666 Christian Crimes

 

 

500 - 599

 

511-558

Catholic Frankish king Childebert I ordered the destruction of all pagan idols and one hundred lashes for peasants caught worshiping them. [Engh, 106]

 

515

"... at Zoara, south of the Dead Sea, a local god, Theandrites, was replaced by St. George and his temple reconstituted as a church with the inscription 'God has his dwelling where there was once a hostel of demons' ...." [Freeman, 2005, 269]

 

517

Christians closed the university at Alexandria. [Johnson, 1976, 112]

 

524

Catholic philosopher Boethius was tried and executed by Arian Christians at Pavia. [Johnson, 1976, 153]

 

 

529

Emperor Justinian closed the school of Athens. The school was founded by Plato, which had been located in a pagan temple to ensure its safety, and had endured for a millennium. [Freeman, 2009, 154; Johnson, 1976, 112]

529

"Benedict of Nursia destroys pagan temple at Monte Cassino (Italy) and builds a monastery." [Wikipedia, "Timeline of Christian Missions"]

 

 

530s

Justinian ordered all subjects to submit to Christian baptism. Failure to do so resulted in their rights to goods and property being forfeited. The death penalty was prescribed for followers of pagan cults. [Freeman, 2009, 154]

 

530

When Pope St. Felix III died in 530, the cardinals elected the deacon Dioscorus of Alexandria Pope. In a hall next door to the cardinals, a group comprising mostly laymen and military men with no authority to elect a pope, chose Boniface. According to Canon Law Dioscorus had been properly elected, but he died under mysterious circumstances only twenty-two days after his election. Boniface then intimidated the cardinals to choose him to be the next pope, using the threat of military violence. Even today the official records show Boniface II to be the immediate successor of Felix III. [Curran, 19-21]

 

532

Encouraged by his wife Theodora, Christian Emperor Justinian ordered soldiers to massacre more than 30,000 non-conformist citizens in Constantinople to impose his version Christian orthodoxy. Apparently, "Justinian did not see it as murder if the victims did not share his own beliefs." The Old Testament of the Christian Bible has many examples of violent punishment by God. As God's representative on earth, Justinian thought himself justified in using his absolute power to punish Christians as well as non-believers, if those Christians refused to accept the canons of the Council of Chalcedon. [Frank Mortyn, "Blood on the Ground, Churches All Around," reprinted in Leedom, 237-240; Freeman, 2003, 253; Haught, 1990, 53-54; Jenkins, 235; Johnson, 1987, 166]

"In 532 a very dangerous revolt (the Nika revolution), ... was put down severely. ... The Corpus Juris is full of laws against paganism (apostasy was punished by death) ... Jews, Samaritans ... Manichaeans, and other heretics. ... There was no toleration of dissent. ... [Justinian's] ecclesiastical tyranny is the one regrettable side of the character of so great a man. ... He was undoubtedly the greatest emperor after Constantine, perhaps the greatest of all the long line of Roman Caesars. Indeed one may question whether any state can show in its history so magnificent a ruler." [Catholic Encyclopedia, "Justinian I"]

 

533

General Belisarius, sent by the Catholic Eastern emperor Justinian, defeated the Vandals and made Arianism heretical again. [Engh, 104]

 

537

Christian emperor Justinian, disregarding a treaty with the African nation of the Blemyes, closed the temple dedicated to Isis at Philae, arrested the priests, confiscated the temple treasures, defaced the paintings, and made the temple into a church dedicated to St. Stephen. "In Libya, Justinian closed at least two temples of Ammon." [Engh, 111]

Freeman says that this temple was closed in 526. [Freeman, 2005, 269; Freeman, 2009, 154]

 

540

"The Church explained that the [bubonic] plague was an act of God, and disease a punishment for the sin of not obeying Church authority. ... it declared the field of Greek and Roman medicine ... to be heresy. While the plague assured the downfall of the Roman Empire, it strengthened the Christian church." [Ellerbe, 42]

 

553

The Council of Constantinople condemned Origen as a heretic even though he had been dead for 300 years. "This conflict had only occurred because an orthodoxy had been proclaimed to which earlier thinkers, long since dead, were now expected to conform."

"Origen was the first major exegetist, or interpreter, of the Bible. In one the finest intellectual achievements of the third century, he began by putting together the different Greek versions of the Old Testament so that discrepancies could be ironed out."

"The condemnation of Origen was thus a profound loss to Christianity. Not only did Augustine's extreme theology make nonsense of the concept of a loving and forgiving God, but the threat of hell was used to manipulate obedience." [Freeman, 2009, 133, 137, 139]

The Council of Constantinople failed to bring peace between the factions, but did define how orthodoxy was to be judged: Holy Scripture, teachings of the Holy Fathers, and the actions of four councilsNicaea of 325, Constantinople of 381, Ephesus of 431, and Chalcedon of 451. All four councils "had been subject to imperial pressures and in many cases unrepresentative of the Church as a whole....By 600, in Rome, Pope Gregory the Great was equating these four councils with the four gospels as the cornerstones of Christian orthodoxy.... it was the emperors who had actually defined Christian doctrine. This definition was then incorporated into the legal system so that orthodoxy was upheld by both secular and Church law, and heretics were condemned by the state." This was a radical development which had the effect of diminishing intellectual life. Heresy and orthodoxy were the result of power struggles within the Church, with the competitors vying for imperial support. The state often intervened to restore order. "The outcome was an authoritarianism based on irrational principles, which presided over the demise of ancient traditions of reasoned debate." [Freeman, 2009, 155-156]

 

572

The Church Council of Braga passed the first law against contraception. [Bokenkotter, 56]

 

590-604

Pope [St.] Gregory I ("The Great") objected to grammatical study, condemned education for all but the clergy, forbade laymen to read even the Bible, and had the library of the Palatine Apollo burned. He also had many Roman marble statues torn down and turned into lime. [Ellerbe, 48, 50]

Gregory praised the thugs Queen Brunichildis and eastern emperor Phocas and rejoiced when Emperor Maurice was murdered. He wrote about devils and miracles. Consequently, he convinced many nobles to bequeath their estates to the Church, because the imminent end of the world would preclude their descendants from enjoying them. [Joseph McCabe, "Europe Decays And The Popes Thrive," from his book Popes and Their Church, reprinted in Leedom, 248-250]

Gregory greatly enhanced the Church's temporal power. He expanded papal territories to between 1300 and 1800 square miles, yielding income of about $1.5 million yearly. The CE makes his reign sound like an idyll: "... he made himself in Italy a power stronger than emperor or exarch, and established a political influence which dominated the peninsula for centuries. ... under his able management the estates of the Church increased steadily in value, the tenants were contented, and the revenues paid in with unprecedented regularity." [Catholic Encyclopedia, "St. Gregory the Great"]


 



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© R. Paul Buchman 2011