Augustinians against Aristotelians – or Franciscans against Dominicans.
Thomism against Scotism — about the will.
Nominalism against mystical realism.
Pantheism against the Church doctrine, in its concreteness.
This alone should show you that the Middle Ages are not monolithic, although they had a definite authority; that they are very rich and varied, and have many tensions and problems. We cannot sweep them with the statement that they are the “dark ages,” since all their problems are present even now.
The Religious Forces The next consideration is about the religious forces. Which are the religious forces in the Middle Ages? First the hierarchy: it is the greatest and most fundamental of the religious forces. They represent the sacramental reality on which the existence of Church, state, and culture as a whole depend. They administer the central event in which this happens, namely the Mass.
Then, the hierarchy carrying through the educational work towards the Germanic- Romanic tribes, (from which barbaric state) They, the tribes, entered the Church and ancient civilization. In doing so they tried not only to influence the individual, through the sacrament of penance – which is the correlate to the sacrament of the Mass (the Mass is merely objective, penance merely subjective) – but beyond this they tried to influence the social status of reality; they wanted to control the world.
The civil powers arose – not the “state?: this is a nonsensical term for the Middle Ages, but the different secular hierarchies, up to the emperor at the top of all of them, and this meant they had to come to a fight with the emperor, who aspired to do the same thing from the secular point of view which the Church tried to do from the religious, namely to establish one body of Christian secular life, a life which is always at the same time secular and religious, instead of establishing two realms and separating them, as we do.
This is the hierarchy, and is the first and basic and continuous religious force. But of course by these functions the hierarchy was always in danger of becoming secularized itself. So we must look at other religious forces, resisting this tendency.