Posts Tagged ‘foxe’s book of martyrs’
Not only are there political quests being achieved through the indoctrination of these young people, but these young followers are becoming convinced that a socialistic religion-killing society is the only solution for man.
Jeff Bethke, the 24-year-old man who did the anti-religion YouTube video in 2012, is back in the news again. This time, he has a book about his subject matter. His video, Why I Hate Religion, went viral and to date over 26 million people have viewed it. That video is partially responsible for our writing the Booklet Tract They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years (yes, Bethke’s video came out not too long before the nation voted for Obama). You can read our full booklet tract by clicking here, and we hope you do. It may give you a different perspective than what seems to meet the eye. Kind of like when George Barna and Frank Viola came out with their book Pagan Christianity, and untold numbers thought their book was fantastic, when in reality, it was more of a smoke screen to what was REALLY happening in Christianity today (see our article, “Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna – A Perfect Example of ‘Missing the Point.’” They said a big pagan problem with Christians was that they sat in pews, went to Sunday School, and listened to sermons. But sadly, no mention of the REAL problems happening in the church today (contemplative spirituality, for example).
Here is a portion of our They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus that gives some background information on Jeff Bethke:
In January of 2012, another election year, a young man, Jefferson (Jeff) Bethke, who attends contemplative advocate Mark Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill in Washington state, posted a video on YouTube called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Within hours, the video had over 100,000 hits. Soon it reached over 14 million hits, according to the Washington Post, one of the major media that has spotlighted the Bethke video (hits as of May 2013 are over 25 million).
The Bethke video is a poem Bethke wrote and recites in a rap-like fashion his thoughts and beliefs about the pitfalls of what he calls “religion” but what is indicated to be Christianity. While we are not saying at this time that Bethke is an emerging figure, and while some of the lyrics in his poem are true statements, it is interesting that emerging spirituality figures seem to be resonating with Bethke’s message. They are looking for anything that will give them ammunition against traditional biblical Christianity. They have found some in Bethke’s poem. Like so many in the emerging camp say, Bethke’s poem suggests that Christians don’t take care of the poor and needy. While believers in Christ have been caring for the needy for centuries, emerging figures use this ploy to win conservative Christians (through guilt) over to a liberal social justice “gospel.” Emerging church journalist Jim Wallis (founder of Sojourners) is one who picked up on Bethke’s video. In an article on Wallis’ blog, it states:
“Bethke’s work challenges his listeners to second guess their preconceived notions about what it means to be a Christian. He challenges us to turn away from the superficial trappings of “religion,” and instead lead a missional life in Christ.”
Back when we wrote that article, we went pretty easy on Bethke, almost giving him the benefit of the doubt. But Bethke’s new book, Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough (Thomas Nelson, 2013) presents Bethke’s views more clearly. For one, he has a recommended reading list at the back of the book that contains a number of contemplative and emerging advocates such as Mark Driscoll, Brennan Manning, John Piper, Timothy Keller, Brother Lawrence, and John Ortberg. Also on the list are emerging “progressives” like Andy Stanley and N.T. Wright (a figure touted by the emerging church extensively). On a website, Bethke is quoted as saying that Wright is one of his ”heroes.”
Interestingly, one of the books Bethke recommends is Beth Moore’s When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. That book is Moore’s declarative statement promoting Brennan Manning, saying that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel” (p. 72) and that his book Ragamuffin Gospel is “one of the most remarkable books” (p. 290) she has ever read (Bethke obviously thinks so too - Ragamuffin Gospel is one of his recommended books too). But in the back of Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning makes reference to panentheist mystic Basil Pennington saying that Pennington’s methods will provide us with “a way of praying that leads to a deep living relationship with God.” However, Pennington’s methods of prayer draw from Eastern religions as you can see by this statement by Pennington:
We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible. Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices. (from A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p.64)
Manning also cites Carl Jung in Ragamuffin Gospel as well as interspiritualists and contemplatives, Anthony De Mello, Marcus Borg (who denies the virgin birth and deity of Christ), Morton Kelsey, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, Alan Jones (who calls the atonement vile), Eugene Peterson, and Sue Monk Kidd (who says God is in everything, even human waste and believes in the goddess who offers us the “holiness of everything”). All of these names in Ragamuffin Gospel. It is more than safe to assume that both Moore and Bethke have read (and resonate with) Ragamuffin Gospel. And we know from years of research that Manning was trying to set up the church to become what Karl Rahner “prophesied”: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he or she will not exist at all.”
We were surprised to see the name Bede Griffith in Bethke’s new book in the endnote section (p. 208). He didn’t necessarily reference him favorably (or unfavorably, for that matter) but the fact that someone like Griffith would be benignly mentioned in a “Jesus” loving book is hard to ignore. The Catholic monk and mystic Bede Griffith, like Thomas Merton, “explored ways in which Eastern religions could deepen his prayer.” (Credence Cassettes, Winter/Lent 1985 Catalog, p. 14, cited in ATOD) Griffith also saw the “growing importance of Eastern religions . . . bringing the church to a new vitality.”(Ibid.) Griffith’s autobiography, The Golden String, expresses his belief that God (the golden string) flows through all things.
In reading Bethke’s book, one can see that Mark Driscoll may have rubbed off on him. And one of Bethke’s recommended books is Driscoll’s Vintage Jesus. We wrote a little about that book a number of years ago; we even contacted the late Chuck Smith (founder of Calvary Chapel) and warned him about Driscoll’s book because some Calvary Chapel pastors were trying to bring it in to CC; in Vintage Jesus, Driscoll calls homeschooling “dumb,” mocks the rapture and Armageddon, and says Christians are “little Christs.” Bethke echoes Driscoll’s distain, like in his chapter titled ”Religion Points to a Dim Future/Jesus Points to a Bright Future.” He puts down the kind of believers who see a dismal future for earth (according to Scripture) and says things like:
“God actually cares about the earth, but we seem to think it’s going to burn. God actually cares about creating good art, but we seem to think it’s reserved for salvation messages.” (Kindle Locations 2107-2109, Thomas Nelson).
And just to prove that when Bethke says “religion,” he means biblical Christianity, what other religion is there that “points to a dim future” for planet earth and its inhabitants? Biblical Christianity is the only one that says that the world is heading for judgement because of man’s rebellion against God and because of God’s plan to destroy the devil and his minions. Jesus does point to a “bright future,” but the Bible is very clear that this will not come before He returns; rather He promises a blessed eternal life to “whosoever” believeth on Him. The Jesus Christ of the Bible did not promise a bright future for those who reject Him (and even says that the road to destruction is broad – Matthew 7:13); in fact, Scripture says Jesus Himself was a man of sorrows rejected and despised (Isaiah 53:3). He knew what awaited Him, and He knew what was in the heart of man. But across the board, emergents reject such a message of doom, and teach that the kingdom of God will be established as humanity realizes its oneness and its divinity. And they will accomplish this through meditation. In Brennan Manning’s book The Signature of Jesus, he said that “the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer” (p. 212). Then the next step, he says, is to choose a sacred word and ”repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often” (p. 218).
Bethke’s book goes after the usual suspects. For instance, he belittles street preachers sharing the Gospel in his chapter called “Fundies, Fakes, and Other So-Called Christians.” He says:
Whenever I walk by the street preachers, I laugh under my breath, picturing just how uncomfortable they are going to be in heaven when everyone else is partying it up. (p. 43)
Many of those street preachers are the ones responsible for untold numbers ending up in heaven and “partying it up.” It is faithful preachers and evangelists of the Gospel who have tirelessly cried out repent and be saved that will be the reason why some make it to heaven. But it is very typical for emergents to mock and condemn such evangelistic efforts. And if they are reading Ragamuffin Gospel, it’s no wonder they have a strong aversion to evangelism and a call to repentance. For example, in Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning says that God understands a woman having to become a prostitute in order to support her two- year old son, and He will not condemn her. So, in other words, it really doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we have a good reason for doing it. A relaxed view of sin and a harsh view of evangelism go hand in hand in the emerging church.
And like just about every other emergent-type book, Bethke’s gives a good scolding to Christians who reject our present society’s embracing of homosexuality. He says he believes homosexuality is not God’s perfect plan for man, but can’t we all just have meaningful conversations and get along with each other and stop talking about homosexuality? (pp. 63-69) He actually compares the apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” to being “gay” (p. 69)!
Bethke’s book reminds us somewhat of Mike Erre’s book Death by Church or Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church in the scorning way it portrays conservative Bible-believing Christians and in the way it twists and manipulates Scriptures and biblical ideas, equating them with sinister and evil actions. Like this quote from Bethke:
When people come to us in the midst of their pain, how dare we flippantly quote some Bible verses as if that alone would help? How dare we think we can just send them some balloons? How dare we overspiritualize or be like the mom who told her daughter the rape was her fault? (p. 125)
What he just did there was equate sharing Bible verses with a hurting person to a mom telling her daughter it was her fault she got raped. This constant barrage of attack against biblical Christianity never seems to relent. Remember when Brennan Manning and J.P. Moreland1 used the term “bibliolatry” to say that Christians who put too much focus on the Bible are committing idolatry. And remember when Rick Warren twisted Scripture to tell his readers (in The Purpose Driven Life) that those who think too much about Bible prophecy and the Lord’s return were “not fit for the kingdom of God.”2 We could give example after example of this attack on believers in Christian faith by those who profess to be Christian from one side of their mouth but seek to destroy it from the other side. Erwin McManus is another example: He said that it was his “goal to destroy Christianity”:
My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ. . . . Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right.3
And on and on it goes. Christians who adhere to biblical beliefs are being beat down and made to look like there is something really wrong with them and they better get with the program.
It’s interesting that in Bethke’s new book, he quotes Rob Bell talking about “the cross” (p. 125). Interesting because Rob Bell doesn’t believe in the biblical atonement through the Cross. He believes that everyone is going to be saved regardless of their acceptance or rejection of the Cross. So it seems like a strange choice from Bethke; his book just came out this year – surely he has heard of Rob Bell’s beliefs on hell and salvation.
The “new” Christianity that is being propagated by Bethke, Bell, and countless other voices is not going away. Rather, it is helping to bring about strong delusion and a great falling away. Millions of young people, both Christian and non-Christian, are listening to these voices and following the beat of this drum. They are throwing out the faith of their youth and exchanging it for a “new” spirituality that will produce within them a mindset that rejects the message of the Cross. Not only are there political quests being achieved through the indoctrination of these young people, but these young followers are becoming convinced that a socialistic religion-killing society is the only solution for man. (Remember, Karl Marx said, “religion is the opiate of the masses” and John Lennon of The Beatles said, imagine no religion). And, tragically, the masses will continue to race down a broad road to deception through the multitude of false teachers.
Let us remember that before Jesus departed to heaven He commissioned His followers to proclaim the Gospel. The proclamation of the Cross is God’s hope for mankind.The Word of God has been likened to a blacksmith’s anvil; though many a hammer may be broken over the years pounding on that anvil, the anvil will hold its strength and integrity. It is ironic that emergents find comfort in attacking the Gospel and Bible-believing Christians. They say they love Jesus instead. What makes this so very ironic is that the apostle John is referred to in Scripture as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). Perhaps it would do emergents good to listen to some of the things John had to say – as it seems like his first epistle was written especially for them. Addressing the idea of loving Jesus (or God) but hating Christianity, John had this to say:
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4: 20-21)
Now, if we look at the context of the chapter from which these verses were taken, it becomes evident that John is writing about solid doctrinal Christianity. And he is saying that when we hate and reject these things, and the people who adhere to them, we are hating and rejecting God. When they say they love Jesus but hate the church (i.e., Christianity), they aren’t talking about hating buildings; they are talking about hating people. As for the teaching of the Cross, John makes it exceptionally clear in this epistle that “he is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2):
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
When we talk about love, we should really be talking about the Cross as this was and is God’s ultimate expression of His love toward us that makes it possible to spend eternity with Him when we receive this gift of love, by faith.
As we look into John’s life more carefully, it becomes apparent that he was not like an emergent at all. While the emergent figures of today seek to be hip and popular and mimic what each other has to say, John stood for the truth regardless of what the masses were saying or wanted to hear. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that even though he was the only apostle to escape a violent death, he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. And though he escaped miraculously, he was afterward banished to the Isle of Patmos (p. 27, LT edition).
If you are a young person reading this, remember that popularity in the world’s eyes is not a sign of being in God’s favor but is rather an indicator that something may be wrong (see 1 John 4: 5-6). Nor does partying with friends, even if they call themselves lovers of Jesus, offer assurance of eternal life. No, it is through the Cross alone that the offer of eternal life has been extended. And that is the truth!
Hello Lighthouse Trails:
I am wondering if you can help me out here. I have been a long-time financial supporter of Voice of the Martyrs and each Sunday I try sending an encouraging postcard to a persecuted Christian somewhere (from their prison letter writing list). Imagine my shock when last Sunday one of the prisoners profiled in Voice of the Martyrs prisoner list was a Catholic “Father” in Vietnam!! Catholics were responsible for many Protestant deaths over the centuries!! I am deeply concerned about this and plan to terminate my financial support with them and switch to Open Doors (or some Protestant organization which supports the persecuted church); however I want to research this a bit more. I vaguely recall you once had an article about VOM concerning this and am wondering if you could kindly forward this to me? Also what can you tell me about your version of Foxe Book of the Martyr’s vs the VOM version?
Thank you in advance, John (not real name)
In 2010, Lighthouse Trails posted this article, “Concern Expressed Over Voice of the Martyrs Article on Mystic Madame Jeanne Guyon” and this one: “Voice of the Martyrs Responds to Lighthouse Trails Readers.” And in 2011, we posted these articles: “Letter to Tom White of Voice of the Martyrs” and “Lighthouse Trails Regretfully No Longer Carrying Voice of the Martyrs Materials.”
In response to your concern about VOM including the name of a Catholic priest on their August prisoner list, we share your concerns. We do not say that people who are Catholics should not be defended if they are being cruelly persecuted and imprisoned; however an organization like Voice of the Martyrs has built its reputation of being an advocate for evangelical and Protestant Christians. Many of the people who have donated money to the organization would not have done it had they known of VOM’s ecumenism. As the letter to the editor above points out, the historical Catholic church was responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of believers who would not bow to the heresies of the papacy (in particularly the Eucharist – that Christ is in a wafer that should be worshiped). See our article “Mrs. Prest – She Said No to Apostasy and Became a Martyr” as one example. So it seems strange that an organization that stands for persecuted Christians would in any way pay homage to Roman Catholicism which, by its very belief system (I.e., it is anathema to not embrace the Eucharistic sacraments), persecutes Christians.
In answer to the question about Lighthouse Trails’ edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs versus the VOM edition, here is our statement on why we were compelled to publish our own edition:
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was first published over five hundred years ago. Today, there are many editions of this book available. When Lighthouse Trails decided to start offering this book to our readers, we began our search for a suitable edition. Much to our dismay, we discovered that many of the current editions were compromised in one form or another. For example, in one edition (ironically, published by an advocacy group for persecuted Christians), front page endorsements included the names of those who promote contemplative spirituality and/or the emerging church. When one realizes that contemplative/emerging spirituality embraces some of the very same beliefs that Foxe’s martyrs opposed to the point of suffering cruel persecution and death, it is most troubling and misleading to see these names in the cover of an edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
In another edition we reviewed, the book was among a special set of “Christian classics.” We were once again perplexed to see that some of the other books in that series were written by contemplative mystics.
And yet another edition, published by a secular publisher, advertised mystical and occult practices on the back cover.
Finally, after an unsuccessful search, Lighthouse Trails decided to publish our own edition of this truly incredible and unforgettable account.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3: 17
Worth noting, in John Foxe’s original Book of Martyrs, Foxe wrote much about the persecution from the Catholic church. But in some of today’s editions, you will find stories of this papal persecution omitted.
In closing, there are many wonderful Christian organizations that are helping the poor, needy, and persecuted that are standing firm in the faith and not compromising the Gospel set forth in Scripture. We hope you and other LT readers will seek out these groups and consider supporting them.
Thank you for your letter.
Editors at Lighthouse Trails
By John Foxe
(author of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
Mr. Nicholas Burton, a citizen of London, was dwelling in the city of Cadiz, Spain, where he was engaged in the business of trading merchandise. On November 5, 1560, there came into his lodging a Judas, or, as they term them, a familiar of the fathers of Inquisition; asking for Nicholas Burton, he feigned that he had a letter to deliver into his own hands. This gained him access to Burton’s presence, but having no letter to deliver to him, the familiar invented another lie, and said he would like to send freight bound for London in such ships as the said Nicholas Burton might have available; if indeed there was room to be had. He said this partly to know where he loaded his goods that they might attach them, and chiefly to protract the time until the sergeant of the Inquisition might come and apprehend Nicholas Burton; which they did forthwith.
Burton perceived that they would not be able to charge him that he had written, spoken, or done anything there in that country against the ecclesiastical or temporal laws of the same realm. He boldly asked them what they had to lay to his charge that they did so arrest him, and bade them to declare the cause, and he would answer them. Notwithstanding they answered nothing, but commanded him with threatening words to hold his peace and not speak one word to them.
And so they carried him to the filthy common prison of the town of Cadiz where he remained in irons fourteen days amongst thieves. All which time he instructed the poor prisoners in the Word of God, according to the good talent which God had given him, and also in the Spanish tongue to utter the same, that in that short space he had persuaded several of the Spanish prisoners to embrace the Word of God and to reject their popish traditions.
When this became known unto the officers of the Inquisition, they conveyed him laden with irons from thence to a city called Seville, into a more cruel prison called Triana. There the fathers of the Inquisition proceeded against him secretly according to their accustomed cruel tyranny, and threatened him to never write nor speak to any of his nation: so that to this day it is unknown who was his accuser.
On the twentieth of December, they brought Nicholas Burton, with a great number of other prisoners who professed the true Christian religion, to a place where the inquisitors sat in judgment.
His tongue was forced out of his mouth with a cloven stick fastened upon it that he should not utter his conscience and faith to the people. He was set with other Englishmen and Frenchmen, as well as Spaniards, upon a scaffold over against the Inquisition, where their sentences and judgments were read and pronounced against them. And immediately after the sentences were given, they were carried from there to the place of execution outside the city, where they most cruelly burned them, for whose constant faith, God is praised.
In the flames of that fire, Nicholas had so cheerful a countenance, embracing death with all patience and gladness that the tormentors and enemies who stood by, said that the devil had his soul before he came to the fire; and therefore they said his senses of feeling were past him. To read this and other accounts of Christian martyrs, see Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. This is also available in Kindle, Nook, PDF, and e-book.)
From Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
During the Reign of Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) in England – [1553-1558]
Mrs. Prest for some time lived about Cornwall, where she had a husband and children whose bigotry compelled her to frequent the abominations of the Church of Rome. Resolving to act as her conscience dictated, she quitted them and made a living by spinning. After some time, returning home, she was accused by her neighbors and brought to Exeter to be examined before Dr. Troubleville and his chancellor Blackston. As this martyr was accounted of inferior intellect, we shall put her in competition with the bishop and let the reader judge which had the most of that knowledge conducive to everlasting life. The bishop bringing the question to issue respecting the bread and wine being flesh and blood, Mrs. Prest said, “I will demand of you whether you can deny your creed, which says that Christ does perpetually sit at the right hand of His Father, both body and soul, until He comes again; or whether He be there in heaven our Advocate and to make prayer for us unto God His Father? If He be so, He is not here on earth in a piece of bread. If He be not here, and if He do not dwell in temples made with hands but in heaven, why shall we seek Him here? If with one offering He made all perfect, why do you with a false offering make all imperfect? If He is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, why do you worship a piece of bread [the Eucharist]? Alas! I am a poor woman, but rather than to do as you do, I would live no longer. I have said, Sir.”
Some persons present convinced the bishop she was not in her right senses and she was permitted to depart. The keeper of the bishop’s prisons took her into his house where she either spun, worked as a servant, or walked about the city discoursing upon the Sacrament of the altar. Her husband was sent for to take her home, but this she refused while the cause of religion could be served. During the liberty granted her by the bishop, before-mentioned, she went into St. Peter’s Church and there found a skillful Dutchman who was affixing new noses to certain fine images which had been disfigured in King Edward’s time. To him she said, “What a mad man you are to make new noses for those who shall all lose their heads.” The Dutchman accused her and laid it hard to her charge. But she said to him, “You are accursed, and so are your images.” He called her a whore. “No,” said she, “your images are whores and you are a whore-hunter; for doesn’t God say, ‘You go a whoring after strange gods, figures of your own making’? You are one of them.” After this she was ordered to be confined and had no more liberty.
During the time of her imprisonment, many visited her, some sent by the bishop and some of their own will. Among these was one Daniel, a great preacher of the gospel in the days of King Edward, but who, through the grievous persecution he had sustained, had fallen off. Earnestly did she exhort him to repent with Peter and to be more constant in his profession.
Mrs. Walter Rauley, Mr. William, and John Kede, persons of great respectability, bore ample testimony of her godly conversation, declaring, that unless God were with her, it were impossible she could have so ably defended the cause of Christ. Indeed, to sum up the character of this poor woman, she united the serpent and the dove, abounding in the highest wisdom joined to the greatest simplicity. She endured imprisonment, threatenings, taunts, and the vilest epithets, but nothing could induce her to swerve; her heart was fixed; nor could all the wounds of persecution remove her from the rock on which her hopes of felicity were built.
Such was her memory that, without learning, she could tell in what chapter any text of Scripture was contained: on account of this singular property, one Gregory Basset, a rank papist, said she was deranged and talked as a parrot, wild without meaning. At length, having tried every manner without effect to make her nominally a Catholic, they condemned her.
When sentence was read condemning her to the flames, she lifted up her voice and praised God, adding, “This day have I found that which I have long sought.” When they tempted her to recant, she said, “That will I not. God forbid that I should lose the life eternal for this carnal and short life. I will never turn from my heavenly husband to my earthly husband; from the fellowship of angels to mortal children; and if my husband and children be faithful, then am I theirs. God is my father, God is my mother, God is my sister, my brother, my kinsman; God is my friend, most faithful.”
Being delivered to the sheriff, she was led by the officer to the place of execution without the walls of Exeter called Sothenhey, where again the superstitious priests assaulted her. While they were tying her to the stake, she continued earnestly to exclaim “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” Patiently enduring the devouring conflagration, she was consumed to ashes and thus ended a life which in unshaken fidelity to the cause of Christ was not surpassed by that of any preceding martyr. (from the special Lighthouse Trails edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs – see this and other books in our Persecuted Church category.)
LTRP Note: Nearly two years ago, we issued this special report. With a newly elected Jesuit Pope in the Vatican, we thought it would be timely to repost this important article. It is also in booklet form as one of our new Print Booklet Tracts.
An Understand the Times/Lighthouse Trails Special Report
According to Bible prophecy, a one-world religion that will offer the promise of peace throughout the world is going to commence prior to Christ’s return. To most, this global body will seem like a wonderful thing and very possibly will be a pseudo-Christianity (coming in the name of “Christ”); however, contrary to how the masses will view it, it will actually help establish and set up the antichrist and his one- world government.
In order for this to happen, all religions must come together in an ecumenical plan. Today, as part of this Satanic scheme, the evangelical/Protestant church is being drawn seductively into the Roman Catholic church, largely through what we call “The Jesuit Agenda.” Incredibly, while the evidence is obvious to some, the majority of proclaiming Christians are not at all aware it is happening.
So, what should we expect if we are in the time when such a system unfolds? First, many who once were Protestant and evangelical will become ecumenical and eventually assimilate with the Roman Catholic church. Second, all religions will unite in solidarity of purpose. Understanding the Jesuit Agenda is essential if we are to understand how this worldwide deception will come about.
Who are the Jesuits?
Since its foundation, the Catholic papacy has been zealous and often brutal in its endeavor to establish the kingdom of the Pope (of whom it is believed within the Catholic church is headed by Jesus Christ). In fact, the Pope has been referred to as the “Vicar of Christ.” This determination was witnessed during the Inquisition where countless thousands, if not millions, died cruelly for resisting Rome. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs describes many of these atrocities.
While many believers in Christ during the Reformation period attempted to spread the truth that God’s Word was truly God’s Word and could not be squandered and kept hostage by the papacy and the Catholic Church, it was not long before the Counter Reformation was founded to bring the “Separated Brethren” back to the “Mother of All Churches.”
This Counter Reformation was largely headed by Ignatius Loyola, the man who founded the Jesuit Order in the mid 1500s and launched an all-out attack against those who dared stand against the papacy and Rome. This excerpt from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs gives us an idea of the nature and determination of this Counter Reformation:
The emperor Ferdinand, whose hatred of the Bohemian Protestants was without bounds, not thinking he had sufficiently oppressed them, instituted a high court to prosecute the reformers upon the plan of the Inquisition, with this difference, that the court was to travel from place to place and always to be attended by a body of troops. This court was conducted chiefly by Jesuits and from their decision there was no appeal, by which it may be easily conjectured that it was a dreadful tribunal indeed.
This bloody court, attended by a body of troops, made the tour of Bohemia. They seldom examined or saw a prisoner, for the soldiers were permitted to murder the Protestants as they pleased and then to make a report of the matter to them afterward.1
You see, the Jesuits were commissioned by the Pope to do whatever it took to end the Protestant Reformation. The 1540 Constitution of the Jesuits states:
[L]et whoever desires to fight under the sacred banner of the Cross, and to serve only God and the Roman pontiff, His vicar on earth, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity,- let him keep in mind that he is part of a society, instituted for the purpose of perfecting souls in life and in Christian doctrine, for the propagation of the faith . . . Let all members know, and let it be not only at the beginning of their profession, but let them think over it daily as long as they live, that the society as a whole, and each of them, owes obedience to our most holy lord, the pope, and the other Roman pontiffs, his successors, and to fight with faithful obedience for God. (Emphasis added.)
While most Christians think that the Counter Reformation is a thing of the past because we are not seeing Inquisitions today, this movement continues until today and with renewed effort through various avenues of the evangelical/Protestant church. In a way, it is more insidious than the Inquisitions, because now it has infiltrated Christianity and is being disguised as the “new” Christianity. (Rick Warren promotes it as the “new” or second reformation.) But disguised or not, it is the Jesuit Agenda, and it is bringing about ecumenism and a one-world religion. And at the same time, it is attempting to destroy the message that so many died for – the message that Jesus Christ is not found in a wafer and a cup of juice to be re-crucified day after day but has died once and for all for the sins of man and offers a salvation that is an entirely free gift, unearned to those who believe on Him (Hebrews 7:27; 10:11-14).
Who Was Ignatius Loyola?
After a serious injury in the military and during a lengthy rehabilitation, Ignatius Loyola (b. 1491, d. 1556) turned his focus from “military enthusiasm to ghostly fanaticism.”2 Ignatius assumed the name and office of Knight of the Virgin Mary, seeing himself as Mary’s favorite. Ignatius wanted to start a new order, The Society of Jesus (or the Jesuits) and presented the idea to the Pope. He told the Pope that the idea had been inspired by heavenly revelations. At first, the Pope hesitated, but when Ignatius added a fourth vow (in addition to the regular poverty, chastity, and obedience), “absolute subservience to the pope,” promising to do whatever the Pope wanted and go wherever he wanted, the Pope agreed and sent the new order out to “invade the world.” While other monks of other orders sought to separate themselves from the world, the Jesuits went out into the world and obeyed whatever command the Pope gave. Often this was to win the world with the sword. No violent act was withheld if the order came from their top “general.”3
In time, the Jesuits entered the education system, especially that of the Protestants. The Jesuit maxim was: “Give us the education of the children of this day – and the next generation will be ours.”4 The Reverend W. C. Brownlee, D.D. stated: “They pretended to be converted and to enter into Protestant churches.” One Jesuit even boasted that the Jesuits were successfully able to imitate the Puritan preachers. They used trickery and deception to become “all things to all men.” Within 48 years, there were eleven thousand Jesuits around the world, quite a large number for back then. 5
By 1773, the order was abolished because of their horrible reputation of bloodiness, deception, and immorality. However, they were reinstated fully in 1814 by Pope Pius VII. Even by this time, the influence and infiltration into the United States by the Jesuits was significant.
In 1857, the Reverend W.C. Brownlee, D.D. compiled a book of a translated document called Secret Instructions of the Jesuits (found on the Boston College Libraries website, for one). While Catholic sources say that the Secret Instructions of the Jesuits is an untrue document, there is enough evidence to indicate that it is true indeed. Naturally, it is so indicting against the papacy and the Jesuit Order that one can understand from a human point of view why Catholic sources would say the document isn’t true. But the facts are that the Jesuit Order was performing brutal cruel acts to bring the world to “Christ” and the Mother Church and that they were infiltrating every area of society to do so. This cannot be denied. Brownlee’s book would be a worthwhile read for those who wish to understand more of the history of the Jesuits.
The Jesuit Oath
It is said that the ancient Jesuits took the Jesuit Oath. This has been refuted by Catholic sources as a true oath taken by Jesuits of the past; nevertheless, there is evidence enough that the oath did exist to include excerpts of it in this report. We have taken these excerpts from a book titled Political and Economic Handbook by Thomas Edward Watson published in 1916, and found in the Harvard College library:
I do declare from my heart, without mental reservation, that the Pope is Christ’s Vicar General and . . . He hath power to depose Heretical Kings, Princes, States . . . that they may safely be destroyed. Therefore, to the utmost of my power I will defend this doctrine. . . . I do further declare the doctrine of the Church of England, of the Calvanists [sic], the Huguenots, and other Protestants to be damnable and those to be damned who will not forsake the same.
I do further declare that I will help, assist, and advise all or any of His Holiness agents in any place wherever I shall be; and to do my utmost to extirpate [exterminate] the heretical Protestant doctrine, and to destroy all their pretended power. (p. 437)
In another version of the Jesuit Oath, the Jesuit is asked to promise that he will make “relentless war” against “all heretics, Protestants” and to “hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and bury alive these infamous heretics” (found in U.S. House Congressional Record, 1913, p. 3216).
The Jesuit Agenda Today
While we are not saying that Jesuits today are murdering Protestants if they don’t convert to Catholicism, we are saying that the determination and efforts to convert Protestants back to the Mother Church still exist. Basically, while the methods may have changed, the plan and objectives have not. The following quote from an article titled “Essay on Popery” by Rev. Ingram Cobbin M.A. (taken from one edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs) is insightful:
The Jesuits, though at times expelled or pretendedly so from Rome, have been its awful emissaries to augment its power. The intrigues and deceptions of these men would fill volumes, and the conveniency of their creed to deny or affirm anything, or assume any profession as it may serve their purpose, is too well known to need recapitulating here. These men have at times assumed so much that every papal state has alternately ejected them; and large numbers are now in this country—doubtless many under false colours —waiting the most favourable opportunities to corrupt the rising generation, and, as much as possible, restore the dark days of former ages. The Jesuits are unchangeable.
The Jesuits were driven in the past to bring back the lost brethren, and they are driven today with the same vision. Today, that vision is part of the pope’s Eucharistic Evangelization, drawing people to the Eucharistic Christ. The Eucharistic Evangelization is discussed at length in Another Jesus: The Evangelization of the Eucharistic Christ and in several articles on the Understand the Times website.
Jesuit (Mystical) Spirituality and the Protestant/Evangelical Church
So if the methods of converting lost or prodigal souls back to Rome have changed, what is the method to accomplish these goals today? It is largely through what is called Jesuit Spirituality. A 2002 book titled Contemplatives in Action: The Jesuit Way reveals how the Jesuit order has had and continues to have a “great influence” in people around the world. It attributes this “vitality” to “its spirituality” which has also “evoked fierce loyalty and fierce opposition.”6
What is the spirituality of the Jesuits that was so controversial? By their very roots, Jesuits are proponents of mystical prayer practices. The founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola, created “spiritual exercises” that incorporated mysticism, including lectio divina. Today, millions of people worldwide practice the “Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola.”
One Jesuit priest who resonates with the mystical spiritual outlook is Anthony De Mello (d. 1987), author of Sadhana: A Way to God. De Mello is often quoted today by contemplative and emerging authors and embraced the mysticism of Hinduism. He stated:
To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on. – Anthony de Mello, Sadhana: A Way to God (St. Louis, the Institute of Jesuit Resources, 1978), p. 28 (cited from A Time of Departing, by Ray Yungen, p. 75).
Ray Yungen explains that Sadhana “is very open in its acknowledgment of Eastern mysticism as an enrichment to Christian spirituality.”
It doesn’t take a long search to find De Mello within the evangelical/Protestant camp. In fact, Richard Foster, one of the pioneers of the evangelical spiritual formation (contemplative) movement wrote the introduction to one of De Mello’s books, The Sacrament of the Present Moment. In A Glimpse of Jesus, popular contemplative author Brennan Manning quotes De Mello. Amazon shows that De Mello’s book, The Sacrament of the Present Moment is cited in 82 books, some of which are written by some of evangelicalism’s most popular authors: John Ortberg, Richard Foster, Jan Johnson, Philip Yancey, and Calvin Miller – incidentally all these are contemplative advocates.
Another example of Jesuit influence in the evangelical/Protestant church is the Be Still DVD, where Richard Foster quotes 18th century Jesuit priest, Jean Nicholas Grou as saying: “O Divine Master, teach me this mute language which says so much.” This “mute language” Grou speaks of is the mystical “silence” practiced by contemplatives and mystics throughout all religions.
One of the key figures in the “new” progressive Christianity today is Leonard Sweet. Sweet has partnered on a number of occasions with Rick Warren and speaks at evangelical events frequently. In Sweet’s book, Quantum Spirituality, he states:
Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center. . . . In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, “The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing.” [Mysticism] is metaphysics arrived at through mindbody experiences. (p. 76)
How fitting that Sweet would quote a Jesuit priest’s prediction about the “Christian” of the future.
Tony Campolo, another popular figure in the evangelical church, reveals something quite interesting in his book, Letters to a Young Evangelical. In the book, he explains the role mysticism had in him becoming a Christian. He explains:
I learned about this way of having a born-again experience from reading Catholic mystics, especially The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. (p. 30, see “Coming to Christ Through Mysticism,” Oakland )
For skeptics who may need further evidence that Jesuit Spirituality has come into the evangelical/Protestant church, consider this. In 2006, Baker Books, one of evangelicalism’s top book publishers, released a book titled Sacred Listening: Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola written by James Wakefield. A publisher description of the book states:
Central to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the Spiritual Exercises is a manual used to direct a month-long spiritual retreat. Now adapting these time-honored Exercises specifically for Protestant Christians, James L. Wakefield encourages readers to integrate their secular goals with their religious beliefs and helps them reflect on the life of Jesus as a model for their own discipleship.7
Wakefield’s book, devoted to the Jesuits and Ignatian Exercises, should be proof enough that the Jesuit Agenda has entered the Christian church and that mysticism is the tool by which the Jesuit Agenda is largely being brought into the lives of countless evangelicals and Protestants. Is it any wonder Wakefield’s book found praise within the Jesuit community? Armand M. Nigro, professor emeritus at the Jesuit school, Gonzaga University, said:
As a Jesuit for 62 years, I have been formed by the Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, our principal founder. I rejoice, then, at the long-awaited publication of Sacred Listening. It will be for its readers, I hope, a classic manual for spiritual growth in genuine mystical prayer. (on back cover of book)
Incidentally, Eugene Peterson, author of The Message wrote an endorsement of Wakefield’s book on the front cover.
These are just a few of a great many examples where the “Jesuit Spirituality” has come into the Protestant church; thus this new modern (post-modern) mystical method to accomplish the goals of the papacy is working.
If Protestants and evangelicals can be convinced to practice mysticism (i.e., contemplative), this conditions them to begin embracing Rome and even all religions. It’s important to understand that mysticism is the bridge that unites all the religions of the world. In order to unite them, there would need to be a uniting, common denominator, so to speak. That common uniting medium is mysticism. Thomas Merton recognized this. In a conversation he was having with a Sufi master, the topic of Christian atonement arose. The Sufi master said this was an area they could never agree on, to which Merton replied:
Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs differ, I think that controversy [atonement] is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas . . . in words there are apt to be infinite complexities and subtleties which are beyond resolution. . . . But much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light, . . . It is here that the area of fruitful dialogue exists between Christianity and Islam.8 (Emphasis added.)
Tilden Edwards, co-founder of the Shalem Institute (where Ruth Haley Barton was educated), would agree with Merton. He said, “This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality” (Spiritual Friend, p. 18). And in a New Age book titled, As Above, So Below, the author states (quoting Aldous Huxley) that “the metaphysical [mystical] that recognizes a divine reality” is the “highest common factor” that “links the world’s religious traditions.” And even evangelical-turned-emerging author Tony Campolo recognizes this commonality in mysticism when he states: “Beyond these models of reconciliation, a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam” (pp 149-150).
Incidentally, when we say all the religions of the world uniting, we include the New Age movement (perhaps one of the largest “religions” in the world today). New Agers believe that in order to enter into an age of enlightenment (or Age of Aquarius), the world needs to become “vibrationally sympathetic,” meaning that a sufficient mass (critical mass) of people will need to engage in mystical prayer.9
The Counter Reformation Continues
Jesuit influence in the world today is everywhere: in the business world, in education, in government, and yes, in the evangelical/Protestant church. According toContemplatives in Action: The Jesuit Way, there are over one million people living in the United States alone who have graduated from Jesuit high schools, colleges, and universities (Introduction, p. 1).
While there have often been tensions between the Pope and the Jesuit Order over various issues, the current Superior General of the Jesuit Order, Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, reassured the Jesuit commitment to Rome when he stated:
The Society of Jesus was born within the Church, we live in the Church, we were approved by the Church and we serve the Church. This is our vocation…[Unity with the pope] is the symbol of our union with Christ. It also is the guarantee that our mission will not be a ‘small mission,’ a project just of the Jesuits, but that our mission is the mission of the Church.”10
Where Else in Evangelicalism is the Jesuit Evangelism Showing Up?
Earlier this year, Understand the Times released an article titled Jerry Boykin and the Calvary Chapel Connection. It was a difficult article for many to read. People do not want to think that Christian leaders and pastors they have trusted for years would be so foolish as to associate with and promote someone who is part of a group that wants to bring the “lost brethren” back to the Mother Church. But the fact is that a high officer in the Vatican’s Jesuitical, “Knights of Malta” was a featured speaker at a Calvary Chapel sponsored Preach the Word prophecy conference.
Another example, and I believe an important one, has to do with one of the most well-known and influential evangelical organizations in America. Robert Siciro is a Protestant turned Catholic Paulist priest, and he is one of the featured speakers in the very popular Truth Project by Focus on the Family. While the Paulist Order is not a Jesuit Order, it has basically the same objective as the Jesuit order with regard to winning souls for the Catholic church. According to one Catholic source , the Paulist order is “A community of priests for giving missions and doing other Apostolic works, especially for making converts to the Catholic faith.” Robert Siciro is President of the Acton Institute, an ecumenical think tank where, incidentally, there are scores of articles by or about those in the Catholic faith, including a number of Jesuits. Now, through the Truth Project, thousands and thousands of evangelical/Protestant Christians have been introduced, by way of proxy, to the Eucharistic Evangelization.
The Fatima Plan
For those who are not convinced that we are headed toward a one-world religion for “peace,” take a trip some time to Fatima, Portugal where annual pilgrimages bring people from the religions of the world to pray to “the queen of heaven,” also called “our lady of Peace.”
Pope John Paul II was dedicated to Mary and especially “Our Lady of Fatima.” He believed this entity saved him from an assassin’s bullet on May 13, 1981, on the anniversary of the so-called apparition’s appearance (to have first occurred in 1917).
People from all around the world have been coming to Fatima to pray to “Our Lady.” At a gathering for “world peace” in Fatima, Jesuit priest Jacques Dupuis stated:
The religion of the future will be a general converging of religions in a universal Christ that will satisfy all. The other religious traditions in the world are part of God’s plan for humanity and the Holy Spirit is operating and present in Buddhist, Hindu and other sacred writings of Christian and non-Christian faiths as well. The universality of God’s kingdom permits this, and this is nothing more than a diversified form of sharing in the same mystery of salvation.11
Fatima is just another avenue through which the Jesuit Agenda is being accomplished.
Perhaps the best way to understand the Jesuit Agenda that undermines biblical Christianity is to recognize the move toward a so-called “social gospel” that unites the religions of the world for the cause of peace. Like mysticism, this social gospel is a vehicle through which all religions will be united. Who would have believed this could have happened to the Protestant evangelical church? But we have already been warned in Scripture that Satan’s ministers are “transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:15).
Rick Warren has been one of the many pied pipers of this move to unite through “good works.” Called “America’s pastor,” Warren has become the evangelical/Protestant spokesperson for a one-world religion. His Purpose Driven model has become the battle cry for let just all get along and do good. We can work together as one for one common purpose – peace in the world.
Willow Creek has helped to escalate this global religious body through their Global Leadership Summits, where they are “bringing people together from all nationalities to complete our shared Kingdom assignment in the Church and beyond”12 (emphasis added). Warren and Hybel’s global agenda is moving full force throughout the earth today.
Rick Warren and Bill Hybels – protégés of Peter Drucker, by the way – have advanced the Jesuit Agenda by leaps and bounds. Many of these “new” Christianity, new reformation leaders have ignored the prophetic warnings of Jesus Christ’s soon return based on the signs we see from Bible prophecy. Instead, they promote the establishment of the kingdom of God with all the world’s religions.
The emerging church movement, which has been widely propagated by Warren, Hybels, and a host of other Christian figures, has been used by Satan to quickly bring about this worldwide deception by introducing mystical experiences and the social gospel to an entire generation of young people. Sensual experiences that tickle the flesh of the postmodern generation are often the same ones that Rome has used in the past to convince the faithful that they have encountered the God of the Bible. History reveals that history is repeating, and the same tools of delusion are being used over and over.
Those who shine the light on the Jesuit Agenda are considered to be conspiratorial crackpots. The prophets of the past when they exposed the Babylonian worship by the leaders of Israel were also deemed to be crazy, as have been Bible-believing Christians since Christianity began. One of those was John Huss (1372-1415). John Foxe describes what happened:
[Huss] compiled a treatise in which he maintained that reading the books of Protestants could not be absolutely forbidden. He wrote in defense of Wickliffe’s book on the Trinity; and boldly declared against the vices of the pope, the cardinals, and clergy of those corrupt times. He wrote also many other books, all of which were penned with a strength of argument that greatly facilitated the spreading of his doctrines. . . . 13
Eventually Huss was arrested, and when he was brought before the council (of the papacy), he was mocked and called “A ringleader of heretics,” to which he replied:
My Lord Jesus Christ, for my sake, did wear a crown of thorns; why should not I then, for His sake, wear this light crown, be it ever so shameful? Truly I will do it and willingly.14
At 43 years of age, John Huss was burned at the stake, singing hymns during the brutal execution. Why was he called a “ringleader of heretics”? For standing up for biblical truth against the Pope and Rome.
Discerning Christians should be asking many questions. But one question that stands out foremost is: why are so few saying anything about the Jesuit Agenda? Do they see it but are afraid to speak? Or do they see it and are part of it?
Speaking of questions, Jesus asked one: “[W]hen the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Will He find it in the pastors and theological professors? Will He find it in your own church? Or will He only find those who have remained silent?
Just as God raised up others to carry the torch of truth after Huss was eliminated from this earth, God will and is raising up others today who are willing to risk all to stand for the truth and speak against the lies.
To believers who are standing fast, look up, for “your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. . . . See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:6-11, 15-17)
- John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing edition), p. 169.
- Rev. W.C. Brownlee, D.D., Secret Instructions of the Jesuits, http://www.archive.org/details/secretinstructio00brow at Boston College Libraries archives
- From the Publisher’s description at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Listening-Discovering-Spiritual-Exercises/dp/080106614X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309703869&sr=8-1#_
- Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 109, as cited in A Time of Departing, p. 60.)
- Ken Carey, The Starseed Transmissions (A Uni-Sun Book, 1985 4th printing), p. 33.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolfo_Nicol%C3%A1s and see http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0801316.htm
- Jesuit theologian Father Jacques Dupuis, at the 2003 interfaith congress “The Future of God; http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c19.shtml
- John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Eureka, MT, Lighthouse Trails Publishing edition), pp.160-164.
For more information:
By Berit Kjos
Almost two millennia ago, Jesus called His Church to follow Him, delight in His Word and spread His gospel. Thousands did. By faith, they faced torture and persecution, hatred and death. Yet they rejoiced, for they knew they were sharing the life and suffering of Jesus! His eternal Kingdom was far more precious to them than any earthly treasure.
Twelve centuries later, dark clouds shrouded Europe. During the Middle Ages, the “common people” could neither own nor read the Latin Bible. So when John Wycliffe’s first English Bible became available around 1390, a virtual war on Biblical Christianity began. In the years ahead, thousands of faithful martyrs were tortured and killed by Europe’s corrupt Catholic hierarchy for owning the new Bible and spreading God’s Word. For example:
In 1413, John Oldcastle was hanged and burned in Wales. His sin? Living by the truths he found in his new Bible! “Do with me what ye will,” he told his executioners. “Though ye judge my body… ye can do no harm to my soul…. I will stand [true to His Word] to the very death by the grace of my God.”
“The established ‘church’ in Bohemia, accused John Hus of heresy for teaching God’s Word. “Tried” and found guilty in 1415, he was mocked by the crowd and led naked to the stake to be burned. “We commit your soul to the devil,” cried a bishop. When offered a last chance to recant, he answered, “In the truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached I am willing gladly to die today.” Then the fire was lit using pages from the forbidden Wycliffe Bible as kindling. Immersed in flames, he sang, ‘Christ, thou Son of the living God, have mercy upon me.’”
In Germany, the Anabaptists were hounded for their faith. Their emphasis on pacifism and adult baptism offended other Protestant groups as well as the Catholic establishment. So in 1527, when leader Michael Sattler refused to recant his faith, he faced a cruel sentence: the hangman would “cut out his tongue, then chain him to a wagon, tear his body twice with hot tongs… then burn his body to powder as an arch-heretic. Before he died, he prayed with slurred speech, “Almighty eternal God. Thou art the way and the truth…. I will, with Thy help on this day, testify to the truth and seal it with my blood.”
Click here to continue reading and for endnote material.
by John Foxe
Author of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
It will not be inappropriate to devote a few pages of this work to a brief detail of the lives of some of those men who first stepped forward, regardless of the bigoted power which opposed all reformation, to stem the time of papal corruption and to seal the pure doctrines of the gospel with their blood.
Among these, Great Britain has the honor of taking the lead and first maintaining that freedom in religious controversy which astonished Europe, and demonstrated that political and religious liberty are equally the growth of that favored island. Among the earliest of these eminent persons was John Wickliffe.
This celebrated reformer, called the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” was born about the year 1324 in the reign of Edward II.
The first thing which drew him into public notice was his defense of the university against the begging friars, who from the time of their settlement in Oxford in 1230, had been troublesome neighbors to the university. Feuds were continually fomented; the friars appealing to the pope, the scholars to the civil power; and sometimes one party, and sometimes, the other, prevailed. The friars became very fond of a notion that Christ was a common beggar; that His disciples were beggars also; and that begging was of gospel institution. This doctrine they urged from the pulpit and wherever they had access.
Wickliffe had long held these religious friars in contempt for the laziness of their lives, and took advantage of the opportunity of exposing them. He published a treatise against able beggary, in which he lashed the friars and proved that they were not only a reproach to religion, but also to human society.
As a professor of divinity he complained against the pope in his lectures, citing his usurpation, supposed infallibility, pride, avarice, and his tyranny. He was the first who termed the pope Antichrist. From the pope, he would turn to the pomp, the luxury, and trappings of the bishops, and compared them with the simplicity of the first bishops. Their superstitions and deceptions were topics that he assailed with energy of mind and logical precision.
From the patronage of the duke of Lancaster Wickliffe received a good wage; but after the death of Edward III, the duke of Lancaster’s power began to decline and the enemies of Wickliffe, taking advantage of the circumstance, renewed their articles of accusation against him. Wickliffe was brought to trial and was undergoing examination at Lambeth, when, because of the riotous behavior of the populace without, they could not proceed to any definitive sentence. They terminated the whole affair in prohibiting Wickliffe from preaching those doctrines which were obnoxious to the pope. This was laughed at by our reformer, who, going about barefoot and in a long gown, preached more vehemently than before.
In the year 1378 a contest arose between two popes, Urban VI and Clement VII (who was the lawful pope). This was a favorable period for the exertion of Wickliffe’s talents: he soon produced a tract against popery, which was eagerly read by all sorts of people.
Next he set about a most important work, the translation of the Bible into English. Before this work appeared, he published a tract wherein he showed the necessity of it. The zeal of the bishops to suppress the Scriptures greatly promoted its sale, and they who were not able to purchase copies, procured transcripts of particular Gospels or Epistles. Afterward, when Lollardy8 increased and the flames kindled, it was a common practice to fasten about the neck of the condemned heretic such of these scraps of Scripture as were found in his possession, which generally shared his fate.
Immediately after this transaction, Wickliffe ventured a step further and attacked the doctrine of transubstantiation. Wickliffe then became a subject of the archbishop of Canterbury’s determined malice. The king, solicited by the archbishop, granted a license to imprison the teacher of heresy, but the commons made the king revoke this act as illegal. Letters were obtained from the king, directing the head of the University of Oxford to search for all heresies and books published by Wickliffe; in consequence of which order, the university became a scene of tumult. Wickliffe is supposed to have retired from the storm into an obscure part of the kingdom. The seeds, however, were scattered, and Wickliffe’s opinions were so prevalent that it was said if you met two persons upon the road, you might be sure that one was a Lollard. At this period, the disputes between the two popes continued. Urban published a bull in which he earnestly called upon all who had any regard for religion to exert themselves in its cause; and to take up arms against Clement and his adherents in defense of the holy see.
This war, in which the name of religion was so vilely prostituted, roused Wickliffe’s inclination even in his declining years. He took up his pen once more and wrote against it with the greatest acrimony. This severe piece drew upon him the resentment of Urban, and was likely to have involved him in greater troubles than he had before experienced, but providentially he was delivered out of their hands. He was struck with the palsy, and though he lived some time, yet it was in such a way that his enemies considered him as a person below their resentment.
Wickliffe returning within short space, either from his banishment or from some other place where he was secretly kept, repaired to his parish of Lutterworth, where he was parson; and there, quietly departing this mortal life, slept in peace in the Lord in the end of the year 1384.
After forty-one years of rest in his sepulcher, Wickliffe’s enemies ungraved him and turned him from earth to ashes; which ashes they also took and threw into the river. And so was he resolved into three elements, earth, fire, and water, thinking thereby utterly to extinguish and abolish both the name and doctrine of Wickliffe forever. But these and all others must know that, as there is no counsel against the Lord, so there is no keeping down of verity, but it will spring up and come out of dust and ashes, as appeared right well in this man; for though they dug up his body, burned his bones, and drowned his ashes, yet the Word of God and the truth of his doctrine, with the fruit and success thereof, they could not burn. (from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, chapter 7, Lighthouse Trails, 2010)