Is Not Rome the Harlot? Study No. 248
n spite of the overwhelming consensus of persecuted Christians for many hundreds of years, some today are questioning whether or not the Roman Catholic Church is the great whore of Revelation. The historical proof is compelling. Let’s look at what the Waldenses and others have said.
“Now it is certain, first, that since the tenth century, wherein Arnulphus, Bishop of Orleans, called the Pope Antichrist, in a full Council at Rheims, nothing has been more ordinary than to give him this title. The Antipopes of the eleventh century very lavishly bestowed it upon one another. This example was followed in the twelfth century, and has never since been discontinued till the time of the Reformation; a vast number of writers having set themselves against the Pope and the Papacy, openly proclaiming him to be the Antichrist, and his Church the Great Whore, and Mystical Babylon” (Peter Allix, The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont and of the Albigenses, I, 1692, 1821 edition, p. 281).
“The result of our examination is the solemn conviction . . . that the Romish, so far from being the true church, is the bitterest foe of all true churches of Christ — that she possesses no claim to be called a Christian Church — but, with the long line of corrupt and wicked men who have worn her triple crown, that she is Antichrist. . . . This identity of papal Rome with antichrist was maintained by Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, and all the continental reformers; by Latimer . . . and all the British reformers: by the illustrious Sir Issac Newton, Mede, Whiston, Bishop Newton, Lowth, Daubuz, Jurieu, Vitringa, Bedell, and a host of equally pious, illustrious, and learned names. The same testimony has been borne in the authorized doctrinal standards of the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, and other churches both of Europe and America. The same doctrine is still taught in the theological school of Geneva by the illustrious D’Aubigne and Gaussen, and with but here and there a solitary exception, by all the most learned professors and clergymen of the present day, connected with the various evangelical denominations of Protestant Christians” (John Dowling, The History of Romanism, 2nd edition, 1852, pp. 646-647).
“Tergandus, [Ninth Century] Bishop of Treves, called the Pope Antichrist, yea, a wolf, and Rome, Babylon” (Martyrs Mirror, 5th English edition, p. 240).
“Arnulphus, [Tenth Century] Bishop of Orleans, who had the greatest reputation of any man of his time, solidly maintained, from the canons and customs of the Church, that the Pope’s sentence was not to be waited for in that case . . . ‘To desire an answer from him, is to consult the stones . . . . Who do you think that man is, who sits in his high chair? he is, answers he, the Antichrist, who sits in the temple of God, and shews himself as God.’ And the rest of his discourse is a sufficient evidence that he took the Pope to be the Antichrist, and that he acknowledged that the mystery of iniquity was then coming in upon the Church” (Allix, p. 199).
“France, which first bestowed upon the Popes the temporal dominions they now enjoy, long since owned the Pope to be the Antichrist. For Gregory I, having declared, in twelve several letters written against the Patriarch of Constantinople, who assumed the title of Universal Bishop, that whoever claimed that title for himself was either the Antichrist, or the forerunner of him; it was not long after, that Pope Boniface III persuaded Phocas to give him the title of Universal, which all his successors took up afterwards with joy, and affected to use it: for which reason the French, fearing lest they should fail of the respect which they had for St. Gregory, if they should accuse themselves of having so often made use of a false way of reasoning, at last called the Pope Antichrist. They were not therefore Manichees that were come from the east, in the eleventh century, to settle themselves in the west, who first set on foot this accusation; but they were the French, who, in a full council at Rheims, after the tenth century, called the Pope Antichrist” (Allix, pp. 198, 199, 200).
Berenger of Tours (Eleventh Century), denounced Rome’s dogmas and maintained that the Roman Church was the See of Satan (George Faber, The History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, London: R.B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1838, p. 159).
In the Twelfth Century, several groups of Bible believers labeled Rome as the Harlot of Revelation and the Antichrist: Petrobusians, Paulicians, Henricians, Arnoldists, and Paterines (Allix, The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches; Robinson, Ecclesiastical Researches, etc.).
The Waldensians identified the Pope as the Antichrist. In 1100, the Waldensian document, Noble Lesson, identified the Pope as the “Antichrist, the predicted murderer of the Saints, hath already appeared in his true character, seated monarchally in the seven-hilled city.” “Of the authenticity of the Noble Lesson, the beautifully simple production of a confessedly simple people, there can, I think with the learned Raynouard, be no reasonable doubt entertained” (Faber, The History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, p. 371).
“A Treatise Concerning Antichrist,” dated roughly 1160, identified the Pope of Rome as the Antichrist. George Faber identifies this as a production of Peter Valdo (Waldo). The manuscript was found among the Waldensians in the year 1658, by Sir Samuel Morland, who was appointed by British authorities to aid the Waldensians in their bitter persecutions. Morland brought the manuscript, “A Treatise Concerning Antichrist,” and packets of other manuscripts back to England and deposited them in the University Library at Cambridge. They have since mysteriously disappeared, but many of the most important documents were copied and published prior to their loss.
According to Waldensian documents, the Antichrist’s first work is that the Eucharist is idolatry because he worships the wafer equally with God and Christ, prohibiting the adoration of God alone. His second work is: that he robs and deprives Christ of the merits of Christ, with the whole sufficiency of grace and justification and regeneration and remission of sins and sanctification and confirmation and spiritual nourishment; and imputes and attributes them, to his own authority, or to a form of words, or to his own performances, or to the saints and their intercession, or to the fire of Purgatory. His third work is that he attributes the regeneration of the Holy Spirit to a dead outward faith; baptizing children in that faith; and teaching, that, by the mere work of the outward consecration of baptism, regeneration may be procured. This fourth work is that he rests the whole religion of the people upon his Mass. His fifth work is that he does everything to be seen, and to glut his insatiable avarice. His sixth work is that he allows of manifest sins, without ecclesiastical censure. His seventh work is that he defends his unity not by the Holy Spirit, but by the secular power. His eighth work is that he hates, and persecutes, and searches after, and robs, and destroys, the members of Christ.
These things and many others are the cloak and vestment of Antichrist, by which he covers his lying wickedness, lest he should be rejected as a pagan. But there is no other cause of idolatry, than a false opinion of grace and truth and authority and invocation and intercession, which this Antichrist has taken away from God, and which he has ascribed to ceremonies and authorities and a man’s own works and saints and purgatory (Faber, The History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, pp. 379-384).
In 1206, at the conference of Montreal, the Albigenses made the following confession: “That the Church of Rome was not the spouse of Christ, but the Church of confusion, drunk with the blood of the martyrs. That the polity of the Church of Rome was neither good nor holy, nor established by Jesus Christ” (Allix, p. 178). The Albigenses “expressly declared that they received the canonical books of the Old and New Testament, and that they rejected every doctrine that was not grounded upon, or authorized by them, or was contrary to any one point of doctrine that may be found there. According to which maxim, they confessed that they rejected and condemned all the ceremonies, traditions, and ordinances of the Church of Rome, which they declared to be a den of thieves, and the whore that is spoken of in the Revelation” (Allix, p. 194).
The Bohemians, a colony of Waldenses in Bohemia, held the following beliefs, according to their Roman Inquisitor. This description was given in the Fourteenth Century but uses material from the Thirteenth Century: “The first error, saith he, is that the Church of Rome is not the Church of Jesus Christ, but an assembly of wicked men, and the whore that sits upon the beast in the Revelation . . . . They declare the Pope to be the head and ringleader of all errors” (Allix, pp. 242-259).
John Huss (1373-1415), in a letter unto the people of Prague: “The more circumspect you ought to be, for that Antichrist laboureth the more to trouble you. Death shall swallow up many, but of the elect children of God the kingdom of God draweth near . . . . Know ye, well-beloved, that Antichrist, being stirred up against you, deviseth divers persecutions” (John Foxe, Acts and Monuments, 8th edition 1641, III, p. 497, 498).
Many Lollards of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries held that the Pope was Antichrist and identified the papacy with Revelation 17 (Allix, p. 230; John Thomson, The Later Lollards, pp. 76, 80, etc.).
All of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation considered the Pope the Antichrist, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Huss. Their successors in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries persisted in this. Rome was considered the Mother of Harlots. The Westminster Confession of Faith, the most important Protestant Statement of Belief, says: “There is no other Head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof: but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church, against Christ and all that is called God” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1648, chapter 25, section 6).
On December 1, 1520, Martin Luther published two tracts in answer to the Bull of Leo X, one of which was entitled, “Martin Luther against the Execrable Bull of Antichrist.” He charged the Pope and his cardinals of acting “the undoubted part of the Antichrist of the Scriptures.”
William Tyndale, the father of our old English Bible, identified the Pope as the Antichrist in his treatise, The Practice of Prelates. Tyndale also labeled the Pope the Antichrist in the Preface to the 1534 edition of his New Testament. “Though the Bishop of Rome and his sects give Christ these names (His rightful names), yet in that they rob Him of the effect and take the signification of His names unto themselves, and make of Him but a hypocrite, as they themselves be, they be the right Antichrists, and deny both the Father and the Son; for they deny the witness that the Father bore unto His Son, and deprive the Son of all power and glory that His Father gave Him” (William Tyndale).
On September 9, 1560, Pastor Jean Louis Paschale of Calabria, just before he was burned alive in the presence of Pope Pius IV in Rome, turned to the pope and “arraigned him as the enemy of Christ, the persecutor of his people, and the Antichrist of Scripture, and concluded by summoning him and all his cardinals to answer for their cruelties and murders before the throne of the Lamb” (J.A. Wylie, History of the Waldenses, ca. 1860, p. 120).
Bishop Nicholas Ridley, who was burnt during the reign of Queen Mary in 1556, then declared: “The See of Rome is the seat of Satan, and the bishop of the same, that maintained the abominations thereof, is Antichrist himself indeed; and for the same causes this See at this day is the same that St. John calls, in his Revelation, Babylon, or the whore of Babylon, and spiritual Sodom and Egypt, the mother of fornications and abominations on earth.”
William Latimer, a Greek scholar who loved the Word of God during the time of Tyndale, said, “Do you not know that the Pope is very Antichrist, whom the Scripture speaketh of? But beware what you say; for if you shall be perceived to be of that opinion, it will cost you your life. I have been an officer of his but I have given it up, and defy him and all his works” (Christopher Anderson, Annals of the English Bible, I, pp. 35, 36).
In his 1893 work titled, Union with Rome, Christopher Wordsworth, bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England stated the view which prevailed among Protestants at that time: “. . . we tremble at the sight, while we read the inscription, emblazoned in large letters, ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great,’ written by the hand of St. John, guided by the Holy Spirit of God, on the forehead of the Church of Rome” (Wordsworth, Union with Rome, p. 62).
“In common with most of the learned Divines of the Church of England since the Reformation and — as we have seen — in accordance with the teaching of her Homilies, we object to Reunion with the Papacy because the Church of Rome is the Babylon of the Revelation.” (The Secret History of the Oxford Movement, by Walter Walsh, 1899, p. 370).
— from the Internet W
Dave Hunt’s excellent 552-page book, A Woman Rides the Beast, gives much more information that positively identifies the fallen woman of Revelation as the Roman Catholic Church. It is available from Giving & Sharing for $11 plus postage. We also publish The Papacy is the Antichrist, by J.A. Wylie, 36-page reprint, $6.