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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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X The Reformation Leads to the Counter-Reformation



The sixteenth-century Reformation plunged the Chiesa Cattolica into a struggle for her earthly happiness and life. No man was able to foretell the result, but there arose a demand for sharper measures of repression of every description. The amazingly rather than self-evidently progressive nature of intolerance and persecution, at least in the sight of latter-time generations, came to light beyond all doubt, owing to the atrocities of the religious wars in the heart of Europe. Apart from this, the heresiarch or dogmatiser was he who submitted his own unique incarnate soul to eternal perdition. Much worse than that, the heresiarch as a ringleader pursued to carry others with him, as he disseminated his pestiferous rather than biblical and sacerdotal doctrines. The ecclesia offered him benevolently the possibility to see reason and to abjure his blatant errors and make his peace with God, but on no occasion with God’s earthly servants, who were the lords over men and all secular institutions (see Lea 1956, III, 200). The inquisitors invariably subscribed to their maxim that the Ecclesia never closed her bosom to her wayward children who sought to come back: “To this the explanation was given that the Church was not closed to them, for if they showed signs of penitence they might receive the Eucharist, even at the stake, but without escaping death” (Lea 1961, 256).

In mediaeval days and beyond, mortal men in general held the view that the sacred...

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