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by Catherine Frakas 29 Apr 2002

History QUESTION from M. Sponer June 21, 1999 Dear John-PaulIgnatius,
Here is a quote out of a booklet called Trail of Blood suppose to be a book on Baptist history, very anti. Here is a quote out of that booklet,Years later, 1139 A.D., Pope Innocent II, called another of these Councils especially to condemn two groups of very devout Christians, known as Petro-Brussians and Arnoldists. Who are the Petro-Brussians and Arnoldosts? what did they do? and do you which council this came out of? Thank you.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on June 25, 1999 Dear Mr. Sponer:
Trail of Blood is certainly a anti-Catholic book and one that does violence to history.
Like many Baptist historical fallacies they try to show a connection to the first century. They do understand that tracing a church back to the reformation is not sufficient. But since the theory that Baptist can be traced to the first century is a fantasy, they have to try to make-up a connection by claiming that certain groups suppressed by the mean old Catholic Church kept the real Christians in oppression.
The problem is that the groups that were considered heretics by the Catholics, would also be considered heretics by the Baptists if they were honest about the group and about history.
While some of the groups have some attributes of Baptists, like believers’ baptism or being anti-papal, these groups have other attributes that Baptists would not only consider heretical, but would consider an abomination before God.
But we can never underestimate the power of self-delusion and selective history.
The Petrobrussions and Arnoldists are two such groups that Baptist try to connect to because of attributes they consider Baptist-like but would consider these same groups an abomination if they would admit to the whole story.
From the Catholic Encyclopedia: The Petrobrusians were heretics of the twelfth century so named from their founder Peter of Bruys. Our information concerning him is derived from the treatise of Peter the Venerable against the Petrobrusians and from a passage in Abelard. Peter was born perhaps at Bruis in south-eastern France. The history of his early life is unknown, but it is certain that he was a priest who had been deprived of his charge. He began his propaganda in the Dioceses of Embrun, Die, and Gap probably between 1117 and 1120. Twenty years later the populace of St. Gilles near Nimes, exasperated by his burning of crosses, cast him into the flames. The bishops of the above-mentioned dioceses suppressed the heresy within their jurisdiction, but it gained adherents at Narbonne, Toulouse, and in Gascony. Henry of Lausanne, a former Cluniac monk, adopted the Petrobrusians' teaching about 1135 and spread it in a modified form after its author's death. Peter of Bruys admitted the doctrinal authority of the Gospels in their literal interpretation; the other New Testament writings he probably considered valueless, as of doubtful apostolic origin. To the New Testament epistles he assigned only a subordinate place as not coming from Jesus Christ Himself. He rejected the Old Testament as well as the authority of the Fathers and of the Church. His contempt for the Church extended to the clergy, and physical violence was preached and exercised against priests and monks. In his system baptism is indeed a necessary condition for salvation, but it is baptism preceded by personal faith, so that its administration to infants is worthless. The Mass and the Eucharist are rejected because Jesus Christ gave his flesh and blood but once to His disciples, and repetition is impossible. All external forms of worship, ceremonies and chant, are condemned. As the Church consists not in walls, but in the community of the faithful, church buildings should be destroyed, for we may pray to God in a barn as well as in a church, and be heard, if worthy, in a stable as well as before an altar. No good works of the living can profit the dead. Crosses, as the instrument of the death of Christ, cannot deserve veneration; hence they were for the Petrobrusians objects of desecration and were destroyed in bonfires.
Baptist would never reject the epistles of the New Testament and in fact would consider any messing with the Canon of Scripture to be a high heresy. Baptist would also reject the idea that the Old Testament is not Scripture. And Baptist would find is satanic to desecrate the Cross. Yet the Baptist mysteriously leave out these attributes when they desire to connect to this group in their vain attempt to connect to the first century.
I don’t have much information on the Arnoldist, but what I do have, gleaned from the Catholic Encyclopedia and other sources follows:
The Arnoldist receive their name from Arnold of Brescia, born at Brescia towards the end of the eleventh century, date of death uncertain
During the pontificates of Innocent II., Eugene III., and Adrian IV. occurred the interesting episode of Arnold of Brescia, an unsuccessful ecclesiastical and political agitator, who protested against the secularization of the Church, and tried to restore it to apostolic poverty and apostolic purity. These two ideas were closely connected in his mind. He proclaimed the principle that the Church and the clergy, as well as the monks, should be without any temporal possessions, like Christ and the Apostles, and live from the tithes and the voluntary offerings of the people. Their calling is purely spiritual. All the things of this earth belong to the laity and the civil government.
Baptists would have problems with this in that their ministers are salaried like any job, they may hold wealth and property, and are deeply involved in the secular world. I don't know why they connect to this one except for maybe Arnold's work for democracy on the secular level, other than they may want to connnect to anyone who was considered a heretic by the Catholics.
Arnold did practised what he taught, and begged his daily bread from house to house. He was a monk of severe ascetic piety, enthusiastic temper, popular eloquence, well versed in the Scriptures, restless, radical, and fearless.120 He agreed with the Catholic orthodoxy, except on the doctrines of the Eucharist and infant baptism; but his views on these sacraments are not known.
The Baptist shameless imply that Arnold as killed by the Church. This is not true. Arnold was banished from Rome, 1154 for his attempts to cause rebellion in the Church and in society, and soon afterwards hanged by order of Emperor Frederick I., who hated democracy and republicanism. His body was burnt and his ashes were thrown into the Tiber, 1155, lest his admirers should worship his bones. His death was by the State not for religious reasons but because the Emperor wish to suppress democracy.
The apostolic poverty that he preached was later accepted in the Franciscan movement and is a lifestyle that I myself live. The Church did not accept this lifestyle at the time, but as happens to many people who begin to assert their own opinions above the church instead of be obedient, the door is open to the influence of true heresy – which happened to him.
His disciples, i.e. those whom the thirteenth-century documents call the Arnoldists, or Arnaldists, taught other errors no less serious, for which, however, Arnold cannot justly be held responsible.
I don't know what Council might have been involved in declaring Arnold a heretic. I am not able to verify that right now.
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