That this kind of influence has infiltrated the liberal Protestant churches is revealed by the treatment of Tony Campolo who continues to be one of the most popular Christian conference speakers in spite of declaring:
Then it hit me - humanness and Godness are one and the same... Jesus was God because He was fully human and He was fully human because He was God...Furthermore, it is in 'I-Thou' relationships [as defined by Buber] that a person ... encounters the Jesus who incarnates the fullness of humanness. Many people... through 'I-Thou' encounters ... encountered Jesus, were transformed and humanized by Him, and yet they didn't know who He was. Jesus is the only Saviour, but not everybody who is being saved by him is aware that He is the one who is doing the saving ...That little boy [whose mother had tried to get Campolo to take with him from Haiti] was more than a starving child ... That little boy was Jesus … the resurrected Jesus … is in every person ... I do not mean that others represent Jesus for us. I mean that Jesus actually is present in each other person ...The hymn writer who taught us to sing 'Amazing Grace' was all too ready to call himself a 'wretch.' … Forgetting our divinity ... is responsible for a host of maladies that plague our contemporary society ... A great deal of criticism has been leveled at … Dr. Robert Schuller ... Personally, I think most of his critics are jealous … Schuller affirms our divinity [and] isn't that what the gospel is? … Erich Fromm, one of the most popular psychoanalysts of our time [a humanistic anti-Christian], recognized the diabolical social consequences that can come about when a person loses sight of his/her divinity or the divinity of others ... There are those who would limit Jesus to being present only in those who would acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour, but I will not accept that limitation. I believe that Jesus is present even in … those who refuse Him. (emphasis added)
Campolo is repeatedly wrong - particularly on every highlighted section. Contrary to his claims here, salvation comes only through believing the gospel (Romans 1:16) - Jesus said to one thief on the cross (Luke 23:43 ): 'Truly, truly, I say unto you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.' He did not say: 'you shall both be with Me in Paradise' which would have shown Campolo's claim to be true! The gospel accounts are clear that both thieves joined in with the crowd in reviling Jesus at first (Matthew 27:44), but only the one is recorded as having a change of heart (repenting - Luke 23:40-42). Thus 'death bed repentance' has been preached in orthodox circles for 2,000 years, for only the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrates such utter justice with awesome mercy! Who does Campolo think he is to push his un-Scriptural notions on an ignorant Christian population? His New Age influences may persuade him that an 'existential encounter' with an unknown 'Jesus' experienced in a human 'I-Thou' relationship occurs. It was Jesus himself who said that to have eternal life we must 'know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ' (John 17:3). Those who preach any other gospel come under the curse of God's wrath (Gal 1:6-9).
Campolo was absolved of heresy by a panel of supposedly 'leading evangelical theologians,' who presumably considered this pantheistic universalism heresy to be acceptable in today's religious market which they frequent, so that his false teachings continue to be promulgated to a wide audience, indicating the growing tide of apostasy. In 'Carpe Diem: Seize the Day' (Word Publishing; 1994; p.85-88), Campolo wrote a chapter on 'Embracing the Feminine Side of God' in which he declared:
'I love the feminine in Jesus ... There is that feminine side of me that must be recovered and strengthened if I am to be like Christ ... And until I feel the feminine in Jesus, there is a part of Him with which I cannot identify.'
How can 'Protestants' join Catholics in evangelization when each preaches a different 'evangel'?
So many in the Christian church have been duped by feminist psycho-babble that they don't seem to stop for a minute and think that this is un-Biblical! In Britain the 'Spring Harvest' organisers could not even honestly admit the reasons for Campolo being 'rested' from his appearances and, as a result, he continues to appear in British churches. As far as we know he is unrepentant - which is hardly surprising, since most of us won't repent unless we are shown to be in error and disciplined as necessary to enforce the point (1 Corinthians 5-6).
We find that all adherents to error will agree that their organisation 'is not perfect in practice,' when pressured, and the Roman Church spokesmen are no different. But this is an eternity away from admitting doctrinal error and believers in the Papacy will cling to their blind belief: 'I believe in the teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic Church' in the same way a Mormon will parrot: 'I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church.' No matter how much evidence you bring against these cults - and the evidence is overwhelming - those who have been seduced by the spirit of error would rather go to their graves, and then to Hell, than admit they have been deceived. Thus Catholics will never embrace an ecumenism that harms 'the purity of Catholic doctrine,' as they laughingly put it, for Rome is never wrong and is very quick, as are all cults, to display the 'arrogant triumphalism' they condemn in orthodox Christians.
Rome presents only that part of Roman Catholicism that the evangelicals they have seduced would not find too objectionable and brush Rome's heresies under the carpet. Ask a priest or theologian to explain the Catholic concept of 'conversion as a continual process that necessarily takes place within the church' - and try and find this doctrine in the Bible without twisting Scripture. The truth about Rome can only be discovered by consulting the most authoritative source of Catholic teaching and practice, The Council of Trent (1545-63), confirmed by Vatican II, where they do not attempt to hide their real intent.
Since 'conversion as a continual process' is clearly not the Biblical gospel evangelicals preach, we have to ask how can 'Protestants' join Catholics in evangelization when each preaches a different 'evangel'? Catholicism acknowledges that Christ died for our sins and that salvation is by grace through faith and not by works BUT to that truth Rome adds that Christ's death was not enough. The cross only made possible a process which may lead eventually to heaven - a process involving participation in the seven sacraments which Rome alone administers. Like the deceiving tailors who peddled the invisible suit to the Emperor in the fairy tale, Rome accepts money for a product that is worse than useless. The first sacrament is baptism, which, for the vast majority of Catholics, takes place in infancy. The Canons and Decrees of The Council of Trent (Tan Books, 1978) declares:
... our Lord Jesus Christ ... merited for us justification by His ... [death upon] the cross ... [but] the instrumental cause [of justification] is the sacrament of baptism ... without which no man was ever justified ... (p. 33). If anyone says that baptism ... is not necessary for salvation ... or denies that infants newly born ... are to be baptized ... for the remission of sins ... let him be anathema (eternally damned) (pp. 5 3,20); For by baptism we put on Christ and are made in Him an entirely new creature, receiving full and complete remission of all sins....(p. 90).
This is not the evangelical gospel. Whereas the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43) was promised instant Paradise with Christ, Rome says that, beside baptism, there are six more sacraments plus rosaries, alms, Mary's suffering for our sins and her intercession with Christ, the merits of the saints, one's own suffering for one's sins in purgatory, etc. The role of the Church is also declared vital and 'our sacrament of salvation.' No orthodox evangelical 'Protestant' would take that position, but The Council of Trent refers to 'our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God.' Strange that the apologists of Rome argue 'arrogant triumphalism' when Protestants press the absolute claims of the Bible, but indulge in the same on the basis of Papal traditions which have easily been shown to be in constant contradiction throughout her abominable rule?
Christ said, 'It is finished' on the cross (John 19:30), but Trent (p. 46) anathematizes (curses!) all who dare to claim that they are justified by grace alone and no debts of sin remain for those who are in Christ Jesus. Trent insists that 'no one can know' with the certainty of faith '…that he has obtained the grace of God' (p. 35) '…or that he is among the number whom God has chosen' (p. 38) and declared that anyone who claims to be certain of his salvation is anathematised (cursed!) (p. 43-45).
Again, this is not the evangelical gospel, which clearly assures us that we can know [present knowledge] that we have [present possession] eternal life (1 John 5:13). The Reformers 'rediscovered' the truth that the salvation of the soul for eternity is secure once faith is placed in Christ and from that moment the believer is assured by Christ himself that he 'shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life' (John 5:24). Since we believe the Biblical gospel, we know for certain on the authority of God's Word that we shall never 'come into condemnation' (John 5:24) and shall 'never perish' (John 10:28). This Biblical assurance is denied by Catholicism's utterly false and satanic gospel.
When the Philippian jailer asked, 'What must I do to be saved,' Paul said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt he saved' (Acts 16:31). He didn't say: 'and thou shalt begin a long process of involvement in sacraments administered by an elite priesthood that, hopefully, will one day get you to heaven.' Salvation, justification, and redemption take place once and for all immediately Christ is received as Saviour and Lord and the sinner is born again of the Holy Spirit into the family of God - this is the only way that the thief on the cross could have immediately gone to heaven on the very day Christ uttered those words to him: 'Truly, truly, I tell you, today you shall be with Me in paradise' (Luke 23:43). Until this believing moment you are not in the family of God, no matter which church you attend, be it Protestant or Catholic. Roman Catholic's will insist that all Catholics are 'in the family of God because they have been baptized.' We have absolutely no evidence that the thief on the cross was baptised and it pointless for cults to try and argue from silence (as they do!) that 'he must have been baptised before he became a thief and died on the cross'! This would be utterly foolish.
Protestants to 'accept' Catholics without dealing with these vital issues
Love and unity can only be based upon truth, not 'feelings' or mere sentiment
The 'ECs' may 'say' that they can have unity and evangelize the world with other 'Christians' but, when it comes down to it, they will insist that 'real and important' differences exist between the Catholic and Protestant understanding of the Lord's Supper. We ask how many 'ECs' readily partake of the bread and wine with Protestants? While claiming 'love and unity' as members of the same 'family,' having 'the same Head, the same Saviour, the same Elder Brother, and the same Bridegroom -- Jesus Christ,' they will not partake of the bread and wine in the remembrance of Christ's death with Protestants who are in reality, 'all anathematised by the Council of Treat for their beliefs'! Yet, just as the Mormon cult is being to do, they persist in urging Protestants to 'accept' Catholics without dealing with these vital issues. Differences in belief in this one area are major, for Catholicism's dogmas of the Mass pervert the gospel and these heretical dogmas were repudiated by the Reformers and hundreds of thousands died at the stake rather than embrace such heresy. The Council of Trent declared:
In this divine sacrifice…is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner the same Christ who once offered Himself in a bloody manner... this is truly propitiatory ... For the victim is one and the same…now offering [Himself] by the ministry of priests ... not only for the sins ... of the faithful who are living, but also for those departed in Christ but not yet fully purified [i.e., still suffering in purgatory for their sins] (p 146). If anyone says that in the mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God ... by priests [who] offer His own body and blood … [or] that the sacrifice of the mass is … not a propitiatory one ... let him be anathema (p 149).
This blasphemous gospel necessarily alienates evangelicals because it contradicts the specific teaching of Scripture:
Nor yet that he should offer himself often [as Catholicism teaches] … but now once in the end (if the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself…We are sanctified through the offering of the body' of Jesus Christ once for all … for by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified ... Now ... there is no more offering for sin (Hebrews 9:25-10:18, and many other verses).
Catholics - and many in the Anglican priesthood - argue for the 'real presence of Christ on the altar where He is sacrificed again in each Mass'. They argue that when Christ, in John 6, said we must eat His flesh and drink His blood, He meant that He would become a sacrifice for sin and that, just as the priest ate of the Old Testament sacrifices which symbolized Christ (Leviticus 2:3; 6:16, 18, 26, 29 etc.), so we must believe in Him. They ask 'why the same Jesus who literally meant everything else He said, spoke figuratively here'. But their mistake is simple: Christ did not always speak literally. In fact, when He spoke to the multitudes, as He did in John 6, He always spoke in parables: 'Without a parable spake He not unto them' (Matthew 13:34). He said He was 'the light' (John 8:12), 'the door,' (John 10:7), 'the vine' (John 15:1), etc., yet Rome does not claim He meant these things in a literal sense. So why do they insist that adherents to their false gospel literally eat Him? Because it gives their false priesthood power and position over the weak and ignorant!
In fact, Christ explained that by eating and drinking His flesh and blood He meant believing on Him (John 10:29,35,40,47). When He called Himself 'the bread' (John 6:35) He obviously didn't mean that His body was a literal loaf of bread. So when he said of a loaf of bread, 'this is my body,' He obviously didn't mean that literally either, since He was present in His physical body and holding the bread in His hands when He said it! Moreover, how can Christ's real body be contained within a wafer and be literally and physically present in its fullness in each of millions of wafers in tens of thousands of Catholic churches around the world at one time'? orthodox Christians consider it blasphemy for a Catholic priest to claim to have the power to take Christ's resurrected, glorified body in which He lives at the Father's right hand in heaven and reconstitute it into His pre-crucifixion body to be re-offered 'again'! Rome only believes in literalism when it can gain power over the ignorant! Read former Roman Catholic priest, Charles Chiniquy's expose of the blasphemous mocking of Christ's 'body' he witnessed in this corrupt church:
This final reference is a synopsis of Chiniquy's life:
Sadly, it is an occultic experience of 'feeling this Presence' at Catholic altars, for this is the literal origin of the pagan dogma, that convinces many that Rome is 'the true church', just as 'feelings' decree the assumptions of Mormons and the decisions of Jehovah's Witnesses. Since 'feelings', and not the Biblical evidence, determine what is true to these cults, none of them have absolutes of doctrine, which inevitably leads them to accept being 'tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming' (Ephesians 4:14) as their leaders claim 'Papal infallibility' or each cults' equivalent. What of the vast majority of Catholics who have never heard that gospel'? The false teaching that they are receiving eternal life by ingesting into their stomachs Christ's physical body and blood in the form of bread and wine, prevents millions of Catholics from receiving the spiritual gift of eternal life through believing in Christ in their hearts. The falseness of Rome's claims is clear when you learn that for centuries Rome did not allow the common people to partake of the wine turned to Christ's 'blood,' which it said was essential to life!
Catholic souls worldwide ... are ignorant of the true nature of Roman Catholicism's un-Biblical gospel
This false gospel necessarily separates Protestants from Catholics. Love and unity can only be based upon truth, not 'feelings' or mere sentiment. It is not an act of love for evangelicals to embrace soul-destroying error as Christian and overlook the false gospels of all who call themselves 'Christians,' whether they be Mormons, Catholics, or any of the many other gospels declared as 'accursed' by the apostle Paul (Galatians 1:6-9) who actually did receive his revelation and authority from Christ (Galatians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 10:8; 13:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:6) unlike the Papal deceivers! The vital issue, which Rome never deals with in all of its wranglings and deceptions is: What is the gospel, how are we saved, and what does the Bible itself teach?
Christ's love compels us not to 'accept Catholics,' but to inform them where and why Rome's dogmas and traditions contradict God's Word. Until they have seen what is false in their religion, they can hardly embrace the truth, for no matter how clear the gospel is made it will be understood in the context of Catholicism and thus misunderstood. The same problem is found in conversing with other cults, such as Mormons or Christian Scientists, who re-interpret every doctrine you share with them through the mirror their leaders have given them. It is pointless for Rome to point to deceived evangelical leaders such as Billy Graham who, instead of evangelizing Catholics, are working with them to 'evangelize' the world. Ecumenism is poisoning leaders and churches who once stood resolutely for the truth, and supplied the martyrs who were burned at the stake by Rome. It is increasingly unpopular and difficult to sound the warning and to make sure all things are Biblical, as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11; Isaiah 8:20). Is it consistent with the whole canon of Scripture? This does not include the Apocrypha, which was never part of the Scriptures of the Jews or the early Church Fathers, even though some quoted from it occasionally. It is also a fact that other works, e.g., the Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel, gain a mention in 1 & 2 Kings etc., but this does not make the work part of canon. Many Christians have the occult Book of Mormon on their bookshelves for reference purposes in evangelising this cult, but they put no faith in the words there - even in the 27,000 words which have been copied directly from the King James Version, for the pure stream of God's Word has been polluted by the false prophet, Joseph Smith. God has called us to exhort believers in Christ to grow in personal discernment, that they may be encouraged to test alll things by the Scriptures (2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
From a Biblical perspective, nothing influencing the church today, apart from the New Age, humanism and psychology, is more detrimental to evangelicals' understanding, application and proclamation of the gospel that saves souls than the increasing acceptance of the Catholic gospel. Our motivation to warn the church comes out of concern for the eternal destiny of nearly one billion Catholic souls worldwide who are ignorant of the true nature of Roman Catholicism's un-Biblical gospel. The lack of discernment, and consequently the decreasing spiritual fruitfulness in the body of orthodox Christians, has resulted because of the incorporation of errors. Catholics are not only being accepted as fellow believers by increasing numbers of evangelicals today, but some of their false beliefs and rituals are also being assimilated. We are compelled to warn of this deception out of love for Christ and obedience to His Word. Central to this issue is Roman Catholicism's gospel of salvation. The differences between what the Bible teaches and what the Catholic Church teaches are significant, and we are called by Scripture to ensure that factions exist (1 Corinthians 11:19) to prove who is right! In the contemporary church there are few factions because the unity of ecumenism has done its work. Though differences are irreconcilable, and wrong belief condemns its adherents to an eternity separated from God, the modern church will sing 'halleluiahs' while brother's burn.
The Roman Catholic Church cannot be faulted for misunderstanding evangelical beliefs in the gospel of salvation, since it is spelled out in no uncertain terms in Rome's official canons and decrees. The citations below are from the Council of Trent, which met over a nineteen-year period, primarily to denounce the teachings of the Protestant Reformation. Although the Council met in the sixteenth century, its decrees were reaffirmed by the Church's most recent councils (Vatican I and II). Consider the following quotes from Catholicism's position on what evangelical Protestants uphold as the gospel (i.e., that salvation is by grace through faith alone in Christ alone who, through His sacrificial death on the cross, paid the full penalty for all the sins of humanity):
6th Session, Canon 9: If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to obtain the grace of justification ... let him be anathema.
6th Session, Canon 12: If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ's sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.
6th Session, Canon 30: If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.Works-salvation is an outright rejection of Christ's perfect and complete atonement for sins on the cross
7th Session, Canon 4: If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [canons and decrees of the Church] are not necessary for salvation but … without them ... men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification ... let him be anathema.
Catholics who object to orthodox warnings of Rome's false gospel should try and explain the origins of their church's 'anathemas' - which are literally curses! Romans 12:14 instructs us to: 'Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not'. The above decrees also make it clear that Roman Catholicism requires more than faith in Christ for salvation. Obedience to the laws of the Church, regarded as 'grace-enabled' works and including participation in the sacraments, is necessary for entrance into heaven. Breaking the laws (i.e., committing mortal sins) consigns one to eternal separation from God if such sins are not absolved by a priest before death.
In contrast to the Roman Catholic process of salvation through meritorious works, the Apostle Paul gives the biblical teaching that salvation is by grace through faith and not of works, but it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23). Paul insists that 'to him that worketh not, but believeth on [Jesus Christ who] justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness' (Romans 4:5). Again, in Galatians 3:11: 'But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith'. Demanding that works are necessary for salvation is an outright rejection of Christ's perfect and complete atonement for sins on the cross. Yet Roman Catholic dogma insists there is something one can and must do to complete his redemption and to be reconciled to God.
It teaches that, without personally appeasing God for one's sins through suffering here on earth and almost certainly in purgatory, there is no hope of salvation. Referring to those who have suffered for sins, Vatican II states, 'They have carried their crosses to make expiation for their own sins and the sins of others' (ID chp 2:5). The Bible, however, never declares that the unjust can justify the unjust for Christ alone is the justifier of the unjust (1 Peter 3:18; Romans 3:25-26). Divine justice could only be satisfied sacrificially by one who was not under condemnation for sin. Peter (whom Catholics claim as their first infallible Pope) writes:
'ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot' (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Furthermore, without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Therefore, in order to remove sins according to the Scriptures, the one atoning must be sinless and his sacrifice must involve the shedding of blood. That disqualifies everyone except Jesus Christ, 'in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins' (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14) and who 'loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood' (Revelation 1:5). Every supposedly penitential work by a Catholic is therefore futile but, even more grievous is the fact that it denies the finished work of Christ on the cross - one's only hope for salvation.
Vatican II (which many 'evangelicals' and professing born-again Catholics wrongly assume has redirected Roman Catholicism on a more Biblical and therefore more evangelically compatible course) states that:
'From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners, particularly the works [i.e., sufferings and miseries] which human weakness finds hard ... Indeed, the prayers and good works of holy people were regarded as of such great value that it could be asserted that the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed with the help of the entire Christian people ...' (ID chp 2:5).
'Penitential expiation' in Catholic teaching requires that sins be paid for by the sinner through purifying punishments. Vatican II makes it clear that:
Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life and, above all, through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life 'through fire and torments or purifying punishments ... in purgatory the souls of those ... who had not made satisfaction with adequate penance for their sins and omissions' are cleansed after death with punishments designed to purge away their debt (ID chp 1:2).
From chapter 65 of '50 Years in The 'Church' of Rome'
Charles Chiniquy leads his vast congregation out of Rome.
"When they had filled the large building, I told them: "Our Saviour, the day before His death, said to His disciples: 'I will be a scandal to you, this night.' I must tell you the same thing. I will be, today, I fear, the cause of a great scandal to every one of you. But, as the scandal which Christ gave to His disciples has saved the world, I hope that, by the great mercy of God, the scandal I will give you will save you. I was your pastor till yesterday! But I have no more that honour today, for I have broken the ties by which I was bound as a slave at the feet of the bishops and of the Pope."
This sentence was scarcely finished, when a universal cry of surprise and sadness filled the church: "Oh! what does that mean!" exclaimed the congregation.
"My dear countrymen," I added, "I have not come to tell you to follow me! I did not die to save your immortal souls; I have not shed my blood to buy you a place in heaven; but Christ has done it. Then follow Christ and Him alone! Now, I must tell you why I have broken the ignominious and unbearable yoke of men, to follow Christ. You remember that, on the 21st of March last, you signed, with me, an act of submission to the authority of the Bishop of the Church of Rome, with the conditional clause that we would obey him only in matters which were according to the teachings of the Word of God as found in the Gospel of Christ. In that act of submission we did not want to be slaves of any man, but the servants of God, the followers of the Gospel. It was our hope then, that our church would accept such a submission. And your joy was great when you heard that Grand Vicar Dunn was here on the 28th of March to tell you that Bishop Smith had accepted the submission. But that acceptation was revoked. Yesterday, I was told, in the presence of God, by the same bishop, that he ought not to have accepted an act of submission from any priest or people based on the Gospel of Christ! Yes! yesterday Bishop Smith rejected, with the utmost contempt, the act of submission we had given him, and which he had accepted only two weeks ago, because 'the Word of God' was mentioned in it! When I respectfully requested him to tell me the nature of the new act of submission he wanted from us, he ordered me to take away from it 'the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ, and the Bible,' if we wanted to be accepted as good Catholics! WE had thought, till then, that the sacred Word of God and Holy Gospel of Christ were the fundamental and precious stones of the Church of Rome. We loved her on that account, we wanted to remain in her bosom, even when we were forced to fight as honest men, against that tyrant, O'Regan. Believing that the Church of Rome was the child of the Word of God, that it was the most precious fruit of the Divine tree planted on the earth, under the name of the Gospel, we would have given the last drop of our blood to defend her!
"But, yesterday, I have learned from the very lips of a Bishop of Rome, that we were a band of simpletons in believing those things. I have learned that the Church of Rome has nothing to do with the Word of God, except to throw it overboard, to trample it under their feet, and to forbid us even to name it even in the solemn act of submission we have given. I have been told that we could no longer be Roman Catholics, if we persisted in putting the Word of God and the Gospel of Christ as the foundation of our religion, our faith and our submission. When I was told by the bishop that I had either to renounce the Word of God as the base of my submission, or the title of the priest of Rome, I did not hesitate. Nothing could induce me to give up the Gospel of Christ; and so I gave up the title and position of priest in the Roman Catholic Church. I would rather suffer a thousand deaths than renounce the Gospel of Christ. I am no longer a priest of Rome; but I am more than ever a disciple of Christ, a follower of the Gospel. That Gospel is for me, what it was for Paul, 'The power of God unto salvation' (Rom. I:16). It is the bread of my soul. In it we can satisfy our thirst with the waters of eternal life! No! no!! I could not buy the honour of being any longer a slave to the bishops and popes of Rome, by giving up the Gospel of Christ!
"When I requested the bishop to give me the precise form of submission he wanted from us, he answered: "Give me an act of submission, without any condition, and promise that you will do anything I bid you.' I replied:
"'This is not an act of submission, it is an act of adoration! I will never give it to you!'
"'If so,' said he, 'you can no longer be a Roman Catholic priest.'
"I raised my hands to heaven, and with a loud and cheerful voice, I said: 'My God Almighty be for ever blessed!'"
I then told them something of my desolation, when alone, in my room; of the granite mountain which had been rolled over my shoulders, of my tears, and of my despair. I told them also how my bleeding, dying, crucified Saviour had brought me the forgiveness of my sins; how He had given me eternal salvation, as a gift, and how rich, happy, and strong I felt in that gift. I then spoke to them about their own souls.
My address lasted more than two hours, and God blessed it in a marvellous way. Its effects were profound and lasting, but it is too long to be described here. In substance, I said: "I respect you too much to impose myself upon your honest consciences, or to dictate what you ought to do on this most solemn occasion. I feel that the hour has come for me to make a great sacrifice; I must leave you! but, no! I will not go away before you tell me to do so. You will yourselves break the ties so dear which have united us. Please, pay attention to these, my parting words: If you think it is better for you to follow the Pope than to follow Christ; that it is better to trust in the works of your hands, and in your own merits, than in the blood of the Lamb, shed on the cross, to be saved; if you think it is better for you to follow the traditions of men than the Gospel; and if you believe that it is better for you to have a priest of Rome, who will keep you tied as slaves to the feet of the bishops, and who will preach to you the ordinances of men, rather than have me preach to you nothing but the pure Word of God, as we find it in the Gospel of Christ, tell it to me by rising up, and I will go!" But, to my great surprise, nobody moved. The chapel was filled with sobs; tears were flowing from every eye; but not one moved to tell me to leave them! I was puzzled. For though I had hoped that many, enlightened by the copies of the New Testament that I had given them, tired of the tyranny of the bishops, and disgusted with the superstitions of Rome, would be glad to break the yoke with me, to follow Christ, I was afraid that the greatest number would not dare to break their allegiance to the church, and publicly give up her authority. After a few minutes of silence, during which I mixed my tears and my sobs with those of my people, I told them: "Why do you not at once rise up and tell me to go? You see that I can no longer remain your pastor after renouncing the tyranny of the bishops and the traditions of men to follow the Gospel of Christ as my only rule. Why do you not bravely tell me to go away?"
But this new appeal was still without any answer I was filled with astonishment. However, it was evident to me that a great and mysterious change was wrought in that multitude. Their countenances, their manners, were completely changed. They were speaking to me with their eyes filled with tears, and their manly faces beaming with joy. Their sobs, in some way, told me that they were filled with new light; that they were full of new strength, and ready to make the most heroic sacrifices, and break their fetters to follow Christ, and Him alone. There was something in those brave, honest and happy faces which was telling me more effectually than the most eloquent speech: "We believe in the gift, we want to be rich, happy, free, and saved in the gift: we do not want anything else: remain among us and teach us to love both the gift and the giver!"
A thought suddenly flashed across my mind, and with an inexpressible sentiment of hope and joy, I told them: "My dear countrymen! The Mighty God, who gave me His saving light, yesterday, can grant you the same favour today. He can, as well, save a thousand souls as one. I see, in your noble and Christian faces, that you do not want any more to be slaves of men. You want to be the free children of God, intelligent followers of the Gospel! The light is shining, and you like it. The gift of God has been given to you! With me, you will break the fetters of a captivity, worse than that of Egypt, to follow the Gospel of Christ, and take possession of the Promised Land: let all those who think it is better to follow Jesus Christ than the Pope, better to follow the Word of God than the traditions of men; let all those of you who want me to remain here and preach to you nothing but the Word of God, as we find it in the Gospel of Christ, tell it to me, by rising up. I am your man! Rise up!"
Without a single exception, that multitude arose! More than a thousand of my countrymen had, for ever, broken their fetters. They had crossed the Red Sea and exchanged the servitude of Egypt for the blessings of the Promised Land!