The term anathema must be understood in the religious context, especially in relation to the Catholic Church. In this way, when the official position of the Catholic Church considers that a conduct or ideas are contrary to the postulates of Catholic doctrine , the people involved are declared anathema.
The declaration of anathema is usually accompanied by excommunication, that is, expulsion from within the church. In this sense, declaring anathema to a person means a form of severe punishment, as it means not complying with some sacred precept.
In relation to its origin, this term comes from the Greek anathema, which initially meant something despicable, rejectable or horrible. This meaning was later adopted by Catholic theology and the declaration of anathema came to mean something contrary to the faith and, at the same time, something cursed.
The Bible is a reference to establish this form of punishment
In the Holy Scriptures, there are several references regarding this concept. Thus, anyone who opposes his teachings of Jesus Christ and his doctrines is considered anathema, a term that in the Bible is equivalent to accursed. An example of this type of behavior contrary to Jesus Christ occurs if someone preaches a false gospel.
The Bible refers to this term to indicate that a people, family, or person broke God’s law and therefore committed a sin.
When this happens, the it is accompanied by a corresponding punishment. Over time, the Catholic Church established several ex- communication formulas and, therefore, when someone is excommunicated, they are also anathematized.
In the history of Catholicism, the most illustrious declaration of anathema was applied in the Protestant Reformation. More precisely at the Council of Trent, when the Catholic Church officially declared that the Protestant doctrine promoted by Luther established anathema.
Heresy, apostasy, blasphemy and anathema
These terms have a certain similarity, but each of them has its particularity. Thus, according to the Roman Catholic Church heresy is a misinterpretation of the true faith. Consequently, heretical behavior is one that opposes the official position of Catholicism.
The apostasy happens when a Catholic renounces his faith and departs from the teachings of the church. Blasphemy is an offensive action against God. Definitely, heresy, apostasy and blasphemy can be declared anathema, as these are positions or behaviors contrary to the official truth, which in theological terms is known as sound doctrine.