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What led to the schism of 1054?

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What led to the schism of 1054? The Great Schism of 1054 is certainly one of the most important events in the history of the Christian Church. And as is generally true of all of history's decisive moments, there is no one single cause, but rather a series of tension-building events leading up to it. In this essay, I will attempt to outline some of these major events. During his reign, the Roman emperor Diocletian introduced a series of reforms, which was to bring about the geo-political environment which would eventually help to divide the eastern and western parts of the Church. These reforms included appointing leaders to rule over Eastern and Western provinces of the empire. This new tetrarchy was a large rearrangement of power within the empire, now split between four regional centres of government, in Trier and Milan (near troubled frontiers), and Thessalonica and Nicomedia. (Jenkins, Mirza, Tsang; 2003, p. 1). However, it would be wrong to say that the political environment which the church found itself in was the starting point for tensions between east and west. Long before Diocletian came to power, we can see an assumed authority from the Roman church. Writing against second century Gnosticism, Irenaeus of Lyons argued for the authority of what was being taught in churches based upon the idea that the apostolic doctrines were carried on through successive bishops. ...read more.


2. chap. 5 cf. McManners; 1990, 1993, pp. 38-39) There were other events which caused division between East and West. For example, The Council of Constantinople of 381 involved no representatives of Rome, did not simply serve to ratify the Christological doctrines agreed at the Council of Nicaea of 325, but also served to present the East as having an authority equivalent to that of the West, particularly Rome (Cross, Livingston; 1957, 1974, 1977, 1978; pp. 339, 967). Further Christological definitions mixed with Eastern ambitions came out of the Council of Chalcedon of 451, which involved between 500 and 600 bishops, all but four of which were Easter, gave the Bishop of Constantinople the title 'Patriarch' and made his see second only to Rome. (Cross, Livingston; 1957, 1974, 1977, 1978; p. 263). In 476, political separation was increased through the West falling to the Germanic invasion, which isolated Rome from the East. Reunion was attempted by the Eastern emperor Zeno, in the late 5th century. He sponsored the theological formula known as the Henoticon, chiefly the work of Acacius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Peter Mongo, Patriarch of Alexandria. The aim was to secure unity over the Monophysite controversy, but it was severely rejected by the West because of the omission of any mention of the number of natures in Christ, and therefore the concessions it made to Monophysism. ...read more.


The emperor replaced Patriarch Ignatius with a previously only a layman, Photius. Although Photius was a highly intellectual individual, his succession from layman to deacon, to priest, to bishop, to patriarch in just one week caused suspicion in Rome, and Pope Nicholas supported the deposed Ignatius. Meanwhile, it had been the case that Western bishops had inserted the filioque ("and the Son") clause into the Nicene Creed as a way of combating Arianism, by promoting the double-procession of the Holy Spirit (from the Father and the Son, not just the Father alone). When Bulgaria requested Rome take over the previously Eastern mission, the East was exposed to this modified form of the Creed. Photius saw this as a Western theological failure to distinguish between the eternal procession and the temporal mission of the Holy Spirit described in John 15:26. He also saw it as arrogance that the West would make such a significant addition to that which had been fixed at an Ecumenical Council, without even calling for another Council meeting at all. Pope Nicholas supported a 867 Council which condemned Photius, but he was later vindicated in 879. The Filioque controversy continued into the 11th century, when Patriarch Nicetas broke communion with Rome because of it. The final blow was dealt in 1054, when the Pope sent Cardinal Humbert with a Papal bull excommunicating Patriarch Cerularius and denouncing the Eastern Church as heretics. The East then drew up and issued a sentence of excommunication against the West. ...read more.

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