|Date (AD)||Name||Fall Of The Tenth Part Of The City||1639||John Cotton||Fall of France|
|1654||Thomas Goodwin||Fall of France|
|1663||Henry Moore||One of the 10 kingdoms falls|
|1684||Thomas Beverly||Fall of France|
|1685||Jacques Phillipot||French Revolution|
|1687||Pierre Jurieu||French Revolution|
|1689||Drue Cressener||One of the 10 kingdoms falls|
|1697||Samuel Sewall||Fall of France|
|1700’s||Adam Clarke||French Revolution|
|1701||Robert Fleming||Fall of France|
|1710||Increase Mather||Fall of France|
|1720||Charles Daubuz||French Revolution|
|1729||De Bionens||One of the 10 kingdoms falls|
|1734||Sayer Rudd||French Revoluion|
|1745||John Willison||French Revolution|
|1748||John Gill||French Revolution|
|1754||Thomas Newton||French Revolution|
|1756||David Imri||Fall of France|
|1757||Aaron Burr||One of 10 European nations falls|
|1781||Timothy Dwight||French Revolution|
|1789: Revolution Breaks Out In France|
|1789||Joseph Lathrop||French Revolution|
|1793||James Bicheno||French Revolution|
|1794||Joseph Priestley||French Revolution|
|1794||David Austin||French Revolution|
|1794||William Linn||Fall of France|
|1795||George Bell||French Revolution|
|1796||Joshua Spalding||French Revolution|
|1797||David Simpson||French Revolution|
|1798||Edward King||French Revolution|
|1798||Richard Valpy||French Revolution|
|1798||Joseph Galloway||French Revolution|
|1806||George Faber||French Revolution|
|1807||William Burkitt||French Revolution|
|1831||Alexander Keith||French Revolution|
|1851||Albert Barnes||French Revolution|
|1800’s||Family NT Notes||French Revolution|
|1862||Edward Elliott||French Revolution|
|1888||Grattan Guinness||French Revolution|
Michael de Semlyen
THE apostasy that we have witnessed in the twentieth century; the compromise on essentials and the attack on the fundamentals actually have their roots in the nineteenth century. That century provided Great Britain with unprecedented prosperity, political power and global influence as well as the ‘feel good factor.’ At the same time, prominent committed Christians such as Livingstone, Wilberforce and Shaftesbury brought the gospel to the lost and social reform to the deprived and excluded. Victorian values, to which we look back with such nostalgia today, were derived from the Scriptures and brought many blessings and earned much respect abroad. On the face of it, all. seemed to be well with the church too, but appearances were deceiving. Malign spiritual forces were at large, principalities and powers, spiritual wickedness in high places conspiring to undermine the very foundations of the faith.
During the course of that benign and well-intentioned century the Protestant Reformed religion established by law which for centuries had stood firm, yielded ground to its sworn enemy – and came under sustained attack on several fronts. The Catholic Emancipation Act was enacted in 1829 and the Jesuits allowed to return to England. Within four years the Romanising movement within the Church of England had been launched at Oxford. As we shall see, Anglo-Catholicism was set to play a crucial role in the attack on the foundations of the Reformed faith and in the strategy of the Counter-Reformation.
That strategy was laid out unmistakably by Cardinal Manning speaking to a gathering of Jesuit leaders in 1870 – the very year that Papal Infallibility was instituted.
‘Great is the prize for which you strive. Surely a soldier’s eye and a soldier’s heart would choose by intuition this field of England. None ampler or nobler could be found. It is a head of Protestantism; the center of its movements and the stronghold of its power. Weakened in England it is paralyzed everywhere. Conquered in England it is conquered throughout the world. Once overthrown here, all else is a war of detail. All the roads of the world meet in one point, and this point reached, all the world is open to the Church’s will.’
As at the time of the Reformation the Word of God itself came under sustained attack. The Futurist interpretation of Bible prophecy propagated unsuccessfully by the Jesuits at the time of the Reformation had been repackaged and disseminated into the church through the flood of tracts of the newly formed Brethren movement and the Anglo-Catholic Tractarians. This new understanding of Daniel, 2 Thessalonians and Revelation laid the foundation of a false theology of Antichrist – the spurious Scriptural basis for the modem ecumenical movement. A new Bible was required; and was duly produced by Anglo-Catholic scholars, Professors Westcott and Hort. Their Revised Version of the Bible was based on corrupted manuscripts rejected by the Reformation, but it became the father of almost all modem versions. Its translation of the prophetic passages related to Antichrist lent itself to the new futurist theology. Protestant author and former Secretary of the Protestant Truth Society, Albert Close wrote in 1916: ‘The Jesuits have enticed our theological professors and the Plymouth brethren to fire high over the head of the great Antichrist; one in the past the Praeterist, the other in the future the Futurist Antichrist. Between these two schools the whole Christian ministry has been mixed up, and is practically sitting on the fence. Few ministers now preach Daniel or Revelation.’ Of course that remains the case today.
Given the impact in the theological colleges and the wider church of the new Higher Criticism in the climate of Darwinism and advancing humanism it is not surprising that the new understanding of Bible prophecy spread as quickly as it did. The Schofield Reference Bible appeared in the 1920s and was greatly influential especially among Pentecostals. Full of scholarly footnotes, it incorporated Futurist theology into its Dispensationalist scheme in such a way that few were able to distinguish it all from the inspired Scriptures. Dispensational Futurism has subsequently spread widely in evangelical circles especially among Charismatics and is now accepted by the majority of Christians as the new orthodoxy. This has seriously weakened the spiritual armory of the church. With the Antichrist yet to appear and the Papacy vindicated from its accusers, the authority of Scripture was enhanced among those who sought reconciliation with Rome. The Counter-Reformation, so hostile and confrontational towards heretics in the past had emerged with a new face and a new strategy, and an ecumenical Bible. In 1910 at the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference the modem ecumenical movement was born.
Antichrist was no longer the Roman Papacy, except to a diminishing remnant, but a political world ruler who would appear at the end of the age. A few generations would pass and Christians raised on or drawn to the new Bible versions and the new eschatology would be ready to abandon and even repent of the Reformation separated position regarding Rome (this is also the Constitutional position). The new climate in which tolerance and unity is preferred to truth ensured this would happen. The ‘ancient landmark’ could be removed within the Church of England. It was, at Keele, in 1967.
The First National Evangelical Conference met at Keele in April 1967 with 1000 clergy and laity taking part. It has been described as having marked a turning point in Anglican evangelicalism in the twentieth century. And now thirty years after Keele, the majority of evangelicals who are still in the Church of England look back with considerable satisfaction at what they see as the great achievements of the Keele Conference. They believe it was at Keele that at last the unity, which they had longed for and prayed for, became a reality. Those who were regarded as conservative evangelicals repented of their withdrawal and their sectarian attitudes and began to engage with the wider church and the world.
The conference had been primed to deal with the new policy of Anglican evangelicals towards ecumenism. The ecumenical movement had gained wide acceptance within the Church of England and beyond, and careful preparations had been made for the Keele Conference to successfully launch the ‘new evangelicalism’ which was to unite evangelicals with their Anglo-Catholic and liberal brethren.
Dr Michael Ramsay, the Anglo-Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, was there to open the Conference. It was highly significant that he was the Conference’s choice. It set the tone for what was to follow. Ramsay was sympathetic towards reunion with Rome. He had officially visited the Pope in the Vatican in 1966 and described the whole ecumenical enterprise as ‘the Holy Spirit working in us, uniting us in love and building us up in truth.’ He looked upon evangelicalism as sectarian, and even heretical, and took the opportunity afforded him by the conference to lecture a passive audience on their need to draw closer to Anglo-Catholics.
‘Let us recognize’, he said, ‘that amongst us Anglicans, some may have experienced the centrality of the Cross in ways different from others. For instance, those who value, as others do not, such things as sacramental confession or the Eucharistic sacrifice.’
Bishop J.C. Ryle’s warnings about the dangers presented by Anglo-Catholicism still echo down to us from the last century. The Anglo-Catholics, formerly known as the Tractarians, had long had a well-concealed plan for Church and nation to be reunited with the Church of Rome. Societies within their movement pursued this aim. They included the Society of the Holy Cross, The Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and, most particularly, the Order of Corporate Reunion – much of their business done in secret. At the end of the last century an article on the ‘Newest Fashions of Ritualism’ appeared in a Jesuit publication, The Month. It declared that: ‘At any rate the ritualists are doing a good work, which in the present state of the country, Catholics cannot do in the same proportion; they (the ritualists, or Anglo-Catholics) are preparing the soil and sowing the seed for a rich harvest, which the Catholic Church will reap sooner or later.’
Cardinal John Henry Newman, hero and Saint to most Anglo-Catholics, and most influential leader of the Oxford movement, was said by Clifford Longley to have written the agenda of the Second Vatican Council from the grave. Newman’s contribution to the cause of reunion with Rome is highly valued by the Vatican and he seems sure to emerge as the first Ecumenical Saint of the Roman Church. His defection to Rome in 1845 was described at the time it happened, by a future prime minister, as possibly the greatest religious crisis since the Reformation. How far things have moved since then!
Through the Anglo-Catholic movement, Newman’s reformulation of doctrine (which is synonymous with continuing revelation) has had enormous influence inside and outside the Church of England. It has greatly influenced many Charismatics and liberals (and evangelicals too!) — and provided good food for ecumenical believers. Newman’s essay called The Development of Christian Doctrine, which he began as an Anglican and finished as a Roman Catholic, was the proof-text for those who helped put together the Agreed Statements of ARC IC (The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission). As such it has helped to bring about the original goal of the Tractarians of convergence with Rome. The final ARCIC report, approved by the General Synod in 1986 and by the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 1988, and the report’s 1994 ‘Clarifications’, show Anglican doctrine and practice on Ministry and the Lord’s Supper to be reformulated in line with the Council of Trent. When Newman had met with Cardinal Wiseman in the Vatican in 1833 he had asked him on what terms the Church of England would be received back into the Roman fold. ‘By swallowing Trent whole’ replied Wiseman. This has now been accomplished on behalf of the Anglican Communion. Only the issue of Women’s ordination stands in the way of merger – or rather takeover by the Church of Rome.
Whether such an outcome, such success for the Counter-Reformation was envisaged by those who determined the agenda at Keele is not known. But most of the facts and solemn warnings that I have referred to must have been well known to the evangelical leadership. But at Keele warnings of this kind were brushed aside by Dr John Stott who chaired the Conference. He and the other leaders were set on accommodation with the Anglo-Catholics. Earlier in 1963 a skirmish had been fought by these progressives with those who held fast to separation from doctrinal compromise. The Anglo-Catholic ritualists succeeded in a court action in making mass vestments and stone altars lawful. As a result of this many reformed evangelicals departed the Church of England at that time. Their loss made the task of those who were set on accommodating the Anglo-Catholics at Keele that much easier.
John Stott warned the Assembly at Keele that evangelicals had “acquired a reputation for narrow partisanship and obstructionism and that they needed to repent and change….The initial task for divided Christians is dialogue, at all levels and across all barriers. We desire to enter this ecumenical dialogue fully. We recognize that all who ‘confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit [that is the World Council of Churches basis – Authors note] have a right to be treated as Christians, and it is on this basis that we wish to talk with them.’
This Statement made clear that the Keele Conference was accepting not only Anglo-Catholics and liberals as fellow Christians but Roman Catholics too. Let us just pause to consider the enormity of this. Thirty years ago the Church of England’s most widely respected evangelicals, headed by John Stott, determined that ALL Roman Catholics are saved. It is interesting to note that it was 27 years before leading evangelicals on the other side of the Atlantic did the same, with Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
The influence of Billy Graham and his new evangelicalism played its part at Keele. Graham’s apparently hugely successful ministry had long since accepted Catholics and liberals as fellow Christians. His example, in Martyn Lloyd-Jones words, ‘of Christian fellowship without agreement in the truth of the gospel, had shaken people’s convictions as to what exactly it means to be an evangelical.’
The sea-change in the evangelical attitude to ecumenism ratified at Keele by Anglicans greatly influenced the other denominations. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, probably the greatest preacher of the twentieth century, led the opposition to the departure from Protestant evangelicalism that Keele represented. Lloyd-Jones believed that far from providing the solution to the main problems of the church, Keele left the Church with much bigger questions to answer.
‘What is a Christian?’, for example and ‘What is a church?’. The abandoning of the stand of the Reformers against counterfeit Christianity and the downgrade of doctrine implicit in Keele’s Statement meant in fact that true unity among evangelicals was no more. Addressing the British Evangelical Council in 1969 and citing the Scripture in 1 Corinthians 14, verse 8, — ‘For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound who shall prepare himself for the battle?’ Dr Lloyd Jones made clear that he saw the enemy as not just present, but rampant, in the camp. ‘Sound the alarm’, he thundered, ‘Sound the alarm.’
Opposing the new unity movement was a lonely task for him. So many of those leaders who had previously shared his views were shifting their position. For example, according to lain Murray, Dr J.l. Packer, once so close to the Doctor, changed his view between 1963 and 1965 to the very position that he had once criticized as inconsistent with evangelicalism. His endorsement of the Keele Statement was a telling blow to Dr Lloyd-Jones, and others, with whom Dr Packer had previously allied himself.
It was a very few years before, in 1961, that Jim Packer described the doctrine of justification by faith alone, sola fide, as ‘like Atlas, it bears a world on its shoulders, the entire evangelical knowledge of saving grace.’ But his position on this defining doctrine changed as well, perhaps at that same time prior to Keele. His revised view has been recently demonstrated by his signing of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, the document that has rocked American evangelicalism. In a 1994 article, Why I Signed It, he refers to Sola Fide (faith alone) as ‘small print.’ He asked the question: ‘May ECT realistically claim, as in effect it does, that its evangelical and Catholic drafters agree on the gospel of salvation?’ ‘Answer Yes and No.’ No’, Professor Packer says, ‘with respect to the ‘small print.’ Thus Sola Fide, a burning issue for Reformation martyrs, and an issue which ‘bears a world on its shoulders’, is relegated to ‘small print.’
Martyn Lloyd-Jones felt that by compromising with ecumenism Anglican evangelicals were putting their denomination before the gospel and downgrading doctrine. Personal relationships, and superficial unity, tolerance and love were preferred to the confrontational truths of Scripture. He urged evangelicals to come out of the denominations united in the truth of God’s word. How this was to be accomplished he felt was for others to determine, but he was convinced that it could happen and should happen. There had to be clarity – rather than the confusion that was overtaking the understanding of the gospel. ‘We should not be asking’, he said, ‘How can we have a territorial church, how can we have unity and fellowship or how can we find a formula to satisfy opposing views? We should be asking, What is a Christian? How does one become a Christian? How can we get forgiveness of sin and what is a church?’
Keele legitimized compromise for evangelicals within the established Church. But, at Nottingham, the second National Evangelical Anglican Conference (NEAC II) which followed 10 years later, gave compromise its seal of approval. The ecumenical charismatic movement, which had begun in Britain in the early 1960s, had been opposed at Keele by that Conference’s organizers. But at Nottingham it was highly praised. The Nottingham Statement declared: ‘We see a particular significance in the charismatic movement, especially in its strong witness to the primacy of God.’
And it was at Nottingham that leading charismatic, David Watson, friend and mentor to John Wimber, spoke of the Reformation as ‘one of the greatest tragedies that ever happened to the church.’ He went on to tell the conference how he had come to sense the profound grief that God must feel at the separation of his body.
The Charismatic Renewal movement had begun in the United States in the 1950s and rapidly swept across the Christian world. It was widely seen as a great work of the Holy Spirit, a new Pentecost. Para-church groups within the movement like the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International brought Roman Catholics and Protestants together ‘under the banner of love’ in what they called the ‘unity of the spirit.’ They placed emphasis on experiential testimony rather than Scripture.
It was less than two years before Keele that the Second Vatican Council gave its blessing to what they called this new movement of the Holy Spirit. The ‘separated brethren could now be welcomed back into the fold;’ announced Jesuit Cardinal Augustin Bea to the delegates in 1965. The heretics had become ‘separated brethren’ and their abandoning of sound doctrine meant that they could come back to the Mother Church. The Vatican officially adopted its own renewal movement. To what extent this movement was spontaneous, or planned, we do not know. But with all the emphasis on gifts and experiences, it certainly helped to sweep aside doctrinal differences. At the same time it demonstrated, as did the Billy Graham crusades, what the evangelist called ‘the role in the Christian family of our Catholic brethren.’ With the reinstatement of Catholics as brethren’ in the minds and hearts of so many, the once secure fortress of biblical separation was breached. Keele was the formal surrender to the forces of new evangelicalism. Nottingham made the surrender unconditional.
The momentum from Keele and Nottingham and from the new evangelicalism seemed irresistible. The new spirit of tolerance and ‘love’ outlawed arguments over biblical truths. Unity through compromise of doctrine was sought as the will of God to transform the church. The great doctrines of grace and reformed theology were seen as the province of those living in the past, fighting the same old irrelevant battles behind crumbling ramparts. Conservative evangelicals, who would have no truck with ecumenism, were marginalised, being seen as unloving and intolerant.
The decision by the Keele Conference of a majority of evangelicals to dialogue with ecumenism was of immeasurable spiritual consequence. It was extraordinary that such a momentous change should be brought about by those very Christians best placed to understand its implications and without serious protest too! In a very real sense evangelicals had ceased to be evangelicals. Doctrine had been relegated from its position of supreme authority to a lesser position. The high view of Scripture was abandoned: God’s Word was no longer infallible. The part played in this by the acceptance of modern Bible versions in place of the King James was surely very considerable.. ‘Thus saith the Lord’ was allowed to give way to ‘depending on what version you have’ – reminding us of the serpent’s seed of doubt, ‘has God said?’
From Keele the slippery slope has rapidly led us downwards and we see the consequences today in the Church of England and in the other Protestant denominations too. During the past thirty years there has been such radical and profound change in the Church of England that this once great institution seems to have lost its very identity. The collapse of Protestantism at Keele and Nottingham had sold the pass to the new evangelicalism; and accelerated the downgrade of doctrine. The abandoning of our God-given Reformation heritage – enshrined in the 39 Articles and formularies of the Church of England – has ‘removed the ancient landmark, which our fathers have set.’ [Proverbs 23:28] The Scripture from Joel 2:17 ‘Spare thy people, 0 Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?’ … Where is their God? That question is now very relevant to our national church, to its Bishops, priests and laymen – so many of them so uncertain of their faith. It is a question that the nation is asking of itself as that once august body that many of us can remember falls further into disrepute.
At Keele and afterwards, the ancient landmark was removed; and our heritage was given to reproach. There was an act of betrayal. The legacy of those who gave their lives for the truth of the Word of God was abandoned. The verdict of Keele and Nottingham was that the martyrs of the Reformation were mistaken; they were party to one of the greatest tragedies that ever happened to the church. For all but a very few in the Church of England the flame of Hugh Latimer’s candle was extinguished: the blood of the martyrs denied.
The same is true in the Free churches too. Free churches are no longer so free; indeed they are no longer so non-conformist. There is conformism, conformism to the spirit of the age – the spirit of tolerance and unity. We have seen even the Bible-based Baptist denomination succumb to this seductive spirit. Carried along by the stream that became a river that flowed from Keele, the Baptist Union gradually moved its position until in 1995 it routed those who remained in opposition and voted overwhelmingly to fully participate in Churches Together in England.
The new evangelicalism provides for love at the expense of truth. But this is not the expression of love of the bride of Christ, but rather of the harlot of Revelation 17. What has become of the love of truth, the jealousy for purity in doctrine and the hatred of idolatry? Where is the urgent concern for the souls of more than a thousand million religious Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans in the ecumenical Church today, without assurance of salvation, in bondage to the sacraments and to a system of works and ritual? Where are hearts of compassion for those who seek truth and are imprisoned by deception? Where is the cry for the cleansing of the church and for deep repentance because we have failed them, our own kinsmen, by pretending not to see? Where today are the preachers who do not persistently avoid the clear message of Revelation 17; or ‘the man of sin’ and ‘mystery of iniquity’ of 2 Thessalonians 2; or the persecuting ‘little horn’ of Daniel 7, in the time of the fourth kingdom, ‘wearing out the saints of the most high’. Where are the watchmen who sound the alarm? Why do they who hear the sound of the trumpet not take warning?
The fact is that in this land of such a precious heritage, very few pastors are prepared any longer to call to remembrance the sacrifice of the martyrs of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The cause of those martyrs – of denying the sacrifice of the Mass as an appalling blasphemy, and the identification of the Papacy as Antichrist – that cause is now the preserve of the very few.
The Reformation provided Christians with two great truths: the just shall live by faith (and not by the works of Romanism or any other religion) and that the Papacy is the Antichrist as revealed in Scripture. If we lose the second we unquestionably do injury to the first – and that is being amply demonstrated today. Pastors won’t preach it; they fear the disapproval of men: they should fear the disapproval of God. Few there are who scorn popularity and are ready to lay down their reputations, let alone their lives. But ‘evil abounds when good men stay silent.’
At his enthronement as Archbishop at Canterbury in 1991, George Carey spoke of the example to us of former archbishops who were martyred. He named the Benedictine monk Alphege and he named Thomas a Becket, both of whom were canonized by the Roman Catholic Church; and then he spoke of William Laud. Both Becket and Laud sought to bring the Church of England under the authority of the Church of Rome and into her faith and practice. Conspicuous by its absence from George Carey’s recollection of martyrs was the name of Thomas Cranmer, the Protestant martyr, whose quincentenary had been commemorated in a rather muted manner the previous year. George Carey’s enthronement involved a commitment to upholding the 39 Articles of Religion and the Book of Common Prayer, for both of which Cranmer was the man, under God, most responsible. The present Archbishop’s commitment to the Articles and Prayer book has been borne extremely lightly. During his latest visit to the Pope in the Vatican, George Carey did have some good things to say in defense of the Reformation, but he continues eagerly to seek full unity with the Roman Church. This ambivalence illustrates and epitomizes the leadership problem of today’s church – man centered and totally inconsistent.
As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians: ‘… so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men or God? or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.’
The same ambivalence and inconsistency is apparent in the Alpha course which is beginning to spread like a bush fire not just in the UK but across the USA and Canada too. In the spirit of Keele, doctrinal differences are glossed over; indeed Catholic theologians have endorsed the Course and, backed by Cardinal Hume, plan their own Roman Catholic Alpha courses in 1997. Alpha stems from Holy Trinity Brompton Church, which was first in the United Kingdom with the Toronto Blessing, as it was with the Kansas City Prophets. Like ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together), in America, the Alpha Course is providing a highly successful means of reconciling the irreconcilable. The Promise Keepers Movement, another import from the USA launched in England in November ’97 likewise builds bridges without foundations.
The consequences of surrender to ecumenism at Keele and elsewhere have been very apparent to the nation as well as the church. Given such a free hand, the Church of Rome with its mastery of the media has been positioning itself to take over when the Anglican Church has disintegrated beyond recall. To what extent the Church of Rome’s agents are assisting in this process is not revealed to us, but history relates very clearly what lengths the Pope’s followers will go to in order to further the cause of the Mother Church.’ The Catholic Herald is now confident enough to predict: ‘The days of the Anglican Church are numbered, and most of its worshippers will return to the true faith of their distant mediaeval forbears.’ Many of them already have returned, at least in spirit.
Earlier this year The Times and The Daily Telegraph both gave front page coverage to the news that the Church of England has arranged for the return of the relics of St Thomas a Becket on loan from Rome, where they were sent for protection at the time of the Reformation. Fragments of bone and brain tissue, they are the first relics to be displayed at Canterbury Cathedral since the Reformation.
The tomb of Thomas Becket in Canterbury and the spiritual presence of this ‘Saint’ of the Roman Catholic Church in the principal Anglican Cathedral has · proved important for the ecumenical movement, and will continue to be so. In 1982 Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Runcie prayed together at Becket’s shrine, and in 1989, the Archbishop of York, John Hapgood, led pilgrims who had arrived for the first multi-faith gathering at the cathedral into the shrine as their final destination. The three strands of this fully ecumenical pilgrimage had earlier converged at another place, another ‘sacred site’ where Henry II had paid penance to the Pope following Becket’s murder in 1170. Services are now held annually across the country on the 29 December to commemorate Becket’s martyrdom’ with unusual media attention. Becket’s ‘martyrdom’, which stemmed from his preferred allegiance to the Papacy rather than the Crown, may well prove to be important in the revival of the principle that the State should not have power over the Church.
The public perception of Becket’s life and death has been greatly altered in this ecumenical century by plays and films like Anglo-Catholic T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. Even more so in relation to Sir Thomas More, who according to Foxe’s Acts and Monuments scourged and tortured in his garden ‘those guilty of reading the Scriptures and holding purely Protestant doctrines’. Robert Bolt’s film A Man For All Seasons, which has established Thomas More as a great and godly Christian man unequalled in his faith in Christ is based on history rewritten, ecumenical propaganda.
A year of ‘England’s Christian Heritage’ began in May 1997 with a celebration of the 14th Centenary of Saint Augustine’s arrival in Britain. At his inauguration the Archbishop of Canterbury said that Augustine had brought Christianity to the British Isles from Rome. This is also no more than ecumenical propaganda. There is a wealth of evidence that Christianity had taken root in these islands at the end of the first century, and saints of Christ such as Alban and Patrick were martyred or persecuted for the sake of the gospel centuries before Augustine arrived to enforce papal supremacy. This year of Christian heritage that is said by its organizers to herald a ‘fresh spiritual breeze’ and ‘a religious stirring’ features numerous pilgrimages celebrating pre-Reformation Saints. The veneration or worship of Saints and relics is reversion to spiritism and necromancy, which are condemned in the Bible; but their practice is consistent with the Pope’s recent advice to his flock ‘to call on dead ancestors for protection.’
The accelerating reversion to pre-Reformation Christianity – to superstition and idolatry – is supported strongly by well respected Catholic columnists such as Paul Johnson who have prayed all their lives for England to be restored to Mary’s dowry. The press has given extraordinary prominence to the very public conversions to Rome of public figures such as Ann Widdecombe, John Gummer, Alan Clark, Charles Moore and, most significantly, the Duchess of Kent. So much has been made of these conversions, and yet, in this ecumenical age that we now live in, it’s not supposed to matter.
Multi-faith worship has followed on, not unnaturally, for once the gates are thrown open all may come in. Reflecting this, the leading members of the Royal family have embraced other religions. The Commonwealth Day Service, especially dear to Her Majesty the Queen is no longer recognizably Christian and she has not listened to the protests of two thousand evangelical clergymen concerned about the insult done to the unique claims and supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was Prince Philip who in 1989 launched the International Sacred Literature Trust to significantly contribute to inter-faith dialogue; and Prince Charles, the heir in waiting, whose allegiance is to faiths rather than faith, has gone out of his way to encourage Islam. The Muslims now plan to build 100 new mosques in the next three years – describing this project as ‘the biggest expression of religious faith in Britain for centuries.’
In November 1992 the Church of England Synod deferred to the prevailing politically correct view and voted in the measure to ordain women. Dr David Samuel, who resigned his ministry in the Church of England as a result of the adoption of this measure, described something of his reaction at that time. ‘This was a decision that would have enormous implications and would set the course and direction of the Church of England for the future, and that course would be one of ever increasing divergence from Scripture, from its formularies, from orthodoxy and from truth. If the official doctrine of the Church of England can be changed arbitrarily by a show of hands in the Synod, then it has been undermined and revealed to be a fiction.’ It is likely that within a very few years there will be women bishops in the Church of England and archbishops too.
Then there is the ‘Christian’ gay and lesbian movement. It was as long as twenty years ago that the NEAC Conference at Nottingham resolved that, ‘There should be a full welcoming voice in the Christian fellowship for the Christian homosexual.’ It was just a few months before that the Lesbian Gay Christian Movement was launched. The service at Southwark Cathedral in November 1996 ‘celebrated’ its twenty-year anniversary. Protest at the Cathedral and across the nation was minimal. Informed observers in the General Synod now believe that the ordination of practising homosexuals is a foregone conclusion. Robert Runcie, announced last year that when he was Archbishop of Canterbury this was already happening.
Once evangelicals allow compromise to enter in, and fail to stand their ground on the rock of Scripture, continuing retreat is inevitable. It is well known that leading evangelicals including John Stott convinced themselves that there is no literal Hell. Now just a few years later the doctrine of eternal punishment has been ‘officially’ abolished by the Synod of the Church of England. Annihilationism is the reformulated doctrine of the Anglican Church – flying in the face of 2000 years of orthodoxy and the plain teaching of our Lord in Scripture. Another decision of the Synod is that cohabitation before marriage is now no longer ‘living in sin.’ The teaching of the New Testament in relation to fornication is crystal clear. But this is the new hermeneutic and the new evangelicalism. With the Synod legislating against the clear teaching of Scripture there must have been many who were reminded of the psalmist’s question, ‘If the foundations be removed what will the righteous do?’
Meanwhile pulpits are physically disappearing, stone and other altars reappearing, crucifixes abound, roods are returning, as are confessions and ‘holy places’ and ‘holy water’; and more and more ministers are styled as ‘priest’ and ‘father’, contrary to Scripture. The law is rarely preached in the church today. In the new ecumenical climate of live and let live preachers do not want to run the risk of offending their congregations and losing numbers. It is sobering to learn from the press that a 1997 survey has revealed that less than 25% of Anglican vicars now know the Ten Commandments. Without the law how does one properly preach the Gospel?
Within the Church of England the Reform Group of Anglican Evangelicals was formed from those who opposed much of what had been agreed at Keele. They expressed their disillusionment with the post-Keele direction of the church by advocating non-payment of part of the parish’s share of the diocesan budget. They continue today to oppose some of the unbiblical trends in the Church of England. But they have no clear-cut position in relation to the ordination of women issue, nor do they take a stand with regard to separation from the ecumenical movement. The Church of England (Continuing) separated from the Anglican Church after the Women’s Ordination measure was passed by General Synod in November 1992. It seeks to preserve the real identity of the Church of England through the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures, the 39 Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. David Samuel, the Presiding Bishop, has described these texts as the identity card of the Church of England without which those who belong would be mere vagrants in Christendom.
In bringing this brief survey to a conclusion I feel I must speak of the very real danger, both political and spiritual, that confronts us as our new government and those behind the scenes who influence it weaken and dismantle the Union and prepare us for submergence into a federal Europe. To what extent the retreat of Protestant evangelicalism, epitomized by Keele, has been responsible for the drift into abandoning our cherished independence, only the Lord knows. But as I have sought to argue, our precious and God-given heritage has been betrayed; the lessons of history and the far-sighted precautions of our forefathers in protecting our liberty – enshrined in the Bill of Rights, the Act of Settlement and the Coronation Oath have been sidelined, sadly not least by the Queen. And the malign experience of the Papacy in our nation’s affairs in the past has simply been ignored.
We know that as a nation we deserve judgement. The defection of evangelicals from their Protestant Reformed legacy has, not surprisingly, paralleled that of the Monarch and her Parliament. At her coronation Her Majesty recognized the authority and supremacy of Holy Scripture: ‘This is the most valuable thing this world affords. Here is wisdom. This is the royal law. These are the lively oracles of God.’ She then promised to ‘maintain to the utmost of her power the Laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel and the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law.’
In other words the Queen committed herself, and the Crown-in-Parliament, to upholding the statutes and laws of Holy Scripture and the Christian faith. However, during her reign, we have seen the royal assent given to radical legislation totally opposed to Christianity as revealed in Scripture, and plainly fostering immorality. Bills facilitating divorce, legalizing abortion and homosexuality as well as encouraging adultery and pornography have laid the basis of today’s moral crisis in society. There are many signs that we are reaping the whirlwind of God’s righteous anger and judgement, not least in the devastation being brought about by collapsing family values which has been experienced by the Queen herself. What we are seeing unfolding at breathtaking speed is the withdrawal of the grace and blessing of God that many of us had come to take for granted – as a result of our national apostasy. As a nation we may be about to pay a very heavy price.
Our religious liberties are at stake. As Adrian Hilton in his 1997 book, The Principality and Power of Europe’ writes: ‘Evangelical Christians are classified by the European Union as a ‘sect’ and any group that does not belong to the majority church (Roman Catholic) is viewed by many MEPs with suspicion.’ This classification is nothing new. The early church was branded an heretical sect, and this was the earliest basis of persecution. Of course, any impending persecution will not be on overtly religious grounds: an enlightened European Union would consider this abhorrent. Persecution will be political, as it was with the early church, with accusations of ‘disturbing the peace’ or ‘inciting sectarianism’ as in the Book of Acts chapters 16 and 17. David Hallam MEP has confirmed that a European resolution on sects and cults permits the European police force Europol to carry out surveillance on such group’s activities. He adds: ‘In Europe this could include Christians.’
With Protestantism’s surrender, Apostate Christendom is swiftly unifying world religion, which under its veneer is as intolerant and bloodthirsty as it ever was. Once religions of the world combine with the New Age to form one great ecumenical and multi-faith monopoly, God’s little flock will yet again be as lambs to the slaughter. Bishop Ryle’s words encourage those evangelicals who will not compromise: ‘This is the church which does the work of Christ on earth. Its members are a little flock and few in number, one or two here and two or three there — a few in this district and a few in that. But these are they that shake the universe; who change the fortune of kingdoms by their prayers; these are they who are the active workers for spreading the knowledge of pure religion and undefiled; these are the lifeblood of the country, the shield, the defense, the stay and the support of any nation to which they belong.’ Let us be encouraged therefore and ‘stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.’
- The Woman in the Wilderness
- The Remnant of Her Seed
- The Wilderness Beast
- It Speaks Like a Dragon
- The Woman in Distress
- Earthquake – The Big One
- John saw America Divide
- Zechariah saw North and South
- Ezekiel saw Brother fight Brother
- Three Unclean Spirits
- The Old Jerusaem is not the New Jerusalem
- Where is New Jerusalem?
- The French Revolution The Earthquake of Rev. 11
- The United States Of America Foretold In Scriptures
- The Earthquake in Revelation 12
- The Earthquake in Ezekiel 37
- The Earthquake in Revelation 16
- The Beast that Was
You have made known to me the path of life. – Psalm 16:11
Tens of millions of Americans have read “The Late Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsay, and tens of millions more are avid fans of the “Left Behind” series by LaHaye and Jenkins. These science fiction books claim to give a true interpretation of Bible prophecy. They preach the rapture cult, a heretical view (so labeled by the Presbyterian Church) which says that believers will be “called out” and “meet Jesus in the clouds” while the rest of us are to be “left behind” to suffer and perish in the tribulation.
This is the path of death. The rapture cultists have psychically abandoned planet earth and all responsibility for its fate. They support George Bush and his rapid destruction of the biosphere, thinking that this will hasten their being “called away” by the returning Christ. They suspend conscience and discernment, believing the false prophets who tell them that Bush was chosen by God to lead America and that his lying murderous ways should be overlooked.
George Bush serves the corporate beast, and all his policies are designed to enrich those who profit from its plunder. Bush acts as CEO for the beast, whose greed is destroying the biosphere. The corporate beast has stolen “personhood” in America from human beings through a legal fiction, which entitles corporations to the rights of persons, without any of the responsibility and accountability of human beings. In fact, the only goal to which corporations are legally bound is to make profits for their stockholders.
The rapture cultists become “little Eichmans,” working for the beast, buying its products, upholding its reign, and its exploitation and slaughter of indigenous peoples the world over. They worship success, not God, and are lulled by the false prophets into believing that they will go to heaven if only they hate homosexuals, pro-abortion people, and Muslims. They are encouraged to extend this hatred to “liberals”, “progressives”, “tree-huggers”, and indeed, to all of us who are fighting to preserve life on planet earth.
The false prophets of the rapture cult are predicted in Revelation, and serve the corporate beast:
The false prophet performed the miraculous signs on (the beast’s) behalf. With these signs he deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image – Revelation 19:20
We who yearn for sanity, for peace, for cooperation among nations, for ecological common sense, for justice, for God’s kingdom on earth,- we are denied our interpretation of the Bible, or we are turned off to the Bible altogether, by the pious rulers who insist that only the false prophets know God’s intentions. They are like the false Jews in the days of Jesus, to whom He said:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” – Matthew 23:13
The rapture cultists are allowing the beast, aided by the dragon- the military machine- to pollute, plunder and destroy the biosphere. Theirs is the path of death. If we truly listen to the word of God, He will make known to us the path of life.
In the name of the Prince of Peace, Carol Wolman
(Carol Wolman once Jewish, has chosen to follow Christ)
“The Rapture Cult – Path of Death originally appeared on We Hold These Truths. It was recovered from the original historicist.com approximately 2009.
|Image||Name(s)||Birth||Death||Cause of Death||Education||
|James Arminius; Jacobus Arminius; Jacob
|Natural causes||Leiden, Basel, Geneva||professor at Leiden, theologian||Reformed||Orations; Declaration of Sentiments; Apology; Disputations||Rejected Calvinist
predestination; laid theological foundation for John Wesley.
|Theodore Beza||1519||1605||Natural causes||Orleans||professor of Greek at Geneva, minister, theologian||Reformed||Confession of the Christian Faith; On the Rights of Magistrates||Succeeded Calvin as religious leader of Geneva. Hardened Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. Discovered Codex Bezae.|
|Martin Bucer; Martin Butzer||1491||Feb. 28, 1551
|Natural causes; body exhumed and burnt in 1557.||Heidelberg||former Dominican monk, professor of Divinity at Cambridge||Lutheran||Known as the Peacemaker of the Reformation. Humanist. Led Reformation in Strasbourg. Tried to reconcile Lutherans, Reformed and Catholics.|
|Heinrich Bullinger||Jul. 18, 1504
|Sept. 17, 1575
|Natural causes||Cologne||theologian||Reformed||first and second Helvetic Confessions||Influenced by Erasmus, Luther, Melanchthon. Succeeded Zwingli at Zurich. Opposed presbyterianism.|
|John Calvin; Jean Cauvin||1509
|Natural causes||Paris and Orleans||professor, minister||Reformed|| Institutes of the Christian
|Led Geneva; developed doctrine
of sovereignty of God
|Mar. 21, 1556
|Burned at the stake||Cambridge||Archbishop of Canterbury||Anglican||first and second Book of Common Prayer; Thirty-Nine
|Played large role in English
Reformation. Involved in Henry VIII’s divorce; was burned at the stake
under Queen Mary after recanting his recantation.
|Thomas Cromwell||c. 1485||July 28, 1540||Beheaded for treason||unknown||Member of Parliament, vicar-general||Anglican||none||Supervised dissolution of monasteries. Attempted marriage alliance between Henry VIII and German Lutherans.|
|Desiderius Erasmus; Erasmus of Rotterdam; Erasmus Roterodamus||c. 1469
|Natural causes||Gouda and Deventer||humanist scholar||Catholic|| Praise of Folly; Handbook of
the Christian Soldier; Complaint of Peace; On Free Will
reformer; witty satirist; translated Latin Bible into Greek.
Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire, England
|Jan. 13, 1691||Natural causes||none||shoemaker||Quaker||Journal||Founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Emphasized the Inner Light of Christ. Frequent missionary journeys.|
|Jan Hus; John Huss||1373
Husinec, Czech Republic
|July 6, 1415
|Burned at the stake||Prague||priest, professor of philosophy at Prague||Catholic (pre-Reformation)||Influenced by Wycliffe. Emphasized right living over sacraments. Opposed veneration of images and indulgences. Became national hero.|
|John Knox||c. 1514
|1572||Natural causes||Glasgow and St. Andrews||priest, notary, private tutor, preacher||Reformed||The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women; History of the Reformation of Religion in Scotland||Went to Geneva in 1553, influenced by Calvin. Returned to Scotland in 1559 and led Scottish Reformation.|
|Hugh Latimer||c. 1485||Oct. 16, 1555
|Burned at the stake||Cambridge||Bishop of Worcester||Anglican||Many sermons; most famous is “Of the Plough”||Twice imprisoned by Henry VIII. Leading preacher under Edward VI. Burned at the stake under Mary Tudor.|
|Martin Luther; Martin Luder||1483
|Natural causes||Leipzig||professor, priest||Lutheran||95 Theses; Freedom of a Christian; Bondage of the Will; Smaller and Larger Catechisms||Sparked the
Reformation by protesting against indulgences. Taught justification by faith alone, authority of scripture alone. Married former nun.
|Philip Melanchthon; Philip Schwartzerdt (“Black earth”)||1497||1560||Natural causes||Heidelberg and Tubingen||professor of Greek at Wittenberg||Lutheran||Loci Communes||Luther’s colleague at Wittenburg. Attempted reconciliation with Reformed and Catholics. Systematized Luther’s theology.|
|Nicholas Ridley||c. 1500||1555||Burned at the stake||Cambridge||chaplain to Cranmer and Henry VIII, Bishop of London||Helped produce Book of Common Prayer||Burned at the stake with Latimer.|
|Menno Simons||1496||1561||Natural causes||parish priest||Anabaptist (Mennonite)||Taught believers’ baptism, non-resistance, symbolic Eucharist. Founder of Mennonites.|
|Philip Jakob Spener||1635
|1705||Natural causes||Strasbourg||preacher||Lutheran, Pietist||Pia Desideria||Founder of Pietism.|
|William Tyndale; William Tindale; William Huchyns||c. 1494||Oct. 6, 1536
|Strangled and burned at the stake||Oxford and Cambridge||translator||Anglican||English translation of NT; Obedience of a Christian Man; Parable of the Wicked Mammon||Lived in exile on the Continent, where he published English NT. Executed.|
|John Wesley||June 17,
Epworth, Lincolnshire, England
|Mar. 2, 1791
|Natural causes||Oxford||Anglican minister, founder of Methodism||Anglican, Methodist||A Plain Account of Christian Perfection; Advice to a People Called Methodist||Founded Methodism; adopted
Arminian doctrine of free will; emphasized sanctification.
|John Wycliffe; John Wyclif||c. 1330
|Dec. 31, 1384
|Natural causes; body exhumed and burnt in 1415||Oxford||professor, theologian, philosopher at Oxford||Catholic (pre-Reformation)||On the Church; On the Truth of Sacred Scripture||Translated Bible into English;
rejected many Catholic practices; sent out preachers called Lollards.
Posthumously declared heretic .
|Ulrich Zwingli; Huldrych Zwingli||Jan. 1, 1484
|Oct. 11, 1531
Kappel (near Zurich), Switzerland
|Killed in battle against Catholic cantons.||Bern, Vienna and Basel||priest, military chaplain, People’s Preacher at Zurich’s Old Minster||Reformed||On True and False Religion; 67 Conclusions; Concerning Freedom and Choice of Food; The Clarity and Certainty of the Word of God||Introduced reformation ideas to Zurich and throughout Switzerland. Said nothing should be believed or practiced that is not in the Bible. Argued with Luther over the Eucharist. Persecuted Anabaptists.|
John Wycliffe (1330-84)
Attacked what he saw as corruptions within the church, including:
- The sale of indulgences
- The excessive veneration of saints
- The low moral and intellectual standards of ordained priests.
Wycliffe’s political ideas included:
- The rejection of the right to property
- The rejection of the hierarchical organization of society
Wycliffe also repudiated the doctrine of transubstantiation, held that the Bible was the sole standard of Christian doctrine, and argued that the authority of the Pope was not well-grounded in Scripture. Some of Wycliffe’s early followers translated the Bible into English, while later followers, known as Lollards, held that the Bible was the sole authority and that Christians were called upon to interpret the Bible for themselves. The Lollards also argued against clerical celibacy, transubstantiation, mandatory oral confession, pilgrimages, and indulgences.
John Huss (1372-1415)
A Bohemian priest, excommunicated in 1410, and burned at the stake for heresy in 1415. His death lead to the Hussite Wars in Bohemia. Huss followed Wycliffe’s teachings closely, translating Wycliffe’s Trialogus into Czechoslovakian, and modeling the first ten chapters of his own De Ecclesia after Wycliffe’s writings.
- Believed in predestination
- Regarded the Bible as the ultimate religious authority
- Argued that Christ, rather than any ecclesiastical official, is the true head of the church.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
10/31/1517–Nails his 95 theses onto the door of Castle Church at Wittenberg. These theses were Latin propositions opposing the manner in which indulgences (release from the temporal penalties for sin through the payment of money) were being sold in order to raise money for the building of Saint Peter’s in Rome.
6/15/1520–Condemnation of his teachings.
4/1521–Diet of Worms. Luther is summoned to appear before Emperor Charles and asked to recant. He refused, declaring that he would have to be persuaded by Scripture and reason in order to do so. The statement “Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise,” is probably legendary.
In Lutheran Germany, an episcopal (bishop-based) form of Church government is retained.
Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531)
Swiss theologian and leader of early Reformation movements in Switzerland.
1518–Vigorously denounces the sale of indulgences.
Zwingli believed that:
- The Bible was the sole source of moral authority.
- Everything in the Roman Catholic system not specifically prescribed in the Scriptures should be eliminated.
Under Zwingli’s leadership:
- Religious relics were burned.
- Ceremonial processions and the adoration of the saints were abolished.
- Priests and monks were released from their vows of celibacy.
- The Mass was replaced by a simpler communion service.
John Calvin (1509-64)
Calvin was a French Protestant theologian who fled religious persecution in France and settled in Geneva in 1536.
Instituted a Presbyterian form of Church government in Geneva.
Insisted on reforms including:
- The congregational singing of the Psalms as part of church worship.
- The teaching of a catechism and confession of faith to children.
- The enforcement of a strict moral discipline in the community by the pastors and members of the church.
- The excommunication of egregious sinners.
Geneva was, under Calvin, essentially a theocracy. Household conduct was rigidly inspected. Dress and behavior were subject to minute details of regulation. Forbidden activities included: Dancing, Card playing, and Dicing. Less innocuous activities such as blasphemy were subjected to the most severe punishments. Nonconformists were persecuted and even put to death. All citizens were provided with at least an elementary education so that they might read and understand the Bible.
John Knox (1513-1572)
An ardent disciple of Calvin, Knox established Calvinism as the national religion of Scotland.
1560–Knox persuades the Scottish Parliament to adopt a confession of faith and book of discipline modeled on those in use at Geneva. The Parliament creates the Scottish Presbyterian church and provides for the government of the church by local kirk sessions and by a general assembly representing the local churches of the entire country.
Henry VIII (1491-1547)
1531–Henry VIII wishes to divorce Catherine of Aragón because the marriage has not produced a male heir.
His marriage normally would be illegal under ecclesiastical law because Catharine was the widow of his brother, but it had been allowed by a special dispensation from the pope. Henry claims that the papal dispensation contradicted ecclesiastical law and that therefore the marriage is invalid. The pope upholds the validity of the dispensation and refuses to annul the marriage.
Zwingli and Johannes Oecolampadius consider Henry’s marriage invalid, but Luther and Melanchthon declare it binding.
1533–Henry marries Anne Boleyn, and two months later he had the archbishop of Canterbury pronounce his divorce from Catherine.
1533–Henry is excommunicated by the pope.
1534–Henry has Parliament pass an act appointing the king and his successors supreme head of the Church of England, thus establishing an independent national Anglican church.
1536-1539–The monasteries are suppressed and their property seized.
1539–The Act of Six Articles makes it heretical to deny the main theological tenets of medieval Roman Catholicism. Obedience to the papacy remains a criminal offense. Lutherans are burned as heretics, and Roman Catholics who refuse to recognize the ecclesiastical supremacy of the king (most notably, Sir Thomas More) are executed.
King Edward VI (1537-53)
The Protestant doctrines and practices opposed by Henry VIII are introduced into the Anglican church.
1547–The Act of Six Articles is repealed.
1547–Continental reformers, such as the German Martin Bucer, are invited to preach in England.
1549–A complete vernacular Book of Common Prayer is issued to provide uniformity of service in the Anglican church, and its use is enforced by law.
1552–A second Prayer Book is published, and a new creed in 42 articles is adopted.
Mary I (1516-58)
Mary attempts to restore Roman Catholicism as the state religion, and during her reign many Protestants are burned at the stake.
Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
1563–Protestantism is restored.
- The 42 articles of the Anglican creed adopted under Edward VI are reduced to Thirty-nine Articles. This creed is closer to Lutheranism than to Calvinism.
- Large numbers of people in Elizabeth’s time do not consider the Church of England sufficiently reformed and non-Roman. They are known as dissenters or nonconformists and eventually form or become members of numerous Calvinist sects such as the Brownists, Presbyterians, Puritans, Separatists, and Quakers.
The Episcopal organization and ritual of the Anglican Church is substantially the same as that of the Roman Catholic Church.
James I (1566-1625)
“No Bishop, No King.” James ties the Episcopal form of church government directly to the power of kingship. This statement would serve ironically as a kind of rallying cry for the anti-prelatical and anti-Charles I forces during the English Revolution.
Charles I (1600-1649)
1637–Attempts, under the influence of Archbishop William Laud, to impose the Anglican liturgy in Scotland leading to rioting by Presbyterian Scots.
Protestant Church Government (or Polity) in this period can be broken down roughly into two camps: Episcopacy, and Presbyterianism.
The churches of Lutheran Germany and those of Anglican England are primarily Episcopal in their polity, while those of the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Scotland are Presbyterian.
Episcopal vs. Presbyterian: Bishops vs. Presbyters
What exactly is the difference between an Episcopal church organization and a Presbyterian church organization? The essential difference is that between the offices of Bishop and Presbyter. In the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches, a Bishop is an ecclesiastical official who, through sacramental consecration, holds special powers in the ministry, and has special administrative powers. (Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches claim apostolic succession for their bishops, while Lutheran churches do not.) The English word “bishop” is a translation of the Greek word episkopos, which means “overseer.” A presbyter does not hold such special office nor have such special powers (nor is any claim of apostolic succession made). Presbyterian churches are less hierarchical in their organization than are Episcopal churches: the Presbyterian Church takes literally Luther’s idea (developed and systematized by Calvin) of a “priesthood of all believers.” The Presbyterian Minister is conceived of as a servant to the congregation rather than as a leader of the congregation. The English word “presbyter” is a translation of the Greek presbuteros, which means “elder.”
The argument made by Calvin and later Calvinist supporters (such as the Milton of the anti-prelatical tracts of the early 1640s) of a Presbyterian church government runs as follows:
Presbyterianism is a “rediscovery” of the apostolic model found in the Greek Scriptures. (Many supporters of a Presbyterian arrangement hold it to be the only permissible form of ecclesiastical government.) This claim is based on such texts as Acts 11:30 and 15:22, which describe a church government that closely resembles that of the Jewish synagogues of the time, each of which was governed by a group of “elders” (presbuteroi, or “presbyters”). Acts 14:23, describes Paul appointing these presbuteroi in Churches he founded during his ministry. In these early congregations, the terms for presbyter and bishop (presbuteros and episkopos) were used interchangeably, and did not serve to distinguish any necessary or Biblically-prescribed hierarchical distinctions (see Acts 20:17 and 20:28). Episcopacy establishes distinctions between believers that cannot be justified by Scripture, and bishops are spiritual and temporal usurpers who are dangerous to both their flocks and to their civil rulers.
The defenders of the Episcopal structure of the English Church argue that authority for Episcopacy is found both in Scripture and tradition.
Richard Hooker argues against the Puritan notion that Scripture is the sole source of guidance for either church doctrine or church discipline.
1593–Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity
- Contradicts the Puritan notion that Scripture was the only guide either to man’s conduct or his construction of Church government.
- Beyond, and before, Scripture is another source of truth–the law of nature: “an infallible knowledge imprinted in the mindes of all the children of men, whereby both generall principles for directing humane actions are comprehended, and conclusions derived from them” (Polity , I, viii, 3 1611 edition).
- Even without Scripture the law of nature acts to spur man to perfection and to show him his obligations to other men in society.
- With the law of nature God “illuminateth every one which cometh into the world,”
Bishop Joseph Hall is the most famous (and most temperate) spokesman for the Anglican Episcopal cause in Milton’s day (unlike Archbishop William Laud, Bishop Hall never ordered the removal of a dissident’s ears). Hall argues that Bishops were appointed in the early church as overseers for groups of presbyters as the church’s membership increased. According to Hall, this overseer function of the bishops served to prevent the spread of schism and heresy, helping to keep Christian worship pure and undefiled.
1640–Episcopacie by Divine Right
- Traces the origin of bishops and justifies hierarchy by the practice of the early church.
- Bishops justified by the Holy Ghost.
- Episcopacy–“an eminent order of sacred function, appointed by the Holy Ghost, in the Evangelicall Church, for the governing and overseeing thereof; and for that purpose, besides the Administration of the Word and Sacraments, indued with the power of imposition of hands, and perpetuity of Jurisdiction.” (Part II, p. 4)
- In any single church, all is done with the consent of the presbyters, but with the power of the bishops who receive their power in a direct line from the apostles.
- “The apostles, by the direction of the Spirit of God, found it requisite and necessary for the avoyding of schisme and disorder that some eminent persons should every where be lifted up above the rest.” (Part II, pp. 21,22)
The “typical” Presbyterian response to this line of reasoning is made by a group of ministers known collectively as Smectymnuus. (An acronym derived from the initials of Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurstowe).
1641 (February)–An Anti-Remonstrance to the Late Humble Remonstrance
- Antiquity is no argument for Episcopacy
- Bishops’ fees contrary to the customs of the early church.
- The distance between minister and archbishop violates the spirit of the early church.
- Bishops have no right to delegate deputies to preach for them or sit as judges in courts.
- Reviews the abuses of excommunication, commuting of bodily penance to monetary payment, and argues that the church government cannot claim divine authority because of its numerous violations of the customs of early Christianity.
1641 (June 26)–A Vindication of the Answer to the Humble Remonstrance, from the Unjust Imputations of Frivolosnesse and Falsehood
- Reviews further arguments against a mandatory liturgy, using the liturgies of Justin martyr and Tertullian as examples.
- Dissenters to the Church of England created by the Prelates, not the Puritans.
- Wide difference between the Reformations on the Continent and in England: “Our first Reformation was onely in doctrine, theirs in doctrine and discipline too.” (39)
- English bishops must trace their lineage through the hated Catholic Church, drawing “the line of their pedigree through the loynes of Antichrist.” (89)
- Ancient bishops never sought superior power.
- Ancient bishops were preaching bishops.
- Question: “What is the Church of England?” The Laudian Canons of 1640? The particular forms and ceremonies used?
- Smectymnuuns object to the appropriation by the bishops of the sole right to define the Church of England.
William Laud is perhaps most famous as the Archbishop of Canterbury under Charles I, and as the force behind the Star Chamber trials of the 1630s and early 1640s.
Ordained in the Church of England in 1601, he became bishop of Saint David’s, Scotland, in 1621. Laud was made bishop of London in 1628, chancellor of Oxford in 1629, and archbishop of Canterbury in 1633. Laud fiercely opposed the church reforms proposed by the Puritans, and he staunchly supported King Charles I in his battle with Parliament.
Laud, with the support of Charles, attempted to introduce the Anglican liturgy in Scotland in 1637. This resulted in a riot in Saint Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. This led to the Solemn League and Covenant of 1638, the First Bishop’s War in 1639, and finally to the meeting of the Long Parliament in 1640, by whom Laud was impeached for treason. Laud’s impeachment by the House of Commons was nullified by the House of Lords, but soon afterwards he was condemned under a bill of attainder and beheaded on 1/10/1645.
1) Acted without doubts in suspending preachers: “Nor have I by these Suspensions, hindred the Preaching of Gods Word, but of Schism and Sedition” (History of the Troubles and Tryal of . . . William Laud, ed. Henry Wharton, 1695, p. 164).
2) Refugees at fault, not him: “Nor have I caused any of his Majesty’s Subjects to forsake the Kingdom; but they forsook it of themselves, being Separatists from the Church of England; as is more than manifest to any Man, that will but consider what kind of Persons went to New-England” (Ibid).
3) “They have thrust themselves out” (p. 509).
4) No middle ground–anyone who did not worship according to prescribed ritual was a Separatist, no matter how small the deviation.
5) From Constitutions and Canons Eclesiastical (1640): “The most High and Sacred order of Kings is of Divine right, being the ordinance of God himself, founded in the prime laws of nature.” This was to be read by each parish priest four times during the year.
Why is any of this important? Who cares whether a church is governed by men called bishops or men called presbyters? The matter of how the Christian Church was organized was of the utmost importance because many English Protestants believed that, with the “overthrow” of the Roman Church, Christ was preparing “his Englishmen” to be a kind of theological lamp to the world. In John Davis’s The World’s Hydrographical description (1595) the English are “by the eternal and infallible presence of the Lord predestined to be sent unto all these Gentiles . . . to give light to all the rest of the world” (Hughes 743, n. 236). In John Milton’s Areopagitica (1644) England is a “nation chosen before any other . . . a nation of prophets, of sages, and of worthies” (Hughes 743). What could be more important for such a “chosen nation” than the organization of its worship? Polity and Politics are not separate in a “nation of prophets.”
The English reformation differs from those in Germany, Switzerland, and France in two respects:
- England is a small country with a strong central government; therefore, unlike the continental experience of revolution splitting a country into regional factions or parties and ending in civil war, the English revolt is national. The king and Parliament act together in transferring to the king the ecclesiastical jurisdiction previously exercised by the pope.
- In the continental countries agitation for religious reform among the people precedes and causes the political break with the papacy. In England the political break comes first, as a result of a decision by King Henry VIII to divorce his first wife, and the change in religious doctrine comes afterward in the reigns of King Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth I.
Basic Calvinist (Presbyterian) Doctrine can be summed up with the acronym TULIP:
Total Depravity: Man in his fallen, sinful state does “not receive the things of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” Fallen and unregenerate man finds himself “dead in trespasses and sin.” He is unable to help himself and cannot be delivered from this dreadful state except through the unmerited grace of God our Savior.
Unconditional Election: God has not left mankind to perish in its sin, but has from all eternity chosen to save unto himself a people which no man can number. God has chosen “us in Him before the foundation of the world.” This means that those who will be saved are those who have been chosen to be saved by the sovereign Lord, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy.” He does not base His election on any condition within man, “lest anyone should boast.”
Limited (or Definite) Atonement: Christ’s atonement was designed specifically for the redemption of His people; “I lay My life down for My sheep.” He did not shed His blood for those who will not come to Him, He has not paid the price for their sin — they will. “I do not pray for the whole world but for those you have given me.”
Irresistible Grace: Those whom He has chosen will surely come to Him. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” God sends His Holy Spirit to effectually work in the hearts of His elect for whom Christ died; “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” The “gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Perseverance of the Saints: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” Salvation was not merited by any, and the eternal security of His true sheep is never dependent on them, for “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” The true believer will persevere by God’s grace. Those who fall away from the faith prove that they were never really saved in the first place.
Original article no longer seems to be available on the web, but is preserved on archive.org.
Here, I am going to develop two particular aspects of ecclesial history that are often neglected by Western historians: The reign of Innocent III as Pontiff in Western Christendom, and the tragedy of the great schism between Eastern and Western Christians as a lasting consequence of the Fourth Crusade.
The eleventh century is often called the century of Saxon Popes: Gregory VI (1045 – 1046), Clement II (1046 – 1047), Damasus II (1048), Leo IX (1049 – 1054), Victor II (1055 – 1057) and Steven X (1057 – 1058) all reflected, through their ascendancy to the Papacy, the strength and power of the Holy Roman Emperor. The struggle between the temporal power of the Kings and the spiritual pressure of the popes came to a head in the reigns of Pope Nicholas II (1059 – 1061) and Gregory VII (1073 – 1085) in their opposition to King Henry IV. Henry was ultimately driven by a revolt among the German nobles to make peace with the Pope and appeared before Gregory in January 1077 at Canossa. Dressed as a penitent, the emperor is said to have stood barefoot in the snow for three days and begged forgiveness until, in Gregory’s words: “We loosed the chain of the anathema and at length received him into the favor of communion and into the lap of the Holy Mother Church” ( Robinson 1904: 283).
These tensions between emperors and pontiffs were to continue into the twelfth century and ultimately gave rise to the “distinctive separation of Church and State when the emperor signed the Concordat of Worms (1122) forfeiting any right to invest bishops with the ring and the staff symbolic of spiritual authority” (Ozment, 1980: 4). This demarcation of the secular from the ecclesiastical nevertheless did not hamper papal aspirations on the part of the emperors, nor the aspirations of the popes to exercise the power of emperors.
These power struggles had already led to a clericalization of the Western Church under Gregory VII (1073-1085). It must be noted that the authority of this pontiff and those that followed him demonstrated the secular and imperial nature of the pontifical office. With Gregory we find the creation of a Christian commonwealth under papal control. In the Dictatus Papae Gregory claimed:
- That the Roman pontiff alone is rightly called universal.
- That he alone has the power to depose and reinstate bishops.
- That he alone may use the imperial insignia.
- That all princes shall kiss the foot of the pope alone.
- That he has the power to depose emperors.
- That he can be judged by no one.
- That no one can be regarded as catholic who does not agree with the Roman church.
- That he has the power to absolve subjects from their oath of fealty to wicked rulers (Pope Gregory VII, quoted in: Baldwin, 1970: 182-183).
Lameygh lists the powers and privileges attached to the Papal office:
- The Pope can be judged by no one.
- The Roman Church has never erred and will never err till the end of time.
- The Roman Church was founded by Christ alone.
- The Pope alone can depose and restore bishops.
- He alone can make new laws, set up new bishoprics, and divide old ones.
- He alone can translate bishops to another see.
- He alone can call general councils and authorise canon law.
- He alone can revise his own judgements.
- He alone can use the imperial insignia.
- He can depose emperors.
- He can absolve subjects from their allegiance.
- All princes should kiss his feet.
- His legates, even though in inferior orders, have precedence over all bishops.
- An appeal to the papal courts inhibits judgement by all inferior courts.
- A duly ordained Pope is undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter (1986: 241).
The Papacy as an institution reached its zenith of power during the pontificate of Innocent III (1198 – 1216). Not surprisingly , the dominant model of Church in these centuries was that of Church as institution. It is interesting to note that a significant alternative model of Church, that of servant, began to develop at this time through the work of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis held up poverty, simplicity, chastity, humility and obedience as his ideals, often ministering to the poorest of the poor. The legends surrounding his charismatic personality attest to his simplicity of faith that was highly contemplative in nature and is expressed so wonderfully in the “Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon.” In the final year of Innocent’s pontificate, the Dominicans were established as an Order of Preachers whose main perpose was to win back the Albigensians and Waldensians by exhaustive preaching. Dominic attempted a radical departure from the use of force and believed that it was necessary to be better heralds of the Gospel.
In Rome, the pontiff exercised supreme authority and his pontificate must be understood in the context of the twelfth century Decretum of Gratian (c.1140) and the subsequent commentaries of the “Decretists”, especially Rufinus of Bologna (c.1157). They believed that the interpretation of the Matthean verse, “I will give you the kingdom of heaven…” (Matt.16:19) suggested the existence of a “heavenly empire” and an “earthly empire” over which the Pope exercised supreme authority. At the same time, Alanus of England expounded an extreme theory of papal world monarchy (Barraclough, 1968; Dwyer, 1985; Ullman, 1972).
Innocent was a natural successor to these theorists. He had been a student of the Canonists Huguccio at Bologna and Peter of Corbeil at Paris, and was regarded by his contemporaries as a brilliant canon lawyer, though his book De Contemptu Mundi et De Sacro Altaris Mysterio, written shortly before his election, shows him to be a mediocre ansd safe orthodox theologian. He was elected to the pontificate at the age of 37. He was a
man elected to the papacy who was destined to bring the office to the summit of its political power and, perhaps in virtue of that fact, to prepare for its decline as a spiritual and moral force. In doing this, he paved the way for rise of the Renaissance papacy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries… he intended to be both spiritual leader of Christendom, and its political master as well; and it was from his hand that the Emperor and the kings of the various Christian states were to accept office as his vassals (Dwyer, 1985: 173).
A few months before his election in 1198, the emperor Henry VI had died. Innocent began his reign at a time when a power vacuum existed within the Roman Empire and “at the outset of his reign had an exceptional opportunity to define for the future, the proper role of the papacy in the temporal affairs of Europe, both in practice and in theory” (Tierney, 1964: 127). Innocent’s own perception of his role as pontiff and his view on Church-state relations are well documented, and demonstrate his theocratic and hierocratic world-view:
The Lord Jesus Christ has set up one ruler over all things as His universal vicar, and as all things in heaven, earth and hell bow the knee to Christ, so should all obey Christ’s vicar, that there be one flock and one shepherd (Quoted in Margaret Deanesly, 1972: 141).
He described himself as “lower than God but higher than man”…he claimed that Peter was given “not only the universal Church but the whole world to govern”, and his attitude to temporal authority is well summed up in his communication with the nobles of Tuscany: “…just as the moon derives its light from the sun…so too the royal power derives the splendour of its dignity from the pontifical authority” (Quotations from Tierney, 1964: 132).
In the decretal Venerabilem Innocent expounds his beliefs that he has an obligation to intervene in certain temporal matters. While it is right for princes to elect their emperor, it is the duty of the pontiff to ensure that the chosen candidate was also spiritually worthy for coronation. In Novit (1204), written to justify his intervention in the dispute between King John of England and King Phillip Augustus of France over the fief of Normandy, Innocent claimed that he could certainly judge temporal matters (Ullman, 1972: 207). He furthermore intervened in the conflict between Philip of Swabia (brother of Henry IV) and Otto of Brunswick, where he dramatically proclaimed his basic papal principle relating to the government of Christian society. According to Innocent, the emperor was given “a plenitude of power” by the pope who enjoyed ” a full plenitude of power” given to him by God. In this case, papal favour eventually fell upon Otto, whose concessions in Italy to the papacy suggest that Innocent was motivated by less noble aims than the need to examine imperial candidates.
These less noble aims undoubtedly included Innocent’s desire to recover lost papal territories and to rid Italy of German officials and influence. The question of imperial candidacy was the most dramatic instance of Innocent’s involvement in temporal matters, but it was far from an isolated case. He intervened in the Kingdom of France to persuade Philip II to restore his legitimate wife, yet at the same time, Innocent legitimised Philip’s bastard children. He also intervened in succession disputes in the Kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Bohemia. It was Innocent who excommunicated King John of England for refusing to accept Stephen Langton as archbishop of Canterbury, and released John’s subjects from their oath of allegiance to their king. Finally, King John succumbed and became a papal vassal. In addition, Innocent III could count as vassals the Kings of Bulgaria, Aragon, Portugal and Castille. During Innocent’s pontificate, “papal activity and influence was displayed throughout the length and breadth of Europe. The papal curia became the busiest governmental centre in the world as it then was” (Ullman, 1972: 215).
This power was not only exerted against princes and emperors. Innocent’s handling of the Albigensian heresy reinforced the contemporary concept of Church as institution. Heretics were seen as deliberately defying the authority of the Roman Church and as committing a crime against divine majesty. War was declared on the Albigensians, and, aided by the Cistercians, Innocent fought a bloody crusade against them in 1209. Papal legates, however, were keener on gaining bishoprics than on routing the heresy. “Innocent’s objectives were on the one hand to combat heresy and paganism, and on the other hand, to eradicate the abuses through which, if they were not remedied, heresy was bound to flourish; and the method used was centralisation and central control” (Barraclough, 1968: 135). In southern France the Catharist heresy was particularly strong. Francis of Assisi and his followers “wanted to bring people to abandon it, not by violence, but by instructing them and preaching the love of Christ. Unfortunately his solution was not adopted, and Church leaders of the time dealt with the Cathari with appalling brutality” (Dwyer, 1985: 164).
The Church had, by the time of Innocent III, taken on the organisational role of the Crusades with all its political and economic ramifications. Crusades were to be launched against heretics at the discretion and direction of the presiding Pontiff and were used as a means of imposing the rule and will of the Church on the unbeliever. Augustinian teaching that justified the use of torture and death as legal instruments to be used by the Church to convert the heretic became widely accepted. This acted as a prelude to the legitimisation of the Inquisition, which was to receive papal approval under Gregory IX in 1233. Heresy was to be punished for the spiritual “good” of the individual as well as for the preservation and enhancement of the status of the Church and State – an attitude and mentality equally accepted by future Western reformers such as Calvin and Luther. Such was to be the patrimony and inheritance of the Crusades.
An even darker shadow was cast over Innocent’s pontificate by his involvement in the Fourth Crusade, which led to schism between Eastern and Western Christendom in the eleventh century, an event which is one of the greatest calamities in the history of the Church.The main aim of the Crusades was to try to free the Holy Land from the Seljuk Turks who had conquered Jerusalem in 1071. This was not accomplished, but rather in its consequences it seriously undermined the powers of resistance of the Christian East to the advance of Islam. It also encouraged the excessive growth of papal power in the West, and this over-centralisation of Church government resulted in many abuses and provoked widespread discontent. Thus the Reformation itself, which split the West into two hostile camps, was one of its results flowing from the split between East and West. This means that both East and West have paid dearly for their loss on unity, and although they have suffered in different ways, the ultimate results have been the same: their spiritual life has become impoverished and the growth of their culture one-sided, whilst extremist tendencies have been granted a freedom which has encouraged further splits and dissensions.
The present divided state of the Christian Church, which so obviously hinders her work, is therefore the direct result of the old schism between the East and West. The re-integration of Christendom is impossible unless the members of the two streams of Christian tradition can overcome their animosity and join together in the work of evangelising the world. It has been the custom for both Eastern and Western Christians to place the blame for the loss of unity entirely on the other side. Roman Catholics have accused the East of an obstinate refusal to accept the leadership of the Pope, and of undue submissiveness towards the secular power. The Orthodox, in return, have hurled against Western Christians charges of arrogance and pride, and have insisted that both Latins and Protestants have wilfully departed from the sound tradition of the early Church and perverted their religion by arbitrary and harmful innovations.
Many controversial books have been written on this subject; but if the simple question is asked, “What was the cause of the Schism between Rome and Constantinople, and when exactly did it occur?”, too often no clear answer is forthcoming. The absence of an agreed statement on such a vital issue, one which has so profoundly and so disastrously affected the life of all Christians, is puzzling indeed. Yet an explanation of it is to be found in the study of the political and ecclesiastical events which led to the break of communion between East and West.
Though conflict, disagreement and tensions in politics and theological interpretation existed from the fifth century onwards, this gradual process of open hostility and bitter hate reached its climax between the ninth and thirteenth century. It is often thought that the lasting split in the Church must have been caused by some major doctrinal disagreement. The history of the schism does not confirm this opinion. The growing alienation between the Christian East and West was provoked by political competition, petty quarrels and personal rivalries. It was a slow movement; for the Church organism vigorously resited these attacks of destructive forces. The final blow to the unity of the Church was inflicted by no heresy, but by the drunken and undisciplined mob of Crusaders who sacked Constantinople in 1204 and massacred its Christian population.
In order to understand how Christians were brought to this state of warfare, we have to reconstruct the main facts of the relations between the Church and the Roman State. The Christian Church first appeared in history as a fellowship of self-governing communities, scattered all over the empire, and spreading even beyond its borders. There was nothing compulsory about their unity: it arose organically from a deep realisation, shared by its members, that they all belonged to the same body, since they had all been born into the same new life. But from the fourth century, when these Christian communities received the protection of the Emperor, their constitution underwent a radical change; they lost their independence and became subject to the control of the State. Formerly, if any dispute arose within the Church, it had been settled by negotiation; but once the patronage of the Empire was granted, the Emperors began to use their political power to maintain unity among Christians, often inflicting severe penalties on those they deemed to be in the wrong.
The Emperors’ intentions were praiseworthy: they wished to preserve peace and concord; but their methods were those of the old unredeemed world, and the results were fatal. The more they tried to suppress by force the disagreements among Christians the more bitter the conflicts became, until at last the Church was split up into several hostile bodies. Most of the schisms were caused by national and temperamental divergences among members of the Christian Church, but once the spirit of mutual charity had been lost, differences in doctrine made their appearance, for the divided Christian Churches fell into one-sided interpretations of the faith.
The first split appeared in the fourth century in North Africa, where the Roman and native Christians separated into two competing sects (the Donatist Schism). In the fifth century the Greeks and Copts quarrelled in Egypt, and simultaneously a split occurred after the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) in Asia Minor and Syria between the Greeks and Syrians (the Monophysite Schism). Later on the Christians in Persia broke off relations with the Byzantine Church (the Nestorian Schism). These quarrels, disastrous as they were, did not however affect the main body of Christians, who tenaciously clung to their unity, firmly believing that there could be only one Church and one Empire. Meanwhile, during the course of the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries the Catholic Church developed two distinct types of Christianity. The first was shared by all Latin-speaking Christians, who formed the Western Patriarchate of Rome. The second comprised the Syriac, Armenian and Greek-speaking world, which was divided into four Eastern Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
The Byzantine and Latin traditions differed considerably, not only in liturgical practices and customs, but also in their outlook. The Christian East was mainly interested in doctrine; the Latin West in morals. The East possessed a particular gift for worship; the West for discipline and order. The East emphasised the divergence of gifts, the West the need for uniformity and obedience. It was not always easy for the two sides to understand each other; they often viewed a new problem from totally different standpoints, and sometimes these disagreements ended in an open breach between the occupants of the two principal sees of Rome and Constantinople. But the schisms invariably ended in a reconciliation, for both sides acknowledged that the Church of Christ must include both Eastern and Western Christians, and that their gifts were complementary.
A serious split between Rome and Constantinople took place in the ninth century. Its immediate cause was the irregular appointment of a new Patriarch of Constantinople, Photius (in 898) but its real origin lay in the great political conflict which occurred at the beginning of the century, when in the year 800, Charlemagne restored the Western Roman Empire. In the eyes of the Greeks, the Pope had committed a serious breach of faith when he consented to crown a barbarian like Charlemagne as Emperor of the West. It is true that the Byzantine ruler was obliged to recognise the intruder as his brother-sovereign, since he had no power to oppose him, but the Greeks strongly resented this concession. Thus two rival political powers had been set up, both claiming to be the only lawful successor the Roman Empire, and it was merely a matter of time before one or other had to be destroyed. The bitter conflict between these two competitors, which ended with the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the fifteenth century, involved the Church also, and was thus the root cause of the schism between the Christian East and West.
The leading roles in the ever-growing struggle fell to the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople. Under the strong political influence of the rival Emperors, the occupants of the most important sees of Christendom started a feud, seizing on every pretext in a campaign of mutual calumny and recrimination. The Patriarch Photius first produced a catalogue of Western heresies which included:
- fasting on Saturdays in Lent;
- beginning Lent on Ash-Wednesday instead of on a Monday;
- disapproval of married priests;
- objection to confirmation administered by a priest;
- the unlawful addition to the Greek of the words”and the Son”, when describing the “procession of the Holy Ghost.
The Latin Church retorted by producing a similar list of Eastern heresies. A lively controversy arose which gradually increased in bitterness and volume till the catalogue of heresies included more than fifty topics. Every difference in customs and teaching, which had been treated in the past as a legitimate expression in religion of the differing Eastern and Western outlooks, was now treated as an outrage. The most debated of these divergences were:
- the question of the Filioque clause (see above);
- the belief in a Purgatory distinct from Hell;
- the use of leavened or unleavened bread at the Eucharist.
It would, however, be a great mistake to think that these disputes between Pope and Patriarch had seriously affected the bulk of Christians. Their sense of oneness was so strong that it took more than 400 years to destroy it. The first breach between Pope Nicholas and Patriarch Photius was eventually healed: the quarrels of their successors were also brought to a peaceful end; and when, on July 16, 1054, the Papal Legate excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, no one had any idea that this was the beginning of a schism which would last for many centuries. Its immediate cause was a trivial local dispute over the control of Latin monasteries in Constantinople. Much bad feeling was displayed on both sides, but neither was yet ready for permanent schism. The way was prepared for this, during the next two centuries, by the coming of the Crusaders.
The heroic and romantic elements in this attempt to deliver the Holy Places from the Moslems still make it difficult for the Western mind to realise the disastrous character of the movement. Yet the harm it did was so great that some of the most bitter conflicts of our own time can be traced back to the mistakes of this well-intentional but ill-advised enterprise. The chief evil of the Crusades was the belief that military aggression can serve the spread of Christianity and that the sword can sometimes be more efficient than the word in the presentation of the Gospel. They lent support, too, to the idea that the robbery, torture, or murder of a someone whose religious beliefs were erroneous was not only permitted but even approved by Christian teaching. The Orthodox East, when it heard about the Crusades, felt apprehensive from the very start. The Byzantine Empire held that her army was entrusted with the sacred duty of defending her frontiers, and that Christian soldiers who laid down their lives in the battle against the infidels and barbarians had made a righteous sacrifice for a cause approved by God. But this was very different from the idea that Christian monks and soldiers, whose homes and families were not threatened, were justified in taking up arms and starting to kill others in far-away lands, in the name of the Christian religion and for the sake of controlling the land where the Saviour had lived and died and risen again.
These doubts and forebodings developed into open hostility when Eastern Christians came under the rule of the Crusaders. War is always a brutal and destructive affair, and the Crusaders did not differ much from other soldiers. When a city was captured its population naturally suffered, and it would have been too much to expect that a careful discrimination would be made between the local Christians and Moslems. Everybody was helpless before the invaders, and one’s life and property were at their mercy. Once the rule of the Crusaders was firmly established it proved of no advantage to the Eastern Christians, even when compared with their bitter experience under the Moslem yoke. In many cases it was even a change for the worse, for their former conquerors had been more tolerant than Christians of the West, and had allowed the Orthodox to continue their Church life unmolested. But the Crusaders tried to convert the Orthodox to Latin Christianity, confiscating their Church buildings, imprisoning their clergy and treating them as though they professed a wholly alien religion.
For the West, the events of the Crusades began in an aura of optimism but ended with disaster and disunity for the Church. After the death of Charlemagne, the military authority of the Franks which had supported the Papacy began to decline. The Norman incursions into Italy posed a real threat to the Church and the Papacy in 1059 acknowledged its inability to face any threat from a Norman invasion. How then could the Church reassert its lessening authority over its feudal monarchs and show that it had the necessary strength to cope with internal dissent? At this time a request arrived from the Eastern emperor Alexius Commenius and Pope Urban II for assistance against encroachments by Moslem forces into the Holy Lands. Urban II, at this time in exile, called together on the faithful to mount a crusade, appealing to the spirit of faith, to regain the Holy Lands from the sacrilegious hands of Islam while drawing attention to the political benefits of such a venture. Hollister states that “the Crusades to the Holy Lands were the most spectacular and self-conscious act of Western Christian expansionism which represented a fusion of three characteristics of medieval man: piety, pugnacity, and greed” (Hollister, 162).
The Church promised instant sanctity to all participants, a promise of full pardon for one’s sins, and a guarantee of eternal life. Urban and his successors, by granting indulgences, had sanctified this war as a holy war, and by 1096 the habit of “divinising” these conflicts became so well established that the Pauline metaphor of “fighting for Christ” was well interpreted as military knight service (Heer, 127). Military sacerdotal orders supposedly were based on high ideals of charity, chivalry, and medical care for those wounded in conflict, but too often these qualities were over-ridden by grand and petty political intrigues. By the time of the Fourth Crusade the papal powers had lost control over these monastic knights, leading to the excommunication of the Templars by Innocent III.
The growing animosity between the Greeks and Crusaders flamed up into open conflict at the end of the twelfth century. In 1185, the Knights captured and sacked Salonika, the second largest city of the Byzantine Empire; they conducted themselves with such complete disregard for the sanctity of Christian Churches that horror and indignation overwhelmed the whole of the Christian East. Contemporary Greek historians describe how the drunken soldiers danced on the alters of Orthodox Churches, how the sacred vessels and reserved sacrament, together with the icons, were made the object of the most revolting abuses, and how the corpses of men, women, and children were profaned by the conquerors. The Greeks were staggered by the scenes of deliberate cruelty and sacrilege, for the Moslems, their inveterate enemies, had always showed a genuine respect for places of worship.
The sack of Constantinople on April 13, 1204, dealt the final blow to relations between these two branches of the Christian Communion. It was an occasion of plunder and destruction seldom equalled for horror even in modern history. The great city, which had remained unconquered ever since its foundation in the fourth century, contained unique treasures of Christian art and learning. This was also the place where all the great relics of Christian piety had been stored by the Emperor. The riches of its Churches and especially of its Cathedral of St. Sophia, were unsurpassed in the whole world. Soldiers and Latin clergy vied with each other in their attempts to seize some part of these riches for themselves; even the precious Holy Altar of St. Sophia was polluted, broken in pieces and sold. Most of it was, however, simply lost or destroyed and only meagre remnants reached Europe.
Greek writers could not find words adequate to express their disgust and exasperation at the sight of such plundering, and their descriptions found confirmation in the epistle of Pope Innocent III, addressed to his Cardinal in Constantinople. The Pope’s denunciation of the sacrileges committed by the Crusaders bear out the statements of Greek writings. This day, April 13, 1204 marks the end of the fellowship between Eastern and Western Christians. The split was brought about, not by quarrelsome theologians or ambitious prelates, as is usually suggested, but by the greed and lust of those men who, in the name of the Prince of Peace, had embarked upon a war of aggression and conquest.
The horrors of the sack of the great Byzantine cities brought about a radical change of attitude among the ordinary members of the Church. Up to this time the feeling of competition between the Christian East and the West had been confined to a few prelates and to the narrow circle of the Court. The mass of Christians has the oneness of the Church and therefore all ecclesiastical disputes had sooner or later been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. But after the aggression of the Crusaders a deep sense of indignation spread all over the Christian East. The bulk of Church members refused to recognise the Westerners any longer as their brothers and sisters in Christ. During the course of the next two centuries the secular and ecclesiastical rulers of the Byzantine Empire, under the rapidly growing threat of the Moslem domination, tried hard to come to some understanding the Christian West. At Lyons in 1274 and at Florence in 1439 reconciliation between the bishops of Rome and Constantinople was achieved; but it came to nothing, for the Eastern Christians stubbornly refused to enter into communion with the offenders. After the outrages of Knights it was the Eastern laity which became the stronghold of opposition to reunion, and all efforts on the part of prelates to bridge the gulf proved a complete failure.
Whatever had been the mistakes of the past, undoubtedly in the last and fatal stage of the disruption of Christian unity the East was the victim and the West the aggressor. The conduct of the latter during the succeeding centuries was the logical result of their particular role in the quarrel. Somewhere in the depths of its conscience the Christian West has retained a memory of the crime it once committed. Ever since that time it has been troubled by the very existence of the Christian East; it has frequently been tempted to resume negotiations with the Orthodox Christians; it has tried hard to force them to accept its leadership and to exchange their traditions for Latin or Protestant forms of Christianity. It has employed cajolery, promises and threats; it has calumniated the Orthodox faith and practice and attacked the Eastern Church whenever possible; it has never been able to leave the East alone, and both the Roman and Protestant Churches have displayed a striking similarity in their conduct.
The line taken by the Eastern Christians was the very opposite: they refused to pardon the offenders; they were unable to swallow the insult and take part in a reconciliation. Resentful and embittered, they displayed a complete indifference to the fate of Western Christians, and had but one wish: to be left alone. They ceased to recognise any moral link between themselves and the Christian West, and considered the Latins as idolaters who worshipped the Pope, and Protestants as still worse, since they had elevated the Book to the position which should be occupied by God alone.
A study of the relations between East and West during the last 800 years is a sordid and melancholy business. Both parties wilfully persisted in their errors; one side was arrogant, the other unforgiving: the West tried hard to induce the East to submit; the latter remained firm in its refusal to open its heart and mind to those who had formerly been allies and who had violated the bond of peace and love. There is little hope of any improvement in the relations between Eastern and Western Christians until the true cause of the schism is fully recognised. It is a fact of paramount importance that the split was occasioned not by any doctrinal disagreement, but by political and cultural differences which flared up into open warfare at the time of Crusades.
Innocent III considered a crusade to regain the Holy Land to be an urgent task of his pontificate. What he did not count on was the sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204, who never did reach Jerusalem. The triumphalism with which Innocent greeted the establishment of primacial authority in Constantinople demonstrated his global view of the Church as an institutional force.
If the Fourth Crusade represented the low point of Innocent’s pontificate, then the Fourth Lateran Council called by him in 1215 was the high point of his pontificate (Brooke, 1971; Granfield, 1981; Powell, 1965). It was the first genuinely universal Council in the Medieval West; not only Bishops but Abbots and Provosts as well as the secular powers were invited. Representation was accorded to all the various Orders within the Church and all “Doctors” received the power to vote. In one sense, the thirteenth century Church thus believed that the supreme magisterium of the Church belonged to the Church as a whole and not exclusively to the Bishops. The Council dealt mainly with the preservation of faith, particularly against heretics. Decrees were enacted on preaching, education of the clergy, elections, marriage and tithes. “The assembly was an impressive testimony of the standing and function of the papacy as the monarchic instrument of governing Christendom” (Ullman, 1972: 232).
Theology within the Church of the 12th and thirteenth centuries was still very much influenced by the writings of Augustine:
In theology and philosophy it was not only his teaching that was of paramount influence; his whole outlook on the world of men and things, above all his characteristic blending of the natural and the supernatural, or rather his acceptance of human life as it is in fact lived by the Christian, a human creature and yet a child of God, impressed itself upon the whole fabric of medieval religious thought so as to seem not merely one interpretation, but the only possible outlook (Knowles and Obolensky, 1969: 250).
Augustine’s world-view was unquestionably accepted, and the Church as a physical and political reality was seen as being in mystical communion with Christ. Christ was its head, and all those who are joined by the Spirit, visible and invisible, earthly and heavenly make up the Body, with the Holy Spirit being the Soul of this communion. Augustine himself saw the earthly Church as an inferior part of the total Church, and as Dulles expresses it: Augustine saw it as “the communion of saints that exists imperfectly here on earth and perfectly in the blessed in heaven” (1978: 105).
Yet, these four centuries also saw the extra-ordinary contribution of great saints and great intellectuals such as Bernard of Clairvaux, Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard, Peter Lombard, Francis of Assisi, Bonaventure, Thomas of Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, and Catherine of Sienna to the philosophy, theology and spirituality of the Western Church. These, and other scholars of the time influenced Church teaching in a way not experienced since St. Augustine. Table six, at the end of this module, presents a time-line which indicates the richness of these centuries for the development of Christian learning and spirituality.
Thomas Aquinas believed that “the Church essentially consists in a divinising communion with God, whether incompletely in this life or completely in the life of glory” (Dulles, 1978: 47). For Aquinas, the unifying force that bonded the earthly and heavenly together was the Holy Spirit, for through grace and the commitment to Christ human nature could be sublimated and an interior union with God made possible. In this way grace perfected nature (Knowles and Obolensky, 1969: 363). Thomas applied Aristotelian principles of philosophy in his theological arguments. In this way he endeavoured to build a bridge between faith and knowledge. Yet within his own lifetime the intellectual insights of Aquinas were not appreciated:
His conception of the relationship of faith and intelligence was both too profound and too radical, and by the end of the century in which he died, men in the theological faculties of the universities were beginning to lose confidence in the power of human intelligence to understand God and his works. As is always the case, loss of confidence in the power of human intelligence marked the beginning of the decline of a great culture (Dwyer, 1985: 182).
These centuries can be viewed through many windows; they also witnessed the establishment of the Carthusians, the revival of the Cistercians, the founding of the Carmelites, Franciscans and Dominican order. The ideal that one should live a life as closely related to that of heaven was promoted by reformers such as Bernard of Clairvaux and by the monastic orders at Cluny, where the ideal monk was seen as “a dedicated servitor who by means of an almost perpetual stream of vocal prayer and praise helped to form the earthly counterpart of the heavenly choir” (Knowles and Obolensky, 1969: 255). Bernard believed and taught that the Church must serve and nor demand service; must be poor, not seek enrichment. To Pope Eugene (1145 – 1153) he had written: “If we are to think highly of ourselves, we should perceive that a burden of service is laid upon us, not the privilege of lordship bestowed” (Nigg, 1959: 205).
It is interesting to note that under the Dominicans and the Franciscan Friars (both groups won the patronage of Innocent III) an alternative model of Church began to emerge. During his pontificate, Innocent was increasingly confronted by a slightly better educated population, who were becoming increasingly critical of a legally fixed and judicially enacted brand of Christianity. It is interesting to note, when considering his acceptance of the Franciscans and Dominicans, that he seemed to be sympathetic to such non-conformists and their emphasis on pastoral work and apostolic poverty. His attitude seems quite enlightened as long as their was no sin against “divine majesty” and no compromise with the orthodoxy of faith. The twelth and thirteenth century saw the building of many cathedrals to contain relics and major works of religious art. The wealthy were major contributors, many buying favours and indulgences through their patronage:
In one sense the glorious cathedral was the epitome of everything that was wrong with the late Middle Ages: signs of privilege and wealth, segregation from the masses and vast centers of relic collecting, money-making shrines and vast commercial enterprises inflicted on the common people by nobility and wealthy aristocrats (Bausch, 1981: 213).
In terms of models of Church, Innocent III’s pontificate presents a contradiction: A Church which was so structured that all power and authority came from one person; a Church which was brutal and violent through the Crusades and the Inquisition; a Church which showed service to the poor and needy through the Franciscans and Dominicans; a Church that stood for no opposition in its theological authority; a Church that patronised the establishment of centres of higher learning where men such as Thomas Aquinas would develop new ways of theological reflection.
In a very real sense, Innocent’s reign saw the zenith of the papal monarchy with its centre in the curia. The Church as a community of the faithful had been replaced by a narrower hierarchical church, comprising clerical orders in ascending ranks jealously guarding their rights and privileges. Even the reforming Fourth Lateran Council had its program imposed upon it by Innocent, and in reality it was to the papacy that the people looked to reform the Church. Innocent’s pontificate presents for church historians a dramatic dichotomy – the institutionalised church beginning to give birth to the servant Church. Bausch quotes Professor Knowles in a final assessment of this pontificate:
Innocent III’s pontificate is the brief summer of papal world government. Before him the greatest of his predecessors were fighting to attain a position of control; after him, successors used the weapons of power with an increasing lack of spiritual wisdom and political insight. Innocent alone was able to make himself obeyed when acting in the interests of those he commanded. We may think, with the hindsight of centuries, that the conception of the papacy which he inherited and developed was fatal, in that it aimed at what was not attainable and undesirable, the subordination of the secular policy to the control of a spiritual power, but this conception was as acceptable and desirable to his age as has been to our own the conception of a harmonious and peaceful direction of the world by a league or union of nations.
…It is impossible to dismiss the whole of Innocent’s government of the Church as an exhibition of power politics to the exercise of an ambitious and egotistical man or even as an achievement of mere clearsighted efficiency. He appears rather as one who was indeed concerned to use and extend all the powers of his office to forward the welfare of something greater, the Church of Christ throughout Europe, and the eternal welfare of her children…The judgement which sees in him no more than a mitred statesman, a papal Richelieu, a loveless hierocrat, does not square with evidence. The man, who in the midst of business, could recognise and bless the unknown and apparently resourceless, radical Francis was not only farsighted but spiritually clearsighted. He died when the world still needed him, when he might have saved the papacy…He died at Perugia; his court left him, and his robes and goods and very body were pillaged by his servants (Bausch, 1981: 225 – 226).
This same theocratic monarch who began the reform by allowing a place for the Franciscan and Dominican Orders “saved the Church from petrification in a rigid hierarchy; it made possible its adoption to the requirements of a new social environment – namely the rising towns with their urban proletariat… it allowed room for new lively spirits of deep religious feeling, which earlier policy had driven out of the Church” (Barraclough, 1968: 129).
The 12th and 13th centuries were a time of change not only in the ecclesiastical but also secular spheres. It was an age which witnessed the reign of Frederick Barbarossa, the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede, the ascendancy of the Hapsburgs to power, and the institution of the Papal Inquisition. The society of the period was hierarchical in structure, being made of established estates or orders, each having its duties, rights and obligations, its privileges, honours, prerogatives and functions. Canon law became a power that produced not only a highly organised, political and central papacy, but also a power that so influenced societal law, that it gave rise to a new secular order and a culture that was almost totally ecclesiastical (Congar, 1969: 29).
The thirteenth century witnessed the foundations of universities in Paris, Padua, Naples, Prague, Vienna, Heidelberg and Cologne, as well as a re-discovery of the writings of Aristotle who greatly influenced the thinking of medieval scholars – Thomas Aquinas in particular. “These universities quickly rose to importance and became famous throughout Europe. They were given special privileges by the Popes, including freedom from interference by the local bishop” (Dwyer, 1985: 178). These universities were to play a vital role in the intellectual life in the centuries to follow. Previously, judgements of orthodoxy had been pronounced by regional bishops’ councils, and were sometimes followed by appeals to Rome. However in the thirteenth century universities began to take on a magisterial role. For example, the doctrinal decrees of both the Council of Lyons in 1245 and 1274 were submitted to the universities for approval before being published.
This century witnessed the uprooting of the papacy from Rome and its re- establishment in Avignon for a period for almost seventy years. The fourteenth century ended in witnessing a papacy in turmoil and disarray, forced into a schism which saw three rival popes enthroned simultaneously in confusion and conflict.
- John Wyclif, Translator and Controversialist
- John Wyclif – help for understanding Scripture
- John Wycliffe
English theologian and reformer John Wycliffe (or Wyclif) was a precursor of the Protestant Reformation. Born in Hipswell, Yorkshire, Wycliffe was educated at Balliol College, University of Oxford. He received a doctorate in theology in 1372. He taught at Oxford University, where he became known as a brilliant scholastic theologian and the most respected debater of his time. Wycliffe gained prominence in 1374 during a prolonged dispute between Edward III, king of England, and the papacy over the payment of a certain papal tribute. Both king and Parliament were reluctant to pay the papal levies. Wycliffe wrote several pamphlets refuting the pope’s claims and upholding the right of Parliament to limit church power. King Edward appointed him to a commission that in 1375 conferred with papal representatives at Brugge (Bruges), Belgium, on the differences between the Crown and the papacy. The conference failed, but Wycliffe won the patronage of John of Gaunt, fourth son of King Edward and leader of an antipapal faction in Parliament.
In 1376 Wycliffe enunciated the doctrine of “dominion as founded in grace,” according to which all authority is conferred directly by the grace of God and is consequently forfeited when the wielder of that authority is guilty of mortal sin. Wycliffe did not state explicitly that he considered the English church to be sinful and worldly, but his implication was clear. On February 19, 1377, he was called before the bishop of London, William Courtenay, to give account of his doctrine. The interrogation ended when John of Gaunt, who had accompanied Wycliffe, became involved in a brawl with the bishop and his entourage. On May 22, 1377, Pope Gregory XI issued several bulls accusing Wycliffe of heresy. In autumn of the same year, however, Parliament requested his opinion on the legality of forbidding the English church to ship its riches abroad at the pope’s behest. Wycliffe upheld the lawfulness of such a prohibition, and early in 1378 he was again called before Bishop Courtenay and the archbishop of Canterbury, Simon of Sudbury. Wycliffe was dismissed with only a formal admonition, however, because of his influence at court.
After the Great Papal Schism began in 1378, Wycliffe’s views became much more radical. In various writings such as De Ecclesia, De Veritate Sacrae Scripturae, and De Potestate Papae he rejected the biblical basis of papal authority, insisted on the primacy of Scripture, and advocated extensive theological reform. That same year Wycliffe and certain Oxford associates defied church tradition by undertaking an English translation of the Vulgate, or Latin Bible, completed c. 1392, a remarkable achievement for its time considering it was several generations before the age of printing and about a century and a half before the first printed English version of the New Testament by William Tyndale.
In De Eucharistia Wycliffe repudiated the doctrine of transubstantiation. This bold declaration caused such a furor that John of Gaunt withdrew his support. Standing his ground, Wycliffe in 1380 began to send out disciples, called Poor Preachers, who traveled the countryside expounding his egalitarian religious views. The preachers found a ready audience, and Wycliffe was suspected of fomenting social unrest. He had no direct connection with the unsuccessful Peasants’ Revolt in 1381, but it is probable that his doctrines influenced the peasants. In May 1382, Courtenay, now the archbishop of Canterbury, convened an ecclesiastical court that condemned Wycliffe as a heretic and brought about his expulsion from Oxford. Wycliffe retired to his parish of Lutterworth.
After Wycliffe died on December 31, 1384, his teachings were spread far and wide. His Bible was widely distributed by his followers, called Lollards. Ultimately Wycliffe’s writings strongly influenced the Bohemian religious reformer John Huss (Jan Hus) in his revolt against the church. Martin Luther also acknowledged his great debt to Wycliffe. In May 1415 the Council of Constance reviewed Wycliffe’s heresies and ordered his body disinterred and burned. This decree was carried out in 1428.
In its most developed form, Wycliffe’s philosophy represented a complete break with the church. He believed in a direct relationship between humanity and God, without priestly mediation. By a close adherence to the Scriptures, Christians would, Wycliffe believed, govern themselves without the aid of popes and prelates. Wycliffe denounced as unscriptural many beliefs and practices of the established church. He held that the Christian clergy should strive to imitate evangelical poverty, the poverty of Christ and his disciples. Finally, Wycliffe disavowed serfdom and warfare.
- 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Copyright 1996 Grolier Interactive, Inc.
- Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Copyright 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation.
- Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy, New York: Paragon House, Copyright 1989 Geddes MacGregor.
Article originally appeared on island-of-freedom.com. Text recovered and displayed here via archive.org.
From His 1536 Work,
Institutes of the Christian Religion
On The Fulfillment of Joel 2:32
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. Joel 2:31-32
God declares that the invocation of his name in a despairing condition is a sure port of safety. What the prophet had said was certainly dreadful — that the whole order of nature would be so changed that no spark of life would appear, and that all places would be filled the darkness.
What, therefore, he says now is the same as though he declared, that if men called the name of God life would be found in the grave. Since then God invites here the lost and the dead, there is no reason why even the heaviest distresses should preclude an access for us or for our prayers. If there is promised salvation and deliverance to all who shall call on the name of the Lord, it follows, as Paul reasons, that the doctrine of the gospel belongs to the gentiles also.
I would have been a great presumption in us to present ourselves before God, except he had given us confidence and promised to hear us. We learn from this place that however much God may afflict his Church, it will yet be perpetuated in the world; for it can no more be destroyed than the very truth of God, which is eternal and immutable.” (in loc.)
On Matthew 23:38,39
v38. Lo, your house is left to you desolate. He threatens the destruction of the temple, and the dissolution of the whole frame of civil government.
Though they were disfigured by irreligion, crimes, and every kind of infamy, yet they were so blinded by a foolish confidence in the temple, and its outward service, that they thought that God was bound to them; and this was the shield which they had always at hand: “What? Could God depart from that place which he has chosen to be his only habitation in the world? And since he dwells in the midst of us, we must one day be restored.”
In short, they looked upon the temple as their invincible fortress, as if they dwelt in the bosom of God. But Christ maintains that it is in vain for them to boast of the presence of God, whom they had driven away by their crimes, and, by calling it their house, (lo, your house is left to you,) he indirectly intimates to them that it is no longer the house of God.
The temple had indeed been built on the condition, that at the coming of Christ it would cease to be the abode and residence of Deity; but it would have remained as a remarkable demonstration of the continued grace of God, if its destruction had not been occasioned by the wickedness of the people. It was therefore a dreadful vengeance of God, that the place which Himself had so magnificently adorned was not only forsaken by Him, and ordered to be razed to the foundation, but consigned to the lowest infamy to the end of the world. Let the Romanists now go, and let them proceed, in opposition to the will of God, to build their Tower of Babylon, while they see that the temple of God, which had been built by his authority and at his command, was laid low on account of the crimes of the people.
v39. For I tell you. He confirms what he had said about the approaching vengeance of God, by saying that the only method of avoiding destruction will be taken from them. For that was the accepted time, the day of salvation, (Isaiah 49:8; 2 Corinthians 6:2,) so long as that very person who had come to be their Redeemer, attested and proclaimed the redemption which he had brought. But at his departure, as at the setting of the sun, the light of life vanished; and therefore this dreadful calamity, which he threatens, must of necessity fall upon them.”
On Matthew 24:2
This prediction of the destruction of the temple, therefore, opened up a path for the ignorant and weak.121 Now, though it was advantageous that the temple should be destroyed, lest its services and shadows might exercise an undue influence on the Jews, who were already too much attached to earthly elements, yet the chief reason was, that God determined, by this dreadful example, to take vengeance on that nation, for having rejected his Son, and despised the grace which was brought by him.
On Matthew 24:5
“For shortly after Christ’s resurrection, there arose impostors, every one of whom professed to be the Christ. And as the true Redeemer had not only been removed from the world, but oppressed by the ignominy of the cross, and yet the minds of all were excited by the hope and inflamed with the desire of redemption, those men had in their power a plausible opportunity of deceiving.
Nor can it be doubted, that God permitted such reveries to impose on the Jews, who had so basely rejected his Son. Though those mad attempts speedily disappeared, yet God determined that disturbances of this kind should arise among the Jews; first, that they might be exposed to infamy and hatred; secondly, that they might altogether abandon the hope of salvation; and, lastly, that having been so frequently disappointed, they might rush to their destruction with brutal stupidity.”
On Matthew 24:34
“The meaning therefore is: “This prophecy does not relate to evils that are distant, and which posterity will see after the lapse of many centuries, but which are now hanging over you, and ready to fall in one mass, so that there is no part of it which the present generation will not experience.”
On the ‘Millennial Reign’ of Christ
“But a little later there followed the chiliasts, who limited the reign of Christ to a thousand years. Now their fiction is too childish either to need or to be worth a refutation. And the Apocalypse, from which they undoubtedly drew a pretext for their error does not support them.
For the number “one thousand” (Rev. 20:4) does not apply to the eternal blessedness of the church but only to the various disturbances that awaited the church, while still toiling on earth. On the contrary, all Scripture proclaims that there will be no end to the blessedness of the elect or the punishment of the wicked.
“For when we apply to it the measure of our own understanding, what can we conceive that is not gross and earthly? So it happens that like beasts our senses attract us to what appeals to our flesh, and we grasp at what is at hand.
So we see that the Chialists (i.e. those who believed that Christ would reign on earth for a thousand years) fell into a like error.” Jesus intended “… to banish from the disciples’ minds a false impression regarding the earthly kingdom: for that, as He points out in a few words, consists of the preaching of the Gospel.
They have no cause therefore to dream of wealth, luxury, power in the world or any other earthly thing when they hear that Christ is reigning when He subdues the world to Himself by the preaching of the Gospel. It follows from this that His reign is spiritual and not after the pattern of this world.”
– Comm. on Acts 1:8 (Torrance, VI, 32).
A Study by Frank W. Dowsett.
Having now concluded our studies on the Second Woe, or Sixth Trumpet, we note that the description of the Third Woe, or Seventh Trumpet does not proceed immediately. The continuity of the account of these Woes is interrupted by the description of two other major events which were yet to take place within the Israel nations prior to the completion of the Second Woe, and the commencement of the Third Woe or as it must be more importantly recognised as The Seventh, or Last, Trumpet. This Seventh Trumpet is referred to in chapter 10 verse 7, but its actual occurrence is not recorded until we reach chapter 11 verses 14 & 15, which will be the subject of chapter five of this study.
The first of these two events separating the last two woes or trumpets is found in Revelation chapter 10;
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud.And a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.
And He had in his hand a little book open. And He set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth. And when He had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it up. And it was in my mouth sweet as honey. And as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”
Now before going into any specific detail, we should note that this chapter is divided into two sections. Verses 1 to 7 describe a mighty angel descending from heaven. The description can fit no one other than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It was the very same Person whom Daniel saw in his vision as recorded in Daniel 12:5-7. He was ‘clothed with a cloud’ as recorded in Rev. 1:7. He had ‘a rainbow upon His head’ as described in Rev. 4:3, and Ezek. 1:28. ‘His face shone as the sun’, as described in Rev. 1:16 and Matthew 17:2. And ‘His feet were as pillars of fire’ as described in Rev. 1:15. All these descriptions agree perfectly with those applied in the other references to our Lord Jesus Christ. So the fact that He Himself appeared to John in lieu if sending an angel must surely alert us to the significance of what was about to be revealed.
We note firstly that these first seven verses constitute a cameo of a specific historical event which was to take place from that time right up until the sounding of the seventh, or last, trumpet, by which time we are informed, “the mystery of God will have been finished, or completed and accomplished.” Within this period there are two specific items to which our attention is drawn. The first is “a little open book” which is held in the hand of the Mighty Angel. But before the details and significance of this “little book” was revealed to John, the details of a further period of history timed to occur prior to the sounding of the Last Trumpet, was revealed to John. These details are designated as “Seven Thunders”, and they were proclaimed to John with a voice so loud and positive that it resembled the sound of the roaring of a lion. But then a most unusual thing happened. Just as John was about to record the message contained in these “Thunders”, in the same way as he had done when he received the previous messages related to the seven churches and seals and trumpets, he was commanded not to write down what these seven Thunders revealed, but to seal up their message. And nowhere in the remainder of the entire Book of the Revelation is this seal referred to as being broken or opened. It must then be obvious that the message of these Thunders was not intended for general consumption or understanding, particularly at that time. But two things stand out very clearly. Firstly, they covered certain events which still had to happen within God’s Israel people between the presentation of the “little open book” and the sounding of the final Trumpet, and secondly, that there must be certain servants of God to whom these details would be revealed, referred to by the prophet Daniel in Dan. 12:10 as “the wise who would understand””. If this conclusion is not correct, then one wonders why the Lord even mentioned the Seven Thunders in the first place. Unless some further information not revealed here was going to be revealed to certain people at some stage prior to the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet and the end of this age, then the whole subject becomes totally redundant. Whilst I have my own convictions on what this additional information and understanding is, I am certainly not going to be dogmatic about offering what would undoubtedly be branded as pure speculation by those who are not prepared to study the Word of God for the purpose of being ranked among those whom God designates as “the wise”. If God saw fit not to reveal these details at the time when He gave the Revelation, then I’m certainly not going to be presumptuous enough to claim some form of special revelation now. Whether or not what I am suggesting is correct or not will be up to the reader to decide, and for the Lord to judge. But the astute student might like to consider certain statements made through His prophets such as;
“Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy (Israel’s) way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.”(Hos. 2:6).
“And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not. I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. They shall be turned back. They shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.
Hear ye deaf, and look, ye blind, that ye may see.
Who is blind but my servant? or deaf as my messenger that I sent? Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant. Seeing many things, but thou observest not. Opening the ears, but he heareth not.”(Isa. 42:16-20).
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the nations be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come out of Zion a Deliverer, and shall turn away godliness from Jacob. For this is My covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Rom. 11:25-27).
Daniel was informed by the Mighty Angel that the completion of this age would occur following a period of three and a half times, or 1,260 years (Dan. 12:7). I believe, as do several other writers, that the fact that the angel is specifically recorded as holding up both his right hand and his left hand indicates a doubling of this time factor, giving an actual time period of ‘seven times’, following which, “the power of the holy people would be scattered”. On the other hand, John was informed by the same Mighty Angel that following the events depicted by the Seven Thunders, there would be “no more ‘time’ “. The word ‘`thunders’’ as used here, according to Strong’’s #7481 and #7482 means “To be violently agitated – To irritate with anger”. Could this be a reference to Israel’s ‘Seven Times’ of punishment? Is this the information that John was commanded not to reveal at that time, in conformity to the statements recorded above by the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul? In any event, our Lord swore by His own Name that these hitherto hidden and unrecognised events would culminate in the sounding of the voice of the Seventh Angel, of which we will study more later.
So in the second section of this chapter, following the incident of the sounding of the Seven Thunders, the Mighty Angel specifically drew John’s attention to the “little open book” which was in His hand. He was told to eat, or digest it. And just as he was forewarned, whilst it was pleasant to the taste, that is, whilst it appeared outwardly to be a pleasant experience, once it had reached his stomach, the full ramifications and sufferings of what it really represented in what was to transpire brought agony and revulsion to him. For the “little Book” which was specifically stated to be “open”, was the symbol Jesus used to represent the great Protestant Reformation which was about to break upon the world.
For over 1,000 years, the Word of God had been a closed book. The Church of Rome had seen to that. They had translated the Bible into Latin, and those who couldn’t understand Latin, which was nearly everyone, was unable to read it, and so had to depend on what the clergy taught them as to its meaning. So the Bible was a closed book for centuries. And of course added to this was the fact that the Church of Rome was not actually teaching, or practising Christianity at any rate. The whole Romish teaching was the simple process of immersing Baal worship into a solution of Christian phraseology, and passing this anti-God religious system off on the poor unsuspecting people as God’s Word. But when the printing press was invented in the 15th century, the wheels started to fall off their blasphemous deception.
John Wycliffe had already translated the Bible into English in the year 1382. In 1516, Erasmus published his famous Greek translation of the New Testament, and this paved the way for the translation of God’s Word into several other languages. It is an interesting fact that following the invention of the printing press, one of the first books to be printed, rather than hand copied on to vellum as had previously been done, was the Bible. How times have changed. Today it’s difficult to convince people just to read the Bible. How would you like to sit down and painstakingly copy out the entire Bible by hand, letter by letter? Sometimes we just don’t fully appreciate the blessings of God which we now take so much for granted.
Mr. Howard B. Rand, LLB., a great teacher of God’s Word, and a man who was mightily used of God, writes in his book “Study in Revelation” in regard to John Wycliffe;
“He assailed the false teachings of the Church of Rome, and the dogma of transubstantiation. (The teaching that the bread and wine of the Mass becomes the actual body and blood of our Lord) The influence of his teachings in England became widespread and made him the champion of National Rights as against foreign aggression. The Bulls issued against him by Pope Gregory XI in 1377 were never enforced . . . John Huss, a Bohemian reformer who became Dean of the Philosophical Society of the University of Prague was greatly influenced by the writing of Wycliffe, and because of his teachings he was excommunicated . . . The Council of Constance, . . after years of wrangling and vain debates, adjourned without the decision of a single question except that Huss and Jerome of Prague should be burnt at the stake as heretics. It was Huss who has the honour of having been the intermediary in handing on from Wycliffe to Luther the torch which kindled the Reformation.”
Martin Luther was a German reformer of the 16th century. He became so indignant at the abuses of the Church of Rome with its false teachings and its sale of indulgences, that he finally broke from the church on the question of its authority and nailed his now famous ninety-five theses to the door of the Church at Wittenburg. These theses became the foundation of what became Protestant doctrine. He finally married a nun who had been one of nine nuns who had emancipated themselves from their religious vows as a result of his teaching.
The printing press became God’s instrument by which the Word of God spread like a flame through England and Europe. The Bible at last became the book of the common people, whereas it had previously been a very bulky book, chained to the pulpit, written in a foreign language, and available only to the clergy.
Thus the dogmatic ties which had bound the people to Rome had now been severed, and the doctrines of the Protestant faith had become that of the land. But naturally enough, Rome was not happy at this situation, to say the least. Her chance came with the accession to the English Throne of Mary Tudor who set about to make a reconciliation with the Pope. Times certainly haven’t changed. So in order to strengthen their position, the Catholic Church arranged for her marriage to Philip II of Spain. This commenced a reign of persecution in England with many sincere followers of Christ gladly suffering martyrdom for their faith. Some of the most well known of these martyrs were Archbishop Crammer, Latimer and Ridley, names which present-day Christians have probably never heard of. It was Latimer who cheered his companion Ridley amidst the flames, exhorting him to “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as I trust shall never be put out”.
Following the death of Mary, who had no children, Elizabeth I came to the throne of England. She brought to bear every force under her power to restore the Protestant Faith to her land, and quite naturally, the anger of the Papacy was once more aroused. Isn’t it strange that whenever the supposed “True Christian Church” of Rome takes over, it’s always only the Christians who are persecuted. It certainly makes one think. After Mary’s death, her husband Philip II of Spain tried unsuccessfully to marry Elizabeth. Upon her rejection, he returned to Spain determined to invade England in order to restore the land back to Rome. He assembled what was then an enormous fleet of some 129 vessels which became known as the “Invincible Armada”. This Armada set sail for England on the 29th May, 1588, and as history has now recorded, was destined never to return. A destructive storm arose which scattered the Spanish vessels right around the shores of England, Scotland and Ireland. In acknowledgment of God’s deliverance, Queen Elizabeth I had a special medal struck containing the words, “He blew with His winds and they were scattered”. This marked not only the end of the famous Armada, but the end of the Spanish Empire which then fell into virtual obscurity. The promise of God had again been justified, as recorded in Isa. 54:17;
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. And every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord.”
Thus God’s Israel people, now firmly settled in the “Isles of the West”, reformed and freed from the chains of Rome, were able to get on with the task of spreading the Word of God throughout the entire world, and carrying on their God-given responsibility of being a blessing to all the families and nations of the earth and being His witness to the very fact that He is indeed the only God, as recorded in Isaiah chapter 43.
(To be Continued.)
THE COVENANT VISION MINISTRY.
P.O. Box 3192. Mount Druitt Village.
N.S.W. 2770. AUSTRALIA.
Phone: 02-9833-3925. Fax: 02-9833-4397.
Senior Pastor and Co-Founder:
FRANK W. DOWSETT J.P