Petr Chelčický

15th century Bohemian Christian radical

Petr Chelčický (c. 1390 – c. 1460) was a Christian and political author in 15th century Bohemia (now the Czech Republic).

Our faith obliges us to bind wounds, not to make blood run.


Online translation by Enrico C. S. Molnár
  • Where else could this heavy slumber have befallen except here among the priests showered with riches and domains by the Emperor? Those men slept, benumbed by a heavy dream, (intoxicated by their newly won wealth) after a poverty to which they had held by faith. Formerly they preached about the poverty of Christ and his disciples and other faithful priests after them; now they reject poverty having accepted domains, imperial honors, and even precedence over imperial authority. (In their former estate) they accepted poverty as (a part of faith) commanded by Christ and His example. It shows that the priest must have been stunned in dream and have a blackening of his heart to be able to make this quick and easy change: after poverty, to plunge into such luxury and such an exalted position in the world. In the beginning he hid in caves, among rocks and in forests for Christ’s name, and behold, now the Emperor guides him around Rome, seating him on a white mare – or was it a white horse? No matter! It always was a ‘bird of ill omen’ – paying him homage ostentatiously before the whole world. That is the way it was recorded by those who wrote down what they saw for future generations: multitudes in Rome ran to behold that wonder shouting, “Papa, Papa! The Pope! What is it? What goes on? Look there, the Emperor himself saddled the horse and, seating the Priest, he leads him through town!”
    • Chapter 14, The Church Loses its Perfection Through the Donation of Constantine
  • It was then and there that the net became greatly torn, when the two great whales had entered it, that is, the Supreme Priest wielding royal power with honor superior to the Emperor, and the second whale being the Emperor who, with his rule and offices, smuggled pagan power and violence beneath the skin of faith. And when these two monstrous whales began to turn about in the net, they rent it to such an extent that very little of it has remained intact. From these two whales so destructive of Peter’s net there were spawned many scheming schools by which that net is also so greatly torn that nothing but tatters and false names remain. They were first of all the hordes of monks in all manner of costumes and diversified colors; these were followed by hordes of university students and hordes of pastors; after them came the unlearned hordes with multiform coats-of-arms, and with them those of the wicked burghers. The whole world and its wretchedness have entered Peter's net of faith with these evil hordes.
    • Chapter 14, The Church Loses its Perfection Through the Donation of Constantine
  • He who obeys God needs no other authority.
    • Chapter 26, State Authority is Outside the Moral Law
  • Our faith obliges us to bind wounds, not to make blood run.
  • And he says about the Christian discipline that when the soldiers came to John to be baptized saying, “And we, what must we do?” John should he have given them another answer: “Throw your weapons away, give up war service, wound and kill no one.” According to these arguments, it would seem necessary for the Roman Church to fight, to shed human blood, and to gain peace by the sword… For this reason there is a need of soldiers who would go to war for the Holy Church and for Country.
  • Wars and other kinds of murder have their beginning in the hatred of the enemy and in the unwillingness to be patient with evil. Their root is in intemperate self-love and in immoderate affection for temporal possessions. These conflicts are brought into this world because men do not trust the Son of God enough to abide by his commandments.
    • Chapter 81, Military Service and War are Contrary to the Law of Christ
  • The Church of Rome has allied herself with the state, and now they both drink together the blood of Christ, one from a chalice, and the other from the ground where it was spilled by the sword…
  • When the Jews were prisoners of the King of Babylon, they sent a message to the Jews of Jerusalem, saying,
    Pray for the life of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, and for the life of Belshazzar his son, that their days may be like the days of heaven upon the earth. And the Lord, will give us strength, … and we will live under the shadow of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, and under the shadow of Belshazzar his son, and we will serve them for a long time and find favor in their sight.
    This prayer was offered by prisoners – and they prayed for the king their jailer. He was their enemy, and yet they prayed for him…
    • Chapter 92, Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:1-3 There Can Be No Christian Sovereignty
  • Facts witness to the reality that [Christians] have abandoned God, that they have entered the world and become one with the world. Whatever the world considers praiseworthy – vanity, comfort, wealth, fancy notions, blasphemies – the Christians, too, praise with one accord, quite blatantly without shame and without conscience. We can find with difficulty one man in a thousand who does not conform himself to the world.
    • Chapter 95, Summary
  • A world contrary to God must be kept within bounds by the world’s sword. But true Christians love God and their neighbors as themselves; they commit no evil by the grace of God. It is not necessary to compel them to goodness since they know better what is good than the law-imposing authority. They have a knowledge of God within, which is a knowledge of His commandments and His love. Having His love within they do good to others and are just to all men in accordance with His law so that the authorities which rule the world have no occasion to find them guilty.
    • Chapter 95, Summary
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