Taking a stand

I learned a new name this morning. Peter the Chanter. Peter stood up against the execution of heretics based on scripture.

There was at least one medieval theologian and ethicist who publicly objected to the Church’s willingness to encourage the sword to “cleanse” the land of “heretical filth.”3 His name was Peter the Chanter (d. 1197), and he taught theology and ethics in Paris from 1173 until his death.4 But Peter did more than lecture from ivory towers—where he saw injustice, he tried to change the minds of the decision makers.

However, toward the end of the twelfth century many scholars, under pressure from Church leaders, began to argue that heresy could warrant capital punishment. Peter, however, disagreed, and as the first Parisian theologian to “produce a systematic commentary on all the books of the Old and New Testaments,”9 he offered a biblical defense.

go read the (short) article for the details. I love stories like this where someone stands on scripture no matter who in positions of power disagrees with them. Martin Luther is the most obvious example, but Peter the Chanter belongs in that pantheon as well.

Hat tip to Tom Ascol.


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