But didn't the Pope become weak, not strong after 538, because the Lombards invaded?
A well known and respected scholar, has, in the past few weeks presented ideas on prophecy that is a CLEAR DEPARTURE from the very foundation of our understanding of prophecy, questioning the 1260 day/year prophecy.
He has termed it a "refreshing, new understanding" BUT it is really NOT NEW or REFRESHING at all. We have met these things in years past and feel deeply the disappointment because one whom we have looked to as a teacher and leader, seems to now have undertaken to upset the very foundation of our prophetic understanding.
In the following pages I will present why I believe our understanding is well founded--
Paragraph's from Prof. B's letter are printed in “brown”.
Prof. Bacchiocchi wrote: Justinian's triumph over the Ostrogoths in Italy was short lived. First, because under their new leader, Totila, the Ostrogoths quickly recaptured most of their lost territories. Second, because three years after Justinian's death in 565, another Germanic people, the Lombards, invaded the Italian peninsula and weakened the Papal power. In other words, the Papacy never really displaced three kingdoms or nations to establish its power.We have already discussed the fact that it was “Totila” whose “recapturing of Rome” was very short lived.. (See Totila)
According to “A Survey of European History” by Ferguson and Bruun, page 157: “Theodoric (Ostrogothic king 493-526) works died with him. Factional strife broke out soon after his death, and by 555 the Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy had been crushed by the armies of the eastern emperor, Justinian.
That hardly sounds like the Ostrogoths came back into control. Oh yes, there were some fierce battles fought, Italy suffered! BUT the Ostergoths NEVER “regained the “kingdom” which Theodoric had held-- and they were defeated--crushed. THE ROMAN CODE OF LAW was IN FORCE-- IN ROME--
And that law gave the POPE the LEGAL position as head of all churches with authority to deal with all heretics.
As for the Lombards--
Maybe one should ask why the Lombards were so opposed to the Papacy?
Remember what happened to the Ostrogoth kingdom in Italy. They were a Christian tribe which was actually quite civilized, and brought considerable stability to residence of Italy, but Justinian sent in his armies, routed them out of Rome in 538, set up the papacy as the defender of the faith, then proceeded to route out the Ostrogoths from the rest of Italy.
You see, Justinian himself was persecuting Christians who believed differently and these Christians had fled from Constantinople to Italy to be under the protection of Theodoric the Ostergoth King prior to 538-- The Goths granted religious toleration to their subjects.
History speaks much of the pagan persecution of Christians but for some strange reason turns a blind eye to Justinian who was very diligent in “discovering and rooting out” anyone who did not embrace the Catholic faith as he believed it.
Gibbon in “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” near the end of chapter 47 writes;
Yes, when Justinian’s armies withdrew from Italy, another tribe, named the Lombards invaded. In 568, they moved into northern Italy and occupied the great plain between the Alps and the Apennines, ever since called Lombardy. They wanted to establish their kingdom in Italy, and so pushed south. In 605 a truce was arranged between the emperor and the Lombards. It's rather interesting to note that the Lombards, during their earlier years in Italy tended to be disorganized with rivalry between the "dukes". But then they organized under a king and became quite civilized. However, the papacy stood in their way in forming their kingdom.
The Papacy was JUST A CHURCH, it shouldn’t have been that much of a problem. But the Papacy was NOT JUST A CHURCH, it was a political identity operating under a Christian cloak.
Interestingly the historian Carlton Hayes says,
So if the Lombards were, through the papal system, “converted” why the antagonism? Why not welcome them as the temporal rulers of Italy, while the Pope acted as the spiritual leader? Why? Because there could be no other temporal rulers in ROME except the Papacy!
The truth has another dimension-- the Lombards WERE converted, but NOT by the papal system. Here lies the great evil of the Papal supremacy system. The Lombards embraced a Christianity of a purer faith, then that of the papacy. Therefore they could NOT be allowed to control Italy.
History of course has been “rewritten” to paint the Catholic church as the “victim” and the Lombards as the barbarians. But it is interesting that it was WHEN the Lombards had "settled" into a civilized system and had embraced Christianity, that the Popes (Stephen II and later Hadrian I) moved to have the Franks come in and "defeat" Lombards, so they wouldn't gain the temporal rule of Rome.
Now when the Lombards first arrived they did conquer much of Italy BUT THEY DID NOT CONQUER ROME, Ravenna Naples and the extreme south. Also they were not united and civilization suffered.
But contrary to the assertation that they "weakened" the papacy...
They actually FREED the papacy from "emperor control" and helped (unintentionally) to further the "primacy" of the Pope.
Interesting quote from the book “A Survey of European History” Ferguson and Bruun page 195
-- It was imperial Rome that lifted her to power
-- It was getting the armies of Clovis that gave her power to “subdue” the Germanic tribes to “Christianity”.
-- the imperial governor in Ravenna for a while was her “protector”.
Why did the Pope run to the Frankish king for HELP against the Lombards? Because in 751 the Lombards took over Ravenna, where the imperial governor resided, and Pope was AFRAID that the Lombards would take over the rest of Italy as well. He didn’t want to call for help from the east, for he didn’t want to “give up” his independence that he had enjoyed away from the emperors demands, yet HE DID NOT WANT THE LOMBARDS to take away his KINGDOM-- he wanted temporal control of the imperial city. Now why would a spiritual leader be so concerned about ruling the imperial city of Rome? Shouldn’t simply being the spiritual leader of the people be enough?
However, it seems that even for those who "converted" to papal christianity, it was no sure thing that they would not be persecuted by the ORDER of the church. I mean the Lombards (who invaded Italy in the latter half of the sixth century) were "all converted" to Catholicism. A Catholic prince succeeded to the crown of the Lombards in 626. Yet they were a "problem" to the pope-- too much power too close to his seat, he was losing his "POLITICAL control" to the Lombards, so the Lombards were branded as "arians" even though they were not, and persecuted. So the pope runs to the Frank kings (further away) to come and exterminate the Lombards, and secure once again his, the pope's primacy and temporal power.
Says the historian Milman in “History of Latin Christianity Vol. 1, chapter 4
For example, in, DISPENSATIONAL TRUTH, Clarence Larkin wrote:
And so Pepin returned the lands to the "Supreme Pontiff", who had inherited that title from the Roman Emperor, and now the barbaric tribes, with the sword of Pepin, "legalized" their recognition that the Pope was indeed the rightful successor to the Roman throne. The Pope, in exchange, consented to Pepin's becoming king of the Franks.
This move only confirmed that Justinian's law--which gave the Pope supremacy, was STILL in force and recognized by the barbaric tribe.
Yet why should the POPE be the "Supreme" king any more than the head of any of the Protestant churches? Such a kingship requires a union of church and state. Why call one "barbaric" tribe to attempt to exterminate another "barbaric" tribe and send Italy back into disorganized "feudal" type systems? Why? Because the Papacy would never willingly give up his "supremacy" and will do anything to maintain it.
Does history show that the Papacy was displacing tribes in order for her to maintain her "supremacy"? The answer is "YES!"
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