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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « Violent Mystics? Mystics Old and New: Love, Power, and the Glory: Part 4 of 4 | Violent Mystics? Personal Violence: Part 2 of 4 »

    Violent Mystics? Violence Against Others: Part 3 of 4

    Part 3: Violence Against Others

    In my last article, I established how violent mystics were towards themselves for the sake of suffering (asceticism), to purify themselves as a sacrifice for God so they could be united with Him and help save others/bring them to Christ.


    One way medieval mystics sought to purify the church and others of heresies, thereby helping to save others and bring them to Chirst, was violence against them (for their own good, of course). They believed they had been given authority by God to seek, judge, and punish "heretics" for the preservation of the church. 


    James 3:17-18, " But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness."


    Galatians 2:22-23, "For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.


    John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."

    It is an unfortunate, but well-documented fact that Catholicism has been responsible for many violent acts in the past. Not to beat a dead horse, but it is important to look at why bad things happened; what was in the fabric of these beliefs that allowed events to go too far?


    This is a huge subject, but I want to specifically (and again, this is by no means exhaustive) focus on the role mystics played throughout the Inquisitions and witch trials.


    It is now known that Mother Theresa, a Catholic Saint and mystic, frequently denied pain medication to the sick and dying (see Part 2). Why? As a mystic, she believed that suffering purifies. 


    During the Inquisitions and their infamous horrors, many people who disagreed with the Catholic church were burned at the stake. Why? Suffering in the flames was supposed to result in purity for salvation.(http://curioustendency.blogspot.com/2011/05/famous-execution-methods-burning-at.html#.UYm7hcr9tXg)


    Before this Divine fire of love is introducted into the substanec of the soul, and is united with it, by means of a purity and purgation that is perfect and complete, this flame is wounding the soul, destroying and consumming in it the imperfections of its evil habits; and this is the operation of the Holy Spirit, wherin he prepares it for Divne untion and the transformatiion of its subtance in God through love.

    For the same fire of love that afterwards is united with the soul and glorifies it is that which aforetime assaisled it in orer to purge itl even as the frie that penetrates the log of wood is the same that first of all attacked and wounded it with its flame, cleansing and stripping it of its accidents of ugliness, until, by means of its heat, it had prepared it to such a degree that it could entre it and transform it into itself." St. John of the Cross, 131, Harvey)


    Interestingly, the first step of alchemy, which was a big thing in this era of history, was called "nigredo". It involved burning everything to ashes in order to purify it. Eventually, the various stages would result in the creation of gold/The Philosopher's Stone (yes, like Harry Potter)/eternal life (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigredo).


    Nigredo (meaning "black") has also been equated to the "dark night of the soul", which is the same name of a poem written by Catholic mystic John of the Cross (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Night_of_the_Soul). This concept still plays heavily in New Age/occult circles.


    Catholic mystics/Saints (before they were Saints) played a large role in the Inquisitions. While none of them began the Inquisitions, they seemed eager to help.

     "However, the saints who lived in the era of the Inquisition never criticized it, except to complain that it did not repress heresy severely enough.... How does one account for the fact that the Church has canonized no less than four Grand Inquisitors: Peter the Martyr (d. 1252), John Capistran (d. 1456), Peter Arbues (d. 1485) and Pius V (d. 1572)? St. Dominic (d. 1221) had indeed been an associate of the tribunal of the legatine Inquisition." (http://www.sspx.org/against_sound_bites/defense_of_the_inquisition.htm)


    Thomas Aquinas, one of the earliest Catholic theologians was a well-known mystic  (http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0321.html).

    "The methods of the Inquisition were also given blessing from the most renowned Catholic theologians of the time, as the following startling passages from Saint Thomas Aquinas’s (1225?–1274 A.D.) massive theological work Summa Theologica show. Aquinas, a Dominican monk, is generally considered to be the greatest Catholic theologian since Augustine in the 4/5th centuries – and Aquinas talks of the extermination of heretics:

    "...Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.

    On the part of the Church, however, there is mercy which looks to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but 'after the first and second admonition,' as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated thereby from the world by death... Arius was but one spark in Alexandria, but as that spark was not at once put out, the whole earth was laid waste by its flame. " 

    (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica – Vol. 3 – The Second Part Of The Second  Part (Part I), p. 1 (http://www.ironmaidencommentary.com/?url=album10_xfactor/inquisition&lang=eng&link=albums#theological) Under "Theological Foundations for the Inquisition"


    "By 1233, the Dominicans (the order founded by St. Dominic in 1217) were given the primary charter to act as Inquisitors, joined shortly after by the Franciscans (founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209/10). Curiously, the first 100 years of the Papal Inquisition could be said to have been a battle between ascetic groups. Many of the members of these groups were referred to as mendicant friars, meaning they received sustenance by begging." (http://www.ironmaidencommentary.com/?url=album10_xfactor/inquisition&lang=eng&link=albums#theological)


    Also, the most popular and now-infamous book to help "find" witches, "The Malleus Maleficarum" was written by two Dominican friars and used for over 200 years (http://www.amazon.com/Malleus-Maleficarum-Heinrich-Kramer/dp/1420934503)


    Finally, the Jesuits (an order of monks and nuns founded by the mystic, Ignatius of Loyola) who have a colorful history,

    "An incredibly influential order, members of the society were heavily involved in European politics from the offset. Jesuits were implicated in plots to overthrow Elizabeth I. They were also associated with the Gunpowder plot to destroy Parliament, after James I made the order illegal. During this time all Catholics in Britain were told they must recant their Catholicism or face death.... Today Jesuits continue to be one of the most influential groups in the Roman Catholic church.... The Jesuits are famous for their role in the Spanish Inquisition, though contrary to popular opinion the Jesuit order did not begin it." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/0/19467151)


    A lot of damage was done (isn't it always?) because people chose to listen to other, more "enlightened" individuals, and the traditions of men above the simple truths of the Bible (see: Pragmatism: A Little Leaven). Sadly, the same beliefs which inspired so much violence against others are still around today, and even making a comeback.  


    Stayed tuned for Part 4 and the final installment!





    Other Resources:

    On Legalism and Pharisees

    How to Save Humanity

    Selling Christianity Part 1: The Bible











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