Burning at the stake

How does one respond to people raising questions around heretics being burnt at the stake - particularly shocking was a recent one that someone challeneged me with - Johann Huss?

[quote=mjacob]How does one respond to people raising questions around heretics being burnt at the stake - particularly shocking was a recent one that someone challeneged me with - Johann Huss?
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Well, to start with, Hus was guilty of heresy.

This, then, leaves the question: Is death an appropriate punishment for heresy?

Today, we say, “No.” Hundreds of years ago, people had a different answer.

– Mark L. Chance.

[quote=mjacob]How does one respond to people raising questions around heretics being burnt at the stake - particularly shocking was a recent one that someone challeneged me with - Johann Huss?
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I would say that those were evil days, particularly so because evil was done in the name of good. However, it doesn’t hold a candle to the evil that is rampant in our day.

[quote=mjacob]How does one respond to people raising questions around heretics being burnt at the stake - particularly shocking was a recent one that someone challeneged me with - Johann Huss?
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To go with the above post, read Romans 13. God appoints governments to keep order. In most cases it was not the Church specifically that exacted the punishment but the Church handed the offender of the state over to the state. In those days people were put to death for things such as stealing a horse. Murder of course exacted capital punishment. THey also took their religion much more seriously than we do and heresy was an act of killing the soul. Thus the punishment was severe. There is much exagerration of this in protestantism. The numbers of those who were punished in this manner for heresy was likely less than 5000 by reasonable Protestant estimates. (I recommend “Salvation at Stake” for a balanced Protestant view of these times). Others of course like to ride the numbers up in the milloins. Jimmy Swagart at one time I believe put it at 30million and I have heard some Seventh Day Adventists and more virulent anti-catholics put the numbers at 150 million. A number which would have required the wiping out of most of Europe at the time. The historical facts just don’t support it.

Finally it should be noted that the penalties were quite stiff in Protestant countries as well. Religion did not separate along borders by coincidence. The King set the religion and then brought about submission. The persecution of Catholics in Protestant England was particularly fierce as priests were imprisoned and put to death for saying Mass. Historical fact. 19 priests and nuns were killed in Switzland in one attack.

Further inquisition is not unknown to Protestantism. The Geneva Inquisition was a Calvinist one in which Calvin himself participated and a man named Servetus was burned at the stake for his universalist views. We have a longer and broader history so there is more evidence about Catholic countries. But they were not above it. Luther’s words even caused the deaths of 100,000 (non-Catholic) peasants when he found that they were taking freedom of religion a little too liberally. In general it is difficult for us to judge all of this because times were much different and societies had to go about keeping order in different ways than today. Capital punishment was a much more acceptable means because they did not have prisons that could gaurantee long term incarceration.

Much more could be said.

Blessings

[quote=mlchance]Well, to start with, Hus was guilty of heresy.

This, then, leaves the question: Is death an appropriate punishment for heresy?

Today, we say, “No.” Hundreds of years ago, people had a different answer.

– Mark L. Chance.
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So was the church correct in condemning Hus as a heretic?
If so, then why today don’t they condemn Protestants who not only accept Hus’ teachings but have expanded upon them? If it was “correct” to condemn the heresy why is not “correct” today? Or is it no longer a heresy? If it is a heresy, why not condemn it?
And if it is not a heresy, why did they condemn it then?

The Catholic response to this is that “today we need to reach out in love and mercy to those that have fallen away, to lead them back home.” The real explanation is that the political power of the church has been so far diminished that she cannot enforce her edicts any longer even among the “faithful”. The furor in last year’s election over the question of denying communion to practicing Catholic politicians who support abortion is a perfect example.

I also find the reasoning that the Church itself didn’t actually carry out the sentence to be a convenient rationalization. Especially considering the fact that the church did nothing to stop these killings, in fact, sanctioned them in most cases and in this one, and appointed or annointed the very rulers that they now blame. It reminds me of Captain Renaud in Casablanca who proclaims that he is “Shocked, shocked to find out that there is gambling going on here!” seconds before being handed his nightly winnings from the casino.

There is MUCH more that can be said about this.

People sin–that is our fallen nature. The Catholic Church is, was, and always shall be the pillar and foundation of truth. The gates of hell shall not prevail.

There have been abundant acts of deceit, murder, and evil deeds throughout history, on all fronts of Christianity. (In fact, the atheists love to point that out to support their own non-belief). Always be cautious when you point fingers because there is always a finger pointing back at you.

Prayers and blessings,
Mickey

[quote=EA_Man]So was the church correct in condemning Hus as a heretic?
If so, then why today don’t they condemn Protestants who not only accept Hus’ teachings but have expanded upon them? If it was “correct” to condemn the heresy why is not “correct” today? Or is it no longer a heresy? If it is a heresy, why not condemn it?
And if it is not a heresy, why did they condemn it then?
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Hus was a heretic. Protestants who accept Hus’ teachings are heretics. It is always correct to condemn heresy. The Church’s teaching remains the same. I suggest you read your bible, and look for the word “anathema”.

[quote=EA_Man] The Catholic response to this is that “today we need to reach out in love and mercy to those that have fallen away, to lead them back home.” The real explanation is that the political power of the church has been so far diminished that she cannot enforce her edicts any longer even among the “faithful”. The furor in last year’s election over the question of denying communion to practicing Catholic politicians who support abortion is a perfect example.
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Love and mercy are the best ways to win souls - perhaps it took longer than desired to learn that lesson, and perhaps that was far less of an option then. I certainly don’t think you are in any way qualified to proclaim the “real explanation”. Perhaps you should read your bible and see where our first Pope pronounced heresy and the heretics dropped dead by the power of God Himself! If you think death is too severe a punnishment for heretics, I would suggest you take it up with Him.

The furor in last year’s election was brought by the secular media and the UN-faithful Catholics - which is to say heretics. And yet, we try to extend as loving a hand as possible, “merely” denying full membership to those who don’t embrace their membership. Regardless, the power of the Church has always been greatest outside the temporal realm, as guarenteed by Christ Himself. For the truly faithful, this is would be a terrible loss, and they would correct their errant ways.

[quote=EA_Man] I also find the reasoning that the Church itself didn’t actually carry out the sentence to be a convenient rationalization. Especially considering the fact that the church did nothing to stop these killings, in fact, sanctioned them in most cases and in this one, and appointed or annointed the very rulers that they now blame. It reminds me of Captain Renaud in Casablanca who proclaims that he is “Shocked, shocked to find out that there is gambling going on here!” seconds before being handed his nightly winnings from the casino.
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There have always been those who do evil in the name of God. The Church did none of these things, but in some instances men who were in the Church did do horrible things. In 1999, John Paul the Great formally apologized for these attrocities committed in God’s name. Now, unless you are a noted historian and can provide *credible *information as to why you would say the church “did nothing…sanctioned…appointed…annointed” these people KNOWINGLY, I would kindly steer away from this topic.

[quote=EA_Man] There is MUCH more that can be said about this.
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I truly hope you won’t try. This is uncharitable muck-raking, and I believe it is harmful to your soul to continue.

I am still waiting for your response on the Mary thread,
RyanL

[quote=Mickey]People sin–that is our fallen nature.

There have been abundant acts of deceit, murder, and evil deeds throughout history, on all fronts of Christianity. (In fact, the atheists love to point that out to support their own non-belief). Always be cautious when you point fingers because there is always a finger pointing back at you.

Prayers and blessings,
Mickey
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This is true. However, one of the mistakes of Catholic Church was the assumption of temporal power. For a brief period, it was beneficial. But Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. It cannot be won or maintained by the sword.

This criticism can be levelled at Evangelicals (and others) today - it is not possible to vote God’s kingdom into office.

While we may disagree on the role of the Catholic Church, you are right, in that ALL of us are called to be salt and light in this world.

Peace

[quote=EA_Man]So was the church correct in condemning Hus as a heretic?
If so, then why today don’t they condemn Protestants who not only accept Hus’ teachings but have expanded upon them? If it was “correct” to condemn the heresy why is not “correct” today? Or is it no longer a heresy? If it is a heresy, why not condemn it?
And if it is not a heresy, why did they condemn it then?

The Catholic response to this is that “today we need to reach out in love and mercy to those that have fallen away, to lead them back home.” The real explanation is that the political power of the church has been so far diminished that she cannot enforce her edicts any longer even among the “faithful”. The furor in last year’s election over the question of denying communion to practicing Catholic politicians who support abortion is a perfect example.

.
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I’ve said this before. Protestants, when it comes to applying Catholic theology don’t try this at home. Perhaps you need to let us answer the questions you have. There is a difference between Tyndale, Hus, Luther, and today’s Protestant. The former were Catholic priests and needed to be held accountable to the magesterium that they agreed to be submissive to when taking on that office. They were responsible for teaching the truths of the faith and when they taught error they were answerable to the Church. In choosing to deny Church teaching they separated themselves from the Church. But their heresy also affected those whom they taught it and so the Church had an obligation to identify them as heretics and act accordingly. Especially in a day when people were uneducated and look to the Church to help them know who was speaking with the authority of the Church behind them.

Today’s protestants may or may not be culpable for the errors that they hold. Many were born in to them. Some were not taught their Catholic faith very well and perhaps were not culpable for falling in to them. God is the judge of these. From my perspective we do as you said need to reach out to all men of good will. Luther and Hus were antagonistic toward the Church and not of good will. Therefore the Church dealt with them in a different manner than the Protestant of today.

Much more could be said of course.

Let’s not forget that those were violent times OVERALL - catholic/protestant together.

It is interesting when folks want to point out the catholic violence and seem to overlook the many people burned at the stake by protestants for suspicion of witchcraft.

Salem, Mass. was not a catholic town by any means.

So why do protestant feel so comfortable pointing this sin out to catholics - when THEY KNOW their history is just as tainted?

This is something very personal for me–a Hutterite convert to Catholicism. Many, many of my “forefathers”–direct ancestors of mine, whose names are listed in the great Chronicle of the Hutterian Brethren, were burned at the stake in the 16th century for becoming Anabaptists.

These men were truly men of God, alive with love, faith, forgiveness for their executioners. Their stories were told and retold to me by my father when I was a child. When I became drawn to Catholicism in my 20s, I wrestled for years with not merely the dilemma of how such holy men could be called heretics, and how the Catholic Church could have tortured them so in the name of “love”, but the paradox of how people with all the right theology can sometimes do terrible things, while “heretics” sometimes seem to demonstrate much more true faith.

Perhaps I will always struggle with this. Nontheless, I am now Catholic, I love the Church, believe She possesses the fullness of Truth, and I hope I have the courage to die for Her the way my ancestors died for their beliefs.

I see a lot of people belittling the significance of this topic–it is not an abstract one, trust me! My father was devasted when I converted, of course…it was like a slap in the face. And yet one of the things that reconciled us was JPII’s 2000 plea for forgiveness for historical atrocities committed by members of the Church. It melted my father’s heart.

I would urge Catholics to follow the lead of our late Pope in responding to this topic: not denial, not defensiveness, but humility and reconciliation. What LoraRose said is also true: all faiths were guilty of atrocities, Lutherans, Anabaptists, etc. All of us stand in need of mutual forgiveness, and none have the luxury of pointing fingers.

[quote=maendem]This is something very personal for me–a Hutterite convert to Catholicism. Many, many of my “forefathers”–direct ancestors of mine, whose names are listed in the great Chronicle of the Hutterian Brethren, were burned at the stake in the 16th century for becoming Anabaptists.

These men were truly men of God, alive with love, faith, forgiveness for their executioners. Their stories were told and retold to me by my father when I was a child. When I became drawn to Catholicism in my 20s, I wrestled for years with not merely the dilemma of how such holy men could be called heretics, and how the Catholic Church could have tortured them so in the name of “love”, but the paradox of how people with all the right theology can sometimes do terrible things, while “heretics” sometimes seem to demonstrate much more true faith.

Perhaps I will always struggle with this. Nontheless, I am now Catholic, I love the Church, believe She possesses the fullness of Truth, and I hope I have the courage to die for Her the way my ancestors died for their beliefs.

I see a lot of people belittling the significance of this topic–it is not an abstract one, trust me! My father was devasted when I converted, of course…it was like a slap in the face. And yet one of the things that reconciled us was JPII’s 2000 plea for forgiveness for historical atrocities committed by members of the Church. It melted my father’s heart.

I would urge Catholics to follow the lead of our late Pope in responding to this topic: not denial, not defensiveness, but humility and reconciliation. What LoraRose said is also true: all faiths were guilty of atrocities, Lutherans, Anabaptists, etc. All of us stand in need of mutual forgiveness, and none have the luxury of pointing fingers.
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AMEN

[quote=RyanL]Unless you are a noted historian and can provide *credible *information as to why you would say the church “did nothing…sanctioned…appointed…annointed” these people KNOWINGLY, I would kindly steer away from this topic.
RyanL
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I don’t need to be a noted historian, when I have them at my disposal, through their research and writings. The only responsibility I have is to make sure that I give all sides a fair hearing.

Peace

Maendem,

I agree with the spirit of your post. However I do have to say one thing. Part of the shock factor when Protestants raise this issue that brings discouragement to Catholics is when faced with the realities of history we find out that the leaders of our Church have not always been as holy as we would like. The impression is these are men of God and with the grace of the Church they should have been better. In reality the proper perspective is that the Church is a hospital for sinners rather than a hotel of saints.

I would suggest that perhaps Protestants have a tendancy to “elevate” these “holy” men beyond what they really were as well. Not to disparage them because they had their struggles and we all have our faults. I have read evaluations of their lives that are quite different from yours. Perhaps my historical study is biased in one direction and your upbrining in another on these men. The bottom line is we all need to be “realistic” in the evaluation of our religions past history.

Blessings

I stand by my statement.

Then what recommends one denomination over another?

If possessing the REAL TRUTH does not translate into a more recognizable form of Christian behavior than non-truth, then of what value is it?

Matthew 5:13
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.

Here are the errors of John Hus, if anyone would like to see what he was accused of:

aloha.net/~mikesch/hus.htm

The great tragedy is the John Hus tried to retract his statements against the Church at the end, but he was executed anyway.

If possessing the REAL TRUTH does not translate into a more recognizable form of Christian behavior than non-truth, then of what value is it?

You are judging the reality of truth (an absolute eternal) by the subjective category of “Christian behavior” on the part of individuals at a certain point of time? And on top of that, trying to make it into a VALUE statement?

As the mechanic said to the car owner, “Well, THERE’S your problem. . .”

[quote=mjacob]How does one respond to people raising questions around heretics being burnt at the stake - particularly shocking was a recent one that someone challeneged me with - Johann Huss?
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Canon law has always forbidden clerics to shed human blood and therefore capital punishment has always been the work of the officials of the State and not of the Church. Even in the case of heresy, of which so much is made by non-Catholic controversialists, the functions of ecclesiastics were restricted invariably to ascertaining the fact of heresy. The punishment, whether capital or other, was both prescribed and inflicted by civil government. The infliction of capital punishment is not contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church, and the power of the State to visit upon culprits the penalty of death derives much authority from revelation and from the writings of theologians. The advisabilty of exercising that power is, of course, an affair to be determined upon other and various considerations.

newadvent.org/cathen/12565a.htm
Opponents say: Precisely; the rigours of the Inquisition violated all humane feelings. We answer: they offend the feelings of later ages in which there is less regard for the purity of faith; but they did not antagonize the feelings of their own time, when heresy was looked on as more malignant than treason. In proof of which it suffices to remark that the inquisitors only renounced on the guilt of the accused and then handed him over to the secular power to be dealt with according to the laws framed by emperors and kings. Medieval people found no fault with the system, in fact heretics had been burned by the populace centuries before the Inquisition became a regular institution. And whenever heretics gained the upper hand, they were never slow in applying the same laws: so the Huguenots in France, the Hussites in Bohemia, the Calvinists in Geneva, the Elizabethan statesmen and the Puritans in England. Toleration came in only when faith went out; lenient measures were resorted to only where the power to apply more severe measures was wanting. The embers of the * Kulturkampf* in Germany still smoulder; the separation and confiscation laws and the ostracism of Catholics in France are the scandal of the day. Christ said: “Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt., x, 34). The history of heresy verifies this prediction and shows, moreover, that the greater number of the victims of the sword is on the side of the faithful adherents of the one Church founded by Christ
newadvent.org/cathen/07256b.htm#REF_IV

[quote=EA_Man]Then what recommends one denomination over another?

If possessing the REAL TRUTH does not translate into a more recognizable form of Christian behavior than non-truth, then of what value is it?

Matthew 5:13
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.
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This is a very good question and indicates why scandal and sin are so damaging to the unity of the body of Christ. We Catholics are just as culpable for the divisions in Christianity as those who actually divided. We will be held accountable by our actions. My answer to this is that we tend to look toward the negatives of a religion. The vagabonds. The wolves. I find myself sliding in to this rut with my wife and kids. I start focusing on the negative aspects and all I see is the negative. However when I start focusing on the virture and the good I see a different picture of my family. This helps me guide myself and my family. I am not saying the negative should be ignored but what I am getting at is that perhaps you should take some time to not only look at the black eyes in the Church but also look at the sanctity of some of it’s great saints. St. Francis, Augustine, Aquinas, St. Catherine of Genoa, St. Theresa of Avilla. These are the ones that bear the fruits when the faith is lived to it’s fullest and allowed to mold lives. See the depth and richness of their faith. I think you will see the Catholic Church in a different light that is very difficult for you when focusing on only the negative.

Blessings

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