Muslims did not discover vicious killings or torture with religious motivation, and they are not the only ones who made it part and parcel of their religious activities.
No, I have not converted to Islam nor have I gotten soft nor am I senile. Moreover, I do not endorse the vicious killings that are common in Islamic nations: the beheadings, chopping off hands and feet for minor crimes, the killing of females who “disgrace the family” by being raped (!) or falling in love with a non-Muslim. And surely only barbarians will try to defend those Muslims who kill a family member because that member trusted Christ as Savior.
However, I am interested in truth. Muslims did not discover vicious killings or torture with religious motivation, and they are not the only ones who made it part and parcel of their religious activities. “Christians” in the Dark Ages and Middle Ages made a science out of torture and killings! During the Crusades, whole towns, containing thousands of Jews, were destroyed with every person killed. Then when the crusaders arrived in Muslim lands, thousands of “Turks” were slaughtered (as the “Turks” had been slaughtering those who were of other religious persuasions!)
Ingenious torture, beheadings, and burning at the stake were often used by the Roman Church against those who criticized their doctrine.
The Roman pontiff had a special hatred and bloodlust for Catholics who were convinced of the massive error of Catholicism and for Christians who were never associated with the Roman Church. Ingenious torture, beheadings, and burning at the stake were often used by the Roman Church against those who criticized their doctrine.
People must understand that a person is not a Christian because he or she has been baptized or is a member of a “Christian” church. Many church members, including leaders (pastors, priests, cardinals, popes, bishops, metropolitans, etc.) do very evil things and genuine Christians are presumed guilty along with the perpetrators. Of course, thinking people are able to distinguish between real Christians and those who are merely church members.
Roman Catholic priest Dominic was born in Spain in 1170 and after his ordination he went to France, and was astounded, alarmed, and angered at the progress which Protestants and non-Catholics were making. He besought the Roman pontiff that he occupy himself to fight against the Waldensians, and consequently Dominic founded the order which would later form the foundation of both the Papal and Spanish Inquisitions, although there is no record he personally was responsible for any killing of non-Catholics.
The heresy-hunters, with religious fervor, scoured France, Italy, and Spain killing thousands of innocent people who dared think for themselves and who rejected the teaching of the Roman Church. In July of 1209, up to 70,000 unarmed men, women, and children were slaughtered in Beziers, France by an army of orthodox Catholics. At Minerva, 14,000 Christians were put to death in the flames, and ears, noses, and lips of the “heretics” were cut off by the fanatical Catholics who were storing up “points” to get them into heaven! Or so the pope promised all Crusaders. During Easter week of 1655, 1,712 Waldensians (Bible-believing non-Catholics) were massacred by French (Catholic) troops.
“Christians” were forbidden to shed blood; however, burning at the stake was considered acceptable since there was no blood shed. Of course, dead is still dead however it happens.
In 1231, Pope Gregory IX instituted the papal Inquisition for the apprehension and trial of heretics. He and later church leaders considered “heretics” (those who disagreed with official Roman Church doctrines) a cancer upon true religion, so the “heretics” had to be removed for the sake of the whole as a gangrene limb must be removed. And heretics were to be burned alive at the stake. “Christians” were forbidden to shed blood; however, burning at the stake was considered acceptable since there was no blood shed. Of course, dead is still dead however it happens.
John Fox wrote: “In process of time, the pope, not finding these roving inquisitors so useful as he had imagined, resolved upon the establishment of fixed and regular courts of Inquisition,” so the Pope authorized a systematic, continuing, concerted, organized, well-funded effort, that would be more effective in driving out heresy than a hit and miss effort, hence, the Inquisition.
Soon after the papacy authorized the Inquisition, it authorized a brilliant way to identify the heretics: torture was adopted as the way to get confessions so as to justify the executions since popes thought they could order kings and emperors around, they ordered the civil magistrates to extort from all heretics a confession of their own guilt and a betrayal of all their accomplices. This was the brainchild of Pope Innocent IV as espoused in his bull ad extirpanda (1252). Innocent (!) prescribed the extirpation of heresy as the chief duty of the state, so the Church did the finding and the state did the killing of the heretics! The race was on to root out all “heretics” from the Roman Catholic Church throughout the Holy Roman Empire.
It was a time of incredible terror as husband turned in his wife and a child turned in his parents. This terror was not against “foreigners” or other religions but against their own kind! The object of the terror was white, European Christians carried out by other white European “Christians!” Roman Catholic historians sometime defend those days because the existence of the Church was at stake. Then they point out that safeguards were established to protect the innocent. Any torture was not to cause the loss of life or limb or endanger life; however, in the rush to kill, those formalities were forgotten. And sane people will argue that even true heretics should not be mistreated because of their religious or political beliefs. Baptists have taken that position through the centuries.
Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Moor and other “great” Catholic leaders endorsed the killing of heretics! Often the killing was done by church officials and at other times by secular officials. At other times massive killing was done by Catholic mobs such as the St. Bartholomew’s day massacre in August, 1572, when 70,000 French protestants (Huguenots) were killed.
It is estimated that the Roman Catholic Church dispatched at least 50 million “heretics” into eternity throughout Europe. An interesting aside to all the murder is that the Church confiscated the property of the “heretics.” That way, the Church shut down the criticism of the “heretics” and added to the Church coffers. It was a win-win for the Roman Church. It was only natural that the wealthy were often the targets of the butchers.
Most people today identify all those who disagreed with and resisted the Roman Church as “Protestants;” however, there were many groups that were never a part of Rome. Some of those were the Anabaptists, Albigenses, and others. That is the reason Baptists do not call themselves “Protestants.”
Some Roman Catholic historians have tried to exonerate Rome since the executions “were carried out by the state.” However, that dog won’t hunt. Roman pontiff’s declared their supreme authority over all civil powers and any state official who was reluctant to carry out Rome’s edicts was threatened with excommunication. One Catholic historian wrote: “It was the Popes who compelled bishops and priests to condemn the heterodox to torture, confiscation of their goods, imprisonment, and death, and to enforce the execution of this sentence on the civil authorities, under pain of excommunication.” Modern historian Will Durant reported the same truth.
Will Durant also stated, “Compared with the persecution of heresy in Europe from 1227 to 1492, the persecution of Christians by Romans in the first 3 centuries after Christ was a mild and humane procedure.” The “Christians” out-hated, out- persecuted, and out-killed the pagans of ancient Rome!
It must be understood that the object of the Roman Church’s hatred and killings were independent-thinking Roman Catholic priests who had some disagreement with some of the Church’s doctrine. Luther, Zwingli, Hus, Knox, Wycliff, Tyndale, and other sincere Roman Catholic priests began to question Rome’s authority and legitimacy as they observed incredibly wicked behavior among common local priests and up to the Pope himself. For a while, there were so many illegitimate children, fathered by popes, in the Roman Catholic hierarchy that the city of Rome was said to be “a city ruled by bastards.” Therefore, many sincere priests, horrified at the wickedness, began to look at Church doctrine and were convinced that it was not Bible truth. Consequently, they obeyed the Bible injunction and came out from among them resulting in an explosion heard around the world: the Protestant Reformation.
Yes, they came out from among them but they didn’t come out far enough! They formed their own state churches instead of identifying with and joining up with the Baptists who were already flourishing in many cities of Europe.
Copyright 2006, Don Boys, Ph.D.