How did the Great Church in the West become the Roman Catholic Church? Questions for Discussion: Lesson 20A – Chapter 18 “The Western Church Becomes Roman Catholic” from The Story of Christian Theology by Roger Olson
1. A “great debate” occurred within a century following Augustine’s death on the semi- pelagian doctrines. What was the core doctrinal issue and how was it resolved?
2. What role did John Cassian play in the controversies of this period? What were his contributions? His view of Augustinianism? What was the “Achilles heal” of his teachings, to borrow a phrase from Olson?
3. Why would a Roman Catholic church historian reject this question as improperly worded? How did the Great Church in the West become the Roman Catholic Church?
4. How might we describe the Western Church’s assessment of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, in the centuries following his death?
5. Looking back on the tenure of Pope Gregory I, what would you identify as his most important, enduring contribution? How would you distinguish his contribution to soteriology?
6. Some scholars have labeled Gregory a semi-Augustinian. Why? What are they responding to in his theology?
7. How did Gregory reach across the centuries to impact Martin Luther?
8. What was the Eastern Church’s estimation of Gregory as Bishop of Rome, and as a church theologian?
See Lesson 20B for Correlated Readings:
Selections from Pope Gregory I’s Homilies
Bible Verses for Reflection