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7 - Eastern and Western Christianity.docx

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HIST 288
Emily O' Brien

Tensions between Eastern and Western Christianity, Part II QUESTIONS • 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 • Iconoclasm − 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 personal reasons o emperor begins to make decisions about the execution of faith – very different from the West where secular rulers had very little religious authority. 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 be destroyed. 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
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