Catharism

Just wondering aside from reincarnation type heresies what else, (if anything) was wrong with Catharism? Aside from that it seems quite nice - pacifist/anti-war and so on.

Isn’t heresy enough? It’s not about being “nice” it’s about the truth and Catharism is not the truth.

[quote=Spyral]Just wondering aside from reincarnation type heresies what else, (if anything) was wrong with Catharism?
[/quote]

I’m definitely not trying to be a, uh, intelligent beast of burden here, but this sounds a little like “aside from being completely wrong, how were they wrong?” Their theology was completely messed up, and from that flowed all sorts of problems. Some examples:

They also had the standard gnostic matter is evil approach. In particular, they thought the body was evil and death was an escape from it. They also think that the God of the OT and God of the NT are different (the first being evil and creating matter, the second being good and having created spirits and the like).

They thought all vows were evil (including marriage, to the point that proof of marriage was enough to show you were not a Cathar). This did not mean, so far as I can figure from what little I’ve read, that they abstained altogether, just that they were a bit… loose. Almost modern in that respect, really.

They only believed in one sacrament, which is kind of what you would get if Holy Orders, Confession, Baptism, and Confirmation had a high speed train wreck. This could only be received once, and was believed to be the only way to forgive sins, so many people put it off until they thought they were dying, then starved themselves to death after.

Aside from that it seems quite nice - pacifist/anti-war and so on.

They were generally pretty much wrong about everything basic. That they were almost right about violence is somewhat surprising given all of this, but I suppose it’d take even more twisting than they could pull off to make Jesus seem to condone murder.

I believe they denied the efficacy of the sacraments and shared wives. Not nice.

Thanks. I realise they had the standard ‘material = bad’ agenda, it’s just the rest of the stuff.

In relation to the ‘they were wrong but they were wrong’ its kind of like how doing drugs is wrong but you want to know how they are wrong (addiction, dependance, blood borne illnesses etc)

Their ‘sacrament’ was weird. Sort of like all the 7 sacraments meshed together as you say! That bit was odd.

My curiosity is essentially to try and figure out why they were so wrong. They were a ‘little’ wrong about some stuff but a ‘lot wrong’ about what you guys mentioned. Thanks :thumbsup:

The biggest theological difference would be that that professed the material world to be the creation of an evil god.

On the moral front they treated sexual intercourse as an intrinsic evil i.e. Marriage and reproduction are evil. The good news is that makes it a self defeating heresy. :smiley:

Seems like there was another “biggie” but I don’t remember…hmmm…

Chuck

LoL - yes that is the flaw when ‘sex is evil’ they tend to die out!

Quite nice? : suicide was considered a good way to end one’s life, in the form of starvation. Sexual intercourse withing a marriage was a sin, complete abstinence from sex was the ideal for all (not just clergy or religious). When that could not be achieved, concubines were perferable to marriage since it was not seen as permanent.
All 7 sacraments were abandoned. Jesus was a creature, but a non-human one; as his human appearance was “fake”. All flesh is evil, so the resurrection of the body was not believed in.
The lack of procreation,consistent with the elimination of the human race, was the ideal.

All really quite nice, I agree.

I think Catharism is misunderstood. In fact, the Cathar devotion to poverty and austerity and chastity influenced the lifestyles of the Fansiscans and Dominicans. The main reason they were persecuted is that they challenged the worldly and corrupt Church leaders, in the same way that the Fransiscans did. They practiced pacificism, and vegetarianism (like the stricter Catholic orders), to overcome the enemies of the soul- the World, the Flesh and the Devil.

I wager that there is not much in the theology of the Cathars that cannot be found articulated in at least one of the saints.

OK, doesn’t John of the Cross say the body is a dungeon into which the soul is cast, for original sin? Doesn’t Jesus say, “it is the Spirit which gives the life, the flesh has nothing to offer.”

Doesn’t Jesus say not to make any oaths, but simply to say Yes or No, “Anything more comes from the evil one.”

Ha, it was the Dominicans who were selected by the popes to fight the heresy; I do not believe any influence towards the FransiscNs either, as there heresy was in southern France, not Italy ( where the Fransiscans were founded). The timing is Lso off to support that theory. I think your post is historically flawed.

Yes, the Catharism was also in Italy- one of the principal surviving Cathars text (the Book of the Two Principles) is of Italian origin. Of course, the Fransiscans were part of a broader movement of Christians (heterodox and orthodox, such as Dolcianism) practising evangelical poverty- many of which were quasi-Cathar. As for the Dominicans, it is fairly well recognised that their practice of mendicant poverty was designed to emulate the Cathar practice- in order to allow them to refute it more easily, by showing that they were just as dedicated to poverty and austerity as the Cathars.

I suggest you read Herbert Grundmann’s work, “Religious Movements in the Middle Ages”- which situates Catharism, Waldensianism, Fransiscan as part of a reaction against the wordliness of the Medieval Church.

Heresies never go away they just reinvent themselves. The Cathars believed life was evil so a new chid was a tragedy as it meant a new spirit had been trapped in a human body. This then opens up infanticide and abortion as options. Sound familiar. Same with marriage and sex. If they were consistent they would have preached complete abstinence but no that was only for the elect few for the masses it was free love as it meant nothing any way so have sex with who-ever. There are always similarities in all these heresies and that is not suprising considering their origin (the Deceiver)

You will find the idea that earthly life is suffering (evil) is common to the Christian tradition, as the condition of us “poor banished children of Eve, mourning and weeping in the valley of tears.” Do you think the following quotes sound pretty Cathar?

“Our frail and miserable flesh is like to the swine, that loves to wallow in the mire, and find its delight therein. Our flesh is the devil’s knight.”

“Blessed is the man who looks upon this world as a prisonhouse.”

“Thus, as long as the soul is in the body, it is in a dark prison.”

“The days of this life are few and evil, full of sorrows and straits.”

“Rather than the living, I salute the dead. Happier than both are those who have never been born.”

No, they are all orthodox, from the saints, from scripture.

It is true that Cathars did not believe in reproduction, because it imprisons more souls in the world of matter. The same idea, in favour of celibacy, also appears in the Catholic tradition.

What is your evidence that Cathars practised abortion and infanticide? Given that they did not even approve of killing animals for food, this is seems unlikely. By the way, Inquisition texts are not historically reliable evidence.

Given the Cathar aversion to the Lord of this Word (the Deceiver), it is highly unlikely that the same Deceiver, the god of this World, would generate a doctrine that would so emphatically work against him. Do the Cathars (and the original Fransiscans) not illustrate the same principle of “contempt for the world”- that “no dependence is to be placed in this deceitful world, for it is a liar?”

Didn’t Augustine regard sex as an intrinsic evil?

What about Jesus, who said: “The children of this world beget and are begotten; but they who are counted worthy of that Heaven, and of the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage.”

Pretty clear, isn’t it. Hence vows of chastity.

I am aware of the idea of the Suffering Christ. Yes the world is a vale of tears. However Catholicism values the human body and seeks it’s full flourishing. Life and life in abundance. We are embodied spirit not pure spirit like the Angels. So we are not anti-life. Yes the Church teaches celibacy for those who chose it but it ceebrates and encourages conjugal love and procreation. Life is a gift and not a prison as the Cathars would have.

What I read is that only the ‘monks’ (for want of a better word) abstained from sex. They might have seen ‘the world’ as evil. A lot of medieval relgious stuff was hung up on sex being ‘evil’. (EG that it should not be practiced on wedendsays or fridays and all sorts of other nonsense)

What is your evidence that Cathars practised abortion and infanticide? Given that they did not even approve of killing animals for food, this is seems unlikely.

I’ve not seen that anywhere…

Given the Cathar aversion to the Lord of this Word (the Deceiver), it is highly unlikely that the same Deceiver, the god of this World, would generate a doctrine that would so emphatically work against him. Do the Cathars (and the original Fransiscans) not illustrate the same principle of “contempt for the world”- that “no dependence is to be placed in this deceitful world, for it is a liar?”

The devil cannot cast himself out so to speak?

Also life is a prison. How many saints have prayed for death to be with god?

You’re not really suggesting that Catholic saints who vowed chastity are doing the same things as Cathars who believed that sex and marriage was evil because it perpetuated an evil material world are you?

There is a difference between sacrificing a thing that one recognizes as good, and between avoiding a thing not as a meritorious sacrifice of a good thing, but avoiding it as evil.

Except that bit about the world being created by an evil God and irredeemably evil. Hence because the Cathars believed the world and matter to be evil, they denied the Resurrection of the Body, and also denied the Incarnation. That is to say, because the Cathars held matter to be evil, they could not hold that God had become man!

So the Cathars claimed that the world was the result of the evil God, that there was no Resurrection of the body, and that Jesus had never become man. I don’t see how this could be much further from the Catholic saints!

p.s. re: the Franciscans; it is not quite accurate to say that the Cathars influenced the Franciscans. Rather, it would be better to say that both were influenced by the apostolic poverty movement. The difference was Francis’ willingness to respect religious authority (though still demanding reform), Francis’s (love of nature) firm belief that the world was a signbook of God’s love (hence he could not accept dualism), and his devotion to Jesus incarnate, which meant he could never accept Cathar docetism (denial of the incarnation)

I am not saying that Catharism is identical with Catholicism, rather that the idea behind it (detachment from material things, that earthly life is suffering, that celibacy is preferable) come pretty close to orthodox Christianity, especially Medieval Christianity.

Now, the idea that the incarnation is incompatible with Gnosticism is common. However, in the (Gnostic) Apocryphon of John, we find the incarnation articulated quite clearly:
(Jesus said) I am the light which exists in the light, I am the remembrance of the Pronoia - that I might enter into the midst of darkness and the inside of Hades. And I filled my face with the light of the completion of their aeon. **And I entered into the midst of their prison, which is the prison of the body. **

Of course, the Fransiscans were diverse. Many of them were condemned as heretics- for example, Blessed Jacapone da Todi was imprisoned by the Pope. And St. Francis now almost mythological ‘love of nature’ is always held in paradox to his ‘contempt for the world’ and ‘mortification of the flesh’. And, of course, St. Francis saw death as a release from the ‘prison of the body’ too. Modern Christians often like to remember the ‘love of nature’ bit, but to forget the others!

The belief in reincarnation and the swearing off of the Material world out of the belief that it is intrinsically evil were both condemned as heresies by Ecumenical Councils of the Church. Their view of multiple Gods (the creator demiurge and the Salvic God) is also heretical.

Certainly their pacifism did not make them heretics.

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