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One of Constantine's distant successors was Justinian (482-565).  He became the Byzantine emperor in 527.  In 533 Justinian made a proclamation declaring that the Roman Catholic Church was to be the head of all churches.  Justinian's goal was to rebuild the once mighty Roman Empire with Constantinople as its capital and Rome as its religious center.  But he had a problem.  A barbarian kingdom called the Ostrogoths were advancing toward Rome and might threaten the survival of the Cathoic Church.  The Ostrogoths were not Catholics.  They were mostly Arians.  They followed the heretical teachings of Origen and Arius which stated that Jesus was not the Son of God but was one of many sons of God.                          

By 537 the Ostrogoths had laid siege to Rome.  That same year Justinian commissioned General Flavius Belisarius, who in 533 led a successful military campaign against the Vandal kingdom in North Africa, to break the siege  and eliminate the Ostrogothic threat.                         

Belisarius was successful.  In 538 the siege was broken.  Even though the Ostrogothic War went back and forth with the Ostrogoths making some short term gains, the Ostrogothic kingdom was pushed into a losing defensive war against the Byzantines.  The Ostrogoths finally surrendered in 554 and their king, Totila, was captured and executed.                                

Here is an example of someone who was doctrinally correct but spiritually dead.  Justinian may have correctly believed in the Trinity but he certainly didn't believe in religious freedom or in loving his enemies, or in respecting the views of other believers.  His goal was to create a theocracy with Pope Vigilus at the top.  Because the siege of Rome was lifted in 538, Justinian quickly took advantage of the situation on behalf of the pope.  On pages 310 and 311 of his book, History of the Early Church, Dr. N. Summerhill writes:                           

"(Justinian) enriched himself with the property of   all heretics, that is non-Catholics, published   edicts in 538 compelling all to join the Catholic  Church in 90 days or leave the empire, and con-   ficated all their goods."                   

Another church historian, the late LaVerne Tucker, stated on his "Search" telecast in 1979, that an edict was passed that forbade any of the common people from reading the Bible in private.  The Bible, God's love letter to the human race, was the "Forbidden Book".  The year of this imfamous edict was 538!  It was as if those in power were basically saying three things:                            

1.  God has appointed only us as the shepherds of your souls.  Trust only us.                    

2.  The Bible is too mysterious for common people to understand it correctly.  You need us to interpret it for you.                         

3.  If you ever decide to leave the established church, you risk losing your ticket to Heaven.                

A good strategy to use if you want to use religion to control people.                                 

It helps if we see the rise of the fourth victorious horn as a series of events.  Constantine's victories over his three rivals led to the creation of the Byzantine Empire.  The Byzantines came to the rescue of the Catholic Church in 538.  Once papal security was made, all rival forms of Christianity were outlawed.                           

What would happen next would be the rise of a dark period characterized by tyranny, intolerance, illiteracy, and the deaths of more true Christians than were killed by all Imperial Roman emperors combined.  The papacy would turn Europe into a continent that would run red with blood.

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