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May 23rd - Lecture #6.doc

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Adam Lehto

May 23 rd RLG203 Lecture #6 Shaping Society and Culture Part 1: Byzantium - there’s bound to be some weakening of some ideals that held the group together previously o bound to be some blurring of the divide between the church and society o permeability of the boundary o this troubled some church leaders  thought – we have to be careful on how to proceed - because Christianity was now supported by the church – opened the door for many opportunities - the state never entirely swallowed up the church – Eastern orthodox historians/theologians o political ruler was never fully in charge of the church - there was a very tight relationship – but there was also some room of the divide of powers o the closets relationship between the church and rulers – because this is the type of Christianity that flourished with a single entity  created the situation where it is different for orthodox states to make sense legally of the diversity of religion – ex. Russia • orthodox church is still in a privileged position because of this legacy - the roman state under Constantine, and the church – entered into a very complex relationship that was going to change the way the empire and church were to function - one of the most basic changes for Christianity in this new environment: o church leaders had the task of enforcing a single set of beliefs o assumed – clear from Constantine, through to other emperors – that the emperor was responsible for the unity of the empire  could not have that unless there was theological unity – pressure for a single representation for a single Christian truth – standardization  this pressure backfired and produced a number a theological zones – resistance to the imperial theology  was only sustainable in the Byzantine world • the whole theory relied on political power - major issues included: o theologians debated over the word of God  the word of God was fully divine - the issues now seem abstract for most people today – but for the people involved at the time, they would argue that if they don’t get this right, salvation would not work o in danger of not being saved - if you can’t define something in words, can you still experience it? - these theologians came down on that issue ultimately affirming that God was a mystery - deep divide between the different wordings describing the nature of Christ o fuelled by the assumption that if not defined properly, no salvation o seemed like they were uncomfortable accepting the mystery of God - phenomenon of defining the doctrine – very close to eastern orthodox identity o deep connection, broader than Christianity o these discussions could not happen without existing connections to Greek philosophy o cannot understand the extend of the disagreement without realizing that this could not have happened without the Greek foundation - how do we make sense of those debates - in the wider intellectual culture, there were assumptions made about how to talk about God - in order to create anything, there has to be some kind of bridge between the source and the end result - once mainstream Christianity was embraced by the Roman state, there was imperial pressure to clarify doctrine - the result was several centuries of debate and disagreement that changed the face of Christian theology - one of the first things that came under scrutiny was the clear tendency in early Christian thought to think of Christ as subordinate to God - part of the reason for this was that it was assumed that God had to have made full and direct contact with the world of human experience in order for salvation to be possible o salvation does not work unless God was in touch with the world o what is the bridge? How does salvation happen o had to be affirmed that God was directly in contact with the human world – that is why you had to have a fully divine word of God equal in status to God the Father** - general agreement that there was one God – the father o doesn’t mean that you believe in the holy trinity including the son and Holy Spirit o for a long time, throughout the 2 and 3 century, it was typical in the language of Christian writers to assume that the son of God – which is the word of God, expression of God’s will and power - ** - God came to figure as a human being – if
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