Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Wycliffe had come and gone.  The Catholic church still had the problem of having two popes.  Pope Urban VI in Avignon and Pope Clement VII in Rome.  The University of Paris stated that this could be solved with a council.  It worked so many times in history.  Dante wrote Of Monarchy stating that the church and state are both arms of God an are not supreme over the other.

Marselius of Padua wrote Defensor Pacis.  He declared that the church in general counsel guided by the New Testament alone could proclaim dogma and appoint officials.  To him, church council was the highest authority in the church, not the pope.

A Council began at Pisa in 1409.  Benedict 13 lived in Avignon, and Gregory 12 lived in Rome.  The college of cardinals called council and authority to call it.  They also claimed authority to call the popes to account.  They resolved to depose the two popes and appoint Alexander V as the official pope.  In the end, the 2 popes did not recognize this decision, leaving the HRE with 3 popes.  Alex 5 died in 1410 to be succeeded by John XXIII.

HRE emperor Sigismund, inspired by Constantine in 325, called the Council of Constance from 1414 to 1418.  Instead of having a majority vote, he would allow the five nations one unanimous vote.  Gregory 12 resigned and the counsel deposed the other two popes and replaced them with Martin V.  This council introduced Sancrosanct, taking power from the college of cardinals and giving it to the council.  It also introduced Frequens, a call for councils to meet every ten years to discuss schism, heresy, and reform.  At this particular council, they solved things by burning Jan Hus at the stake after promising him safe passage, and they exhumed John Wycliffe's bones and burned them, making him the only one martyred after he had been dead.

Jan Hus's friends in Bohemia began to riot.  Councils met at Basel and Ferrara from 1431 to 1449.  The one in Basel tried to take care of Bohemia.  Eugenius 4 was pope at the time.  They deposed him.  However, he sent a papal bull in 1439 deposing them.  He stayed pope.  Basel fizzled out in 1449.

Rivals held a council in Ferrara, but during a plague, moved to Florence.  They wanted to reunite the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.  Here, they also accepted the 7 sacraments.  They also did not succeed.

Finally, Pope Pius 2 sent a bull called Execrabilis in 1460.  He condemned any appeals to future general councils.

Also, the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges in 1438 made the French church autonomous from the pope only to make things worse and have it under state power.

To an extent, I agree with Marsilius.  One man should not be the final authority in the Church on planet earth.  It should be ruled by councils and committees.  Hence, I support the Presbyterian church government based on elders.

Marsilius forgot one thing.  Neither the pope nor church councils have the ultimate authority.  Jesus Christ never ceded his authority as the Word of God.  The few people who stood up for the authority of Christ became martyrs.  The rest was a struggle of egos.  Some were well-intentioned, but the church was in a Humpty-Dumpty state.  It still is.  Today we argue about what wise guru we will follow.  Some of them are good guys like John Calvin or John Piper.  Others are shady like Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer.  Ultimately, none of them are the final authority.  Jesus's words in the Bible are still the only authority that trumps all others.  I follow teachers as long as they follow the Bible and teach the whole counsel of God.  We have more popes now than Avignon ever did.  We should be following the only true Priest and King, Jesus Christ.  Not through an intercessor, but Jesus himself.

The biggest problem with all the churches is that Jesus alone is never enough, and that by definition is idolatry no matter what good words we dress it up with.  We need a priest or Mary or saints or LifeWay or the President or a cherished youth pastor.  No, they are taking Christ's spot in our mentalities and that by definition is idolatry.  We are all guilty.  The good thing, is Christ overrides all our folly and still unites his people underneath himself and will solve all the problems real soon.

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