Church History: 500-600

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31 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    My apologies beforehand.
    This is not my best effort as it’s been a tough few days here.
    I trust Xenia and our commentors will make up for my lack.

  2. Michael,
    Don’t feel bad – it should only be meant as a conversation starter to begin with. 100 years in a page is an impossible task.

  3. Michael says:


    Thank you, you’re right.
    My hope is to provoke, good questions, good conversations, and further study.

  4. Nonnie says:

    The BB link is not working and brings me to this link.

  5. dewd4jesus says:

    Yup. Ditto on that Broderson link.

    Good post here. Look forward to reading the comments/conversation.

  6. Michael says:

    Brodersen link is fixed.

  7. Reposting this from last week as it is finally the right time frame.

    Interesting story I read about St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury. (different St. Augustine than last weeks).

    This all happened around 597 AD.
    This Augustine was sent by Pope Gregory on a mission to England.
    Some points I got from the story were that Gregory wasn’t interested in abolishing all pagan customs and told Augustine as much. He told him to build churches on old pagan temples so that people would come to places they were familiar with.
    Also, in this and other stories from the same time periods, it seemed to me that King’s often seemed to convert due to primarily pragmatic reasons.
    Ethelbert of Kent was primarily persuaded it seems by the “learning, piety, discipline, and a ready-made band of activists who were keen to go out and spread these virtues among his people”
    Augustine even helped him create the first code of Anglo-Saxon law.
    Augustine spread the news that judgement was nigh and that Jesus could return any minute.
    Ethelbert was baptised and let Augustine make Canterbury his headquarters to spread the Gospel, hence the later primacy of Canterbury in England.

  8. Xenia says:

    I was away from home all day and wasn’t able to participate. I just have a few thoughts:

    Salvation based on grace and the merits of man<<<

    This is synergy. God does his part and we cooperate. The Catholics went awry (IMO) by quantifying everything: Say ten hail Marys, read two pages of Scripture and get 5 years off in Purgatory, venial and mortal sin categories, that treasury of merit they have, etc. The East saw the Church as a hospital; the Latin West began to see it as an accounting firm. Synergy in the East is man cooperating with God without the idea of man having any merit, so that's a big difference.

    Church tradition was equal in authority to the Bible<<<

    I think this is how the Roman Church views this. The East says that the Bible is part of the Tradition. It's not the Bible and Tradition, or the Bible vs Tradition, but the Bible *in* Tradition. Tradition is the deposit of the faith of which the Scriptures comprise the most important, but not the only, part.

    The invocation of the saints in order to gain their aid<<<

    Yes. This is a great blessing.

    And, the sacramental hierarchical system of the institutionalised Church (sacerdotalism).<<<

    This existed before Gregory the Great. St. Ignatius of Antioch (1st century) spoke of the sacramental hierarchy of bishop- priest-deacon.

    Monasteries would be critically important conduits socially and politically in the life of the church in this period.<<<

    They still are, as that striking photo of the Ukrainian monks standing between hostile camps demonstrates. There are rumors flying on EO blogs and forums that the large monastery those monastic belong to (Kiev Caves) is on lock down to keep the place safe from destructive mobs. That's what I've heard, anyway.

    The Eastern Church could have written Luther's 95 Thesis because we also reject papal supremacy, papal infallibility, purgatory, indulgences and the immaculate conception of Mary. (The immaculate conception of Mary is not about the virgin birth; it says that Mary was born without sin.)

    That's about all I can think of to say.

  9. “the Latin West began to see it as an accounting firm”

    excellent observation

  10. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    was it Warren Hollister, the medieval historian, who remarked that the Roman period was only a golden age if you were a male patrician who was naturally immune to common communicable diseases? In a number of ways Renaissance era polemics regarding the medieval period severely undersell and underestimate some of the intellectual and scientific innovations that were going to take place in the “Dark Ages”.

    As my brother has put it, what people should keep in mind about the practical reality of the “Dark Ages” was the fall of the single imperial system that had conquered so many cultures fell apart so regionalism kicked in again. So the “decline” in a unified imperial civilization is a double-edged sword.

  11. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    not that anyone has a reason to care what my brother said in itself, but he’s more the military history fan and mentioned that the Dark Ages and the rise of feudalism happened because the fall of Rome meant the loss of the infrastructure that preserved and transmitted ideas and commerce. The Dark Ages was simply locavore everything before a few discoveries. 🙂

  12. There are a lot of things to like about the monastic system.
    They were vitally involved in the life of the community.
    Indeed, a lot of times community grew up around them.
    Centers of learning, health care (of a sorts) and ,if they owned lands, they tenanted them out for a price which employed and fed some.
    Wasn’t a perfect system, but I see a lot of good going on through them.
    Of course, if a king got on their bad side, he was written into history as a bad king. After all, who else was keeping records to say otherwise at the time. 😉

  13. Michael says:


    It was hugely important…and some amazing stuff came out of it.

  14. It is disappointing that monasteries, at least in America, don’t really play the kind of role they used to.

  15. Michael says:

    I’m not even sure what their purpose is now…there is an EO one near here….

  16. You know what would be the best modern place for monasteries to make a comeback and to recover the original mission they seemed to embody?

    Places like Detroit. Places like Memphis.

    Anyplace where you have giant tracts of decaying urban life with tons of people with no hope.

    Churches do a lot of good, but they are limited in a way in that congregation members time is spent mainly on living and working. As someone, who spends most of life just trying to squeeze on into the next day, I realize the fact that church members can’t spend the amount of time necessary to do something like this.
    You need people whose lives revolve around it to get something like that done.

    But, guess the real problem lies with the fact that there are so few people choosing a monastic life anymore.
    Probably because of the celibacy thing.

    This Protestant sees much that was good with the monastic system.

  17. Xenia says:

    They serve a great purpose in the Orthodox world:

    1. They pray for everyone who asks them to.
    2. They publish books, paint icons, knot prayer ropes, make soap, etc.
    3. They are offer hospitality for world-weary pilgrims
    4. Their ascetic lives are good examples for the rest of us
    5. Orthodox bishops are selected from their number
    6. They are a great place to go to get counseling, if you are willing to accept hard advice
    7. They are little pieces of Eden on earth

  18. Xenia says:

    What is the monastery near you, Michael? I didn’t know of any in Oregon.
    Do you mean Fr. Seraphim’s parish in Rogue River?

  19. Xenia says:

    Holy Ascension Orthodox Monastery is located in Detroit.

  20. Xenia says:

    St. Paul’s Orthodox Skete in located in Memphis.

    (A skete is a small monastery.)

  21. Michael says:


    There is one right over the border in Northern California.
    Very nice folks who have invited me to visit.

  22. I guess what I am saying Xenia is that, monasteries are not playing the kind of role that they used to in a way that says “This is a vital part of the community and if gone the community would be much weaker for their loss”
    Center of community type things.
    Another part of the problem is the overwhelming nanny government.
    But, in places like Detroit, that is falling apart quickly and offers a chance for a more vital and community building/supporting role for places like monasteries.
    Lots of land going to waste that could be used and cultivated for the needs of the residents. Lots of people that are jobless that could help out with tasks that make communities more self-sustaining.
    A lot of the roles monasteries played in the past could be viable in the future, ’cause it looks to me that government will have to trim back at some point and services to the poor will be on that chopping block. Detroit is sort of like looking at what could be.

  23. Xenia says:

    I think you all would enjoy this book, Everyday Saints. Its a best-seller in Russia. It’s a gently humorous book about life in a Russian monastery. I love this book. It will give you a feel for Orthodox monasticism and it’s entertaining, too.

  24. RiBo says:

    “Muhammed is born in 570”

    We could have done without that. Can we get a do-over God?

  25. Ixtlan says:

    I stopped in at a monastery when I was on a motorcycle trip. I had lunch and then found a soft place in the grass and slept for about an hour.

  26. Xenia says:

    I spent part of a week at St. Xenia’s Skete in northern California a few years ago. It’s in the middle of nowhere and I think only the kitchen has electricity and running water. It was a wondefulr few days and here’s some photos I took.

    Monasticism is very vital in the EO world. We visit monasteries all the time. My advisor and the main teacher at my school is a monastic.

  27. This is not meant in anyway to put down anything that monasteries do or contribute to church life.

    But, monasteries seem, these days, to be retreats from the world.
    Whereas, most of the books on monasteries from the early middle ages I have read throughout my life show them in constant interaction with larger communities of people.

    I will admit though that most of the material I have read on monastic life is from the western tradition.
    Is eastern monasticism more focused on contemplation and retreat?

    But, that seems to be the focus of the western monastics now also.
    I can’t speak for monasteries throughout the rest of the world.

    And none of this is to say that contemplation and retreat are necessarily bad, but modern western monastics seem to have abandoned a lot of the other side of the coin.

  28. Some of that was not phrased exactly right.
    Probably shows I need to go to sleep soon.
    Night all.

  29. RiBo says:

    No beef with monasteries over here. Personally I couldn’t do the monastic life due to high levels of testosterone and general sinfulness but I think the monasteries are much better examples of “Jesus!” than say an Elevation Church etc.

  30. One of my squad members last deployment was going through a rough time, divorce while deployed.
    Because of that, he was in the process of converting to the RCC.
    When he got his leave time, he spent it at a Trappist monastery to help him deal with everything going on.

  31. Picked up a free copy of “The Rule of St. Benedict” and reading a little at night before bed.
    So far, some good stuff and some questionable stuff. Overall, not bad though.

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