Church of Darkness

TimeWatch Editorial
March 08, 2017

As we continue to take a look at J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1, we see the deconstruction of Holiness that pervaded the entire Church. Slowly faith became faithless; an empty spiritual structure.  

“We traced in the foregoing chapter the decay of doctrine and manners within the Church. Among the causes which contributed to the exaltation of the Papacy this declension may be ranked as fundamental, seeing it opened the door for other deteriorating influences, and mightily favored their operation. Instead of "reaching forth to what was before," the Christian Church permitted herself to be overtaken by the spirit of the ages that lay behind her. There came an after growth of Jewish ritualism, of Greek philosophy, and of Pagan ceremonialism and idolatry; and, as the consequence of this threefold action, the clergy began to be gradually changed, as already mentioned, from a "teaching ministry" to a "sacrificing priesthood." This made them no longer ministers or servants of their fellow-Christians; they took the position of a caste, claiming to be superior to the laity, invested with mysterious powers, the channels of grace, and the mediators with God. Thus there arose a hierarchy, assuming to mediate between God and men.” J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1"page 10

That hierarchy which usurped the place of Christ provided a certain intense nothingness that produced the kind of darkness that etched its way into the souls of those who came to worship. The structure of the buildings was the only recognizable element of the former churches. As time proceeded, the papacy expanded her power.

“Still further, the ascent of the Bishop of Rome to the supremacy was silently yet powerfully aided by that mysterious and subtle influence which appeared to be indigenous to the soil on which his chair was placed. In an age when the rank of the city determined the rank of its pastor, it was natural that the Bishop of Rome should hold something of that preeminence among the clergy which Rome held among cities. Gradually the reverence and awe, with which men had regarded the old mistress of the world, began to gather round the person and the chair of her bishop.” J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1"page 10

As is often seen now, there were conflicts and controversies everywhere. As time passé, many turned to the bishop of Rome for counsel and guidance. The lust for promotion created an atmosphere of jostling for higher positions. This, not only occurred in the hierarchy of the church but in the state as well.

“It was an age of factions and strifes, and the eyes of the contending parties naturally turned to the pastor of the Tiber. They craved his advice, or they submitted their differences to his judgment. These applications the Roman Bishop was careful to register as acknowledgments of his superiority, and on fitting occasions he was not forgetful to make them the basis of new and higher claims.” J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1"page 10

The greater and more frequent the conflicts, the more power was assumed by the Bishop of Rome until he claimed all power. When ultimately, the Emperor removed his throne from Rome to Constantinople, Wylie days that:

“The removal of the Emperor’s seat from Rome to the splendid city of Constantinople, which the emperor had built with becoming magnificence for his residence, also tended to enhance the power of the Papal chair. It removed from the side of the Pope a functionary by whom he was eclipsed, and left him the first person in the old capital of the world. The emperor had departed, but the prestige of the old city – the fruit of countless victories, and of ages of dominion – had not departed. The contest which had been going on for some time among the five great patriarchates – Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Rome – the question at issue being the same as that which provoked the contention among the disciples of old, "which was the greatest," was now restricted to the last two. The city of Constantinople was the seat of government, and the abode of the emperor; this gave her patriarch Powerful claims.” J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1"page 11

Rome now became the province of the Bishop of Rome. The growth of its influence was rapid. What is amazing is the swift subtlety with which the seat in Rome took control of the rest of the church.

“The city on the banks of the Tiber wielded a mysterious and potent charm over the imagination, as the heir of her who had been the possessor of all the power, of all the glory, and of all the dominion of the past; and this vast prestige enabled her patriarch to carry the day. As Rome was the one city in the earth, so her bishop was the one bishop in the Church. A century and a half later (606), this pre-eminence was decreed to the Roman Bishop in an imperial edict of Phocas. Thus, before the Empire of the West fell, the Bishop of Rome had established substantially his spiritual supremacy.” J. A. Wylie, "The History of Protestantism, Vol 1"page 11

As the size and influence of the church grew, the darkness spread like the plague across her entire space. The power of darkness took hold upon it leaving only a small remnant that clung to truth and faith.

Cameron A. Bowen

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