Tensions between Eastern and Western Christianity, Part II
• What were the differences between Eastern and Western Christianity?
• How/Why did these differences emerge?
• What is the historical significance of these diff?rences
II. Eastern and Western Christianity: Mapping out the Differences (continued)
(6) Authority in matters of faith
• The Pope in the West
− Claimed ultimate authority that the East disputes
− Not a monarch but claims “honorary precedence”
− Originally did not have power to make decisions of faith on his own but needed
role of councils
• Patriarch of Constantinople
− Did not see himself as supreme ruler
− Called bishops to councils or synods
− Communal decision making characteristic of East
III. Crises in Relations between Eastern and Western Christianity
(1) The Iconoclasm Controversy – The destruction of images
− Icon = Greek for image, usually used for religious purposes
− Iconoclasm = smashing of images • History
− In the OT Israel was warned not to make idols or worship graven images
− Christians begin making images of God, Mary, Jesus, Saints, and martyrs.
o Theory that God has shown himself in material form so why not depict
that earthly form
o It was a reminder that salvation came through the humanity of Jesus
o Christians argue that the prohibition no longer applies
o Christians kiss them, pray before them, ask for miracles, burn candles in
front of them, etc.
• Controversy – Idol Worship?
− They did not believe so
− It was a symbol of an abstract idea to remind them of it
− It became an integral part of worship, but not worship itself
− Still people who see it as idol worship with good reason as many new converts
were from paganism where idols were worshipped.
− Emperor Leo III (717-741)
o devout Christian
o rejected culture of icons possibly to limit power of the monasteries or for
o emperor begins to make decisions about the execution of faith – very
different from the West where secular rulers had very little religious
o 726 Policy of Iconoclasm: all images removed from churches and the
public. He ordered the golden image of Jesus at the gate of his palace to
o Public reaction was bad – triggered riots and demonstrations because the
emperor was messing with the ritual of Christian worship and theology o Public concerned th