The Emperors and the Popes

The Emperors and the Popes (VIII)

More study should be given to the relation­ship existing between the emperors and the popes if we are to have a clear understand­ing of the meaning and history of the "little horn" of Daniel 7.


More study should be given to the relation­ship existing between the emperors and the popes if we are to have a clear understand­ing of the meaning and history of the "little horn" of Daniel 7. The Roman Catholic Church is powerless to enforce its dogmas without the aid of the state. Hence, from the very be­ginning of the union of the church and state under Constantine, the emperors claimed great powers in formulating religious laws for the church and in enforcing them through state aid. They considered themselves "external bishops" of the church, consecrated to God for the protection of the church, to enforcement of its dogmas and the persecution of schismatics and heretics. We must never lose sight of the fact that it was the "little horn" which was to wear out the saints of the Most High, and "think to change times and the law."—A. R. V.

The "little horn," as before stated and as sequence will show, is a union of church and state, which is absolutely necessary not only to the formulation of religious laws, but to their enforcement where they involve civil penalties. The "Papacy" is the human name given by men to this "little horn," but by some theologians and church historians is wrongly interpreted to mean the church alone in its purely theological functions.

Whether these persecuting ordinances orig­inated in the minds of emperors with the col­laboration of the popes, or whether they orig­inated in the minds of popes with the aid of the emperors, is immaterial, and does not alter nor invalidate the prophecy. During the su­premacy of the "little horn" sometimes popes, sometimes emperors, and sometimes general councils—predominated in- the government of the "little horn." In future articles this will be clearly shown. The pagan idea that the emperor was the Pontifex Maximus of the state religion was firmly rooted in the belief of the Christian emperors right up to the days of Justinian. One historian has this to say:

"But the popes themselves did not adopt the style of Pontifex Maximus till the episcopate of Paul II (1464-1471) ; nor, indeed, was it dropped even by the Christian emperors till after the death of Justin I, in 527, since he is named PONT. MAX. in an inscription found at Capo d'Istria or Justinopolis, thus refuting the current statement that Gratian (383) was the last Augustus to bear it. So, too, the title of 'Bishop of Bishops' was not arrogated till the reign of Gregory VII. [1073-1085]

In another article we shall deal from orig­inal sources with the title, "Pontifex Maximus," as applied to the popes. There is little wonder, then, that Justinian, the successor to Justin (his uncle), wielded such power in the church. Justinian caused all the laws from the time of Hadrian up to his own reign to be revised and compiled into one collection; and in addition to his own laws, it contains 4,648 ordinances under 765 titles, arranged in chronological order, written in both Latin and Greek.

The Emperor Justinian.—From the time of his accession to the throne, 527 A. D., to his death, 565 A. D., Justinian was the legislator and executive of the church and state. He issued laws against heretics, giving them the insufficient time of three months either to be­come orthodox or to go into exile.' He regu­lated the entire priesthood in his Code and Novella. We give three examples: "We com­mand that all the bishops and presbyters shall offer the sacred oblation and the prayers in holy baptism, not silently, but with a voice which may be heard by the faithful people," etc. "We decree that whenever it is necessary to ordain a bishop, the clergy and the leading citi­zens whose is the bishop who is to be ordained, shall make, under the peril of their souls," etc. Here follow rules for the qualifications of a bishop. "We do not permit the clergy to be ordained unless they are educated, have the right faith and an honorable life. . . . We do not permit presbyters to be made less than thirty years old, deacons and subdeacons less than twenty-five," etc.'

A noted church historian says: "It is true that Justinian honored the Roman see, but he also diainguished the Constantinopolitan with no less favor; and endeavored in the end to convert both merely into instruments to enable him to rule both in church and state." Dr. Gieseler gives the Greek original in the text from Cod. Justin. i. ii, 25, which reads, "He en Konstantinopolei ekklesia pason ton allon esti kefale,"—which means that the church of Constantinople is the only head of the churches. Another church historian says:

"He deigns indeed to allow the canons of the church to be of not less equal authority than his laws; but his laws are divine, and those divine laws all metropolitans, bishops, and clergy are bound to obey, and, if commanded, to publish. The hierarchy is regulated by his ordinance. He enacts the superiority of the metropolitan over the bishop, of the bishop over the abbot, of the abbot over the monk. Distinct imperial laws rule the monasteries."

We will give one concrete example illustrat­ing the point in question:

Vienius the Pope.—The wife of Justinian, the empress Theodora, who was a monophysite, promised the archdeacon Vigilius seven hun­dred pounds' weight in gold and the pontificate, if he would overthrow the Council of Chalcedon and accept the monophysite patriarchs of Alex­andria, Constantinople, and Antioch as breth­ren. Vigilius promised, and with the help of Belisarius, the reigning pope, Silverius was dethroned and Vigilius ascended the papal chair, November 22, 537 A. D. But he refused to help overthrow the Council of Chalcedon, nor would he accept the monophysite doctrine; hence, Theodora had him arrested, and he spent one year in Sicily. Justinian invited him to come to Constantinople, where he arrived January 25, 547 A. D. Justinian wanted him to condemn the three chapters. Vigilius re­fused, but changed his mind at least three times while there. Justinian called the fifth General Council without the pope's sanction. It convened 553 A. D., in Constantinople, at­tended by 167 bishops, who unanimously up­held the Council of Chalcedon, and condemned the pope for, his vacillation. The pope finally gave in to the emperor, and confirmed the fifth council and was allowed to go home, but died on the way, 555 A. D.'

Variant Attitudes of Popes

Some of the succeeding popes were pliant creatures in the hands of the emperors. Oth­ers had strong convictions and so opposed them; for instance, in the great controversy usually termed Monothelitism. The patriarch of Con­stantinople, Paul, declared that there was only one will in Christ. Pope Martin I called a council in Rome attended by 105 bishops. Twenty canons were drawn up, the eighteenth of which condemned the bishops in the East for their heresy. The pope published the decree over the whole of Western Christendom.

This angered the emperor Constans, and he sent Calliopa into Italy with express orders that he should send Pope Martin to Constanti­nople. Calliopa brought the pope in fetters to Constantinople, and after much suffering he was banished to Cherson in Crimea, where he died shortly after in exile, about 655 A. D.

One more example will be given: The em­peror Justinian II endeavored to reduce the West to the obedience of the Quinisext Council, but with very little success. The emperor be­came enraged, and wreaked vengeance on his enemies, in both the Ea st and the West. The archbishop of Ravenna was deprived of his eyes in a most cruel manner, and was afterward banished to Crimea. He summoned Pope Constan­tine to appear before him in Constantinople. The pope obeyed the summons. He came to Constantinople and effected a conciliation be­tween the archbishop and the emperor, which saved the situation. Constantine was the last pope who humbly submitted to the emperor of the East. This was in the year 716 A. D.7

Elevation of Patriarchs of Constantinople

The Quinisext or Trullan Synod, 692 A. D., was convened by Emperor Justinian II. He drew up 102 canons, which were subscribed to by 211 bishops from the East. When the acts and canons were sent to Pope Sergius for ap­proval, he refused to acknowledge the acts of the council, but after his death his successor, Pope Constantine, effected a conciliation with the emperor.

About this time a controversy arose between the Latin and the Greek churches concerning the worship of images. It lasted a long time, with great bitterness exhibited by the contest­ants, and is usually called the Iconoclastic controversy.

In addition to this turmoil over the use of images, the East was against the West, and there was an unceasing rivalry between the pope of Rome and the patriarch of Constanti­nople as to who should be the universal bishop. Both contended for the honor. A council held in Constantinople, 588 A. D., confirmed to John of Constantinople the title of Ecumenical Bishop. This was only a confirmation of what Justinian had bestowed on the patriarchs Menas, Epiphanius, and many years before, to Anthemius.

The pope of Rome resented it. It was Phocas the emperor who, out of hatred for the patri­arch of Constantinople, made Boniface III pope of Rome, the universal bishop, thus revoking the title from the patriarch of Constantinople. This happened in the year 607 A. D. Three years later Phocas, who was a usurper and a tyrant, died, and the patriarch of Constanti­nople reassumed the title, which his successors still hold to the present day. The title had been given to them by two lawful emperors in not fewer than thirteen laws. A council com­posed of two other patriarchs of the East and all the chief bishops of the East, had confirmed it, and they enjoyed it without disturbance for over two hundred years.'

Washington, D. C.

1 Littledale, "The Petrine Claims," p. 130, footnote. edition 1889. Published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London.

2 Gibbon, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," chap. 47.

Ayer, "A Source Book for Ancient Church His­tory." pp. 555-557.

4 Gieseler, "A Compendium of Ecclesiastical His­tory," Vol. II, pp. 113, 114.

5 Milman, "Latin Christianity," Vol. I, book 3, p. 486.

6 Hodgkin, Vol. IV, pp. 574-605 ; Bowers, "History of the Popes," Vol. I, pp. 344-370 Hefele, "History of Church Councils," Vol. IV, pp. 246-351.

7 Hefele, Vol. V, pp. 97-140 ; Platina. "Lives of the Popes," Vol. I, pp. 53, 175 ; Thatcher and McNeal, "A Source Book for Medieval History," pp. 86-96 ; Ayer. pp. 660-672.

8 Milman, Vol. II, pp. 70, 264 ; Bowers, Vol. I, p. 388.

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