The Inquisition was initiated to defend the Church against the revisionists of an earlier era. In short, it aimed to protect the truth against lies that claimed to be truer. In contemporary secular America we tolerate all sorts of heresies, preferring the freedom to hold opinions that are fashionable at the moment. Christendom held, on the contrary, that in the matter of salvation only the truth can make us free.
In 13th century France the Cathar sect created new requirements for being a faithful Christian _ forbidding marriage, commerce, and bloodshed, and confining themselves to a vegan diet, insisting that this was the only way of life worthy of salvation. The Inquisition originated to defend ordinary Christians against these purer-than-thou puritans.
In subsequent centuries the Inquisition’ power was abused, but more by politicians than by the Church. Still, during the ages of Faith, the civil penalty for stealing a sheep was to be hanged, whereas the inquisitors were typically content to give a penance to a repentant heretic.
The era of Inquisition has not passed. Congressional hearings demand the truth under threat of imprisonment. When we try terrorists, we do so because their violence is based on a revisionist reading of their religious faith. Fortunately, most Christians remain immune to the revisionists.
So you’d have been luckier back then to have fallen into the hands of the Inquisitioners? (By the way, forbidding marriage would actually have been a return to the beliefs of the early church, which was none too keen on the idea, since Jesus was gonna be right back and people were better off planning for that than for a wedding.) I can only imagine what the writer might have to say about the Crusades.
Nonetheless, at least now I know to set Tivo to record the PBS special It looks interesting.
And just for fun, of course…
Oh, and let’s not forget this.
This may be slightly less amusing.
[Via Dr. Joan.]