Albigenses

Albigenses was a heresy during the middle ages that developed in the town Albi in Southern France. This error taught that there were two gods: the good god of light usually referred to as Jesus in the New Testament and the god of darkness and evil usually associated with Satan and the "God of the Old Testament." Anything material was considered evil including the body which was created by Satan. The soul, created by the good god, was imprisoned in the evil flesh; and salvation was possible only through holy living and doing good works. At death, if the person has been spiritual enough, salvation comes to the believer; but, if the person has not been good enough, he is reincarnated as an animal or another human. The Albigenses denied the resurrection of the body since it was considered evil.

The Albigenses taught that Jesus was God, but that He only appeared as a man while on earth. It also taught that the Catholic church of the time was corrupted by its power and wealth. Their asceticism and humility compared to the great affluence of the clergy helped to bring many converts to this evangelistic movement.

There were two types of Albigenses: believers and Perfects. Believers were Albigenses who had not taken the initiation rite of being a Perfect. Perfects denounced all material possession. They abstained from meat, milk, cheese, eggs, and sexual relations. To become a Perfect, a believer had to go through consolamentum, an initiation rite involving the laying on of hands that was supposed to bring the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Infrequently, suicide was practiced as a way to rid oneself of the evil human body.

In 1208, Peter de Castelnau, an official representative of the Pope, was murdered by an Albigenses. Since they had been growing in number, becoming a threat, and would not convert to Christianity, Pope Innocent III ordered them to be wiped out. The persecution was fierce, and the movement was stopped.

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