Saturday, November 29, 2008

Visualize this


In 1215, the church council known as the Fourth Lateran Council required all Christians to support the upcoming (5th) Crusade either by going in person or by supporting others to go in their stead. Pope Innocent III threatened those who did neither thus:

If any shall be found so ungrateful to the Lord as to refuse, we warn them that they must answer for it to us before the terrible judge on the last day. Let all such consider with what conscience and what security they will be able to make their confession before the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, into whose hands the Father has given all things, if, in this matter which so peculiarly concerns them, they refuse to obey him who was crucified for sinners, by whose favor and goodness they live and are sustained, nay, more, by whose blood they are redeemed.

After you've read enough medieval ecclesiastical documents, it is easy enough to see this statement as formulaic. Stop for a moment and take it literally -- or try to. What did Innocent think would happen, really?

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