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Actually, everybody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Audio only:

When people want to criticize Catholic history the inquisition is one of the “go-to” topics. In this episode Trent sits down with Catholic Answers president Chris Check to expose the myths and realities of the inquisition and how its lessons still apply today.


Welcome to the Counsel of Trent podcast, a production of Catholic Answers.

Trent Horn:

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, except everybody does because that Monty Python joke has gotten old. What hasn’t gotten old though are criticisms of the Catholic faith based on the Inquisition, based on a lot of things in history that people don’t understand. Joining us today on the Counsel of Trent podcast is Christopher Check, he is the president of Catholic Answers, and actually has a new course at our school of apologetics on the Inquisition and that is what we’re going to talk about today.

Trent Horn:

For those of you new to the show, my name is Trent Horn, Catholic Answers apologist and speaker. This is the Counsel of Trent podcast. Tuesdays and Thursdays we talk apologetics, theology. Friday, we talk about whatever I find to be interesting. If you’re listening to the podcast though, be sure to also go to YouTube because you can watch all the podcast episodes on YouTube, subscribe there, and you can check out our interview now taking place in the Catholic Answers Studio. So, Chris, welcome back to the Counsel of Trent.

Christopher Check:

I’m happy to be back. I think the last time we were talking about whether a Marine rifle platoon could defeat a Roman legion or something.

Trent Horn:

Yes, I was doing-

Christopher Check:

Important topic.

Trent Horn:

It was a free for all Friday, who would win?

Christopher Check:

Yes.

Trent Horn:

So, you have like bear versus gorilla, and this one was-

Christopher Check:

Bear.

Trent Horn:

Well, with bear versus gorilla, I would say, look, if two guys are fighting and one guy is bigger and has knives, I mean…

Christopher Check:

Yeah. Well, the California grizzly especially, which, alas is extinct. That bear that’s on our flag.

Trent Horn:

Right.

Christopher Check:

Or my flag, not yours anymore.

Trent Horn:

No, I just have one star on my flag.

Christopher Check:

The lone star. I have a lone star hanging in my office, as you know.

Trent Horn:

Nice, good.

Christopher Check:

Yeah. Yeah, that California grizzly went extinct. The last one was shot in the ’20s, I think. But it ate a lot of people. It was eating people.

Trent Horn:

Yeah, but he’s another victim of American colonialism and imperialism. He was just a nice indigenous part of the California population that Europeans were imposing their values upon.

Christopher Check:

Yes. Don’t eat people.

Trent Horn:

Who are you to say the bear’s values about eating people are wrong? Which is going to be something that’s going to come up here in The Inquisition about value systems and what is right and wrong.

Christopher Check:

For sure.

Trent Horn:

So, that’s something I want to talk about today. You actually have a course that you’re teaching at the School of Apologetics on the subject, right?

Christopher Check:

I do. It’s about three hours. It’s I guess what we call one of our short courses. I believe that if someone sits down, it takes about three hours maybe a little bit less, with that course and works his or her way through it he will be able to, with much more knowledge and intelligence, talk about The Inquisitions, we should say.

Trent Horn:

Right.

Christopher Check:

I know we’ll come to that. Than most people.

Trent Horn:

Right.

Christopher Check:

Most people who think they have an objection, most people who think they have a defense, it’s an involved story.

Trent Horn:

And that’s what’s hard. For the vast majority of people, they would be critics, well unwarranted critics, whose knowledge of The Inquisition could be summed up maybe in two or three sentences.

Christopher Check:

Right, there was torture, they killed a lot of Jews.

Trent Horn:

The Catholic Church was basically just Big Brother but running around with the torture rack and things like that.

Christopher Check:

Right, right.

Trent Horn:

That’s all that they understand of it and there are some apologists who try to correct the church’s teaching, who can gloss over the significant human failures that can occur in any kind of human system of leadership and governance.

Christopher Check:

To be sure, and we talk about some of these failures, in fact, in my course.

Trent Horn:

Good. So, we’ll jump into that. Why do you think though, before we get into the nitty gritty of it, why do you think The Inquisition… I think there’s really three things in Catholic history, and I think they all have something kind of in common, three historical episodes people tend to graft on to. That would be the Galileo affair, the Crusades, and The Inquisition.

Christopher Check:

I can tell you what they have in common. I have done [inaudible 00:04:13] courses on all three.

Trent Horn:

You have?

Christopher Check:

That’s right. The Crusades is not out yet, I think Galileo will be out soon.

Trent Horn:

Yeah.

Christopher Check:

But you’re right. Those are the controversial or neuralgic topics that people grab onto, anti-Catholics especially, and some Catholics when they want to demonstrate that the church is an imperfect institution or a wicked institution.

Trent Horn:

I think what they have in common is that they bump up against a very modern idea of absolute autonomy or idolizing freedom of worship and thought that what’s good isn’t necessarily the truth, but someone’s ability to pursue it.

Christopher Check:

I think this is an extremely important point that you make, Trent. When I talk about The Inquisition, I start with, okay, can we agree that there’s such a thing as a common good and that the members of a society have an interest in it? All right, now let’s not define necessarily what common good is, but can we agree that there is such a thing? And most people will say for sure, there is. And if they won’t, then that’s hyper-autonomy that you’re describing, you’re just not really going to get very far.

Trent Horn:

You won’t. You have to confront that because I think some people feel like, especially people who are not religious, the way society… they have a system of thought that’s inconsistent. On the one hand, they want to have unlimited autonomy, the idea that people should just be allowed to believe and do what they want as long as they don’t hurt other people, but then many of them also believe government should step in when I’m in a jam and help me out with things.

Christopher Check:

Right, right.

Trent Horn:

It’s like, well, wait a minute. Which one is it?

Christopher Check:

It’s an inconsistency. But I think actually, if you can get people to recognize that inconsistency, you might be able to bring them around to the idea of a common good. But in any case, if you can, then you can say, all right, well, are you willing to accept that in what we call the Middle Ages, I like to say the Christian age, but in the Middle Ages people’s understanding of the common good was different from what it is today. And then I go on to say, this is what it was. They so closely associated civic and religious, they much more closely associated civic and religious life than we do today. And why did they do that? Because they understood that the life they were leading was in fact a path to eternal life.

Trent Horn:

Right. Philippians 3:20 says that our commonwealth is in heaven, our citizenship is in heaven.

Christopher Check:

They understood themselves to be members of the city of God, if you will, albeit on this side of the veil. So that informed everything they did. Now, if you can accept that… Now you may disagree with it. You may say, “Well, that’s a silly way to look at the world,” or whatever, but if you can at least accept that people were motivated by that common sense of what the common good was or what common life was like, then you can say, “All right, well, then under that way of thinking, are you prepared to say that people thought that eternal damnation was in fact the worst fate that someone could suffer?” Well, yes. It was. All right. So if you’re prepared to accept those things, The Inquisition is not really that much of a mystery, because its apparatus, its methods, its operation was designed to avoid, or to prevent people, from going to hell or to prevent people from leading other people to hell.

Trent Horn:

Right. And I think that when people have conversations about The Inquisition, they don’t have to even memorize all the history, which they watch your course, they’ll get a good dose of that. They can just start by talking to someone and say, “Well look, is the most important thing we can do to prevent someone from going to hell?” And if the other person says no, okay, then we should talk about that first.

Christopher Check:

Right.

Trent Horn:

Because otherwise nothing else is going to follow.

Christopher Check:

No. The Inquisition is not going to make sense to you. You’re absolutely right. But if we can agree that keeping someone from going to hell is the most important thing that we can do, or we can express in the positive, leading someone to eternal salvation, the beatific vision, fine, then it will make sense. Then we can quarrel if we want about methods and excesses and things like that.

Trent Horn:

Right. Because it doesn’t follow, some people may think, okay, well, if you already set the ground rules like that, then your church could do anything to get people to heaven. And I would reply that’s not true because you have St. Thomas Aquinas would say, you can’t forcibly baptize someone, you can’t abduct the child of Jewish parents to raise them. Parents have natural authority over their children. There are things you cannot do, but there’s other things that civil society could do to support that common good.

Christopher Check:

Absolutely. So I think I’m coming around a long way to answering your question. One of the reasons people nowadays have objections to or concerns about The Inquisition or The Inquisitions, one reason is they don’t understand the world in which The Inquisition took place, the way medieval man thought and understood himself and his relationship with God, because they understand it in this modern sense that you’re describing of autonomy, of really recognition of self, more than anything that comes out of first the Protestant Reformation, then the Enlightenment, and then the series of revolutions, which we continue to live in.

Christopher Check:

The second reason I would say, Trent, is there has been for centuries now an anti-Catholic propaganda against the church, and as you said when you opened up, The Inquisition is one of those opportunities because of excesses. And also not just excesses but because of things that took place in The Inquisition that were commonplace and commonly accepted in that time and jurisprudence that today we don’t accept. And I would just say… the English versions of the Spanish Black Legend, for example, or Edgar Allen Poe’s short story Pit and the Pendulum comes to mind, or Mel Brooks or Monty Python to use more recent examples, and the comfy chair.

Trent Horn:

But just to understand, I think for a lot of people this also understanding the way the medieval church functioned, it’s also helpful when we look at the Bible, when we look at things in scripture like slavery, for example, that a lot of people anachronistically say, “Well, I live in 21st century America. We should just transpose what we do here back then and it would be better,” and they lose, for example, about the… before we get into the historical matters, the idea of autonomy and community that I mean really up until just a few hundred years ago, people did not see just themselves as… I think a lot of people, Chris, because people have been able to indulge in literature and cinema and film, they all think they’re the protagonist of the story of the universe.

Christopher Check:

Right.

Trent Horn:

Like my life is a movie and I’m the star.

Christopher Check:

And your iPhone provides the soundtrack.

Trent Horn:

Right. And so they really think of life like I deserve my happy ending like everyone in the stories I read, whereas even just 500 years ago, 800 years ago, biblical times, I was a part of the community.

Christopher Check:

Yes.

Trent Horn:

Without the community I would die. I would die. Most people, we can’t even fathom that back that in the Middle Ages most people, same in the ancient world, unless you were like a merchant or something, you didn’t travel more than 30 miles from your home.

Christopher Check:

Trent, I think especially, well, two things. One is, this is why I am at pains at the beginning of all three of these classes, Inquisition, Galileo, Crusades, to say before we do anything else, we are going to insofar as we can, understand the way the man of the period understood himself, the world in which he lived, and his relationship with God. You used the word community and I think that’s excellent.

Christopher Check:

A second problem here, especially I think that Americans have, because so much of our mythology is informed by this idea that we have in our imaginations of rugged individualism.

Trent Horn:

I do have to stop you right here. It is pronounced ‘Murica.

Christopher Check:

‘Murica. Okay, right. Very good. Yes, exactly. Now actually I think if you were to examine historically America, and one book that I like in this regard very much is David Hackett Fischer’s book, Albion’s Seed. It talks about the different kinds of British classes and ethnicities that settled America. I think we would find a lot more community than we tend to think of in the American story. But nonetheless, there are these stories of Westward expansion and some pretty heroic individualists, if you will, and then also captains of industry and things like that. We regard that as an ideal and there are things to admire in it, but there are also defects in it. So Americans especially have, and this is why the Catholic church has always had an uneasy relationship with America. Another Counsel of Trent, maybe.

Trent Horn:

Yes, America, we’re the only country that has a heresy named after it. There’s Americanism, I don’t think any other country… There are regions like Gallicanism.

Christopher Check:

Gallicanism I was going to say.

Trent Horn:

But I don’t know too many other heresies that countries get.

Christopher Check:

That’s true, that’s true.

Trent Horn:

Okay, well let’s jump into the history then for a brief overview for people to understand, and we hinted at this earlier, when we say inquisition, inquisitions would be a more proper term, that the three we would have in the 13th century would be the Albigensian and the Cathar heresy and inquisition, Spanish Inquisition around the end of the 15th century, and then what was the third? Like the Roman Inquisition after that?

Christopher Check:

Yeah. And in fact, you could say the Roman Inquisition, which is largely a response to Protestant, the rise of Protestantism. The Roman inquisition tried Galileo for example. We could say the Roman Inquisition continues to exist in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Trent Horn:

Right.

Christopher Check:

The Holy Office, Roman Inquisition became the Holy Office, which became the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Trent Horn:

I don’t want to gloss over that, that what we as Catholics look to now as the highest teaching office in the church, except for the Pope himself, the congregation for the doctrine of the faith was once the Holy Office of the Inquisition.

Christopher Check:

Absolutely. So we could even say that Cardinal Ratzinger, or Pope Benedict the 16th, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger was the chief inquisitor.

Trent Horn:

The grand inquisitor.

Christopher Check:

The grand inquisitor.

Trent Horn:

And some people, because of his conservative theology, did see him that way.

Christopher Check:

Yeah, yeah. But then you named the other two, of course, the Spanish Inquisition which precedes that. And then the one that gets it going, we call the Medieval Inquisition, which was a reaction to a particular heresy in the South of France, especially even the north of Italy a little bit called Albigensianism. It was a kind of a gnosticism or dualism. You can probably explain it better to your listeners than I can. There’s the material world and the spiritual world and the god of the material world is evil and the god of the spiritual world is good, and once you accept these things, well, then all kinds of bad practices follow.

Trent Horn:

It’s their way of trying to answer the question why is there evil. And one easy way is to say, well, evil comes from the evil god and good comes from the good god. And the good god is the god of the New Testament and the bad god is the god of the Old Testament. The Old Testament god made the matter and the New Testament god made the spirit. And so what was hard with the Albigensians… it’s always funny, Chris, when we read about heretics and heresies and movements, people always think like I would have never been an Arian, I would’ve never been one of those Cathars.

Christopher Check:

Can I just say at the time of the Arian heresy, a lot of what they said would have made sense to an ordinary person. I mean I’m glad the church straightened us out on this, but I spent a good bit of time looking into the fourth century and of course Arius is a vain person and that’s part of the problem, but it’s not like it doesn’t make sense to the human person.

Trent Horn:

No. The hypostatic union and the incarnation is a difficult doctrine to understand it.

Christopher Check:

It sure is. I’m sympathetic to the Arians. Let’s be clear, I’m not an area Arian.

Trent Horn:

It’s a heresy.

Christopher Check:

Yes I know.

Trent Horn:

But it’s not… you’re not going to get the entire Eastern church to fall away from something that’s just patently nonsensical.

Christopher Check:

Smart people.

Trent Horn:

Yes.

Christopher Check:

Yes. Many, many bishops.

Trent Horn:

And so people will say this, Chris, when I go online-

Christopher Check:

I don’t think I would have been a Cathar by the way because they were pretty weird.

Trent Horn:

Oh yeah, we’ll get to their weirdness.

Christopher Check:

Okay.

Trent Horn:

But you think some of them, when people say, “I would have never been one of those heretics.” If you are online and I see a variant of this online, if you say, I don’t care… Basically if you say this, “I don’t care what Bergoglio says or the Vatican or the CDF, I don’t care. I’m a Catholic, but I don’t care what they say. I know what the Bible says. I know the church’s tradition and I trust Father so-and-so,” congratulations, you’re in the same steps of the people who followed Arius.

Christopher Check:

Well said. Absolutely.

Trent Horn:

That’s exactly what they would have said. They would say, “I don’t care about them at Nicaea. Do you know what some of those bishops are up to? Father Arius, he knows the Bible in and out.”

Christopher Check:

Yes. Sings great songs.

Trent Horn:

Yeah. But you’re right though, when you get to the Cathars. What’s hard though is people then would say, “Well look at the Cathars. They’re called the good Christians and they practice generosity and kindness because they want to stay away from…”. They’re not involved in debauchery because they think sex is evil.

Christopher Check:

Well, perhaps at first, but they do descend into really bizarre sexual practices.

Trent Horn:

Yes. But also they’re undermining, and this is an important point when we talk about The Inquisition, when the state and the church are so intertwined that to rebel against sound theology can be seen as treasonous to the civil order, it’s not just… we’re not just debating about the structure of the Trinity. It’s like, should we have marriage as a bond or not care where babies end up coming from? And they were also endorsing-

Christopher Check:

Infanticide.

Trent Horn:

Infanticide, abortion.

Christopher Check:

Yep, yep.

Trent Horn:

Then you have to… But then I think for you to clear up, it’s not the church. The Inquisition was not going on a mass extermination campaign.

Christopher Check:

No, no. And just to finish your previous thought before that question, the Cathars, because they regarded matter as evil had grave reservations we should say about the mass.

Trent Horn:

Of course.

Christopher Check:

Because the mass uses matter in the dispensing of the Sacrament.

Trent Horn:

So if you’re forsaking the Eucharist, you have the problem what about the salvation of these people?

Christopher Check:

Right. And the confecting of the Eucharist. So there is desecration of churches by Cathars and this is kind of the flashpoint I think. But you’re right, when The Inquisition finally, and it’s Dominicans and we can go into as much history as you wish here, Trent. But when The Inquisition is finally coming into operation, one of the things that The Inquisition is trying to do, and this is something many people don’t know, they are trying to protect the innocent, because what’s happening is that there are Catholic vigilante mobs who are now taking justice into their own hands and going and finding these Cathar bands and these Cathar communities and there is slaughter, there is pillage and burning and this kind of thing. So innocent people are getting caught up in this vigilantism. So when The Inquisition comes into place in the South of France in this region, one of the things that they are trying to do is in fact find out… separate the guilty from the innocent so that the innocent can be protected.

Trent Horn:

And instilling these virtues, because obviously this idea of inquisition, inquisito, this is going back to Roman law.

Christopher Check:

Absolutely. It comes from Roman law.

Trent Horn:

And so-

Christopher Check:

And we’re just trying to find out the facts of a case.

Trent Horn:

So that’s the idea. Instead of vigilantism, you appear before a magistrate and someone accuses another. A person is accused and then the person has an opportunity to defend themselves. But what’s interesting is I believe the first name was [inaudible 00:21:02], this was a cleric in the 12th century who articulated one of the earliest formal versions of innocent until proven guilty as part of these proceedings. The inquisitor is going to go on a fact-finding mission, but the accused is given a presumption of innocence.

Christopher Check:

Sure. I think, by the way, coming out of the inquisition or that tradition are practices such as these and others probably that we can identify currently [inaudible 00:21:29] in Western law.

Trent Horn:

Right. That helps us to understand a little bit more of the Cathars, and also we can bundle into, this we jump forward a few centuries to the 1400s, Ferdinand, Isabella, the Spanish Inquisition. That’s a little bit different of a historical context, but it’s important to fill in and you can help fill in if I’m missing anything.

Trent Horn:

We’re dealing with the Islamic occupation of various areas of Europe and Spain who were referred to as the Moors, and they’re individuals who have converted from Judaism and Islam to Catholicism, the conversos.

Christopher Check:

Conversos, mostly Jews but some Muslims as well.

Trent Horn:

And though at the time, as happens in every age, you have conspiracy theories of people that they’re going to… and there are still Muslim armies like in the south of France and in other places that these people have assumed their positions of power, but they’re actually working for these other nefarious entities, whether they’re Jews or Muslims. So these conspiracies dwell up. But I think also in the Spanish Inquisition, people, just the same as in any human organization, lobby these accusations and charges to jostle for positions of power. Then you have the magistrates who are trying to sift through what are the legitimate concerns and what aren’t.

Christopher Check:

Yeah, it is a highly involved political, religious cocktail. And I think you’ve done a really very, very good job in summarizing it. But what I would underscore is you do have this… People think that Jews were killed in the Spanish Inquisition. None in fact were because no Jews were tried in it because they weren’t subject to-

Trent Horn:

Only Catholics.

Christopher Check:

Yes, exactly.

Trent Horn:

Jews weren’t subject to the laws of the church. But what they were trying to find out, and indeed in part because of this point that you made just not so long ago, that confessional unity and political unity are bound up. If this isn’t something that you’re prepared to accept about 14th and 15th century Spain, this thing’s not going to make sense to you. But it is the reality.

Trent Horn:

So you have this odd group of folks called conversos, some of whom have… What would be the word I would say? Authentically or legitimately or sincerely, there we go, converted to Catholicism, and then some who have not and some who are in fact plotting. I mean, there are examples where there were conversos within the hierarchy of the church and they were using church property to store up weapons and things of this nature. So it was a religious, political, hyphen in between there, threat that Ferdinand and Isabella had to resolve. And adding to the difficulty that they’re coming in is just the unification of Spain generally, which their marriage brings about. But Spain, the history of Spain is very tangled and we tend to think of it as a monolith, but even Spaniards today, you talk to someone from Barcelona and he is not from Madrid.

Trent Horn:

Barcelona. From Barcelona, senor senor.

Christopher Check:

But frankly, look at this Trent, and I don’t mean to get too far afield here, but we have one of the bloodiest civil wars in the modern period in Spain in the ’30s.

Trent Horn:

Right. Franco, yeah.

Christopher Check:

So there’s still quite a bit of division there. I think it continues to exist in Spain.

Trent Horn:

Another point to raise, so I think-

Christopher Check:

Just at the political level.

Trent Horn:

Right. I think that the point to raise when we talk about The Inquisition to avoid extremes in judging the historical acts involved, that it’s good to promote the common good of a society that is politically, culturally, and religiously unified so that it can operate and function and be protected from threats, foreign and domestic, to help people to be able to get to heaven, but then if we have that, we can disagree about what are going to be the best methods to promote the ideas that are good for people and the ones that aren’t.

Trent Horn:

I mean, we think about today, a lot of people treat the greatest threat to our union today is COVID-19. And they’ll say, you know what? Your personal-

Christopher Check:

It’s actually not.

Trent Horn:

No, it’s not. It is not at all, not at all. But people will say, “Well, the state will take drastic measures to make sure this virus” … and measures that people can be caught up in that turned out to be overreaching measures. And it is, it is good to keep people from getting sick or hospitals from being overwhelmed, but even with those good intentions, there can be overreaching measures in trying to achieve that good goal. And I think a similar thing can happen with the church and the state when it comes to heresy. So the catechism has a section on this because when it talks about… It says torture is wrong in paragraph 2297 and the authors of the catechism are like, we’re going to have to talk about this, people. So then the very next paragraph is, “In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the pastors of the church.” And notice here it’s talking about the state doing this, not the church.

Christopher Check:

Correct.

Trent Horn:

Because the church, for example, with The Inquisition, the church did not have the authority to execute people.

Christopher Check:

No, and I would also say this, and this passage that you’re referring to in the catechism I talk about in my course and it’s extremely important, torture was less common in the courts of The Inquisition than it was generally in the civil courts of Europe.

Trent Horn:

Right. Although it did happen.

Christopher Check:

Yes it did.

Trent Horn:

So it says, “Who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture.” And of course, we also have to factor in… so I’ll take another break in the paragraph, we have benefited from hundreds of years of psychology and understanding to know that torture is not, along with being an offense to human dignity is not-

Christopher Check:

It’s not a good way to get evidence.

Trent Horn:

Right because a man under torture will say anything to make the pain stop.

Christopher Check:

Sure. I think of the Templars of course who were subjected to torture by The Inquisition under Louis IV of France in the early part of the 1300s I guess, and these guys confessed to all kinds of things. One said, “I killed God.”

Trent Horn:

Right, but the same thing that cultures and societies learn and develop understanding, the same thing happens today, honestly Chris, in police stations across the country. You have police interrogation techniques that are not good at discovering the facts, they’re good at producing false confessions.

Christopher Check:

Right.

Trent Horn:

This happens. Look it up. You can watch them on YouTube yourself. You’ll see they’ll break someone down in a police interrogation room. The guy said he did a crime he never convicted to. Every human body understands this and grows and the church is no exception. Regrettable as these facts are, the church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood, capital punishment. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.

Trent Horn:

So I think that we’re trying to find a nuanced understanding of saying The Inquisition does not disprove the divine foundation of the church. It doesn’t mean every clergyman was on the up and up and doing the right thing though.

Christopher Check:

No, and early in the Spanish Inquisition is when we see most of the excesses. It’s actually when Torquemada takes it over that many of those are are considerably tempered. But as I said, torture was widespread in all the courts of Europe, secular courts of Europe. The Inquisition was known for infrequently using it, although it did, and then also the quality of the prisons of The Inquisition were such that criminals in secular prisons would often accuse themselves of heresy so that they could get transferred to a church prison because the digs were better.

Trent Horn:

I think that when you’re talking to someone about this, just go back to the main root, it’s good to help people get to heaven, to criticize and remove from society as much as feasible those things that will send people to hell, and then we can have reasonable disputes about how to achieve that goal. Some options will be better, some will be potentially not as good.

Christopher Check:

And then the only thing I would add to that is do your best to put yourself in the time and in the imagination insofar as you can of the people who were legitimately involved in this and don’t have this anachronistic way of looking at the past, as if by the way, our age is somehow superior, where we kill millions of babies and-

Trent Horn:

Right. Yeah. If they were to look forward-

Christopher Check:

And pretend a man is a woman. I mean, yeah, we’re so much more superior.

Trent Horn:

They might say for them in the 500 years ago, they might bring out more torture instruments to prevent our world from coming about. Anyways.

Trent Horn:

There’s one thing I want to note though that I think going into the 21st century, getting into the 2020s here, when you have things like cancel culture, woke culture, this idea that I feel like has come up more in the past 10 or 20 years, this idea that America is not just a place of just unlimited autonomy, you have people in Ivy League universities, major newspapers, the halls of power saying that we need ideological conformity.

Christopher Check:

Oh yeah, people who run the tech companies.

Trent Horn:

Yeah. It’s not just you can’t do things that are illegal on our platforms, you can’t spread ideas that we deem homophobic or transphobic because we disagree with your fundamental values and we believe your homophobic, quote unquote homophobic, transphobic, whatever phobic, language will cause harm and so we are going to root it out. That is what gets me that people who will criticize The Inquisition as being an offense to free thought will jump right behind de-platforming people today.

Christopher Check:

Yeah. Well, it’s because they’re right.

Trent Horn:

Yeah. So that’s actually common ground. It’s like what is important here is not what is the truth when it comes to the nature of God, the nature of man, and our relationship to Him. That’s what we have to get right first. Right, exactly. Well, where can people learn more about this topic and then can find out more about your course?

Christopher Check:

Schoolofapologetics.com, right?

Trent Horn:

Yep.

Christopher Check:

Yeah. And I encourage people to take the class. I can tell you I had a lot of fun putting it together. I’m so impressed with, as I know you are, with our video department here at Catholic Answers, that magnificent set that they built, the quality of the filming of the video is just really first rate. And then they put in the lower thirds and the online text and images and maps, and it’s just extremely engaging the way it’s done. I’m so impressed with our School of Apologetics and we just keep getting rave reviews, five stars, and I think some… I don’t know what Donna in marketing was telling me, 37 countries or something people have signed up for all over the world.

Trent Horn:

We’re getting the truth out to them.

Christopher Check:

Our classroom is the world.

Trent Horn:

Right. Schoolofapologetics.com. I know some books that I… Well, the two books that pop into my mind for this would be Ed Peters’ book, Inquisition.

Christopher Check:

Yeah, not the Canon lawyer Ed Peters, the historian Ed Peters.

Trent Horn:

Edward Peters.

Christopher Check:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And Henry Kamen is also quite good.

Trent Horn:

Spanish Inquisition, yeah.

Christopher Check:

Yeah.

Trent Horn:

Both of those, excellent historians.

Christopher Check:

The other guy that I would recommend, he may still be on the faculty at University of Wisconsin Madison or maybe he’s retired, he appears in First Things every now and then, his name is Stanley Payne, P-A-Y-N-E. He is first rate. By the way, for Spain generally, for Spanish history generally, I recommend his stuff.

Christopher Check:

You know what’s funny, Trent? It’s like the Crusades. When you actually dig into the scholarship, you find a lot of sympathetic accounts, or how can we say balanced or whatever the word is.

Trent Horn:

Right.

Christopher Check:

It’s when you pick up a Walter Scott novel, and frankly, I like Walter Scott, or watch Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven or whatever it is-

Trent Horn:

The worst crusade movie of all time.

Christopher Check:

Yeah. That you get this unrealistic version of things. But I’ve got to hand it to scholars. In the main with Galileo, with inquisition, with the crusades, there’s a lot of really good scholarship, even being done by people that you and I would regard as non-Christian or left wing or whatever the word is.

Trent Horn:

Right. Because when you get past a surface level analysis, you see that the world is a complicated place. Like the Gospel is a simple thing and an important thing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an easy thing for people to adopt.

Christopher Check:

Right.

Trent Horn:

And we see how that happens in a world plagued by sin. It’s not a neutral thing we’re trying to do to share the Gospel. We have evil forces combating us at every step of the way. And so when you have human sinfulness entangled in that, you’re going to get these historical complexities that emerge, but you can’t shy away from them. You have to understand them, nuance them, and then apply the major principles even to today.

Christopher Check:

Yeah. Well said.

Trent Horn:

Absolutely. Well Chris, thank you so much for stopping by again.

Christopher Check:

An absolute pleasure. Anytime.

Trent Horn:

Absolutely. And thank you all for listening. And if you want to support the podcast, help us to grow, be sure to leave a review, leave a comment here on the YouTube channel, click subscribe, and be sure to go to trenthornpodcast.com to be able to access other bonus content and help our channel grow.

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