Too often Reformed Theologians neglect the church of the Middle Ages. It is not all bad, and even if it was it would still deserve our attention. There is one period, I particularly enjoy, the time of Charlemagne. Charlemagne was the first Holy Roman Emperor, crowned on Christmas Day 800 by Pope Leo III. He is an interesting figure over all, but the church under him and his son Louis the Pious is an interesting study. In fact, I believe I will here advance the idea that the church under Charlemagne was indeed a Protestant church rather than a Roman Catholic one.
Let me begin with qualifications. By Protestant church I mean, the church protesting against or refusing to follow the Roman leadership and the Eastern Orthodox leadership. I am not trying to say that Charlemagne or his church was reformed or anything of that nature. I am saying that it did not follow Rome, and was attempting to follow the Bible as its rule, not Rome. The other qualification is that the church under Charlemagne had many failing as well. For example, to a limited extent Charlemagne spread his religion with the sword, the church and the state were too intertwined, and the bishop system stayed in place. Just a few examples. However, in a series of posts to come I would like to show that Charlemagne’s church was a Protestant church in the following ways.
- Rejection of the Pope and Caesaropapism
- Reforming the clergy