Monday, October 4, 2010

Utter Silliness!

Editing my review of Bennett's Catholicism: East of Eden, I came across this quotation from Faber's History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses on P. 67. My reaction was one of disbelief followed by deep disquiet that this sort of thing is still believed by a worryingly huge number of Protestants. I quote:

"The Albigenses were a group of Christians, influential for their godly lives, who were condemned by the Church of Rome. George Stanley Faber, writing in 1838 provides an example of papal work, 'Avcording to the plan adopted by the inquisition of Langedoc, it was morally impossible for any of the accused Albigenses to escape [the charge of Manichaeanism]... No rational being can, by any conceivable possibilty, believe a syllable of the tales of Manicheism related of the Albigenses, when those tales rest upon such a foundation as that which has been laid by the Council of Narbonne..."

Note well. What Faber is in fact saying is that, because of the methods adopted by the Roman Catholics, we should discount all the evidence then available as to what the Albigenses believed. Faber's method utterly amazes me. Remember, the only actual evidence of the beliefs of the Albigenses (otherwise known as Cathars) available to Faber was found in the registers of that inquisition. Yet Faber decided to discount that, and amazingly to assume that in fact these people were "Protestants before the Reformation', on the basis that the Roman Catholic Church persecuted them. Yet we know that the Roman Catholics persecuted Jews in Europe and Muslims in Spain. In other words, merely being persecuted by Rome is no sign of orthodoxy! At most, therefore, all Faber should have been able to conclude is that the charges of dualism against the Albigenses were not proven. Instead he assumes them to be false, and projects onto the Albigenses the character of the Waldenses, an entirely different group!

Historians can only work with what exists, not with what does not, but Faber in effect reverses this procedure. Rome cannot be trusted, Rome says that the Albigenses were dualists, and therefore the Albigenses were in fact orthodox Protestants. Such reasoning condemns itself.

Contrast this method with the account of Albigensianism given in Harold O.J. Brown's magisterial Heresies Pp. 256-261. In brief he shows its links with Eastern dualistic groups, from which it derived its ordination. He writes: "As far as the Bogomils and Cathars are concerned, the testimonies that attribute moral purity to the leaders, but license to the generality of followers, are too numerous and unanimous to suppose them all to be hostile fabrications" (P. 257). This is the historical method - we use what sources we have, not uncritically, but with care. As far back as the 18th century, the Lutheran historican von Mosheim affirmed that the Alibigenses were dualists, and as Church history moved into the 20th century, so did other writers, for example the Frenchman Andre Lagarde, in his The Latin Church in the Middle Ages (Edinburgh, T. T. Clark, 1915), and Principal Adeney of Manchester in his The Greek and Eastern Churches (Edinburgh, T. T. Clark, 1908). By the time of K.S. Latourette's A History of Christianity (London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1964), a clear distinction is made between the Albigenses and the Waldenses. A modern work by a conservative Reformed Christian, N.R. Needham's 2000 Years of Christ's Power takes this line as well - one now taken by all but a few who cling to works that are derived from such unhistorical writings as that of Faber.

Thus we see (or ought to see) that the whole 'Trail of Blood' theory is based on writings that simply do not take history seriously!

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