Chapter 12: The 4th Empire Extended—Papal Rome, Part 5
Mystery Babylon and the Stone Kingdom, part 37—The Investiture Controversy
Welcome back. Where we left off, we were learning about how over the centuries, the papacy—by deal-making, by stealth and cunning—gradually assumed more and more power on the temporal side, i.e., civil government.
This gradual encroachment and usurpation by popes of the powers of kings, notably, the so-called “Holy Roman Emperors” did not go unnoticed by them. It was an epic struggle for power which lasted for centuries, and in a very real sense, is still continuing today.
Dr. Earle Cairns, church historian, tells us that the supremacy of the papacy reached its zenith between the years 1054 and 1305. I quote from his book, Christianity Through the Centuries, first published in 1954 [emphasis mine]:
“The papacy exercised great temporal power between 1054 and 1305. Hildebrand [and I’ll give you more on him shortly] was able to humble the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire; Innocent III was powerful enough to force rulers of rising nation-states to do his will; and the papacy inspired the early Crusades.
“The rise of universities and Scholasticism strengthened the intellectual foundations of papal power. Monastic reform added to papal power by giving the pope many zealous monks, who were his obedient servants. It is doubtful whether the papacy has ever exercised such absolute power over all phases of life as it did in medieval Europe during this time.”
Many were the intrigues and battles over who had the authority in the secular sphere. One of the key battles, and one which lasted a very long time, was called the Investiture Controversy. It involved the idea of who had the ultimate authority to “invest” someone with an office and with power.
In other words, it was the question of who possessed the power to appoint and approve rulers. Who had the final authority to invest others? Did the kings and emperors, or did the popes?
Allow me to insert here a personal experience which was really a battle over investiture on a small scale. Years ago, I was witnessing a power struggle of sorts between two ministers, both of whom I knew personally. Both had national followings.
This power struggle was not generally known by their followers, but I was able to see what was taking place. They both sponsored annual Bible conferences and invited each other—as well as me—to be among the speakers. This was before I began sponsoring Conferences. To me it was obvious that each was trying to outdo the other. They were rivals for power within the sphere of those to whom we all ministered.
At one point, one of them decided to start a Bible university, and so he invited the other man, his rival—to be one of the long-distance faculty members. (By the way and just for clarity’s sake, I am not referring to a Bible school begun in Michigan, or the people—who are close friends of mine—who were involved in that endeavor back in the early 2000’s.)
But think about that. If you are a faculty member of a school that your rival has founded, that automatically places you in an inferior position to him, doesn’t it? Not only did the founder of the Bible university invite his rival to be a faculty member, but at his next Bible conference, he made a big deal of calling his rival and a couple of other ministers all up on stage and then dramatically surprised them by awarding them all honorary doctoral degrees from is fledgling university!
Being put on the spot with an award like that, what are you going to do, turn it down? It was a serious game of manipulation these two were playing as they vied with each other to be the “king,” so to speak.
Again, think about that award ceremony. It was very much the same principle as the medieval investiture controversy. Who is perceived as the greater person? The one who has just received an honorary degree, or the person who had the authority to invest the other man, the authority to confer the degree? Well, of course, the head of the school who awarded the degree is perceived as the top dog then, isn’t he?
It was amusing to me because, in my view, certainly the degree meant nothing, even though the honoree, the rival, used the title Doctor for a short time after that. And of course, this type of pride and jealousy and power struggle is exactly what went on both inside the church of Rome, and between the papacy and the civil rulers for centuries!
It was a disgrace to Jesus Christ and the to the Father Almighty, and I am referring to God here, not to the so-called “Holy Father, the Pope!” Well, the struggle over the investiture controversy came to a showdown under the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII, who had previously been known as Hildebrand.
Hildebrand was a man of small physical stature and ugly as sin, by all the contemporary accounts; but his mental and political stature and prowess was unequalled at the time. He was the power behind the throne of the papacy for 20 years.
When his predecessor died, Hildebrand was made pope by immediate acclamation of the people of Rome—they held no formal election. In fact, Hildebrand was not even a priest until a few weeks before his predecessor died! Immediately upon the death of the previous pope, Hildebrand was elevated to the papal throne. Quite curious, isn’t it?
But then, there were and are many curious things about the papacy. The present pope, Benedict XVI, [remember, this blog is part of a lecture I initially delivered in 2011, before Benedict’s resignation and the elevation of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, to become Pope Francis I] was of course, a priest and cardinal long before being elected pope; but like Hildebrand, he is a brilliant, geo-strategic player, and as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was said to have been the power behind the throne of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
In Philip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church, volume 5, we read this [emphasis mine]:
“Gregory VII actualized this politico-ecclesiastical system more fully than any previous pope... Of earlier popes, Nicolas I and Leo I came nearest to him in lofty pretensions. But in him papal absolutism assumed flesh and blood. He was every inch a pope. He anticipated the Vatican system of 1870; in one point he fell short of it, in another he went beyond it.”
Let me interject here that by the Vatican system of 1870, Schaff is referring to the pope declaring himself to infallibility. Now continuing to quote Schaff:
“He did not claim infallibility in theory, though he assumed it in fact; but he did claim and exercise, as far as he could, an absolute authority over the temporal powers of Christendom, which the popes have long since lost, and can never regain.”
Schaff’s volume 5 was published over a century ago. Schaff is correct about the fact that the papacy will never regain the power they once held over Christendom (and I would say, over Christian Israel). We will see why this is so, and how it fits bible prophecy as we get further into the series.
The battle over investiture came to a head between Pope Gregory VII/Hildebrand and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over a period of a couple years. Tit for tat. Gregory made this demand of Henry and Henry shot back with that demand of Gregory. At the synod of Worms in 1076, Henry of Germany finally called for the removal of Gregory, and in turn, Gregory excommunicated Henry.
Henry did not have the power to follow up his demand for Gregory’s removal and so when the German Diet (similar to a parliament) decided that Henry needed to make nice with the pope before February of 1077, Henry knew he was beaten.
When Henry got word that Gregory was planning to head over to the Alps to make good on his excommunication of Henry, Henry gathered up his wife and son, and in one of the bitterest winters, he journeyed through hostile country, and waited three days bareheaded and barefooted within the walls of Canossa, in Tuscany.
(Come here, Henry. Kiss my feet! said Pope Gregory VII)
Finally, Pope Gregory decided to absolve him and revoke the ban of excommunication. He also forced Henry to sign off by an oath on all the popes’ claims to superior authority.
From this emanated the Dictatus Papae, the Dictates of the Pope. They were probably not actually written by Gregory VII, but they are generally acknowledged to reflect Hildebrand’s arrogant assumptions of power.
Here below is a numbered list of these dictates. This list will foreshadow some additional examples of “the mouth of the little horn speaking great things,” but many of these certainly qualify as well. The Dictates of Hildebrand/Pope Gregory VII:
- That the Roman church was founded by God alone.
- That the Roman bishop alone is properly called universal.
- That he alone has the power to depose bishops and reinstate them.
- That his legate, though of inferior rank, takes precedence of all bishops in council, and may give sentence of deposition against them.
- That the Pope has the power to depose [bishops] in their absence.
- That we should not even stay in the same house with those who are excommunicated by him...
- That he alone may use the imperial insignia.
- That the Pope is the only person whose feet are kissed by all princes...
- That the name which he bears belongs to him alone.
- That he has the power to depose emperors.
- That he may if necessity require, transfer bishops from one see to another...
- That no general synod may be called without his consent.
- That no action of a synod, and no book, may be considered canonical without his authority.
- That his decree can be annulled by no one, and that he alone may annul the decrees of anyone.
- That he can be judged by no man.
- That no one shall dare to condemn a person who appeals to the apostolic See...
- That the Roman Church has never erred, nor ever, by the testimony of Scripture, shall err, to all eternity...
- That no one can be considered Catholic who does not agree with the Roman Church
- That he [the Pope] has the power to absolve the subjects of unjust rulers from their oath of fidelity.
We will stop there, but can you see how the bottom line of these assumptions of power are saying essentially, “I, the pope, am in charge; everyone answers to me and I answer to no one.” Now before we leave the time of Hildebrand, aka Pope Gregory VII, I must share with you some intriguing facts.
I have a book in my library written by a Jewish rabbi named Joachim Prinz. According to the book jacket, at the time of the book’s publication in 1966, Dr. Prinz was president of the American Jewish Congress and chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. So, his credentials in the Jewish community were impeccable.
The book he authored is entitled: Popes from the Ghetto: A View of Medieval Christendom. If I only quote to you some excerpts from the front flap of the book it would be sufficient. The dates that are given are the dates of papal reigns [emphasis mine]:
“The true story of the three Jewish Popes who ruled the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, Popes from the Ghetto, is also an eye-opening and controversial view of medieval Christendom and the alienation of the Church from its Jewish roots.
“Pope Anaclet II (1130-1138) was still a Jew to his contemporaries even though his family had converted to Catholicism three generations before.... Anaclet was a member of the Pierleoni, an enormously powerful banking family who dominated much of medieval Rome.
“Two other Popes were also relatives of the Pierleoni. Gregory VI (1045-46) was seated on the Papal throne only fifteen years after the conversion of the Jewish Pierleoni. He had openly bought the Papacy and was deposed two years later.
“But his disciple and close relative Hildebrand, succeeded to the throne as Gregory VII in 1073-1085. This ‘Jewish’ Pope became the most brilliant advocate of Papal supremacy in the history of the Holy See and was later made a saint.”
I read The Popes from the Ghetto many years ago, and I thank God that I made copious notes in the back pages, because it is just too good not to share more of Dr. Prinz’s historical revelations with you.
Because you see, this has everything to do with understanding the succession of empires found in the book of Daniel, from ancient Babylon to Mystery Babylon today. And it also ties in perfectly with the further revelations to John in the book of Revelation. We quoted this and explained it only briefly last time in that the dragon...well let us read the verse again:
Revelation 13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast:...
And we will stop there, because the point we made last time was that this dragon had to be referring to the pagan Roman empire which, when it disintegrated, in effect, gave its power to the papal system which arose in its place. In further identifying the dragon, we should factor in the first part of Revelation 12, verse 9 as well.
Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan,
Devil means “accuser” and satan means “adversary.” So, the dragon is an adversary, and in this context, it would be an adversary to Christianity.
Therefore, I want to suggest that perhaps the dragon represents more than just the old pagan Roman empire. How about the powers behind the emperors? Could it be? I thought the emperors were virtual dictators.
Well, consider this: that no matter what nation or empire we speak of, no matter what era of history we speak of, whenever and wherever men join together in society, commerce among them is always facilitated by money, or whatever is used for money in that society.
And thus if evil and cunning men can somehow obtain control of the money system of a nation or of an empire—or of a church system, then those men hidden behind the scenes can not only become fabulously wealthy, but they can set up and depose the political rulers at their will, because they own them!
We know, of course, that it is your heavenly Father who uses all these men for His ultimate sovereign purposes, but we are remaining on the natural level for this discussion. Sometimes these men find it useful to have their own family members in the positions of political and religious power.
That makes the revelations of Dr. Joachim Prinz even more intriguing, as we shall see in the next installment. Come back for part 6 in this blog series…