Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 22, No.3 Straight and Narrow March 2013
He shall dwell on high: his place of defence
shall be the munitions of rocks:
bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. (Isaiah 33:16)
Nearly Six Hundred Years of History Overturned
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. (1 Chronicles 12:32).
If there was ever a time when Gods people needed understanding for the times, it is today. We have been told: Those who place themselves under Gods control, to be led and guided by Him, will catch the steady trend of events ordained by Him to take place (The Review and Herald, August 5, 1902).
On February 11, 2013, the pope announced he was resigning, effective February 28, 2013, at 8:00 p.m. Roman time. The pope gave the following rational for this surprising event:
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. . . . in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. (Vatican Radio http://en.radiovaticana.va/articolo.asp?c=663815, accesses February 19, 2013)
The pope has been applauded for this position by many Catholics and Protestants. For example, Roland Martin, CNN contributor, noted:
Pope Benedict shows true leadership by resigning. It takes considerable courage for anyone to step away from the power bestowed upon them by a position, as well as the trappings that come with it.. . . we should . . . acknowledge the value of an ego-less decision that reflects humility and concern about the very institution the pope pledged his life to. (http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/16/opinion/martin-pope-resigns-health, accessed February 22, 2013)
The failure of John Paul II during his final years to be able to adequately govern the seat of the bishop of Rome is cited as an example of someone who should have stepped down long before he died. Benedict XVI is eighty-five years old, so stating that one’s health at such an age is an issue to holding down one of the most demanding jobs in the world is not far-fetched.
Others, however, have overlooked the seeming innocence of the matter and have suggested much more sinister reasons for Benedict XVI to resign. Some have suggested that Benedict resigned because of the severe problem of sexual abuse among the priests, and as head of the church, the final responsibility for these acts of the priests falls upon him. These sources claim Benedicts resignation, therefore, was to avoid being brought before a criminal tribunal as head of the Catholic Church. At this point of time, there is a lot of material, some documented and some not, to sort through to be able to factually and accurately determine if there is truth to this reason for Benedicts departure.
There is no doubt that great and terrible abuse has occurred within the supposed sacred halls of the institution which calls itself “the church.” Catholic leadership has acknowledged at all levels the problem; howbeit, they do so with different degrees of acknowledgment.
There certainly is evidence that Benedict was not blind to the abuse, but there is also evidence that he was not a supporter of the abuse and that he even tried to bring one of the worst offenders to some type of justice. For example, it was reported on May 1, 2010, that Benedict took control of the the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful and wealthy Roman Catholic religious order whose founder, a friend of Pope John Paul II, was found to have molested seminarians and fathered several children (The New York Times, May 1, 2010).
The Legionaries of Christ was founded in 1941 by the Mexican priest, Marcial Maciel Degollado. While Ratzinger was still a cardinal and Pope John Paul II was still reigning, Ratzinger tried to defrock Maciel, but Maciel was protected by John Paul II. After becoming pope, Benedict removed Maciel, but only symbolically slapped his wrists, as he was “told to retire to a life of prayer and penitence” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8656085.stm, accessed February 19, 2013).
This same BBC news release noted: “The Pope himself has been accused of being part of a culture of secrecy, and of not taking strong enough steps against paedophiles when he had that responsibility as a cardinal in Rome.
However, his supporters say he has been the most pro-active pope yet in confronting abuse (Ibid). Of course, even if this last statement is true, it is not saying much, for Benedict has also been the center of controversy concerning other cases where little appears to have been done, except the turning away of heads from wicked acts. Case in point: Priest Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. During that time, as many as two hundred young boys were molested by Murphy. The New York Times reported:
In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case from Rembert G. Weakland, Milwaukees archbishop at the time. After eight months, the second in command at the doctrinal office, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vaticans secretary of state, instructed the Wisconsin bishops to begin a secret canonical trial that could lead to Father Murphys dismissal.
But Cardinal Bertone halted the process after Father Murphy personally wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger protesting that he should not be put on trial because he had already repented and was in poor health and that the case was beyond the church’s own statute of limitations.
I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood, Father Murphy wrote near the end of his life to Cardinal Ratzinger. I ask your kind assistance in this matter. The files contain no response from Cardinal Ratzinger. (The New York Times, March 24, 2010).
What actual legal justice the pope could be responsible for today is difficult to evaluate. Some self-proclaimed tribunals claim as the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS) claims[its] court and tribunal derive their ultimate authority from the self-evident Natural Law which resides within the reason and compassion of every man and woman, and from the Common Law right of the informed citizenry to establish their own Courts, Policing and Laws when normal institutions fail or refuse to uphold the liberty, rights, safety and well being of the community (http://itccs.org/about; accessed February 19, 2013). Though not a government or a civil power, nor supported by any civil power, they claim to have the authority to speak for humanity.
Currently as a head of state under international law, Benedict has immunity from prosecution. Those who say he is stepping down to avoid prosecution fail to see that he is at a greater danger of being prosecuted if he leaves his position as pope, a position that assures him that Italy will not in any way try to interfere, based upon the Lateran Treaty, signed by Gasparri and Mussolini. Reuters News, a very dependable news agency and the first to announce the pope’s resignation, reported:
His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldnt have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else, said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It is absolutely necessary” that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a “dignified existence” in his remaining years.
The final key consideration is the pope’s potential exposure to legal claims over the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals.
In 2010, for example, Benedict was named as a defendant in a law suit alleging that he failed to take action as a cardinal in 1995 when he was allegedly told about a priest who had abused boys at a U.S. school for the deaf decades earlier. The lawyers withdrew the case last year and the Vatican said it was a major victory that proved the pope could not be held liable for the actions of abusive priests.
Benedict is currently not named specifically in any other case. The Vatican does not expect any more but is not ruling out the possibility.
When Benedict went to Britain in 2010, British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins asked authorities to arrest the pope to face questions over the Church’s child abuse scandal.
Dawkins and the late British-American journalist Christopher Hitchens commissioned lawyers to explore ways of taking legal action against the pope. Their efforts came to nothing because the pope was a head of state and so enjoyed diplomatic immunity. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/15/us-pope-resignation-immunity-idUSBRE91E0ZI20130215, accessed on February 19, 2013)
On February 23 the Vatican denounced all rumors of Benedict XVI resigning due to any issues other than his health.
The Election of the New Pope
Benedict XVIs resignation is quite a newsworthy event, since no pope has resigned since the Protestant reformation began. In fact, Benedict will be only the third pope to have resigned the office and only the second to do so voluntarily. Not since 1415, when Gregory XII was forced to step down, has a pope resigned. The only other time a pope resigned (willingly) was in 1294, when Pope Celestine V resigned.
The current Vatican protocol for the timing of choosing a new pope after the office becomes vacant was set by John Paul II:
I furthermore decree that, from the moment when the Apostolic See is lawfully vacant, the Cardinal electors who are present must wait fifteen full days for those who are absent; the College of Cardinals is also granted the faculty to defer, for serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few days more. But when a maximum of twenty days have elapsed from the beginning of the vacancy of the See, all the Cardinal electors present are obliged to proceed to the election. (UNIVERSI DOMINICI GREGIS, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_22021996_universi-dominici-gregis_en.html)
The Vatican, however, announced on February 20 that Benedict is considering changing or modifying the process so that the conclave can begin earlier, perhaps by Sunday, March 10, with the hope of a new pope being chosen and installed by the following Sunday, March 17, allowing the new pope to be in office for the Easter season.
The meeting to elect a new pope is called a conclave, from medieval Latin conclave, meaning a place that may be locked, from clavis key. During the conclave, the cardinals meet in the Sistine Chapel, where the voting takes place, every morning and afternoon.
There will be 117 electors (cardinals under eighty years of age) at the conclave. Of this number, sixty-one are from Europe, a slim majority. There is much speculation that a cardinal from a third-world country might be chosen. Over half of these cardinals have been handpicked by Benedict, with all the remaining cardinals being chosen by John Paul II. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect the new pope to be conservative in nature and supportive of Benedict’s positions on abortion, contraception, and women’s ordination to the priesthood.
During the time of the conclave, the cardinals will all stay at the Vatican and will have no communication with the outside world—no radios, newspapers, television, phones, or Internet.
Paper ballots are given to each cardinal, printed with the Latin words Eligo in Summum Pontificem (I elect as Supreme Pontiff). The protocol calls for a two-thirds majority.
Speculation as to whom the next pope will be always abounds before the conclave begins. There are even betting establishments that offer odds as to whom the next pope will be. Some of the leading papabile candidates are Cardinal Peter Turkson, Cardinal Francis Arinze, and Cardinal Marc Ouelle.
Turkson, 64, is a Ghanaian cardinal of the Catholic Church. He has been the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on October 24, 2009. He had served as Archbishop of Cape Coast. Turkson has been vocal and critical concerning the sexual scandals within the church. He has stated:
African traditional systems kind of protect or have protected its population against this tendency, he said. Because in several communities, in several cultures in Africa homosexuality or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind, are not countenanced in our society. So that cultural taboo, that tradition has been there. It has served to keep it out. (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/faith/article3693010.ece; accessed February 21, 2013)
Cardinal Francis Arinze, 80, is an Igbo Nigerian Cardinal. He is Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, having served as prefect from 2002 to 2008. Arinze was a principal advisor to John Paul II and was considered papabile before the last conclave, when Benedict XVI was elected. Though his age is against him, Benedict was also elected when near the octogenarian mark.
Cardinal Ouelle, 68, of the Society of St. Sulpice, is from Quebec, Canada. He is the present prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and is also the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and has been so since his appointment by Benedict on June 30, 2010.
Of interest to note is that none of the three leading candidates are European; however, it is well to consider that only four papabile cardinals have been elected pope in the last century.
Current Prophecy Buzz
With the resignation of the pope, prophetic interpretation wheels have begun to spin at supersonic speed. Some have taken a look back, in an effort to look forward.
Dr. Robert Hauser, in 1983, created a stir within Adventism when he published his book Give Glory to Him, The Sanctuary in the Book of Revelation. While not rejecting the historical interpretation of early Adventism, he declared that like the horse and buggy, [it] no longer fits our needs (Give Glory to Him, p. 2). Hauser proposed that Revelation has multiple fulfillments and that we need to look to a future fulfillment (via futurism) for direction for the last days.
Of widespread interest was his interpretation of Revelation 17:10, 11: “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” Hauser understood the setting to be in the last days, when the Vatican would be restored as a kingdom. The kings represent popes who would reign after the Vatican became a sovereign state again. Hauser then listed:
Pius XI 19221939
Pius XII 1939–1958
John XIII 1958–1963
Paul VI 1963–1978
John Paul I 1978 (33 days)
FIVE ARE FALLEN!!! (Give Glory to Him, p. 233; all emphasis in the original)
The one reigning during the writing of the book was John Paul II. The seventh pope would be one to reign a short time. This would have to be Benedict XVI. Hauser, however, stated:
John Paul II will not die until during or after the martyrdom of many Sabbathkeepers following the passage of the Sunday law. (Ibid.)
This part of Hauser’s interpretation has failed to come to pass. Furthermore, Hauser believed that Satan’s personating Christ would occur during the short reign of the eighth pope.
The pope to follow John Paul II will continue a short space. If you will refer back to the charts on pages 80 and 105 you will see that it is probably less than a year from the last of the martyrs until Satans counterfeiting of Christ returna short space. The appearance of Satan personating Christ fulfills verse 11. The beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth king. When Satan personates Jesus and places his blessing on the pope, the Vicar of Christ, the pontiff will bow at Satans feet and Satan thus becomes the eighth in succession as king of Vatican City. He is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. (Ibid.)
The only way this could have been fulfilled would have been for Satan to have appeared before Benedict resigned, but that did not happen.
Since Hauser’s interpretation of this vital prophecy has failed, why do we bring it up now? Because Hauser’s work has spawned other variations that, as of this writing, still have a small window of probation before they, too, will be proven wrong. The most notable is the interpretation made popular by World’s Last Chance website, (http://www.worldslastchance.com). As Hauser, they teach that the five who are fallen are the same five popes that Hauser lists. The sixth is John Paul II, and the seventh that is to be a short time is Benedict XVI (though Benedict has reigned longer than two of the preceding popes).
The promoters of World’s Last Chance boldly declare that the eight will be a devil impersonating a resurrected John Paul II who will accept the scepter from Benedict and reign at the See of Rome.
From the study of Revelation 13 & 17, we can conclude only one who constitutes the best personality for achieving Satans end-time agenda: it is John Paul II the Great. (http://www.worldslastchance.com/end-time-prophecy/revelation-17-prophecy-of-the-seven-kings-8th-king-identified.html, accessed February 21, 2013; emphasis in original).
How did we come to have such interpretations within Adventism? By abandoning the historicist principle of interpretation for what Desmond Ford called the apotelesmatic principle. What did he mean by this?
The apotelesmatic principle is a convenient term for referring to the concept that a particular prophecy in outline or as regards a dominant feature may have more than one application in time. (Desmond Ford, Daniel 8:14; The Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment, p. 302)
Note the key phrasemore than one application in time. Ford is suggesting multiple interpretations. In fact, in his book Daniel, he writes: It must be said that each of the systems is right in what it affirms and wrong in what it denies (p. 68; emphasis in original). What systems is Ford making reference to? Earlier in his book Ford defined four systems of interpretation. What are these systems?
The first system is preterism which views all the prophecies as having been fulfilled prior to or soon after the beginning of the Christian era. This system of interpretation was developed by the Jesuit Alcazar as part of the Catholic Counter Reformation movement.
The second system is futurism which was also developed by a Jesuit, Ribera. With this method of understanding, it is said that most, if not all, apocalyptic prophecy is to be fulfilled at some future time, after a so-called secret rapture. This, too, was a part of the Counter Reformation movement of the Roman Catholic Church. Sadly, this scheme of understanding has become the standard among evangelical, apostate Protestantism.
The third major system is known as historicism which teaches that history is the response to the voice of prophecy. This system was used by the Protestants during the Reformation and was the basis for the understanding of prophecy in the Advent Movement.
The fourth major system that Ford teaches is the one he follows, the apotelesmatic principle. This principle teaches that a given prophecy can have a fulfillment in the past, present, and future, such as the little horn of Daniel 8 could have been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BC for a fulfillment of preterism. Then this same prophecy could find another application in New Testament times in the Papacy, thus having a historical fulfillment. Finally, it could apply to a future antichrist to appear near the end of time, fulfilling the futurism scheme.
Ford even suggests that if the apotelesmatic principle were to be widely understood, some differences between the systems would be automatically resolved (Ibid., p. 69). What he is suggesting is that a compromise with Jesuit interpretations would help; a mingling of truth and error together would be the answer for Gods people! How dare we accept such a damnable idea!! As one Bible student noted,
The bottom line is an attempt to adulterate the historic Advent faith which was built upon the prophecies of Gods word by which the events of history were seen as the unfolding of the scroll of prophecy. (William Grotheer, Watchman What of the Night? January 1985)
We are not saying that no prophecy has a dual application. Some do, but they are general in nature. Grotheer notes:
For example, Jesus told His disciples on the Mount of Olives that nation shall arise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:1011) This prophecy of Jesus could have multiple applications; but it is a general prophecy. The same night Jesus also informed the disciples that Jerusalem would be compassed with armies. By this they would then know that the desolation thereof was nigh. (21:20) This is a specific prophecy, and finds only one fulfillment in all history. If it were to have a multiple application, how then would the ones for whom the prophecy was given, know when to do what Jesus instructed them to do when the event occurred? (Ibid.)
One might wish to argue that we can use Jesuit means of interpretation and still come up with the right answer, but I dare say it would be like preparing a house with a square foundation and another with a octagon-shaped foundation. You can be sure that the houses will look and be different, for they are built on different foundations.
By the time this issue of Old Paths is printed and distributed, it is very likely the new pope will either have been chosen or will soon be chosen, and we will see if the interpretation of Worlds Last Chance is fulfilled, but based upon true principles of interpretation, we are looking for another pope from among men.
One More Refurbished Old Look
There is one more idea that has made the prophetic buzz since Benedict XVIs resignationthe prophecy of Saint Malachy. Malachy lived from 1094 to 1148 and was Archbishop of Armagh. He was reported to have several miracles attributed to him, and he was purported to have a vision of 112 popes. This vision became known as the Prophecy of the Popes. Malachy was canonized by Pope Clement III in 1199.
The text that has been attributed to Malachy surfaced in 1595 in a book by Benedictine monk Arnold de Wyon. Malachy was supposed to have experienced a vision of future popes during a trip to Rome in the year 1139. He then wrote down a series of 112 cryptic phrases that described each pope in turn. The text was supposed to have been stored in Rome’s archives for over four hundred fifty years until Wyon published it.
Interestingly, the Catholic Church believes the document is a forgery. One of the problems with the document is that the cryptic phrases for that first four hundred fifty years seems remarkably accurate. For example, the first pope mentioned, Celestine II, is noted in the prophecy as “from a Castle of the Tiber.” Celestine II was born in Città di Castello, a city that sits on the Tiber. However, after 1595, when Wyon published the prophecy, the accuracy is much less, and the proponents of the prophecy have to go to great lengths to find fulfillments for some of the popes.
The prophecy of Malachy for Benedict XVI is “glory of the olive.” This has been understood to be fulfilled in Benedict because he chose his name after Saint Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine Order, of which the Olivetans are one branch; however, Ratzinger claimed to have chosen the name Benedict first because of Pope Benedict XV. Ratzinger stated:
I wanted to be called Benedict XVI in order to create a spiritual bond with Benedict XV, who steered the Church through the period of turmoil caused by the First World War. (GENERAL AUDIENCE, Wednesday, 27 April 2005, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2005/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20050427_en.html)
Ratzinger also stated: The name Benedict also calls to mind the extraordinary figure of the great Patriarch of Western Monasticism, St Benedict of Norcia, Co-Patron of Europe . . . (Ibid.) So, Benedict does mention St. Benedict of Norcia, but the Olivetans, whose symbol is the olive, is simply one branch of the Benedictine order. The last pope in the prophecy is said to be Peter the Roman. Popes are not allowed to choose the name Peter. There is no Peter II, Peter III, etc.; however, every pope could claim this title, as all popes claim to be in the seat of Peter and, of course, are the bishops of Rome. It has been speculated that if Peter Turkson, the Ghanaian cardinal, is elected, he would fulfill this prophecy. The prophecy also states that this last pope will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, with the city of seven hills (Rome) being destroyed at the end.
All the different views on the current papal succession cannot be right, but in one sense, many of them are correct in that they point to a swift ending. On that detail we can assuredly agree. It is certainly important that we follow the example of Jesus, who said: We speak that we do know (John 3:11). While we believe that great and momentous times are just before us, we cannot afford to mislead honest souls with speculation. With the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and history as our guides, we may use the tools of exegesis and hermeneutics; but when we can go no further than these tools take us, only worthless guessation is left.
The Bible speaks of two great mysteriesthe mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 10:7) and the mystery of iniquity (1 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 7). We will all follow after one of these mysteries. The mystery of God is God manifest in the flesh. The blending of humanity and divinity that gave Jesus Christ victory will give us victory, too, as we invite Christ to live in us (2 Peter 1:4; Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20). It is only as we focus upon and look to Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18; Hebrews 12:2) that we can be assured that we will be a part of the right mystery.
The future is almost here. What good will it do us to know all prophecy and understand perfectly the train of events that are to happen, if we are not in Christ? It would be like standing on the beach of a small island and watching a giant tsunami roaring in at the speed of a jet plane with nowhere to go. You know the tsunami is there—you perfectly see it coming—but there is no time and no place to go. Suppose, however, you had a weatherproof, water-tight shelter. If you are in that shelter, even if you do not see or hear the tsunami coming, you will be safe. We may not know perfectly all the events to come, beloved, but if we are safe in the shelter of Christ’s strong arms and grip, no storm of the mystery of iniquity can wash us away.
While we may be able to rule out certain prophetic interpretations, we should be slow to make too distinct a pronouncement concerning future events. As James White wrote: While we may speak of fulfilled prophecy with positiveness, we would apply unfulfilled prophecy with becoming modesty (Sounding of the Seven Trumpets of Revelation, p. 68). We pray for an appropriate measure of modesty next month, as we begin examining Revelation 17. May our lamps be trimmed and burning. Those who place themselves under Gods control, to be led and guided by Him, will catch the steady trend of events ordained by Him to take place (The Review and Herald, August 5, 1902). Allen Stump
The Protestant Reformation
Jerome: A Traveling Thunderbolt
Old Prague was an established city of upscale, as well as barely-surviving, merchants and of the now-famous Astronomical Clock; and New Prague, on the other side of the beautiful Vltava River and over the impressive, newly-built Charles Bridge of sixteen arches and, eventually, thirty decorating statues, was the city of intellectual giants and the home of the first university in central Europe. Prague was also a city of low-key ecclesiastical free thinking, which later bloomed into several public disputations, unrest, and finally interdict, and Prague also was the city of the free-roaming Jerome, who in 1416 found himself arraigned before the highest court of the Holy Roman Empire on the charge of heresy.
Jerome belonged to a respected family, but was too restless to stay home for long. He received his Bachelors degree from the University of Prague in 1398. By 1403 he was in Palestine and two years later was at Paris, and afterward at Cologne and Heidelberg, taking the M. A. degree from each university (David Schley Schaff, John Huss: His Life, Teachings and Death after Five Hundred Years, p. 321). He was a philosopher, traveler, knight, almost an adventurer, and a reformer. . . . Jerome was gifted, brilliant, versatile. . . . So famous was his learning that he was called upon by the king of Poland to organize the newly-founded University of Cracow (John W. Mears, Heroes of Bohemia: Huss, Jerome, and Zisca, p. 224). At Paris he made a powerful impression, and aroused even dangerous opposition by advocating . . . some of the doctrines of Wickliffe (Ibid., p. 225). At Oxford he transcribed some of Wycliffes works by hand and took them back to Prague, proclaiming his admiration for them and introducing them to the leaders at the University of Prague. Huss was so distrustful of these works at first that he advised Jerome to either burn them or throw them into the river (Ibid., page 226).
Jerome did not settle into a scholarly position or into any position of work, for that matter; instead, he traveled the world, from one nation to another, from one university to another, using his gifts of eloquence and intelligence to introduce new ideas, encourage disputations, foment unrest between the laity and the clergy, and to make, in some cases, a general nuisance of himself. He was arrested more than once for heresy-related episodes, escaping from his captors before sentencing and from at least one probable death sentence. At Vienna, for example “he was cast into prison on the charge of being a Wyclifite. He escaped, but was followed with the ban of excommunication by the archbishop of Vienna” (Schaff, p. 321).
His speeches could sway crowds, especially those filled with young adults, who sometimes followed him home after his disputations, chanting his praises. On one occasion (in 1412) Huss announced a disputation after the city of Prague had received a papal bull ordering all Christian believers to either personally join the papal crusade against Ladislaus, King of Poland, or to contribute financial means to support the crusade. In exchange for compliance, the pope offered absolute remission of sin and eternal salvation. Boxes were placed at commodious places to receive contributions of money in behalf of the crusade. The preachers exhorted the people to liberality (E. H. Gillett, The Life and Times of John Huss, vol. 1, p. 207). In the lecture-room of the university, as well as in Bethlehem chapel, Huss denounced the papal measures. He maintained that it was an antichristian procedure to spur Christians on to war with Christians and, with a view to shedding of blood, to sell indulgences for money (Ibid.), and soon Huss affixed to the doors of several churches and cloisters a notice that on June 7 he would publicly dispute the issue, and Jerome joined him.
The crowd that attended the disputation was immense. Common people, knights, and members of the university all pressed in and heard Huss logically lay out his positionIt seems, he said, that we are to approve the bull of the pope because he is one of Christs vicars on earth (Ibid., p. 209). Then, after developing his thoughts, he stated that the putting of men to death which it [the bull] requires, and the exhaustion of nations [through monetary contributions] which it occasions, cannot well be reconciled with the love of Christ (Ibid.). Instead, one should, after the example of Christ and his apostles, endure wrong patiently, [rather] than spur on Christians to exterminate one another (Ibid., p. 210). When the doctors at the university heard this reasoning, they rose against it, stating that Huss was in the wrong and the consequence of such thinking would only be disorder and murder, which caused the rest of the crowd to murmur and to become agitated.
Huss, however, with his calm demeanor and words, quelled the uprising, and then Jerome then stepped forward. He presented a long speech in which he supported the reformer throughout . . . The speech of Jerome was energetic, and made a deep impression. The attendant knights and citizens interrupted him with their applause. This man speaks truth. Right is on his side was the cry from every quarter (Ibid., p. 212).
It is certain that Jerome was a man of great erudition, and the not very numerous contemporary notices referring to him lay great stress on his eloquence. On one occasion, when both he and Hus took part in one of the many disputations then customary at the University of Prague, Bohemia, Jeromes speech quite outbalanced that of the greater man, and the enthusiastic young students conducted him [Jerome] home in triumph. (Francis Count Lützow, The Life and Times of Master John Hus, pp. 299, 300)
And it was these abilities that were later leveled against him during one of his hearings before the Council of Constance, with Gerson, the chancellor of the University of Paris, referring to him, in irony, as a supposed angel of light.
Jerome arrived at Constance in 1415, to support his friend and mentor, John Huss, who was facing charges of heresy, and Jerome himself soon faced the same council. After his first hearing in May, he was carried to the dungeon in the cemetery of St. Paul and chained hand and foot to a bench too high to sit on. For two days he was left to starve on a scanty supply of bread and water . . . The darkness and foul surroundings soon brought on a sickness, from which with difficulty he recovered. . . . On his partial restoration the Inquisition began his examination. More learned and skillful than Hus, Jeromes defence was brilliant, his tongue bitter. But he lacked the moral strength which made Hus a hero (Ibid., p. 335). This examination, which occurred in September 1415, resulted in his recantation.
Human weakness prevailedJerome was afraid, and signed a paper by which he submitted himself to the council, and approved of all its acts. . . . He subscribed, it is true, to the condemnation of the articles of Wycliffe and John Huss; but . . . he honored his [Husss] person, his excellent morals, and various fine expressions that had issued from his mouth (Émile de Bonnechose, The Reformers before the Reformation, vol. 2, p. 141). His judges were not satisfied and wanted a more precise retraction. Finally Jerome swore to live and die in the truth of the Catholic faith, and he anathematized those who should maintain anything against it. I swear, said he, to teach nothing against my retractation; and should it happen to me to do so, I submit to all the rigour of the canons, and to eternal punishment. After this positive declaration, Jerome was led back to prison, and treated with less severity (Ibid., pp. 142, 143).
This recantation was on September 11. On the 12th he wrote his friends in Bohemia condemning Huss, and on September 23, 1415, he formally read his lengthy retraction before a public session of the Council.
Had one been asked beforehand in regard to the two men, Huss and Jerome, which was most like to meet the ordeal unmoved, his answer probably would have beenJerome. Nature seems to have endowed him with an eminently fearless spirit, a resolute energy, a noble generosity of soul, and a chivalrous oblivion of self, which his religious views had nurtured rather than repressed. He seemed born to be a hero. Had it been his destiny to have led armies to the field, he would have been found sharing every danger, nor shrinking from the hardships of the meanest soldier. In days like those of English ship money, he would have been seen breasting the storm, the foremost man of all to expose himself for othersa Hampden or a Cromwell, to bid tyranny concentrate its bolts upon his head. But there was wanting in Jerome what was found in Hussthat truly Christian self-distrust, which would lead him in prayerful humility to throw himself into the arms of Omnipotence. Jerome was self-reliant. Under the impulse of conscious strength, he rushed too recklessly to the hazardous encounter. By sore trial he had to learn the lesson that taught him to be a better man, and a nobler because a Christian hero. The hardships of his imprisonment had unnerved himhad made the bold man fear and quail. The terrors of a cruel death awed him to a base submission. Human weakness prevailed. The promises and threatening of the council shook his purpose. He signed a paper by which he declared his submission to the council, and approved the condemnation of the errors of Wickliffe and of Huss. (E. H. Gillett, The Life and Times of John Huss, vol. 2, pp. 137, 138)
Jerome expected to be released, but he did not understand that the Inquisition never released its victims (Herbert W. Workman, The Dawn of the Reformation, vol. 2, p. 337). It seemed that Jerome had satisfied the council and had averted his death, but monks soon arrived from Prague with new charges against Jerome, and the council became concerned that Jerome had not retracted deeply enough, that his recantation had been mixed, for Jerome, you see, had tried to justify his actions by admitting to some things, but defending others:
. . . there lingered so much of conscience and self-respect that Jerome was forced to add conditions or explanations of his submission, that could have been in nowise acceptable to the council. While he subscribed to the condemnation of the articles of Wickliffe and Huss, he added that he was not to be considered as thereby doing any prejudice to the holy truths which these men had taught and preached. Explaining himself afterward upon the subject, he said, of Huss particularly, that he still repeated that he did not mean to do anything tending to the prejudice of his person, and his excellent morals, anymore than to the many truths which he had heard from his mouth. He confessed that he had been his intimate friend, and that he was disposed to defend him toward and against all, for the gentleness of his conversation and the holy truths which he had heard him explain to the people, but that now, on being better informed by reading his works themselves, he was unwilling to befriend his errors, though he had loved his person. . . .
The terms of this submission were too vague and ambiguous to satisfy the council. It was not the unequivocal condemnation of Huss which they demanded. They saw the necessity of using further influence to secure a more unqualified submission. The time between this present and the following session was employed to secure this object. (Gillett, pp. 138, 139)
How did the Council intend to secure a full and complete recantation? “The Inquisitors concluded by asking permission to apply to Jerome a judicious system of starvation; ‘the said Jerome,’ it appears, ‘was gorging himself’ on his prison fare. ‘On this account the Inquisitors feared that the Holy Spirit would find no place for repentance. Did not Christ fast for forty days before His Passion?’ If starvation would not suffice, ‘since Jerome is a laymen, and always walks about in lay dress and with a long beard,’ perhaps ‘under torture’ he might be forced to answer a plain Yes or No to the questions. If he still refused, he could then be handed over to the secular arm” (Workman, p. 338).
In February 1416 a new Commission was appointed to continue the investigation of Jerome, and on April 27 they issued a report full of the wanderings and adventures (Ibid.) of Jeromethat is all they could bring against him, for there were no writings or published tracts by him to yield evidence of his heresy. He was a highly intelligent and knowledgeable orator, but not an author. He had out-reasoned the professors at the universities he had visited and attended, and he had often dared to do so in public debates! He had traveled to England, France, and Germany, speaking to gatherings of academia, and this became his undoing, for he had far outshined the leading professors and members of the clergy, many of whom were now his adversaries at the Council, and they intended to have the final word on this passionate, presumptuous upstart. The rancour of the doctors was the most dangerous (Bonnechose, p. 233). One said, for example, When you came to Paris, you fancied yourself, with eloquence, to be an angel of heaven! You troubled the University by broaching several propositions in our schools, particularly relative to ideas and general attributes (Ibid.). Another said, “When you were at Cologne, you brought forward several erroneous arguments”; and a third, “You maintained at Heidelberg grave errors relative to the Trinity.” (See Bonnechose, pages 234, 235.)
“When you were at Paris,” cried Gerson, “you disturbed the University with your false arguments, especially in the matter of Universals.” “At Heidelberg,” cried another, “you painted up a shield comparing the Trinity to water, snow, and ice.” This shield he had called “the shield of faith.” Jerome’s replies were sharp and ready, but were drowned in the roars of “Burn him! Burn him!” (Workman, p. 334)
More accusations followed:
. . . it is charged against Jerome that in the year 1412 in the month of September on St. Wenceslas day in the Carmelite monastery he did command, procure and instruct certain laymen to throw on the ground certain relics which were placed there by a friar who was begging alms for the fabric . . . and Jerome entered the monastery violently and took prisoner the friar Nicholas who was saying that Wyclif was a heretic who had been reproved by the Church, and led him away captive with two other friars of the same monastery. These two he handed over to the magistrates of the city who put them in the prison of the New Town among the thieves and robbers. But the friar Nicholas he kept in his own custody in prison for several days, and tortured him in devious ways. And not content with that, Jerome took him out in a boat on the river Moldau which flows strong and wide near to Prague, tied him to the end of a rope and threw him overboard, saying to the said friar some such words as these: Now tell me, monk, was Master John Wyclif a holy and evangelical doctor or not? wishing to force him to revoke those words he had spoken in the pulpit against Wyclif and Jerome would certainly have drowned the friar had not help come from one of his followers and members of his household, who freed him from his great peril. (R. R. Betts, The Place of the Czech Reform Movement in the History of Europe The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 25, no. 65, April 1947, pp. 378, 379)
Jerome had no printed words that could be used against him, but every act of his life and all of his beliefs were scrutinized—he had been to England and had brought back the works of Wycliffe; he had been involved in all (so they said) the disturbances in Bohemia; he had carried heresy over Europe; he had thrown a monk into a river after a supposedly evil deed; he had helped a citizen when monks tried to carry off his servant to a monastery prison and then when the monks attacked Jerome, Jerome had put them to flight with a sword! He was even accused of taking the language of scripture and versifying it “so that it might be sung, as it was in the streets, leaving the impression, to the confusion of the ecclesiastics, that they (the singers) alone, and not the church of Rome or any of the clergy, understood the scriptures” (Gillett, vol. 2, p. 208). He was also accused of not fasting.
The full report issued against him filled twenty folio pages and probably took a whole council session to read aloud. On May 9 the commission made a unanimous recommendation against him, and May 23 was set for Jerome’s response.
Poggius Bracciolini, former personal secretary to antipope John XXIII, was present at the trial and wrote a letter about the proceedings to a friend in Italy. The following several quotations refer to this letter. Listen to the words of Jerome, as he began his remarks on May 23:
I am not ignorant, reverend doctors that many most excellent men have suffered things unworthy their virtues, overwhelmed by false witnesses, and altogether iniquitously condemned. (Bibliotheca Sacra and Theological Review, vol. II, p. 643)
Then Poggius gives the following testimony of Jerome’s speech to the Council:
Gifted with a sweet, clear, resonant voice, he sometimes poured forth torrents of fiery indignation and sometimes touched the chords of deepest pathos. He set forth the glorious fate of those who in old times had suffered wrongfully. Beginning with Socrates, he traced the persecutions of philosophers down to Boethius. Then he turned to the Scriptures, and from Joseph down to Stephen showed how goodness had met with calumny and persecution. Stephen, he urged, was put to death by an assembly of priests; the Apostles were persecuted as subverters of order and movers of sedition. He pleaded that no greater iniquity could be committed than that priests should be wrongfully condemned to death by priests; yet this had often occurred in the past. Then, turning to his own case, he showed that the witnesses against him were moved by personal animosity, and were not worthy of belief. He had come to the Council to clear his own character; he had hoped that men in these days might do as they had done of old, engage in amicable discussion with a view of investigating the truth.
Having done this, he passed on to examples from among the Hebrews. And first he said that Moses, that liberator and lawgiver of the Jews, was often calumniated by his own people and represented as a contemner and seducer of the nation. He then told how Joseph, sold by his brethren through envy, was afterwards thrown into prison on account of a suspicion of having committed adultery; and went on to say that, in addition to these, Isaiah, Daniel, and nearly all the prophets, had been treated as despisers of God, as full of seditious purposes; and had been encompassed on all sides with iniquitous opinions. Here also he added the false sentence which had been pronounced against Susanna; and spoke also of many others, who notwithstanding they had stood forth as the holiest of men, fell victims at last to unjust decisions. Then adverting to John the Baptist, and to our Saviour, he said, “that they were condemned by false witnesses, is a thing manifest to all.” He then brought forward the case of Stephen slain by the college of priests; and showed how all the apostles had been condemned to death, not as good men, but as those who excited the people to sedition, treated God with contempt, and were constantly engaged in wicked works. . . . These things he discoursed with elegance—the attention of all who heard him being greatly excited. . . .
The minds of all were greatly moved in his behalf and strongly inclined to mercy; especially as he proceeded to tell them that he had “come to the council of his own free will,” in order to clear up his character . . .
All were expecting he would clear up his character at once, by retracting the things which had been objected against him, and asking pardon for his errors; but, instead of this, he asserted that he had not erred; and showed that he had not the least disposition to retract the false crimes which others had laid to his charge. (Ibid., pp. 643–645)
He then turned his attention to Huss, saying he was a good, just, and holy man, altogether unworthy of such a death. . . . Great was the grief of all that stood around him. There was a universal desire among them to save so noble a personage, could his own consent be obtained (Ibid., p. 645). Jerome continued:
“You condemned Wyclife and John Huss, not for having shaken the doctrine of the Church, but simply because they branded with reprobation the scandals proceeding from the clergy—their pomp, their pride, and all the vices of the prelates and priests. The things which they have affirmed, and which are irrefutable, I also think and declare, like them.”
At these words, the assembly shook with anger. “He condemns himself!” was exclaimed from all sides. “What need is there of further proof? We behold with our own eyes the most obstinate of heretics!”
“What!” resumed Jerome. “Do you suppose that I fear to die? You have held me for a whole year in a frightful dungeon, more horrible than death itself. You have treated me more cruelly than a Turk, Jew, or pagan, and my flesh has literally rotted off my bones alive; and yet I make no complaint, for lamentation ill becomes a man of heart and spirit; but I cannot but express my astonishment at such great barbarity towards a Christian.” (Bonnechose, pp. 152, 153)
Bonnechose states that then
A fresh burst of clamour then arose against him, and he remained without speaking until silence was again restored. He then resumed, in so firm and loft a tone, that one might have supposed that he had nothing to apprehend for himself. “His voice,” remarks the illustrious Poggio [Poggius], “was touching, clear, and sonorous; his gesture full of dignity and persuasiveness, whether he expressed indignation or moved his hearers to pity, which, however, he appeared neither to ask for nor to desire. He stood there, in the midst of all, the features pale, but the heart intrepid, despising death, and advancing to meet it. Interrupted frequently, attacked and tormented by many, he replied fully to all, and took vengeance on them, forcing some to blush, and others to be silent, and towering above all their clamours. Sometimes, too, he earnestly besought, and at others forcibly claimed to be permitted to speak freely—calling on the assembly to listen to him whose voice would soon be hushed forever.
When he had at last concluded his address, he was carried back to his dungeon, where he was more strictly fettered than before. His hands, his arms; and his feet, were loaded with irons; and they who had heard him speak, remarked to each other, He has pronounced his own sentence! (Ibid., pp. 153, 154)
All the historians, Catholic or Hussite, agree in stating that he replied with marvelous ability and presence of mind; discussing every fact, rejecting some as false, and admitting others as true. It is incredible, said the celebrated Poggio [Poggius] of Florence, who was an ocular witness of the whole, what a multiplicity of authorities and reasons he alleged in support of his opinions. Not once, during the whole time, did he express a thought which was unworthy of a man of worth; so that, if his sentiments on the faith were in conformity with his words, there was no reason to accuse, much less to condemn, him. (Ibid., p. 147)
Jerome was allowed two days for repentance, during which time many came to him to convince him to recant:
Struck by his eloquence, and astonished by his great abilities, the cardinals and bishops came in crowds to visit him in his confinement, conjuring him to save his life by subscribing to the sentence passed on John Huss, and by abjuring his doctrine. “I will abjure,” said he, “if you demonstrate to me by the Holy Scriptures that it is false.” . . .
The Cardinal of Florence presented himself last. He sent for Jerome, and said to him; “Jerome, you are a learned man, whom God has loaded with his choicest gifts—do not employ them to your own ruin, but for the advantage of the Church. The council has compassion on you, and, on account of your rare talents, would regret to behold you marching to execution. You may pretend to high honours, and be a powerful succour to the Church of Jesus Christ, if you consent to be converted, like St Peter and St Paul. The Church is not to such a point cruel, as to refuse a pardon, if you become worthy of it; and I promise you every kind favour, when it shall be found that neither obstinacy nor falsehood remains in you. Reflect, whilst it is yet time: spare your own life, and open your heart to me.”
Jerome replied: “The only favour that I demand—and which I have always demanded—is to be convinced by the Holy Scriptures. This body, which has suffered such frightful torments in my chains, will also know how to support death, by fire, for Jesus Christ.”
“Jerome,” asked the cardinal, “do you suppose yourself to be wiser than all the council?”
“I am anxious to be instructed,” replied Jerome; “and he who desires to be instructed, cannot be infatuated with ideas of his own wisdom.”
“And in what manner do you desire to be instructed?”
“By the Holy Writings, which are our illuminating torch.”
“What! Is everything to be judged of by the Holy Writings? Who can perfectly comprehend them? And must not the fathers be at last appealed to, to interpret them?”
“What do I hear!” cried Jerome. “Shall the Word of God be declared fallacious? And shall it not be listened to? Are the traditions of men more worthy of faith, than the Holy Gospel of our Saviour! Paul did not exhort the priests to listen to old men and traditions, but said,—‘The Holy Scriptures will instruct you.’ O Sacred Writings, inspired by the Holy Ghost, already men esteem you less than what they themselves forge every day! I have lived long enough. Great God! Receive my life; Thou who canst restore it to me!”
Heretic! said the cardinal, regarding him with anger. I repent having so long pleaded with you. I see that you are urged on by the devil. (Ibid., pp. 157–159)
Jerome was once again taken to his dungeon, where he remained until the day of his death.
What can we learn from the life of Jerome?
1) The death of Huss had engendered much dissatisfaction in Bohemia, to the point that war seemed on the horizon, so when Jerome was brought before the Council, the desire was high to prevent, if at all possible, another Bohemian death which would be sure to tip the balance and incite bloodshed among the nations. Pressure was strong within the Council to force Jerome to recant, and when he did, the Cardinals of Cambray, Des Ursius, Aquileia, and Florence called for Jerome to be releasedit was only fair, for Jerome had done what the Council had askedbut a murmur immediately arose, and Dr. Nason, a strong orthodox, stood up: We are much astonished, reverend fathers, to find you interceding for this pestiferous heretic, from whom we have received so much injury in Bohemia, and who could very easily cause as much to yourselves. Is it possible that you have been gained over by bribes from the King of Bohemia, or from the heretics? Can they have purchased from you the liberty of this man (Ibid., pp. 143, 144)?
What!? This was wicked slander! At this the cardinals rose up, and demanded to be discharged from their office of commissioners in the proceedings against Jerome. New commissioners were elected, and amongst them . . . the most ardent persecutor of Huss (Ibid., p.144).
Brothers and sisters, one thing we can learn from the experience of Jerome is that if Satan cannot hold sway because a few good men stand in the way, he will use whatever means possible to remove them, including lies and slander. If these Cardinals had not stepped down, but had held firm to their purpose of releasing Jerome, would there have been a different outcome for Jerome? We cannot know—all such knowledge belongs to God—but let us not shirk our responsibilities when faced with hardship. Let us do all we can for the glory of God and leave the consequences with him.
2) One hundred seven charges were brought against Jerome, all of which seem unworthy of a death penalty, but one charge in particular was more weighty than the others, and that was the charge of Realism. “It is clear that to many of the Fathers of the Council the most serious charge against Hus and Jerome was their Realism” (R. R. Betts, p. 388), and part of Jerome’s recantation before the Council included a condemnation “of the Realist theory of Universals” (Workman, p. 337).
In the universities of Jeromes day, theology was the main academic field of study and had been so for centuries. Most great thinkers of his day were highly-trained theologians who were also trained as philosophers, and the systematic nature of medieval theology led its practitioners to develop full treatments of virtually every area (Jeffrey E. Bower, Trinity, p. 1), areas such as the incarnation, the notions of substance and person, the Eucharist, the nature and purpose of evil, and the trinity. Theology delved into the mysterious abstract, with attempts to explain such nonentities as transubstantiation and the trinity. And Huss and Jerome were involved, for Huss and Jerome were both considered Realists, while their adversaries on the Council were Nominalists.
What exactly was heretical about being a Realist? It had to do with transubstantiation, for one thing. The Church taught that when the bread and the wine become the very body and blood of Jesus Christ, the literal bread and wine passed out of existence, leaving behind nothing but shadowy appearances of themselvesaccidents, as they were called (see Herbert B. Workman, Christian Thought to the Reformation, page 236). The Realist believed that bread and wine did not mysteriously disappear, but were symbols of the body and blood of Jesus and that a symbol was real, even though it was intangible. The Nominalist, on the other hand, believed that ideas, symbols, concepts, and other things of the mind were not real, but were only names for things that did not exist in the first place, and these issues had an importance that went beyond the Eucharist because a moral degeneracy was present in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
A remedy for this deterioration of morals was being sought with the age-old question: How shall a man be saved? The revolutionaries everywhere were answering [and this is important]: Not by works alone; not by absolution and penance, not by indulgences or miracle-working relics and images; not by vain repetitions and outward acts, but by a change of heart, penitence and not penance, by the indwelling of the Spirit. It was this religious sentiment that underlay the whole of the great controversy of the philosophers in the Schools during the 14th century, the battle between Nominalism and Realism” (Betts, p. 385; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted).
In other words, a Realist believed in the reality of the indwelling of the Spirit of God, something no Nominalist would believe, and this reality of an indwelling Spirit of God was an earthquake of an idea that threatened to shake the Papacy off its rotten pillars of works! If you were a Realist in Wycliffe’s day, things that occurred in the mind were considered to be real, things such as a new heart, a conscience, temptation, etc. Nominalism, however, treated ideas and things of the mind as only words, or names, and believed that only things you could see and measure, such as penance and works, were real.
Now, it is true that both Huss and Jerome never denied transubstantiation, but their adversaries at the Council knew that is where they would end up, given enough time, because it was the logical conclusion of medieval Realism, and they, therefore, prosecuted Realism as a heretical belief.
As Seventh-day Adventists, we do not face an inquisition because we deny transubstantiation occurs when the symbols of bread and wine are blessed at the service of communion. We are not Catholic and do not accept as truth their convoluted statements about such a monstrosity, but instead, recognize transubstantiation for what it is—a part of the Babylon which is drunken with the death of saints (such as Huss and Jerome) and which is the habitation of devils, the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird (Revelation 17:6; 18:1), but there is a part of fallen Babylon that most Seventh-day Adventists do embrace. It is another convoluted mystery that somehow they hold in their bosoms as dear and sweet truth, but which, in reality, tethers them to the Papacy itself. This mystery was rejected by our forefathers, for example:
As fundamental errors, we might class with this counterfeit sabbath other errors which Protestants have brought away from the Catholic church, such as sprinkling for baptism, the trinity, the consciousness of the dead and eternal life in misery. (James White, The Review & Herald, September 12, 1854; vol. 6, no. 5, p. 36, par. 8)
Brothers and sisters, let us have keener discernment than that shown by the adversaries of God at the Council of Constance. They could see the end result of certain trains of thought, and so should we. A belief in the trinity, as nice and as comforting as it may seem, for one thing brings God and Jesus down to the same level of Satan himself—that of a deceiver—for the Father is no father and the Son no son in trinitarianism. You may know many godly people who have died believing in the trinity (as Huss and Jerome died) and whom you expect to meet in the earth made new, and you may very well meet them, if they have lived up to all the light they had, but God has a higher standard for us today, for we stand on the shoulders of the spiritual giants who have gone before us and our vision reaches to the last generation of this earth’s history. We of this time period will have no guile in our mouths, and we will not treat our heritage of spiritual truth as archaic or as disseminating from people with limited understanding and learning. The truths of the seventh-day Sabbath, the cleansing of the sanctuary, creation, and the godhead still stand as they did with our pioneers.
3) Jerome had not come out of Babylon, and by remaining, he forfeited his independence of her, allowing himself to be judged by her. She had commanded his presence at the Council. Now it is true that Babylon seeks to control everyone, both within and without her organization, but remaining in Babylon certainly removes any advantage one might otherwise expect to have against her. All those who remain in Babylon, can expect to be judged by her, for she reigns over the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:18), and all those who come out of her can expect her attempt to judge them, but God reigns over his people and will provide a safe pavilion for their hiding until the storm passes over. It is important to separate from Babylon now, not only to avoid being partakers of her judgments, but chiefly to avoid imbibing in the grave errors she teaches about God.
4) Jerome recanted and then had second thoughts and revoked his recantation. I expect all of Gods people have backslidden, in one form or another, at some time in their Christian experience, so we can surely sympathize with Jerome, and his example assures us that true-hearted repentance will restore one to the favor of God; however, we cannot expect to always be restored. God has kept Jeromes life in the pages of history for us for a reason. Jerome at first hoped to save his life by compromising his faith. He wanted to please the beast and God at the same time, but God will have no halfhearted service, and in the times before us, neither will the beast. A time is coming when all will fully decide whose side he or she is on; no fence-straddling will occur then, and when Gods mercy is finally withdrawn from the world, the children of Satan will be fully under Satans control, and the children of God will be fully under his protection. A terrible time of trouble will occur; Gods people will suffer, yes, but they will not lose their lives, for God is their shield and their defender, and God will allow Satan to go only so far. And for those wicked who wish to change ranks at this time, the sad words of too late, too late will fall on their ears. We see exemplified in Jerome’s life the fact that you must not compromise your faith to save your life—God cannot bless you, and Satan will not stop until he has completely destroyed you. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).
5) Jerome seemingly stood alone against the forces of evil in Constancewe know of no human voice or comforting hand that supported him during his trial (although there are some reports of fleeting words passed to him while he was in prison), as had occurred with Huss—and the same may be true for us. If it should be so, let us never forget that the dark prison cell, or any room of solitary anguish (even in a home), will become the hallowed ground of heaven and that angels will be near to comfort and console:
In every condition of trial, we may have the consolation of his presence. We may live in the very atmosphere of Heaven. Our enemies will thrust us into prisons, but prison walls cannot cut off the communication between Christ and our souls. One who sees our every weakness, who is acquainted with every trial, is above all earthly powers; and angels can come to us in lonely cells, bringing light and peace from Heaven. The prison will be as a palace, for the rich in faith dwell there; and the gloomy walls will be lighted up with heavenly light, as when Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises at midnight in the Philippian prison. (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, April 15, 1884)
Joseph also had no human hand of comfort, but the hand of Jesus upheld him:
This sudden humiliation [of Joseph] from the position of a trusted, honored servant to that of a condemned criminal, would have overwhelmed him had not the hand of the Lord upheld him. But his confidence in God was unshaken. The love of God kept his soul in perfect peace. Heaven was very near the fertile valley of Egypt; for there was a youth who kept the ways of the Lord. The presence of Jesus was with him in prison, instructing, strengthening, and sustaining his mind and soul, that the light of heaven might shine forth. (Ellen White, The Youths Instructor, March 11, 1897)
6) Jerome was often foolhardy, and sometimes refused to listen to counsel.
Brilliancy of genius, eloquence and learninggifts that win popular favorwere possessed in a pre-eminent degree by Jerome; but in those qualities which constitute real strength of character, Huss was the greater. His calm judgment served as a restraint upon the impulsive spirit of Jerome, who, with true humility, perceived his worth, and yielded to his counsels. Under their united labors the reform was more rapidly extended. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 103)
Huss had advised him not to come to him at Constance, for he knew what awaited him if he did, but Jerome did not hearken. He thought he knew better, and he never, ever, saw Huss again. Once he arrived in Constance, the only thing he did in support of Huss (until his later words at the Council) was to post a notice on the walls affirming the orthodoxy of Hus (Workman, The Dawn of the Reformation, vol. 2, p. 333), after which he began to have second thoughts for his safety and withdrew to Uberlingen, a city on the north shore of Lake Constance, twenty-five miles away. A few days later, however, he was back and affixed, this time, an address to the emperor, Sigismund, and to the members of the Council on the doors of the Cathedral. Then he was off again, destined for Bohemia, taking so suddenly to flight that he left his sword behind. Along the way he, perhaps, carelessly called the Council of Constance a synagogue of Satan, and not surprisingly, he was arrested and eventually returned to Constance, this time in chains. Jerome was “impetuous and violent, acting and speaking according to the impulse of his heart, and never calculating the scope or effect of what he said or did” (Bonnechose, p. 231). He was a rash man of youth, in comparison to the wisdom and stability of the older Huss. How is it with our youth today? Too often young adults think they know better than the wisdom of their godly parents and that of experienced godly advisors, but it should not be so. Let us treasure the wisdom of those older, for they have gone before us in the battle and know what an adversary we face.
7) Jerome was, at first, self-reliant. He thought he could win over the members of the Council through the sheer strength of his knowledge, eloquence, and oratory. He did have knowledge, he did have eloquence, and he was a skilled orator, far surpassing that of his adversaries, but these were all gifts from heaven, and it was not until he had learned the hard lesson, as Peter had learned at the trial of Jesus, of what his true self was and the lesson that of his own self he could do nothing that he shone in all his heaven-given brilliance.
8) When we stand for the unpopular truths of the Bible, we can expect opposition, as well as expect pressure to change our obstinate ways, and we can even expect pleasant words to be used in an effort to change our minds. The leaders at Constance valued Jerome’s abilities and claimed a sincere interest in his soul, using words as best they knew how to effect a change, but their attitudes quickly revealed hostility and hatred when they failed. We should expect no less in the closing scenes of this world’s history.
Jerome died as a noble man of God, clinging to the same word of God we hold in our hands today. Oh, how we should treasure it! It was the light of his life. Poggius claimed that at Jerome’s death a man of excellence beyond belief had been consumed.
Give me the Bible, all my steps enlighten;
Teach me the danger of these realms below.
That lamp of safety, o’er the gloom shall brighten,
That light alone the path of peace can show.
Priscilla J. Owens
(Last month we began a series based upon the book Youthful Witnesses by W. A. Spicer, published in 1921. This month we offer an edited version of chapters 2 and 3 for our readers.)
Before a Pagan World
How early the gospel missionaries began to press northward into Gaul and Central Europe it is not possible to tell with certainty. Quickly the message reached Rome. Even in Caesars palace it had its representatives. How naturally along the ever-moving currents of Roman official and commercial life, the good news of the kingdom would be carried out to the remote parts of the empire!
In the year 58, says Smiths Short History of Missions, Pomponia Graecina, the wife of the consul Plautius, conqueror of the Britanni, was a Christian. Another interesting point of early missionary history involves the identity of the Pudens and Claudia mentioned by Paul in 2 Timothy 4:21. One argument in the case is thus presented:
In the work of Martial, of the same age, he mentions that a British lady of the name of Claudia was married to a Pudens of the family of Caractacus, then a prisoner in Rome. This Claudia is described as a Christian and of British origin. It has been suggested, even by Dean Alford, that this Claudia became a Christian through her connection with Pomponia, the wife of Aulus Plautius, the Roman commander in Britain, who was accused, according to Tacitus, of having embraced a ‘foreign superstition,’ meaning the Christian religion. The language of Martial, writing in reference to Claudia’s marriage with Pudens, is this:
“Our Claudia, true Roman, though she springs
From a long line of Britain’s painted kings;
Italia’s self might claim so fair a face,
And Athens envy her the matchless grace.
The names seem to show that about the middle of the first century there were Christians in Britain. (History of the Ancient Britons, Evans, p. 78)
But of course it cannot be said with certainty that these were the same Pudens and Claudia that the apostle knew.
The book of Acts, following Pauls journeys, shows how continually believers were traveling to and fro between Syria and Asia Minor and Italy. Similarly we may picture to ourselves the passing to and fro of believers between Rome and the lands to the northward.
We may be assured, at any rate, that youthful missionaries were among those early messengers of the risen Saviour to turn northward when —
Out from the doomed Jerusalem, in the days of long ago,
By two and two they sallied forth to the lands of sun or snow.
With the sowing of the seed in Gaul came an early harvest; and by the second century the increasing numbers of Christians aroused the wrath of popular religionists. In the crisis that came, youthful servants of Christ bore their witness, with others, before a pagan world.
The storm, of persecution broke about the year 177. The churches in Lyons and Vienne bore the brunt of it. Lyons is at the junction of the Saone and the Rhone — one of the beautiful departmental capitals of eastern France. Vienne is a little way below.
As prejudice and fury grew, the Christians were forbidden to show themselves in public places. They were not to buy or sell in the markets. They were insulted, stoned, robbed, and imprisoned with tortures to make them confess supposed evil practices. In the account which the churches in France sent to the churches in Asia and Phrygia, preserved by Eusebius, we read:
But the grace of God contended for us, and rescued the weak, and prepared those who, like firm pillars, were able, through patience, to sustain the whole weight of the enemys violence against them.Ecclesiastical History, book 5, chap. 1, par. 2
One such pillar of strength to all was found in a young servant girl named Blandina. It was a surprise to the church. “For whilst we were all trembling,” they wrote, “and her earthly mistress, who was herself one of the contending martyrs, was apprehensive lest through the weakness of the flesh, she should not be able to make a bold confession,” the young woman had grace to endure not only for herself, but to cheer many on in the good way and to bear witness to thousands. While the persecutors triumphed at the moment, it was such testimony, especially from youth with all of life before them, that spread among the multitudes a growing conviction of the truth of the Christian faith.
“I am a Christian,” Blandina confessed again and again, after one form of torture and another, “no wickedness is carried on by us.”
She acted a sister’s part in encouraging Ponticus, a youth of fifteen, to refuse to swear by the idols, “so that the heathen could see that she was encouraging and confirming him” to the death.
There was none of the spirit which led some in later times to choose martyrdom as a sure way of winning salvation. These early witnesses of Lyons remembered what the apostle had said: “If I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.” They disclaimed the name of martyrs, begging their brethren only to pray that they might be faithful to Christ.
For brevity’s sake, and to leave out the painful details of punishments endured, let us follow the summing up of Blandina’s brave witness, given by Armitage:
She was a poor slave girl, fifteen years of age, who was put to every torture, that her Christian mistress might be implicated. She was kept in a loathsome dungeon, and brought into the amphitheater every day to see the agonies of her companions as they were roasted in the iron chair or torn to pieces by lions. Her spirit was clothed with superhuman endurance, for although racked from morning till night, so that her tormentors were obliged to relieve each other for rest, her constancy vanquished their patience, her only answer being: ‘I am a Christian; no wickedness is done by us.’
Then they took her into the circus, and suspended her on a cross, within reach of the wild beasts, to frighten her fellow confessors. The multitude howled for her life, and a lion was let loose upon the poor child, but not a quiver passed over her frame. She looked into its mouth and smiled like a queen, and the monster did not touch her.
Only a century before this, the first slave girl was converted to Christ at Philippi, and now her ennobled sister cast holy defiance at the empire, and serenely looked Europe in the face. Her calm soul told this great power, that at last the weak were endowed with the omnipotence of the gospel. Her intrepid spirit showed, for the first time, how Jesus could lift a worm into an empire of a human conscience, and could rebuke cruelty in mute eloquence of love. The brightest page in the history of Rome was written that day, in the beams of that child’s hope.
Taken down from the cross, she was removed to her dungeon, but finally brought back for execution. Her slender frame was a rare victim for the savage populace, and they gloated on her. But she flinched not more than the angel in Gethsemane before the swords and staves of the Passover mob. She stepped as lightly as if she were going to a banquet. She was first scourged, then scorched in the hot chair, and at last cast before a furious bull, which tossed her madly. Even then a sharp blade was needful to take the lingering throb of life; and when her body was burned to ashes, it was cast into the Rhone. (History of the Baptists)
The heathen persecutors had an idea they were defeating the doctrine of the resurrection by scattering the ashes of the Christians upon the Rhone. “Now we shall see,” said they, “whether they will rise again; and whether their God is able to help them, and rescue them out of our hands.”
Like other persecutors in later Reformation times, they little understood God’s power; for in scattering the dust of his witnesses upon the river, to be carried to the great sea, they were, all unconsciously, furnishing a symbol of the spread of the truth unto the ends of the earth.
Not far from Lyons, in the town of Autun, the populace was celebrating the festival of Cybele. The image of the goddess was being drawn through the streets, and the people were expected to fall upon their knees as it passed. At one stage of the procession, when all the crowd was bowing down, one young man was seen to remain upright. It was Symphorian, a Christian youth. He was noted at once, just as the three Hebrews drew all eyes as they alone stood upright on the plain of Dura. He was seized and brought before the governor.
“You are a Christian,” said Heraclius; “as far as I can see you have escaped our notice, because so few of the followers of this sect happen to be among us.”
“I am a Christian,” replied Symphorian; “I worship the true God, who reigns in heaven; but your idol I cannot worship.”
He was condemned to death for the double crime of offending against religion and the laws of the state. As he was led to execution, his mother besought him, “My son, my son, have the living God in thy heart. Be steadfast.” He was steadfast to the death.
So parents cheered on the children, and children encouraged parents to be faithful.
“There is still in Lyons,” says one writer, “a small street leading to the river [Saone] called ‘Gurguillon,’ so named from the torrent of blood which, it is said, flowed down it from the high ground above [Mont St. Juste], where the Christians were massacred.”
But the blood of the martyrs had already become “the seed of the church,” and by the constancy of believers amid persecution the truth continued to spread far and wide through the empire.
In Ancient Africa and Asia
So far as the record of history goes, most of the apostolic missionaries bore their witness in Asia and Africa, the lands of the ancient empires. Over the roads along which patriarch and prophet had passed in olden time with messages from God to kings and nations, the missionaries of Christ now hurried out with the message of prophecy fulfilled—the Messiah come, the great sacrifice made, and a risen Saviour offering pardon and salvation for all.
From Jerusalem and Antioch they went forth into Africa, through Southwestern Asia, and into India and the East.
Beside the slim, tall temples, where the tawny rivers run,
They set their tents where shining stars look down on Babylon.
Their bare feet pressed the beaten shore beneath dark Nubia’s cliffs;
They ate their corn from out their scrips by Karnak’s hieroglyphs.
There is no reason to doubt that John Mark was a pioneer missionary to Egypt and Northeastern Africa—the same Mark who, as a youth, was dismissed by the apostle Paul for turning back before difficulties in Asia Minor. Barnabas, however, remembering that youth should have its chance to recover from mistakes, held to the young worker and saw him grow into strength that won the full recognition of the veteran Paul a dozen years later (2 Timothy 4:11).
Recent finds show that life in those lands of ancient civilizations was after all not so different, in the essentials, from the ordinary life of modern times. There were play and school for the children, and a hurry into business to earn a livelihood for the youth. The excavations in old Babylonia show that the school children of ancient time had not only to learn their multiplication tables up to 12 times 12, but to 18 times 18. There were grammatical rules to learn, and the forms of foreign languages, and even earlier tongues, no longer spoken, but having a literature to be read by students able to add a dead language or a classic to their curriculum of studies.
The papyri recently found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, add to the view of daily life in that land of culture in the centuries before Christ. Aside from occupations and professions ordinarily listed, young people were prepared for office work, even to the point of expertness in shorthand writing. In one contract a father agrees to pay so much for lessons, and a bonus when his son reaches the desired stenographic speed. In the later Roman times in Egypt, a literary man, Origen of Alexandria, employed a staff of seven young women, all skilled in taking rapid dictation, while a like number were employed as copyists.
The old world was much the same as the modern in its appeals to childhood and youth and its claims upon them. What a bridging of the centuries in that finding of a wooden doll buried in a little Roman girl’s grave in old Egypt! Who that has known some child who always had to carry the treasured toys to bed each night, does not feel brought nearer to understanding these people of the world of long ago by this pathetic find? Someone wrote of the little wooden doll:
What little Roman maiden loved you so?
What little maiden was it, long ago,
Who plead for you before she fell asleep?
She held you all the ages on her breast.
What wondrous love was hers, outlasting thrones!
But enough of this turning aside. Only, how must the good news of Christ’s salvation have come to hearts so much like ours? Multitudes who received the gospel in those early days loved it with the devotion of their lives. It was more precious than all the world besides to many a youth who had to answer for his faith before the scoffs and threats of popular prejudice.
About a hundred years after apostolic days the church in Carthage passed into the storm. Doubtless Carthage had received the light from Rome. There was constant and quick commercial communication between the two. Fresh fruit from Carthage was served on Roman tables.
It is particularly of the faithfulness under pressure of some of the young people of Carthage that history has preserved the record.
Three young men—Revocatus, Saturnius, and Secundulus—confessed Christ unwaveringly, strengthening all the believers by their testimony to his sustaining grace.
A young married woman, Perpetua, was arrested as a Christian. She was twenty-two years of age. Her mother was a Christian, her father not. The father showed himself devoted to the daughter, whom he begged to save him from the grief and disgrace that would come to him through her suffering as a Christian. Her father’s grief pained her most deeply, for he had not her mother’s hope of the life to come.
“My daughter,” he pleaded with tears, “pity my gray hairs, pity thy father!”
“What shall happen,” she replied, “when I come before the tribunal, depends on the will of God; for know, we stand not in our own strength, but only by the power of God.”
Before the police, the father urged her to recant.
“Can I call this vessel anything else than it is?” she asked, pointing to a vessel lying on the ground.
“No,” he replied.
“Neither can I say to you anything else,” she answered, “than that I am a Christian.”
She was but a new believer; for she was baptized in the prison. “The Spirit bade me pray for nothing at my baptism but patience,” she said.
They used her little babe as an appeal to her mother-heart to seek a way of release — only a few grains of incense sprinkled on the coals before the image of the emperor would have done it.
Into the dungeon Perpetua went. She had all the weakness of common flesh.
“I was tempted,” she said, “for I had never been in such darkness before. Oh, what a dreadful day! The excessive heat occasioned by the multitude of prisoners, the rough treatment we experienced from the soldiers, and finally, anxiety for my child, made me miserable.”
Then the church deacons secured separate quarters for the Christians by paying money to the keepers. They brought her the babe once more. “The dungeon,” said she, “became a palace to me.”
At last, when brought before the governor for final sentence, the father urged his plea with tears.
“Have pity on thy father’s gray hairs,” said the governor, “have pity on thy helpless child. Offer sacrifice for the welfare of the emperor.”
“That I cannot do,” said Perpetua.
“Art thou a Christian?”
“Yes,” she replied, “I am a Christian.”
And Perpetua was sent with others to the wild beasts in the arena, the populace looking on.
But these persecutions sent conviction into hearts. People saw that the living Christ did indeed visit and sustain his own. His presence turned dungeon into palace. Even children were given the strength of age.
Hilarianus, a Numidian lad, a mere child, was taken with others while listening to the reading of the Gospels. “The proconsul supposed he could be easily intimidated by threats,” says Neander; “ but even in the child the power of God proved mighty: ‘Do what you please,’ he replied; ‘I am a Christian.’”
The persecutions extended far through the empire in these days when Diocletian, Maximian (later, his son), and Galerius set about to stop the progress of the new faith as subversive of the laws of the empire. Lactantius wrote of it:
Over Palestine and Syria the storm swept, and the story by Eusebius tells of this young man and that young woman standing for God in trying hours. “When the heralds also were proclaiming throughout all Caesarea,” he says in one place, “that men, women, and children should come to the temples of the idols,” and the heathen were rushing in immense crowds to the temples, young Applianus, of wealthy heathen family and of good education, drew the storm upon himself and diverted attention from other believers by boldly standing before the altar, and at the cost of his life, exhorting priests and people to turn from idols to the worship of the living God.
These things were taking place in the Smyrnian stage of the church, that second period of church history described in the prophecy of the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, the whole series reaching from the apostolic age to the end of time.
To the church of Smyrna—the believers of this second period—the Lord sent this message:
These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich). . . . Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried. . . . Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Rev. 2: 8–10.
Surely the Lord’s faithful ones heard this voice speaking the words of cheer to those who witnessed the good confession in the Smyrnian days of church history. The assurance of the crown of life was precious and real in the hour of trial. Christ’s grace was sufficient.
Across in Italy, in those times, the ashes of Vesuvius in eruption had buried Pompeii and Herculaneum, the cities at the mountain’s foot. In the uncovering and excavating of these lost cities in our day, there was revealed the incrusted skeleton of a Roman soldier buried upright at his post of sentry duty. “Faithful unto Death,” is the title of Sir Edward Poynter’s painting of the young soldier standing there unmoved, his armor reflecting the volcano’s red glare, while the burning ashes fall about him.
It is a picture of the Roman soldier’s stoicism and heroic devotion to orders. The Duke of Argyll, of Scotland, preparing to go to the scaffold, said he could die as a Roman, but he preferred rather to die as a Christian. In the Christian’s faith and fortitude the ancient Romans met a devotion that surpassed anything they had conceived of. It was more than devotion to duty. It was devotion to the living Christ.
These young witnesses of the post-apostolic times had been saved from sinful
and hopeless idolatry. Threatened with death for loyalty to the one who
had forgiven their sins, they did not falter. Yes, how sweetly must have
come to them that message of Christ to the church of Smyrnathe church
representing the very age in which they were living: Be thou faithful
unto death, And I will give thee a crown of life. There are crowns, we
know, waiting for young people who witnessed a good confession in those
early centuries of pagan persecution.
For all the saints, who from their labours rest
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
William Walsham How
Does One Day Matter?
Does one day matter? What do we mean by such a question? Be patient, and we will see.
The opposite of black is white. The opposite of wet is dry. The opposite of strong is weak, of courage is cowardice, and of light is darkness. Do you know what the opposite of life is? It is death, and John 10:10 exemplifies this contrast well:
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Satan wants to destroy us in body and spirit. Jesus wants us to have life and not simply an existence, but an abundant life! It would be hard to find one text with such a contradistinction as John 10:10.
Satan is a thief and one who kills; he is a murderer. Jesus said that Satan “was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). Jesus referred to Satan as the “prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
Paul refers to Satan as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). Commenting upon this verse, Archibald Robertson notes:
The prince of the power of the air (ton archonta ths exousiaV tou aeros). [ton archonta tçs exousias tou aeros]). ahr [açr is the genitive, singular, masculine form of aeros] was used by the ancients for the lower and denser atmosphere and aiqhr [aither] for the higher and rarer. Satan is here pictured as ruler of the demons and other agencies of evil. Jesus called him the prince of this world (o arcwn tou kosmou toutou [ho archon tou kosmou toutou], John 16:11). That now worketh (tou nun energountos [tou nun energountos]). Those who deny the existence of a personal devil cannot successfully deny the vicious tendencies, the crime waves, in modern men. The power of the devil in the lives of men does explain the evil at work in the sons of disobedience (en tois huiois ths apeqias [en tois huiois tes apethias]). (Robertson, A., Word Pictures in the New Testament, Logos Edition)
Every person today is gravitating toward one of two positions, either to be submissive to Jesus or to be obedient to prince of this world, who is a murderer and a destroyer. In Revelation Satan is spoken of under the name of Apollyon which means destroyer (Revelation 9:11). Ellen White notes:
A terrible contest is before us. We are nearing the battle of the great day of God Almighty. That which has been held in control is to be let loose. The angel of mercy is folding its wings, preparing to step down from the golden throne and leave the world to the control of Satan, the king it has chosen, a murderer and a destroyer from the beginning. (This Day with God, p. 308)
In stark contrast to Satan, Jesus is called “the prince of life” (Acts 3:15). As we noted from John 10:10, Jesus has come to bring abundant life, and in John 3:16 we are told “everlasting life.” Paul, in Romans 5:21, says that “eternal life” come by Jesus Christ.
Simply put, Christ equals the precious gift of life, and Satan desires to take that life away.
The Sanctity of Life
The value of life can be estimated by the cost required to obtain that life. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). The greatness of Gods love and the cost of our redemption are seen in the value of the gift God gave to redeem mankind. In the gift of his Son, God is demonstrating his willingness to give the best and the most. God wants our souls [to] be emptied of self (The Paulson Collection, p. 205), and he has asks nothing that he was not willing to give, as all heaven was emptied in the gift of Christ. It is your Creator who has poured out to you all heaven in one wondrous gift, his only begotten Son (The Review and Herald, December 23, 1890). God is our maker and molder:
Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.(Job 10:11, 12)
This life, so precious and wonderful does not begin at the birth of the child, but according to the Bible, it begins within the womb:
What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb? (Job 31:14, 15)
For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:13–17)
The ESV for verse 13 says, For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mothers womb. The NASB says, For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mothers womb.
The Hebrew word translated substance in verse 16 is golem and is defined in several Hebrew dictionaries and lexicons as embryo. These texts from Job and Psalm clearly demonstrate that God recognizes life in the womb, but there is more. Luke notes:
And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. (Luke 1:41–45)
When Tamar became pregnant with Pharez and Zarah, the Scripture says: And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb (Genesis 38:27). While in the womb her sons were called twins.
The Bible also details that God called many of the prophets before their birth. For example:
Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. (Isaiah 49:1)
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)
For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mothers womb. ( Luke 1:15)
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mothers womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood. (Galatians 1:15, 16)
These texts all present a united and solid position on the sanctity of life, a position that recognizes life before a child is born. This has tremendous implications on the subject of abortion. Pro-abortionists deny that a child in the womb is really a person who deserves the civil protection of the Constitution and the moral protection of the Ten Commandments. The abortion of a child in the womb, though, is surely murder of the most hideous manner and one that brings the frown and displeasure of God. This level of murder has reached the proportions equal to genocide.
Historic Adventist Position
The Seventh-day Adventist Church today appears to be neutral on the matter of abortion, but the fact is that their position is much closer to pro-abortion than it is to anti-abortion. A weak middle-of-the-road position has not always been the position of the Adventist Church. In fact, through the Review, an extremely strong anti-abortion position was taken.
In an article entitled “Fashionable Murder,” John Todd praised the work of a late nineteenth-century movement against abortion called the Physicians’ Crusade. Speaking of abortion Todd began by stating why he was writing and the urgency of the matter:
Nothing but an imperative sense of duty could induce me to pen what I am about to write. Letters from different sections of the country, and from physicians too, are so urgent that I should write on this subject, that I may not choose. I have no fear but what I am about to write will be read; but I wish it might be solemnly pondered. I am about to speak, plainly too, of the practice of producing abortions. (Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, June 25, 1867)
Todd went on to quote, unreferenced, The willful killing of a human being at any stage of its existence is murder (Ibid.).
Two years later a short paragraph was inserted in the Review, under the caption A Few Words Concerning a Great Sin. That paragraph said:
One of the most shocking and yet one of the most prevalent sins of this generation, is the murder of unborn infants. Let those who think this a small sin, read Ps. cxxxix, 16. They will see that even the unborn child is written in Gods book. And they may be well assured that God will not pass unnoticed the murder of such children. (Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, November 30, 1869)
The following year, 1870, the book A Solemn Appeal by James White came off the steam press in Battle Creek. In this book, Elder White quotes from Dr. E. P. Millers Exhausted Vitality:
Few are aware of the fearful extent to which this nefarious business, this worse than develish practice, is carried on in all classes of society! Many a woman determines that she will not become a mother, and subjects herself to the vilest treatment, committing the basest crime to carry out her purpose. And many a man, who has as many children as he can support. instead of restraining his passions, aids in the destruction of the babes he has begotten. (A Solemn Appeal, p. 100)
The Bible Prohibition against Murder
Some confusion exists over the sixth commandment, due to the translation of the King James Bible, where we are commanded: Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13). The confusion comes over the translation of the Hebrew word tirsah which actually means murder (see the New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic Dictionary and the Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament). The root word from which tirsah comes is translated slayer, murder, murderer, murderers, kill, killing, killed, slain, manslayer, slayeth, and put to death.
Jesus reaffirmed this concept in Matthew 19:18, when he said: Thou shalt do no murder. Murderers will not inherit the kingdom of God:
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:15)
But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. (Exodus 21:14)
But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off. (Psalm 37:38)
The last one hundred years of the history of humanity has been littered with genocide. The Nazis in Germany produced the holocaust. Holocaust is from the Greek word for burnt offering. At least six million Jews, along with three million Russians and others, were killed by the Nazis. The atrocities were so terrible that United States General Walton Walker forced portions of the population to enter the concentration camps and view what their country had done.
During the reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, it is estimated that 1.7 million Cambodians were killed in what became known as the killing fields. Pol Pot, the leader of the Khmer Rouge, wanted an agricultural society, and anyone who might have been intelligent or who had education was targeted for destruction. Simply wearing eyeglasses was equivalent to a death sentence, for only the intellect had eyeglasses in Cambodia.
The Rwanda genocide of 1994 cost the lives of up to one million people, or about 20 percent of the country’s population, when the Hutu majority descended upon the Tutsi minority.
As we consider these terrible atrocities, we are amazed at the inhumanity of man towards man. This might happen in Nazi Germany, in Cambodia, or in Rwanda, but it could never happen within enlightened America, right? Wrong!
Abortion in America
Since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal within the United States, there have been over fifty million legal abortions! That is five times the death toll of the Holocaust.
Today unborn infants are killed in the United States and in other countries by various means. In some abortions a saline solution is injected into the womb and the child dies a terrible death. Chemical (medical) abortions are frequently used during the first trimester. When these methods fail a surgical abortion is necessary. Some procedures call for a curette to be used to cut and scrape the infant until destroyed. In partial birth abortions the surgeon pulls the fetus into the breech position. He then forces scissors into the skull, removes them, and inserts a suction catheter, through which he suctions out the contents of the skull; thus reducing the size of the infant, so it can be delivered.
Today abortion is performed on demand in Adventist hospitals. While the general tone toward abortion is negative, the individual Adventist may take any position on the political spectrum. Abortions are performed in Adventist hospitals (http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/denominations/seventh_day_adventist.htm).
In a sermon at the Solid Rock Church, Maryland, on January 20, 1985, pastor Barry E. Wood said:
During my wifes pregnancy with our son Seth, we decided to look for a Christian doctor who shared our sanctity of life convictions. So we drove to Takoma Park, Maryland, to the office of Dr. _____ , a Seventh-day Adventist. Following the test and examination that confirmed that she was pregnant, the very first question she was asked was Do you want this baby, or do you want an abortion? We looked at each other in shock and disbelief. We then turned and said, We are sorry. We must be in the wrong place. We got up and left. (Sermon on January 20, 1985, by Barry E. Wood, pastor of the Solid Rock Church in Greenbelt, Maryland; quoted in Ministry, August 1991, p. 11)
D. M. C. Midkiff said, I believe if you do a bit of research you will find that the majority of Adventist hospitals permit abortion on request (Letter M. C. Midkiff to Bert Haloviak, October 20, 1986; quoted in Ministry, August 1991).
In this same issue of Ministry, George Ganier tells of the experience of Castle Memorial Hospital in Hawaii which was pressured into offering abortions after accepting donations from the community and then receiving pressure from wealthy donors. One donor, who brought the administration a canceled check representing a $25,000 donation, said to the hospital administrator:
My 16 year old daughter has got herself in trouble. She is in her second month of pregnancy and I want an abortion for her at this hospital. (Ministry, August 1991)
After studying the abortion issue in 1970, the General Conference produced a document entitled Interruption of Pregnancy Guidelines. Not even willing to call sin by its right name, to use the term abortion, we find the phrase interruption of pregnancy!
Perhaps you have heard of Dr. Edward C. Allred. He is a graduate of La Sierra University which has founded the “Edward C. Allred Center for Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship” in his honor. He also graduated from the Loma Linda Medical School. The website ADvindicate reported the following about Dr. Allred:
Edward C. Allred made a fortune owning a chain of abortion clinics, personally aborting hundreds of thousands of fetuses, and currently owns gambling venues in California and New Mexico. In 2010, La Sierra University founded the “Edward C. Allred Center for Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship” in his honor.
It hardly seems possible that La Sierra University, which still purports to be a Seventh-day Adventist school, would name anything after a man who has left such a trail of wreckage in his wake, a man who made his fortune eliminating two generations of humanity, and now spends his days devising ways to separate gamblers from their money. And yet they did. But apparently they are not proud to be associated with his life work, as shown by the misleading information on their website:
“Dr. Allred has always been an entrepreneur, whether in his innovative and financially successful medical practice or in his lifelong commitment to the sport and business of quarter horse racing in the United States and Southern California in particular. To both he has brought not only sound and creative business practices but also a deep interest in his colleagues and employees and a genuine care for their well being.”
To characterize a business with annual revenues of $70 million from 23 outlets in two states as a “medical practice” goes beyond spin and crosses over into dissimulation.
In 1969, Dr. Edward C. Allred, a graduate of La Sierra University and Loma Linda University, founded the Avalon-Slauson Medical Group, which was later renamed Family Planning Associates. Although this was before the Supreme Court effectively legalized abortion nationwide in Roe v. Wade (1973), California had already legalized abortion in several situations, and hence many women traveled to California to have abortions. We had planeloads of people coming in, recalled Allred to a Los Angeles Times reporter in 2002, “We’d meet them at the airport with a bus.”
In 1980, Allred claimed to have personally aborted a quarter of a million fetuses in the preceding 12 years. It may seem difficult to believe that one man could perform so many abortions, but Allred tried to spend no more than five minutes with each pregnant woman. “We’ve been pioneers in so many ways,” he once told a reporter. “We streamlined, we made efficiencies, we employed the suction technique better than anyone, and we eliminated needless patient-physician contact. We usually see the patient for the first time on the operating table and then not again.” Spending only five minutes per patient would have allowed Allred to perform as many as 100 abortions in a 10-12 hour working day, and 200 working days per year (50 four-day work weeks) would, over 12 years, add up to 240,000 aborted fetuses. So Allred’s estimate of the number of abortions he performed during that time is credible. [http://advindicate.com/?p=2560&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Advindicate+(ADvindicate)]
How dare an institution that claims to be operated by a professedly Christian church honor a person who is involved in genocide? How dare a professedly Christian church allow one of its institutions to bring such a reproach upon Christ?
Now let us go back to the question about if one day matters. You see, if an infant is born through the natural process, he or she may live and grow, but the day before his or her natural birth, that child could be aborted. For that child, one day does matter—it matters for life!
Are There Exceptions?
When abortion is discussed the word exception comes up, even among those who are normally against abortion. The case of rape is at times cited as an exception when abortion should be allowed. Does the Bible have any guidance in such a matter? Yes, it does. In Deuteronomy 24:16, we read: The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. While rape is a terrible evil, killing a child conceived by rape does not correct the matter. In other words, two wrongs do not make a right. The child should not be put to death for the sin of the father. For a woman under the emotional strain of rape, the grace of God is able to bear her up and help her. While some women may be emotionally able to bear such children, they may feel that they cannot raise such children. Many Christian couples who wish for children and who understand the value of life are willing, and even eager, to adopt such children into their families.
Another exception that is suggested is the case of deformed children. The ancient Spartans were a warring race of people who did not wish for any sick or deformed people to be among its citizens. If a child was born deformed, he or she might be taken to the top of a mountain and abandoned to die. We look with horror at the Spartans for such behavior, but is abortion any better? Thankfully the Bible also has instruction for this situation. Exodus 4:11 says, “And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD.” While the main point God was making to Moses may have been God’s ability to give speech and gifts to the ungifted, the equally important point for us in this discussion is that God accepts responsibility for the deaf, the dumb, and the blind and for anyone not perfectly formed. First Corinthians 1:27 also says, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” God can use the imperfect to perform his will, as well as use that which perceives itself as perfect.
Hope for Those Who Have Had Abortions
What if you have had an abortion performed? There is hope and courage for you! While abortion is murder of the most defenseless of humanity, the grace of God is so great that there is forgiveness for you because of the grace of Jesus Christ: In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7). I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins (Isaiah 43:25). John writes: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Does one more day matter? It does if you are seeking life; it does if you are seeking salvation.
How can we be silent to genocide? If we have been taught incorrectly by a church, then we need to be firm for life and truth. God has promised a day when “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Let us live this future now. Allen Stump
Our Ministry Secretary, Sister Anna Ford, had ankle replacement surgery last month to deal with an old injury. Please pray for her quick recovery, and please be patient with us, as our mail response will be slower for awhile.
YouTube Channel: We would like to thank each of you have have viewed some of our videos on our Youtube channel the last couple of months. We have three new sermons this month (including World Shock, pictured below) and four new youth Sabbath School science demonstrations, so please check them out at our URL: http://www.youtube.com/user/swiftkayak?feature=results_main
Special DVD for this Month: “Making a U-Turn, The Nature of Conversion” by Pastor Allen Stump. Call or write to request a copy. This message is also available on our Youtube channel at the following URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIU3uSlQT-A.
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web site. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.