Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Back on June 16th, over at the Beggars All blog, John Bugay launched an eleven part series of posts that provided copious selections from Paul Johnson's, A History of Christianty (GO HERE for John's 11th installment, and links to the ten previous posts). In the 11th installment, John summerizes the thrust and motive(s) for the series of threads:
As I noted at the outset of this series, I thought it was important to show that the roots of the Inquisition go back to Augustine -- his world and theology. Many Reformed and Evangelical Protestants know that the Inquisition occurred, but are less familiar with why it occurred or how it came about. What we have in this series is the gestation and the birth of that institution. I know that this series has been tedious for some; perhaps it has been interesting for others. I found it interesting and edifying.
Of course, the ultimate purpose, on this blog, is to talk about the Reformation in an apologetic sense. And that, too, is what I hoped to do – to put “out there” just one more reason for the Reformation.
I read Johnson’s book years ago (mid 80s), and though it is a very readable tome, the lack of any footnotes is surely a weakness. Personally, I consider the book a ‘popular’ treatment, not a scholarly one—yet with that said, I do not want to give anyone the impression that the work itself is seriously flawed, but rather that it has certain limitations.
With that said, I find it a bit interesting what John has culled from the work, and what he has left out—i.e. concerning the issue of heresy and the suppression of it. John’s anti-Roman Catholic position undoubtedly is foundational to what has chosen to emphasize; with this in mind, I would like to introduce another tome to the mix which sheds some additional ‘light’ on the issue of heresy and its suppression: Ramsey MacMullen’s, Voting About God in Early Church Councils.
My read of MacMullen has uncovered other probable and older “roots of the Inquisition” than Augustine—“roots” that most likely influenced Augustine and other powerful Christian bishops. Much of the book is available via the Google “preview” link that I provided above, so rather than impress my own gleanings upon the reader, I shall let the following selection serve as an introduction of sorts, and a prompting, to read more:
Our sources for the two and a quarter centuries following Nicaea allow a very rough count of the victims of creedal differences: not less than twenty-five thousand deaths. A great many, but still only a small minority, were clergy; the rest, participants in crowds. The total cannot be less if the sources are to be read in the usual way, discounting round numbers a bit and treating adjectives rather conservatively. Some evidence gives us only “many” or mere plurals, “deaths” and “slaughters” without specifics. (Page 56.)Looking forward to some robust discussion after you have had a chance to read MacMullen’s engaging tome.
Grace and peace,