Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: Waldensian

Things by which the iniquity of Antichrist is covered

First and foremost, this iniquity is covered by an external profession of faith. With regard to which, the Apostle says: For they confess in words that they have known God, but they deny him by their deeds.

It is covered, in the second place, by the long duration of time, by scholars, by religious orders, men, virgins and widows, and also by a numerous people, of whom it is said in the Apocalypse: And to him power was given over every tribe and tongue, and nations, and all who dwell on the earth will worship it.

Thirdly, by the spiritual authority of the apostles, against whom the Apostle says: We can do nothing against the truth, and no power is given to us for destruction.

Fourthly, by many miracles done here and there, which the Apostle says in this way: His coming is according to the work of Satan, accompanied by all kinds of miracles, false signs and wonders, and all the deceptions of iniquity.

Fifthly, outward holiness, prayers, fasts, vigils, and alms; against which the Apostle says: Having the appearance of piety, but denying its strength.

Sixth, by some words of Christ, and by the writings of the elders and by the councils, which they follow, as much as they do not condemn their bad life and their pleasures.

In the seventh place, by the administration of the sacraments, by which they vomit the universality of all errors.

Eighth, by remonstrances and verbal preaching against vices, as they say and do not.

In the ninth place, some of them live in a pretense of virtue, and others truly lead a virtuous life. For those chosen of God, having good will and good conduct, retained there as in Babylon, are like gold with which the wicked Antichrist covers his vanity, not allowing true worship to God alone neither hope in Christ alone, nor attachment to true religion.

These things and many others serve as cloaks and garments to the Antichrist, by means of which he covers his deceitful malice, so that he may not be reproved entirely as a pagan, and in whose shadow he may walk dishonestly as a whore.

A church of nobodies

Historians appear to believe that wherever there was something important going on there must have been some big shots behind it. When they look at the history of Christianity, the Catholics and Protestants had all the big shots. Since they find no big shots on the side of those we call Anabaptists, they assume that nothing was happening.

But the very essence of Christianity is that there can be only one big shot, and that is God Himself. Even Jesus did not conduct Himself as a big shot. That was the problem the Scribes and Pharisees had with Him; they wanted a Messiah who would sweep away the Roman oppressors and rule the world from Jerusalem. Dispensationalists are in full agreement with that, and say that since His plan was foiled the first time the earthly kingdom will be established at His Second Coming. The problem with that line of thought is that it would make Jesus a fomenter of sedition and provide just cause for the Romans to execute Him. But Jesus said plainly “My kingdom is not of this world”, and the Roman governor found no fault in Him, going so far as to wash his hands of the whole affair.

So Jesus is not our big shot. He is the most important man in the history of the world, but a nobody in the eyes of the world. His followers, from the apostles to the present day, have also been nobodies.

We should not, however, read too much into the opinion of the Sanhedrin that the apostles were unlearned and ignorant men. The apostles were fluent in Aramaic and Greek, knew the Scriptures better than most of us do today, and were well acquainted with the Greek culture around them. But they were not learned in all the petty intricacies of rabbinic interpretations and regulations.

Once we stop looking for the big shots in the movement variously known as Donatist, Cathar, Anabaptist, Waldensian, etc, it becomes obvious that there was a whole lot going on. Thieleman van Braght scoured the ancient records and published his findings in the Martyrs Mirror.

A more recent book is The Anatomy of a Hybrid by Leonard Verduin. The hybrid in the title of the book refers to state churches which united secular authority with spiritual authority, beginning when the Roman Emperor Constantine professed Christianity and then assumed authority over the Roman Catholic Church. Verduin is a thorough scholar who shows clearly the evidences of a continuing alternate church movement from the time the hybrid first departed from the faith once delivered to the saints. He points out that the Mennonite movement began in locations where the Waldensians had recently flourished.

Another facet of looking for the big shots is evident in the attention church historians pay to councils of Roman Catholic bishops, called by a Roman Emperor, to decide matters of essential Christian doctrines. I believe those matters were decided long before the councils by the Holy Spirit working through a bunch of nobodies.

Let the world have its dynamic and charismatic preachers. We pray that they will do some good in making known the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. But we fear, as Menno Simons once wrote: “so long as the world donates such splendid houses and large incomes to their preachers, the false prophets and deceivers will be numerous.”

La Nobla Leyçon – VII

And he called the apostles and commanded them
To go through the world, and teach all nations,
To preach to Jews and Greeks, and all mankind,
To drive away devils, and heal the sick,
To raise the dead and cleanse the lepers,
And to do to others as he had done to them;
To possess neither gold nor silver,
But to be content with food and raiment.
To love one another, and to be at peace,
Then he promised them the heavenly kingdom,
And to those which were spiritually poor:
But he that would know who they are, would quickly number those,
That would be poor of their own accord,
Then he told them what should happen,
How he ought to die, and afterward rise again,
And he told them the signs and wonders
Which ought to happen before the end.
Many excellent parables he spoke to them and the people,
Which were written in the New Testament.
But if we will love Christ, and know his doctrine,
We ought to watch, and read the Scripture,
Where we may find when we shall read,
That only for doing well, Christ was persecuted;
He raised the dead by divine power,
Her made the blind to see, which never had seen,
He cleansed the lepers, and made the deaf to hear,
He cast out devils, working many miracles;
And by how much the more he did good, so much the more was he persecuted.
The Pharisees were they which persecuted him;
And the people of Herod, and the others, that is them of the clergy:
For they envied him, because he was followed by the people;
Because they believed in him and his commandments,
They sought how they might torment him and put him to death,
And for this reason spoke to Judas and made an agreement with him,
To deliver him for thirty pieces of silver.
Now Judas being covetous wrought the treason,
And betrayed his Lord to those wicked men,
The Jews were they which crucified him,
Nailing fast his feet and his hands,
And putting a crown of thorns on his head,
And speaking many reproaches, they blasphemed him;
And when he said, he was thirsty, they likewise gave him gall and vinegar to drink.
The torments were so bitter and painful,
That the soul parted from the body to save sinners.
The body having suffered this, hung there upon the cross,
In the midst of two thieves; they gave him four wounds, besides other blows.
And after that the fifth, to accomplish the matter;
For one of the soldiers came and opened his side,
And immediately there issued out water and blood mixed together,
Whereupon all the apostles fled, but one returned,
And was there with two women, near unto the cross,
All were very sorry, chiefly his mother,
When she saw her son dead and naked, fastened upon the cross.
He was buried by the good, and watched by the wicked.
He rose out of the grave the third day,
And appeared unto his disciples, as he had said unto them;
Then were they possessed with great joy, when they saw the Lord,
And were confirmed, for before they feared greatly;
And he conversed with them until the day of the ascension;
Then our Saviour ascended into glory,
And said to his disciples, and other followers,
That to the end of the world he would be with them.

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