Gottschalk – Lone Voice in the Night (7)

…We send to you this vagabond monk, in order that you may shut him up in his convent, and prevent him from spreading his false, heretical, and scandalous doctrine.
Rabanus Maurus, Archbishop of Mainz

Hincmar, the bishop of Rheims, read the letter that came along with the heretic standing before him. Guards stood on either side of the monk. Hincmar had heard of Gottschalk and his teachings before. Hincmar agreed with Rabanus. He crossed his arms.

“It is a serious matter to teach heresy,” Hincmar said to Gottschalk. “I have heard of your horrible lies. If you continue in them, there will be severe consequences.” Hincmar narrowed his eyes and lowered his voice. “But I will give you another chance, Gottschalk. Deny what you have spoken at Mainz. Recant. If you recant, terrible things will not happen to you.”

As weary as Gottschalk was from the journey, he stood firm before the bishop. “I will not recant. What I have said is the truth of Scripture. I will not deny the Word of God.”

“Lock this monk up in his room,” Hincmar ordered. “We shall yet see if he will recant.”

Hincmar called for another synod to be held, this time in Chiersy, in 849. Gottschalk would not give in, and neither would he. Maybe another synod would make this stubborn monk recant.

Yet Gottschalk stood firm against these things once more. “I will not deny what I have said. There is double predestination. Christ did not die for all men. God does not want all men to be saved,” he confessed before the bishops and clergy there.

It was not so easy to argue against the monk. He came with Scripture to explain what he believed. This synod would not be the end of the matter. But for the time being, the men at Chiersy voted to agree with Hincmar’s arguments, and not Gottschalk’s. They decided that there is only single predestination, that God wants all men to be saved, and that Christ died for all men.

And now, with the Synod’s decisions, Hincmar was prepared to carry out his threats. Hincmar excommunicated Gottschalk. The monk did not belong to the Church of Rome anymore. No longer was he a priest. In the city square for all to see, Gottschalk was severely whipped. With deep wounds on his back, he was put into the dungeon of the convent at Hautvilliers.

Hincmar was right—terrible things did happen. But a worse thing did not happen. Through it all, Gottschalk did not recant.