With strength and power the Religious Reformation swept across Europe. Dynamic men, fearlessly opposed the strong grip of Roman Catholic Power upon the lives and conscience of the people.
To the casual observer in the mid 1500's, it must have seemed as though Roman Catholicism would succumb to Protestantism. However that did not happen. The Roman Catholic Church staged a remarkable come back called the Counter-Reformation, by which they not only regained much that had been lost, and greatly suppressed the reformation, but also laid the foundation for the conquest of the world which we now see in action. A conquest described by Catholic Writer and eminent theologian, Malachi Martin in "Keys to this Blood" where he "reveals Pope John Paul's own blueprint for a genuinely geopolitical structure: a one-world government that is both viable and humanly acceptable." (Flyleaf, then going on to page 480)
"From the beginning of his pontification, John Paul has been talking incessantly about the convergence of the nations. He had the end game in view some ten years before other men faced into it;. . .He would endow his papacy with an international profile and, as Pope, move around among world leaders and nations, vindicating a position for himself as a special leader among leaders, because in that competition he plans to emerge as the victor."
The Pope is acknowledged, in Mikhail Gorbachev's words, "as the most eminent moral authority in our world today."
What happened to the Reformation, where men like Luther, Calvin, Knox and all the other Protestant Reformers unanimously declared that the papacy was the prophecied antiChrist?
Luther wrote: "Here in Daniel 11:36, the pope is clearly pictured, who in all his decrees shouts impudently that all the churches and thrones will be judged by him, but he cannot be judged by anyone... Here, in Daniel 11:37, we have a description of the Antichrist. . . the Antichrist, that is the pope, will not have God nor a legitimate wife and that means that the Antichrist will despise laws and regulations,. . . in heaven and on earth and accept only his own law. . . .believe me, the pope is the antichrist."
Tomas Cranmer (who, combining the prophecies of Dan. 7 and 2 Thess.2, wrote) :
"After all these sprung up the pope, that triple-crowned monster, and great antichrist, which took upon him authority, not only over the clergy, but also climbed above kings and emperors, deposing them at his pleasure, and settled himself in the temple of god, that is, in the consciences of men, extolling himself above God, dispensing with good laws, and giving men leave to break them and to regard more his decrees than the everlasting commandments of God."
Cranmer was burned at the stake for his testimony against the prophesied papal Antichrist, just as were Hooper, Ridley, Latimer, Bradford and many others.
What happened to these deep convictions that caused men to risk their very lives to offer the world truth?
1. The Bible, and the Bible only they cried.
2. The Papacy is the Anti-Christ revealed in Prophecy.
3. Righteousness comes by Faith in Christ.
These were the main issues that fueled the reformation. The Bible was given back into the hands of the people! They were taught that it was at once their duty and their right to examine it, to judge for themselves as to what it contained, and to act upon their convictions on what God required. The conscience was set free from the tyranny of Rome to follow the Word of God.
We already touched on how the Papacy can claim the victory of tradition over the Bible in "Reformation Part One". In this article we will deal mainly with the Reformers recognition of the Papacy as the Anti-Christ and the counter interpretations of the counter Reformation .
The Reformers were by no means united on all points of doctrine, but one thing they were unanimous on, and that was applying most of the prophecies of Anti-christ to the Papacy. It was this clear understanding of the prophetic symbols that gave them such extraordinary courage and effectiveness to protest against Rome and to resist her tyranny, even if it meant death to themselves. The prophecies of Daniel, John and Paul were applied to the Papacy with tremendous effect.
In order to off set this incriminating scriptural evidence, Rome realized something, besides killing the messengers, must be done if she was to regain her power. The Bible had, dispite her efforts, gone out to the people so now she must come up with a plausible sounding counter interpretation to get the focus of the prophecies away from her, for as long as she was recognized as the anti- christ power of the last days people would resist her with their very lives. Prophecy must be reinterpreted!
THE JESUIT'S COUNTER INTERPRETATIONS
"The Society of Jesus was established by the papacy in 1540 as a very special ‘fighting unit' at the total and exclusive disposal of the Roman Pope. From their beginnings, the Jesuits were conceived in a military mode. Soldiers of Christ, they were given only two purposes: to propagate the religious doctrine and the moral law of the Roman Catholic Church as proposed and taught by the Roman Pope." (The Jesuits, page 41, Malachi Martin)
Their first job was to counter the Reformation. They must, by plausible exposition of Scripture break the unbroken harmony of the reformers positions.
Interestingly enough, they came up with two alternatives that were actually conflicting and contradicting each other, yet the Catholic Church sanctioned both! So much for truth! What they did achieve was to push the prophecies away from the papacy.
Through the Jesuits Ribera, of Spain and Bellarmine, of Rome came the Futurist interpretation. This interpretation leaps over the immense era of papal dominance, and crowds the antichrist prophecies into the far distant future.
THE JESUIT RIBERA'S FUTURIST COUNTER INTERPRETATIONS
Jesuit Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) " assigned the first few chapters of the Apocalypse to ancient Rome, in John's own time; the rest he restricted to a literal three and a half years' reign of an infidel Antichrist, who would bitterly oppose and blaspheme the saints just before the second advent. He taught that Antichrist would be a single individual, who would rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, abolish the Christian religion, deny Christ, be received by the Jews, pretend to be God, and conquer the world--all in this brief space of three and one-half literal years!" (Prophetic Faith Vol.2 p. 490)
Here we see that Ribera "laid the foundation for the great structure of Futurism...and then, wonder of wonders, in the nineteenth century this Jesuit scheme of interpretation came to be adopted by a growing number of Protestants, until today Futurism, amplified and adorned with the rapture theory, has become the generally accepted belief of the Fundamentalist wing of popular Protestantism!" (Prophetic Faith Vol. 2 p. 493) How could Protestantism forsake it's main foundation of prophetic interpretation and adopt a Jesuit counterfeit? How did this happen?
THE JESUIT BELLARMINE'S COUNTER INTERPRETATIONS
There was also (Saint) Robert Bellarmine, Jesuit, cardinal and theologian who, as an outstanding controversialist opposing the Protestant doctrines of the Reformation, was regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as one of its most powerful defenders. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1560....He was a lecturer at the new Jesuit College in Rome.
Between 1576 and 1589, in addition to his teaching Bellarmine lectured to large audiences. He insisted that the prophecies concerning Antichrist in Daniel, Paul and John, had no application to the papal power. This formed the third part of his "Disputations de Controversiis Christianae Fidei Adversus Huius Temporis Haereticos" published between 1581-1593.
Bellarmine's assault on the Protestant interpretations of prophecy was centered upon the year-day principle which stood at the base of the historic interpretation of prophecy and had risen to general notice and wide acceptance among both Catholics and Protestants. He went out of his way to do this.
Determined to nullify the day = year prophetic principle, used by Protestants as the basis of the 1260 year period of Antichrist's tyranny, he sought to deprive this symbol of its Scriptural support. He came up with the argument that Ezekiel 4 was in reverse, that is saying a year = a day, when in actuality Ezekiel's acted out prophecy was in days and symbolized years.
Ballarmine was very methodical as he dissected the Protestant position, his works fill nine ponderous folio tomes, attacking the standard prophecies pertaining to Antichrist.
Ballarmine capitalized on Luther's weakness. Luther had declared the Bible as the source for truth, yet Luther was selective in what he considered inspired in the Bible. Luther rejected the book of Revelation. "There is too much lacking in this book to call it apostolic or prophetic," he had written in the preference to his first edition of the new Testament. Zwingli made the same mistake in interpreting prophecy. He too refused to recognize the Revelation as apostolic. Now the Jesuit Ballarmine posed himself as the defender of the Bible against the Reformers who, he declared had rejected it. He then shaped the Revelation to fit the futurist view, thereby by- passing the whole Christian era and the real antichrist.
Actually Ballarmine assigned the apocalyptic symbols to the distant past and the distant future. Antichrist, according to him, had not yet come, for he would abolish the daily sacrifice— or the Eucharist (daily mass) and would reign for three and a half literal years.
Bellarmine maintained that the little horn of Daniel 7 as well as the end power in Daniel 11 was a single king--who like Antiochus— would take away three kings and subdue seven other to himself, who, he contends, would therefore be one man only, and not a kingdom. Antiochus was a figure or symbol of the Antichrist of the last days.
THE JESUIT ALCASAR'S PRETERIST COUNTER INTERPRETATIONS
On the flip side of the Counter Reformation was another Jesuit. Jesuit Luis De Alcazar, or Alcasar (1554-1613) of Seville Spain.
Alcasar advanced the Preterist interpretation. He made all prophecy stop short of the papal domination. He maintained that the apocalypse describes the war of the church in the early centuries. Partly between the Jews and their adversaries and then the Church and paganism. Revelation 1-11 he applied to the rejection of the Jews and the desolation of Jerusalem by the Romans. Revelation 12-19 Alcazar allotted to the overthrow of Roman paganism and the conversion of the empire to the church, the judgment of the great Harlot being effected by the downfall of pagan idolatry. Revelation 20 he applied to the final persecution by Antichrist and chapters 21 referring to the New Jerusalem he made descriptive of the glorious and endless triumphant state of the Roman church. ( See Prophetic Faith vol 2 p. 507)
The three Jesuits who worked most effectively to overthrow the Protestant understanding of prophecy, and whose theories are now (in modified forms) almost universally accepted are:
Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) From Italy.
Jesuit Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) of Salamanca Spain
Jesuit Luis De Alcazar, or Alcasar (1554-1613) of Seville Spain.
THE PROTESTANT INTERPRETATION REVISITED
Let's look again at the Protestant interpretation which was based on the historic method.
The Protestant John Knox in Scotland: (1505-1572) believed:
1. That "the papal religion is but an abomination before God" and to "flee out of Babylon, that you perish not with her." (Friedrich Brandes, John Knox, der Reformator Schottlands p. 191)
2. "Knox took the text written in Daniel, the seventh chapter, beginning thus: And another King shall rise unlike unto the first. . . ".
He identified the creatures as Babylonian, Persia, Greeks, and the fourth of the Romans; which he affirmed to be the Roman Church; for to none other power that ever hath yet been, do all the notes that God hath showed to the Prophet appertain, except to it alone;
3. Knox next showed that Daniel's "little horn" was identical with Paul's "man of sin" and John's "Whore of Babylon" as one single Antichrist
4. Every prophetic day is a year— every common prophetical day is taken for a year. A prophetic week is a "week of years," and a Jewish or Greek common year is a year of "360" days". He quotes Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:5,6 and cites the seventy weeks as evidence of fulfillment, "In the seventy weeks of Daniel, a day to be taken for a year, extending in the whole to 490 years; otherwise, that prophecy of the Messiah's coming, would not fall upon the just time of Christ's coming, as necessarily it ought to doe.. . . .
The point is clear, these concepts did not originate with ADVENTISM. Adventism is sticking to Protestantism while the rest of Christendom is following Jesuit interpretations. We also see the sure result of this shift in Prophetic understanding of the apocalypse. Protestants are playing into the hands of Rome, by helping to screen the Papacy from detection as the Antichrist. The ecumenical movement which is at work to unite all Christendom under the "shepherding" influence of Rome is sweeping the world. The Pope's dream and plan "of his own universal Roman Church— a winner-take all race against time to establish, maintain, and control the first one-world government that has ever existed on the face of the earth" (Keys of Blood, flyleaf) is in the process of being set up. For Revelation tells us that "all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, all except those whose names are written in the book life", will worship the beast that was wounded to death (officially by Napoleon's stripping the Vatican of political power in 1798) but it's deadly wound was healed and all the world wonders after him. (Rev. 13:3,8)
WHY WERE THE JESUIT'S SO SUCCESSFUL?
Yet how did this complete reversal of prophetic interpretation permeate the Protestant world?
It did not happen overnight! Nor did it happen during the lifetimes of the Jesuits who first promoted the new interpretations. It happened by promoting diversity of opinions and then moving in to divide and conquer! Had the Protestants remained firm and united on their historic interpretative stand, the counter reformation could never have succeeded in implanting these new interpretations into all of Christendom. Many reformers rose and refuted the futurist and preterist positions, but others bought into them.
Here is one example. Protestant statesman and theologian, Hugo Grotius, had a Jesuit friend, named Petavius. Grotius said he wanted peace between Catholics and Protestants and he used his diplomacy to achieve this end. To do this he studied Jesuit Alcazar's Preterist interpretation, and wrote his own anti-Protestant commentary on the Antichrist (1620) He bought into the Jesuit counter interpretation so strongly that he believed the pope was not mentioned in any of the prophecies.
Other Protestants were shocked at his writings and wrote to refute him, yet his works marked the beginning of others following his lead.
Thus the work of infiltrating and planting the counter interpretive ideas and then watching the Protestants themselves undoing the Reformation slowly gained control.
"The Jesuits carried the battle right into the territories of their papal enemies. They waged public controversies with kings, they debated in Protestant universities, they preached at crossroads and in marketplaces. They addressed municipal councils, they instructed Church Councils. They INFILTRATED hostile territories in disguise, and moved around underground. They were everywhere, showering their contemporaries with brilliance, with wit, with acerbity, with learning, with piety. Their constant theme: The Bishop of Rome is successor to Peter the Apostle. . .any other church institution is rank heresy. . .they had a monopoly in the education of Europe for over two hundred years, and numbered the famous and infamous. . .they were giants with but one purpose: the defense and propagation of papal authority and papal teaching." (The Jesuits, p.28- 29)
IMPLICATIONS WHICH RESULT FROM THEIR SUCCESS
They were so successful in deleting the evidence that the Papacy is antichrist that now we see the Lutherans and Catholics embracing one another as fellow Christians, articulating a "common understanding of justification" agreeing that their Joint Declaration "encompasses a consensus in the basic truths, claiming that the "differing explications" are compatible with the joint Declaration and thus no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations, and to look past historic differences in the name of Christian unity. (Christianity Today, Jan. 10,2000 pp.63-65)
Protestants are willing to clasp the hands of Catholism even though THEY KNOW they have great differences in doctrines (purgatory, penance, purgatory, images, Mary,) THEY KNOW that "Roman Catholics have not now adopted the Lutheran Position" THEY KNOW that the pope will never give up his stand on papal supremacy.
(Time, Dec.16,1991 p.53 the Holy See officially declares it's position, insisting that a reunited church must be built upon a papacy that is a God-given, "permanent" institution with "universal" jurisdiction, "directly founded" by Jesus Christ And the Pope has personal power to teach infallibly on faith and morals.)
They know all this, yet they sign joint declarations? How can this be?
The success of the counter Reformation has infiltrated all of Christendom. The idea that the Papacy is antichrist will soon have the same penalties as it did in the 16th century when people stood against the demands of the Papacy at the peril of their own lives.
Protestants are joining with and patronizing the papacy. They have made compromises and concessions.
They bow to the accusation that:
"It is all too easy for Protesants, who have shattered the church into thousands of pieces, to speak blithely of spiritual unity and continue along a schismatic way. (Christianity Today)
They never realize that from the beginning the Jesuits tactics were to divide them and then move in to conquer them for the Catholic Church.
People are closing their eyes to the real character of Romanism and the dangers realized when she gains again her supremacy. The people need to be aroused to resist the advances of this most dangerous foe to civil and religious liberty.
"The Roman Church now presents a fair front to the world, covering with apologies her record of horrible cruelties. She has clothed herself in Christlike garments; but she is unchanged." (GC) This is not to say that many sincere Catholics do not truly love the Lord. No, this is not about individuals, this is about a system. The system will restore and supercede all her cruelties to enforce her dogmas.
Why are there dungeons and torture chambers in the basements of her churches. Why has the office of the inquisition been reactivated?
"Every principle of the papacy that existed in past ages exists today. The doctrines devised in the darkest ages are still held. Let none deceive themselves. The papacy that Protestants are now so ready to honor is the same that ruled the world in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up, at the peril of their lives, to expose her iniquity. She possesses the same pride and arrogant assumption that lorded it over kings and princes, and claimed the prerogatives of God. Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when she crushed out human liberty and slew the saints of the Most High. The papacy is just what prophecy declared that she would be, the apostasy of the latter times. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4. ( GC)
Froom, LeRoy The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers Vol. 2
Martin, Malachi, Keys of This Blood also The Jesuits
Grimm, Harold The Reformation Era
Emmerson, W.L. The Reformation and the Advent Movement
Time Magazine, Dec. 16, 1991
Christianity Today, January 10, 2000