Sunday, May 26, 2019

Were the Albigensians Primitive or Proto-“Protestants”?

Some strains of Protestant thought — most notably the “Landmark” Baptists — seek to find a non-Catholic “apostolic succession” all throughout Church history up to the 16th century. In the desperate attempt to claim spiritual and theological predecessors, all sorts of heretical groups are espoused, including the Montanists, Novationists, Donatists, Docetists, Cathari, Albigensians, Waldenses, Hussites, and Wycliffites. The trouble is that none of these groups fit very well into a Protestant schema. They are either radically non-Christian, even Gnostic (e.g., the Albigensians), or far too Catholic in what they retain (Waldenses, Hussites) to qualify as “proto-Protestant.” 
Yet that doesn’t stop certain Protestants (especially of the anti-Catholic variety) from latching onto these groups for polemical purposes. “My enemy’s enemy is my ally.” These claims are only as good as the real knowledge of such groups is scanty and incomplete. The most striking and demonstrably absurd example of this historical revisionism is the adoption of the Albigensians (a sub-group or variant of Catharism, which flourished particularly in the south of France). (Read more.)


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