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Roman Catholicism
"Just Another Expression of Christianity"?

The Reformation

Edited and expanded extracts from the book by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald,
Alpha - the Unofficial Guide: World, (2003), Part Two, Chapter 11


Roman Catholicism: Index of Articles

 

Introduction

Please note that most Catholics are never taught the history of their church or religion and so are totally unaware of the contents of this article and its ramifications…

Forbidden to own or even read copies of God’s precious Word in the vernacular, many groups of evangelical believers during the Middle Ages nevertheless did so.  Groups such as the Waldensians in France, Italy and Spain, the Hussites in Bohemia and the Lollards in England rejected all the false teachings of Catholicism and were thus viciously persecuted and martyred by Rome for their refusal to bow the knee to Rome’s false god.  Others, by God’s grace, survived Rome’s Inquisitions against them, paving the way for the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.

 

Martin Luther

The most well known name associated with the Reformation is that of Martin Luther.  A Roman Catholic monk, he strove for spiritual perfection according to the rites and rituals of his Church yet he had no assurance of salvation:

“I was a good monk, and kept my order so strictly that I could claim that if ever a monk were able to reach Heaven by monkish discipline I should have found my way there” [1].

Instead he suffered intense depression and guilt that the sacraments and works of the Church did nothing to dispel.  He could only feel convicted, not forgiven, by God and he despaired of ever attaining the righteousness demanded by God in Romans 1:17.  When the Holy Spirit revealed to him that this righteousness was a free gift received only through faith in the atoning death of the Lord Jesus, Luther at last found the peace for which he had been searching.  He described this glorious experience as being ‘reborn’.

“...the light of truth shone with such brilliance, and brought such deliverance into his spirit, that he felt Paul’s words, ‘The just shall live by faith’ were the very gate of Paradise itself. And so this great truth, THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH ... became the fundamental truth of the Reformation. In other words, a wonderful Reformation came personally to Luther before God used him as the instrument of the Reformation in Europe” [2].

Luther’s revelation undermined the Roman Church’s claims of ‘sacerdotal mediation’ – i.e. clergy superiority over the ‘laity’.  For if salvation is a matter between God and the individual, there is no need for ‘ordained priests’ and all the rigmarole associated with their office: All Christians are priests (Revelation 1:6) and can enter the Holy of Holies (Matthew 27:51). 

This truth revealed all the Roman Church’s sacraments to be useless as the means of grace; indeed they were not just irrelevant but harmful as they detracted from the real means of grace: the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When Rome talks about “all the means of grace”, she is implying that there are means of earning grace.  But the very definition of grace is that it cannot be earned.

It was the matter of the sale of ‘indulgences’ [3] by Tetzel, a papal envoy in Saxony in 1517, which brought Luther’s Reformation into the public domain – and the wrath of Rome upon his head. 

The system of indulgences was very profitable for Rome.  Through this practice she had come to own vast areas of land in Europe by the 16th century.  The jingle made famous by Tetzel at the time of Luther, “As soon as the gold in the coffer rings / right then a soul to Heaven springs”, was already commonplace at least a century earlier.  But whereas others had previously criticized the abuse of the system, Luther now denounced the theology behind it.  In his 95 theses, which he pinned up on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg for all to read, he declared:

“‘Papal pardons are not the way man is reconciled to God’ (Number 33) and ‘every truly repentant Christian already has from God full remission of guilt’ (Number 36)” [4].

Luther subsequently burned a papal bull issued from Rome condemning his actions, denouncing, as he did so, the pope as Antichrist (i.e. as usurping Christ’s rightful place).  He was summonsed to appear before the Emperor Charles V and was there ordered to withdraw his writings against Rome.  He refused:

“[T]his I say and profess as resolutely as I may, without doubting or sophistication [i.e. without using unnecessarily clever or complicated arguments], … that if I be not convinced by testimonies of the Scriptures (for I believe not the Pope, neither his General Councils, which have erred many times, and have been contrary to themselves), my conscience is so bound and captived [sic] in these Scriptures and the Word of God, that I will not, nor may not revoke any manner of thing; considering it is not godly or lawful to do anything against conscience. Hereupon I stand and rest” [5].

Scripture highlights the importance of acting on one’s God-given conscience rather than on the orders of men (e.g. in John 8:9, Acts 24:16 and Romans 2:15).  It was on the twin issues of Justification by Faith Alone and Sola Scriptura that the Protestant Reformation was founded and defended against all the unscriptural and Babylonian paraphernalia of Roman Catholicism.

 

Counter-Reformation

Needless to say, as Luther’s teachings began to spread across Europe the Catholic Church did not meekly acquiesce but fought for all it was worth to regain its power through whatever means necessary:

“In 1540, the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits [was] established, whose principle function was to win back the Protestant countries of Europe by political means. …[Founded by Ignatius de Loyola, the Jesuits] worked among the nobility and royalty of Catholic Europe using methods akin to the Diplomatic Corps and the Secret Service. In 1542, the Holy office [was] established in Rome, the Central Administration of the Inquisition, the vicious organization aimed at the extermination of Protestants by torture.

“In 1545 the Council of Trent [met] ... At this major Council of the Roman Catholic Church, a full statement of the Canons of the Church [was] declared and their answer given to the Reformation. War was there and then declared upon Reformation Doctrines, and the Counter-Reformation was launched, and is still very much in progress [6].

 

England

England’s Reformation was a stop-start affair.  Making a hesitant beginning under Henry VIII (who remained and died a Catholic), it advanced quickly, but all too briefly, during the five-year reign of his son Edward VI – only to be strangled during the following five years under Edward’s half-sister, Mary Tudor.

A staunch Catholic, Mary was well named ‘Bloody Mary’ for the hundreds of Protestants she and her husband, Philip II of Spain, had consigned to the fires of Smithfield.  Bishops Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, John Hooper and Thomas Cranmer are perhaps the best known of her victims who suffered at the stake for refusing to accept the abomination of transubstantiation and other Romish doctrines.  But many, many others also suffered martyrdom purely for their Christian Faith at her hands.  The brave words of Latimer to Ridley as they were bound to the stake to die together have been quoted countless times throughout the centuries by teachers of the Reformation:

“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” [7].

Tragically, in carrying out her Church’s commands, Queen Mary genuinely believed she was doing the will of God.  Christ warned that apostasy in the Church would reach such depths:

“Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not [actually] known the Father, nor Me” (John 16:2b-3).

When Mary died (childless), she was succeeded by Elizabeth I whose primary concern as Queen was to restore peace and stability to England after the horrors of the previous five years.  Leaning towards Protestantism (which allowed many Marian exiles to return to Britain) but unwilling to fully nail her colours to the mast, she adopted a via media (middle way) in religion that enabled the Reformation to proceed once again, albeit more slowly than many would have liked. 

The Spanish Armada

Rome made several attempts during the reign of Elizabeth to bring England back under subjugation; all of them miraculously thwarted.  The Spanish Armada is perhaps the most famous example.  Unable to persuade Elizabeth to marry him – and thus take England back under Rome through the succession – Philip II of Spain launched a massive naval attack on England in 1588.

Rome has persistently denied direct involvement by the papacy in the Armada.  Today, historians, school-teachers, and the media often hide the Catholic forces that lay behind this, and other, conflicts.  Instead they seek to imply that such disputes were simply between nations and had little or no religious significance.  But the original Official Despatch from Rome to Philip II, found in the Spanish State Archives at Simancas (and published by the British Government), shows that Pope Sixtus V agreed with Philip II that:

“the end [purpose] … shall be to bring back [England] to the obedience of the Roman Church”.  The despatch states, moreover, that the Roman Pope would finance the expedition to the tune of hundreds of thousands of crowns should it succeed [8].

However, incredible storms and other acts of God caused the ruin of the Spanish fleet.  Thomas Fenner, one of Drake’s captains, recognized the Lord’s intervention for what it was.  He even wrote in his report:

“THE MIGHTY GOD OF ISRAEL STRETCHED OUT BUT HIS FINGER AGAINST THEM” [9].

“I sent you to fight against men, not with the winds” said King Philip to his Admiral.  For Elizabeth, however, “God blew with His winds and they were scattered [10].

Assassination Plots

Previous to this, in 1570, Pope Pius V had issued a papal bull excommunicating Elizabeth, declaring her to be no longer Queen of England.  This put her life in danger from her Catholic subjects who were taught that their allegiance belonged to the pope before their national Sovereign.  Ten years later Pope Gregory XIII authorized the following statement against Elizabeth:

“Since that guilty woman of England rules … and is the cause of so much injury to the Catholic faith and loss of so many millions [of] souls, there is no doubt that whosoever sends her out of the world, with the pious intention of doing God service, not only does not sin, but gains merit [11].

Among the numerous assassination attempts were the Ridolfi plot (financed by Pope Pius V) in 1571, the Throgmorton Plot in 1583, Dr. Parry’s Plot in 1584 and the Babington plot in 1586.  All of these planned to murder Elizabeth and put her Catholic cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, on the throne of England.  This was treason, and Elizabeth reluctantly agreed to have Mary and her accomplices put to death as traitors.

It is instructive to note that, while Mary Tudor had hundreds of Protestants burnt at the stake on religious grounds alone, none of whom had committed any form of treason, the same could not be said of those Catholics (who have since been ‘beatified’ [12] by Rome) put to death under Elizabeth.

“No Roman Catholic was executed in the first eleven years of Elizabeth’s reign, prior to the Pope Pius V inciting all Roman Catholics to rebellion, commanding them not to obey her, on pain of excommunication. It is an unchallengeable fact that no Roman Catholic was executed solely on account of his religious beliefs. The truth is that most of those laymen ‘beatified’ were put to death for assisting the ‘seminary priests’ in their design to bring down the throne; 63 out of the 85 ‘English martyrs’ were ‘seminary priests’, trained abroad and sent back to further the plots of the Pope to undermine the English throne.

“These had been stepped up after Pope Gregory XIII’s sanctioning of the assassination of Elizabeth in 1580 and the organizing of invasion in 1588 … With this background in mind it is impossible to agree that these men were martyrs in any proper sense of the word. On the contrary, what the Church of Rome is engaged in doing is glorifying traitors, spies and conspirators [13].

The Gunpowder Plot

In 1605, shortly after James I (James VI of Scotland) had succeeded to the English throne, Rome tried again to reclaim England.  The Gunpowder Plot, instigated by Catholics and resourced by Jesuits, attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament – thus allowing Romanists to seize the government of England.  Once again, however, God kept this nation.  The plot was discovered and the leading conspirators executed.

(Note that the English Government providentially learned of the plot before its final implementation.  The Government allowed it to reach its full maturity so as to enable the nation to see for itself how treacherous and dangerous Catholicism really was to England.  It is verifiable from extant primary sources [14] that there was active Jesuit involvement emanating from the Vatican in the inception of the plot, and that all the traitors involved were Catholics.  But when did Christ ever tell His followers to murder men for Him?  Was Rome really “constantly moving forward toward divine truth”?)

The Later Stuarts

During the reigns of the pro-Catholic Kings Charles I, Charles II and James II, Catholic influence gradually crept back into Britain through various forms of legislation and subsequent persecution of dissenters.  The pro-Catholicizing tendencies of William Laud, Archbishop to Charles I, led to the English civil war in 1642.  Under Charles II, for example, the Scottish Covenanters suffered severe persecution; the worst years (from 1684-5) being dubbed ‘The Killing Times’ [15].

Charles II’s brother, James II, had been received into the Catholic Church several years prior to his accession to the throne in 1685 and fully intended to restore Romanism into the Kingdom.  When his son was born, English politicians, determined to allow “no popery in this realm”, sought William of Orange (who had already proved himself an able defender against the Catholic Louis XIV of France) to become King.  James II fled to France, and the Lord God once again saved England from a return to Roman bondage.  After hundreds of years of dark, Catholic oppression, the Bill of Rights (1689) declared that

“All and every Person … that is … reconciled to or shall hold Communion with the See or Church of Rome or shall profess the Popish Religion or shall marry a Papist shall be excluded and be for ever incapable to inherit possess or enjoy the Crown and Government of this Realm and Ireland and the Dominions thereunto belonging … or to … exercise any Regal Power Authority or Jurisdiction within the same [16].

This Bill later became the Act of Settlement (1701) – Britain’s attitude to which has dramatically weakened in recent years!  England has forgotten her God-given heritage, but there are clandestine reasons for this.  Books exposing the history of Rome have been ‘lost’ from libraries over the centuries, and Rome’s servants have managed to remove some of the incriminating records held in National archives (although God has miraculously preserved others) [17].

 

Martyrs in Scotland, Wales and Ireland

We have mentioned some of the Protestant martyrs in England who died during the reign of Mary Tudor.  Throughout the rest of Britain the persecution was also present.  In Wales there were martyrs like Rawlins White and Dr. Robert Farrar who died at the hands of Rome’s followers.  Three of Scotland’s martyrs were Patrick Hamilton and George Wishart (both burned at the stake) and Helen Stark, put into a sack with her newborn child and drowned because she would not pray to ‘the Virgin’ Mary.  Her story is one of incredible grace and courage as can be witnessed in a letter she wrote to her husband shortly before her death:

“Husband, rejoice, for we have lived together many joyful days; but this day, in which we must die, ought to be most joyful unto us both, because we must have joy forever; therefore I will not bid you good night, for we shall suddenly meet with joy in the Kingdom of Heaven” [18].

As for Ireland, the Romanists there murdered in a single year (1641) tens of thousands of their civilian Protestant neighbours [19].  No grievance could possibly begin to justify these actions.  This massacre was perpetrated with a terrifying ferocity and barbarity against men, women and children unequalled since Medieval times – if it was not worse [20].  The butchery was even more breath-taking because the Irish Catholics had promised safe passage to the inhabitants of many Protestant towns, only to renege on their oaths as soon as the trusting souls came out.

The nature of these deaths was so horrible that even Foxe, who recorded the appalling manner of martyrdom of so many victims of Rome, says “such [deaths] could have been invented only by demons instead of men”.  Some acts were so unutterably inhuman that he could not bring himself to relate them.  For the sake of unsuspecting readers, we have decided not to give the details of these mind-numbing crimes.  Suffice it to say that inventions like the spiked ‘Iron Maiden’, which trapped and slowly drained its victims of their blood, were far from being Rome’s most depraved techniques for destroying God’s People.  If the reader requires further information, the Recommended Materials section for this webpage provides it.

Nowadays we hear almost nothing of this whole ghastly episode.  But the Romish spirit is the same as ever, and remains strong in Ireland where, while ‘front’ organizations are demanding peace, unforgiving Catholic groups are using any method (however ungodly) to bring Ulster back under the yoke of a Catholic government – and thus Rome.

 

Protestant Martyrs in Europe

Along with the Catholics Francis I and Henry II of France, Louis XIV was responsible for the deaths of very many French Protestants (known from 1560 as ‘Huguenots’).  The infamous St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre on 24 August 1572 actually lasted three days and three nights with tens of thousands of men, women and children being slain simply for their faith.  Philip II was delighted at such a ‘victory’ for Rome and Pope Gregory XII commissioned the artist Vasari to paint a mural of the massacre; which is still on display in the Vatican today.  Repentant indeed.

In 1685 the persecution of Huguenots began again.  All Protestant worship was suppressed, churches were destroyed, and Huguenot children were forced to be brought up as Catholics.  Those who escaped France fled to Protestant Britain, Holland, Prussia and Switzerland.

“Their case reminds us of what is declared of Old Testament worthies in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews ‘Through faith (some) escaped the edge of the sword … (others) were slain with the sword’ (vv34&37)” [21].

For readers who suppose that this is all prehistoric information, the ‘Holy’ Inquisition was still going on in the 19th Century and Protestants in France were still being martyred for their faith that recently.  And, because spiritual forces remain the same, history has a nasty habit of repeating itself – as we shall see in a moment.  (The Inquisition only curtailed its overt activities because Napoleon demanded that it do so.  The department of the Vatican that ran the Inquisition has never been closed down and remains operational to this day.  Is it not remarkable the lengths to which Rome will go to accommodate pagans while attacking true Christians?)

In the Netherlands, Protestants were put to death by being burnt at the stake, beheaded, hanged, drowned, walled up, racked, or buried alive.  In the following extract from a letter, written by three martyrs in Antwerp to their brethren just before their deaths, can be seen once again the Spirit of Christ so lacking in their Roman persecutors:

“Since it is the will of the Almighty that we should suffer for His name, and be persecuted for the sake of His Gospel, we patiently submit, and are joyful upon the occasion … We are not comfortless in confinement, for we have faith; we fear not affliction, for we have hope; and we forgive our enemies, for we have charity. Be not under apprehensions for us … We desire not to be released, but to be blessed with fortitude; we ask not liberty, but the power of perseverance…” [22].

 

Rome's Track Record   

Unpleasant though it is to relate these dreadful facts, it is necessary to do so to expose the true spirit behind Rome.  Just as the physical Babylon of the Old Testament was a tyrant to God’s people before Christ came, so the spiritual Babylon that is Rome has been a tyrant to the people of God since Christ’s day.

When challenged on its past, Rome’s adherents usually reply that “other churches have done bad things too” or “Catholics have been martyred by Protestants also”.  This cannot absolve Rome – especially as she makes such lofty claims for her Church [23].  But regardless of Rome’s claims, the sins of any ‘Protestants’ have been utterly incomparable with her own behaviour.  (And besides, no true evangelical would put someone to death purely because of the latter’s faith.)

Rome’s track record:

  • Has not just been the persecution of a few by a few – though that alone would have been wrong.

  • It has not just been confined to one or two localities – sinful though that, too, would be.

  • It has not just been for a brief period.

  • Nor have people suffered using means that were ‘normal’ to the society of the day.

Instead it has been the grotesque and systematic persecution and torture of millions of people (common estimates actually put it at tens of millions [24],) throughout many countries, for hundreds of years, without any justification.  It has been the rape and slaughter of innocent people, often simply for owning a Bible or for refusing to commit idolatry… 

It has not just been condoned by its leaders, but instigated and resourced by them.  Yes, these appalling acts have been both demanded and organized by the ‘divinely-appointed’ archbishops, cardinals, and ‘popes’ of Rome – the leaders of an institution which insists it is the representative of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth; the leaders who claim they are the ‘Apostolic succession’.  This all makes Rome’s guilt incomparable with the sins of any Protestant group.

Rome may now reluctantly be offering “apologies” for these past “mistakes” but such statements are vague, muted and hundreds of years too late to be meaningful.  Besides, until Rome explains how these extraordinarily demonic things happened, and she proves that the diabolical spirit behind them has been purged from Romanism, there is no reason to trust that they won’t recur when it suits her – especially given that her heresies have actually become worse in the intervening time.

Indeed, if the reader is tempted to imagine that this all ended a long time ago, we would implore them to study Rome’s more recent deeds.  See, for instance, The Vatican’s Holocaust by Avro Manhattan, in the Recommended Materials section for this webpage, for the truth about Rome’s unspeakable and widespread atrocities against non-Catholics in Yugoslavia during the 1930s and 1940s [25].  In countries where Catholicism is the dominant religion, Rome’s persecution of Protestants and other dissenters remains to this day.  It is only in predominantly non-Catholic countries – i.e. where she has yet to seduce the populace into joining her – that she puts on such a charming face.

 

Endnotes

[1]  M. Mullet, Luther, (Lancaster Publications, 1986), p23.
 
[2]  S.M. Houghton, Sketches from Church History, (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1980), p81.
 
[3]  Indulgences are good works or financial payments made to the Church to commute the time spent in Purgatory atoning for the sins of one's self or those of a deceased loved one.
 
[4]  Quoted in Mullet, Luther, p30.
 
[5]  Quoted in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, (Whitaker House, 1981), pp172,173.  We certainly do not approve of everything Luther did after this time, especially towards the end of his life.  But it should be remembered that many Reformers were hampered by the legacy of Rome hiding the truth for centuries.
 
[6]  J.R. Broome, Reformation and Counter-Reformation: 1588 – 1688 – 1988, (Gospel Standard Trust Publications, 1988), p3.
 
[7]  Quoted in Foxe, p309.
 
[8]  See the Spanish State Papers, Volume 4, British Mus. p393 as referenced by Albert Close in Jesuit Plots From Elizabethan to Modern Times, (Protestant Truth Society, undated), pp126-127.
 
[9]  Captain Fenner’s Report From Sea – Aug. 4, 1588 (emphasis in original) quoted by D.C. Relf in his excellent booklet The Defeat of the Spanish Armada, (Protestant Truth Society, 1987), p13.
 
[10]  Quoted in Houghton, Sketches, pp149-150.
 
[11]  Quoted in J.A. Kensit, Our Protestant Throne, (Protestant Truth Society, undated), p13.
 
[12]  Beatification means they were posthumously declared to be worthy of public veneration – a form of worship!
 
[13]  United Protestant Council, 1987, quoted in Michael de Semlyen, All Roads Lead To Rome? The Ecumenical Movement, (Dorchester House Publications, 1993), p143.  Yet many Roman Catholic churches are named ‘Church of the English Martyrs’.
 
[14]  See J.P. Kenyon, The Stuart Constitution: Documents and Commentary 1603-1688, (Cambridge University Press, 2nd edn., 1986), pp165-171.  See also Close, Jesuit Plots, pp143-146.
 
[15]  Jock Purves, Fair Sunshine: Character Studies of the Scottish Covenanters, (Banner of Truth Trust, 1968).
 
[16]  W.C. Costin and J. Steven Watson, The Law And Working Of The Constitution, Documents 1660-1914, Vol 1, 1660-1783, (A. and C. Black, 1952), p73.
 
[17]  See Close, Jesuit Plots.
 
[18]  Quoted in Foxe, p246.
 
[19]  The nature and extent of these murders is hotly disputed by Romanists, yet the testimonies of the surviving Protestants should surely be given no less credence than theirs'.  As Protestants, they were not known for lying.  Indeed, one of the major reasons why the City of London went on to overtake rival Catholic capitals as a world centre for commerce was that Protestants could be trusted, whereas dishonesty and corruption was the order of the day in Catholic countries – a fact that made business in those places much less attractive!
 
[20]  See the works by Foxe, Wylie, Broadbent, and others, for details of the unbelievably horrendous persecutions of non-Catholic groups such as the Vaudois/Waldenses and the Cathars/Albigenses in the centuries known as the 'Dark Ages'.  
 
[21]  Houghton, Sketches, p134.
 
[22]  Quoted in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, http://www.ccel.org/f/foxe/martyrs/fox111.htm, as at 16 March 2013.
 
[23]  Protestantism is not a church in the same sense.  In this context the word Protestant merely refers to any professing Christian who is not a visible part of Rome.  Clearly, there is plenty of scope for Protestants to fall into other deceptions outside Rome, so we cannot make any “lofty claims” for the “Protestant Church” per se.
 
[24]  Note that most Romanists seem to find it almost impossible to forgive.  More than thirty years after thirteen demonstrators were tragically shot dead in Ulster by British soldiers (who were a) untrained for such situations, b) knew that armed terrorists were in the crowd, and c) had seen colleagues murdered by the IRA merely for trying to disarm all paramilitary groups), many Irish Catholics still seem unable to forgive this event.  Compare 13 people with 13 thousand, or even 13 million, killed by Rome, and readers will see the perversity of this situation.
 
[25]  See also such books as The Secret History of the Jesuits, (Chick Publications, 1975), by Edmond Paris, or Is Alberto for Real? (Chick Publications, 1988), by Sidney Hunter, for details of Rome’s shockingly large part in the inception and promotion of German Nazism and its Italian counterpart.  All senior Nazis were Catholics for instance.  (Most Catholics of the day seem to have been in favour of Hitler (a Catholic who was never excommunicated by Rome), though there were a few Catholic individuals (e.g. Otto Neururer) or Catholic-dominated organizations (esp. the Kreisau Circle), who opposed the Nazis.)

 

Elizabeth McDonald
March 2013

 

 

 

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