FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
July 3, 2015
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER THREE – Part XV
WHO WERE THE WALDENSES?
Late-breaking news, REUTERS, 06/28/2015 by Philip Pullella. Headline:
Pope Francis Asks Forgiveness for Catholic Church’s Persecution of the Waldenses.
“Pope Francis asked forgiveness on Monday for the Roman Catholic Church’s ‘non-Christian and inhumane’ treatment in the past of the Waldensians, a tiny Protestant movement the Vatican tried to exterminate in the 15th century. Francis made his plea during the first ever visit by a pope to a Waldensian temple on the second day of a trip to Italy’s northern Piedmont region, the centre of the Waldensian Church, which has only 30, 000 followers worldwide.
“While the movement is miniscule compared to the 1.2 billion Roman Catholic Church, the gesture is part of Francis’ drive to promote Christian unity and it has taken on added significance ahead of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017. ‘On behalf of the Catholic Church, I ask forgiveness for the un-Christian and even inhumane positions and actions taken against you historically, he said. ‘In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us!’
“The Waldensians, who now live mostly in Italy and Latin America, were founded by Peter Waldo in France in the later 12th century. He gave up his wealth and preached poverty but as the movement grew it came into increasing theological conflict with the papacy. The movement, an early precursor of the Protestant Reformation in the 16thcentury, was branded as heretical and in 1487 Pope Innocent VIII ordered its extermination. Some 1, 700 Waldensians were killed in 1655 by Catholic forces commanded by the Duke of Savoy.
“Today the Waldensians are part of the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churches. They have only two sacraments—baptism and the Lord’s Supper [so do the Seventh-day Adventists]—as opposed to seven in the Roman Catholic Church, a member of the Italian branch said.
“During a visit to Jerusalem in 2000, Francis’ predecessor Pope John Paul II asked forgiveness from Jews for their persecution by Catholics over the centuries.
“In 2017, Christians will mark the 500th anniversary of the launching of the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther, who nailed his 95 Theses to a church door [Church of All Saints, Wittenburg] in Germany to denounce corruption in the Catholic Church [such as nepotism, simony, usury, pluralism, especially sale of Indulgences. See Wikipedia].
“Various Christian churches have still not agreed on how they will jointly mark the divorce that split western Christianity and led to many bloody religious wars. The head of the Protestant Church in Germany, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, has said that he would be in favor of inviting the pope to a ‘joint Christian festival’ to mark the anniversary.” (end of Reuters News quote.)
Who were the Waldenses? Was Peter Waldo really their founder? Why were they branded heretics, persecuted, and killed by the Romish Church? First, read for yourself chapter 4 “The Waldenses,” of the Great Controversy, (1911 ed.) by Ellen G. White, pp. 61-78. The following excerpts are from Facts of Faith by Christian Edwardson, “The Waldenses” chapter, pp. 118-133. Southern Publishing Asso. TN. 1943:
“While Constantine purchased converts, and the superficial-minded multitude followed the popular church, there were many honest, God-fearing Christians, who resented thissinful compromise with paganism; and, when they saw that all their protests were useless, they withdrew to places where they could more freely follow their conscience and bring up their children away from the contamination of the fallen church, which they looked upon as the ‘Babylon’ of Revelation 17. Several hundred Sabbath-keeping Christian churches were established in southern India, and some were even found in China. Likewise the original Celtic Church in England, Scotland, and Ireland kept the seventh-day Sabbath. . . .
“The majority of these original Christians settled, however, in the Alps, a place naturally suited for their protection, being situated where Switzerland, France, and Italyjoin. They could, therefore, more easily get protection in one another of these countries, as it would be harder for the Papacy to get joint action of all these countries in case of persecution. Then, too, these mountains were so steep and high, the valleys so narrow, and the passes into them so difficult, that it would seem as though God had prepared this hiding place for His true church and truth during the Dark Ages. William Jones says:
‘Angrogna, Pramol, and S. Martino are strongly fortified by nature on account of their many difficult passages and bulwarks of rocks and mountains; as if the all-wise Creator, says Sir Samuel Morland, had, from the beginning, designed that place as a cabinet, wherein to put some inestimable jewel, or in which to reserve many thousand souls, which should not bow the knee before Baal.’- ‘History of the Christian Church,’ Vol. I, p. 356, third ed. London: 1818.
“Sophia Bompiani, in ‘A Short History of the Italian Waldenses’ (New York: 1897), quotes from several unquestionable authorities to show that the Waldenses, after having withdrawn to the Alps because of persecution, fully separated from the Roman church under the work of Vigilantius Leo, the Leonist of Lyons, who vigorously protested against the many false doctrines and practices that had been adopted by the Church. Jerome A.D. 403-406) wrote a very cutting book against him in which he says:
‘That monster called Vigilantius. . . . . has escaped to the region where King Gottius reigned, between the Alps and the waves of the Adriatic. From thence he has cried out against me, and, ah, wickedness! There he has found bishops who share his crime.’’ Sophia V. Bompiani then remarks: ‘This region where king Cottius reigned, once a part of Cisalpine Gaul, is the precise country of the Waldenses. Here Leo, or Vigilantius, retired for safety from persecution, among a people already established there of his own way of thinking, who received him as a brother, and who thenceforth for several centuries were sometimes called by his name [Leonists].
Here, shut up in the Alpine valleys, they handed down through the generations the doctrines and practices of the primitive church, while the inhabitants of the plains of Italy were daily sinking more and more into the apostasy foretold by the Apostles.’ – ‘A Short History of the Italian Waldenses,’ pp. 8, 9. Dr. W.S. Gilly, an English clergyman, after much research, wrote a book entitled: ‘Vigiliantius and His Times,’ giving the same information. ‘The ancient emblem of the Waldensian church is a candlestick with the motto, Lux lucet in tenebris [‘The light shineth in darkness’].
A candlestick in the oriental imagery of the Bible is a church, and this church had power from God to prophesy in sackcloth and ashes twelve hundred and sixty days [symbolic of 1260 years or 42 months, “time, times and dividing of time,” of the Dark Ages, Dan. 7: 25; 12: 7; Rev. 11: 2, 3; 12: 6, 14; 13: 5].
“Roman Catholic writers try to evade the apostolic origin of the Waldenses, so as to make it appear that the Roman is the only apostolic church, and that all others are later novelties. And for this reason they try to make out that the Waldenses originated with Peter Waldo of the twelfth century. Dr. Peter Allix says:
‘Some Protestants, on this occasion, have fallen into the snare that was set for them. . . . It is absolutely false, that these churches were ever founded by Peter Waldo . . . . It is a pure forgery.’ – ‘Ancient Church of Piedmont,’ pp. 192. Oxford: 1821. ‘It is not true, that Waldo gave this name to the inhabitants of the valleys: they were called Waldenses, or Vaudes, before his time, from the valleys in which they dwelt.’ – Id., p. 182.
“On the other hand, he ‘was called Valdus, or Waldo, because he received his religious notions from the inhabitants of the valleys.’ –‘History of the Christian Church,’ William Jones, Vol. II, p. 2. See also Sir Samuel Morland’s ‘History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of the Piedmont,’ pp. 29, 30.
“Henri Arnaud, a leading pastor among the Waldenses, says: ‘Their proper name, Vallenses, is derived from the Latin word vallis, and not, as has been insinuated, from Valdo, a merchant of Lyons.’ – ‘The Glorious Recovery of the Vaudois,’ Henri Arnaud, p. xiii. London: 1827.
“The Roman Inquisitor, Reinerus Sacho, writing about 1230 A.D., says:
‘The heresy of the Vaudois, or poor people of Lyons, is of great antiquity. Among all sects that either are, or have been, there is none more dangerous to the [Roman] Church, than that of the Leonists, and that for three reasons: the first is, because it is the sect of the longest standing of any; for some say that it has been continued down ever since the time of Pope Sylvester; and others, ever since that of the apostles.
The second is, because it is the most general of all sects; for scarcely is there any country to be found where this sect hath not spread itself. And the third, because it has the greatest appearance of piety; because, in the sight of all, these men are just and honest in their transactions, believe of God what ought to be believed, receive all the articles of the Apostles’ Creed, and only profess to hate the Church of Rome. ‘ – Quoted on page 22 of William Stephen Gilly’s ‘Excursion,’ fourth edition. London: 1827.
“Now it must be clear as the noonday sun, that Reinerus would not have written as he did, if the Waldenses had originated with Peter Waldo, only seventy-five years before; nor could Waldo’s followers have multiplied and spread over the whole world in so short a time, under great persecution, and with so slow a means of travel.
“Henri Arnaud, a Waldensian pastor, says of their origin: ‘Neither has their church been ever reformed, whence arises its title of Evangelic. The Vaudois are, in fact, descended from those refugees from Italy, who, after St. Paul had there preached the gospel, abandoned their beautiful country and fled, like the woman mentioned in the Apocalypse [Rev. 12: 14-17], to these wild mountains, where they have to this day handed down the gospel from father to son in the same purity and simplicity as it was preached by St Paul.’ –‘The Glorious Recovery by the Vaudois,’ p. xiv of preface by the Author, translated by Acland, London: 1827.
THE WALDENSIAN FAITH. “The Waldenses took the Bible as their only rule of faith, abhorred the idolatry of the Papacy, and the main body rejected its traditions and holidays, but kept the seventh-day Sabbath, and used the apostolic mode of baptism. (See ‘Ancient Churches of Piedmont,’ by P. Allix, pp. 152-260). Their old catechism shows that they believed in righteousness by faith in the grace of Christ alone, and that obedience to the Ten Commandments was the sure fruit of faith: . . . . Dr. Peter Allix quotes the following from a Roman Catholic author:
‘They say that blessed Pope Sylvester was the Antichrist, of whom mention is made in the Epistles of St. Paul, as being the son of perdition, who extols himself above everything that is called God [2 Thess. 2: 3, 4]; for, from that time, they say, the Church perished,’ . . . . ‘He lays it down also as one of their opinions; ‘That the Law of Moses is to be kept according to the letter, and that the keeping of the Sabbath, circumcision, and other legal observances, ought to take place.’ – ‘Ancient Churches of Piedmont,’ p. 169 (page 154, edition of 1690). Oxford: 1821.
“In regard the accusation that the Waldenses practiced circumcision, Mr. Benedict truthfully says: ‘The account of their practicing circumcision is undoubtedly a slanderous story, forged by their enemies, and probably arose in this way: because they observed the seventh day they were called, by way of derision, Jews, as the Sabbatarians are frequently at this day. . .’ – ‘General History of the Baptist Denomination,’ Vol. II, p. 414, edition of 1813. . . . .
“Going back to Judaism was considered by the Roman Catholic Church as one of the most serious heresies, punishable with death. And anyone at all familiar with the tactics of the Romanists knows that it has been a practice, only too common among them, to blacken the character of those whom they would destroy, so as to justify their destruction. . . . “William Jones says:
‘Louis XII, King of France, being informed by the enemies of the Waldenses, inhabiting a part of the province of Province, that several heinous crimes were laid to their account, sent the Master of Requests, and a certain doctor of the Sorbonne, who was confessor to his majesty, to make inquiry into the matter. On their return, they reported that they had visited all the parishes where they dwelt, had inspected their places of worship, but that they had found there no images, nor signs of the ornaments belonging to the Mass, nor any of the ceremonies of the Romish church; much less could they discover any traces of those crimes with which they were charged.
On the contrary,they kept the Sabbath day, observed the ordinance of baptism according to the primitive church, instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith, and the commandments of God. The king having heard the report of his commissioners, said anoath that they were better men than himself or his people.’ –‘History of the Christian Church,’ Vol. 2, pp. 71, 72, third edition. London: 1818.”
(To be continued next week)