phrases, and words taken from older writings, genuine and apocryphal, set together into a mosaic of about 10,000 pieces. The excerpts are freely altered and are sometimes given a sense directly opposite to the original, but by his method the Pseudo-Isidore sought to give his ninth-century product the stamp of antiquity. The labor involved was enormous. "The Pseudo-Isidore himself declares (in the first sentence of his preface) that his aim was to 'collect the canons, unite them in one volume, and make one of many' -- a laudable endeavor, but not a justification of forgeries and falsifications.... His main object was to emancipate the episcopacy, not only from the secular power, but also from the excessive influence of the metropolitans and the provincial synods; incidentally, as a means to this end...the papal power was to be exalted.... The harmonious cooperation between Church and Sate under Charlemagne had given way under his successors to an antagonism between the secular and spiritual authorities.... Between 818 and 835 several bishops were deposed, and others through fear fled from their sees.... Redress by secular legislation was hopeless after the division of the Empire in 843, and in their need the reformers grasped at falsification as a last resort.... the Pseudo-Isidore attempted to cast the highest ecclesiastical authority in the scale of reform.

"The Psuedo-Isidor's regard for the bishops appears in the hyperboles he uses about them ('in the bishops you should venerate God, and love them as your own souls'; you (bishops) are given us as gods by God'). A charge may not be brought against a bishop by a layman or an inferior cleric.... seventy-two witnesses are necessary to condemn a bishop...(and) if by any chance the case goes against the bishop, the verdict is not valid until confirmed by the pope...(also) The synod is made wholly dependent on the pope. The papal power is exalted, but solely as a means to the end desired, via: to protect the bishops against the political and ecclesiastical parties of West Franconia and make them supreme. (But) what a weapon he was putting into the hands of the popes to use against the bishops when occasion arose.... He even extends the episcopal jurisdiction to secular cases ('every one oppressed may appeal to the judgment of priests').

"It is probable the Rothad carried the decretals to Rome in 864 and laid them before Pope Nicholas I.... Adrian II. in 871, quotes a decretal of the Pseudo-Anterus, and a synodal address of 869, probably composed by Adrian himself, has more than thirty citations from the Pseudo- Isidor's collection; it is noteworthy as the first extensive use of the false decretals in favor of the claims of the Roman see.... As Gerstungen (1085) both the Gregorian and the imperial parties appealed to the false decretals; and an utterance of the papal legate (who afterward became Pope Urban II.) and the Saxon bishops concerning them is noteworthy for its doubting and contemptuous tone.... (Finally) others followed and a collection made in Italy under Leo IX about 1050 is little more than a compendium of the Pseudo- Isidoriana (250 of its 315 chapters are from the forgery). When it was admitted to Gratian's DECRETUM, its acceptance became absolute...(and) no one raised his voice against the forgeries till the fifteenth century."

    3. (c.869) Division of Eastern Orthodox and Roman church.
     a. Nicolas and Patriarch of Constantine excommunicate each other
     b. Official split between East and West
4. c.1054 - Final separation of the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic church.

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