April 29, 2009

"Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely" refers to who?

The famous saying, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," is often called "Lord Acton's dictum". What was he referring to?

From Wikipedia:

In 1870 came the great crisis in Roman Catholicism over Pope Pius IX's promulgation of the dogma of papal infallibility. Lord Acton, who was in complete sympathy on this subject with Döllinger, went to Rome in order to throw all his influence against it, but the step he so much dreaded was not to be averted. The Old Catholic separation followed, but Acton did not personally join the seceders, and the authorities prudently refrained from forcing the hands of so competent and influential an English layman. It was in this context that, in a letter he wrote to scholar and ecclesiastic Mandell Creighton, dated April 1887, Acton made his most famous pronouncement:
"I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it. "[2]

Lord Acton is also credited with saying, “[History is] not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.

Indeed, history has proven his dictum, correct, and the dogma of papal infallibility, false. (See here, here, here, and here.)

THE INQUISITION: A Study in Absolute Catholic Power

From Mission to Catholics. (Thanks to Sir Auggie of TheDisciplers.Com for the reference.)

A Study in Absolute Catholic Power

Arthur Maricle, Ph.D.
"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration." {Revelation 17:6}
Those who classify themselves as Christians can be divided into 2 broad groups: those who have chosen to allow the Bible to be their final authority and those who have chosen to allow men to be their final authority. For sake of simplicity, I shall refer to the first group as "Bible believing Christians." The latter group has always been best represented by Roman Catholicism, by far its largest, most powerful, and most influential component. The Roman Catholic hierarchy has always boldly stated that it is not dependent upon Scripture alone, but also accepts tradition as another pillar of truth -- and where a conflict exists, tradition receives the greater acceptance. Being its own arbiter of what is to be accepted as truth, it accepts no authority as being higher than itself. This explains why the Catholic belief system has been constantly evolving over the centuries.
This also explains why a fierce antagonism has always existed between Bible believing Christianity and Roman Catholicism. Rome's frequent spiritual innovations excites the passions of Bible believers, who react adversely to religious modifications that are at odds with the eternal, changeless Word of God. Harboring a supreme confidence in the Book, a trust which reflects their trust in the Holy Spirit who authored the Scriptures, the Bible believers boldly challenge the suppositions of the Catholic hierarchy. In the course of this spiritual warfare, Catholic people are frequently converted from trust in Rome's complex religious system to a childlike faith in the Saviour and a simple reliance on His Word. Many such converts ultimately leave the Church of Rome to join local, New Testament churches. Frequently in history, the trickle of individuals who were making this remarkable transformation turned into a flood. Such ruptures cannot go unchecked by the Catholic hierarchy. As with any bureaucracy, its primary interest is its own protection and propagation.
The nature of its response to the inroads made by spiritual challengers is dictated by its cultural surroundings. The more Catholic the culture, the more severe the response. In past centuries, when Rome's ecclesiastical power was virtually absolute throughout Europe, the intensity of the attacks by the papists upon their spiritual enemies could be equally absolute. Ignoring the injunction of II Corinthians 10:4 ("For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal..."), Catholicism built its own philosophical system to justify the use of carnal (fleshly, human, physical) means to achieve spiritual ends.
Having divorced herself from Biblical absolutes, Catholicism adopted a theology in which she sees herself as the church founded upon the Apostle Peter by Jesus Christ, and alone empowered to bring salvation to the world. Further, she believes herself assigned the daunting task of bringing Christ's kingdom to fruition on earth. With those dogmas forming her philosophical foundation, she seeks her power in the political sphere as well as the religious realm. To whatever degree she achieves political power, to that degree she feels compelled to use her secular influence as a weapon against her spiritual adversaries. Thus, down through the centuries, we see that in those countries in which Catholicism had achieved absolute power, the pope's followers have not hesitated to brutally subdue the enemies of "the Church". Although Jews, Moslems, pagans, and others have felt the wrath of Rome, her special fury has always been reserved for her bitterest and most effective challengers -- Bible believing Christians. Only as the political climate changed in recent centuries did the Catholic hierarchy see it expedient to change tactics and appear to be more tolerant. Yet, to this day we see persecution continuing in those places on the globe dominated by Catholicism. The degree of the persecution is determined by the degree of control.
To what lengths is the Catholic hierarchy prepared to go in its drive to repress opposition and achieve its goal of instituting the kingdom of Christ on earth? To find the answer, one must look to the pages of history.
When the Roman Catholic Church was founded by the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., it immediately achieved expansive influence at all levels of the imperial government. As Bible believing Christians separated themselves from the Church of Rome, which they saw as apostate, they represented a formidable potential threat to the official new imperial religion. Persecution in varying degrees of severity was instituted over the centuries following.
By the 11th century, in their zeal to establish Christ's kingdom, the Roman popes ("pope" is an ecclesiastical office that is the very antithesis of the New Testament ideal of a local church pastor) began utilizing a new tool -- the Crusades. At first, the Crusades had as their object the conquering of Jerusalem and the "Holy Land". Along the crusaders' paths, thousands of innocent civilians (especially Jews) were raped, robbed, and slaughtered. In time, however, the crusade concept was altered to crush spiritual opposition within Europe itself. In other words, armies were raised with the intent of massacring whole communities of Bible believing Christians. One such group of Bible believing Christians were known as the Albigenses.

[Pope] Innocent III believed that Bible believing dissidents were worse than infidels (Saracens, Moslems, and Turks), for they threatened the unity of ... Europe. So Innocent III sponsored 4 "crusades" to exterminate the Albigenses. Innocent (what a name!) called upon Louis VII to do his killing for him, and he also enjoined Raymond VI to assist him.
The Cistercian order of Catholic monks were then commissioned to preach all over France, Flanders, and Germany for the purpose of raising an army sufficient to kill the Bible believers. All who volunteered to take part in these mass murders were promised that they would receive the same reward as those who had sallied forth against the Moslems (i.e., forgiveness of sins and eternal life).
The Albigenses were referred to in Pope Innocent's Sunday morning messages as "servants of the old serpent". Innocent promised the killers a heavenly kingdom if they took up their swords against unarmed populaces.
In July of 1209 A.D. an army of orthodox Catholics attacked Beziers and murdered 60,000 unarmed civilians, killing men, women, and children. The whole city was sacked, and when someone complained that Catholics were being killed as well as "heretics", the papal legates told them to go on killing and not to worry about it for "the Lord knows His own."
At Minerve, 14,000 Christians were put to death in the flames, and ears, noses, and lips of the "heretics" were cut off by the "faithful."A

This is but one example from the long and sordid history of Catholic atrocities committed against their bitter enemies, the Bible believing Christians. Much worse treatment of Bible believers was forthcoming during that stage of bloody Catholic history known as the Inquisition.
It is vital, though, that we here define what is meant by the term "heretic". According to Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary, this is a heretic: "One who holds or advocates controversial opinions, esp. one who publicly opposes the officially accepted dogma of the Roman Catholic, Church." Or, as one author has put it, "Heresy, to a Catholic, is anti-Catholic truth found in the Bible."B Another summarized the official stance as this: "Every citizen in the empire was required to be a Roman Catholic. Failure to give wholehearted allegiance to the pope was considered treason against the state punishable by death."C

From 1200 to 1500 the long series of Papal ordinances on the Inquisition, ever increasing in severity and cruelty, and their whole policy towards heresy, runs on without a break. It is a rigidly consistent system of legislation: every Pope confirms and improves upon the devices of his predecessor. All is directed to the one end, of completely uprooting every difference of belief... The Inquisition ... contradicted the simplest principles of Christian justice and love to our neighbor, and would have been rejected with universal horror in the ancient Church.D

Pope Alexander IV established the Office of the Inquisition within Italy in 1254. The first inquisitor was Dominic, a Spaniard who was the founder of the Dominican order of monks.

The Inquisition was purely and uniquely a Catholic institution; it was founded far the express purpose of exterminating every human being in Europe who differed from Roman Catholic beliefs and practices. It spread out from France, Milan, Geneva, Aragon, and Sardinia to Poland (14th century) and then to Bohemia and Rome (1543). It was not abolished in Spain until 1820.E

The Inquisition was a terrifying fact of life to those who lived in areas where it was in force. That domain would eventually include not only much of Europe, but also the far-flung colonies of Europe's Catholic powers.

The Inquisition, led by the Dominicans and the Jesuits, was usually early on the scene following each territorial acquisition of the Spanish and Portuguese empires in the 16th and 17th centuries. The methods used, which all too often were similar to those used by Serra in California or the Nazi-backed Ustashis in Croatia, sowed the seeds of reaction and aversion that have proved to be a barrier for true missionaries ever since.
Albert Close writes of the Jesuit mission to Indonesia in 1559 that "conversion was wonderfully shortened by the cooperation of the colonial governors whose militia offered' the natives the choice of the musket ball or of baptism."

Everywhere it existed, the "Holy Office" of the Inquisition spread its tentacles of fear.

When an inquisitor arrived in an area he called for reports of anyone suspected of heresy, sometimes offering rewards to spies who would report suspected heretics. Those suspected were imprisoned to await trials. The trials were held in secret and the inquisitor acted as judge, prosecutor, and jury. The accused had no lawyer. It was often simpler to confess to heresy than to defend oneself, especially since torture was often employed until the accused was ready to confess.
Because church and state had not been kept separate, the church powers could call upon the government to use its power against the convicted heretics. Anyone who fell back into heresy after repentance was turned over by the Inquisition to the regular government to be put to death. Most of those condemned to death were burned at the stake, but some were beaten to death or drowned.
The Inquisition was called the sanctum officium (Holy Office) because the church considered its work so praiseworthy.F

Even after the death of a victim, his punishment was not ended. The property of condemned heretics was confiscated, leaving his family in poverty.
It is important here to emphasize Rome's role in the brutality of the Inquisition. Roman Catholic apologists are quick to point out that it was the state that put heretics to death. This is an alibi meant to excuse the Vatican's role in the atrocities. However, Dollinger, the leading 19th century Catholic historian, stated: "The binding force of the laws against heretics lay not in the authority of secular princes, but in the sovereign dominion of life and death over all Christians claimed by the Popes as God's representatives on earth, as [Pope] Innocent III expressly states it."G
In other words, the secular arm of the state acted only as it was pressured to do so by the popes. Even kings who hesitated to commit genocide on their own populaces were spurred into action by their fear of papal excommunication or subversive Catholic activities within their kingdoms.
Dollinger continues: "It was the Popes who compelled bishops and priests to condemn the heterodox to torture, confiscation of their goods, imprisonment, and death, and to enforce the execution of this sentence on the civil authorities, under pain of excommunication,"H

Will Durant informs us that in 1521 Leo X issued the bull Honestis which "ordered the excommunication of any officials, and the suspension of religious services in any community, that refused to execute, without examination or revision, the sentences of the inquisitors." Consider Clement V's rebuke of King Edward II: "We hear that you forbid torture as contrary to the laws of your land. But no state law can override canon law, our law. Therefore I command you at once to submit those men to torture.I

The methods used by the Inquisition ranged from the barbaric to the bizarre.

When the inquisitors swept into a town an "Edict of Faith" was issued requiring everyone to reveal any heresy of which they had knowledge. Those who concealed a heretic came under the curse of the Church and the inquisitors' wrath. Informants would approach the inquisitors' lodgings under cover of night and were rewarded for information. No one arrested was ever acquitted.
Torture was considered to be essential because the church felt duty-bound to identify from the lips of the victims themselves any deviance from sound doctrine. Presumably, the more excruciating the torture, the more likely that the truth could be wrung from reluctant lips. The inquisitors were determined that it was "better for a hundred innocent people to die than for one heretic to go free".
"Heretics" were committed to the flames because the popes believed the Bible forbade Christians to shed blood. The victims of the Inquisition exceeded by hundreds of thousands the number of Christians and Jews who had suffered under pagan Roman emperors.J

This wanton slaughter of innocent people was justified by Catholic theologians such as "Saint". Thomas Aquinas, who said, "If forgers and other malefactors are put to death by the secular power, there is much more reason for putting to death one convicted of heresy." In 1815, Comte Le Maistre defended the Inquisition by advocating: "The Inquisition is, in its very nature, good, mild, and preservative. It is the universal, indelible character of every ecclesiastical institution; you see it in Rome, and you can see it wherever the true Church has power."K Such a viewpoint could only be expressed by one so brainwashed as to think that the cruel, torturous deaths of dissidents to Catholicism is preferable to the survival and propagation of those who would challenge the Vatican's authority.
Yet, not all Romanists have been comfortable with the totalitarian nature of their "church". Even Jean Antoine Llorente, secretary to the Spanish Inquisition from 1790-92, was to admit: "The horrid conduct of this Holy Office weakened the power and diminished the population of Spain by arresting the progress of arts, sciences, industry, and commerce, and by compelling multitudes of families to abandon the kingdom; by instigating the expulsion of the Jews and the Moors, and by immolating on its flaming shambles more than 300,000 victims."L Historian Will Durant stated, "Compared with the persecution of heresy in Europe from 1227 to 1492, the persecution of Christians by Romans in the first 3 centuries after Christ was a mild and humane procedure. Making every allowance required by an historian and permitted to a Christian, we must rank the Inquisition, along with the wars and persecutions of our time, as among the darkest blots on the record of mankind, revealing a ferocity unknown in any beast."M
Catholic apologists attempt to downplay the significance of the Inquisition, saying that relatively few people were ever directly affected. While controversy rages around the number of victims that can be claimed by the Inquisition, conservative estimates easily place the count in the millions. This does not include the equally vast numbers of human beings slaughtered in the various wars and other conflicts instigated over the centuries by Vatican political intrigues. Nor does it take it account the Holocaust wrought upon the Jews by the Nazis, led by Roman Catholics who used their own religious history to justify their modern excesses. As one secular history explains, "As the Germans instituted a bureaucracy of organized murder, so too did Torquemada, the first Grand Inquisitor, a worthy of predecessor of Heydrich and Eichmann."N
Because her basic doctrinal premises remain in place, Rome can yet again rise up against her spiritual enemies at some future date when she again wields exclusive ecclesiastical control of a region. In fact, the "Holy Office" of the Inquisition still exists within the Vatican (known today as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), awaiting the day in which it can stamp out "heresy". As recently as 1938, a popular Catholic weekly declared:

Heresy is an awful crime against God, and those who start a heresy are more guilty than they who are traitors to the civil government. If the state has a right to punish treason with death, the principle is the same that concedes to the spiritual authority the power of life and death over the archtraitor.O

The Inquisition proved how Catholicism will react when it has possession of absolute power. Is it any wonder that in the 1880s, Dr. H. Grattan Guinness preached the following:

I see the great Apostasy, I see the desolation of Christendom, I see the smoking ruins, I see the reign of monsters; I see those vice-gods, that Gregory VII, that Innocent III, that Boniface Vlll, that Alexander Vl, that Gregory XIII, that Pius IX; I see their long succession, I hear their insufferable blasphemies, I see their abominable lives; I see them worshipped by blinded generations, bestowing hollow benedictions, bartering away worthless promises of heaven; I see their liveried slaves, their shaven priests, their celibate confessors; I see the infamous confessional, the ruined women, the murdered innocents; I hear the lying absolutions, the dying groans; I hear the cries of the victims; I hear the anathemas, the curses, the thunders of the interdicts; I see the racks, the dungeons, the stakes; I see that inhuman Inquisition, those fires of Smithfield, those butcheries of St. Bartholomew, that Spanish Armada, those unspeakable dragonnades, that endless train of wars, that dreadful multitude of massacres. I see it all, and in the name of the ruin it has brought in the Church and in the world, in the name of the truth it has denied, the temple it has defiled, the God it has blasphemed, the souls it has destroyed; in the name of the millions it has deluded, the millions it has slaughtered, the millions it has damned; with holy confessors, with noble reformers, with innumerable martyrs, with the saints of ages, I denounce it as the masterpiece of Satan, as the body and soul and essence of antichrist."P

The challenge I give to Bible believing Christians is to respect the heritage we have been given by those who suffered for Biblical truth, that we may be prepared to suffer ourselves. Ours is the generation that may yet again be afflicted for the faith once delivered to the saints. If such is to be our privilege, let us face our trials with this promise of our Lord fresh upon our hearts: "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." {Matthew 5:10}
The challenge I give to Roman Catholics is to take up the New Testament of the Bible and allow the Holy Spirit of God to speak to your hearts. If a Catholic remains skeptical about this brief treatise on the Inquisition, he is certainly welcome to examine for himself the record of history. If he remains unmoved by my conclusions, he is welcome to draw his own. But of far greater import is his need to examine the teachings of his church in the light of God's Word. Jesus leaves you with this warning: "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." {John 12:48} You to whom the Bible was so accessible will not be able to plead ignorance in that terrible day of judgment.

A Peter S. Ruckman, Ph.D.; The History of the New Testament Church (Bible Believers Bookstore; Pensacola, Florida; 1989)
B Ibid.
C Dave Hunt; A Woman Rides the Beast (Harvest House Publishers; Eugene, Oregon; 1994)
D J.H. Ignaz von Dollinger; The Pope and the Council (London, 1869); as cited in Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast
E Peter S. Ruckman, Ph.D.; op cit.
F Laura l-licks, editor; The Modern Age: The History of the World in Christian Perspective, Vol. 11 (A Beka Books Publications; Pensacola, Florida; 1981)
G J.H. Ignaz von Dollinger; op cit.
H Ibid.
I Dave Hunt; op cit.; quotations from Will Durant; The Story of Civilization, Vol. V (Simon and Schuster, 1950); and ibid., Vol. 4
J Dave Hunt; op cit.
K Comte Le Maistre, letters on the Spanish Inquisition, as cited in R.W. Thompson, The Papacy and the Civil Power (New York, 1876); as cited in Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast
L Jean Antoine Llorentine, History of the Inquistion; as cited in R.W. Thompson, The Papacy and the Civil Power (New York, 1876); as cited in Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast
M Will Durant; The Story of Civilization, Vol. IV (Simon and Schuster, 1950); as cited in Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast
N Ward Rutherford; Genocide: The Jews in Europe 1939-45 (Ballantyne Books, Inc.; New York, New York; 1973)
O The Tablet, November 5, 1938; as cited in Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast
P H. Grattan Guinness, D.D., Romanism and the Reformation; Focus Christian Ministries; Lewes, Sussex; as cited in Michael de Semlyen, All Roads Lead to Rome?

Papal Errors as Documented by Catholics

Disclaimer: i hate to sound redundant. This is at least my third post listing various errors and sins of the popes, the self-proclaimed "infallible" leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. (The other two are found here and here. My other recent posts made use of Biblical and/or logical reasoning.)

But there seem to be people who still don't get it --- and so here goes. These are MORE papal contradictions and errors, as documented by Catholics themselves. Some left, others stayed, and at least one is appealing for reforms. (See footnotes.)

My point, as always, is to appeal to the Catholics to listen to God Himself, through the Bible that you recognize as His Word...to hold the Bible infallible and supreme over any human, even popes...to test doctrines and traditions against the authority of the Bible and not the other way around.

" by Mary Ann Collins (A Former Catholic Nun), October 2002. (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.brace/1papal.htm). (Thanks to Sir Auggie of TheDisciplers.Com for the reference.)

  • Pope Honorius reigned from 625 to 638 A.D. He was condemned as a heretic by the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681). He was also condemned as a heretic by Pope Leo II, as well as by every other pope until the eleventh century. [Note 1]
  • In 769, Pope Stephen IV came to power with the help of an army which conquered the previous Pope. Stephen gave orders for his papal rival to be flogged, have his eyes cut out, have his kneecaps broken, and be imprisoned until he died. Then Pope Stephen sentenced a second man to die a slow, agonizing death. He had pieces of his body cut off every day until he finally died. [Note 2]
  • Pope Leo V only reigned for one month (July 903). Cardinal Christopher put Leo in prison and became Pope. Then Christopher was put in prison by Cardinal Sergius. Sergius killed Leo and Christopher while they were in prison. He also killed every cardinal who had opposed him. [Note 3]
  • Pope John XII reigned from 955 to 964. He was a violent man. He was so lustful that people of his day said that he turned the Lateran Palace into a brothel. He drank toasts to the devil. When gambling he invoked pagan gods and goddesses. He was killed by a jealous husband while in the act of committing adultery with the man's wife. [Note 4]
  • In the tenth century, a wealthy Italian noblewoman named Marozia put nine popes into office in eight years. In order to do that, she also had to get rid of reigning popes. Two of them were strangled, one was suffocated, and four disappeared under mysterious circumstances. One of the popes was Marozia's son; he was fathered by a Pope. [Note 5]
  • In 1003, Pope Silvester II was murdered by his successor, Pope John XVII. Seven months later, John was poisoned. [Note 6]
  • Pope Benedict VIII reigned from 1012 to 1024. He kept a private force of "pope's men" who were known for torture, maimings, and murder. The Pope personally ordered many assassinations. He enjoyed cutting the tongues out of living men and he had a reputation for blood lust. [Note 7]
  • When Benedict VIII died, his brother seized power and became Pope John XIX. He had himself ordained a priest, consecrated as a bishop, and crowned as pope, all in the same day. John died under suspicious circumstances. [Note 8]
  • Pope Benedict IX reigned from 1032 to 1044, in 1045, and from 1047 to 1048. He became Pope through bribery. He had sex with men, women and animals. He gave orders for people to be murdered. He also practiced witchcraft and Satanism. The citizens of Rome hated Benedict so much that on two occasions he had to flee from Rome. Benedict sold the papacy to Pope Gregory VI. As part of the deal, he continued to live in the Lateran Palace, with a generous income. Benedict filled the Lateran Palace with prostitutes. [Note 9]
  • In 1298, Pope Boniface ordered that every man, woman, child and animal in the Italian town of Palestrina be slaughtered. He was known for torture, massacre, and ferocity. [Note 10]
  • Pope Clement VI reigned from 1342 to 1352. He ordered the slaughter of an entire Italian town. He lived a life of luxury and extravagance. He openly admitted that he sold church offices and he used threats and bribery to gain power. Clement purchased a French palace which became known as a papal brothel. [Note 11]
  • Pope Alexander VI reigned from 1492 to 1503. He was known for murder, bribery and selling positions of authority in the Church. He was grossly licentious. On one occasion he required 50 prostitutes to dance naked before him and to engage in sexual acts for his entertainment. He had cardinals killed so that he could confiscate their property and sell their positions to ambitious men. He died of poison after having dinner with a cardinal. It was rumored that the cardinal suspected that the Pope would try to poison him and he therefore switched wine goblets with the Pope. [Note 12]
  • Pope Julius II reigned from 1503 to 1513. He became Pope through bribery. He was extremely ruthless and violent. He had a reputation for lust, drunknness, rages, deception, and nepotism. [Note 13]

  • Pope Leo X reigned from 1513 to 1521. He put a statue of himself in Rome's Capitol to be saluted by the public. He had statues of Greek gods and goddesses put in Rome. [Note 14]
  • Pope Gregory VII reigned from 1073 to 1085. He required kings and emperors to kiss his foot. Gregory and his successors used forged documents in order to expand the power of the papacy. Some Roman Catholics tried to expose these forgeries but they were excommunicated for it. However, the Orthodox Church kept records and wrote detailed information about the forgeries. [Note 15] (For more information about this, see my article "Forged Documents and Papal Power".)
  • Simony was rampant among clerics. It was commonplace for priests to pay money in order to become bishops and abbots. Pope Gregory VII said that he knew of more than 40 men who became Pope by means of bribery. [Note 16]
  • Pope Innocent III reigned from 1198 to 1216. He said that the Pope is the ruler of the world and the father of princes and kings. He claimed that every priest and bishop must obey the Pope even if the Pope commands something evil. Pope Innocent wanted to get rid of the Albigensian heretics who lived in France. He forced the King of France to kill hundreds of thousands of French citizens. The Albigensians lived mingled among the French Catholics. Pope Innocent commanded that every person in the region, including the Catholics, be killed. This was called the Albigensian Crusade, or the Albigensian Massacre. The Pope gave the Albigensian Crusaders a special indulgence which was supposed to guarantee that if they died in battle then their sins would be remitted and they would go to Heaven. [Note 17]
  • Sometimes two or more men would claim to be Pope at the same time. All of these claimants to the papacy had followers. Eventually one contender would be declared to be Pope, and the other would be declared to be an antipope. For centuries, Roman Catholic books differed as to which men they considered to be the genuine popes. However, today there is much more agreement about which men were popes and which men were antipopes. According to the "Catholic Encyclopedia," there were thirty antipopes. [Note 18]
  • The Apostle Paul said, "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife..." (1 Timothy 3:1, emphasis added) "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)" (1 Timothy 3:4-5, emphasis added) ...Pope Gregory VII wanted to increase the power of the papacy. For reasons of politics and power, he abolished clerical marriage. In 1074 he passed laws requiring that priests be celibate, and he got rid of married priests. [Note 19] As a result, since 1074 no Pope has been able to meet the Apostle Paul's requirement for bishops. Now I realize that some individuals ........ are called to be celibate. I could understand a few exceptions to the rule. But for nearly a thousand years, not one Pope or cardinal or bishop has ever been able to meet Paul's qualifications for being a bishop.


1. William Webster, "The Church of Rome at the Bar of History" (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995), pages 63-71. The author is a former Catholic.
Peter de Rosa, "Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy" (Dublin, Ireland: Poolbeg Press, 1988, 2000), pages 208-209. The author is a practicing Catholic and a former Catholic priest. While he was a priest, he did research in the Vatican Archives.
Hans Kung, "The Catholic Church: A Short History" (translated by John Bowden) (New York: Modern Library, 2001, 2003), page 60. The author is a Catholic theologian.
2. Malachi Martin, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church" (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1981), pages 85-89. Martin recently died. He was a Catholic priest, a Vatican insider, and the personal confessor of Pope John XXIII. He did research in the Vatican Archives. His books are a plea for reform within the Catholic Church.
3. Malachi Martin, page 123.
4. Peter de Rosa, pages 211-215. Hans Kung, page 79.
5. Malachi Martin, page 119. Hans Kung, page 79.
6. Malachi Martin, page 131.
7. Malachi Martin, pages 130-131.
8. Malachi Martin, pages 131-132.
9. Malachi Martin, page 132. Peter de Rosa, pages 54-56.
10. Paul Johnson, "A History of Christianity" (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976, 1995), pages 191, 218-219. Johnson is a Catholic and a prominent historian. Malachi Martin, page 175.
11. Peter de Rosa, pages 84-88.
12 .Paul Johnson, pages 280, 363. Peter de Rosa, pages 103-110. Hans Kung, pages 119-120.
Two articles about Pope Alexander VI (the Borgia Pope). The second one also discusses the Pope's son, Cardinal Cesare. If the links don't work, then go to www.crimelibrary.com and search for "Borgia".
13. Paul Johnson, pages 274, 280. Hans Kung, pages 125-126.
14. Malachi Martin, pages 202-203.
15. Paul Johnson, pages 194-198, 161. Peter de Rosa, pages 57-66. Hans Kung, pages 85-92.
William Webster, "Forgeries and the Papacy: The Historical Influence and Use of Forgeries in Promotion of the Doctrine of the Papacy". The author is a former Catholic.
16. Malachi Martin, pages 141-142.
17. Paul Johnson, pages 199-201, 252. Peter de Rosa, pages 66-74, 152-155. Hans Kung, pages 87-103. The Albigensian Crusade (the Albigensian Massacre)
18. "Antipope" in the "Catholic Encyclopedia," Volume I, 1907 (on-line edition 1999).
19. Malachi Martin, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, pages 141-142.
John Shuster, "A Concise History of the Married Priesthood in Our Roman Catholic Tradition."

April 24, 2009

guess who's telling God to shut up?

from Way of Life Literature

During the period when the Roman Catholic Church was in power, she did everything she could to keep the Bible out of the hands of the common people. It was illegal to translate the Bible into the common languages, even though most people could not read the official Catholic Bible because it was in Latin, a language known only to the highly educated.

Consider some of the laws Rome made against Bible translation. These began to be made in the 13th century and were in effect through the 19th.

(1) In the year 1215 Pope Innocent III issued a law commanding “that they shall be seized for trial and penalties, WHO ENGAGE IN THE TRANSLATION OF THE SACRED VOLUMES, or who hold secret conventicles, or who assume the office of preaching without the authority of their superiors; against whom process shall be commenced, without any permission of appeal” (J.P. Callender, Illustrations of Popery, 1838, p. 387). Innocent “declared that as by the old law, the beast touching the holy mount was to be stoned to death, so simple and uneducated men were not to touch the Bible or venture to preach its doctrines” (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, VI, p. 723).

(2) The Council of Toulouse (1229) FORBADE THE LAITY TO POSSESS OR READ THE VERNACULAR TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE (Allix, Ecclesiastical History, II, p. 213). This council ordered that the bishops should appoint in each parish “one priest and two or three laics, who should engage upon oath to make a rigorous search after all heretics and their abettors, and for this purpose should visit every house from the garret to the cellar, together with all subterraneous places where they might conceal themselves” (Thomas M’Crie, History of the Reformation in Spain, 1856, p. 82). They also searched for the illegal Bibles.

(3) The Council of Tarragona (1234) “ORDERED ALL VERNACULAR VERSIONS TO BE BROUGHT TO THE BISHOP TO BE BURNED” (Paris Simms, Bible from the Beginning, p. 1929, 162).

(4) In 1483 the infamous Inquisitor General Thomas Torquemada began his reign of terror as head of the Spanish Inquisition; King Ferdinand and his queen “PROHIBITED ALL, UNDER THE SEVEREST PAINS, FROM TRANSLATING THE SACRED SCRIPTURE INTO THE VULGAR TONGUES, OR FROM USING IT WHEN TRANSLATED BY OTHERS” (M’Crie, p. 192). For more than three centuries the Bible in the common tongue was a forbidden book in Spain and multitudes of copies perished in the flames, together with those who cherished them.

(5) In England, too, laws were passed by the Catholic authorities against vernacular Bibles. The Constitutions of Thomas Arundel, issued in 1408 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, made this brash demand: “WE THEREFORE DECREE AND ORDAIN THAT NO MAN SHALL, HEREAFTER, BY HIS OWN AUTHORITY, TRANSLATE ANY TEXT OF THE SCRIPTURE INTO ENGLISH, OR ANY OTHER TONGUE, by way of a book, libel, or treatise, now lately set forth in the time of John Wyckliff, or since, or hereafter to be set forth, in part of in whole, privily or apertly, upon pain of greater excommunication, until the said translation be allowed by the ordinary of the place, or, if the case so require, by the council provincial” (John Eadie, The English Bible, vol. 1, 1876, p. 89). Consider Arundel’s estimation of the man who gave the English speaking people their first Bible: “This pestilential and most wretched John Wycliffe of damnable memory, a child of the old devil, and himself a child or pupil of Anti-Christ, who while he lived, walking in the vanity of his mind … crowned his wickedness by translating the Scriptures into the mother tongue” (Fountain, John Wycliffe, p. 45).

(6) Pope Leo X (1513-1521), who railed against Luther’s efforts to follow the biblical precept of faith alone and Scripture alone, called the fifth Lateran Council (1513-1517), which charged that no books should be printed except those approved by the Roman Catholic Church. “THEREFORE FOREVER THEREAFTER NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO PRINT ANY BOOK OR WRITING WITHOUT A PREVIOUS EXAMINATION, TO BE TESTIFIED BY MANUAL SUBSCRIPTION, BY THE PAPAL VICAR AND MASTER OF THE SACRED PALACE IN ROME, and in other cities and dioceses by the Inquisition, and the bishop or an expert appointed by him. FOR NEGLECT OF THIS THE PUNISHMENT WAS EXCOMMUNICATION, THE LOSS OF THE EDITION, WHICH WAS TO BE BURNED, a fine of 100 ducats to the fabric of St. Peters, and suspension from business for a year” (Henry Lea, The Inquisition of the Middle Ages).

(7) These restrictions were repeated by the Council of Trent in 1546, which placed translations of the Bible, such as the German, Spanish, and English, on its list of prohibited books and forbade any person to read the Bible without a license from a Catholic bishop or inquisitor.


These rules were affixed to the Index of Prohibited Books and were constantly reaffirmed by popes in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. These prohibitions, in fact, have never been rescinded. It is true that the Council of Trent did not absolutely forbid the reading of the Scriptures under all circumstances. It allowed a few exceptions. The priests were allowed to read the Latin Bible. Bishops and inquisitors were allowed to grant license for certain faithful Catholics to read the Scriptures in Latin as long as these Scriptures were accompanied by Catholic notes and if it was believed that these would not be “harmed” by such reading. In practice, though, the proclamations of Trent forbade the reading of the Holy Scriptures to at least nine-tenths of the people. Rome’s claim to possess authority to determine who can and cannot translate, publish, and read the Bible is one of the most blasphemous claims ever made under this sun.

The attitude of 16th century Catholic authorities toward the Bible was evident from a speech Richard Du Mans delivered at Trent, in which he said “that the Scriptures had become useless, since the schoolmen had established the truth of all doctrines; and though they were formerly read in the church, for the instruction of the people, and still read in the service, yet they ought not to be made a study, because the Lutherans only gained those who read them” (William M’Gavin, The Protestant, 1846, p. 144). It is true that the Bible leads men away from Roman Catholicism, but this is only because Roman Catholicism is not founded upon the Word of God!

Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605) confirmed the Council of Trent’s proclamations against Bible translations (Eadie, History of the English Bible, II, p. 112) and went even further by forbidding licenses to be granted for the reading of the Bible under any conditions (Richard Littledale, Plain Reasons Against Joining the Church of Rome, 1924, p. 91).

(8) The restrictions against ownership of the vernacular Scriptures were repeated by the popes until the end of the 19th century:

Benedict XIV (1740-1758) confirmed the Council of Trent’s proclamations against Bible translations (Eadie, History of the English Bible, II, p. 112) and issued an injunction “that no versions whatever should be suffered to be read but those which should be approved of by the Holy See, accompanied by notes derived from the writings of the Holy Fathers, or other learned and Catholic authors” (D.B. Ray, The Papal Controversy, p. 479).

It was during the reign of Pope Pius VII (1800-1823) that the modern Bible society movement began. The British and Foreign Bible Society was formed in March 1804, the purpose being “to encourage a wider circulation of the Holy Scriptures without note or comment.” Other societies were soon created for the same exalted purpose. Germany (1804); Ireland (1806); Canada (1807); Edinburgh (1809); Hungary (1811); Finland, Glasgow, Zurich, Prussia (1812); Russia (1813); Denmark and Sweden (1814); Netherlands, Iceland (1815); America, Norway, and Waldensian (1816); Australia, Malta, Paris (1817); etc. One of the societies began distributing a Polish Bible in Poland. The Pope, instead of praising the Lord that the eternal Word of God was being placed into the hands of the multitudes of spiritually needy people, showed his displeasure by issuing a bull against Bible Societies on June 29, 1816. The Pope expressed himself as “shocked” by the circulation of the Scriptures in the Polish tongue. He characterized this practice as a “most crafty device, by which the very foundations of religion are undermined,” “a pestilence,” which he must “remedy and abolish,” “a defilement of the faith, eminently dangerous to souls.” Pope Pius VII also rebuked Archbishop Buhusz of Mohiley in Russia because of his endorsement of a newly formed Bible society (Kenneth Latourette, The Nineteenth Century in Europe, p. 448). The papal brief, dated September 3, 1816, declared that “if the Sacred Scriptures were allowed in the vulgar tongue everywhere without discrimination, more detriment than benefit would arise” (Jacobus, Roman Catholic and Protestant Versions Compared, p. 236).

Pope Leo XII (1823-29) issued a bull to the Bishops in Ireland, May 3, 1824, in which he affirmed the Council of Trent and condemned Bible distribution. “It is no secret to you, venerable brethren, that a certain Society, vulgarly called The Bible Society, is audaciously spreading itself through the whole world. After despising the traditions of the holy Fathers, and in opposition to the well-known Decree of the Council of Trent, this Society has collected all its forces, and directs every means to one object,--the translation, or rather the perversion, of the Bible into the vernacular languages of all nations. ... IF THE SACRED SCRIPTURES BE EVERYWHERE INDISCRIMINATELY PUBLISHED, MORE EVIL THAN ADVANTAGE WILL ARISE THENCE, on account of the rashness of men” (Bull of Leo XII, May 3, 1824; cited from Charles Elliott, Delineation of Roman Catholicism, 1851, p. 21). This Pope re-published the Index of Prohibited Books on March 26, 1825, and mandated that the decrees of the Council of Trent be enforced against distribution of Scriptures (R.P. Blakeney, Popery in Its Social Aspect, p. 137).

Pope Gregory XVI (1831-46) ratified the decrees of his predecessors, forbidding the free distribution of Scripture. In his encyclical of May 8, 1844, this Pope stated: “Moreover, we confirm and renew the decrees recited above, DELIVERED IN FORMER TIMES BY APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY, AGAINST THE PUBLICATION, DISTRIBUTION, READING, AND POSSESSION OF BOOKS OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES TRANSLATED INTO THE VULGAR TONGUE” (James Wylie, The Papacy, 1867, p. 182). This encyclical was delivered against Bible societies in general, and mentioned in particular the Christian Alliance, which was formed in 1843 in New York for the purpose of distributing Scriptures.

Pope Pius IX (1846-78) in November 1846 issued an encyclical letter in which he denounced all opponents of Roman Catholicism, among which he included “those insidious Bible Societies.” He said the Bible societies were “renewing the crafts of the ancient heretics” by distributing to “all kinds of men, even the least instructed, gratuitously and at immense expense, copies in vast numbers of the books of the Sacred Scriptures translated against the holiest rules of the Church into various vulgar tongues...” What a horrible crime! Distributing the Scriptures freely to all people! It was Pius IX who had himself and his fellow popes declared “infallible” at the Vatican I Council in 1870.

Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) published an “Apostolic Constitution” in 1897 which stated: “All versions of the vernacular, even by Catholics, are altogether prohibited, unless approved by the Holy See, or published under the vigilant care of the Bishops, with annotations taken from the Fathers of the Church and learned Catholic writers” (Melancthon Jacobus, Roman Catholic and Protestant Bibles, p. 237).

Where the Roman Catholic Church held power the Bible was always scarce. Consider a few examples: When the government of New Orleans was taken over in 1803, “it was not till after a long search for a Bible to administer the oath of office that a Latin Vulgate was at last procured from a priest” (William Canton, The Bible and the Anglo-Saxon People, I, p. 245). In Quebec, as late as 1826, MANY PEOPLE HAD NEVER HEARD OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Canton, II, 61). The situation was the same in South America, where “for about three centuries, were almost entirely without the Bible.” It was 1831 before the first Bible was printed in Spanish America, and even then the copies were exorbitantly expensive (Canton, II, 347). Thus, even when Catholic authorities finally printed some Bibles, they were priced far beyond the reach of most people. Between December 1907 and February 1908 a diligent search was made to determine how many Bibles were available in Catholic Ireland. Not a portion of the Bible was available in bookshops in Athlone, Balbriggan, Drogheda, Mullingar, Wexford, and Clonmel. A shop assistant at Mullingar said, “I never saw a Catholic Bible.” When asked about the New Testament, a sales person at the The Catholic Truth Society replied, “We don’t keep it.” Those who did the extensive survey concluded “that IN NINE TENTHS OF THE CITIES, TOWNS, AND VILLAGES OR IRELAND A ROMAN CATHOLIC COULD NOT PROCURE A COPY OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLE OR NEW TESTAMENT” (Alexander Robertson, The Papal Conquest, 1909, pp. 166-167).

These facts uncover only the tip of iceberg in regard to Rome’s attitude toward the Bible in former times. Our book “Rome and the Bible: The History of the Bible through the Centuries and Rome’s Persecution against It” documents this more extensively. It is available from Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 61368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org.

THE WALDENSES (also called Vaudois or Albigenses) are an example of what occurred during this period. They lived in the mountains of Italy and France and eventually spread throughout Europe; they refused to join the Catholic Church or recognize the Pope. They received the Bible as the sole source for faith and practice and had their own translations, which they diligently reproduced in hand-written copies. Rome persecuted the Waldenses throughout the Dark Ages up until the 18th century.

A few brief descriptions of the persecutions against the Waldenses follow. Note that many entire books have been written about these persecutions and the following facts only hint at the destruction and torment poured out upon these people. [For more information, the reader’s attention is invited to the Fundamental Baptist CD-Rom Library, which contains dozens of rare antiquarian Baptist and Waldensian histories, including Baptist History by John M. Cramp (1852), The Story of the Baptists in All Ages and Countries by Richard Cook (1888), Memorials of Baptist Martyrs by J. Newton Brown (1854), A History of the Baptists by Thomas Armitage (1890), A History of the Christian Church (Waldenses) by William Jones (1819), History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont and Albigenses by Pierre Allix (1690, 1692), A History of the Waldenses by J.A. Wylie (1860), and A History of the Ancient Christians of the Valleys of the Alps by Perrin (1618). The Fundamental Baptist CD-Rom Library is available from Way of Life Literature, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org.]


The Roman Catholic Church persecuted Peter Waldo and refused to accept his translation of the New Testament into the Romaunt language. Pope Alexander III (1159-1181) expelled Waldo and his followers from his diocese, and the next pope, Lucius III, put his papal curse upon them (William Blackburn, History of the Christian Church, 1880, pp. 309, 310). The Council of Tours in 1163 promoted inquisition against Bible believers, issuing a decree that stated: “No man must presume to receive or assist heretics, nor in buying or selling have any thing to do with them, that being thus deprived of the comforts of humanity, they may be compelled to repent of the error of their way” (Gideon Ouseley, A Short Defence of the Old Religion, 1821, p. 221). “Many Albigenses, refusing the terms, were burnt in different cities in the south of France” (G.H. Orchard, A Concise History of the Baptists, 1855, p. 199). The Third Lateran Council “gave permission to princes to reduce heretics to slavery and shortened the time of penance by two years for those taking up arms against them” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, V, p. 519).


In the year 1209, Pope Innocent III called for a crusade against the Waldenses in France. Anyone who volunteered to war against the “heretics” (so called by Rome because they dissented from her dogmas) was promised forgiveness of sin and many rewards. Tens of thousands took up arms for the Pope and marched against the hated Waldenses. Some 200,000 dissenters were killed by the Pope’s army within a few months. Two large cities, Beziers (Braziers) and Carcasone, were destroyed, together with many smaller towns and villages. The war was conducted for 20 years! Thousands were made homeless and were forced to wander in the woods and mountains to escape their tormentors. The cruelties practiced by the Catholic persecutors were horrible. The Christians were thrown from high cliffs, hanged, disemboweled, pierced through repeatedly, drowned, torn by dogs, burned alive, crucified. In one case, 400 mothers fled for refuge with their babies to a cave in Castelluzzo, which was located 2,000 feet above the valley in which they lived. They were discovered by the rampaging Catholics; a large fire was built outside of the cave and they were suffocated.


In 1487 Pope Innocent VIII called for a crusade against the Waldenses in Italy, Germany, and elsewhere. He promised forgiveness of sins and a share in the plunder to those who joined. Charles VIII of France and Charles II of Savoy agreed to raise an army for the destruction of the Waldenses. This regular army numbered about 18,000 soldiers and thousands of “ruffians” joined, urged on by the promise of forgiveness of sins and the expectation of obtaining spoil from the Waldensian possessions. Wylie describes these volunteers as “ambitious fanatics, reckless pillagers, merciless assassins” (James Wylie, History of the Waldenses, 1860, p. 29). This army attacked the Waldensian mountain valleys in northern Italy simultaneously from the plains to the south and from France to the west. Thousands of Bible-believing Christians perished in this crusade. Their homes and crops were destroyed. Many entire villages were razed. Their women were raped and then viciously murdered. Their children were dashed against trees and thrown off cliffs. More than 3,000 Waldensian Christians, men, women, and children, perished in one cave called Aigue-Froid to which they had fled for safety. These were the inhabitants of the entire village of Val Loyse, and the property of these pitiful people was distributed to the participants of the crusade. Many entire large valleys were burned and pillaged and depopulated. This crusade against the Waldensians lasted for a year.


Following is a brief description of the persecutions in the 16th century as given by a Waldensian pastor: “There is no town in Piedmont under a Vaudois pastor, where some of our brethren have not been put to death … Hugo Chiamps of Finestrelle had his entrails torn from his living body, at Turin. Peter Geymarali of Bobbio, in like manner, had his entrails taken out at Lucerna, and a fierce cat thrust in their place to torture him further; Maria Romano was buried alive at Rocco-patia; Magdalen Foulano underwent the same fate at San Giovanni; Susan Michelini was bound hand and foot, and left to perish of cold and hunger at Saracena. Bartholomew Fache, gashed with sabres, had the wounds filled up with quicklime, and perished thus in agony at Fenile; Daniel Michelini had his tongue torn out at Bobbio for having praised God. James Baridari perished covered with sulphurous matches, which had been forced into his flesh under the nails, between the fingers, in the nostrils, in the lips, and over all his body, and then lighted. Daniel Revelli had his mouth filled with gunpowder, which, being lighted, blew his head to pieces. Maria Monnen, taken at Liousa, had the flesh cut from her cheek and chin bone, so that her jaw was left bare, and she was thus left to perish. Paul Garnier was slowly sliced to pieces at Rora. Thomas Margueti was mutilated in an indescribable manner at Miraboco, and Susan Jaquin cut in bits at La Torre. Sara Rostagnol was slit open from the legs to the bosom, and so left to perish on the road between Eyral and Lucerna. Anne Charbonnier was impaled and carried thus on a pike, as a standard, from San Giovanni to La Torre. Daniel Rambaud, at Paesano, had his nails torn off, then his fingers chopped off, then his feet and his hands, then his arms and his legs, with each successive refusal on his part to abjure the Gospel” (Alex Muston, A History of the Waldenses: The Israel of the Alps, 1866).

Not only were the Waldensian Christians themselves destroyed wherever the armies could gain ascendancy, but their literature and vernacular Scriptures were destroyed with a vengeance during these persecutions. The Catholic priests who accompanied the armies made certain of this. So many copies of the Waldensian Scriptures were destroyed that we have little information about their Bibles.

In the 17th century, Samuel Morland visited the Waldenses in northern Italy as the representative of England’s ruler, Oliver Cromwell. Morland tried to assist the Waldenses in the bitter persecutions that were still being poured out upon them. Entire armies had been sent to destroy the Waldensian villages in the 17th century. Practically all of their documents had been destroyed. Morland gathered up any remaining materials he could find and in 1658 sent them back to England to be deposited in the library at the University of Cambridge. The Morland collections are still available. On June 2, 2004, Miss J.S. Ringrose, Deputy Keeper of Manuscripts at University Library, Cambridge, wrote to Justin Savino, a student at Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary, Newington, Connecticut, as follows: “There are two main collections of Waldensian manuscripts, both deposited by Samuel Morland in 1658. MSS Dd. 3. 25-38 (Morland MSS G-V) are seventeenth century manuscripts, mainly transcripts of earlier historical sources. MSS. Dd. 15.29-34 (Morland A-F) are medieval.” The Morland F packet contains manuscripts from the 14th century with the entire New Testament and parts of the Old and apocryphal writings “in the Peidemontese dialect of Provencal or Occitan.” On a visit to the library in April 2005 I examined the F packet. It contains six small items, including a New Testament (though not containing all of the books).



JOHN WYCLIFFE (1324-1384), the father of the English Bible, is an example of how Rome treated the Bible in these days.

Wycliffe, the vicar of St. Mary’s Church at Lutterworth, completed the English New Testament in 1380 and the Old Testament in 1382. He rejected many of Rome’s heresies, including the doctrine that the people should not have the Bible in their own language. Here is one of the powerful statements that he made to the Catholic authorities: “You say it is heresy to speak of the Holy Scriptures in English. You call me a heretic because I have translated the Bible into the common tongue of the people. Do you know whom you blaspheme? Did not the Holy Ghost give the Word of God at first in the mother-tongue of the nations to whom it was addressed? Why do you speak against the Holy Ghost? You say that the Church of God is in danger from this book. How can that be? Is it not from the Bible only that we learn that God has set up such a society as a Church on the earth? Is it not the Bible that gives all her authority to the Church? Is it not from the Bible that we learn who is the Builder and Sovereign of the Church, what are the laws by which she is to be governed, and the rights and privileges of her members? Without the Bible, what charter has the Church to show for all these? It is you who place the Church in jeopardy by hiding the Divine warrant, the missive royal of her King, for the authority she wields and the faith she enjoins” (David Fountain, John Wycliffe, pp. 45-47).

Rome persecuted Wycliffe bitterly and attempted unsuccessfully to have him imprisoned. Pope Gregory XI issued five bulls against Wycliffe, but he was protected by the Queen of England and others.

Wycliffe died on December 31, 1384, and forty-three years later, in 1428, the Roman Catholic Church dug up Wycliffe’s bones and burned them.

Rome also persecuted Wycliffe’s followers, the Lollards, imprisoning them and putting many of them to death. The Lollards’ Tower in London was so named because it is one of the places where they were imprisoned and tortured. It was illegal to own a copy of the Wycliffe Bible, and most of the priceless handwritten Scriptures were burned.

WILLIAM TYNDALE (1484-1536), the first to translate the English Bible from Greek and Hebrew, is another example of Rome’s persecutions.

As a young man Tyndale had a burden to translate the Bible into English directly from the Hebrew and Greek so that his people could have the Word of God from the purest fountains. When he expressed this plan to Catholic authorities in England, then under Roman Catholic rule, he learned that it would not be possible to do this work in his own country.

While employed at Little Sodbury Manor after graduation from Oxford, Tyndale preached in that part of western England and debated the truth with Catholic priests. One evening a priest exclaimed, “We are better without God’s laws than the pope’s.” Hearing that, Tyndale replied: “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth a plough shall know more of the Scriptures than thou doest.”

Tyndale traveled to Europe to pursue this objective, where he had to move from place to place and hide his work from the ecclesiastical authorities.

After completing the New Testament and a portion of the Old, Tyndale was arrested in May 1535. He was imprisoned for 16 months in the castle at Vilvorde, Belgium.

On October 6, 1536, Tyndale was strangled and then burned at the stake. His ashes were thrown into the river that flowed alongside the castle.


The PRE-LUTHER GERMAN BIBLES were persecuted in the 15th century. The first complete printed Bible in German was published by Johann Mentelin (John Mentel) at Strassburg in 1466 (Olaf Norlie, The Translated Bible, 1934, p. 73). Mainz was the most active publication center in Germany at that time, and in 1485, the archbishop there issued AN EDICT PRESCRIBING CENSORSHIP FOR ALL TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE. The edict forbade the Scriptures to be given to simple and unlearned men and to women. Following is an excerpt: “We have observed books containing the office of the mass and also containing divine things and lofty matters of our religion and translated from Latin into the German language, not without damage to religion [meaning the Catholic religion!], circulating among the hands of the vulgar [common people] … for who will give to the ignorant and unlettered persons, and to the female sex at that, into whose hands the manuscripts of sacred learning should fall, the ability to find the true sense? No sane person would deny that the texts of the Holy Gospels and of the Epistles of Paul require many additions and explanations from other writings.”

THE LUTHER BIBLE, which first appeared in 1522, was also fiercely persecuted.

D’Aubigne, in his History of the Reformation, describes how Rome replied to this milestone in Germany history: “Ignorant priests shuddered at the thought that every citizen, nay every peasant, would now be able to dispute with them on the precepts of our Lord. The King of England denounced the work to the Elector Frederick and to Duke George of Saxony. But as early as the month of November THE DUKE HAD ORDERED HIS SUBJECTS TO DEPOSIT EVERY COPY OF LUTHER’S NEW TESTAMENT IN THE HANDS OF THE MAGISTRATES. BAVARIA, BRANDENBURG, AUSTRIA, AND ALL THE STATES DEVOTED TO ROME, PUBLISHED SIMILAR DECREES. IN SOME PLACES THEY MADE SACRILEGIOUS BONFIRES OF THESE SACRED BOOKS IN THE PUBLIC PLACES” (D’Aubigne, III, p. 77).

Persecutions were poured out by the Catholic authorities upon those who read the works of Luther. An example of those who were tormented for distributing the German Luther New Testament was a bookseller named John in Buda, Hungary. He had circulated the German Scriptures throughout that country. “He was bound to a stake; his persecutors then piled his books around him, enclosing him as if in a tower, and then set fire to them. John manifested unshaken courage, exclaiming from the midst of the flames, that he was delighted to suffer in the cause of the Lord” (D’Aubigne, III, p. 152).

In 1520 a strict search for Lutheran Bibles and books was instigated in Venice, and those found were destroyed (M'Crie, Reformation in Italy, p. 28).


The German Bible produced by Anabaptists appeared in 1529, five years before the entire Luther Bible. It was called THE WORMS BIBLE, after the name of the city in which it was published. The translation was done by two Anabaptists, Ludwig Hetzer and Hans Denck, “accomplished scholars, thoroughly versed in Hebrew and Greek, as well as in Latin. Denck studied and received the degree of Master at the University of Basel, under and with Erasmus, Hetzer was an alumnus of Basel, and also of the University of Paris” (John Porter, The World’s Debt to the Baptists, 1914, p. 138). “At the time of its publication the approval of the Denck-Hetzer edition was unlimited and universal. Within three years thirteen separate editions appeared at Strasburg, Augsburg, Hagenau, and other places. ... In a word, in all Germany the book of the despised Anabaptists was bought, read, and treasured” (Ludwig Keller, Hans Denck, Ein Apostel der Wiedertaufer, p. 211; cited by Porter, p. 139).

This German Bible and its translators suffered the fate we have seen so many times already. “Denck, suffering with tuberculosis, under the decree of banishment and outlawry, died in hiding, in Basel, in 1529, a little before the Bible came from the press. Hetzer was arrested, condemned as a heretic, and beheaded the same year at Constance. … EVERY POSSIBLE EFFORT WAS MADE TO SUPPRESS THIS ‘HERETIC BIBLE;’ PRINTING OFFICES, PLACES WHERE THE BOOK WAS FOR SALE, PRIVATE HOUSES AND INDIVIDUALS WERE SEARCHED, AND ALL COPIES FOUND WERE DESTROYED. Only three copies that are accessible to scholars are now known to be in existence, one is in the library in the University of Bonn, one in a library in Stuttgart, and one in the New York Public Library” (Porter, p. 139).


In the fifteenth century a Roman Catholic priest named BONIFACIO FERRER translated the whole Scriptures into the Valencian or Catalonian dialect of Spain. He died in 1417, but his translation was printed in Valencia in 1478. In spite of the fact that it was produced by a Catholic, “it had scarcely made its appearance when it was suppressed by the Inquisition, who ordered the whole impression to be devoured by the flames. So strictly was this order carried into execution, that scarcely a single copy appears to have escaped” (M’Crie, History of the Progress and Suppression of the Reformation in Spain, 1829, pp. 191, 92). In 1645 four leaves of this translation were discovered in a monastery.

In 1543 the FRANCISCO DE ENZINAS Spanish New Testament was published with the title “The New Testament, that is, the New Covenant of our Only Redeemer and Saviour Jesus Christ, translated from the Greek to the Castillian [Spanish] language.” Enzinas presented a copy of his New Testament to Charles V, Emperor of the Roman Empire (1519-1558), during the emperor’s visit to Brussels, who gave it to his Catholic confessor, Pedro de Soto. “After various delays, Enzinas, having waited on the confessor, was upbraided by him as an enemy to religion, who had tarnished the honor of his native country; and refusing to acknowledge a fault, was seized by the officers of justice and thrown into prison” (M'Crie, History of the Reformation in Spain, pp. 194-95). Francisco’s father and uncles visited him in prison and reproached him for dishonoring his family. After fifteen months’ confinement he miraculously escaped prison in Brussels and fled to Antwerp, then on to England, where, in 1548, he was given the chair of Greek at Cambridge. He returned to the continent in 1550 and died of the plague at Strasbourg in 1553. Most of his New Testaments were burned and all of his manuscripts were destroyed by the Inquisition.

Another man who was raised up by God to provide the Spanish world with a vernacular Bible was JUAN PEREZ DE PINEDA (c. 1490-1567). In Seville, Spain, as the head of the College of Doctrine, he began to study the Bible and rejected Roman Catholic doctrine. When persecution began against the believers in that area, Perez and some of his friends were able to flee from Spain. Perez settled in Geneva and was the first to form a Spanish church in that city (M’Crie, p. 363). Afterwards he moved to France. His translation of the New Testament into Spanish, relying heavily on the Enzinas version, was published in 1556 in Geneva.

Another of the men who fled Spain's inquisition terrors was CASSIODORO DE REINA (1520-1594). As a monk in the San Isidro del Campo monastery in Seville he joined the Protestant revival and rejected Catholic doctrine. Arrested and sentenced to death, Reina was able to escape from prison and flee to London, where he preached to a Spanish congregation (Lupton, A History of the Geneva Bible, I, p. 40). Later he journeyed to Geneva and associated with the Protestant Spanish church there, pastored by the aforementioned Juan Perez de Pineda. In 1567 Reina completed a Spanish New Testament that “is hailed to this day as the greatest literary triumph in Spanish history.” Reina settled in Basle, and the entire Bible appeared in 1569.

Reina’s work was taken over by CIPRIANO DE VALERA (1532-1602?).

Like Enzinas and Reina, Valera had fled the inquisition in Spain. In 1565 Valera joined Oxford University and became well known for his linguistic expertise, “having mastered at least ten languages.” He revised and corrected Reina’s work and published the New Testament in London in 1596, and, the entire Bible in 1602 in Amsterdam.

All of these Spanish Bibles “were accompanied with vindications of the practice of translating the scriptures into vernacular languages, and the right of the people to read them” (M’Crie, p. 202).

What a contrast this was with the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church. As late as 1747, the inquisitor general in Spain fretted that “some men carried their audacity to the execrable extreme of asking permission to read the sacred scriptures in the vulgar tongue, not afraid of finding in them the most deadly poison” (M’Crie, p. 202, f3).

Pope Julius III addressed a bull to the inquisitors in 1550 in which he warned them of the Spanish Bibles which were being smuggled into the country (M’Crie, History of the Reformation in Spain, p. 203). The inquisitors were given instructions “to seize all the copies, and proceed with the utmost rigour against those who should retain them, without excepting members of universities, colleges or monasteries. ... At the same time the strictest precautions were adopted to prevent the importation of such books by placing officers at all the sea-ports and land-passes, with authority to search every package, and the person of every traveller that should enter the kingdom” (M’Crie, p. 204).


JACQUES LEFEVRE (1455-1536), a professor at the University of Paris, published a French New Testament in 1523 and the complete French Bible in 1528. For his labor of love for the French people, the elderly Lefevre was hated and persecuted by the Romanist authorities.

One thing that galled them was Lafevre’s principle that all Christians should read the Scriptures. One of these angry authorities exclaimed: “Does he not dare to recommend all the faithful to read the Scriptures? Does he not tell therein that whoever loves not Christ’s Word is not a Christian; and that the Word of God is sufficient to lead to eternal life?” (D’Aubigne, III, p. 385).

The Sorbonne, the theological faculty of the University of Paris, condemned Lefevre as a heretic and he was forced to flee to Strasbourg in 1525. In 1531, Lefevre took refuge in southern France and remained there till his death…” (Durant, The Story of Civilization, VI, p. 502).

The Sorbonne declared war on printing and printers. In 1534, twenty men and one woman were burnt alive. One of those was a printer whose sole crime was printing some of Luther’s writings, while another was a bookseller who had sold the same.

An edict was issued in 1546 by the Roman Catholic authorities against Lefevre and his work, in which the following statement is found: “It is neither expedient nor useful for the Christian public that any translation of the Bible should be permitted to be printed; but that they ought to be suppressed as injurious.” It was also ordered that any person possessing a copy of it should deliver it up within eight days (John Beardslee, The Bible among the Nations, 1899, pp. 211, 12).

Many French believers were burned for distributing the Bible. Foxe’s unabridged Martyrology is a massive set of books. I own a copy of the 8th edition, which was printed in 1641. It is 3 volumes folio, 3227 pages, the three volumes together almost one foot in width, and each page 9 X 13.5 inches. Roughly 150 of these large pages are dedicated to an enumeration of just some of the French martyrs. Following are a few examples:

In 1925 a Gospel preacher named Schuch was burned in the town of Nancy in France. When he was arrested and tried, he had his Bible with him, and holding the same as he stood before his accusers, he preached to them out of the Scriptures and “meekly yet forcibly confessed Christ crucified.” His words so incised his tormentors that “transported with rage, they rushed upon him with violent cries, TORE AWAY THE BIBLE FROM WHICH HE WAS READING THIS MENACING LANGUAGE, and like mad dogs, unable to bite his doctrine, THEY BURNT IT in their convent.” The man was immediately condemned to be burned alive, and the sentence was quickly carried out. “On the 19th of August 1525 the whole city of Nancy was in motion. The bells were tolling for the death of a heretic. The mournful procession set out. When the martyr reached the place of execution, HIS BOOKS WERE BURNT BEFORE HIS FACE; he was then called upon to retract; but he refused, saying, “It is thou, O God, who hast called me, and thou wilt give me strength unto the end.” Having mounted the pile, he continued to recite the psalm until the smoke and the flames stifled his voice” (D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation, III, pp. 468, 69).

In 1546 Peter Chapot was burned to death for bringing French Bibles into France and for selling them. Because of his bold testimony at the place of persecution, a decree was made that “all which were to be burned, unless they recanted at the fire, should have their tongues cut off. Which law diligently afterward was observed” (Foxe, unabridged, 1641, II, p. 133).

Stephen Polliot was also arrested in 1546 with a bag of Scriptures and Gospel books he was distributing. His tongue was cut out and he was burned, “his satchel of books hanging about his neck” (Foxe, unabridged, II, p. 134).

Nicholas Nayle, a shoemaker, was arrested in Paris and burned in 1553 for bringing parcels of books to distribute among the believers.

In 1554 Dionysius Vayre, who had smuggled many books into France, was arrested in Normandy and sentenced to be “burned alive, and thrice lifted up, and let down again into the fire” (Foxe, unabridged, II, p. 145).

Waldensian bookseller Bartholmew Hector was arrested in 1556. When the Inquisition judge said, “You have been caught in the act of selling books that contain heresy; what say you?” Hector replied, “If the Bible is heresy to you, it is truth to me.” After languishing in prison for several months, Hector was burned at the stake.


In 1270 JACOB VAN MAERLANDT completed the four Gospels in Dutch. “This effort aroused the wrath of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Utrecht, who thought it was disrespectful to the Scriptures thus to bring them within the reach of the common people, and Van Maerlandt nearly lost his life as a reward for his labor” (John Beardslee, The Bible among the Nations, p. 175).

In 1526 the first entire Bible in Dutch was published by JACOB VAN LIESVELDT in Antwerp, and 20 years later Liesveldt was beheaded in Antwerp “for his printing labours” (Lupton, A History of the Geneva Bible, I, p. 35).


ANTONIO BRUCIOLI published an Italian New Testament at Venice in 1530 and an entire Bible two years later. Brucioli also produced a commentary on the whole Bible, which was published in seven volumes. “His translations of the Bible were put into the first class of forbidden books, and all his works, on whatever subject, ‘published or to be published,’ together with all books which came from his press, even after his death, were strictly prohibited. ... violent measures were afterwards employed for its suppression” (M'Crie, Reformation in Italy, 1856, pp. 56, 57).

These were excerpted from the book ROME AND THE BIBLE: TRACING THE HISTORY OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND ITS PERSECUTION OF THE BIBLE AND OF BIBLE BELIEVERS. To our knowledge, this is the first history ever published which details the Roman Catholic Church’s relationship to the Bible from the first millennium to the present. The book could also be titled “The Bible through the Centuries.” The author has spent thousands of dollars obtaining rare documents relevant to this history (such as a 1641 edition of Foxe’s unabridged Acts and Monuments) and researched the topic in important theological libraries in Canada, America, England, and Ireland. The book covers the Roman Catholic Inquisition from the 11th to the 19th centuries, particularly the role played by the Inquisition to keep translations of the Bible out of the hands of the common people. It contains the history of ancient separated Christians, including the Waldensians and the Lollards. It gives the history of the English Bible from John Wycliffe to William Tyndale, and the history of the Spanish, German, French, and Italian Bibles. It contains amazing biographies of royal queens who loved the Bible. It gives the decade-by-decade details of papal condemnations of 19th-century Bible societies and of Roman Catholic persecution in the 19th century. It describes the 20th-century phenomenon of Rome changing tactics and joining hands with the Bible societies. It documents the similarities between the Latin Vulgate and the modern versions. It answers the question: Has the Roman Catholic Church changed? The book contains 95 illustrations from rare out-of-print books. Dr. Ian Paisley, Martyrs Memorial Presbyterian Church, Belfast, Northern Ireland, commended us for Rome and the Bible and showed us his copy in which he had written the following words: “Brother Cloud is not beclouded!” Fourth edition revised and enlarged, September 2001, 331 pages, 7X8, perfect bound. $19.95; available from Way of Life Literature

[Distributed by Way of Life Literature's Fundamental Baptist Information Service, an e-mail listing for Fundamental Baptists and other fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians.]

Peter and the Popes: A Comparison

Are we following the right leaders? Here's a checklist.

from Way of Life Literature

The Roman Catholic Church claims that its popes have inherited the seat and authority of the apostle XE "Apostles" Peter. That this is a gross error is evident by a simple comparison of Peter’s life and teaching with the lives and teaching of the popes.

1. There is no evidence that Peter was the bishop at Rome XE "Rome", and there is no evidence in the New Testament that there was anything special about the congregation at Rome, but the popes rule in Rome, claim that Peter was the first bishop at Rome, and claim that it is the “mother church.” Peter’s first epistle was written from Babylon, not from Rome, and the popes’ claim that “Babylon” stands for Rome is mere conjecture. The biblical evidence that Peter was not the pastor or bishop at Rome is overwhelming. Paul wrote TO the church at Rome in A.D. 58, but though he mentions 27 people by name, he does not mention Peter. That would have been an inexcusable affront if Peter had been the pope at Rome. Later, Paul writes FROM Rome to the churches of Galatia, the church of Ephesus, Philippi, and Colosse, as well as to Philemon, but not once does he mention that Peter is in Rome. In 2 Timothy 4:16 Paul said that no man stood with him and all forsook him when he answered his charges. Where was Pope XE "Pope" Peter? The fact is that Peter was not a pope and he was not the bishop at Rome.

2. Peter was married (Matthew 8:14), but the popes are forbidden to marry.

3. Peter said Holy Scripture is the sure Word of God and to this alone we are to give heed (2 Peter 1:19-21), but the popes say we are also to heed their uninspired traditions.

4. Peter warned of false teachers who would make merchandise of God's people (2 Peter 2:1-3), but the popes have made massive sums of money by selling their religion, by their masses and their prayers for the dead and their indulgences and their pilgrimage sites and countless other things.

5. Peter had neither silver nor gold (Acts 3:6), but the popes have massive amounts of both.

6. Peter said baptism XE "Baptism" is a figure, a symbol, and that it is not water that saves us, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:21), but the popes say that baptism itself brings salvation and that it is not merely symbolic.

7. Peter refused to allow men to bow down to him (Acts 10:25-26), but the popes have accepted honor and bowings and kissings and have allowed themselves to be treated almost as gods.

8. There is no hint in the Bible that Peter had a throne, but the popes have at least two--one at St. Peter’s and one at the Lateran Palace.

9. Peter taught that salvation is strictly through the free righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1), but the popes claim that their sacraments are also necessary for salvation.

10. Peter taught against hierarchicalism, warning the pastors against “being lords over God's heritage” (1 Peter 5:1-4), but the popes have set up a system of ecclesiastical lordship over the churches, and have added many offices that are never mentioned in the New Testament (e.g., cardinal, archdeacon).

11. Peter taught that the only priesthoods in the New Testament dispensation are the High priesthood of Jesus Christ and the general priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9), but the popes say that their “church” has a special priesthood that is ordained to distribute sacraments.

12. Peter taught that Jesus Christ is the rock upon which the church is founded (1 Peter 2:4-8), but the popes say that Peter was the rock.

13. Peter taught that men are born again through the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23), but the popes say that men are born again through baptism XE "Baptism" .

14. Peter taught that Christ has “once suffered for sins” (1 Peter 3:18), and “bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24); but the popes say that Christ is sacrificed anew in each mass and that having Jesus Christ and his cross is not enough, that a believer also needs the Roman Catholic Church and its sacraments and priesthood.

15. Peter taught that the believer has a living hope, that he has an inheritance reserved in heaven, and that he is kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:2-5); but the popes say that a believer cannot know for sure that he has a home in heaven.

16. Peter taught that the believer is not to be a murderer, or a thief, or an evildoer, or a busybody in other men’s matters (1 Peter 4:15); but the popes have been all of these things.

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April 17, 2009

Closing the Debate on Papal Infallibility

Closing remarks to a debate regarding papal infallibility last 2000, from James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries:

Let’s review what we have seen thus far this evening. A guide that leads you down the wrong path is not an infallible guide. A guide that leads you to jump off a cliff is not an infallible guide. A guide that has to constantly double-back and make corrections in his guidance is not an infallible guide. “Woops” is not a valid excuse for one who claims to be infallible. “We made a mistake, we are going to go back and take a second shot at this” does not work when you are telling folks they have to believe everything you have to say to be right with God. In light of this, we have seen how Zosimus had to say “woops” when Augustine and the North African bishops corrected him and refused his direct command, as bishop of Rome, to accept Pelagius and Caelestius back into communion. He reversed himself and his “mature examination” upon which he had commanded, by the authority of his Apostolic See, the North Africans to reverse course. Instead, he reversed course and contradicted everything he had said before. Who, here, was the infallible guide, Zosimus, or the North African bishops led by Augustine? We have seen how the entire Papacy had to say “woops” with reference to Honorius who was condemned by not one, not two, but three Ecumenical Councils, and every Pope who took the oath of the papal office for the space of three hundred years. We saw how Pope Leo II likewise anathematized Honorius and said that he had “permitted her who was undefiled to be polluted by profane teaching.” If someone had followed the understanding of the bishop of Rome during those years, they would have embraced formal heresy. We have likewise seen how Cardinal Bellarmine had to come up with a lie to cover for Sixtus V’s not-quite-as-infallible-as-we-thought Vulgate, a woops of truly biblical proportions.

In each of these instances we have seen that it would have been impossible, on the grounds taken by Rome today, to know if the Pope was speaking the truth or not.

Finally, I reiterate what I believe is an inescapable argument against belief in the infallibility of the Pope. You can’t have any confidence that the interpretation you hold this evening of the current Pope’s teaching is actually right. You may understand Ut Unum Sint or Veritatis Splendor or Redemptoris Mater one way, but history teaches you one thing without contradiction: fifty years from now, or a hundred years from now, the understanding of the same documents, the same doctrines, may be substantially different than it is today. You may accept a Papal teaching today as authoritative that will not only be abandoned in the future, but may be contradicted in the future. A person who accepted the doctrinal content of Honorius’ first letter to Sergius and died in that state would find himself anathematized by the next three ecumenical councils. Remember, Honorius’ heretical letters existed for more than 45 years before the official correction of their error. A person who accepted Zosimus’ considered and careful conclusion in his encyclical Magnum Pondus, as bishop of Rome, that Pelagius and Coelestius were Catholic and orthodox would likewise take heresy into his very soul. The simple fact of the matter is, you don’t know that what you think the Pope is currently teaching is what he is teaching, and what’s more, you have no way of knowing if what he really is teaching today will be considered orthodox and proper a hundred years from now.

And so I urge you to consider the contrast between the uncertain guide that is the bishop of Rome and the certain guide that is God’s Holy Word. While the bishop of Rome is subject to ignorance, political intrigue, abuse of power, sin, greed, and lust, the Scriptures are subject to none of these things. The Scriptures have never led any person into Arianism, Pelagianism, or Monotheletism. Only men’s own traditions, lusts, and sin have caused them to reject God’s truth in the Scriptures and enter into error. The fault has always been that of man, never that of the infallible guide that is the inspired and Holy Word of God. No matter how challenging the exegetical task of understanding even the most difficult passages of Scripture, in comparison with attempting to sort through the maze of Roman history, the volumes of papal encyclicals, the tomes of canon law, the numerous false decretals and forgeries, the reversals and clarifications and canons and decrees and everything else Rome offers the exegetical task of understanding Scripture is nigh unto simplistic. Give me Romans 8 any day over the code of canon law.