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The witness within tribes to one God is perhaps not quite so well-known, though it has often been attested from the evidence. Men like Dr Wilhelm Schidmt, an Austrian anthropologist, attested the great inexorable breadth of monotheistic concept across the earth, in so-called primitive peoples. Don Richardson in his Eternity in Their Hearts, observes that it took Schmidt 6 volumes totalling 4,500 pages to detail every "alias for the Almighty", which researchers had found around the world. He further notes the great steps in research in this field since Schmidt in the 1920's, and sums up by saying: "Probably 90% or more of the folk religions on this planet contain clear acknowledgement of the existence of one Supreme God!" (p. 44, op.cit.).
Moreover the one supreme God is highly impactive. James Bailey is cited by Morris in The Long War Against God (p. 286), from the former's The God-Kings and the Titans (p. 296):
I suggest that human history can now hesitantly be traced back as an unbroken narrative to 4000 B.C.. The facts must not, however, be twisted to suit the fallacy of necessary human progress ... The establishment view of the history of religion gradually progressing from animism to polytheism to monotheism is the reverse of the facts.Indeed, he states:
It is a picture in our period more of degradation than of success: it is also a picture of monotheism breaking down into polytheism and the struggle to return to monotheism.Similar non-conformity of facts to dreamy dogma exists at the civilisation level, as Morris notes (op.cit. p. 290) of the work of G. de Santillana and H. von Dechind, of M.I.T. and the University of Frankfort. Their work is Hamlet's Mill: An Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time, the reference being p. 68. Scorning the idea of a gradual coming to be of civilisation, they mock the view of a factual primitivism to civilisation track, with gradual emergence into the light of history. In effect, they declare, this is an unevidenced and doctrinaire substitute for the facts. Thus they say:
These soporific words 'gradually' and 'step by step', repeated incessantly, are aimed at covering an ignorance which is both vast and surprising. one should like to enquire: which steps ? But then one is lulled ...This concept they indicate is a mere mouthing that misrepresents the facts attested of sudden emergence of civilisation.
Morris notes that these 'two leading historians of science' have shown there was an ancient and widespread knowledge of astronomy, combined with mathematics and number theory. Indeed the discoveries at Ebla (q.v.) which have rocked the academic world, show that not merely did Biblical customs exist in the period well before 2000 B.C., but Biblical names and terms did likewise; even a statement similar to that of Genesis 1 appears.
Max Mueller of great linguistic fame, and Oriental scholar (Morris op.cit. p. 292) in his work History of Sanskrit Literature points out what parallels this information in the interior of the Hindu Veda, observing that :
There is a monotheism that precedes that polytheism of the Veda; and even in the invocations of the innumerable gods, the remembrance of a God, one and infinite, breaks through the mist of idolatrous phraseology like the blue sky that is hidden by passing clouds.In fact, much the same is found in the background assumptions of Confucius, and even may be traced, as evidenced in Ex Nihilo (Creation) magazine, March 1986, pp. 34-36, in the Australian aboriginal tradition. It is seen moreover, as will be exhibited, in the work, A Pattern of Islands (Arthur Grimble), relating to the Gilberts and Ellice island group.
In parallel with these elements of civilisation, theology, science, mathematics and custom, is the similarly intractable ( and in some ways correlative) force of grammar. Even in primitive tribes, we find declared in the Encyclopedia Americana, there is often the most complex grammar, the reverse of the misty theories of establishment views. In time, some of these grammars, we read, come to be ... simplified!
There is no such thing as a simplistic start gradually coming to our present sophistication in these areas of thought. There is development on, and from a highly developed and dynamic base. The spiritual principle is NOT simple to complex. Rather in these fields it is one of rich conceptual beginnings, sophistication of principle, and early awareness of derivation in terms of God, the ultimate recourse and resource ... yielding to molestation by spiritual imaginings and invasion by mental mistiness concerning the divine ... with increasing predictable dilemmas and data.
Put simply, as the Bible declares it by revelation in precise harmony with the findings cited: For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God (Romans 1:20-21). this constitutes simply one more verification.
What of the Chinese? Richardson (op. cit.) notes from the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, that this race had as the object of their belief, Shang Ti - the Lord of Heaven, around 2600 B. C. He traces developments such as Confucianism seeking a "better world" now, with limits on Shang Ti activities, having the Emperor specialise in Shang Ti matters... "Tao" entered, devising concepts of natural order rather than activities for a better world; and then Buddhism, as we have noted, ludicrously able to fashion a form where Buddha is made a god, though he did not believe in deity - to enable the "satisfaction" of God-hunger, Richardson suggests. (In fact - pp. 1021-1022 supra - Buddha's presumption makes this still more understandable!). At all events, our concern is simply to see the initial Chinese stress on monotheism; although it is of interest to see the debasements, their method and their line of fall.
In Korea, there is a similar reference to Hananim, the Great One. Christian missionaries were able to make use of this underlying cognisance relative to monotheism, as a point of contact in their work with the people; and as noted, Confucius, in China, made some reference to the Lawgiver. In the book by Arthur Grimble, A Pattern of Islands, a British civil servant posted in the Gilbert and Ellice islands, gives remarkable testimony of the belief in the supreme God, linked with various epics far from unrelated to the early phases of what the Bible attests, for man. Indeed, analyses of such episodes are often akin to efforts to work out a somewhat garbled code, using an effective key (the Bible). The cohesive testimony is very great indeed; but overwhelming is the attestation of one God, the Creator (cf. p. 103 infra).
Richardson gives detailed accounts of many more. The Karen people in Burma held the doctrine of Y'wa, the Supreme God. In hundreds of villages, there were special tribal teachers who reminded the Karen that they should follow the ways of the true God, and not those of demons. Hymns were taught, with such elements as these:
Y'wa1 is eternal, his life is long, One aeon - he dies not! Two aeons - he dies not! He is perfect in meritorious attributes... Who created the world in the beginning? Y'wa created the world in the beginning! Y'wa appointed everything. Y'wa is unsearchable! The omnipotent is Y'wa: Him have we not believed. Y'wa created men anciently: He has a perfect knowledge of all things!... Y'wa formed the world originally... He caused them to eat the fruit of the tree of trial. They obeyed not: they believed not Y'wa... When they ate the fruit of trial, they became subject to sickness, ageing and death... (op.cit. pp. 76-77,89-91).This gives a good example of many native narratives. Again the KACHIN in northern Burma speak in their folk religion of KARAI KASANG, the Creator, "whose shape or form exceeds man's ability to comprehend." He may be called WA NINGCHANG, the Glorious One Who Creates, or CHE WA NINGCHANG, the One Who Knows.
Richardson emphasises that some of these tribes expected help from recovery of a lost book, and that this prepared some of them for the advent of the true word of God, the Bible in their midst in some cases, when missionaries came. One cited is the WA in the areas around Burma.
Here one of their religious advocates, whom they might call prophets, condemned head-hunting etc. and called on the people in the name of SIYEH, the true God, they attested, saying He was about to send a white-man with a copy of the lost book. "Siyeh" was not, the man asserted, in the meantime, to be offended by such things as those condemned. Accounts closely documented are given of missionary impact in such situations, and of remarkable providences assisting the situation at their advent.
Again, in India, the NAGA are cited, with their concept of the God who sustains everything, being Himself personal. Offerings not unakin in form to some of those in the Old Testament, it is claimed, were extant (cf. Hammurabi in Babylon, around the second millenium B.C.- see index); and their CHEPO-THURU (one rendering) is never to be represented by an idol.
In India moreover, the MIZO are noted relative to attestation of PATHIAN, the one Supreme God, the Creator of everything.
One of the most dramatic results of such conceptions attested in Richardson's book, is that relating to the American Baptist missionary Judson, who reached Rangoon, Burma, in 1817. Not seeming to be too successful, Judson set about translating the Bible into Burmese, thus providing a wonderful tool (as well as a demonstration of the value of being patient!). Other missionaries brought to the people what they felt was their "lost book", with many providing startling numerical additions to the Christian faith. Soon Karen missionaries went to another tribe, the KACHIN who were found to have their own name for the one God - KARAI KASANG. They too believed their ancestors had possessed sacred writing. One quarter of a million people, says Richardson, were added to the Church over 90 years amongst just the KACHIN.
As to the concept that some unknown missionaries had left scattered remnants of the Gospel, this seems far-fetched because one would not expect the virtually universal total ignorance of Jesus Christ (in these cases) to be a by-product of missionary effort, whilst extraordinary theistic, yes monotheistic and basic detail about beginnings persisted. (It would be like a Holden car dealer operating, and after deep efforts, leaving concepts on an internal combustion engine, with no inkling of a car per se, or indeed of a Holden!)
There seems evidence that some of the basic knowledge, Biblically attested to have been given to man at the first, reinforced with the fact that the one God and His eternal power is obvious, has brought about such results as these. Yes, and He is alive, and able to bring an impact even into the hearts of those who are (as Paul so clearly says, and Richardson in this book seems less clearly consistently to realise), "alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is within them" (Ephesians 4:18).
While peace with Him is natural in the sense that it is what man was made for - short of rebellion and disobedience - it is neither automatic nor necessary, and one avenue alone for peace is provided (John 14:6). There is nothing sloppy about God's word and will; and mercy is not to be equated with vagueness. Men have indeed been given, as Paul teaches (Acts 17), times and bounds, if by any means they may seek the Lord; but the throne-room has a door, as Christ taught (John 10:9). It is necessary to make peace, with the 'army' of the Lord, as it were (Luke 14:32). Peace ? it is not made with one's own thoughts, but with the army concerned!
However it is the name and the concept of the Creator, one, which is our current concern; and what we show could easily be extended with much wider evidences of monotheistic beliefs. These are often overlaid with demon concerns; but these monotheistic concepts permeate and penetrate, beliefs in or awareness of one true Creator; and this total situation is in accord with the manifest nature of God, as proclaimed by Paul: the drawing and the distancing, the alienation and the perhaps seeking, the suppression amid the obvious - all ingredients prophetically and apostolically specified for man. Indeed, the failure to reverence Him practically and over all of life, the failure often to give Him the practical pre-eminence at all, preserving knowledge of Him (if you could call it that) in terms of arguments of historical beliefs, is also perfect evidential attestation of Paul's statements on men holding down the truth in unrighteousness (cf. Romans 1:18-21), amid its unsilenceable and manifest character.
As we see in our own country, this does not necessarily mean that they deny all truth - just enough to escape from serving it! As we see in these tribes, it does not mean that God's obviousness leads them actually to serve Him: only to preserve attestation and perhaps baffled longing for Him or His word (knowing that speech is needed for practical living, and realistic relation with their Creator; and especially in so evil a world as this).
All is in the highest degree interesting, but a warning: do not be beguiled into the erroneous notion that such tribes are already 'friends of God' without Christ, and without even being faithful to the concepts secreted, indeed, in their traditions. God is a loving God, and His mercy has no bounds; great is He, and deep. He 'welcomes' those who come to Him, His word (Acts 10:35 NASB). However, let it not appear that mercy, even remarkable assistances for people to come to Christ through carefully maintained fragments of belief or desire, authenticates such people as genuine followers of 'God' beforehand, in some sense. This is not so, any more than it is for the slithering multitudes in our own country, who maintain such elements, sometimes with more sophistication but often less clarity; and as with the tribes, do so partially and not practically.
We must in terms of the Biblical teaching emphasise statements such as those in Romans and Ephesians 4:18-19, the latter bespeaking the alienation of the human heart, which neither has any other name than that of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:11-12), by which it must be saved, nor shows any more than it knows, any other way or spiritual life (John 14:6), whether in rational theory or in effective practice. Distant gleams of original truth, nor more transform the heart than they enlighten the mind. These, the centre and the survey of man, now here, now there, thrust towards the heavens, but do not find the gate; or to hell, and wallow, perhaps for some, in a sort of rectilinear motion. The proclaimers of another way to God are but thieves and robbers in contrast to Christ (John 10:1-8).
Richardson seems in "Lords of the Earth" to be unwisely open to wholly unscriptural and tediously unempirical incaution, in speaking of various views about such an issue, quoting from Rome as if this were some philosophical source, and the Bible scarcely in this appears. Such a situation is found on pp. 230-231, where he speaks of Protestant and Romanist theologians as if they were schools on Mars Hill, and the Bible had not opened its mouth! Quite in conformity with the heavily typed 'jesuitical' mental reservations, which provided the end is 'good' can connive with destiny, moulding morals to the task, is his citing of the troubles of "Roman Catholic missionaries" who have "encountered firsthand some of the more sinister faces of paganism - such as child prostitution". Oblivious of the paganism which is welded and melded into Rome (cf. Ch. 10 pp. 1032-1088H), Richardson seems to consider this, their experience to the point.
However the true task, for those lacking the gospel (SMR loc.cit.), is far from the efforts of such; and hence also far is the thrust of God in the "power to God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). In such cases, this is not in view; for the power and word, the Gospel and grace of God is neither traducible, reducible, mouldable nor adaptable: it is only the missionary who is adaptable, and even then, not the substance, the commission nor its purity (Matthew 28:19-20). Why is this ? It is because God is citable but not available for synthesis with the thoughts of the heart of man, whereby he rationalises his cultural perceptions as dual teamsters with God's omniscience, so defiling the word of God and exalting his own foolishness as if it were wisdom.
The Romanist missionaries whom he has in view, apparently, found the tenor of the heretical Pope Gregory III's advice most understandably 'hard' to follow. How COULD they condone, with what 'grace' harmonise amid the fashion of cultural clamours expressed in pagan beliefs, derived from, distorted through or insistent on man as man ? That papal advice as cited by Richardson ? This - "People of other religions are, after all, seeking after God in their own way. Let us therefore accommodate our message to their beliefs."
If anything ever contradicted Galatians 1:6-10, this is it; and if Paul was to be hell-borne if he preached another gospel, how much more so is the herald of accommodation of "BELIEFS".
Giving his hero, Stan, good marks for using alien concepts, as LEADS into better things, paths, programs: Richardson nevertheless merely cites the contra-cultural approach by which man is seen as alien from God. He treats the matter so that whatever lead (like the water in the well case, when Christ met the Samaritan woman) may be used, this is mere commencement: whatever endurance and adaptation at the purely personal level, may be required, this point of contact is just a beginning.
Toying with such an 'adaptive' area as this, as if it were susceptible to controversy on a Biblical basis, to any significant extent, is vain and a mere confusion. However, treating such a program of withholding allegiance from the stringency of the word of God, where it is a matter not of personal adaptability but truth, of course, would be anti-scriptural and worse still. Citing the words of an idol-idolater (one constituting the one and referring for religious exercises to others!) is mere mixing with the alienated heart, such that the kingdom of heaven is already excluded (as in I Cor. 5:9 cf. SMR loc. cit.).
An awesomely divergent arena of total change for all concerned as a perspective, as the very nature of the light entering darkness, not twilight, appears to Richardson, in terms of these pages, to be an option for review; but the fact is this, that "all things become new" and "old things are passed away" (II Cor. 5). To be sure, strategic and clever enterprise may study the field; but what is NOT to be studied is the way in which to adapt ANYTHING, mitigate truth, allay impact or delay the basic teaching of the word of God. In the course of a speech, yes, development may assuredly occur; but in the course of time, there is but one keynote for an ambassador, fidelity and then more fidelity. Meat may come later, but the milk is never to be tainted or withheld, ingredients removed or the tang dissipated, in part or in whole. Truth only and always is the requirement. When Christ acted, as THE TRUTH, of course, there was no possibility of anything else. His servants must follow Him. Thus in I Cor. 11:1, we find in the name of the only God, this call: "Be imitators of me, as I of Christ."
Useful stimuli ? yes: but in using such goads, adapt, no! Ambassadors are to proclaim, not manufacture the message; and the message is in words given by God, not man (I Cor. 2:9-13). Applications may be made, illustrations invented or noted; but the absorption into the matrix is ZERO.
This cultural adaptation at the MESSAGE level, so far from being the sophisticated avoidance program for minimising martyrs, at THIS level, becomes the callow avoidance technique which is minimising gospel reality in human thought, and so it attenuates the power of God in the Gospel, if indeed, it does not grieve the Lord. Richardson's cited phrase "totally incompatible with Christianity" is not a concept for alien culture which he at all relishes (cf. his Eternity in their Hearts, cited below). It is however precisely what Ephesians declares of the unconverted heart - alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in it.
"The God of this world," has blinded the eyes of those who do not believe, declares Paul (II Cor. 4:4), and he abjures all concept of "ensnaring the word of God". The Gospel IS veiled, he proceeds to declare, "to those who are perishing", and perishing is precisely what the soul without Christ is doing, on God's own authority (John 3:4-8, 16, 4:13ff.), being without God and WITHOUT HOPE in the world, however religious! (Ephesians 2:12, I Thess. 4:13). Indeed, in the love of God, it was to prevent the same that Christ statedly came from His eternal abode in heaven (John 1;1, 3:16, 8:58, 17:1-3).
The Gospel is not unveiled by man but by God; not by the god of this world (II Cor. 4:1-6), nor by "ourselves" (4:5), but "it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (II Cor. 4:6, John 15:16, I Cor. 2:14, Romans 9:15-18, John 6:44, 10:26, 1:12-13). Striving with the weaponry of the flesh, is a tumult in the truth.
By all means find a point of contact, but contact made, let it be electricity from the divine generators, truth by His own deposition, and not some astral static and ruses of flesh which manipulates. Avoid offence, yes, so long as it is not what CAUSES the offence that is being avoided. Adapt ? yes, so long as it is not the message, but only the messenger. The Gospel has not lost its ancient power, and discretion does not change the word in order to avoid the response.
Further, the privilege of being carefully and adroitly manipulated is always, with whatever addition, as loathsome afterwards as it is dereliction to the soul.
The congeniality of contribution cannot justly be permitted to mask the decadence which it invites, the cross-cultural collusions or the humanistic pre-occupations. In Australian aboriginal work, for example, it is precisely such an attitude which tends frequently to produce hideous amalgams with naturalism, self-assertion, male self-assertion in ways abhorrent to the Gospel (as in Ephesians 5), racial pretensions and religious vagaries. The invasive scaffoldings of folk-lore, tribal ways or views, perspectives or lusts, tend often to remain, obscuring the building itself with their unmatchings ways, leading to concessions, if not capitulation, confusion or direct denial of the word of God. Indeed, the question must arise whether in many such cases, the building is there at all. The scaffolding, obtrusive from the first, becomes the structure.
The Gospel is
already built by God, however. To take another illustration: the
foundations of the Pharisees were likewise built on concession to flesh,
its concerns and preoccupations, now lingering, now malingering (cf. Mark
7:10-11), now lording it over the word of God which said Christ,
"You make of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down,"
at this time that "you reject the commandment
of God that you may keep your tradition" -
Mark 7:13,9. So pre-occupied were they with their invaluable contributions,
their remarkable insights, the testimony of their sanctification and the
visible light of their countenances, that they even managed to assist in
the condemnation of the Lord of the temple, the Son of God! ... IN the
temple! Such are the prodigious feats of the insightful flesh, the grand
vision of man and the failure to distinguish the sacred from the profane,
and both from man, in the interests of the word of God itself, and Himself!
Statistics can be impressive; more impressive is the statistic of the word of God, never changing these 3400 years, always giving focus from one God to one Gospel (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, That Magnificent Rock, Ch. 3), and the notation of the vagaries of man (cf. News, Facts and Forecasts, 122, 123 , 124). Sprague in his Lectures on Revivals gives good ground for caution and care, prudence and realism in many aspects of examining spiritual 'statistics'. The word of God continues without recourse to them: it neither desires severance, nor addition, neither amelioration nor extenuation. It speaks; it is done.
WHAT however is gained when the gospel is grated with apple depends wholly on the mercy of God. What, on the other hand, is gained when it is given with the power of God without human admixture, is like a critical radioactive mass. The results are amazingly robust! However in this case, what is needed is precision, more like medicine, with the ingredients from God as given: and this, not by research, cultural, psychological or social, anthropological or spiritual, but by God. As to Him, He had done from the beginning (Ephesians 1:4, Isaiah 46:10). It is HIS way in and HE being the door, is not really in need of oiling, let alone remoulding, or conceptualisation in the callow framework of insurgent flesh.
It is HIS mouth which is the speaker, and being spiritual, it is not now at least, any more available for insertions, whether bellowed from the mouths of picayune priests or philosophised from the thoughts of cultural 'friends'. After all, 'friendship of the world is enmity with God' (James 4:4), and 'if the light within you be darkness, how great is that darkness' - Matthew 6:23! What Paul had to give was neither taught by man, nor received from man (Galatians 1:12). Indeed, it is "not in accord with man." "The people who walked in darkness" (Isaiah 9:2), were not bathed in partial light. Thus in Luke 1:79 we find that the whole coming of Christ, with the prelude of John, is to "to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death". In darkness, if you catch a glimpse, it is not in the light, it is not a contribution, but more a sensation than an illumination!
Indeed, what does the apostle Paul say ?
As to that, it is predicted (Matthew 24:24, II Thess. 2), and the beginnings of pagan-proclamation admixture, merge rather wonderfully with the other readily available idolatrous-gospel mixes, so that the two alien dynamisms, theological and anthropological, become a newer and larger river, like the Darling as it joins the Murray near the South Australian border, sweeping on to the sea, with (in the case of the Murray) its lazy mouth and trickling performance at the end. Alas, to pursue the parallel from principle to application: in our river system, there is the utmost danger in concert, of a pollution with chemical so profound, that the water itself may become unfit for human consumption!
Let us not then be too surprised at the many vestigial remains of the testimony of ONE GOD, ancient and modern, amongst the races, and the peoples of the earth; nor too callow in adapting, not the mere convenience or good pleasure of the missionary ( a necessary chore and labour of love), but the beliefs and their clothing themselves, iron and clay mixing, pollution descending with the artful enterprises that have ceased to fear the Lord, in subjection to His word. Readily, instead of stopping at finding mere useful gateways for understanding, such moves can readily become prepared to consider the lost to be partially enlightened, or the clay of their distorted hearts fitting ground for admixture.
Richardson outlines in Peace Child, p. 288, his concept of "redemptive analogues", as "God's keys to man's cultures" as "New Testament approved approaches to cross-cultural evangelism." However Paul and Christ merely used opportunities of evoking attention, slender suggestions from alien culture, not in the least immersing the one in the other, or giving to the slightest degree any objective perspective in integrity and reality to what was touched. The danger of being
As well mix polluted medical swabs with the blood you inject.
The point is utterly simple, and perhaps for that reason readily overlooked. There is NOTHING like celestial redemption, and it is this which the New Testament teaches, of man by God as man. It is "not according to man", as the apostle declares so trenchantly in his total non-immersion insistence in Galatians 1, relative to Gospel purity. Endeavours to utilise points of contact with debased things is not excluded, provided the contact does not in itself debase; but to immerse the doctrine so that the very term 'redemptive' - not effecting but forwarding redemption through redemptive aspects - is to lose what you use.
There is NO comparison. There is NO contribution. The scene of man alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in him is what the New Testament teaches. The possibility of little fragments of this or that which suggest in outline, or stir to look at something in the New Testament is certainly present and highly useful; but the concept of awaiting the ministration of anthropology before unleashing the Gospel, finding redemptive lore before presenting redemption, of making the one wait on the other, on allowing points of contact to become part of the air force, doors to the heart to have some intrinsic merit or effective ingredient of substance, this is the whole error of Richardson. He over-uses the point of contact, to make it a plane; he over-estimates the facet of approach, to make it sparkle. He gives light where the scriptural predication is darkness, and in the twilights of light to find yet better, he minimises, albeit unwitting, the light which has NO comparison and no contribution at all.
It is not enough to talk of the surpassing glory of the truth over the fallen pieces of human darkness; Paul does this of the word of God in the Old Covenant, relative to the New! (II Cor. 3:7ff., cf. Hebrews 3). However the New Testament knows only darkness as the preliminary state of man (Romans 1:17ff.), darkness without light. The thoughts of man which accuse and excuse each other (Romans 2) are not in part made of spiritual light, in that man is dead in trespasses and sins, and not slightly stirring (Ephesians 2). They are moral squirmings and skirmishes, not wonders of light soon to be surpassed by more light. In vain does Richardson declare, in contradiction of these biblical teachings, and the unhappy lives and thoughts of man, like a goose with wings clipped, able to think of flying, but not to fly:
How sad, he apostrophises, that some theologians and even missionaries have taught us to condemn such lore as "counterfeit" or "distortion"! (Eternity in Their Hearts p. 61).The agency of the prince of this world (John 14:30) however, the god of this world (II Cor. 4), to blind, is not so simply removed. It is as if to remove a cancer by simply snipping the outgrowth. The trouble lies within, and it is systematic, dynamic and deleterious.
To be sure, there are remnants and residues in man of his fallen state; there are presumably as the evidence suggests, even parts of the original divine revelation warped and woefully marred as in the flood accounts. Occasionally some facet comes to the surface, only to be contained in some consignment of evil or error. What is it like ? It resembles glow-worms, without the light of day, but chemically active in the darkness.
Man can seek, and can find varied assortments of way stations; but these are not in the light. Plato's extreme efforts towards righteousness in God are still clouded by his other thoughts on forms and wisdoms without face, leaving no way for evil and no finality for anything.
The Peace Child concept itself, that offering in the interests of peace, of each other's children, on the part of two warring tribes, each providing one child for the care of the other tribe, is an alienation for MAN, not a gift from God. It makes exquisite emotional agony for the one selected to give, covering all. Yet the one giving is as much and as little a sinner as the rest. It is unjust and an infliction. It does not demonstrate equity but inequity, love of life but licence in life. It fiddles with features beyond it, the lilt understandable, the flight a fall.
All face penalty, only two provide it; and of these, each is guilty in company with the rest.
Again, it is
an offer for the GUILTY to the guilty, not of the divine for the sinner.
It hurts man in the giving; this, God's gospel, blesses him. The tribal
lore here acknowledges folly in man; not grandeur in the grace of God.
So the whole contraption, except as a talking point, is no more redemptive
than the sunset. Its light is darkness, though it shows some realisation
of the need for sacrifice. But of whom!
So does humanism, or idolatry, invade, intrude into man, and the very idea of using the vagaries of the alienated flesh as more than arresting points to stimulate thought to the only light that has shone, is itself so suffused with unconscious humanism, in using what is NOT divine for what IS ACTUALLY DIVINE, that the precept, MY THOUGHTS are not as yours, nor yours as mine seems to be forgotten (Isaiah 55:8-11). Indeed the Lord in Isaiah here inveighs on this point with a severity which is total, the infinite advising the finite of his place, and the place of his thoughts concerning the heart of God, relative to the realities
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
Meanwhile, it is worthy of note, too, that the Moslems, for all their reckless irrationality, are a people who were persuaded to believe in one God, with powers of control, and a Moslem crafted concept of mercy. Evil though this is, as has been shown, it also is significant apologetically; for statistically that is one large body of misled people, who show more of men who, so far from finding the concept of one God difficult, embrace it! The extreme numerical size of the Romanist movement, with the idolatry of Islam, brings up, as a form at least, the prospect of something nearing one third of the people of the earth alone! If they err as to who He is, they yet attest Him as one by their unhappy hug. If the vacuum they hug is not helpful, since in each case the god is invented, yet they attest the concept of the human race in its own way: misled as to revelation indeed, but all the more for that, showing the power of the concept, the obviousness of the thrust that there is one God.
Thus the massifs of these idolatries and the massive examples of the tribal proclivities, joined, the more attest the inveterate call of the divine, however misused.
It might be well to add, before reverting to the testimony of Grimble, for so long in the midst of the islanders in his work, two more examples of monotheistic tribal belief. In Ethiopia, Richardson notes, are the MAGANO who believe in the omnipotent, well-intentioned Creator of all things. They too, it is attested, expected white men to come with a message from their long-revered deity. Here too massive missionary enterprise in due time had marvellous results, not entirely divorced from such helpful bases.
The SANTAL, north of Calcutta, India, were reached by the Norwegian missionary Lars Skrefsrud. He found that they responded with reference to their own THANKUR JIU, meaning "GENUINE GOD". They had learned of him from their forefathers, they affirmed. They ceased worship. They gave an account of the Fall of man and of the flood, and of what the Bible states of division at Babel. Subdued by evil spirits, they "forgot Thaur more and more until only His name remained". Indeed, some began even to use his name and look up to the sun, apparently at least directing attention there. "But," the account continued, "the forefathers taught us that Thakur is distinct. He is not to be seen with fleshly eyes, but he sees all. He has created all things. He has set everything in its place, and he nourishes all, great and small."
In conclusion, then, let us examine in Arthur Grimble's account in A Pattern of Islands, in more detail.
Of special interest here is an account in which, amidst animated dissensions, was a fixed reference, a twofold Creator: Naureau the First of All and Naureau the Younger. This form of reference, Grimble attests, was the return to base that would end contention with authority. The island speaker would with finality affirm:
Sirs, there was Naareau the First of All and there was Naarau the Younger. They did what they did. No man knows all their works.This reminds of the special revelation in Psalm 89:23-31 and Proverbs 30:4, as well as being slightly suggestive of Psalm 2:12, in the Old Testament.
To revert: The island account here, as can happen, is subjectible to various 'optional' ingredients; but back to this quoted base it evidently goes, in the voice of the tribal helmsman.
The variety of native endeavours to interpret this reminds us of current assaults on the concept of deity, whilst fanciful additives, which appear later in the account, are reminiscent both of some aboriginal religious ingredients and European evolutionary elements (both of which are deeply overlaid with a magic, as noted in Chapter 2 supra and in this Chapter).
An austere-seeming 'First of All' sits unchallenged and unchallengeable in the mêlée. This case perhaps almost to perfection attests the dual phases and emphases of Paul's words: the divine power is obvious (Romans 1:19); "but when they knew God, men did not glorify Him as God" (Romans 1:21). Here in folk lore as in the minds of many modern men, both thrusts are apparent, in a medley or miasma: "professing themselves to be wise, they became fools... and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" - (Romans 1:22, 24). Through this however the inescapable finger points: "There was... the First of All..."
The account proceeds with some approach to a doctrine of divine monergism at the ultimate (and it is to be noted that both the beings bear the same NAME, in a way consonant with Father and Son):
Naareau the Elder was the First of All. Not a man, not a fish, not a thing was before him. He slept not, for there was no sleep; he ate not, for there was no hunger. He was in the Void. There was only Naareau sitting in the Void. Long he sat, and there was only he.Here some of the obvious features of the divine nature are given a measure of attestation. Indeed, "not a thing was before him" - is not wholly dissimilar to John 1:3: far lesser no doubt; but not wholly unlike. "He slept not" reminds of Psalm 121:4: less personal to be sure, and without covenant significance, but there is some attestation of a quality. "There was no hunger" has a measure of resemblance to "If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is mine and the fulness of it" - Psalm 50:12. "There was only He" reminds faintly of "For I am God and there is none else" - Isaiah 45:22. There is a similarity to a degree in CONCEPT rather than words; but that is precisely our point and our concern.
The account, then, continues, in the area of omniscience and creation:
Naareau the Elder said to Naareau the Younger, "All knowledge is whole in you. I will make a thing for you to work upon." So he made that thing... the sky and the earth clave together and darkness was between them, for as yet there was no separation.Past, however, all the declivities, and past the associations, the dissociations, the distortions, there is attestation here in this way, there in that, which parades in its pith, monotheism with a trend towards total supremacy. The pluralities and the denudations, whether of mere inhabitants of the whole system, or elements here or there, of the thrust: these with their various reactions, like the Buddhist atheism amid the Hindu polytheism, the latter trailing its wings from prior monotheism (cf. p. 1027 above), all have the common touch. ONE is back of it; ONE is powerful; ONE is above it, or over it, or beyond it, the source, the basis, or judge.
The religion of the ONE GOD, like the CIVILISATION of man, the CELLS of life, the LANGUAGES of mankind, the TYPES or KINDS of creatures, what then must in fairness be said of these things ? What indeed should be inferred from the CONSISTENT TESTIMONY in EACH of these fields, all able to anti-testify in a moment, all however conforming to one only pattern!
This overall testimony harmonises to perfection with others examined in this work. Whether it be
Fascinating indeed, then, as verification,
constant, harmonious and synthetic are the data: Consider the
cells so small, categories of creatures, however large; the languages of
man, so complex; the codes of living substances, so miniaturised in assembly;
or the knowledge of God: and the case does not vary. The evidence is clear
logically as also in empirical detail: God created what is, with no aid
from it, but man has declined from His ways.
In practice, this end-time 'mystery' of 'Babylon' reaches to the WCC cohorts, to the New Babylon as indiscrete adherents might call it. It centres in Rome and bubbles beyond with all the brave effrontery of an ancient régime, the religion-thirsty, confused spirit of Babylon. However, though its battlements have changed, its foundations are the same: Rome has centred it, the WCC dances about it, antiquity knew it, its predicted precincts for today are as clear as the astounding spate and state of its friends. On these same foundations of old, sit Liberalism, neo-Orthodoxy, Existentialism - indeed the whole heretical synthetics (Biblically, 'harlotries') of today. (See Pathology pp. 837 ff., the Falling Away pp. 699 ff. - and 743, 750B-D supra.)
To this group, arrives Neo-evangelicism: Firm in outline, comprising fibro-cement with the appearance of granite, psychology-crested, muted and mutant, carping at the directness of the prophets - not to say, of Christ, of Paul - and crumbling under pressure, while exalting in its 'wisdom' and its 'progress' in deterioration and worldliness. To these, its fellows already named, it adds itself like a plastic tower, smiling at Rome.
Alas for I Corinthians 5:11 (see pp. 1032 ff. infra); alas for Romans 16:17, Ephesians 5:3-8, II John 7-10, Revelation 18:4 and its reasons, for II Thessalonians 2:15 with 3:14, for I Timothy 6:3-5, Galatians 1:6ff., 16 ff. and II Timothy 3:1-5! but the word of God is verified, and this it is our task to show.
Babylon has fallen in heart, and soon will face
the fire. Its name is ancient, its scope broad, its verification intense.
On Roman Rule and the Antichrist: Papal Pronouncements,
Power and Privilege versus Jesus Christ... including:
Schematic Summary of Pertinent Points concerning the Error of Romanism,
Relative to Prophecy
First, there is need to reflect that there is a vital distinction between
FORCE FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF MINIMAL MORALS, OR THE REFLECTION OF MORAL REALITIES AMID THE EXERCISE OF FREEDOM AND, on the other hand,
FORCE AS THE MEANS, OR THE SUBSTITUTE, FOR 'FAITH'. In the latter case, violence may be offered to conscience, to reality and to volition.
In what follows, our concern is not merely with the use of wilful violence, arbitrary enactments, both verbal and in the form of grisly assaults, on man by man: it is also with the breach by man of the restraints of God who, though He IS the truth, yet gives to man a freedom short of autonomy, but far beyond any form of mere manipulative management. Love and faith are not the products of duress. Religions which make them so both defile themselves and arrogate - without the depth of the divine, or the restraint - the divine prerogatives. In this sense, they not merely abuse righteousness, but divinity! How well fulfilled, as we shall now see, is the word of Jesus, by such means as these:
The time is coming when whoever kills you will think that he offers God service (John 16:2) .In tracing the bloodied breach of Christians by those who so think or use violence, then, we are showing the abundant fulfilment of a prediction of Jesus Christ (the 'you' in this prediction being 'Christians' - that is, the victims, followers of Christ). We also exhibit the force and effrontery of violence, stirred not by economics but by religion falsely so-called. It is indeed, this violence at the faith level, which is one aspect by which religions which do not qualify as divinely based, may be distinguished, as we have seen in Chapter One (supra). As well, and concordantly, we show the fulfilment of specific features of Biblical prediction, in this area, foreshadowing the developing charade of false Christs and false prophets, foretold by Christ and dwelt on by Peter and Paul.
These things are important both personally (cf. I Timothy 4:6 in context, and *9, pp. 967-969 supra), and apologetically.
A further treatment of the moral splendour of the Old Testament theocratic action, in contrast to 'Violence at the Faith Level' is provided in Appendix D, and especially at it conclusion, infra (pp. 1176-1186).
For further clarity of understanding of these features, having pondered practical violence, this Section concludes, in Part B, with a Biblical analysis of focal points of the religion of Rome in principle (earlier relevant work on the religion of Muhammad being seen in and traced from Ch.10, Section 1B supra, and on Communism similarly q. v.), so that the apologetic significance of such religions of violence at the faith level, as they are often shown to be in history, may be appreciated more fully.
Thus the categories, cases and principles have been covered sufficiently in our review of this present Section, provided in the introduction to Chapter 10 - the 'Survey of the Scenario and the Scene', and in Section 1, Part B; as in Chapter 1 supra, pp. 65 ff; and the theme may also be pursued via the index under 'violence', 'freedom' and 'inquisition', as well as under 'Communism' and 'Moslem'. Now we can specialise for special apologetic consequences, on the case of Rome.
We proceed then at this level with Religions of Violence at the Faith Level (*8).
Philip Schaff has some words for us here which relate expressly. On pp. 498-499 of his History of the Christian Church, Vol. V, we find this:
In the crusades against heretics, in Southern France, the Waldenses were included, but their sufferings were small compared with those endured by the Albigenses. Nor do they seem to have furnished many victims to the Inquisition in the fourteenth century. Although Bernard Guyt opened his trials in 1308, it was not till 1316 that a Waldensian was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment and another to death by burning. Three years later, twenty-six were condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and three to death in the flames... It was in Italy and Austria that the Waldenses furnished their glorious spectacle of unyielding martyrdom...Innocent VIII, notorious for his official recognition of witchcraft, was the first papal persecutor to resort to rigorous measures. In 1487, he announced a crusade, and called upon Charles VIII of France... Everything the Waldenses had endured before, as Leger says, was as "roses and flowers" compared with what they were now called upon to suffer. Innocent furnished an army of eighteen thousand. The Piedmontese Waldenses were forced to crouch up higher into the valleys, and were subject to almost incredible hardship... It was of the atrocious massacres of that time that Milton exclaimed,
"Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints ..."In Vol. VI Schaff (p. 513) notes of the 15th century that the dukes of Savoy were inclined to protect the Waldenses but, he says:
The agents of the Inquisition were keeping watch, and the Franciscan Borelli is said to have burned, in 1393, 150 at Grenoble... in a single day.Innocent, without innocence, sacrificed them to a very different spirit from that of Christ, who reproved disciples for this sort of 'spiritual initiative' at the start, when they contemplated reproof by flames for rejection of the Saviour, and so of the faith::
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them," (Luke 9:55-56).Here was no theocratic confrontation with force; for a 'spiritual' discipline was in view: the former being rigorously condemned by the Master, in these terms, as inapplicable. He was on a mission not of condemnation but of salvation (cf. John 3:17, 12:47).
An earlier deviant from the word of God in this field, Pope Innocent III, had elevated such evil to a 'spiritual' principle and wrote that as treason was punished with death and confiscation of goods, how much more should these punishments be meted out to those who blasphemed God and God's Son. A crime against God, so he reasoned, is surely a much graver misdemeanour than a crime against the secular power (Schaff, Op. cit., Vol. 5, p.518).
A 'church' of lambs or of wolves ? ...(Matthew 7:15). Certainly Christ's prediction is profoundly fulfilled. Such a body relates, like a raging inferno to healing warmth, the blessed sacrifice of the compulsively persecuted Christ, the leader of real as distinct from merely verbal 'innocence' (I Peter 2:21-25).
Small wonder that Schaff observes (Vol. VI, loc.cit.):
It remained for Pope Innocent VIII to set on foot a relentless crusade against a harmless people as his predecessor of the same name, Innocent III had set on foot the crusade against the Albigenses. His notorious bull of May 5, 1487, called upon the king of France, the duke of Savoy and other princes to proceed with armed expeditions against them and to crush them out as "venomous serpents"... It opened with the assertion that his Holiness was moved by a concern to extricate from the abyss of error those for whom the sovereign Creator had been pleased to endure sufferings. THE STRIKING DIFFERENCE SEEMS NOT TO HAVE OCCURRED TO THE PONTIFF THAT THE SAVIOUR, TO WHOSE SERVICES HE APPEALED, GAVE HIS OWN LIFE, WHILE HE HIMSELF, WITHOUT INCURRING ANY PERSONAL DANGER, WAS CONSIGNING OTHERS TO TORTURE AND DEATH. (Bold added.)It is important logically to notice the utter and crass contradiction, not only of various Biblical commands in such actions, but of the whole tenor and nature of the actions of Christ... II Corinthians 8:9, Philippians 2, Matthew 20:28. The contrast with Christ's servitude without servility, suffering, sacrifice, salvation is intense, and has already been considered in terms of the Inquisition; while it is worth noting as Boettner points out (Roman Catholicism, p. 407) that the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIV, p. 768 observes this:
Heretics may be not only excommunicated, but also justly put to death.
What an addition to the Scripture (Titus 3:10) is this: which separates head from body, or life from body! What a libel of Christ, one that must be answered, that His name can so be used! Thomas Aquinas, doyen of Romanist theologians for centuries, puts it (Summa Theologica Vol. IV, p. 90):
Though heretics must not be tolerated because they deserve it, we must bear with them till ... the second admonition ... But those who... remain obstinate ... must be delivered to the secular power to be EXTERMINATED.Schaff, reflecting on the learned doctor, writes:
The calm discussion, to which the eminent theologian, Thomas Aquinas, subjects the treatment due heretics, was made at least a quarter of a century after the Inquisition was put into full force. Leaning back upon Augustine and his interpretation of "compel them to come in," he proceeded to declare in clearest terms that heretics deserved not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but to be excluded from the earth by judicial death... The heretic of whose reclamation the Church despairs, it delivers over to the secular tribunal to be executed out of the world (versus John 3:17). The principle was that those who were baptized were under the immediate jurisdiction of the Church and the Church might deal with them as it saw fit. It was not till the fourteenth century, that the jurisdiction of the Church and the pope was extended to the heathen by Augustinus Triumphus, d.1328... and other papal writers.
Gregory's word was indeed almost prophetic, and showed remarkable foresight. The fact is pleasing that he stated he did not, by such a title, wish to appear to take any of the honour due to this brethren (cf. I Peter 5:1). That is one reason why he declined to use it!
The more popular kind of papal struggle, that for pre-eminence, on the other hand, contrasts with Christ (Mark 9:33 ff.):
What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road ? ... If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.No one, says Christ, is to be called Teacher (and who more than the Pope whose power is deemed to include doctrinal declarations, non-belief in which can allegedly send papal victims... to hell!). Rome ignores not only the command, but its reason. It appears equally to ignore its result (Mark 9:33 ff.)! Hear what the Lord Himself says: "For," says Christ, "One is your teacher and you are all brethren" (Matthew 23:8-10). It is the total failure of Rome to read, realise, implement in heart and life this simple command and this eloquent reason, one which covers the whole scope of the infinite difference in greatness between God and man: it is this which is her downfall; and it is this vast vulgarity which must spell Rome's damnation. This, the book of Revelation (17:9, 18:4-21) most dramatically depicts, yet with a sense that that the drama is intrinsic and the case most horrid. When you get your God in His Being, and man in his, mixed up, substituting and presuming between them, it is then indeed the end. The scope of the error is then infinite.
It is impressive to observe that after Gregory I made this assertion in derogation of anyone who would dare take the 'Universal Bishop' title, that a pope did take it. In fact, within three years of Gregory's death, Pope Boniface III "compelled the emperor Phocas to confer that title upon him, and it has been used by all later popes" - as Boettner puts it (op.cit., p. 249).
With such inspiration have the popes engendered a form of religion which has, in terms of conquest and force, much in common with non-Christian religions - not least the Moslem - but nothing to do with Christ. (The Moslem basis for the Roman parallel may be traced in and from Ch. 10, Section 1B supra, having been covered earlier: see also index.) When Christ became a commoner, He did a very uncommon thing; as God, it was of course a unique disclosure of a prevailing beauty of spirit and of heart; and it exposed a perfect humility diametrically opposed to the scripturally condemned self-elevation of the popes. In the yielding of power to the point of death, Christ satisfied the authenticating, predictive scriptures, abasing Himself, without complaint (cf. Isaiah 53:7):
He was oppressed and He was afflicted; yet He did not open His mouth.Christ (Philippians 2), though God, took the form of man. Popes, though men, can use of themselves, the very phrases of God!
HE it is who OFFERS HIMSELF UP (Hebrews 9:14); for who can do things to God when once He has done it Himself! It is infinitely worse than a Primary School kid trying to front up as Einstein... It is HE, the LORD who (Isaiah 40:14) takes counsel with none, is SOVEREIGN over all (Revelation 7:10-17,19 Isaiah 44:6-8, Psalm 96:4-10) and does as He pleases in heaven and on earth (Psalm 115:3, 135:6)... though, to be sure, He being a glorious Person, it is a "good pleasure" (Ephesians 1:5). His glory He gives to none (Isaiah 48:11,42:8). He may glorify His own, but His glory is His, inimitable, illimitable.
It is idol-gods who are manipulable, manoeuvrable and movable (Isaiah 41:21-29, 40:24-26, 44:12-20). Lord over all, He is subject to none (Isaiah 45:18-24, 46:3-11, 47:12, 48:3, 6-8, 50:1-2, 44:20, 43:13, Ephesians 1:11). The very thought, when nations are as the small dust in the balance (Isaiah 40:15) and the inhabitants of the earth as "like grasshoppers" (Is. 40:22)... of manoeuvring God! When God contradicts this reckless Roman ambition to make His ransom into a movable missile, the matter is madness itself to continue. Yet Rome does!
"No man" takes His life from Him; He offered "Himself", and He did it "once" ( Hebrews 9:25-28). He says so twice in one place and in that same place denies the contrary (9:25); and He become true man (Hebrews 2:14) in real human format of one body, with those whom He was not ashamed to call "brethren" (Hebrews 2:14).
It is through the delivering up of this freely self-offering Christ (Psalm 40, John 10:17 - l8), especially loved by His Father because of this free spirit of sacrifice (John 10:17), and through His raising up by the same Father, that He provides a justification which is accomplished (Romans 4:25-5:1). Therefore, says Romans 5:1, because Christ was raised up and was delivered up, therefore we do have this: we have been justified by faith (cf. Titus 3:5-7); and the means, adds Titus, are not works of righteousness that we have done; this is excluded: but it is according to His mercy. In fact, kindness contemplated it (Titus 3:4), works are excluded (3:5, cf. Romans 3:28), mercy spanned it, redemption did it (Titus 2:14, Matthew 20:28, Romans 3:23-25), regeneration exhibits it (John 3, Titus 3:5, I John 3:9) and renewing by the Spirit of God, empowers and enriches the practice of it (Titus 3:5), which is sure to believers (I John 5:13) to everlasting (John 4:14, 6:53-58, Romans 8:31 ff.).
It is this necessary nexus of freedom, faith and assurance (Romans 5:9-11, 8:8-16, John 10:9, 27-28) which, in word and deed, Rome leaves; while having abundantly tortured and murdered those who did not, in the days of her power, agree with her departure from the truth: as if to stress that it is for her - not free, but forced, not by the favour of the Saviour but the pleasing of the countenance of men, who in any case cannot know the heart (Jeremiah 17:9-11, 5). No wonder we find: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man, who makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the Lord." And how it departs when men may play Master, Teacher and Taskmaster for the salvation which is in reality free (Romans 5:15, 3:24-26)!
Rome therefore is heretical not only because of murder, and systematic murder at that, as we see in our work on the Inquisition elsewhere in this work. It is heretical also in doctrine, and in this devilish denial of the actuality of deity, that would remove non-Romans by play-acting the sacrifice of Christ into a Mass and then making the play 'real', and excluding those from salvation (Council of Trent anathematises all who reject such fundamental Roman doctrines) who don't play, and won't accept or acknowledge this dead game ... indeed this game with death. In former times, it went further and tortured and burnt them, consigning them to 'the civil power' as they euphemistically put it, in the so basic Romans dogmas that appear in the Canons of Trent, so often re-affirmed by recent Popes.
Rome in this way takes 'God' and moves 'Him' about, sacrifices 'Him' around, takes the merit so 'gained' and dispenses it like the money some tradesmen would like to see 'spread around' by giving them more work. Rome spreads it around to those who pay in indulgences (versus I Peter 1:18-21, Romans 5:15 - a 'free' gift by 'grace' - thus doubly free, Romans 3: 24, Psalm 51:12, Galatians 3:1-9), and in general do according to her will. But it is His will that works things (Ephesians 1:11), and faith which gains: not fortune or silver or politics or building funds for St Peter's or the passé use of misconstructed and misconstrued priests (I Peter 1:7-10, Hebrews 11:1-3, 11:32-12:2, 1 Peter 1:5, Hebrews 8:13, 9:7, 11, 23-25, 5:1-11, 7:12-25, Romans 5:1, Titus 3:5-7).
This last text also tells Christians that He saved us by washing and regeneration and that we have been justified, ("having been justified"), so that we may become heirs (cf. Romans 5:1), just as Ephesians tells the believers they "have an inheritance" (italics added). With that, no Rome or gnome or clone, or king or pope or priest has the power to interfere; for as Peter also says (1 Peter 5:5): elders, of which he is one, as a fellow or colleague, act "not as being lords over those entrusted" to them, but as "being examples of the flock". Their example ? the example for them is Christ, and what an example is that! (I Peter 2:21, 3:18, I Corinthians 11:1), and how far from murder and arrogant domineering and payments for diverse spiritual deliverances, how far from the system of Rome! How does Paul cover this point from Peter ? It is like this:
Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy... II Corinthians 1:24.It is with scripture, not against it that men may move (even as Jesus Christ so lived - John 5:41-47, 12:48-50); and He who had the power to speak as the word of God, yet spoke as His Father commanded. The awe-ful horror of this ecclesiastical presumption in doctrine, death-dealing, devices, payments to promote pardon, putting man before God and attempting to move both God and His word by man, is highly relevant here. Prophetically the spirit of antichrist is willowy while it wallows (II Thessalonians 2:9-10,11-12, II Peter 2:1-3,12); and not only is the place of God as King usurped, and His name abused: His very sacrifice is manipulated and multiplied in masses of masses of 'real bodies'. His, however, the Christ's, is in heaven (Acts 3:18-21, John 6:58-63).
It is sacrificial, pontifical power which intrudes into this cunning conning which puts the carnal mind and earthly power - for example, as in Unam Sanctam (*2) and the noted anathemas of the Council of Trent - into the very poignantly pitiable place that belongs to the massive self-humiliation of the sublimely loving God.
If this is not blasphemy, what is ? It is infinitely worse than seeking to make money and prestige from the funeral of one loved; for here it is with God that the step is taken; and with God in His magnificent kindness; and this at its zenith... It is a drive from the tees for the post and prize of antichrist.... this is a devilish, macabre beginning, misusing the lowliness of Christ, even sacrifice, even substitutionary sacrifice for believers, for the vanity of power.
Complete is its contrast with the spirit of Him who being of magnificent majesty, elected to serve, with prodigious sacrifice such as pleased well the Father, lowering Himself to achieve. Far from this, it is the elevation of a man of many demerits, who in some unseemly sense claims to be the representative of God, self-exalting and exalted... to a hotly claimed, contested and fought-for majesty.
Firstly, it follows with necessity that the persecutions perpetrated by 'Roman Catholicism' in the Inquisition and elsewhere have no bearing either on the teaching of Christ or on the nature and character of Christianity as the religion bound to Him and to His word.
Systematically, it is positively irrelevant; and further, the difference between crucifying and being crucified is sufficiently simple for a child to grasp...It is not a matter for Apologetics to find difficulty with the errors of what masquerades most blatantly as Christianity while abasing its teachings in these more potent and placarded ways; on the contrary it finds enormous confirmation here, in this, that it confirms what Christ in fact taught, and Paul predicted (cf. John 16:2, I Timothy 4:3, Matthew 24:24).
Negatively therefore these findings on Rome are verificatory in a degree the more marked as the ferocity of persecution has been greater. Note pp. 946-955 supra, re Revelation 17:4-6, 9... where the religious resident in power in Rome, at the time of the end, is said to be "drunk with the blood of the saints". This is the inheritance. Thus the claims of the popes and their methods, so exalted on the one hand, and so debased on the other, have led to extravaganzas of vast impact. Cause and effect work in this matter: the vaunting and the contrast with Christ (Philippians 2), the height and breadth of the papal aspiration, these things have led to just such work of slaughter and debased oppression as this unequal height and depth would suggest. The ground of action has led to its character. The doctrines and the dealings are twins.
As to blood, Rome has on official principle, 'drunk' so much of it that it is no oddity that it is more than its 'stomach' can hold, yielding sanguinary inebriation. Folly leads readily to more folly; and intoxication with doctrine can be reinforced by the cost of power, and the means to it. An intoxicated fulness has indeed been evidenced, in history, as exhibited in the predictive prophecy: history and prophecy in perfect accord, the latter verified in the former. Inter alia, Foxe's Book of Martyrs, D'Aubergné's The Reformation in England and former 'father' Chinniquy's Fifty Years in the Church of Rome and Forty Years in the Church of Christ, provide valued data banks - as does, for that matter, Solzhenitsyn in his Gulag Archipelago work, reflecting in this last case on II Timothy 3:1-3 and Matthew 24:12, 9 (cf. p. 729 supra).
The Roman persecution, moreover, also has the value of verification in fulfilling the specific predicted features relating to certain heretical doctrinal and attitudinal departures from Christianity, given detailed prediction in I Timothy 4:1-3. If the value Rome provides for us here is macabre, it is nonetheless impressive for the purpose. The marriage prohibition noted by the prophet as to come in the latter times, has in fact now long been an exacted norm required of priests and nuns, and as such is notorious. The meat syndrome, also noted by the prophet, has likewise achieved fame at the hands of Rome.
This is not to say that Rome alone relates to this scripture; merely that it fulfils it, shall we say with a certain abundance, a certain specialisation and a certain rigour which matches the predictions, thereby offering again, and that eminently, the VIRTUE OF VERIFICATION.
The misuse of money in indulgences (cf. I Peter 1:18-19) and the emphasis on Papal wealth - one of the other notorious elements of history, the treasure of the Vatican - accords well with II Peter 2:1-2. Here is the stress on false doctrine tied with 'making merchandise' out of people, a defilement of the Age predicted to come, and which now has come. This defilement was dramatised by Luther's protests, and not least by this thought of his: If the Pope will for money release some souls from purgatory, why not out of pure Christian charity release all for nothing ? (If money made the difference, is it worthy to be compared with such alleged sufferings in purgatory ?)
The circumstance that purgatory is an invention, and an image of the imagination of Rome, does not make the monetary transactions concerning it the more appealing; but it does verify the prophecy of Peter the more accurately. (Cf. the great assurances to the contrary of such an imagination as this of 'purgatory', in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, Philippians 1:23, Hebrews 8:12, 10:10-14, Romans 4:25-5:1, 5:1-10, 8:32-34, in association with II Peter 2:1-3.) The source of some of Rome's riches, as noted elsewhere in this work, the expropriation of the money of martyrs, even from their often abandoned orphans, shows indeed in the very spirit of II Peter 2:1-3, precisely to what extent Rome fulfils the prediction of a misuse of spiritual things for the making of money with the doctrine of devils, at hand.
Before we proceed with this special fulfilment relative to Rome, let us in passing notice the broader fulfilment of the money motif in an atmosphere of devilish cunning, developing in this century, fulfilling II Peter. Further and seemingly systematic misuses in the area of sects have also been noted, and indeed, even notoriously in U.S. television, another misuse has come to light. Stories of 'slaves' working for debased sects, moreover, and the handing over of property to the rapacity of secular religionists, or duping predators, have become part of this century. Investigations, investigators, distraught parents, 'brainwashed' children, squandered talents: these things are now notorious. The evil flower of false doctrine inherits the evil stench of false practice.
This is a growth industry, exactly as fits the declaration of the prophecy.
To pursue the fantasy of purgatory, moreover, while illustrating the precision of the prophecy which so judged this specific Roman heresy in advance, let us note Romans 8:33-34 also. "WHO shall lay ANYTHING to the charge of God's elect!" (bold added). Will God the Father ? Scarcely says Paul. Quite the contrary: "It is GOD who justifies", the apostle declares. Will Christ ? Far from it, the contrary: "It is Christ who died", exclaims Paul. Then Rome ?
It is filled with purgatorial impositions, times to be served, way of avoidance and the like. If Rome, then, in this opposes Father and Son, who is Rome's Father!
That is Paul's apostrophe, dictum and confrontation. Now Rome may elect to do this, or to imply it, or to deal in it; but the apostle tells us God won't; and Rome for this, its presumption in taking the Lord's name in vain, will not be held guiltless (Exodus 20:7).
Money, manipulation and false mastery in the precincts of an idolatrous (*9) wafer, while God's very name is invoked and 'Christ' is subjected to men: this fulfils also to the uttermost the vigour of the denunciation, its aptness, as exhibited by the apostle Paul in his prediction of the onset to come, of "seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" in 1 Timothy 4:1. Further, these generic predictions coincide at this scripture with those specific to Rome, on meat and marriage. The hub and nexus are both present. The wheel turns.
If it were possible (Matthew 24:24) the very elect would be deceived. The word of God, however, not only exposes these contradictions, and predicts such an occurrence, but outlines in detail in its warning, specific Roman emphases and exclusions, concerning both "the eating of meat" and the freedom of marriage (1 Timothy 4:3). God has His means of grace for enlightenment, and that too is verificatory of His word; for His love and concern being stated, these apt means are what might be expected from One so great, and they supply just that superabundance that truth so often bestows upon enquiry.
Amid our thoughts on the retreat of
false religion into violence, and looking in our special case of religions
of violence at the faith level, we turn now from Part A, on violence to
the body of Christ, to Part B, on violence to the truth; for each is interlocked
with the other. Nevertheless, some emphasis on each is valuable for our
purposes as outlined.
Page 1042 continued in the next section
1. This name is close to one noted for God at Ebla (by Pettinato) and to a divine name in use with the Hebrews. Its shortened form is YAH (Psalm 68:4). It is often rendered 'The Eternal', the play on words in Exodus 3:11-14, and the usage in 6:2-3 pointing to it. The Biblical name (like El, Il,) is deeply embedded in history.
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