The Secret Files of the Inquisition

Lately I've been discussing the Medieval Inquisition because of the PBS documentary, The Secret Files of the Inquisition. I'm drawing some hard lessons about it regarding the gross lack of communication from God as to what Christians should've done with heretics. My claim is that God is partially to blame for what his followers did to heretics because he was not clear in condemning such barbaric acts. A good God should've known better, if he exists at all. [Before you comment read through the three links above].


One Wave said...

I think it's obvious that most of those who participated in the Inquisition were not following God on all planes. I don't think that the rampant corruption in the Roman Catholic Church can be equated with Jesus' message.

Do you think all inquisition was wrong through the different stages of history?

Unfortunately I won't be able to watch the show so I won't be up on what you are talking about in particular.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that a god ought to be a fascist in order to extract compliance with graciousness???

Anonymous said...

People who can't be trusted to clearly understand and cooperate with grace and mercy do get what they desire - a dictator god (whether it be within the secular or religious sectors). That god not only exists in history but is alive and well today. The only problem is that he isn't gratified until he clearly communicates "Don't breathe!" and extracts the very last ounce of soul from his subordinates.

Anon 1035

John W. Loftus said...

One Wave: Do you think all inquisition was wrong through the different stages of history?

Yes, of course! Why would you even think otherwise to ask?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Much as I hate to disgree with you, I find myself on the side of the believers on this one. (Ironically, were this a political blog, and you were making a comparison between the Inquisition and several Bush policies, I'd probably be cheering you on.) Perhaps I am missing something, but I find three reasons for disagreeing that these posts are useful.

First, this blog is devoted to debunking evangelical christianity. But, whatever ways writers such as Luther and Calvin supported punishing heretics, the Inquisition was a Catholic process, and the basis of evangelicalism -- and all Protestantism -- is that Catholicism 'got it wrong.' If anything, this sort of argument only strengthens their case.

Second: I am never comfortable with the idea that 'evil done in the name of religion' is an argument against religion unless you can trace the evil more directly than you have to the teachings of that religion. To return to the political point I made above, things like Abu Gharib and Guantanamo are horrors, but even though they are done in the 'name of Democracy' they do not serve as arguments against democracy.
(On the other hand, their support by evangelicals, or the acceptance of Hitler by Germans or Stalin by Russians CAN be used as arguments against religion, if only because the gullibility that religion produces paves the way for such horrors.)

Finally, while this is not exculpatory, it is at least important to note that the Spanish Inquisition was started in a country that was in the process of 'liberating itself' from a five hundred year invasion and conquest by the Muslim Empire -- in fact Spain was one of the high points of the Muslim Empire which -- as hard as it may be to believe today -- was probably the highest Civilization of its day. (This was before Islam was frozen in its medievalism by the rulings of the Ulema.) The reconquista was a long and difficult process, and arguably, Jews and 'apostates' had served as pillars of the society that was being attacked. Again, not exculpatory, but it does show that the Inquisition was not pure unreasoning barbarity.

John W. Loftus said...

Prup, you've been here disagreeing with me whenever you saw the opportunity. You don't hate to do it. It's fun for you. You are, after all, a freethinker first and foremost. Congratulations with that.

First, evangelicals have developed their theology from the theological writings on the Catholic church. They quote from Augustine, Aquinas and Anslem all of the time to defend their views. Calvin baptized Augustine's views about God into the Reformation, whereas Norman Geisler and William Lane Craig argue in a Thomistic fashion, after Aquinas. Karl Barth believed his view of the relationship of faith and reason derived from Anselm.

Augustine, Aquinas, and Anselm were Catholics. They are still revered among evangelical thinkers in many, if not most ways.

Second, there were no evangelicals, strictly speaking, for the first two centuries of the Inquisition. The Catholic Church was all that represented Christianity to the world.

Third, most evangelicals today are finding themselves in agreement with most Catholics over several different issues. They are cousins in the faith.

Fourth, what I am doing is showing how the Bible can lead to different conclusions, and Aquinas derived his argument from the Bible, and I did show that.

Fifth, it doesn't matter to me what you are comfortable with, or not, when it comes to evil done in the name of religion. You seem to be ignorant here about the particular argument I have made. Can you state it for me so I know you understand it?

Sixth, I do not believe that any religion, or religious text, causes people to do anything. I believe people do whatever they want to do regardless of the religion or the text. People have a unique way of gerrymandering around anything, or creating a new religion if they want to do so. I think that's how religions were first created; to meet man's needs. As man's needs changed, so did the religion.

However, Christians do not think that. They think God himself created Christianity by a series of historical miracles. So if this is the case, then I'm asking some questions about the kind of religion this God created.

There, I gave you 6 reasons, whereas you only gave me 3. I win. ;-)

John W. Loftus said...

Prup, would you feel the same way if I wrote about the virgin birth or the incarnation--good Catholic beliefs, ya know?

In the seventh place, since Calvin and Luther adopted the same beliefs about punishing heretics as did Aquinas and the Inquistion, then what I said applies in the same sense as when these Protestants agreed with the Catholic church about the virgin birth and the incarnation.

In the eigth place, after the Protestant Reformation there weren't any evangelicals either, since such an identity took generations to develop. Evangelicals today do not believe everything the Reforemers believed, anyway. So if I can only talk about evangelicals then I need to keep my comments strictly about what protestant Christians believed since the turn of the Century, eh?

In the ninth place, I can write about any version of Christianity I want to do so.

In the tenth place, I have so many things to do that I have a hard enough time debating with Christians to have to debate you too. So, if you'd like to continue debating me (and wasting my time) then you should recuse yourself from this blog and come here as a visitor to attack me with the others.

Anonymous said...

Prup, you have the bigger picture in mind.

Anon 1035

Anonymous said...

If you don't like Prup, I'll be more than glad to take him!


Anonymous said...

John, just a friendly awareness alert, but you missed the opportunity to set an example of conversing via email when you responded in public here to Prup.

BTW, I love you, too. Whoever made you feel like you are down here by yourself to defend yourself from the villifiers and guilt mongers was not impersonating Me.


P.S. Is there a way I can type in red letters here?

One Wave said...

I was thinking along the lines of Prup with the Moors etc... when asking if you thought all inquisitional action was taken.

Here you said:
"However, Christians do not think that. They think God himself created Christianity by a series of historical miracles. So if this is the case, then I'm asking some questions about the kind of religion this God created."

This is where I think you are wrong. I'm not sure how you could have been an apologist for the Christian faith and seem to have had such a surity about your faith and not know that God did not create Christianity.

In Acts 11:26 the words say that "The disciples were called Chritians first at Antioch."

God created followers of Himself and the observers called them "little Christ". They were not called little Christ for nothing. They demonstrated the character of Christ. If a person wants to call themselves a Christian, it should mean something and it should mean that, for the most part, they emulate Christ.

Can you show that God created religion? I think it was men. I see it all the time and I do it sometimes.

I think I can understand your frustration and your outrage agains a god who is as you perceive the God of the Bible. I don't draw the same conculusions that you do which would be a part of your comment that we can draw different conclusions from the Bible.

While I find a lot of value in many of the writings from the men you mentioned, except Anslem...don't know anything about him, I think these men missed the point in some crucial ways.

I think it's important to note that Constantine was not necessarily right in setting up a "Christian" government. I wonder if he prayed and sought God's direction to do that or how to go about it. I think it was more likely that he steamed ahead in his position and created what he thought was a good thing. These other men came after Constantine which seems to have generated a religious focus instead of a reltaional focus, which is where the Jews made their mistake in following God too.

Gotta go.

elwedriddsche said...

I am taken aback by this comment directed at Prup:

"In the tenth place, I have so many things to do that I have a hard enough time debating with Christians to have to debate you too. So, if you'd like to continue debating me (and wasting my time) then you should recuse yourself from this blog and come here as a visitor to attack me with the others."

John, it's your site (as far as I know) and you can run it any way you please. If you insist on the contributing authors presenting a united front, then this is something that should have been sorted out with each new author as he or she comes aboard and not something to be aired in public.

Having said that, either you're open to debate or you're not. If you are, then it doesn't matter who challenges you. If it's a waste of time to answer to the issues Prup raised, it's even more of a waste of time to answer most posts from the peanut gallery.

John W. Loftus said...

elwedriddsche, I am not open to debating with an invited team member on an issue I have spent a lot of time writing about, especially when I consider his comments to be ignorant about the history of the church and about my particular argument. [This may offend him that I think this, but I do. His comments offended me].

I don't want someone trying to dismantle what I'm doing on my own Blog. On no other Blog with team members do they disagree in public like I saw Jim do here.

Jim and I have come to an understanding. We like each other, and I'm glad to have him here, just as he's glad to be here. He can still disagree with me. I understand that as Freethinkers we probably all disagree on a lot of issues. That's why I don't talk about politics. Doing so would divide us. But if I consider his arguments a waste of my time Jim can take his free speech elsewhere, and he knows that.

I've said all I want to say about this.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

And I will agree that John and I have discussed this and have come to an agreement -- which I hope will not preclude him or other group members from disagreeing with me on my own posts, since I consider it to be to my benefit if they do so.

We are friends, with a great deal of mutual respect, and I have said enough on this as well.