Dangerous Ideas

My friend Andrew Reeves writes on Arc Digital:

What If An Idea Was So Dangerous It Could Lead To Your Eternal Damnation?

A discourse lesson from the High Middle Ages

We are used to thinking of a “dangerous idea” as the sort of thing an intellectual community might want to suppress, or a government might want to censor, or a publication might want to deplatform (or actively platform, for that matter), all so that society remains safe from the idea’s purportedly harmful effects.

But what if the harm were spiritual? And the danger it posed infinite?

What if an idea was so dangerous that it would lead to the eternal damnation of your soul?

What would you do with this idea? Would you box it up, stamp it out, crush any mention of it? Or would you debate it?

This was a very real question in Europe of the High Middle Ages, which roughly spanned from 1050 to 1350. Europe was not even understood as Europe, then, but rather as Christendom, the collections of peoples and nations that acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church. To reject the Church’s teachings and practices, either through unbelief or heresy — i.e., willful deviation of the Church’s teachings and practices — was to court damnation. The various guardians of the institutional Church therefore sought to quash even the suggestion of heretical ideas. Indeed, in the popular imagination, the Middle Ages is illuminated with men and women set ablaze for even so much as thinking a heretical thought.

Read the whole thing

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