Compromising Once More

There was, however, a serious problem that affected most of the Waldensian groups through the latter Middle Ages just as it had troubled the Paulicians. This was the tendency of many to allow Catholic priests to christen their children, as well as their willingness to participate in Catholic worship ceremonies. Knowing that such ceremonies were useless in gaining salvation, many felt that outward conformity with Rome would avoid persecution and allow them to privately practice the Truth. This tendency was prophesied of the Church in Thyatira in Revelation 2:20-24. From God's standpoint, what they were doing amounted to spiritual fornication and partaking of Catholic communion was "eating things sacrificed to idols."

What happened to the Waldenses? "Waldenses slowly disappeared from the chief centers of population and took refuge in the retired valleys of the Alps. There, in the recesses of Piedmont, a settlement of the Waldensians was made who gave their name to these valleys of Vaudois At times attempts were made to suppress the sect of the Vaudois, but the nature of the country which they inhabited, their obscurity and their isolation made the difficulties of their suppression greater than the advantages to be gained from it" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., "Waldenses").

In 1487, Pope Innocent VIII issued a bull calling for their extermination and a serious attack was made on their stronghold. A fog settling over and encircling the Catholic armies saved the Waldenses from total destruction. However, most were simply worn out and had lapsed into a spirit of compromise. When the Reformation began a few years later, the Waldensian leadership sent emissaries to the Lutheran church. "Thus," as the Encyclopaedia Britannica writes, "the Vaudois ceased to be relics of the past, and became absorbed in the general movement of Protestantism."

As total apostasy swallowed up most remnants of the Waldenses by the end of 1500s, God preserved a faithful remnant. Individuals who were the fruit of the last seven years of Waldo's ministry had been converted in Bohemia and Germany in the thirteenth century. In remote areas of the Carpathian Mountain area of central and eastern Europe, individuals and small groups sur-vived—in fact a faithful remnant has survived in isolation in those areas down to modern times (cf. Revelation 2:24-25).

As the seventeenth century approached, the next era of God's Church was ready to emerge on the stage. Remnants of German Waldensians, sometimes labeled Lollards by outsiders, had penetrated into Holland and England as early as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. However, it was only in the final decades of the sixteenth century that the Church could begin to emerge openly in Germany and Britain.

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