What Medieval Christians Taught
Brother Keith Sisman of Peterborough, England, has submitted the following material, drawn from his research in the Cambridge Library and elsewhere, concerning historical accounts of Christians in England and Europe. These incidents have not been widely known or publicized, so few Christians today would be aware of the stories of these who were probably our brothers in the faith. But, based on the promises in the Scriptures, that the kingdom of God would never be destroyed (“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed…” Daniel 2:44. “And He [Christ] will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” Luke 1:33), we present brother Sisman’s research:
What Medieval Christians Taught
Many people today are confused about what they see as doctrines of free will and baptism. Many are confused by different opinions from different denominations. We want to investigate what faithful evangelists and preachers throughout the ages have taught, as they were guided by the Bible, the Word of God:
Gundulphus was opposed to the doctrines of the Catholic church and taught against infant baptism, “Because an infant, that neither wills nor runs, that knows nothing of faith, is ignorant of its own salvation and welfare.” Gundulphus was an itinerant traveling evangelist who established and strengthened congregations of the Lord’s people throughout northern France and Belgium during the eleventh century.
Pierre de Bruis preached in Dauphine and Province, southern France. He seems to have been active from around 1100. He appealed for a return to the authority of the Scriptures and believer’s baptism quoting, “Go out into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Also he is quoted as saying, “But we await a time suitable to faith and baptize a man, after he is ready to recognize God and believe in Him, we do not, as you charge us, rebaptize him, because the man who has not been washed with the baptism by which sins are washed away ought never to be called baptized.” He was burnt alive at St. Giles, southern France (about 50 miles from Marseille) by the local people infuriated by his teaching.
In 1118 Gregory Grimm of Ensisheim, France died after being tortured, because he had been baptized by his grandfather who in turn had been baptized (by immersion for the remission of sins) by a traveling merchant from Venetia who was from the “only church of the saints.”
Everinus wrote to Bernard, a Cistercian monk in 1146 about a ‘sect’ that had “rejected infant baptism, churches are no longer conceived holy, nor the sacraments sacred, nor are the festivals any more celebrated. Men die in their sins, souls are hurried away to the terrible tribunal, without penitence or communion, baptism is refused to infants, who thus are precluded from salvation.” Of course Everinus’ understanding of the teachings was wrong, but the basic truths of the Scriptures, underlying the false conclusions, can easily be detected.
Sometime between 1157 and 1166, depending on whose account is read, between thirty and eighty men and women (German religious exiles) were brought before Henry the Second at Oxford (were Parliament was sitting). They used this opportunity “to proclaim the Gospel to king and parliament.”
In their beliefs they rejected the Roman Catholic church and its teachings. They said “that infants are not to be baptized, till they come to an age of understanding.” They believed in the Trinity. When asked who they were they replied that they were “Christians” and their only teaching came from the Bible, being “orthodox believers.” They were nicknamed Publicani or German heretics. The expression Publicani was also used in France during this period against Christians and it has been suggested is a mistaken form of the Macedonian designation Paulikanoi.
Keith Sisman is a Christian living in Huntingdon, Cambs, England
Let us, as Christians beginning the 21st century, take courage from the conviction and examples of these who determinedly held to the truth through the centuries, in spite of the beliefs of the majority and the pressures brought to bear by those religious groups in power.