26 June 2010

In times of Interdict, the heretics rejoice


updated July 2012

This is part one of four posts related to Nominalism.

Nominalism and Scepticism…Sacralism Wounded

Due to the historical setting and fallout, 14th century Nominalism is often considered a departure from the Aristotelian Thomism developed during the previous century. Philosophically it demolished any notions of concrete abstractions, with the universals or forms cast into unverifiable doubt. This created an environment of skepticism.

The Papal Schism began in 1378 and there are multiple reasons leading to the climate that allowed for the chaos which followed for the next couple of generations. Many point to the influences of Nominalism which had as it were, put a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths…….

For the proto-protestants, the Lollards, Hussites, and Waldenses this was a golden opportunity to flourish…and a rare opportunity to expand with impunity.
During these disputes, authority broke down, the interdict was employed, and groups like the Inquisition lost some of their mandate.


The Interdict was the tool of the Papacy to punish secular princes. The churches were closed, the sacraments ceased and the 'divine legitimacy' of the Sacralist vassal was overthrown. The Pope could declare a monarch or noble invalid and make him/her subject to attack from a neighbouring 'faithful' representative. Kings trembled at the Pope's power. We are reminded particularly of England's King John (called Lackland)….he tangled with Innocent III (1198-1216), arguably the most Imperial and powerful Pope of them all. Suffice it to say, Innocent won the battle.

For the 'heretics' in the underground, there was an old saying….

In times of Interdict, the heretics rejoice.

Indeed. It meant the Church bureaucracy shut down. The 'heretics' would not be badgered to attend church, nor pursued by the authorities. The common people who certainly by this time could be labeled as Roman Catholic were in a state of despair. The sacramental system to them represented eternal life and to be cut off from it was for them truly terrifying and unsettling. But for the Bible believer, this was a moment of carefree liberty.

Historically, Philosophical Nominalism was beneficial to the social situation of the proto-protestants. Theologically, it was the final victory of Aristotelian Rationalism which would in time, cast down the Augustinian-type system so many of the Dissenters held, and lead to modern secular thought...

But weren't the Reformer's Augustinian?.....This issue will be looked at in the third part.



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