A brief history of people who are now considered pillars of the church, but whose willingness to challenge traditional understandings were considered heresy at the time.

Peter Abelard (1079-1142) was a French Christian whose passionate belief in reason ran afoul of St. Bernard and other church authorities. Many church officials in his day defined “faith” as suspending our reason and trusting the church’s authoritative interpretations of scripture. Abelard wrote a book called “Yes and No.” Where he lined up those authoritative teachings to show their contradictions. You can imagine how that was received.

Abelard taught that the individual has not only the right, but the duty, to choose reason over faith. He wrote, “By doubting we are led to inquire, by inquiry we perceive the truth.” Though deemed a heretic by the authorities of his day, Abelard’s courage to think for himself planted the seed for a vision of Christian theology that would latter attract some of the great minds of history.