Bible Ignorance, Clergy Corruption and the Inquisition in England before the Reformation
Bible Illiteracy as the Cause of Widespread Corruption and Deadly Censorship
In plain 21th century and especially in the pro-life and conservative movement, it makes no sense to defend the Inquisition, a highly divisive subject contributing nothing to the pro-family cause. But since 2013 I have seen the Inquisition, which tortured and murdered Jews and Protestants, being passionately excused and even defended by some Catholics. See “Can a Pro-Life Activist Defend The Inquisition?” in 2013 and “Neocons, the Inquisition, Russophobia and Lies” in 2015. See also my exchange with the American Catholic writer Theodore Shoebat, who said, “The Inquisition was necessary to protect the people of Spain and Portugal, and Latin America, from pagan tyranny.” (To understand more about the Shoebat case, see his declarations here and my article “A Global Inquisition to Put Homosexuals to Death?”)
After this Inquisition advocacy, I feel a Christian obligation to expose the truth, because only the truth makes people free.
I am reading the book “The History of Religious Liberty,” written by Dr. Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association the world’s biggest homeschool association. This excellent book, which addresses also the Inquisition and torture and death of Christians at the stake, can be purchased, in its print version, from WND (WorldNetDaily), at this link. To purchase the Kindle version, click here.
“The History of Religious Liberty,” recommended by WND, one of the world’s biggest conservative news sites, should be read by everyone who wants to understand the bloody cost of religious freedom in England, which greatly benefitted the U.S.
In one part of this book, I remembered Brazil, which has, on a large scale, the same problem described by Dr. Farris and which happened abundantly in England before the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. He tells about a powerful cardinal who had almost as much power in England as the king himself.
Dr. Farris says:
“[The ultra-powerful Cardinal Thomas] Wolsey held incredible power and wealth… He was ordained a priest and became a chaplain at the royal court sometime around 1507. Along the way, Wolsey amassed an amazing fortune that rivaled that of the king. Part of this fortune came from the practice of awarding leading clerics multiple offices from which were obtained multiple salaries. While holding royal office, Wolsley simultaneously held church positions at Hereford Cathedral, Limington in Somerset, Redgrave in Suffolk, Lydd in Kent, and Torrington in Devonshire, among others. This does not mean that Wolsley actively preached or shepherded these congregations or dioceses; the typical practice was similar to that of an absentee landlord: collecting lucrative salaries while providing little, if any, direct service. Wolsey was not alone in this practice. For example, Tyndale’s home of Gloucester County contained the diocese of Worcester, which was among the most abused bishoprics in England. Few of its principal pastors had lived there since 1476, and after 1512 ‘the diocese had enjoyed three Italian bishops, who lived at ease in Rome, and never set foot in England at all, yet drawing meanwhile, ample stipends.’”
“On November 18, 1515, Wolsey was consecrated a cardinal at a ceremony in Westminster Abbey and just over a month later, on December 24, was made the lord chancellor of England — the highest rank in the land other than king. It is said that ‘his power with the king was so great that the Venetian Ambassador said he now might be called ‘Ipse rex’ (the king himself).’”
Dr. Farris explains then the cause of this corruption:
“The Bible was essentially unknown in a nation where the Roman Church was so dominant that the pope’s annual revenue from England was comparable to that taken by the king. Even the clergy were largely scripturally illiterate.”
Elsewhere in his book, Farris shows that English Christians attempting to translate the Bible into English were tortured and burned at the stake. Christians trying to preach the Bible to the people also suffered the same fate. The Catholic Church held the people in ignorance by preaching the Bible only in Latin, a language the people did not understand. Farris explains how a Catholic priest was condemned to be burned for preaching the Bible to the people:
“Early in 1529, a priest named Thomas Hitton was arrested for heresy after preaching in Kent. He was interrogated — we can assume without mercy — and confessed to have smuggled an English New Testament into England from the continent. He was condemned by Archbishop Warnham and Bishop Fisher. By standard practice, the ecclesiastical condemnation was enforced by the secular authorities to maintain the pretense that the church itself did not shed blood. On February 23, 1529, Hitton was burned at the stake in Maidstone. Those professing to love and serve God ceremoniously executed another professing Christian in a slow, agonizing, and brutally painful death — all for the express purpose of sending this ‘heretic’ straight into the fires of hell.”
After Wolsey, Thomas More was appointed Lord Chancellor of England in 1529. According to Michael Farris, More rejoiced at seeing a man condemned to be burned for the only “crime” of owning a Tyndale New Testament. According to Farris, the bloodthirsty More said,
“And now the spirit of error and lying hath taken his wretched soul with him straight from the short fire to the fire everlasting.”
In his obsession to hinder the people from having access to the Bible, More persecuted especially those attempting to translate it into English. He was the great persecutor of William Tyndale, whose Bible translation was a foundation for the famous King James Version, used by the English-speaking people since the 1600s.
According to Farris, “More willed them to be ignorant of the written Word of God lest they ever doubt the Catholic Church on any point.”
For More, Tyndale was a “heretic” worthy of being burned, because by translating the New Testament he had “corrupted” some words of the Bible. Among the words, Michael Farris highlights “love.” Farris notes,
“The dispute over the Greek word agape had serious implications for Catholic practices. Translated ‘charity,’ as More desired, the word has clear financial implications. If Tyndale is correct, and the word is rendered ‘love,’ then 1 Corinthians 13 indicates that the highest duty of the Christian is to love others rather than to give gifts of charity to the church.”
Then Farris shows how Tyndale defended himself for not using the word “charity” in the place of love:
“Throughout his writings, he demonstrates how the ceremonies that the Roman Church contends were revealed by God to the church authorities are better understood as money-making opportunities for the clergy. The sale of indulgences is the best known of these practices. People are denied the freedom to know God’s Word, Tyndale suggests, because if they could read it for themselves they would stop paying for religious services that are contrary to the teaching of Scripture.”
Apparently, the Catholic clergy kept the people deliberately ignorant in order to exploit them financially. And the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. No pope, cardinal or bishop is immune to this evil.
It reminds me that greed in the Catholic Church, as explained by Catholic neocon Cliff Kincaid, has been one of the major causes of Islamic immigration into the U.S. According to Kincaid, the Catholic Church gets a multi-million dollar profit with this invasion.
About ignorance and corruption, it is interesting to observe that most current politicians of the ruling Workers’ Party in Brazil had a past involvement with the Catholic Church, especially the base ecclesial communities with their Liberation Theology. In fact, the current opinion is that NCBB (National Conference of Bishops of Brazil) helped found the Workers’ Party (WP), the socialist party ruling today in Brazil.
The ignorance of Brazilian Catholics goes far beyond an exceptionally great adherence to Liberation Theology. It also includes an adherence to historic and religious falsifications. While Michael Farris says that the execution of “heretics” at the stake was a slow, agonizing, and brutally painful death, Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho denies all of this by saying:
“Even in the popular image of the Inquisition fires lies are predominant. Everybody believes that condemned individuals ‘died burned,’ amid horrible suffering. The flames were high, more than 16 feet high, to hinder suffering. The condemned individuals (less than ten a year in two dozen nations) died suffocated in a few minutes, before the flames could touch them.”
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