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Struggle of Faith and Reason: A History of Intolerance and Punitive Censorship

Part II: From Mediaeval Cathars to Giordano Bruno and Lucilio Vanini

Juhani Sarsila

Humanists look up to Hellas as the cradle of European culture. The book spans nearly five centuries of a later epoch of this worthy tradition. Starting with the awesome high-mediaeval Cathars, the exposition proceeds in chronological order. Eventually, we meet Giordano Bruno and Lucilio Vanini, both of them red-letter heretics. The work affords cognisance of a neglected branch of learning. History of morals in general, and that of the struggle of faith and reason in particular, provides in-depth insights into the allotted fate of dissentient man. A potentially fateful nexus appears to be interweaving between book and author. Organised religion is evermore based on the politically beneficial idea of anthropomorphism or metaphysical projection. For has Man not made God in his image?

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1Three Phases of Early Church

Historians have traced three distinct phases of the early history of the Christian Church. In the first phase, religion essentially remained a salient point in the matter of morals, although there were powerful and dangerous undercurrents beneath the smooth surface of holy life. Not only were the theological virtues (faith, hope, and love) mutually incompatible, but they were also distinct from the intellectual and moral virtues of the gentile legacy. And early Christians fell far short of unanimity of belief and of charitable tolerance of outsiders. Christianity had already demonised Judaism, as it slipped away from its parent religion (Barnstone 2006b, 777, 793). In the second period, which culminated in the fifth century, their organised religion had transparently turned into an issue of orthodoxy and heresy (αἵρεσις, hairesis) and close to a monomaniac heresophobia. Faith had ruled as a queen over the intellectual life of Europe since the days of St. Augustine, whereas Reason merely occupied the servant’s apartment short of any other role than to speak up for the dogmas of faith (Sandberg 1963, v). In the third period, dating from the seventh century, organised religion definitely came up as a noticeably clear-cut issue of munificence to monasteries, and in the High Middle Ages the Roman Church reached the heyday of her temporal glory and moral degradation.

The actual despotism of Catholicity and the subsequent ignorance in the aftermath of the barbarian invasions had inhibited the struggles of heresy...

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