Some of us are going through Sketches from Church History by S M Houghton one small chapter at a time. (By the way, the book has pictures.) Aiding us in this study is the work book by Rebecca Frawley. Both are Banner of Truth books.
Now we are at
Chapter 13 The Papacy at its height
The struggle between Henry II, King of England and Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury
Becket felt that it was enough for corrupt church officials to be ‘defrocked’. The king was of the opinion that in addition, they must be tried in the civil court. In a fit of temper the king ordered Becket dead. Becket was regarded as a martyr and the church of the day became stronger for it.
General Council of Churches convened by Pope Innocent III in 1215
In 1215, the same year that the English barons required King John to sign the Magna Carta, Pope Innocent III called a General Council at Rome.
The Pope announced that the Lord had given Peter (read ‘the Popes’) headship of the church and dominion over the whole world.
The Pope also introduced the doctrine of transubstantiation and, in so doing, legislated idolatry in the church.
Bernard of Clairvaux
If any of us were disappointed by this man’s connection with the Second Crusade, which we looked at in the previous lesson, here is something to warm the heart. Bernard of Clairvaux was a man who loved God from a true heart. He declined the honours that came to him in the church. His followers held high positions and one of them even became a pope. To him, Bernard said: Remember that you are a successor of him who said, “Silver and gold have I none.” Gold and silk and pearls and soldiers you have not received of Christ, but they came to you from Constantine. Never strive after these things. Would to God that before I die, I might see the Church as it was in olden times when the apostles cast their nets, not to catch gold and silver but the souls of men!
Pitiful condition of the church of the middle ages
The masses of people had blind faith in the church and tradition. They did not know what the Bible taught about sin and redemption from it. Sometimes external abuses were corrected but corrupt doctrine was left untouched. There was no appeal to the word of God. Houghton ends the chapter like this:
Dark was the night, and more than human power was needed to drive away the thick clouds. But, as we shall see, in God’s time, dawn came.