with the Father in our behalf. Thus in this single act of devotion both objects of all cults are attained.
As the teaching and person of Jesus were fitted into the framework of the Greek philosophy, and the sacraments into the deeper and broader forms of popular belief, so was the organization shaped by the polity of the Roman Pollty.empire. Jesus gathered his group of followers and committed to it his mission, and after his resurrection the necessities of the situation brought about the choice of quasi-officials. Later the familiar polity of the synagogue was loosely followed. A completer organization was retarded by two factors, the presence of the apostles and the inspiration of the prophets. But when the apostles died and the early enthusiasm disappeared, a stricter order arose. Practical difficulties called for the enforcement of discipline, and differences of opinion for authority in doctrine; and, finally, the sacramentarian system required a priesthood. In the 2nd century the conception of a Catholic Church was widely held and a loose embodiment was given it; after the conversion of the empire the organization took on the official forms of the empire. Later it was modified by the rise of the feudal system and the re-establishment of the modern European nationalities (see Church History).
The polity of the Church was more than a formal organization; it touched the life of each believer. Very early, Christianity was conceived to be a new system of law, and faith was interpreted as obedience. Legalism was joined with Penance.sacramentarianism, doubling the power of the priest. Through him Church discipline was administered, a complete system of ecclesiastical penalties, i.e. penance, growing up. It culminated in the doctrine of purgatory, a place of discipline, of purifying suffering after death. The Roman genius for law strengthened and systematized this tendency.
The hierarchy which centres in the pope constitutes the Church of which the sacramental system is the inner life and penance is the sanction. It is thus a divine-human organization. It teaches that the divine-human Son of God established it, and returning to heaven committed to the apostles, especially to St Peter, his authority, which has descended in an unbroken line through the popes. This is the charter of the Church, and its acceptance is the first requisite for salvation; for the Church determines doctrine, exercises discipline and administers sacraments. Its authority is accompanied by the spirit of God, who guides it into truth and gives it miraculous power. Outside the Church there are only the “broken lights” of man’s philosophy and the vain efforts of weak human nature after virtue.
Christianity in its complete Roman development is thus the coming of the supernatural into the natural. The universe falls into these orders, the second for the sake of the first, as nature is of and for God. Without him nature at its The completed doctrine of the Roman Church.highest is like a beautiful statue, devoid of life; it is of secondary moment compared even to men, for while it passes away he continues for ever. He is dependent, therefore, not upon nature, but upon God’s grace for salvation, and this comes through the Church. In the book of Revelation the New Jerusalem descending from heaven to the earth may be taken as a symbol of a continuing process: the human receives the divine, as the Virgin Mary received the Holy Spirit and brought forth Jesus, perfect man and perfect God. Thus the Church ever receives God and has a twofold nature; its sacraments through material and earthly elements impart a divine power; its teachings agree with the highest truths of philosophy and science, yet add to these the knowledge of mysteries which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive; it sanctifies human relationships, but the happiness of earth at purest and best is only a shadow of the divine bliss which belongs to the redeemed soul. Hence man should deny the world for the sake of the other world, and the title “religious” belongs distinctly to the monastic and priestly life. Theology is the queen of the sciences, and nothing should be taught in school or university which contradicts its conclusions. Moreover, nothing should be done by the state which interferes with the transcendent interest committed to the Church. Thus the Church touches and controls all realms of life, and the cycle is complete. It began as separate from the world and proscribed by it; next it adapted itself to the learning, the customs and the polity of the world. Finally it asserted its mastery and assumed sovereign power over all. The Church in its completed form was the outcome of a long development; if the seed was Jewish the environment was Gentile. Into the full tree were gathered the effects, not only of the initial energy, but of the forces of earth, air, water and sun. The Roman Church expressed the beliefs and answered the needs of the people, and this explains in part both its forms and its power, its long continuance and wide supremacy.
The Church was never completely successful in unifying its organization. In part it shared the destiny of the Roman empire, and with it fell into two parts, East separating from West. Indeed the East never really acknowledged The Eastern Church.the Roman primacy nor shared in its development, and it still remains apart. With characteristic oriental conservatism it claims the title of “Orthodox,” and retains the creed and organization of the early Church. In general its conception of the relation of the world to the super-world is identical with that of the Roman Church, though somewhat less defined, as its organization is less complete. It has remained in the second stage mentioned above; established, as in Russia, by the empire, it is dependent upon it and in alliance with it. In the Mahommedan dominions it has been recognized as a state within the state, and in these communities faith and patriotism are one.
The idea of the Roman Church was imperfectly embodied at the best; the divine gift was in earthen vessels. The world was never completely cast out; indeed the Church became the scene for ambition and the home of luxury and pleasure. The Reformation.It was entangled also in the political strife of the feudal ages and of the beginning of modern empires. Its control of the sciences embroiled it with its own philosophers and scholars, while saints and pure-minded ecclesiastics attempted, without success, its reform from within. Finally, through Luther, the explosion came, and western Christendom broke into two parts—Catholic and Protestant.
Protestantism in its primary principle is the return to primitive Christianity. The whole development which we have traced, culminating in the ecclesiastical-doctrinal system of the Roman Church, is regarded as a corruption, since foreign and even heathen elements have been brought in, so that the religion established by Christ is obscured or lost. For Protestants the Bible only now becomes the infallible, inspired authority in faith and morals. Interpretations by the Fathers or by the councils are to be taken only as aids to its understanding. With this principle is associated a second, the liberty of the individual; he reads the sacred Scriptures and interprets them for himself without the intervention of priests or church; and he enters by faith in Christ into communion with God, so that all believers are priests. Here may be noted a fundamental difference in the psychology of religion, since in the Roman Church the chief appeal is to the emotions, while in the Reformed it is to the intelligence. Yet this appeal to the intelligence is not rationalism: the latter makes reason the supreme authority, rejecting all which does not conform to it; the Bible is treated like any other book, to be accepted or rejected in part or in whole as it agrees with our canons of logic and our general science, while religion submits to the same process as do other departments of knowledge. But in Protestantism reason and the light of nature are in themselves as impotent as in the Roman Church. The Bible interpreted by man’s unaided intelligence is as valueless as other writings, but it has a sacramental value when the Holy Spirit accompanies its teaching, and the power of God uses it and makes the soul capable of holiness. In all this the supernatural is as vividly realized as in the Roman Church; it is only its mediation which is different.
These principles are variously worked out in the different churches and variously expressed. In part because of historical circumstances, the divergence from the older systems is more marked in some Protestant churches than in others, yet on the