western church

western church - Think about it for a moment. Christianity...

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Think about it for a moment. Christianity was not legally recognized and did not begin its real institutional evolution until 313, two years after the death of Diocletian, the emperor who had divided the empire. The eastern half of the empire was already much different from the West, but the two regions had been held together by a centralized government supporting unifying institutions. Now that unity had been broken and the two imperial governments -- eastern and western -- were no longer investing money and energy in maintaining it, the eastern and western halves of the old Roman empire began to develop in different directions. Christianity was part of that situation, and so, throughout the fourth century, the Church in the West slowly began to develop a character and organization distinct from the Church in the East. This was not a steady or obvious matter, since during the first quarter-century of its evolution the imperial Church had been part of the empire that had been reunified by the emperor Constantine, and Constantine attempted to create a Christian Church that would be a unifying force within the empire. For it to be so, the Church had to be universal, and so Constantine began dismantling the old state religion and turning its buildings, assets and functions over to the Christian Church. As an aside, however, he confiscated the gold owned by the other religions and used it to restore the gold currency, a reform that Diocletian had attempted but failed to institute. With its greatly expanded material base, the Church needed more financial and administrative skill than its personnel was able to provide. This difficulty solved itself, by and large. Constantine established that, like many other Roman administrative functions, the Church should operate as a local institution with its centers located in the civitates , the municipalities that formed the basic governmental unit of the empire. These positions were filled, at least at first, through the election of bishops by members of the local community, approved by a representative of the imperial government and confirmed by a ceremony called investiture in which the candidate was "clothed" in the symbols and uniform of his office. The ceremony of investiture was conducted by two or more neighboring bishops and so represented the Church's ratification of the selection. This concentration of Church authority in urban centers made little difference in the East, where the population was denser and more sophisticated, and where there was little distinction between urban dwellers and residents of country villages. This was not the case in the West, however, and placing the focus of Christianity in the urban centers of this region effectively delayed the conversion of the inhabitants of the rural areas of the civitates , called the pagus . It was not until the seventh and eighth centuries that appreciable progress was made in converting the country- dwellers, pagans , of the West to Christianity. On the whole, however, this practice allowed local communities to choose the sort of
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HISTORY 170 taught by Professor Romero during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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western church - Think about it for a moment. Christianity...

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