The Influence of the Bible on Civilisation

9780217684064: The Influence of the Bible on Civilisation

Excerpt: ...all shedding of blood either in war or in the execution of justice. The fraternity called itself the Poor in Spirit. At the beginning they thought themselves to be true members of the church; only later, when the church denied to them the right of preaching, did they form a sect, Peter being ordained bishop and giving orders to other members of the community. Meanwhile a similar fraternity of poor men, or humiliati as they were called here, had made their appearance in the north of Italy. It was a kind of workmen's union. So far as we know there was no connection at the beginning between this movement and the one at Lyons. Both started independently, and it was only later that they came into contact, without, however, amalgamating. The Italian fraternity spread from Milan all through that region and was rapidly extended into Germany, while from Lyons the Poor went through France and even through Spain. It was an enormous movement among the laity, and it was stirred by the Bible. Peter Waldo desired to have the Bible translated into his own vernacular; and it was by reading the Bible that these people got their enthusiasm and their eagerness even to suffer persecution and death. Many scholars in former days treated this Waldensian movement as truly Protestant; they used to call Peter Waldo and his followers reformers before the Reformation. The Protestant church in Italy, calling itself Waldensian and growing in our own day more and more vigorously in the spirit of Calvinistic Protestantism, seemed to support this view. And yet it is wrong. The true Protestantism of the Waldensians dates only from the sixteenth century, when they came in contact with Geneva, and then went over to Calvinism. Before this they had been something quite different, THE POOR OF LYONS AND MILAN 99 a purely mediaeval form of Christianity. The characteristic point is that they take the gospel as a law, exactly as the monks did. If the monks kept to poverty, fasting, praying,...

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