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more about The Death Of The Church

before was
Justinian
570 after came
Gregory

...and The Triumph Of The World


Introduction

This web site contains many details about the decline of the original Christian church after the deaths of the apostles, and the importance of the year 570, the end of the "early church" period. This page gives example after example of what happened in that terrible decline.

the health of the church


Changes to the church under Justinian

Completing the fusion with Greek philosophy

According to "The Early Centuries of the Greek Roman East":

'The earliest Christians avoided the worldly learning of the Greeks with their "philosophy and deceit", and saw no way in which the blasphemous literature could be brought into any sort of relationship with Christian teaching. This reaction of many Christians, as late as the second century, could be summed up in Tertullian's famous phrase, "what has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" In time, however, Christian thinkers began to realize that there was much to be carried over into Christian teaching from the Classical Greeks. . . . This conviction brought about the establishment of a "new" Christian culture, one utilizing all the best writings of the classical Greek thought and fusing it into the writings and teachings of the Orthodox Church. The process of such a fusion took centuries, and its final step was not to be completed till the age of Justinian.'

Combining church and state

This is from State, Church, and Religious Freedom by Anatoly Krasikov, commenting on the eastern European states. This church-state mix is described as:

"A particular conception of church-state relations, which is known in history as "symphony" and which originated in Constantinople in the sixth century under Justinian I and came to us from there along with Christianity, in the final analysis for our country was turned into the notorious caesaropapism, that is the state's usurpation of the rights of the church."

Making the Pope the head of all Christian churches

Justinian made the Roman pope the universal head with his decree of 533, often referred to on Seventh Day Adventist sites. (This date is discussed further down the page).

No more re-baptism

What if, as an infant, you were baptized into the Roman church, but later became convinced that you needed to be baptized in the same way that Jesus was baptized? You could still do so... until Justinian's reign. The Justinian Code made rebaptism one of the two heresies that were punishable by death. (See Harold S. Bender, The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, p. 35)

Murderous persecution of minority faiths

According to Gibbon, Vol. IV., p. 528, Justinian's reign "was a uniform, yet various scene of persecution . . . Churches with their congregations were surrounded by Catholic soldiers, and the houses were burned with the congregations in them." Justinian's persecutions of the Jews are also legendary. He did not like dissenting views.

The crucifix

According to a Catholic "Chronology of Christianity", AD 550 was when the crucifix became a Christian icon.

The Apostles' creed, the Nicene creed, and the Athanasian creed

According to Grolier, the "apostles' creed" and the Nicene creed were completed in the late sixth century, and the Athanasian creed was first mentioned.

Cardinals, and the assumption of Mary

According to Grolier, it was in the sixth century that the term " cardinal" gained acceptance, tithing was instituted to finance the church, the "assumption of Mary" was first commemorated, and the term "chapel" originated. Saint Benedict laid the foundations for the education of the middle ages. Countries from Denmark to Nubia were " converted".

Changes to the doctrine of eternal punishment

One of the great falsehoods of the Dark Ages was that, if someone died a sinner after their short life on earth, then God would punish and torture them for ever and ever. Modern revelation reveals that the term "endless punishment" means "God's punishment", however long or short it may be. This is how it was understood in ancient times.

According to the "Tentmaker" website, it appears that the new, false doctrine, first took over some time after the start of Justinian's reign. After tracing the usage of the word translated as "endless" from the earliest times up to the year 540, the author concludes:

"These and other testimonies (See Hanson's "Aion-Aionios,") prove that these words did not mean endless duration among the early Christians for about six centuries after Christ."

Please note that in this case as in many others, Justinian was not consciously responsible for the downward slide. But he did set in place the conditions that made it inevitable - the persecution of "unorthodox" opinion, where "orthodoxy" is defined by uninspired men. Some time after AD 540, the true doctrine was lost.

The doctrine of the pre-existence

Interestingly enough some recently available historical evidence indicates that, while the doctrine of premortal existence did not survive in full abundance to take its place in the Holy Bible, it was taught by some during and after the apostolic era in the meridian of time. In fact, it was not until A.D. 553, and perhaps a few years prior, that (by the action of the Second Council of Constantinople) teachers of this doctrine were declared "anathema" (see Adolf Harnack, History of Dogma, vol. IV [New York: Dover Publishers, 1961], pp. 245, 347-49; also Philip Hughes, The Church in Crisis: A History of the General Councils, 325-1870 [Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964], pp. 117-18).

- Neal A. Maxwell (But for a Small Moment, p.79)

What did all this mean? I will quote from material gathered by LDS student Kerry Shirts:
(see his original piece on the Book of Abraham for full references)

"


Justinian Changes Everything

A brief account of Justinian helps us in understanding why he would get rid of such a magnificent doctrine as the pre-existence of the souls of men. Justinian was by one account desiring to regain the west, known as the "Imperial Restoration" and thus his Byzantine civilization saw new thought forms and art, which were considered more Byzantine than Roman. His "Corpus Juris Civilis" The Roman law that he codified and worked out from all the legacy of Rome, is what earned him the title "The Lawgiver of Civilization." On the other hand, Justinian has been a big puzzle to historians. When Rome collapsed, Europe became a battlegrounds for the various tribes "Propter Gallorum terras graviter inter se decertati sunt" (they fought bitterly among themselves for the land of the Gauls).

[Shirts then discusses Justinian's love of the Asiatics]

In other words, Justinian promulgated paganism, and restricted, nay tried to destroy the Jews and their heritage. And of course, with their destruction, and his adapting to the "Barbarian Asiatic Horde" as opposed to Christian or Jewish principles, Justinian would rid the empire of doctrines they formerly held, such as the Pre-existence of souls, Council of the Gods, etc. Christianity had become pagan, wholecloth.

This is further discussed by James L. Barker, who noted that Justinian removed bishops and put in successors he wanted, as well as having the Council of Constantinople "erase Bishop Vigils' name from the diptics", which was nearly the same thing as having him excommunicated, all because the Bishop didn't agree with the emperor. Justinian went so far as to proclaim:

"that the body of Christ is uncorruptible, and that Christ's human nature had never been subject to any of the wants and indignities of mortal flesh... The clergy warned him that if he died in this error his soul 'would be delivered to the flames, and burn there eternally.' He died unrepentant." No surprise then finding this area of Jewish and Christian doctrine vacant.

"

Changes in the church, AD 570

According to the Medieval Sourcebook, the church became exempt from taxes in AD 570. Gregory of Tours (538–94) was a French historian, and bishop of Tours (from 573).

"Gregory of Tours: Church Exemption from Taxation, c. 570

"Gregory of Tours painted a very dark picture of the conditions existing in the barbarian kingdoms of his day. The fact was that many of the bishops of the Church were worldly men who had compromised with some of the rude barbarian ideas in the hope of achieving an ultimate good."

Scholars who died

I have already noted that the historian Gildas died in 570. This seems to have been a very bad year for scholars.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Cassiodorus, one of history's greatest scholars, died this year.

According to the Byzantine Studies Page, the important Byzantine historian John Malalas [aka John the Rhetor, or John of Antioch?]  died in 570.


Changes in scripture

The medieval church is not singled out in prophecy because it is especially evil. Other kingdoms and groups did worse. It is singled out because it overcame the church. It distorted the truth, and took away your choice to believe differently.

Destroying the old scriptures

Before the late sixth century, different groups of believers could have their own translations of the Bible, and even accept books that other parts of the church rejected. In short, even though most of the church thought "A", you could still think "B". The process of banning unorthodox thought, begun when the apostles died, was apparently completed around AD 570. Enoch is an example of a book considered " scripture" that was lost or banned in this period. (Nobody can know the exact date it was lost, but it was referred to in previous centuries and yet definitely lost in later centuries). For more about how alternative beliefs were stamped out, click here

Producing the new sanitized scriptures

The period around AD 570 was when the " official version" of the Bible was produced, and alternative versions died out. The Jewish Masoretic text of the Old Testament was produced at this time. Also at this time, Cassiodorus produced " a kind of encyclopaedia of pagan learning, regarded as indispensable for understanding the Bible" for the centuries that followed. He also produced what became (to all but a handful of scholars) the only Bible for the Christian world for a thousand years. The " perfect" Bible now existed, so " we need no more Bible!" (2 Nephi 29:6). Serious thought ended. " Those who would still deny that a dark age ever descended upon the Western Empire after the days of Cassiodorus and Theodoric do not appreciate what had been lost". (Manschreck)


Changes in the church under Gregory

These are discussed in the page about Gregory, but to summarize:

In short, he began the dark Ages.

A graphical summary:


Changes in the world's other religions

The greatest non-Christian religion the world has ever seen

Mohammed, the great prophet of Islam, was born in AD 570. This alone makes 570 one of the key dates in all world history. I do not need to spell out the immense impact this one man has had on the world. Islam, along with the papacy and Byzantium, was one of the three forces that replaced the Roman world.

From the point of view of the early Christian church, the significance of Islam is that it swept through the south and East of what was once the Roman empire. Any last remnants of the church that may have survived in North Africa or the Middle East could not survive this new onslaught. As it was with the Celtic church in the north, so it was with the survivors in the south. AD 570 sounded the death knell.

Another event that made 570 significant to Islam is that Abraha (Christian viceroy of Saba' in Yemen, ruled by Ethiopia) attacked Mecca, the city where Mohammed was born in the same year. Though it was supported by elephants, the expedition failed, and Muslims believe that Mecca escaped capture only through a miracle. (Britannica). This was surely a defining moment for Mohammed's family -it came to be described in the Surah (chapter) 105 of the Qur'an. It was hardly calculated to make Islam friendly towards the Christians.

Changes in the world's other religions


Changes in Europe

Venice, the Whore, and the second beast

Readers will know from the pages on the Whore called Babylon, and the second Beast, that cities and the renaissance appear to be very important to prophecy. Also, the "little horn" of Daniel appears to be Europe. So the following may be significant:

With the Lombard invasions, we have the earliest historical trace of Venice. The wealthy people fled there as the barbarians advanced. The following is from a "the importance of Civilisation":

"The Towns

Before the 11th century, there were no towns or mercantile centers to speak of in Europe. Near people of great authority a small band may cluster, but most of the trade was limited to traders who specialized in Eastern goods, brought from city to city.

By 570, the city of Venice was founded. The city of Venice became the largest trading center in Europe over time"



Signs upon signs upon signs

For the people of Europe, the late sixth century was a time of " floods, famine, bubonic plague, and invasion threatening to wipe them out". Bubonic plague " killed an estimated 100 million people" in the 6th century - over a third of the (then) world! AD 570 was the year when the word "smallpox" was first used (by Bishop Marius of Avenches, near Lausanne, Switzerland).

This period saw the worst global desolation since the days of Noah. What more signs do you want?


Don't take my word for this

Other churches, Justinian, and the 1260 prophecies

On this page I have argued that the reign of Justinian was the last and most significant stage in the destruction of the original church of Jesus Christ. I am not the only one to identify this general period as the fulfillment of Bible prophecies.

Not every church teaches that the Dark Ages were a bad thing. Some even teach that they constituted The Millennium foretold in the book of Revelation. But even here, the starting date is given as the reign of Justinian - specifically, his creation of the Justinian legal code, between 530 and 546. This theory that The Millennium began with Justinian is refuted on the Timberland web site.

Why 570 and not 529, 533, 538, or 606?

This is why I reject these dates in favour of 570:

1. None of the other dates stands out from its neighbours.

There are several possible dates for the beginning of Papal supremacy. Those suggested include 529 (the start of the Justinian code), 533 (a decree in support of the Roman pope), 538 (when the Ostrogoths were subdued), and 606 (when Phocas made the Roman pontiff the head of the church). Given such confusion, it seems better to step back and look at the bigger picture. Hence I look at the invasion of the Lombards and the start of Gregory's career, along with all the other evidence listed.

2. These other dates rely on an extreme anti-Catholicism.

If the 1260 years refers to the dominance of Catholicism, we should expect some dramatic fall of Rome around the year 1800. Where was it? Besides, the Roman Catholic church does not fulfil all the prophecies of the little horn, beast, etc. (Even though reformation.org for example says that "Since 1984, the U.S. has been ruled by the Papacy through her Legate. The present Nuncio is Gabriel Montalvo").

3. These other dates are very selective.

When looking for the fulfillment of the "subduing three kings" prophecy, these theories tend to see great significance in Justinian defeating minor tribes in Italy. Yet they reject the far greater military campaigns in Spain and North Africa (discussed in the page on Europe).

4. These other dates contradict history

All these theories say the turning point was when the Pope replaced the emperor as the effective ruler of Italy. But to do this, they distort history. For example, the "steps to life" web site states that "It was at this time, in A.D. 538, that the pope was finally able for the first time to actually become the civil (he had been a religious ruler for a long time) ruler of Rome and an active political leader of Europe."

But this is not true. Rome was still ruled by the emperor. As Gibbon points out, after Narses reconquered Italy, he took over as ruler, under the emperor. The pope at the time was not notably strong. The real turning point was when Gregory became prefect of Rome in 570.



the bottom line...

The early Christian church slowly died, and was eventually replaced. AD 570 was the turning point.



Notes

Indian religion

See Scarre , Chris. " Timelines of the Ancient World." London: Dorling Kindersley, 1993

American " Nephite" culture:

See Sorenson's " An ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon" p.134

Information on China, Egypt, etc.:

This is all taken from a search of the 1997 Britannica CD-ROM.

Plagues etc. in the sixth century

This is from Manschreck, C.L. " A History of Christianity in the World." NJ: Prentice Hall p.108, and a search through Grolier (1995 edition). Most of it can be attributed to the desolation that began in 535-540.


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