When discussing theology, I've come to realize that not only is personal study of doctrine a necessary component to faith, but it is something that shouldn't be kept to oneself. I want to share my journey, both past and ongoing, into the realm of theology. Through this, I hope that you will gain insight into the Christian faith as a whole. Before reading anything else, I suggest you read the introduction and definitions (found in the pages tabs above) so you may better understand where I am coming from in everything I write. Because many of my posts are on heresies, there is also a page above with a family tree of heresies and links to all the posts I have so far on the topic.

14 January, 2013

Heresy of the Week: Albigensism

This week's heresy is a more recent (relatively speaking) Gnostic heresy that appeared in France during the end of the Middle Ages.
Albigensism, also called Albigensianism, is a 12th-13th century French heresy, also known as the Cathars or Cathari (Catharism). While named for the French city Albi, they actually seemed to be centered in the city of Toulouse. The extent of their teachings remains unclear, as all surviving documentation originates from the Catholic Church (their opponent). They appear to have subscribed to a dualistic theology (of the Gnosticism vein) with two principle forces: good (this God was Jesus) and evil (Satan and the God of the Old Testament were both considered evil). The material world also was considered evil, and they denied the Resurrection of the body, since the body was material and therefore evil. Those who strictly followed the doctrine were called “perfects” or “perfecti”, which included eschewing all the trappings of the physical world (much like Asceticism), if they were good enough, salvation would come upon death—if not, they would be reincarnated as an animal or human to try again. There is some indication that suicide may have been practiced by some as a way to rid themselves of the “evil” material body. The Albigensis particularly protested the clergy and material wealth of the Church, and in the 12th century, Pope Innocent III waged a crusade to snuff out the Albigensis heresy, which was successful. Albigensism was accused of being a Neo-Manichaean (Manichaeism) movement.

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