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Christendom in the 14th Century

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.



The Waldenses

It is better to obey God than man.” This passage from Acts 5:29 was the lifelong motto of a merchant from Lyon, France, turned evangelist named Peter Waldo (1140-1218). He founded a group of Christians who are the forerunners of today’s Protestants. They are known as the Waldenses.

The Waldenses were men who believed that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that the Bible is the only authority over life. There is evidence that they held to the Biblical Sabbath.

To question the authority of the papacy was deemed an offense worthy of death by the Roman Church. The Waldenses were called heretics, their motives and character were denigrated, and their writings destroyed by the Church in Rome.

The Waldenses lived a primitive Christian life as simple, humble people who fashioned their doctrines and behavior on Scripture. They considered the Roman Church to be infested with superstition, arrogance, and vanity. They were among the first people in Europe to possess the Bible translated into their vernacular.

Also known as the Vaudois Christians, many of them became missionaries. Since they faced death if discovered, they would go out as merchants with silks, jewelry, or other wares in order to be perceived as nothing more than peddlers. They secretly carried copies of the Bible, and when they could, they would offer these to their customers.

The Waldenses objected to the common practices of people at that time who believed that salvation could be obtained by means of self-flagellation, becoming monks and nuns, going on pilgrimages, and doing penance. They did not believe that good works atoned for sin. They did not agree that the Roman Church, holy shrines, relics, or the intercession of saints availed forgiveness.

Despite being known as sincere, quiet, peaceful, moral people with earnest fervor for the Lord, the Waldenses repeatedly had their homes and crops destroyed. Their punishment for refusing to bow to the will of the pope was to have every kind of humiliation and torture that men could invent heaped upon them. They were persecuted without mercy.






The Catholic Church was determined to preserve the unity of what it called the one true and catholic (universal) faith, which it understood to mean the unity of doctrine.  To the Catholic Church, this meant that all people living in Christendom must have faith in its authority.  Therefore, no deviation from the official doctrines was permissible. 

The official doctrines (articles of faith) included those truths expressly taught in Scripture.  On these, everyone agreed. The questions of dissenters were not about articles of faith contained in Scripture, but rather those that had been transmitted through the traditions of the Catholic Church.  

The Queen of the World

One area of growing dissension in the Fourteenth Century concerned the expanding role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Church doctrine (what the Church believes, confesses, and teaches). 

An examination of these doctrines reveals that Mary is touted as being totally filled with the Holy Spirit, and the comforter and teacher of the disciples, and the entire Church, after the Ascension of Christ.  She is said to have had more knowledge than the prophets and the apostles.  Christ had put all things into the hands of his mother, and she in fact had maternal authority over God—making God subject to her, as any son should be to his mother. 

As the “most blessed of all creatures”, and the “goddess of divine love”, Mary was to be adored as the “Queen of the world” and the “Queen of heaven.”  She was enthroned in heaven far above all the other saints; exalted higher than the heavens; clothed with all honor and reverence; and the whole world was under her feet. 

The difference between Mary and all other human beings was that there was never any sin in her.  She was the only human ever born who was free from the taint of sin.  In fact, it was asserted that Mary was incapable of sinning. 

These teachings were perplexing to many who had read the Bible because very few details about Mary or her life can be found in the Scriptures.  





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John Duns Scotus

John Duns Scotus (1265-1308) was one of the most important and influential theologians of the High Middle Ages. He was nicknamed the “subtle doctor.”

John hailed from Duns, Scotland—hence the name. He graduated from Oxford in 1301, and the following year moved to Paris.

John Duns Scotus said, “Predestination properly understood refers to an act of the divine will, namely, to the ordering of the election of some intellectual or rational creature to grace and glory through the divine will.”

He thus shifted the emphasis of predestination from divine intellect (foreknowledge) to divine will. He also wrote, “Predestination does not happen on account on human works, but on account of the gracious will of God.”




Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was the greatest poet of Christendom. He lived in Florence during the great times of the Medici, at what was the birth of the Renaissance. His most famous work was titled The Comedy, but his admirers renamed it The Divine Comedy. It describes a journey through three realms of the afterlife—the Pit of Hell in the Inferno, the Mount of Expiation in the Purgatorio, and the Circles of Heaven in the Paradiso.

It is a voyage of fictional adventure; an allegory of the spiritual journey of a Christian from sin to salvation, to the reward of a blinding vision of God; and an elaborate exercise in moral architecture, whose inhabitants are located according to their vices or virtues among the Damned, the Hopeful, or the Blessed. The lowest place is where all Love is lost, the highest in the heart of the Rose of Light, in ineffable ecstasy.

William of Ockham

William of Ockham (1287-1347) is one of the most prominent figures in the history of philosophy during the High Middle Ages. When he was about ten years old, he was given to the Greyfriars (Dominicans) in London, who provided him with a fantastic education.

In 1324, William of Ockham was called to the papal court at Avignon to answer charges of heresy. During his four years there, he studied and wrote, eventually charging the pope with being a heretic himself. He then had to flee, finding refuge in Munich, where he lived out his days. The pope excommunicated him.

He is best known for Ockham’s Razor, which is a complicated formula that essentially means: do not over complicate your ideas. He also disagreed with the idea that God predestined human beings’ lives outside of their own free wills.


Petrarch (1304-1374) was an Italian scholar and poet known as the “Father of Humanism.” He is believed to have coined the phrase “The Dark Ages.”

Petrarch revitalized the teachings of St. Augustine, in particular the teachings from his awesome book Confessions. Petrarch focused on Augustine’s teachings that people have a tendency to love the creature more than the Creator. We yearn for the glory of men, but self-gratification is inimical to the true knowledge of God.

Plato’s influence on Augustine’s beliefs was criticized in Petrarch’s time leading him to assert that Plato would have become a Christian if he’d had the opportunity. Aristotle, of whom Augustine was not a fan, was now fashionable in Christendom.

Because of Petrarch, Augustine once again became the focus of theology because of his acute discernment of the inner life of human beings, especially the hidden but profound motivations of sin. Petrarch called Augustine “the most penetrating investigator of human thought processes.”



Life in 14th Century Europe

Everyday life in 14th Century Europe exuded an emotional climate far different from our own. People were prone to weep openly. Most of them were not driven by any developed work ethic. People had large numbers of children to compensate for the high mortality rates. Death was a common visitor.

The landscape was filled with alchemists, astrologers, diviners, conjurers, healers, and witches. Ghosts, fairies, hobgoblins, and elves populated the countryside. People lived in a world of Catholicism; but a world mixed with paganism, folklore, and magic.

In fact, in 1395, the Lollards of England accused the Roman Catholic Church of being involved with magic. In their “Twelve Confessions” they claimed that the vestments, mitre, altar, incense, wine, bread, wax, oil, water, salt, cross, and staves were the very practice of necromancy—the devil’s craft.

The Lollards abhorred the Catholic Mass as a form of devil worship, and they believed the pope to be guilty of black magic. They railed against the consecrations, symbols, images, holy water, saints, pilgrimages, and processions of the Roman Catholic Church.

More and more, Christians retreated into mysticism, with its emphasis on religious ecstasy and direct communion with God.

But all was not lost. Christian civilization also had a wealth of artistic achievement to its name that could be found from the icons of Constantinople to the cathedrals of France. We can also see the beginnings of serious music, literature, and science.





The Black Plague

The Black Death (1347-1349) changed Europe forever. In 1346, Mongols besieging a Genoan trading colony (Caffa) in Crimea on the Black Sea, catapulted diseased bodies over the wall—an early example of biological warfare. The survivors of the siege came home, and within forty years, at least a third of all Europeans were dead, most of them dying within the first few years. There were so few people left to work the land that the feudal system collapsed, and serfs (peasants) could now charge wages for their services.

The Black Plague decimated Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, enabling the Turks to easily conquer them for Islam. The Byzantine emperor became a vassal of the Turkish sultan. Tamerlane conquered Christian (and Islamic) western Asia for the Mongols.

The “Great Mortality” as it was called in England, first reached Europe in Sicily, Genoa, Valencia, Marseilles, and Venice—the port cities into which the retreating warriors sailed. Soon the inland cities of Italy, France, England, and Germany were all infected.

We now know that the Black Death was not one disease but at least two. Pneumonic Plague was spread on the breath from contaminated lungs, and resulted in a ghastly choking death, with blood bubbling from the mouth. Fleas and black rats were responsible for the spread of Bubonic Plague.

One symptom of this disease was a ravenous hunger that would make both critters much more likely to bite humans. Infected people would develop huge boils under their armpits that hurt like the dickens, and develop death breath—a loathsome, cadaverous stink from within. “The sick are served by their kinfolk as dogs would be. Food is put near their bed, after which all fly. Fathers and mothers refused to tend to their children, as if they were not theirs.”

Popular reactions to the Black Death ranged from panic, to the debauchery of drunken orgies, to intense religious piety based on the conviction that God was punishing Europe for its sins. Parades of peasants whipped themselves and each other to appease God. Charity foundations proliferated.







The Jews in Europe

In Germany, the Jews were blamed for the plague. Some said they had poisoned the water supply. Tens of thousands were rounded up and murdered. The remnants of German Jewry fled to Poland—henceforth the principle Jewish sanctuary in Europe.

Usury—the taking of interest, or of excessive interest, on money lent—was regarded in Christian Europe as both a sin and a crime. Repeated attempts were made to ban interest, or later, to limit it to ten percent per annum. Jews were not restricted by their religious beliefs, which only banned usury between Jews. This distinction gave Jews an edge in the medieval money markets, and loan business. The prominent role of Jews in European credit and banking is a fact of history.

The Cabala, which means “the tradition”, circulated among Jews in Europe during the 14th Century. It was purportedly based on religious writings from the 2nd Century but was in fact founded upon a book written in 1277 by Moses of Leon The Book of Splendour on the Law.

The Cabala is a set of mystical doctrines and techniques used to find hidden meanings beneath the text of the Scriptures. Cabalists believe that God created this world after several abortive attempts; and that souls migrate from body to body. The Cabala profoundly influenced Judaic thought, strengthening their mystical aspects while undermining rational study of the Torah.

Many Christian scholars were also fascinated by the Cabala. Cabalists enjoyed the oracular riddles and prophecies of their zaddiks (righteous ones), and they sang and danced to cabbalistic incantations. The images, ideas, and vocabulary of the Cabala permeated European language and literature, often unannounced and unattributed.



Two Popes

The Bishop of Rome was seated in France for seventy years, during which time all seven popes were Frenchmen. In 1377, the papacy finally returned to Rome. But that city was in ruins, and the institutional church was held in a dim view by a growing number of Europeans who saw it as worldly, corrupt, luxurious, cynical, and immoral.

In 1378, things got worse as Europe was treated to the spectacle of two popes, both elected by the same College of Cardinals and each preaching war and anathema against his rival. This proved to be a grave scandal. Latin Christendom was divided against itself.

The two popes could hardly be described as holy men. One was a deranged sadist who supervised the torture of his own cardinals, and the other was a mass murderer.




Sir John Arderne (1307-1392) became famous after he created a surgical treatment for a problem that afflicted most knights at the time—painful cysts on their rumpuses from riding horses for days on end. He wrote about his methods in one of the earliest medical articles of history, and his treatment is remarkably still used to this day.

Arderne fought in the first battles where gunpowder was used in Europe, and tended to the wounds of the English soldiers.

People were well aware in those days that any medical problem or solution could result in death. They hadn’t yet thought of suing doctors for being wrong about treatments—they were simply grateful for any help they could get.

Arderne came to specialize in herbal remedies, as well as surgery; he also formulated remedies for gout, kidney stones, epileptic seizures, and even hangovers. It was he who recommended opium as an anesthetic before surgery, and as a soporific.

He wrote that the rich should be charged as much as possible by doctors, while the poor should be treated for free. He also lay down the first standards for bedside manner, which he said should include a bit of flattery, some good stories to tell, and a few jokes to make the patient laugh.

John Arderne is known as the first surgeon in England, and one of the fathers of surgery.





Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) is the father of English literature, and the author of The Canterbury Tales. His story is about a group of travelers gathered near London Bridge, to journey on a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury. Among the pilgrims are a brawny miller with bagpipes; a mother superior with a lapdog; and a poor knight. They stay the night at hostelry called the Tabard Inn, where their host, Harry Bailey, suggests a storytelling competition with free supper to the winner. At the Tabard we meet many other characters, including a sea captain, a merchant and a cook.

The Canterbury Tales transports us in time to vicariously experience daily life in the Middle Ages. Chaucer uses one of my favorite, underrated words (turd) and writes of mooning, “Please sir, what is this something that is rough and hairy?”

The message of Geoffrey Chaucer is that the Church—a massive institution in charge of worship, hospitals, and schools back in the day—was in trouble.

His characters include a fine Oxford cleric, and a kind, loving priest. But also on board are a pimple-faced “Summoner” who took bribes not to summon people to church court; and a “Pardoner” who dealt in bogus relics such as the veil of the Virgin Mary (a pillowcase) and a collection of pig bones he claimed belonged to various saints. Buy one of these and you go straight to heaven.





Thomas a Kempis

The later ideas of John Wycliffe were fleshed out in one of the most widely read books of all time, Imitation of Christ, which was written by Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) early in the 15th Century. The contemplation of Christ and of his suffering here stood in opposition to speculation about predestination, about why one person should be saved and another not.

Thomas was a Catholic monk from Germany. About himself he said, "In all things I sought quiet and found it not save in retirement and in books."

Here are some words from Thomas a Kempis:

"Without the Way,

there is no going,

Without the Truth,

there is no knowing,

Without the Life,

there is no living."

"If thou wilt receive profit, read with humility, simplicity and faith, and seek not at any time the fame of being learned."

"At the Day of Judgement we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done."

"For man proposeth, but God disposeth"

"If, however, you seek Jesus in all things, you will surely find Him.”




I would like to acknowledge my source materials: Europe by Norman Davies; Reformation of Church and Dogma by Jaroslav Pelikan; The Great Controversy by Ellen G. White; Great Tales from English History by Robert Lacey; and A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 27, 2019:

Cynthia Taggart ~ You are quite welcome. Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this article. Your lovely laudations have warmed the cockles of my heart this evening. God Bless You. I can always use a bit of encouragement. And I surely appreciate the 'voted up' 'liked' and even more so the 'shared.' :D

Glad you enjoyed the quote from John Duns Scotus, too. He was truly a deep thinker for those who want to go deep.

Cynthia Taggart from New York, NY on August 15, 2013:

Wonderful hub as is to be expected. James, for anyone who needs a bit of history they only need to come to your profile. In this piece I especially like this: John Duns Scotus said, “Predestination properly understood refers to an act of the divine will, namely, to the ordering of the election of some intellectual or rational creature to grace and glory through the divine will.” He thus shifted the emphasis of predestination from divine intellect (foreknowledge) to divine will. He also wrote, “Predestination does not happen on account on human works, but on account of the gracious will of God.” This is such a deep and thoroughly profound thing to contemplate, so it is little wonder he "shifted" as you say. Now I must read more from this man. Thank you, James. Voted up, "liked" and shared.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 05, 2012:

Didge— I am glad you did. Thank you for saying so. I appreciate the visit and your pithy comments.

Didge from Southern England on June 01, 2012:

I really enjoyed your hub

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 18, 2010:

techygran— Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

I am glad you enjoyed my work. Dr. Ardenne was quite a chap. Thank you for your kind compliments. I appreciate it that you came and read my Hub. And you are welcome.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on October 17, 2010:

James, I really enjoyed your selections of historical Christian prominents from the "high" Middle Ages and your witty synthesis that brought in Dr. Arderne. I found many possible pieces to puzzles I've held that are largely the result of my not having read an entire historical treatise right through. We scattered 'right brains' love this style of writing of deep things. Thank you so much!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 18, 2010:

hannah--- I'm glad you liked the article. I'm not sure what to think about the rest of your comment. But thanks for coming.

hannah on March 18, 2010:

i really liked this. and jews. they're special. me and my friends applied to an "on line dating" service... where you can find your perfect "elder" jew. (who lives on oxygen and is a crippled.)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 10, 2010:

dohn121--- Thank you, Dohn, for the wonderful compliment. I can't think of what you could have written that would have been more well received by me. I do appreciate you. You are truly a gentleman.

dohn121 from Hudson Valley, New York on March 08, 2010:

You know, James, every time I begin reading your hubs, I can't stop. You have such a wonderful talent in grabbing a hold of your audience no matter what subject matter. Amazing.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 08, 2010:

OpinionDuck--- What event changed the course of humankind more than the earthly presence of Jesus Christ? What year is it?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 08, 2010:

DeBorrah K. Ogans--- I always love your comments. Here you said:

"In all honesty if we all adhered to the Word being the final authority there would be a lot more unity... The arguments always arise around who has the authority and power. The Truth is we only access the power we never become it."

Yes, indeed!

"motivates the reader to set at attention and think!"

If I can accomplish this, my purposes are fulfilled.

Thank you very much for your gracious words. And you are most welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 08, 2010:

OpinionDuck--- I apologize for not responding sooner as I have been away at a retreat. It's OK for us to disagree. I believe the amount of good done by people who have been transformed by the Gospel is nearly infinite and a testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit. I see it throughout history and all around me today. You don't see it. I understand.

OpinionDuck on March 05, 2010:


Thanks for the replies on this hub, I will await your next hub.

Have a great day.

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on March 05, 2010:

James A Watkins, “It is better to obey God than man.” The Waldenses were right on! “Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that the Bible is the only authority over life.” I find it intriguing to the extent that they were persecuted and annihilated because of their nonconformity…! “Practice makes permanent! “In all honesty if we all adhered to the Word being the final authority there would be a lot more unity... The arguments always arise around who has the authority and power. The Truth is we only access the power we never become it. Ultimately we all have to answer to God!

As always you have provided us with a wealth of information on Christendom History! Your clever ingenuous presentation style motivates the reader to set at attention and think! The history is quite intriguing you give us a true authentic glimpse into what has transpired over the centuries! As always Excellent! Thank you for sharing your gift, In His love & Blessings!

OpinionDuck on March 04, 2010:


As with your other hub, I would resend my previous comment becaue, I don't believe that you undestood my points, or you chose not to respond to them.

After two bibles and 10 thousand years, people should have changed.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 04, 2010:

OpinionDuck--- Yes, you are right. If the Creator of the universe and the One who breathes the breath of life into my lungs and sustains all life that exists reveals Himself in print to human beings then that IS the answer. I fail to see any contradictions in the Bible. There are some that have been fabricated. The Bible didn't change the course of mankind? My kind man, or woman, what planet are you living on? You are absolutely right that it is easy to be bad and hard to be good. Is that not how it should be? I should think so. On the other hand, despite our flaws, let's not be too harsh on the human race. I do know plenty of wonderful people personally. In fact, I know far more fine people than I do evil people. Way more. Like 100 to 1.

OpinionDuck on March 03, 2010:


This is all so circular.

What is the answer, the book, what is the book, it is the answer.

The universe is flawed, the world is flawed, and man is very very flawed.

There is no perfect harmony in Heaven, as evidenced by the Bible.

As for the word, I don't know what your definition is of the word, flawed. The Bible is certainly vague and contradictory and the key is that neither Bible changed the course of mankind. They were bad before the Old and New Testament and they are still bad. Human nature is just devilish.

Doesn't it seem strange that no one has to preach to people on how to be bad, and yet people seem to be pretty adept at it. There is no Demon Bible, it just seems to come naturally to people. It doesn't take much effort for people to be bad.

It would be one thing if people were neutral and it would be easy to go either good or bad, but it seems that it takes a lot more to be good, than it does to be bad.

This is more like a world that Lucifer would have created,

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 03, 2010:

meek and mild--- You are surely welcome. Thank you for visiting and for your gracious compliments. I appreciate it.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 03, 2010:

itakins--- Check. I hear you. Good riposte.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 03, 2010:

OpinionDuck--- Why? It is the most dissected, parsed over word in the history of mankind AND the only one without a single provable flaw. There are flaws in Shakespeare, there are flaws in Gibbon, there are flaws in Plato. There are no flaws in the Bible. It is supernatural.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 03, 2010:

OpinionDuck--- "accepting something is not a truth in and of itself"

This quite true. There was a need to take His body or He wouldn't have taken it. Nothing Jesus did was without purpose.

meek and mild on March 01, 2010:

James, thanks for this beautiful piece. A great work,very informative and educative. Keep the fire burning.

itakins from Irl on March 01, 2010:

A mc gregor comment-

The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents Her body was formed in the womb of the mother -Anne, and her father –Joachim had the usual share in its formation.

The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents.

OpinionDuck on February 28, 2010:


Why should we take the word as truth?

OpinionDuck on February 28, 2010:


Unfortunately, accepting something is not a truth in and of itself. The fact is that there is no body and there was no need for Jesus to take the body when he left.

In fact there are no artifacts of Jesus.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 28, 2010:

prettydarkhorse--- You surely know your history. I am impressed. Yes, as you say, the Portuguese are about to briefly dominate the stage and the Renaissance is a coming. Thank you for these flashes of brilliance. I appreciate this visit and your comments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 28, 2010:

OpinionDuck--- I am not aware that they had a place to throw folks to the lions in Judea and the whole lion thing may not have come into vogue at all until Nero. I have not heard of any cases where Romans allowed anyone down from crucifixion who wasn't dead. I accept the story exactly as reported in the Gospels.

prettydarkhorse from US on February 27, 2010:

This is an extensive history -- 14th century concentrated in europe the century precursor to the start of the Rennaisance period and the start of the Portuguese search around the world for spices and ingredient and the start of colonization by European countries in other areas of the world as well, The Philippines as an archipelago at this time is isolated and live in villages separated from each other without central government and people are either Muslim or pagans.

The start of the 15th century is when the spread of Catholicism became widespread through Spain who colonized lots of countries like Mexico and the Philippines.

Hmmm, but in 14th century, the church is so strong like you describe it, all who opposed the church are called heretics..

Interesting and well written, Maita

OpinionDuck on February 26, 2010:


I appreciate your attempt to answer my question, but the lack of details from these events, allow for other valid possibilities. It is the paradox of the proof of God, we can't prove it or disprove it.

My point was that it would have been from the lack of food or water, as there was no death blow.

Because there is no body, he might still have been alive when they put him in the cave. Today, there are known cases, where a person has been declared dead, yet they came to life. I realize that this could also be used for your own arguments as well.

It is strange, that Jesus wasn't thrown to the lions, that would have been more definitive.

Is the glass half empty, or is it half full, that most likely depends on what you want it to be?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 26, 2010:

OpinionDuck--- The death of Jesus was not from lack of food or water, no. We don't know the exact cause of death in the case of Jesus but he wasn't up there long enough to starve to death. A doctor might say he died of exhaustion or asphyxiation. It is generally recognized that he died of a broken heart.

OpinionDuck on February 26, 2010:


Hospices starve people to death, that is intentional that they die in hospice. Doctor Kevorkian was kinder to terminal patients than those in a hospice.

The law as evidenced by arresting Dr. Kevorkian doesn't believe in mercy killings, but it is OK if you starve someone to death, and drug them into unconsciousnes. I don't see the difference in these two acts at a criminal level.

Didn't Jesus die on the cross from lack of food and water?

If Jesus just used a human body, then that body should have been left behind on Earth when he left Earth.

I always find it interesting when responses are selected from the total points made in a comment. I try to address all points in a comment. Here I intentionally, didn't answer one of your counterpoints.

my opinion...

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 26, 2010:

OpinionDuck--- "was Jesus killed, murdered or treated like we treat people in a Hospice?"

Hospice? Does hospice crucify people?

What law did Jesus break?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 26, 2010:

Allan McGregor--- Well, I certainly understand these Commandments better after you shared your expertise with us. All I can do is thank you very much for the education. You keep writing and I keep learning.

OpinionDuck on February 25, 2010:

Here is the thing about any of the Commandments.

If you believe in God, then you cannot believe that based on the Garden of Eden and the Abel killing, that mere humans can have the lattitude or even the ability to correctly interpret the terse language in the Commandments.

People are not the ones to determine when and if a Commandment has been broken. If you believe that God wrote the Commandments, then you have to believe that it is what God demands of them is the real answer.

People can rationalize, ignore, misinterpret, surmise, and many other human ideas of what the Commandments mean and how to obey them.

The fact is that even if we had the God written tablets with the Ten Commandments on them, we still would cheat on them.

It seems to me that one could even make a valid argument, that by taking the life of another, that you would be a God at least to that other person. In doing so, you would have broken another Commandment. You know, the one about who is God.

Here is a thought provoking question, was Jesus killed, murdered or treated like we treat people in a Hospice?

Jesus did break the law of the land at the time, and societies have always put to death people in their society that have committed serious crimes. Remember, Treason is an offensive punishable by Death, even if the person didn't do any killing themselves.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 25, 2010:

Allan McGregor--- Thank you for the clarification of QED.

I have read a similar objection to Immaculate Conception that touched on regarding Mary's parents, grandparents, etc. I suppose the idea is to remove Mary from Augustine's Original Sin ideas.

The rest of your exposition on this subject is truly brilliant. Thank you for providing this excellent response, which I could not articulate.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 25, 2010:

Dim Flaxenwick--- You are surely welcome. Thank you for reading my work and for your well received comments.

Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on February 25, 2010:

I cannot commend highly enough OpinionDuck's faithful heart in desiring to be as obedient to God as possible in relation to the Sixth Commandment. But let's face it, if it is to be obeyed with unflinching literality then we have the problem of God's inconsistency in giving Israel a bunch of Commandments, the penalty for breaking many of which is death. The actual Hebrew says: 'Lo tiratsach' - literally, 'No, you shall slay'.

But capital punishment for murder was laid down by God in Genesis 9:5&6, so man-slaying clearly meant more than just killing another human being.

We still recognise the degrees in law today. In Scotland we call them Murder, Culpable Homicide, Casual Homicide and Justifiable Homicide. The first two are criminal, the second pair are not. All of them are homicide, which our law concisely defines as 'the killing by another of a self-existent human being'. This thereby excludes 'abortion', which is a different crime in law, because a self-existent person must have taken their first breath independent of their mother.

Murder is a homicide resulting from any deliberate act to kill, or act so reckless as to show complete disregard for the consequences. Culpable homicide is more generally referred to outside Scotland as Manslaughter, an example of which might be throwing a stone at someone without any intention of killing them but nevertheless causing their death. Casual homicide is an otherwise obsolete use of a word once synonymous with 'accidental'. While driving soberly and legally within the speed limit one night, a drunk staggers out and trips in front of your car. You kill him instantly. Tragic, but not murder.

Justifiable homicide might be performed by a soldier killing the enemy in a theatre of war, a police marksman who takes out the guy with the gun shooting up a school yard, or the state executioner carrying out the lawful order of a court. It also covers killing in self defence.

The intent of God's heart is evident just three verses later in Exodus 20:16, 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour'.

It might surprise you to know that it doesn't say 'Thou shalt not lie', but refers to wickedly giving a false testimony for a vain reason.

For example, a secretary tells her boss that Herr Schmidt is on the phone. 'Tell him I'm not in'. She complies and lies. Has she broken the Ninth Commandment? Maybe not.

If you're shocked let me fill you in. Her boss is a Jewish businessman and Herr Schmidt is a member of the Gestapo.

The midwives of Egypt lied in just such a manner to Pharaoh, and were honoured and even rewarded by God. Rahab the harlot lied to the King of Jericho and is listed among the faithful in Hebrews 11, and her deceit commended by James as an act of faith.

And just as with lying, the question is not whether it is ever a good thing to kill, but whether it can ever be the right thing to do.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 24, 2010:

H P Roychoudhury--- I always love to receive your compliments, my dear friend from around the world.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 24, 2010:

rls8994--- Thank you so much for your wonderful accolades! I am well gratified to read your kind words. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 24, 2010:

itakins--- I will say that yours is the best explanation of "Immaculate Conception" I have seen. Thank you very much for coming back and explicating it so well for me, and for us. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 24, 2010:

OpinionDuck--- My understanding, which is admittedly limited, is that in the Hebrew language the word we have translated into "kill" truly means "murder." When Cain killed Abel it was murder, no? Just as if in a murder trial they said, "And then the suspect killed the victim with a sledgehammer while he slept." Everybody would understand that the killing was homicide, or the murder of a human person.

You are surely right that we do not know what side, if any, God takes on the battlefield in most cases. Sometimes, it seems that we do.

Thank you for explicating your beliefs. You are a learned person and a deep thinker.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 24, 2010:

Allan McGregor--- I can easily see why you are a Bible teacher. Your knowledge of Scripture displays diligent study coupled with spiritual discernment that is uncommon. I love the words you wrote here. It's all true. Thank you very much for adding a ton to this discussion. It's always illuminating to hear from you, my friend.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 24, 2010:

Kaie Arwen--- There you are! I had been missing you. I really enjoy your writing. It is top-notch. Thank you much for your laudations. This makes me feel good. And you are quite welcome.

Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on February 24, 2010:

James - QED is an abbreviation of ‘quod erat demonstrandum’ meaning, ‘which was to be demonstrated’. I suppose we would more informally express it today as: ‘There you are, then’.

Iatkins - You give a very erudite exposition of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception which is let down by only two things,

1 It is wholly unbiblical, and

2 It totally contradicts what we know that the Bible does say.

The corollary of the assertion that ‘The immunity from original sin was given to Mary by a singular exemption from a universal law through the same merits of Christ’ is simply nonsense.

If Yeshua’s mother Miriam could be granted immunity from original sin by divine fiat, then in principle we all could, making a liar of the God whose response to Jesus’ plea at Gethsemane was the Cross.

In Mark 14:34-36 we read: ‘And he said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful to death. Stay here and watch.” And he went forward a little and fell on the ground. And he prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take away this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”’

If indeed, Miriam’s immaculacy apart from the Cross was a prerequisite to her conceiving Jesus, then her parents must have been similarly blessed and their parents…ad infinitum. Original sin sorted! - thus relegating Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross to a redundant exercise in divine sadism, the principle of alternative immaculacy having already been established without it.

What actually happened is not such a mystery, but does require more than a superficial knowledge of the Scriptures and the profound depths of Judaistic theology, including something called the doctrine of Zelophehad.

Look again and see that there are two genealogies of Jesus: Through Joseph, in Matthew’s Gospel, and through Mary, in Luke’s. This is important because Joseph’s line was cut off from the Throne of David through Coniah, whose posterity God had cursed centuries earlier. However, Jesus was not conceived of Joseph, but by the direct impregnation of her ovum by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What the doctrine of the immaculate conception then fails to recognise is one of the most profound principles in all Judaism. In that religion all things fall into one of three categories: the holy, the clean and the unclean. In general any contact with an unclean thing contaminates the holy or the clean, rendering it ritually unclean pending various ritual cleansings and sacrifices.

This includes any woman in menses, who may not physically contact any other person. Even the chair she sits on or the cup from which she drinks is made ritually unclean by her touch. And so was the case of 'the woman with the issue of blood', who suffered 12 years of pathological PV bleeding, which condition made her a social outcast, unable to marry, or enjoy any normal social relationships because whoever she touched became unclean - with one powerful exception, which we read of in Matthew 9:20-21.

‘And behold, a woman, who had a flow of blood for twelve years, came up behind him and touched the hem of his garment. For she said within herself, “If only I shall touch his robe, I will be whole.”’

She knew something that apparently the Vatican does not: That to touch the tassel or tzit-tzit of a holy man’s tallit cannot render it unclean, because the tzit-tzit represents Yahweh whose infinite holiness can be neither overshadowed nor diminished.

The tallit (or prayer shawl) is often regarded as a garment ornamented with fringes and tassels whereas the very opposite is true. The whole reason for the garment is to serve as a vehicle to make possible the wearing of the tzit-tzit.

Jesus commended her faith and assured her of her healing because by faith she had not contaminated Jesus but connected to his holiness.

Likewise, Mary, while human, and as tainted by original sin as the rest of us, could not contaminate the Holy One in her womb, because of his divine provenance.

Dim Flaxenwick from Great Britain on February 24, 2010:

Acts 5 vs 29 One of my favourite scriptures. This was a hub and a half !!!!!! Great history lesson. Enjoyed every word. Thank you for all your hard work..

H P Roychoudhury from Guwahati, India on February 24, 2010:

A master piece writes up giving nicely the earlier history.

rls8994 from Mississippi on February 23, 2010:

James....All I can say is Wow! You have out done yourself again. I am learning so much from your hubs. Keep them coming!

itakins from Irl on February 23, 2010:

James-I appreciate that.

Re The Immaculate Conception;

The immunity from original sin was given to Mary by a singular exemption from a universal law through the same merits of Christ, by which other men are cleansed from sin by baptism. Mary needed the redeeming Saviour to obtain this exemption, and to be delivered from the universal necessity and debt (debitum) of being subject to original sin. The person of Mary, in consequence of her origin from Adam, should have been subject to sin, but, being the new Eve who was to be the mother of the new Adam, she was, by the eternal counsel of God and by the merits of Christ, withdrawn from the general law of original sin. Her redemption was the very masterpiece of Christ's redeeming wisdom. He is a greater redeemer who pays the debt that it may not be incurred, than he who pays after it has fallen on the debtor.

Such is the meaning of the term "Immaculate Conception''.

Read Genesis 3:15 and Luke 1:28

OpinionDuck on February 23, 2010:


I am not trying to diminish your expertise in religious history, but my version of the 6th Commandment as "Thou Shall Not Kill" is as valid as the version that uses murder in place of kill.

We know there are Ten Commandments, because the Bible tells us so in Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 10:4, and the following passage:

"He proclaimed to you his covenant, which he commanded you to keep:

the Ten Commandments, which he wrote on two tablets of stone."

Deuteronomy 4:13

Interestingly, Moses didn't appear to break any of the Commandments when he destroyed the tablets.

When Cain killed Abel, God didn't use the word murder then, and even if he did, he would have made the difference between a Commandment violation and a permissible homocide more explicit.

The time between the Cain event and the Moses tablet event were far enough apart in time, that many people were dying at the hands of another. Knowing how people are, God would not have worded the Commandments for mans use of loopholes.

Murder today in our society is a legal term for a type of homocide. It currently takes 12 jurors to determine murder.

The physical 2 tablets that God gave to Moses would have probably made it clearer than it is today to understand the 6th Commandment. Unfortunately, Moses destroyed those tablets.

Bill Clinton used language as his Impeachment defense by parsing and questioning all the words that were in the charges against him. (he won)

The fact is that we don't have the physical tablets.

War is not excused from the Commandments.

Christianity was not even victorious in the Holy Wars, so how do we know which side of God were all of the other wars.

People have not done any better job of interpreting the Bible(s), than they have in interpreting the US Constitution. So, it seems that people cannot be trusted to follow the word of God.

Perhaps, if Bill Clinton would have been able to prepare the defense for Adam and Eve, we would all still be in the Garden of Eden.

QED The proof is left for you

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

Allan McGregor--- I personally can't buy into the Immaculate Conception doctrine (or dogma?).

QED? hmmm . . . I don't know that one. It's Latin, right? Something like "end of story?"

Thank you very much for the high praise indeed. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

stars439--- Thank you, brother, for taking the time to read my article. It means a lot to me that you appreciated it.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

itakins--- I have changed those two captions to read "veneration" not "worship." That was an insensitive mistake on my part. I apologize. The Virgin Mary is surely blessed among women and shall be called so forever--including by me. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

dfelker--- That is a very good analogy. Thanks for sharing that with us here. I really appreciate your readership and kind compliments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

Hello, hello,--- You have made my day with you lovely comments. You've made me very happy. Thank you. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

BDazzler--- Well, welcome aboard! I'm glad to have you here. Thank you for the encouragement. I think I'll write some more!

Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on February 23, 2010:

You're spot on James: 'God has provided much more guidance besides the Ten Commandments, as foundational as they are'.

Paul is unequivocal in Galatians 3:10-11.

'For as many as are out of works of the Law, these are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the Book of the Law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is clear, for, "The just shall live by faith." But the Law is not of faith; but, "The man who does these things shall live in them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone having been hanged on a tree")'.

Christians are not under Law but under Grace, which Paul went to great pains to explain does not imply that believers are subject to a lesser standard but a higher one because, as he explains in Romans 6:14-15,

'For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law, but under grace? Let it not be!'

Paul was extremely scathing towards any who might hide behind a pretense of grace to justify their own continuation in sin. But he was uncompromising in his insistance that Christians are not under the kindergarten provisions of the Ten Commandments.

The Law commands the unregenerate man to refrain from murder, whereas the inner transformation engendered by grace renders the requirement redundant by removing the desire to kill and replacing it with that of love.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

Tsahdakeyah Cohen--- Is that your given name? (Not that there's anything wrong with it.) Thank you very much for your kind compliments. I am pleased to meet a kindred spirit. If you wish to use my writings, go right ahead. I don't have very many original thoughts anyway. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

OpinionDuck--- Thank you for the compliment. My answer to your question is that firstly, not everyone does care. Those that do I suppose are like me: I just love the study of history because it helps me piece together how the world got to be how it is today.

I think having a church, meaning a place where people worship communally and publicly, is a very good thing. I believe that the Ten Commandments are the core of all monotheistic religions. But God has provided much more guidance besides the Ten Commandments, as foundational as they are. I suppose that to believe this you would first have to believe that God speaks to men and sometimes tells them: write this down.

It doesn't say "Thou shalt not kill." It says "Thou shalt not murder." As in,murder the innocent. This does not apply to soldiers on a battlefield, if that is what you mean. It means the same kind of murder we prosecute today. Thank you for visiting and commenting. You always keep me on my toes. :)

Kaie Arwen on February 23, 2010:

James- Completely fascinating...... and so well written! I think you've topped yourself in the writing of this chapter............ thank you for all of the great information. I enjoyed every word!


Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on February 23, 2010:

Once again, a concise and clearly written treatment of a potentially confusing area of study. I know many Roman Catholics who are unaware of the difference between the unbiblical doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Biblical doctrine of the Virgin Birth.

That Mary was not immaculate is clear from her own confession in Luke 1:46-47, 'And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour..."'

An immaculate human being would have been in no need of a Saviour - QED.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

HealthyHanna--- You are looking for short, concise summaries with enough information to get the job done? I found that very interesting because that is exactly what I strive to write for HubPages.

Thank you very much for your kind words. And you are welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

50 Caliber--- You are quite welcome. Thank you for your well received compliments. If there is one thing I cannot abide it is butt banging in movies. Especially when not forewarned. In which case I wouldn't ever watch it in the first place.

Old time people were a lot smarter than given credit for. Doctor Arderne was an amazing fellow. I ran across his story while researching this article and though he doesn't really fit in the History of Christianity--which is my main focus--his story was so compelling to me that I had to touch on it briefly. I appreciate your excellent comments.

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on February 23, 2010:

Very educational work and interesting. So very fascinating and a study in it's own right. So much can be learned in history to guide a more promising future. God Bless You.

itakins from Irl on February 23, 2010:

Catholics venerate, or honour, Mary in prayer and song. Some people mistake prayer and veneration for worship, but to Catholics, they aren‘t the same thing.

Prayer is simply entering into communication with a holy spirit. Veneration is giving special honor to a saint. Worship is for God alone, and Catholics worship only God through the mass and prayer

In Luke’s gospel, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth said “Blessed are you among women” and Mary acknowledges this blessing by saying “all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

dfelker on February 23, 2010:

Wow, who needs History Channel when we have you! That thing about predestination is always confusing, but I've a good way to explain to the kids - When you go to Baskin Robbins, there's lots of flavors to choose from, and you have a choice. But I already know as your mom that you're going to choose the chocolate! Doesn't mean our free choice is restricted, but that our heavenly Father knows us so well, so intimately, that He already knows what flavor we're gonna choose. Keep the great articles coming for us to keep reading!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

A M Werner--- Thank you for your applause. It feels good. A filling feast. Nice thing to say. I appreciate the recognition of my work. I'm just doing what I'm told. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

"Quill"--- Thank you for reading my article. I am gratified to humbly receive your accolades and blessings. There is more to come.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

michigaman567--- I know you said I don't have to respond but that is my way. So, hello my fellow Michigander! Thank you for the affirmation and encouragement. I appreciate your support.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on February 23, 2010:

James, what more can be said about you fantastic work which hasn't already been said in those comments. Yes, Rome was lousy in those days it is still only the methods have changed. Thank you for such a well written hub. You have excelled yourself again and I enjoyed reading it.

BDazzler from Gulf Coast, USA on February 23, 2010:

I am finding these hubs (this one and the previous one on Wycliffe) to be quite enlightening and well presented. Keep up the good work!

Tsahdakeyah Cohen on February 23, 2010:

This yet another impressive historical piece. We seem to brothers of the same spirit in such matters. I would like permission to use your articles as references to much of my writings in the future. Religions, religious dogmas and the crimes perpetrated against humanity in its name will be their focus.

OpinionDuck on February 23, 2010:


Another great historical hub.

My question and comment is why should we care about the events of over so many centuries.

As far as I know, God didn't setup any church, it was man that did setup churches.

God didn't protest the Catholic Church, mere men did that.

Then these protesters, protested the original protesters and on and on. God didn't make these choices in religion, man did that.

God was only involved with one rule and Ten Commandments.

The rule for Adam and Eve is moot now.

The evidence of the Ten Commandments is no longer in its God created tablet form.

If ever there was a common core for religion, any and all religions, it should be the Ten Commandments.

If there is only one true God, then there should only be one true religion, and the Ten Commandments should be the focal point of its belief. Surely, Jesus didn't change the Ten Commandments.

No matter the religion, the religious leaders shouldn't be able to change the meaning of the Ten Commandments.

Thou Shalt Not Kill.

This commandment didn't come with an explanation or any exceptions, yet religions and churches allow it to be done by society.


HealthyHanna from Utah on February 23, 2010:

Well done. What an education in a small article. This is what I am looking for, short, concise summaries with enough information to get the job done.

Thanks, it is good to know our Christian heritage

50 Caliber from Arizona on February 23, 2010:

James, another great historical piece, Quietness and Trust brought some twisted yet funny comments to the table. I believe "anal Fistula" was included in a film called "Cruising" or some such and was way more disturbing than "Broke Back Mountain" I say that loosely as I have never seen the film, just the reviews which disappointing because I thought it to be a good cowboy movie only to find from reviews it was a butt banger. Back to on topic, I find the early surgical portion of interest as it has been a short while ago that I read an article that showed that they had unearthed surgical tools as well as brain surgery tools that were thousands of years old and matched in shape and utility those in use today, making me think we as humans have reached this stage before and suffered a set back of some type making the process start from the beginning again. I wish I could provide a link as you the great historian, would probably enjoy it as I did. Thanks for another history lesson! You are quite good at it.

Allen Werner from West Allis on February 23, 2010:

James, this is so filling, there is no way to consume it all at one sitting - it is a feast I truly enjoyed. I'll have to come back and reference this several more times. There is no denying the time, energy and knowledge you invested in this hub. (round of applause). Peace.

"Quill" on February 23, 2010:

Excellent writing James...worthy of an encore I know...well done...


Dave Smith from Michigan on February 23, 2010:

Great job James, I learned a lot. I never read about the two popes before.

I like your opening line. I also like this line:

choose you this day whom ye will serve...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

You are providing a great service to the Lord and to Hubpages.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

carolina muscle--- I'm sure glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for the compliment. Thank you for reading my article.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

quietnessandtrust--- I actually found current photographs of anal fistula during my research but they were too gross to use--even for me. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

Ann Nonymous--- Thank you! It's always a pleasure to see you. I appreciate your visits.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 23, 2010:

quietnessandtrust--- Boy. I don't know if I should touch this one. :)

Thank you for reading my history Hub, leaving your comments, and your compliments.


carolina muscle from Charlotte, North Carolina on February 23, 2010:

James: I enjoyed the whole article, but particularly the section on the Vaudois. Well done!!!

quietnessandtrust on February 22, 2010:

"Anal Fistula"

Sounds like a movie I would not care to see.

Ann Nonymous from Virginia on February 22, 2010:

I love your opening verse, James...A lot of interesting facts here! Always like coming over!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2010:

gusripper--- I hear you. I was saving Byzantium for next time. I may do a Hub only on Byzantium up to 1453 when I resume this series next week. Good eye. Thanks for the reminder.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2010:

RevLady--- Yes, I have a copy of Imitation of Christ and I enjoy it very much. I appreciate the appreciation. :-) You're welcome. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2010:

Angela Blair--- You are truly welcome, Sis. I am quite gratified to read your laudatory remarks. You've made my day. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2010:

lorlie6--- Thank you for the lovely compliments. I am so glad that you enjoyed this article so well.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 22, 2010:

sheila b.--- Thank you very much for becoming my first visitor! I appreciate your compliments.