Why believe in a religion that had the Inquisition and Witch Trials?

Christianity is not properly represented by the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials. Though these things happened in the name of "Christianity," it does not mean that this is what Christianity teaches. Instead, Christianity professes conversion by love, not by torture.  Those who used coercive means did so against the Christian scriptures.

  • Matt. 5:43-44, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.' 44 'But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.'"
  • Rom. 16:19, "For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil."
  • Col. 4:5-6, "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person."
  • 1 Tim. 3:7, "And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

There have been times in the Christian church where those who have claimed to follow Christ have done horrible things. They have done these things not because Christ teaches them, but because they have not listened to the word of God. As is frequently established in history when anyone comes into complete political and military control abuse almost always follows. The Inquisition was a Roman Catholic invention intended to root out all sorts of "heresies." The Inquisition used torturous means to force confessions out of people. Thousands were killed mercilessly and unjustly. The Protestant Reformation distances itself from the Catholic Inquisition, yet has its own sordid history. The witch trials we had here in America among some Puritans is an example.  They allowed their paranoia and ignorance to overtake reason and scripture.  As a result, many people were killed because they were accused of being witches -- and they weren't.

Again, this does not mean that Christianity is false any more than the police force is false because one or two cops did bad things in the name of the law. Instead of looking at the two cops, the whole of the police force, its goals, other cops, and its history of sacrifice and protection must be examined as well. The same holds true for Christianity. It has a great history of helping countless people, establishing orphanages, building shelters, helping famine-ravaged countries, and seeks to aid the downtrodden.

If anyone wishes to condemn Christianity because of the failures of its members, then will they also look at its successes and approve of Christianity? It would only be fair to look at the whole of Christian history and more importantly at what the Bible actually teaches, in particular the New Testament, from which Christianity is derived.

Believe in Christianity because Jesus Christ claimed to be God in flesh, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and has given us the New Testament. Believe in Jesus because He performed miracles in front of eyewitnesses, and He said that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Believe Christianity because of who Jesus is, not because of what some so-called Christians did in error.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.