Monday, October 17, 2011

Baptist Successionism Part 3: 600-1300

I recommend reading parts 1 and 2 before reading this post. This post deals with J.M. Carroll's second lecture in The Trail of Blood which covers the period between 600 and 1300. Carroll turns his attention to the Ecumenical Councils. Carroll briefly mentions the first three Ecumenical Councils and then writes:

The fourth met at Calcedon, A.D. 451, and was called by Emperor Marian; 500 or 600 bishops or Metropolitans (Metropolitans were City pastors or First Church pastors) were present. During this Council the doctrine of what is now known as Mariolatry was promulgated. This means the worship of Mary, the mother of Christ. This new doctrine at first created quite a stir, many seriously objecting. But it finally won out as a permanent doctrine of the Catholic Church.

The Council was actually called by Emperor Marcian not Marian. The statement of Chalcedon did not promulgate Mariolatry but instead combatted against the Christological errors of Nestorianism and Eutychianism. In order to combat against these Christological errors, Chalcedon refers to Mary as the Theotokos or Mother of God or as Jaroslav Pelikan translates it "the one who gives birth to the one who is God." The Church believed it was important to confess that Jesus is one man, Divine and human. Some heretical groups have denied the title Theotokos because they believe that Jesus was basically composed of two "persons"--the human that was the son of Mary and the Divine which was not. The term Theotokos was used to confess that Christ is not two persons but one.

Carroll goes on to speak of other Councils--sometimes providing accurate but often providing inaccurate information and then says:

During the period that we are now passing through the persecuted were called by many and varied names. Among them were Donatists, Paterines, Cathari, Paulicians, and Ana Baptists; and a little later, Petro-Brussians, Arnoldists, Henricians, Albigenses, and Waldenses. Sometimes one group of these was the most prominent and sometimes another. But some of them were almost always prominent because of the persistency and terribleness of their persecution.
I already dealt with Carroll's claims about the Donatists and Paterines here. I dealt with his claims about the Petrobrussians and Waldensians here.

The Cathari were dualists and gnostics who lived between the 11th and 13th Centuries. It is true that the denied baptismal regeneration but they also denied water baptism completely. They believed that since water was part of this material world it was evil. They had their own form of baptism where the candidate had to undergo some rather bizarre and intense fasting rituals that would eventually end in their death. The "baptism" was then performed by the laying on of hands on the baptismal candidate as he died by starving to death to avoid the recontamination of the soul. The Cathari did not believe that there was one God but two gods. They believed that there was a god of evil who created the physical world and a good god who was completely spirit and never became incarnate. It seems like Carroll is willing to put up with just about any false doctrine as long as the group in question doesn't teach baptismal regeneration or baptize infants.

The Paulicans flourished from 650 to 782. The Paulicans used the sword to spread their beliefs which according to Carroll is a mark of a false church. The Paulicans taught that Jesus became the Son of God when He was baptized at the age of thirty. They regarded the Holy Spirit as a mere creature. They did not accept the Old Testament and only accepted part of the New Testament. The Paulicans regarded true baptism as having nothing to do with water but many still allowed their children to baptized by Christian priests.

The term "Anabaptist" is a very general term, so it's not clear who exactly Carroll is referring to. They were a 16th Century movement. Some were peaceful, some were revolutionaries. Some held to heretical views about the Trinity or the doctrine of Christ. They all denied infant baptism but they were all over the place on other issues.

The Arnoldists were a 12th Century group that arose within the Christian church. They spoke against the wealth of the clergy. According to some sources Arnold held to the same position as the rest of the Christian church on the issue of baptism. According to other sources he denied the validity of the sacraments because they were being administered by sinful priests. According to others Arnold denied the sacraments completely. It could be that the Arnoldists transitioned between these different positions. I was not able to locate any evidence that they held to a Baptist understanding of baptism.

The Henricians were followers of Henry of Lausanne. Henry was a monk who left the monastary and began to preach against the clergy. He was a student of Peter de Bruys. Peter and Henry were the first known leaders to speak out against infant baptism. But this was in the 1100s and they were both members of the Christian church. They never spoke of any kind of succession. After a couple hundred years the anti-paedobaptist position died away again and was not revived until the time of the Reformation in the 16th Century.

The Albigenses were not Christian and did not practice water baptism. They believed that there was a good god who created human souls and a bad god who trapped them in bodies. They taught that Jesus was a mere creature--not exactly the group I would want to point to as my spiritual forefathers. Carroll goes on to say:

It is well to note also that in order to prevent the spread of any view of any sort, contrary to those of the Catholics very extreme plans and measures were adopted. First, all writings of any sort, other than those of the Catholics, were gathered and burned. Especially was this true of books. For several centuries these plans and measures were strictly and persistently followed. That is, according to history, the main reason why it is so difficult to secure accurate history.
This is the conspiracy theory that stands behind all of Carroll's work. I'm sure Carroll would argue that all these groups have been misrepresented and that if their genuine writings were revealed these groups would all turn out to be Baptist. But what evidence of there of this? Couldn't someone just as easily say they were all really Muslims? Or Hare Krishnas? Was Carroll given some magic spectacles by an angel that allows him to see all the Baptists down through history?

To Be Continued...

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