2 The Bible and Witch-Hunts Anonymous
THE MALLEUS MALEFICARUM
Dean R. Dowling
(Investigator 112, 2007
James 6 of Scotland became James 1 of England when Elizabeth 1 died. In 1590 James wrote a treatise for finding and prosecuting witches, the Demonologic, and included one infallible sign for a witch – if she had the Devil's Hood, the clitoris (The clitoris was the teat on which devilish "familiars" sucked). Read the Tyrannicide Brief by Geoffrey Robinson, page 73.
The infamous 1486 Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer for Witches) by Dominicans Sprenger and Kramer and justified by Exodus 22:18, Deuteronomy 18:10 and Galatians 5:19 was the Inquisitors handbook of questions and torture to be used by the best legal and judicial brains at the witches trial. The Malleus is still in print, Dover Paperback.
The 1928, 1948 prefaces
for the English
by Rev Montague Summers is an eye opener as to the modern religious
Quoting the 1948 preface page (viii),
"The Malleus is among the
wisest and weightiest books of the world." Page (ix) "From the point of
psychology, of history, it is supreme – what is surprising is the
of the book – there are cases which occur in the law courts today, set
out with the greatest clarity, argued with unflinching logic and judged
with the scrupulous impartiality."
(1) The actual Malleus page 6 says, "For witchcraft is high treason against God's Majesty. And so they are put to torture to make them confess – all their goods sold by public auction – those who consulted or resorted to witches were punished with exile and confiscation of all their property."
Confiscation of all their property, whether lawfully acquired or not, except for personal clothes and photos happens now in 2006 for those identified and not even charged with the production and/or trafficking in the illegal drugs like cannabis, heroin etc.
This is of the same religious mentality as the Malleus. (See the W.A. Criminal Property Confiscation Act 2000)
(2) Page 47 Malleus, "All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable."
Midwives who carried the knowledge of the ancient contraception methods (including herbal) were special targets of the Inquisition.
Anonymous dobbing in was much encouraged and children denouncing their parents justified (Matt 21:16).
The Protestants were just
as bad, Luther
in the Wittenberg sermons urged his followers to hunt and torture
Calvin advocated mass executions and thought the court at Geneva far
lenient. Read "The Misery of Christianity" by Dr Joachim Kahl,
Protestant theologian, Page 83.
There were 50 odd questions to be considered in the witch trial e.g.
Question 1: "Whether the Belief that there are such Beings as Witches is so essential a part of the Catholic Faith that obstinacy to maintain the Opposite Opinion manifestly savours of Heresy."
Note how the religious/legal mind put itself in an infallible position – to deny the existence of witches was a burning-alive offence in itself. Similarly with our present Drug laws.
Anyone criticising the torture was in danger of despising the word of God and being a heretic. More legal infallibility.
Question 3: "Whether Children can be generated by Incubi and Succubi."
Incubi were when the Devil changes into a man to make a woman pregnant.
Succubi were when the Devil changes into a woman and can be made pregnant by a man.
The monsters conceived in this way (wolves heads, fishes tails) had to be fed with ordinary children. ("The Misery of Christianity" Dr. J Kahl, page 82)
Question 6: "Concerning witches who copulate with Devils – Why is it that Women are chiefly addicted to Evil Superstitions?" and so on.
The Malleus had more than
30 reprints by
1669 in an age of high illiteracy and the official witchhunts lasted
than 600 years – 1234 to the last witch drowned 1836.
The excuses used by Christian apologists:
(1) Ignore and pass it
over in silence.
(2) "Luther was a child of his times." But religion set the spirit and laws of the time.
(3) Admit the vague and abstract and then say the atrocities were not committed by "true" Christians.
But why didn't God send Angels to tell Sprenger and Kramer and the Popes they had "misinterpreted", "taken out of context," Ex 22:18, Dt 18:10, Gal 5:19? As he sent an Angel to tell Joseph, Mary's adultery and pregnancy was due to the Holy Ghost (Matt 1:20). God has the power to send Angels anywhere, anytime.
But perhaps the Malleus is very formal, logical, academic, legal and utter bullshit??
(4) This excuse beats the
lot. It was not
the witches themselves, but the mad delusion of those who persecuted
that came from the Devil. The Inquisitional judges were the deluded
of Satan. (Kahl, page 94, Nigg 1962).
THE BIBLE and WITCH-HUNTS
(Investigator 113, 2007
Witchcraft and The Maleus
"Formal, logical, academic, legal and utter bullshit." That's Dean Dowling's evaluation of The Maleus Maleficarum. (#112)
The Malleus (1486) gave instructions on interrogating people accused of witchcraft. Guilt was assumed and accused persons were either found guilty or died during interrogation.
About 30,000 "witches" were executed in Europe in 300 years commencing about 1450, the last ones in Switzerland in 1782.
In Germany the witch-hunt
highest intensity in the early 17th century. Contributing
In the 15th century belief in witches who cast spells, ride on broomsticks, cause natural calamities, and have sex with the Devil became commonplace. The belief developed over the previous 1,000 years as story-tellers added juicy details to existing beliefs in pagan magic, herbal medicine, veneration of relics, demons, the evil eye, etc. (Maxwell-Stuart 2000)
Not everyone in the "witch craze" centuries was stupid, cruel, and irrational. The era coincided with the rise of science. Hundreds of men, enthused by belief in the Bible and its "God of order", founded scientific disciplines that subsequently benefited billions of people. (Investigator 13)
With the rise of education and Bible-distribution, Bible understanding improved. The Bible nowhere sanctions interrogation by torture – rather investigation by evidence and questioning of "witnesses".
Friedrich Spee (1591-1635) a Jesuit in Germany authored Cautio Criminalis (1631). Spee argued that people who are tortured will confess to anything to avoid further torture and therefore confession obtained by torture is unreliable.
The Bible verses
witch-hunters relied on
There shall not be found
among you any
who burns his son or daughter as an offering, any one who practices
a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a
or a necromancer. (Deuteronomy 18:10)
The two verses were part of the law "covenant" or contract between God and Israel and there is no sanction for anyone else to carry them out. (Psalm 147:19-20)
Compare a modern contract, perhaps for a bank loan with penalties for non-repayment. The contract is solely between the bank and the borrower. Other people are uninvolved and they neither do the repayments nor are penalised for not doing so.
The bahaviors listed in the two quoted verses were Canaanite religious practices, which if widely copied would destroy Israel. Adopting them was betrayal of religion and country. By the Law of Moses, Israelite promoters of such evil deserved death to stop Canaanite evil from spreading. We can compare this to the death penalty in 20th-century countries for traitors who worked to undermine their country's sovereignty.
However, I repeat, that was under the Law Covenant of Moses.
The New Testament contains the "new covenant" or new contract. In this, people are to "do no wrong", "cast off the works of darkness", "love your neighbor" and let the secular authorities deal with crime, traitors and whatever. (Romans 13)
"Sorcery" in the New
5:19-21) referred to religious practice in the Roman Empire. The New
penalty is excommunication not killing or torture. (I Corinthians
Dowling lists "excuses" of Christian apologists for the witch-hunts. (p. 45)
However, "excuses" seems the wrong word.
In the 20th century, government by atheists and others who rejected the Bible inflicted more violent death and torture in a few years than all misguided ecclesiastical rule over centuries. Hitler – 30 million deaths; Imperial Japan – 25 million; Communist Russia and China – 120 million; North Korea – 5 million; Pol Pot – 1 1/2 million; Idi Amin – 400,000.
Does Dowling, if he's an
it his responsibility to give excuses?
Dowling asks why didn't God send angels to intervene?
Here I need to summarise
in a nutshell
deep theology on why God's permits evil to occur. The Bible teaches:
Point "4" answers Dowling's question: "Why didn't God send angels to tell Sprenger and Kramer [guys who interrogated "witches"] and the Popes they had misinterpreted?"
The answer is that Sprenger's and Kramer's ideas of good and evil were getting a tryout as everyone else's. Similarly with every successive generation: People reject points "1", "2" and "3", insist on their own way rather than God's, and consider themselves good and right but end up exposed as deceived evildoers.
Angels, in the Bible, came
to prepare the setting for the "Messiah" (Christ) through whom humans
realize how wrong they were and can become friends of God again. (John
Another opponent of witch-hunts and torture was German physician Johan Weyer (1515-1588) author of De Praestigiis Daemonum (1563).
Weyer explained symptoms and manifestations of witchcraft as medical and psychological conditions and condemned the use of torture to extract confessions.
Jesus warned, "With what
you will be judged." The Bible often states that people will be
judged by "what they have done". As a Bible believer Weyer echoed these
stern warmings to witch-hunters of his time:
Mr Dowling's evaluation of
as "bullshit" was correct. Yet, many people still believe in witches:
Modern belief in
witchcraft had gone in
frequently related to social change: between 1860 and 1890 with the
of aristocratic land ownership and in 1945-1946 with the flood of
refugees without men. The fantasy often soars prompted by envy and
Investigator Magazine No. 13, July 1990; No. 104, September 2005
Kopp, E. The German Tribune, 25 February 1990, p. 15
Maxwell-Stuart, P.G. The Emergence of the Christian Witch, History Today, November 2000
Pickering, D. 1996 Dictionary of Witchcraft, Brockhampton Press
Geddes & Grosset