The Rise of Popular Heresies

The Rise of Popular Heresies - The Rise of Popular Heresies...

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The Rise of Popular Heresies DEFINITIONS Let's first define heresy . The technical definition is "error, obdurately held," which meant, in the Middle Ages, that a person believed something that was contrary to the "revealed truth" offered by God to humanity through the Church, and that the person continued to hold that belief even after it had been pointed out to him or her how that belief was contrary to "revealed truth." Heresy was both hated and feared. People believed in physical Hell, in which sinners would suffer the most excruciating pain imaginable forever and would be aware that their agony would never end. You would do well to think about that for a moment. The Church taught, and most people believed, that the only way to avoid such a fate was by following the teachings and being protected by the rituals (sacraments) of the Church. A heretic was doomed to Hell, but could also convince others of his or her wrong belief and so lead them to Hell also. So, a heretic was regarded as we might regard someone carrying a highly contagious and incurable disease. We would lock such a person up where they would not come in contact with anyone; the people of the Middle Ages killed them. Moreover, they often killed them in public and horrible ways as a warning to everyone of how dangerous heretics were. To round out the matter of definitions, the opposite of heresy was orthodoxy , or "right belief." There had been heresies since the emergence of the organized Church in the fourth century, but they had generally been disputes over points of theology: Arianism over the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, Donatism over the ability of sinful priests to administer efficacious sacraments, Pelagianism over the relative importance of faith and works in achieving salvation, and so forth. During the twelfth century, however, several heresies arose that were in fact criticisms of the practices of the Church rather than religious theory, and gained widespread support among the laity. Another matter of definitions. Church officers, such as priests, monks, bishops, and the like, are clerics , or clergymen , and those who are not are called laymen . Taken as a group, Church personnel are the clergy , while those who are not officers of the Church are called the laity . Ecclesiastical is an adjective meaning "having to do with the Church," while secular refers to the world outside of the Church. Secular clergy are priests, bishops, and others whose work brought them in close contact with the laity. Lay criticism of Church practices is called anti- clericalism . CAUSES There were numerous reasons for the rise of anti-clerical among the laity during the twelfth century. The growth of the educated class, including laymen, brought about by the
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HISTORY 170 taught by Professor Romero during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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The Rise of Popular Heresies - The Rise of Popular Heresies...

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